Saintvicious – North America's pioneering jungler
Since the beginning of League Of Legends Brandon 'Saintvicious' Dimarco has been one of the most influential junglers of all time. Making a name for himself early on in his career with his time spent jungling for Counter Logic Gaming, where he was able to get some impressive finishes at several major international events. Following his departure from CLG Saint proceeded to join Team Curse and later Curse's B squad Curse Academy( now called team Gravity). As well as providing immense map pressure and being a driving force behind his laners success Saint has also been a name synonymous with the original counter jungling play-style that proved dominant in early LOL.
Looking back on Saint's career it is clear to see that the power he brings his team from the jungle has been one of the key elements to their success. Throughout this article I will outline the impact Saint has had on each of these teams and how having him in their team is what brought them the success that they got.
Counter Logic Gaming – the original kings
When people think about the most dominant teams in LOL history one of the teams that always comes to mind is Counter Logic Gaming. Saintvicious joined CLG in early 2011 after the departure of their previous jungler Kobe24. In 2011 CLG were making a name for themselves with dominating performances at several international LANS taking games off of teams such as Fnatic,Team Solo Mid and SK Gaming. A key reason behind these victories over top international teams came in the form of CLG's jungler Saintvicious. Having been around since the beginning of League Of Legends Saint brought this squad a vast amount of experience and knowledge to the jungle position and was able to use his unique style of aggressive counter-jungling and counter-ganking to give his team the resources they needed to win.
Saints first major tournament with this team would be the Season 1 Championship where the team would take fifth place after dropping out in the bracket stage to eventual tournament winners FNATIC. With Saint performing well at this tournament it was clear he was an amazing acquisition for CLG and would continue to prove his worth over the next few months. With CLG consistently dominating fellow North American teams Epik Gamer, Team Solo Mid and Curse it was clear they would be NA's best bet for taking down international greats such as World Elite and FNATIC.
CLG's first chance to show how much they had improved since World's came during IEM Global Challenge Cologne, a tournament where they would be joined by top European teams Fnatic and SK Gaming. CLG would take their group 3-0 taking games off of both of these teams and Polish team Frag eXecutors. CLG would then go on to beat team Millennium in the semifinals and Team Solo Mid in the finals to take home the win in the tournament.
Following this dominating performance against international competition CLG would go into MLG Raleigh 2011 with their sights set on victory. With this being a domestic tournament it was expected that CLG would show their dominance and take the tournament with great ease. Unsurprisingly this is what happened and with them only dropping 2 out of their 12 games played CLG took a convincing first place finish in this tournament. CLG would continue this trend throughout 2011 with them getting several top four finishes against top international competition.
Coming into 2012 CLG would make the decision to switch out their long time play Elementz and pick up the rising star Doublelift. With this new roster CLG would continue to widen their range of competition when they received an invitation to play in the OnGameNet LOL Invitational in February of 2012. This tournament had CLG up against some of the top Korean teams such as MiG, Najin and Startale as well as top Chinese team World Elite. Here CLG would show their strength's as they took games off of World Elite and Najin and advanced to the finals where they would play a best of 3 against the best Korean team MiG Frost. Sadly CLG couldn't beat the Korean powerhouse and went home with the second place finish.
This wouldn't be CLG's only taste of Korean LOL though, with them entering The Champions Spring 2012. With them surrounded by top talent from Korea this was CLG's chance to show the Korean scene what they could do. With them beating out team NeL and team XD CLG would advance on to the bracket stage of the tournament where they would be up against MiG Blaze. Sadly for CLG the eventual tournament winners Blaze proved too strong for them as they quickly dominated them in a convincing 2-0 victory.
Following this disappointing performance in OGN CLG would go back to North America and compete in the domestic tournament IPL4. Here CLG would once again show how dominant they were in North America with them taking dominant 2-0 victories over Monomaniac Esports, V8 Esports and team Dignitas to make their way into the finals where they would be up against Team Solo Mid. This would be a definitive moment in the life of Saintvicious as it was his poor performance at this LAN that enevitably resulted in his release from CLG.
Curse – the CLG rejects
After their performance at IPL4 CLG owner HotshotGG made the decision to bench Saintvicious. Almost immediately after being released from CLG Saintvicious announced he would be joining team Curse as their jungler. With him being signed by Curse Saint would be joined by Cop, Westrice, Nyjacky and Elementz and this new Curse roster.
