Two important League of Legends events were held during the last two weeks: the European Challenger Circuit: Poland, one of the first steps of the Season Two Championship; and MLG Summer Arena, where the legendary Korean team, Azubu Blaze, were for the first time to meet two American powerhouses – TSM and Curse. The outcome of these tournaments marked Season 2 front-runners.
For the last several month the European competitive arena had two absolute leaders, CLG.EU and Moscow 5, with their last match versus each other taking place at Dreamhack grand finals, and CLG.EU bringing home gold. Needless to say, the rematch of the old rivals reserved the spotlight of ECC: Poland.
Neither Group A nor Group B has brought any surprises: Meet Your Makers have shown outstanding performance, but were still unable to defeat the established European powerhouses, Curse.EU and SK Gaming, and dropped out of the tournament at the group stage. CLG.EU also won over M5, which further extended their winning streak versus the Russian powethouse, and convinced everyone that CLG.EU would be able to bring home another gold.
However, the second day was when everything that could go unexpected, went unexpected. SK’s top laner Kev1n has suddenly shown extreme finesse, reminding everyone who was considered world’s best top laner back in while, and took over the first game versus CLG.EU. The second game was also looking very grim for CLG.EU, much thanks to Kev1n once again carrying it, but the legendary Anivia player from CLG.EU, Froggen, managed to turn the tables around and snatch the victory from SK. The third match turned out to be completely one-sided: instead of focusing on shutting down Kev1n, CLG.EU decided to do so with every other lane but his, completely annihilating them in the process and winning the series with a 2-1 score.
The finals suddenly turned out in M5′s favour, despite them having troubles versus CLG.EU in the past and losing the group stage match. It’s hard to say whether the games versus SK wore out CLG.EU, or M5 trolled their way through their first match, but one thing was clear: M5 managed to bring their aggressive playstyle to the level even their rivals were unprepared for.
During the first game CLG.EU picked up Rumble against Shen, setting up a lane with a huge snowballing potential. Moscow 5 realized that, and had Diamondprox gank top lane as soon as he was able to, which resulted in a successful first blood. However, M5 decided that one gank wasn’t enough – they wanted to completely remove Rumble from the game, so Diamondprox stayed at top and ganked Wickd again from the very same spot as soon as he returned to his lane. Did M5 know this was going to happen, or were they expecting a counter gank? Either way, CLG.EU have made a gamebreaking mistake – they let M5 destroy their top lane for free, turning the game into a 4v5 just 5 minutes in. Alex Ich, Moscow 5 mid lane player and team captain, also seemed to have stepped up his game since Dreamhack, wrecking CLG.EU’s bot lane as Kassadin during the first game, and then repeating it as Gragas during the second.
ECC Poland has shown that Moscow Five are ready and willing to improve, as well as shape their playstyle: being a team widely known for bringing aggressive counterjungling and bruiser metagames, they have since changed their playstyle tremendously, though still remaining one of the most aggressive teams in the world.
SK Gaming, a team that kept under performing due to constantly changing players and roles for the last several months, surely have made some noise claiming the 3rd place, reminding everyone that they’re still a threat to be reckoned with. Time will show if their new lineup would work out, though.
SK Gaming looked like the happiest team in the world, despite ending up with 3rd place.
1st – Moscow Five ($15,000)
2nd – CLG EU ($10,000)
3rd – SK Gaming ($5,000)
4th – Curse EU ($2,800)
5th/6th – Acer & Elohell ($2,000)
7th/8th – MYM & OceloteWorld ($1,600)
European Challenger Circuit: Poland VODs
While League of Legends is relatively new in South Korea, it has already managed to overtake the main spotlight in the Korean e-sports scene, spawning some incredible teams in the process. Until this moment, however, they were mostly competing against each other, with just a few foreign teams (CLG.NA and Fnatic) having some experience with the Korean metagame.
The reason MLG Summer Arena was so anticipated is because Azubu Blaze, a team famous for winning OGN and for their hyper aggressive, reckless strategy aimed at rushing objectives, was for the first time to participate in an offline event outside of Korea. Even better: they were to face arguably the strongest American powehouse – Team Solomid.
TSM were looking very confident despite facing a team they have never met before, however their confidence quickly disappeared as soon as they had to deal the agressive pushing Blaze were famous for. As Chaox, the Carry player from TSM, later mentioned in an interview – they were simply unprepared for the overwhelming advantage Azubu Blaze were able to turn in from just one turret. TSM were being instantly forced into defensive play, resulting in a loss of control over the map, and, naturally, falling behind even further. The games, however, were not one-sided at all: despite losing turrets, TSM were managing to come out on top of least half of the teamfights, showing that, while Blaze have great coordination and are able to pull off near perfect CC chains, they lacked the level of synergy TSM have obtained over a year of practicing together in a gaming house. Unfortunately for them, the map pressure Blaze had wasn’t quite letting TSM to turn in the successful teamfights as much as they wanted to, resulting in the matches being dragged out until Azubu Blaze could finish them.
What MLG Summer Arena has shown, is that Azubu Blaze are not just a world class team, but a potential Season 2 Championship winner. The IEM Hannover matches between CLG.NA and M5 have exposed Moscow Five’s vulnerability to a strategy based on rushing objectives, so the only team left that could potentially stop Blaze is CLG.EU. Can Azubu Blaze repeat Moscow Five’s success? We’ll see that very soon.
1st – Azubu Blaze ($10,000)
2nd – Team Solomid
3rd – Curse NA
4th – Black
MLG Summer Arena VODs will be available here tomorrow (August 8th)