Last Sunday, the UK League community took part in a surprisingly historical event, as it witnessed the first ever League of Legends tournament of the decade! (Perhaps excluding some events in the east.)
Jokes aside, the Neosurf cup was a very important occasion for fans of the LEC and particularly for those who support the two participants: Misfits Gaming and Excel. As the first event of the year featuring major teams playing in Europe, the Cup was a valuable preview as to what could be expected out of the competitive scene in the weeks to come. With the Spring Split just around the corner, teams had a chance to test out compositions, get a feeling of the meta and try different strategies.
So what were the takeaways from the five games?
First of all, players who (pun intended) excelled in this series deserve to be recognized.
Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz in particular shined throughout the first games. His aggressive, proactive style of jungling seems to mesh pretty well with the current meta. In their victories, Misfits obtained a lead through Razork’s ganks and roams and used it to secure the now all-important dragons and Barons uncontested. Razork had pretty good performances on Rek’sai. He also clearly displayed his synergy with Support Petr “Denyk” Haramach.
Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte proved to be the constant element of pressure that Misfit needed. His performance as Rumble in both games was brilliant. Pushing the side lanes, getting picks, crushing team fights and pulling off comebacks, Dan Dan showed just how reliable he could be.
On the other side of the bushes, it’s Marc “Caedrel” Robert Lamont! Excel’s jungler also managed to have an outstanding performance. He was arguably (and officially crowned as) the MVP of the series. When things were looking bleak for the Excel team, his early game aggression and dominance on Lee and Jarvan single-handedly saved the day.
Excel’s two botlane duos earned some recognition: Patrik “Patrik” Jírů, Tore “Tore” Hoel Eilertsen, Raymond “Kasing” Tsang and Matthew “Deadly” Smith. Special props should be given to Deadly, who, despite his status as a rookie, stepped up in Game 5 and had some brilliant moments on the Miss Fortune.
Sadly, not all players had a chance to shine in this series.
Ronaldo “Ronaldooo” Betea in particular lost both of the games he took part in. The decision of the coaches to sub him out for Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten right after Game 1 should perhaps come into question. While the performance of Febiven was definitely better, no one expected Ronaldooo to play at the same level still. Giving some much needed experience to the rookie might have been beneficial but maybe not at the cost of a loss. We might have to watch out as to how this affects Ronaldooo.
It was also a sad day for the Koreans. Ju “Bvoy” Yeong-hoon and Son “Mickey” Young-min had some weak performances. Although Bvoy did not play poorly, he was sometimes caught out at crucial moments which may have cost his team the match. Mickey on the other hand was caught out far too much at times and even straight up lost the lane matchup against Febiven. One of the main reasons Misfits lasted so long in Game 5 was due to the 100 CS deficit that Mickey had against Febiven’s Ryze.
Excel in Review
If judged by the first three games of the series, perhaps harsh critics may say that Excel still suffers from fundamental issues. Perhaps some would say that they are a weak team.
However, Games 4 and 5 acted as a sort of statement. The ability to adapt so well to their mistakes in the middle of a series is more than commendable. Although it could be said that their success came on the back of dominant play by Caedren, the shift in strategies and focus in the entire team was still noticeable.
Excel made excellent use of their 10-man roster. Many of their members, especially those in the bot lane, had their time to shine and take full advantage of their strengths and synergies.
The influence of the six star general, Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool is quite powerful even in this first outing of the organization in a show match. With his guidance, it seems like the whole lineup can quickly identify mistakes and adapt to solve them. Considering the environment of inner competition that he is enforcing, we might see a surprising development of Excel players in the near future.
Misfits in Review
Though Excel stood victorious at the end of the day, Misfits still delivered some good performances. In the first three games of the series, they showed incredible amounts of coordination and synergy.
Contrary to the failed super team of last year, this Misfits does not seem like a team that is on the verge of being good yet constantly lacking; it appears like a good team that simply needs polishing.
Misfits has a clear identity that they want to work around: through the synergy of Razork, and Denyk they aim to get a lead early and then systematically push it through rotations and vision to secure objectives and smoothly scale their carries into the Late Game.
They were able to mostly pull off this strategy in the first three games, but stumbled across some issues. In Game 1, their patient play and their tendency to stay grouped, while healthy, also slowed down the match too much and gave their opponents an opportunity to catch up and turn a fight.
In the final two games, with Razork out-pressured and the mid laner stuck on champs that took too long to come online, it seemed as though Misfits couldn’t find something to hold onto as the gold lead grew bigger and bigger. Despite these setbacks, Misfits still put up a fight. Particularly, smart rotations in Game 5 would allow them to trade objectives with Excel and stay relatively even. However, a trend in this series was that at some point, the lead of the winner grew too much and their opponents could no longer contest objectives.
Excel is looking good and Misfits is looking good. The fact that these, in theory, are the “low-tier” teams in the LEC is quite telling. Today, the audience did not witness impeccable or flawless league play. But they did watch some good League of Legends.
The future seems bright for both organizations as they develop their rookie talent further as well as find new strategies to utilize them effectively. It is certain that they will both appreciate this experience ahead of the 2020 Spring Split.
“From Our Haus to Yours”