This week the future career path of dozens of League of Legends pros will forever change thanks to the relegation and promotion tournament, which determines who makes the League Championship Series and who doesn’t.
Entering the LCS instantly makes you a professional, with salary and rewards requisite a player in the biggest League competition in the world in a regularly broadcast weekly competition. Exiting could end your career.
One match can decide whether players embark on their own professional gaming odyssey or find themselves looking for a new line of work. That was no more evident than in the Counter Logic Gaming and Curse Academy series, where the LCS veterans were taken to the brink of elimination.
Counter Logic Gaming narrowly survived their run-in with Curse, losing the first two games before storming back with three straight wins to take the series 3-2.
Curse Academy surprised Counter Logic and spectators of the match with their level of play. Mid laner Lae-young “Keane” Jang, recently recruited before relegations, put on a show with his signature champion Orianna in the first two games, combining for a 11/4/23 KDA. Counter Logic had to take the champion away from Curse in picks and bans to mount a comeback.
Support player Michael “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo, an LCS veteran himself, also put together a solid performance, including a ridiculous Thresh play to catch out the opposing marksman.
But the real story behind Curse Academy was their indomitable in-game leader. Brandon “SaintVicious” DiMarco used to be considered the best jungler in America—when he was a member of Counter Logic Gaming. After he left the team in 2012, it’s arguable that neither party was ever the same. Knocking out Counter Logic and taking their spot in the league would be a poetic start to a new chapter in DiMarcos’ storied career.
It almost happened. When Curse Academy pulled ahead 2-0, it seemed like the series was over. As Dignitas’ William “Scarra” Li said on the broadcast: “If any team will lose 3-0, after going down 2-0, it’s CLG.” Through their history, the team seemingly lacked mental fortitude, the ability to improve performance in clutch situations.
Fans and analysts alike were quick to criticize Counter Logic for acting, well, counter logically: team fighting with a pick composition, stacking in baron pit against Oriannas’ shockwave.
I can’t. It goes against all logic the choices they’re making strategically.
— Nick De Cesare (@Im_ls) September 9, 2014
But in true Counter Logic fashion, the team that always crumbled didn’t this time. They fell back on one of their old hat strategies, protecting their superstar marksman, Peter “DoubleLift” Peng. And it worked
In the final three games, Peng put up a 15/2/17 KDA, decimating his lane and using that lead to carry the match. In game three, he accounted for eight of 10 kills, with 100 percent kill participation. When Counter Logic had their backs to the wall, they relied on their star player, and he came through. Curse Gaming support Alex “Xpecial” Chu called the game-three win “the most Counter Logic game ever” after the match.
Few expected Curse Academy to stand a chance. The Counter Logic team entered this LCS season with huge expectations. They were one of the top three teams from Spring, and their level of play was trending upwards at the end of that season. They were ready for a run to the World Championships. But results during the season were just so-so. The team decided to skip the final week for a bootcamp in Korea, in the hopes that playing against the best teams in the world would raise their level. It didn’t work. The team returned for the playoffs and were promptly swept by Curse Gaming before losing to Dignitas to place sixth in the LCS and fall to relegations.
Counter Logic had a 1-8 map record since the bootcamp before their near miraculous three-game comeback against Curse Academy, saving their season at the last possible second.
Also surviving for another LCS season yesterday were Copenhagen Wolves, who beat H2K in a 3-0 sweep. Wolves maintained their spot in the LCS after placing seventh in the regular season with an 8-20 record.
Relegations continue through the week. Today Gambit Gaming defends their LCS spot against SK Gaming Prime, while Evil Geniuses takes on former LCS squad Coast. On Thursday, Unicorns of Love challenge Millenium while LCS newcomers Complexity look to survive against Team 8.
Unlike previous seasons, relegated teams will have one last chance to reach the LCS. Due to expansion, two extra teams will be added to each league.