October 6th, 2012
Author: Ambrielle Army
With the start of the World Championship this week, let’s take a look at how the North American teams earned their way to the Los Angeles, California.
Eight of North America’s top teams competed in the North American Regional Finals for Season Two at PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington last month. Each team vied for the chance to attend the Season Two World Championships hosted by Riot Games. The eight teams competed against one another for their share of the $150,000USD prize pool, but surely the prospect of the $2,000,000USD prize pool for the World Championship teams was in mind as well. The games had some phenomenal casting by Phreak, Rivington, Jaws and Jatt. In addition, winners of the North American Regional Finals also earned their entire team a guaranteed salary from Riot Games, creators of League of Legends, for the entirety of Season 3. This sort of business plan in the professional gaming scene is nearly unheard of and gave the teams an even bigger incentive to work towards, a reliable and steady income for the upcoming year.
The eight teams that had the opportunity to compete at the event were determined by the North American Challenger Circuit – those with the most points during the Challenger Circuit were invited. These circuit points determined each team’s seeding for the brackets, which was especially important as the matches were a best-of-three single elimination matches. Team Solo Mid, mMe Ferus, Team Solo Mid Evo, Curse Gaming, Team Dignitas, Team Dynamic, Team Legion and Counter Logic Gaming Prime all qualified for the event.
Team Solo Mid, Team Dignitas, Curse Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming made it to the Semifinals completing a fairly predictable first round that resulted in no upsets, as all four of these teams have had extremely strong showings at LANs in the past. Team Solo Mid, Team Dignitas and Curse Gaming all triumphed over their opponents with a 2-0 game score and CLG Prime won a somewhat closer set against Team Legion with a 2-1 game score.
Team Solo Mid vs. Curse Gaming:
Interestingly enough, out of the eight matches played throughout the event, only two would go to a third and decisive match. This would be one of those matches. Team Solo Mid would take the first game behind strong Shen play. During the bans for the second game, Team Curse took a hint and would ban Shen and eventually picking Vladimir, Corki, Nunu, Shyvana and Morgana for themselves. TSM chose Blitzcrank, Maokai, Rumble, Graves and Ryze, but were not able to repeat their first game success. Both teams would not stray too far from their previous plans as bans for the last game remained fairly constant with the previous two games. Curse would end up picking Shyvana, Corki, Ahri, Blitzcrank and Darius. While TSM would pick Nunu, Sona, Morgana, Graves and Jayce for their lineup (who only just began seeing tournament play). Jayce proved to be a very strong pick for TSM’s top lane player, Dyrus, as he would lead TSM to a game three victory over Curse giving TSM the match 2-1.
Counter Logic Gaming vs. Team Dignitas:
In the Counter Logic Gaming and Team Dignitas match, bans included Skarner, Twisted Fate, Olaf and Sivir in every match. CLG’s team composition including Shen, Kog’Maw, Vladimir, Sona and Anivia versus Dignitas’s choice of Udyr, Nunu, Irelia, Ezreal and Gragas. This first game was played very defensively from both sides during the early stages with Team Dignitas grinding out a game one win. For the second game, Dignitas took early control with Alistar, Janna, Gragas, Nidalee and Caitlyn orchestrating a hurtful poke composition. CLG chose Kog’Maw, Rumble, Orianna, Cho’Gath and Sona to defend against it. Although, it looked like CLG’s defenses would easily overrun by Dignitas’ poke team comp, but CLG would hold onto their last chance at reaching the finals with everything they had. In what eventually became the longest professional game of League of Legends in history at 76 minutes. Counter Logic Gaming would eventually succumb to Team Dignitas. Team Dignitas would advance into the finals against the victor of the other semifinal match: Team Solo Mid. This left CLG to battle Curse for the third qualifying spot for the World Championship.
The Finals & 3rd Place Match
With only three teams advancing to the World Championships from the North American region, the winner of this match would earn a place in the World Championship for their team, while the loser would have to wait until Season Three.
Counter Logic Gaming vs. Curse Gaming (3rd Place Match):
In the first game, Curse would end up with Maokai, Vladimir, Corki, Blitzcrank and Morgana against CLG’s Sona, Graves, Gragas, Olaf and Dr. Mundo. At the last moment, CLG revealed that they would bring not only promote as an unconventional summoner spell choice, but also three teleports. The mobility and pushing power by CLG’s unique composition would come to overwhelm Curse in game one.
In the second game of this best-of-three match, Curse brought Shen, Corki Sona, Shyvana and Karthus to the battlefield while CLG chose to bring Alistar, Graves, Lulu, Orianna and Jax. Despite winning game one with a unique strategy, CLG stayed close to a very traditional route for the second game. While this game proved to be much closer than the first, CLG once again came out on top. With the second game win, CLG secured the third and final spot in the World Championships.
Team Solo Mid vs. Team Dignitas (Finals Match):
The match between Team Solo Mid and Team Dignitas would follow traditional strategies compared to CLG’s unprecedented teleport composition. TSM picked Shen, Morgana, Corki, Shyvana and Sona, while Team Dignitas went with Skarner, Lulu, Rumble, Kog’Maw and Ryze. This matchup appeared fairly even, but TSM would come out on top by a small margin at every engagement, eventually snowballing them into a large lead and a game one victory. For the second game, Team Dignitas tried a poke composition, running Nunu, Janna, Gragas, Caitlyn and Nidalee against TSM’s Vladimir, Corki, Soraka, Morgana and Skarner. The poke composition could not stand up against the early aggression from TSM, which sealed the fate of the second game giving TSM the first place finish in the North America Regional Finals and a bye to the quarter-finals at the World Championship.
Overall, there were very few upsets in the North American Regionals, although many viewers hoped to see the top spots going to a few of the underdog teams.