This new curse roster would proceed to try and work their way towards qualifying for the North American Regionals so that they could qualify for the Season 2 World Championship. The two major tournaments they would compete in were the 2012 MLG Anaheim and IPL Face Off: San Francisco Showdown. With this addition of Saintvicious to their roster the Curse team looked stronger than ever and were expected to have high placings at both of these tournaments.
Coming into MLG Anaheim Curse would be joined by some of the greatest teams from around the world including Europe's Fnatic and CLG EU and North America's Team Solo Mid and Counter Logic Gaming. Curse's first opponent in the tournament would be Team Legion, a team who had looked strong coming into this tournament but were no match for Curse as they showed their dominance with a 2-0 victory. This victory over Legion put Curse into the next round this time up against Saint's old team CLG. This game would be the first of many where Saint would get to prove his old team wrong and show them that he was a top jungler.
Sadly for Saint this series ended in a 0-2 loss to CLG which resulted in Curse being dropped into the loser's bracket of the tournament. Here they would find themselves up against Team Dynamic, a team containing two big rising stars NintendudeX and ZionSpartan. Again Curse failed to show up an lost the series 2-1 to Team Dynamic.
Curse's next chance at proving they were a top team came at IPL Face Off. Here they would meet other North American teams Team Legion,Team Solo Mid and MTW along with international teams such as Singapore Sentinals and Team World Elite. In the first round of this tournament Curse would lose to SGS and drop into the losers bracket. But then came an amazing run from Curse as they won four best of 3 sets in a row against oRB, WE, MTW and Legion. After this huge run Curse would be up against TSM in the finals of the tournament. Here would be there chance to show that they had what it took to be a top team in North America. Sadly for Curse TSM were too strong and as they had done in many tournaments prior to this, they quickly stomped Curse in a dominating 3-0 victory.
With numerous top placing in local North American tournaments and decent performances at international tournaments Curse had earned themselves enough circuit points to qualify for the North American Regionals. In the first round of this tournament Curse would find themselves up against TSM.Evo, this team was packed full of rising stars who were looking strong in local online tournaments. Despite this reputation of being a strong team full of new talent Curse took a convincing 2-0 victory over them. With this victory Curse looked strong going into the next round of the tournament where they would meet the North American giant Team Solo Mid. Here Curse would put up a good fight but sadly dropped the series 2-1 being the only team in the tournament to take a game off of TSM. With this loss to TSM Curse's final chance at qualifying for Worlds would be against CLG.
This series saw Saint once again jungling against his long time rival HotshotGG and once again falling to him. With CLG taking this series 2-0 Curse went home in the infamous fourth place. With this disappointing result at the regionals Curse decided to make changes within their roster. This meant they would be swapping out veteran support Elementz for upcoming star Rhux.
With this new roster the team would look to enter IPL5 to see if they could reclaim some of their previous glory. The group stage of this tournament had Team Curse up against the Season 2 world Champions TPA, the European favourite Moscow Five and the South East Asian team Blackbean. Team Curse finished third in this group and were dropped into the lower bracket of the tournament where they would meet Team Dynamic. This set would result in Curse winning 2-0 and moving into the next round to meet their sister team from overseas Curse EU. Once again Curse would prove their worth and win the series 2-1. with this victory Curse moved on to the next round where they would meet the World Championship winners TPA. Sadly this was the end of the road for Curse as they dropped the series 0-2 to TPA leaving the tournament with a top 8 finish.
After this series of impressive tournament finishes in season two Saintvicious and Curse would be qualified into the North American LCS season 3 qualifier. This tournament would arguably be the biggest of Saint's life as this was his chance at having a secure job as a League Of Legends player. Curse proceeded to crush their group stage advancing to their final set of the tournament where they would have to beat Azure Gaming to get their spot in the LCS. Curse would make quick work of this team as they beat them 2-0 and grabbed their spot in the 2013 Spring LCS.
Although RIOT had changed the leagues to minimise the amount of international tournaments with the introduction of the new league system Curse still managed to compete in a couple of international LANS during 2013. the first of these would be IEM Katowice where Curse would get experience against the top teams from around the world such as Gambit Gaming and Azubu Blaze. The experience they gained from this LAN was quickly shown as they entered the LCS and went undefeated for four straight weeks. During the Spring Split Curse would also compete in a North American LAN along side Team Dignitas, KT Rolster B and Gambit Gaming. Once again despite having a poor performance they got some good experience against a top Korean team.
