It may be the League of Legends offseason, but some of the most important matches of the year played out this weekend.
In the League Championship Series Expansion Tournament, 12 teams in North America and 12 teams in Europe compete for a rare chance at establishing a pro gaming career. With two spots in each region’s LCS up for grabs, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for a budding professional gamer.
Complexity entered two teams into the race, increasing the odds they’d return to the LCS. But both teams fell in the tournament.
Final Five vs. Complexity Black
Complexity Black was supposed to be the favorite. Three members of last season’s LCS Complexity squad plus two talents from Ex Deus Gloria. But unforeseen problems sunk the team—their jungler, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, a former LCS star on XDG, left the squad, leaving Complexity to scramble for a substitute for the tournament.
Top laner Kenny “I KeNNy u” Nguyen said after the match the team had eight hours of practice with Puchero and just two with replacement Stephen “CloudNguyen” Nguyen. It showed in their games.
Final Five easily handled Complexity, knocking them out of the tournament in two straight games. Ryan “ShorterACE” Nget was a catalyst on Lee Sin, setting up mid laner Austin “Gate” Yu to pull ahead of Complexity’s Neil “Pr0lly” Hammad.
It was a disappointing end to the Complexity saga, an offseason that went from bad to worse.
Curse Academy vs. Complexity White
The other Complexity team were underdogs against Curse Academy, the team that nearly sent Counter Logic Gaming out of the LCS. They looked like it in the match—the Complexity team was outmatched by Curse Academy, favorites to advance.
Mid laner Lae-Young “Keane” Jang put together two solid games, including an 8/3/11 showing on his signature Hecarim, while David “Cop” Roberson made his case for an LCS return with a 13/1/15 KDA line on two games with Corki.
Team Fusion vs. Enemy eSports
The much anticipated American debut of Yoon “MakNooN” Ha-woon did not disappoint. The former Korean superstar showed off in both games, carrying the match as Poppy. In game one he racked up a 14/7/5 KDA line, following it up with a 15/5/3 score in game two. That came against what was supposed to be Enemy’s star player, Andrew “Cackgod” Smith, who even got a nominal lane counter to Poppy in Irelia for game two.
Of course, giving Yoon all the credit would be a sin. Mid laner Kim “HuHi” Seong-jin looked very good, while former Counter Logic Gaming top laner Zach “Nien” Malhas seemed comfortable in his return to his original position, marksman.
The easy victory should comfort fans of Fusion, considering they had yet to play an official game until this weekend.
Coast vs. LoLPro
This was supposed to be a close match between two possible contenders, Coast with their LCS veterans and LoLPro with a lineup of the challenger scene’s top talents. But Coast put together two dominant games, showing that they’re in a different class.
In the first match LoLPro only mustered a single kill, with Coast controlling the game from the get-go. Game two wasn’t particularly better—only mid laner David “Yusui” Bloomquist scored a kill, with a 4/1/0 KDA on Ahri, and only Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin managed an assist.
Coast, who signed European free agents Matt “Impaler” Taylor and Jesse “Jesiz” Le to boost their Expansion hopes, looks more like a team of grizzled veterans than a mercenary squad with still hoping to gel.
The remainder of the tournament will be played live in studio and on the 4.20 patch, a large departure from this weekend’s games. Whichever teams adapt the best to the new patch will likely advance to the LCS and live their pro gaming dreams. Teams will have two weeks to prepare, with matches set for Dec. 12-14.
Right now, Final Five looks like a massive underdog in the face of the experience and firepower mustered by the three other squads. But at least one of those three powerhouses will fall. It’s going to be a bloodbath at the Electronic Sports League studio in Burbank, CA next month.