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Pictures of Team Liquid and Fnatic League of Legends winning the LCS Spring Split
NEWS

Monster Gaming Weekly

Apr 112018

 

League of Legends

EU LCS

Coming off a miracle World’s run that took them all the way to Quarterfinals, a revitalized Fnatic turned their focus to once again securing the EU LCS championship. The manner in which they did so was perfectly expressed by Martin “Rekkles” Larsson in Sunday’s EU LCS Championship interview, “I think as soon as you get your team together, that’s when you can truly shine.”

Fnatic is a team with a long, successful legacy in both international League of Legends tournaments and at home in their domestic region. Holding almost half of the EU LCS’s championship titles, Fnatic’s winning history has given them international notoriety, and with notoriety comes expectations. Fnatic is expected to consistently perform well domestically and internationally. Despite routinely meeting these expectations, there was one thing that continually eluded Fnatic for 5 consecutive splits: a 6th EU LCS Championship. 

Though the only change in their roster came with the addition of support player Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov, Fnatic struggled with team synergy for the first 3 weeks of the split. Plagued by a lack of team identity, Fnatic fell back onto their habitual late-game play style. Despite this fallback strategy’s success at the time, around halfway through the split, team director Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool noted that they realized, “we’re good like this, but we’re not going to win the split playing like this.” To ensure that they would win the split, Fnatic’s seven-man team of players, coach, and director worked tireless 10-12 hour days to create a system that relied on more than just comfort picks. Finding that sweet spot of perfect teamwork and champion synergy enabled Fnatic to end the regular season in first place, dropping only a single game during the entire second half of the split.

Unfortunately, the team hit a major bump on their road to victory when, just days before their semifinals appearance, Fnatic’s top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer announced that his hand had been injured. As his injury would require surgery, sOAZ stated that he would be subbed out for the rest of the split. Continued success without sOAZ was deemed all but impossible for Fnatic to achieve, yet they carried on without falter. Though many doubted their ability to perform with substitute top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, Fnatic were eager to prove they were still the powerhouse they were with sOAZ present. In his third ever professional game, Bwipo walked on stage as Fnatic’s starting top laner in their semifinals match against Vitality. To the surprise of many Bwipo showed none of his rookie status, was an integral part of Fnatic’s semifinals win, and continued to show his ability to successfully synergize within the team throughout their Finals match against G2 Esports.

Though only spanning a short 3 games, Fnatic’s finals appearance was exciting to watch. While Rekkles cemented his claim to the title of MVP with zero deaths throughout the series and nabbed a game two penta kill, it was Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s success against his rival Perkz that kept the excitement going. In keeping with his vow to “Smash him so hard that he’s going to think it's an international tournament,” Caps donned his country’s colors as his cape, entered his hometown arena, stared down his rival, and proceeded to help Fnatic systematically dismantle the reigning champions and take from them their crown.

Outside of becoming the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split Champions, Fnatic and its players earned themselves many accolades this split — Rekkles was crowned the Spring Split MVP (his second MVP title in a row), Caps, Rekkles, and Hylissang were elected to the All Pro Team, and Fnatic was selected as the EU LCS representative at MSI. With the return of Fnatic’s reign in the EU LCS firmly in place, the team will get to test the limits of their full potential in international waters this coming May at MSI.

NA LCS

 

It was an historic weekend for the NA LCS as the league concluded its inaugural split in the franchised system. Team Liquid became the fourth organization — queue the memes — to ever win the NA LCS, and they now head to MSI as the unanimous best team in North America.

 

The regular season was an exciting and unpredictable affair after the league switched to Bo1s, and few could have predicted what would happen at the end of the round robin. Every single spot in the playoffs had to be determined by tiebreakers: the top two teams had to battle for pole position, and an unprecedented four-way tiebreaker would determine the rest of the field. 

 

It was a grueling day as 5 additional games had to be played in order to settle the scores. A new organization in the LCS, 100 Thieves, earned top honors in the regular season, with Echo Fox close behind. In the 4-way, TSM placed 3rd, Team Liquid 4th (again), Cloud 9 5th, and Clutch Gaming 6th. Team Liquid recaptured their 4th place seat by defeating Cloud 9 twice on the day (once in the regular season, once in tiebreakers) before losing to TSM in the 3rd place match.

