Unicorns of Love entered the EU LCS in 2015

A brief, heart-breaking history of Unicorns of Love

With the 2017 EU LCS Regional Qualifiers finished, Europe has chosen three teams to represent them at the League of Legends World Championships, and the Unicorns of Love is not one of them. This seems to be their destiny. UOL is always good enough to be a contender, but never good enough to be the champion. They have always had a shot at Worlds, but never reached it. They have made it into the gauntlet thrice, and lost out all three times. Here is a brief look at how the Unicorns got here, and why it is so heart-breaking.

2015

Unicorns of Love qualified for the EU LCS in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unicorns of Love entered the LCS in 2015 by defeating Millenium in the 2015 Spring Promotion tournament. UOL was promoted, while Millenium was relegated. Their roster included Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás top, Berk “Gilius” Demir jungle, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage mid, Pontus “Vardags” Dahlblom AD carry and Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov support. After Millenium took a 2-0 lead, the Unicorns were able to reverse sweep the series, winning 3-2. This was the beginning of the Unicorns’ legacy as wildcards in the EU LCS.

Coming into the 2015 Spring Split, UOL replaced Gilius with a new jungler, Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek. Kikis was known for his pocket picks in the jungle, such as Sion, Gnar or Shaco. In their debut split, UOL finished with a 9-9 record to secure fifth place and qualify for playoffs. PowerOfEvil was the only player in the league to be the weekly MVP more than once (weeks four and eight).

In Spring Playoffs, the Unicorns had to face fourth place, Gambit Gaming. UOL took them down 3-1, moving them into semifinals against number one seed SK Gaming. In a massive upset, UOL won that best-of-five 3-2. This win brought them to their first playoff finals within their first split, facing second seed Fnatic. The Unicorns took it all the way to five games, but fell short to finish in second place and tally 70 championship points.

UOL came into the 2015 Summer Split carrying momentum. They swapped Gilius back into the jungle role, while Kikis went to G2 (then Gamers2). In almost identical fashion, the Unicorns finished the split 9-9, but placed fourth. Gilius left the team going into playoffs, leaving Cho “H0R0” Jae-hwan as their starting jungler.

Summer Playoffs put UOL against Roccat first, who they defeated 3-2. The victory pushed them into an even tougher semifinals match-up versus an undefeated Fnatic. Getting skunked 3-0, UOL was forced into the third place match with H2K. A win here would send UOL to Worlds as Europe’s second seed, assuming Fnatic won in the finals. However, H2K crushed UOL in another 3-0, and Fnatic won the finals, sending UOL to their first EU LCS gauntlet.

Luckily, UOL’s 110 total championship points entitled them to a full bye in the Regional Qualifiers. Giants, Roccat and Origen would have to fight each other before meeting UOL in the final. Origen, a line-up that would go on to finish top four at the 2015 World Championships, made it to the gauntlet finals and took down UOL in a final 3-0. The Unicorns’ 2015 season would end there.

2016

Unicorns of Love replaced three starters for 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coming into 2016, Unicorns of Love decided to replace three of their five starters. Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi signed as their jungler and AD carry, previously of Gambit. Hampus “Fox” Myhre stepped into the mid lane from SK Gaming. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang remained UOL’s top and support.

UOL went through the 2016 Spring Split like past splits. They finished with a 10-8 record, showing strength against teams below them and weakness against teams above them. Most of their problems revolved around the jungle position. Starting in week three, Diamondprox had to leave Europe, due to visa issues. UOL borrowed Millenium’s jungler, Charly “Djoko” Guillard, as a temporary replacement. In week four UOL brought in Rudy “Rudy” Beltran, an unknown player, who was replaced in week seven by ex-H2K Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin. These jungle player rotations hindered UOL’s ability to compete against more stable rosters.

This inconsistency came to a head in the Spring Playoffs when fourth seed Origen defeated the Unicorns 3-0 in the quarterfinals. UOL’s split ended in fifth-sixth, granting only 10 championship points. It was a disappointing placement that demanded change for the Summer Split.

In the mid-season, Unicorns of Love brought in two Korean imports to play jungle and AD carry. Kang “Move” Min-su came into the EU LCS after most recently playing for Gravity in North America. Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min had played for Vortex, a North American Challenger team. UOL also signed Fabian “Exileh” Schubert, a mid laner with history on several European Challenger teams. Riot also changed the EU LCS regular season to a best-of-two format.