Being one of the only teams to get international experience in Season 3 Curse showed impressive improvement from their season 2 performance as they finished second in the league behind only Team Solo Mid. With this dominant run through the league Curse looked strong going into the Spring Play-offs. Curse got a second round bye during the play-offs so they were to face the winner of Dignitas versus Good Game University. With both of these teams looking reasonably weak coming into the play-offs Curse seemed like a shoe in to get to the finals. This was not the case however when Curse dropped the series 2-1 to GGU. This defeat against GGU put Curse into the third place match against another weak team, Team Vulcun. But sadly once again Curse were defeated as they lost the series 2-1 to Vulcun.
With this disappointing fourth place finish in the Spring Split Curse were looking to revitalise their roster coming into the Summer Split. This would come in the form of Edward, the support for Gambit Gaming joining their squad. With this new top tier play making support a lot of pressure was taken off Saint so he could potentially have more impact around the map.
The Summer Split started off shaky for Curse as they were in the bottom three teams for eight weeks in a row. With this consistently poor performance it was looking like curse weren't even going to make the play-offs as they still trailed in seventh place by week 8 of the LCS. Then in week 9 Curse had a huge spurt of victory as they jumped up the ranking from seventh to fourth place and secured their spot in the Summer play-offs. Curse's first match in the play-offs would be up against Team Dignitas. With Curse's recent strong showing in the last week of the regular season they were expected to take this series against Dig with great ease. Once again Curse failed to show step up to the plate and dropped the series 2-1 to Dig. This loss to Dig put Curse into the fifth place match and put them at risk of entering relegations. Their make or break match was another match-up against Saint's old team Counter Logic Gaming. Once again Curse choked on the big stage and dropped into sixth place for the season and headed into the relegations.
Climbing back to the top
With this incredibly disappointing performance in the Summer Split Curse decided it was time for some roster change. Included in these changes was Saintvicious leaving Curse as a player and moving into a more Coach/analyst related role. Saint would then go unseen in the pro scene for a series of months doing nothing but streaming from the Curse house. This silence would then be broken during the middle of the spring split as he returned to the Curse main roster as the support player, replacing Zekent. His time spent as Curse's support was questionable as he was very underwhelming and struggled to engage some of the simplest of fights.
After four weeks of being Curse's support Saint went back into the shadows as he was replaced by BunnyFuFu. Several months later Saint once again returned this time to play with Curse Academy with hopes of re-qualifying for the LCS. His first chance at this would come during the 2014 Summer relegations where Saint would once again meet his old team CLG. With their careers on the line Curse Academy went into this tournament with nothing to lose. CA quickly took a 2-0 lead in their series against CLG and looked ready to take their spot in the 2014 Spring Split. Between the second and third game of this series something must of hit CA as they proceeded to lose three games in a row and dropped the series 3-2 to CLG.
Coming off of this defeat from CLG Curse Academy looked broken but with a few interesting roster moves they quickly got back on their feet. This roster swap reunited Saint with his old Curse ADC Cop and added some new blood to the top lane of Curse Academy in the form of Hauntzer. With this roster looking strong they headed into the Spring Expansion Tournament with high hopes to be qualifying for the 2015 Spring Split.
Curse Academy's first big game was up against ex-LCS team Complexity White. White had recently gone through some serious roster changes and were looking shaky coming into their set against CA. The weakness in their recent roster changes quickly showed as CA took a dominating win with a quick 2-0. This win against COL took CA into the final four elimination stage of the tournament. Here they would meet the 3 other best teams from the challenger series and they would battle it out to see who could get the final two spots in the Spring Split. CA's first series was against Team Coast, a team that had recently imported some talent from Europe. This European talent included ex-Super hot crew jungler Impaler and recent World Championship attender Jesiz. Despite this high level EU talent Curse Academy took a convincing 3-1 victory and moved on to the next round. The next stage of the tournament saw CA up against new formed Team Fusion another team with imported talent but this time from Korea. With ex-Najin and CJ player Maknoon and ex-Bigfile Miracle player HuHi this Fusion roster looked like they had everything in their favour. However once again CA managed to prove that imported talent wasn't all that its cracked up to be and beat Fusion 3-1 to qualify for the 2015 Spring Split.
With him qualifying for the Spring Split this is the second time Saint has gone through this qualifying tournament and has once again proved he still has what it takes to be a top jungler. When people think back on Saint's career they think of late night drunk streams, frequent heated arguments with HotshotGG and missed smites but most of all they think of one of the most dominant, strategical and mechanically gifted junglers of all time.