A final with NA and China facing off? Are you sure we are talking about a League of Legends tournament where Korea was invited? For those of you that didn’t know, the International College Cup took place over the past week with teams from around the world being invited and hosted in China. While there might have been numerous technical issues abound, the quality of the games still thrived!
Group Stage for China and North America
With 12 teams invited, the possibility that the group stage would end with Group A going over for Haikou College of Economics (HKC) while Group B ended up having the other Chinese team, Guangzhou Baiyun (BTC) being in second place should not be too likely. This would place them against one another in the semi-finals. Add on that Group B was won by NA’s Maryville University (MU) and Group B saw University of Toronto finishing second themselves. China vs China. NA vs NA. For the semifinals.
However, that’s not the full story of the group stages. There were so many question marks from a lot of people when viewing many of the regions attending the competition. While North America’s collegiate scene has been extremely visible, the same wasn’t the case for Japan or even for Korea. Many were wondering just how well many of these teams would perform, but two things became quickly clear; China and North America take their collegiate scene very seriously. HKC and MU dominated their respective groups while UoT and BTC still played amazingly dropping games to their group winners only.
The Upset and the Smash
As we move into the semi-finals, China’s two teams met. While HKC was a favorite going in, even they couldn’t have expected just how well they beat their collegiate compatriots. Not only was it a clean 2-0, continuing their undefeated streak, but they barely seemed to even have a chance to lose. With a star support like Sub3, the bot lane was always able to get rolling right away and then skirmish their way to domination.
But as we moved to the NA semis, things went strange right off the bat. Not only did UoT take game 1, but they did it definitively. They played the pick comp they had drafted amazingly and take objective after objective after those picks. Then game 2 was the exact opposite. Maryville were able to show that when they don’t fall behind too quickly then they will win the series in the macro game. However, as game 3 came up, many were seeing flashbacks to ULoL where MU took down UoT before. But that didn’t go the same path as UoT returned to form and even drafted a more late game comp in order to be able to keep up with MU in that macro sense, but even outscale them.
Moving into the finals, HKC were looking to take the trophy with ease. And for those of you that know or are about to have it spoiled, the 2-0 they got doesn’t do justice to UoT. This was a thrilling finals to watch as it looked like both games could go either way.
The triple ADC comp drafted by HKC almost seemed a bit trollish, but with a Taric to back them up they had it all in their court. But UoT fought tooth and nail to the bitter end and even saw their Jungler Bananas able to steal a baron from right under the noses of HKC’s Apples. But in the end, it was Apples that was the deciding factor for game 1 on Zac has he was able to consistently get onto Tristana to shut down the damage of UoT.
With such a hard fought loss in game 1, game 2 seemed to be exactly what UoT needed as they pulled out to an early 2k gold lead with 4 kills. But the great rotations from HKC and gank after gank, UoT fell behind massively. At least until they were able to get an amazing pick onto Sub3 around baron and transition that into more objectives. HKC looked to be on the edge of defeat for the first time all tournament, and that fire built up in them. They blasted back into the game with amazing fights over UoT into ATM using Fiora as a distraction so his team could get their first baron, the third one, of the game. One failed attempt to backdoor from HKC still led to a 43-minute win.
These two games were the closest that HKC came to losing to any team, even to UoT from before in the group stage. But HKC were the scrappier team in the end and they knew how to manage the chaos they caused. The trophy they raised over their heads was well deserved.