These changes did not seem to affect Unicorns’ consistency much. If anything, it hindered their performance. UOL finished the regular season Summer Split in sixth place with a 6-5-7 record. This line-up was clearly better than tenth through seventh places, but also a step below first through fifth. The Unicorns would go into playoffs as underdogs.

Once there, UOL was able to take down third seed Giants 3-1. Moving into semifinals, UOL had to face an undefeated G2. The Unicorns lost 3-1, which sent them into their second third place match against H2K. Winning 3-1, H2K pushed UOL into the Regional Qualifiers for the second year in a row.

With only 50 championship points, Unicorns of Love found themselves in a difficult position. Giants, Fnatic and Splyce stood in their way of going to Worlds. UOL defeated Giants and Fnatic 3-0, propelling them forward into the gauntlet finals again. 2016 looked like UOL’s redemption. Sadly, Splyce took the series 3-2, keeping the Unicorns out of Worlds for another year.

2017

Unicorns of Love signed Xerxe and Samux for 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This third year has been Unicorns of Love’s third opportunity to go to Worlds. In an off-season full of roster swaps, UOL made some questionable changes. Bringing in European veterans in Spring 2016 did not bring the success they wanted. Korean imports in Summer 2016 was not fruitful, either. For Spring 2017, the Unicorns brought in two low-profile Europeans, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort. Xerxe had played for Dark Passage in the TCL, but could not participate in the International Wildcard Qualifiers, due to his age. Samux had played once in the LCS in 2012, but was quickly relegated. He only played in the Challenger Series after that.

Riot further changed the EU LCS format to have two groups that play best-of-threes each week. This format seemed to suit UOL, as they finished the Spring Split in first place for Group B with an 11-2 record. Topping their group afforded UOL a first round bye in the playoffs. They were met by Group A’s second seed, Misfits, who the Unicorns defeated 3-1 to qualify for the finals. This was their first playoff finals over five EU LCS splits. They met defending champions G2 and lost 3-1. UOL was granted 70 championship points.

For the first time since entering the LCS, Unicorns of Love did not change their roster between splits. The team seemed confident coming into the Summer Split with Vizicsacsi, Xerxe, Exileh, Samux and Hylissang. But the summer regular season was slightly worse than spring, mostly due to problems surrounding Exileh and the mid lane. UOL put up a 9-4 record, placing second in Group B behind H2K, based on game score.

Quarterfinals did not look to be much of a problem, as the Unicorns would face Group A’s third seed, Misfits. Unfortunately, UOL could not take a single game, and lost 0-3, ending their playoff run earlier than expected. UOL’s 90 total championship points put them behind Misfits and Fnatic. Unicorns would go to their third straight regional gauntlet.

The Unicorns sat in the second notch of the Regional Qualifiers, after H2K versus Splyce, but before Fnatic. H2K took the victory over Splyce, which meant they could face UOL in a critical moment, once again. In a nail-biter series, H2K secured the 3-2 win, spoiling the Unicorns’ chances of representing Europe at Worlds this year.

2018

 

What will Unicorns of Love do in 2018?

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

What will Unicorns of Love do between now and the 2018 season? Every member of this roster has shown promise in 2017. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang have been with this team since their induction in 2015. Coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant and manager-mascot Romain Bigeard have been staples, as well. Xerxe and Samux have solidified themselves as LCS talents. Exileh may have had a rough Summer Split, but his high points are unquestionable.

Like splits past, Riot has already announced major changes to the EU LCS format for 2018. The LCS will be split into four domestic leagues with a greater league running parallel. UOL has claimed their slot in Berlin, as reported by ESPN, with Roccat and Schalke 04. The current two-group format has treated the Unicorns well during the regular season. Maybe this update will too.

Regardless, the pink-and-white have made their mark on the EU LCS since joining in 2015. Despite falling short of Worlds year after year, UOL has cemented itself as a top contender in the regular season, playoffs and the gauntlet. European teams fear this organization as a competitor, because they know that UOL is destined for greatness. 2015 may not have been their year. 2016 may have been rocky. 2017 may have been heart-breaking. But who knows what 2018 may bring? Will falling short remain Unicorns of Love’s legacy, or will Love finally conquer?


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Names, dates, etc.: Leaguepedia

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Misfits' roster may change in the off-season

Misfits: Europe’s newest international contenders

The EU LCS will be sending a new team to the League of Legends World Championship this year. Misfits are automatically qualified, since they made it into the EU LCS playoff finals. If they win the whole thing, Misfits would be Europe’s first seed team. If they lose the series to G2, then they would be second seed.