 

With the seeds and matchups finalized, the teams prepared for the quarterfinals — the first best of 3s of the season. Team Liquid continued its dominance of Cloud 9 with a 3-0 walloping; remarkably, Doublelift survived the series without a single death to his name. The score line flattered, however, as every single game could have gone either way, with clutch plays in Team Liquid’s favor ultimately deciding the match. 

 

The talk of the town that weekend, however, was the unbelievable upset on the other side of the bracket. Clutch Gaming did the unthinkable and trounced TSM 3-1 — which meant that this would be the first split in NA LCS history where TSM would not be in the finals. Combined with Cloud 9’s loss in the other quarter final, this also meant that a new organization would be crowned LCS champions.

 

CG almost doubled on their previous feat, but narrowly lost in the semifinals against 100 Thieves. The series was decided in a tense 74-minute game 5 that had both everything and nothing, as neither team wanted to be the first to give up their slim advantage. The #1 seed eventually triumphed, earning their spot in the finals at the Fillmore in Miami.

 

The other side of the bracket was the complete opposite as Team Liquid continued to flatten their foes. After trading the first two games of their semi-final against Echo Fox, Team Liquid turned it on in games 3 and 4 to seal the organization’s first LCS grand final in their history. Curse Gaming, the precursor of Team Liquid, was one of the original 4 organizations in the LCS and the only one without a finals appearance or a title. Investing in a squad that was called “the win of the offseason” paid dividends, yet history would not stop there.

 

Regardless of the winner, history would have been made in Miami, as a new organization would hang their banner in the rafters of the LCS studio. It was a deserved finals between the best team in the regular season, 100 Thieves, and the hottest team in the playoffs, Team Liquid. Neutrals salivated at the prospects of a closely contested grand finals; instead, it was a 3-0 in Team Liquid’s favor. 

 

Despite the one-sided score line, things could have gone differently if not for a crucial moment in game 1. 100 Thieves had a comfortable lead and descended upon the Baron in order to secure their advantage. Instead, Xmithie pulled off the heist of the century against the Thieves. That one moment swung the series in Team Liquid’s favor and they would never look back. Pobelter’s Azir Shuffle put an exclamation point on game 2 before a comprehensive team effort settled the finals in game 3. When the dust settled, there was no doubt: Team Liquid is the best team in the NA LCS. After 6 years in the league and a difficult 2017, Team Liquid had finally earned their place in history as LCS champions.

 

DOTA 2

 

DAC 2018 was a rare off-tournament for Monster teams, with no squad reaching the all-important DPC places. Vici Gaming and Team Liquid went the furthest but fell in the second round of the lower bracket. Team Liquid needed to place second in order to lock in their spot at TI 8, and while their qualification still looks likely, they will have to wait to punch that ticket. 

 

An all Asian final starring Mineski and LGD went the way of the South East Asians, and the 750 DPC points for first place catapulted them into 4th, just above Newbee. With only 4 Majors remaining, DPC points are becoming scarcer and scarcer. Teams like Fnatic and EG who are currently within striking distance of the Top 8 will need to grab all the points that they can in the run up to this year’s The International.

 

SMASH

 

The fantastically named Noods Noods Noods: Oakland, sponsored by Cup Noodles, was the site of another Hungybox victory. Hbox cruised through pools and the singles bracket without a single loss before hitting a wall named Plup. The Panda Global player booted Hbox down to the Losers Final in swift and commanding fashion, with Westballz waiting for his chance at the world’s best Puff. However, it was another one-sided win for Hbox, which set up a grand final that seemed inevitable from the opening round of brackets.

 

With the spotlight on, Hungrybox, in his own words, “tried harder that set than [he] ever had in Melee”. He reset the finals 3-1 and carried that momentum in the second set, closing the tournament with another 3-1 victory. Hungrybox vs Plup is quietly becoming one of the best rivalries in Smash, as they have now faced each other in 3 out of 3 grand finals in the tournaments they have both attended this year. So far, Hbox leads 2-1, and this latest win allows him to maintain his #1 spot in the Smash Masters League leaderboard with 400 points. 

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