Misfits would finish the year with 120 championship points. Fnatic could tie that total by winning the third place match, but, as stated in Riot’s EU LCS rules, “In the event that multiple teams are tied in the standings at the conclusion of the Summer Split, then the team that gained the most points in the Summer Split will be considered the holder of the tiebreaker.”

Misfits’ qualification may come as a surprise to some, as they only managed to finish third in Group A in the Summer Split. However, they have blazed through the quarterfinals and semifinals. Misfits took down Group B’s second seed, Unicorns of Love, 3-0. They also upset Group A’s first seed, Fnatic, 3-1. This squad has certainly been turning heads, and G2 will be their last opponent for the Summer Split.

SPRING SPLIT RECAP

PowerOfEvil is Misfits' mid laner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Misfits came into the Summer Split with 30 championship points, since they finished fourth place in the spring playoffs. During the regular season, Misfits had solidified themselves as second seed of Group A, between G2 and Fnatic. This finish caused Misfits to play Group B’s Splyce in the quarterfinals, who they beat 3-2. Unicorns of Love booted Misfits in semifinals by winning 3-1. Finally, Fnatic skunked Misfits 3-0 in the third place match, forcing them to finish fourth and to earn 30 championship points.

During the spring regular season, Misfits’ losses came at the hands of G2, H2K, Fnatic, and Roccat. Misfits lost both of their series to a G2 that only gave up one loss that split. They also lost their one cross-group match-up to H2K. Fnatic and Roccat were both teams in Group A that traded wins and losses with Misfits.

On the other hand, Misfits won both of their series against fellow Group A team, Giants. They also took down all of the other Group B teams: Unicorns of Love, Vitality, Splyce, and Origen. That is why it was a bit of surprise when Splyce took Misfits to five games in the quarterfinals, and Unicorns of Love beat them outright in four games. Fnatic had really come into their element in the playoffs, so few were as surprised with their victory over Misfits.

CHANGES IN THE MID-SEASON

Maxlore replaced KaKAO in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

These shortcomings in spring playoffs must have been part of the reasoning behind the Misfits’ mid-season roster change. They added Nubar “Maxlore” Safarian as their starting jungler, dropping Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon. There was an official announcement from Misfits’ website, which cited “despite his fantastic individual performance, KaKAO had trouble contributing to communication.”

Throughout the regular season of the Summer Split, this change had not shown to be as impactful as anticipated. It was unclear whether or not Maxlore was a clear upgrade from KaKAO. Maxlore finished Spring Split with a lower KDA, an even damage share, lower XP difference at 15 minutes and a lower first blood rate than KaKAO. To be fair, Maxlore was playing jungler on a highly inconsistent Roccat squad, and he did show moments of brilliance. Also, if communication in and out of the game were of primary concern, then it is difficult as an outsider to judge how much that improved after the switch.

However, Misfits are feeling Maxlore’s impact in the playoffs this summer. Comparing his regular season statistics and performance with those of playoffs shows major improvement. His KDA is 160 percent higher (3.7 to 9.6), his warding has shot up from .82 wards per minute to .97. And he has flipped from starting 107 XP behind at 15 minutes to being 194 ahead. Finally, Misfits’ gameplay around Baron has felt much more calm and calculated during playoffs. This shift cannot be fully contributed to Maxlore, but his presence in playoffs has allowed Misfits’ Baron control to rise from 53 percent (2017 Spring playoffs) to 58 percent (2017 Summer regular season) to 78.6 percent (2017 Summer playoffs).

CHALLENGER SERIES TO WORLDS QUALIFIERS

Hans sama is Misfits' AD carry

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

All in all, Misfits’ 2017 season will culminate in their joining the short list of European teams participating in the World Championship. They will be the 15th team to represent Europe at the event. This is an amazing honor.

Some may not remember that this is Misfits’ inaugural year in the EU LCS. Misfits follow in the path of other European teams that have qualified for Worlds within their first year of joining from the Challenger series. Last year, Splyce and G2 both qualified for Worlds, and they had just been promoted into the LCS that spring. Origen qualified for the 2015 World Championship by winning Europe’s regional gauntlet, despite that summer being their first LCS split.

While Origen has since been relegated from the LCS, G2 and Splyce have maintained a strong presence. G2 continues to stay at the top of the tables and Splyce has remained a playoff contender in Spring and Summer Splits. Hopefully, Misfits will join their ranks to remain a consistent top European team. They will be looking to prove themselves in the EU LCS finals against G2. Then Misfits will travel to China to further build their legacy.


 

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Player Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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