MLG League of Legends Summer Arena wrap-up

This past weekend, Major League Gaming hosted a League of Legends competition, featuring a $10,000 prize, winner take all. Two teams, Curse Gaming and Team Black, won qualifying tournaments beforehand for spots in this competition. Two other teams were invited to participate and accepted. The first was Azubu Blaze (pictured above), rising Korean stars and winners of OnGameNet The Champions Spring 2012 the and first Korean team ever to compete in a North American LoL tournament. The other group, Team SoloMid, took the MLG 2012 Spring Championship.

The games were commentated by Leigh Smith (Deman), Dan Dinh, and Trevor Henry (Quickshot). They rotated off between who worked the camera controls and commentated on the wrap-up, and made for a very enjoyable announcing cast. It was visibly noticeable that at times Dan Dinh fumbled a little when going over the replays on an interactive smart TV, though despite that, he offered detailed and well-done breakdowns of key moments in the games.

Of course, replays of these games won’t be available to unsubscribed members of the public until the 8th. Below is a brief day-by-day, game-by-game summary of the matches as they happened. Stick around after for some of my general thoughts on the event as well.

Day 1:

The competition started off with a day FULL of domination. In both matches, the winning teams swept all three of the games played. For the newcomers bracket, it was Curse Gaming vs. Team Black, with Curse taking the win for the day, 3 games to 0. It got off to a notable start in game one with Curse picking Rumble for top lane, and leading to a very distinct advantage with higher magic damage coming out from their team when paired with Morgana, who was picked for mid lane, against Malphite and Karthus respectively from Black. Things only got worse for Team black into the second game, where they lost, only managing a single kill the whole game, and sealing their loss for the set.

After that it was community favorites Team SoloMid against Azubu Blaze. Many a fan would be upset when Azubu wrecked TSM in all three of the games in the set, walking away 3 to 0. It started off close, with TSM managing to keep close to Azubu in terms of kills and earned gold. Azubu would do too good a job at knocking down towers and pushing into the TSM base to pull out the first win. In the following two games Azubu’s ReaperTear picked Irelia for the solo lane. ReaperTear was able to stick to and control TSM’s Chaox, playing Ashe and Corki in the respective games, managing to force him out of any big team fights, and thereby keeping him from effectively dealing damage and getting kills.

Day 2:

Kicking off the day was Team Black taking on Azubu Blaze. I feel really bad for the members of Team Black, who ended up losing in a landslide to Azubu. Early skirmishes in level 1 jungle invades, followed by early ganking lead Azubu to take first blood in game one. It seemed like Team Black would be able to keep pace with retaliating ganks, and taking the first tower, though quick reactions by members of Azubu would swing the game in their favor, and lead to a win with a 19-kill and 18,000-gold lead. The second game only got worse for Team Black when an early attempt to invade Azubu’s jungle lead to a four-kill start, three of them by ReaperTear (playing Jax), allowing him to become incredibly fed early on. By the end of the game, ReaperTear dominated the match, with 13 kills in his name, and only two deaths.

The final match of the day was Team Solo Mid vs. Curse Gaming. The first game actually saw Curse taking a strong lead in kills. They would fail to push into TSM’s base though, TSM managing to fight their way to Curse’s base for a win. The second match would start off with low kill counts on both sides, early ganking apparent, but each time, the victim manages to just barely escape. TSM pulled together when the teamfighting started, and pulled out the win with ease. Things are much the same in the third match, with TSM scoring an ace 17 minutes in, and Chaox scoring a quadra kill in the last moments of the game, before TSM won, using his old bread-and-butter champion, Graves. 

Day 3:

Day three kicked off with Azubu Blaze taking on Curse Gaming. In the first game, both teams invaded each other’s jungles to little conflict. Curse sought to gank often, but Azubu showed their pure discipline, reversing most of the ganks to take back the win. Game two got interesting, with Curse throwing an amazing amount of pressure on Azubu with early ganks, and taking down a lot of towers early on, ending the game by killing all the members of Azubu for an ace, the final inhibitor, and the nexus! Azubu sought to undo the strategy in round three, favoring a very “leap”-heavy setup to jump the Karthus on Curse that was doing so much damage in the second match, and shut him down. They were able to rotate in and out from under turrets, and push their way into Curse’s base to take the match.

The next match for the day was Team SoloMid versus Team Black. In the first game, TSM took an early lead on kills, leading by 8 with 3 towers as well at 15 minutes in. They only continued to spiral out of control, the score reaching 19-2 at 20 minutes, and ending with a score of 31-4, TSM winning the first game. TSM seemed to want to fool around in the second game, choosing a “troll” composition with Nunu in the jungle, Mordekaiser solo bottom, Ezreal and Alistair top lane, and an AP Master Yi in mid lane. At least, that’s how it started. The whole game, they would rotate lanes frequently, and lead in kills the whole match. Despite losing, Team black would manage to keep up the fight for most of the match. They managed to take a lead early in the first game, both in kills, and by taking the mid tower from TSM. TSM would pick up the defense though, and push whenever openings presented themselves, making for a quick win at just 20 minutes in.

The finals:

That evening, the finals took place, allowing Team SoloMid to try one more time to take down Azubu Blaze in a rematch. Right off the bat, TSM was off to a bad start in the first game, when Xpecial accidentally wasted his flash at the very start of the match. Azubu managed to pull out first blood over TSM, getting a slight early lead, though it would not last long as TSM was able to keep pace in terms of gold earned. At roughly 19 minutes in, the game swung in Azubu’s favor, when TSM tried to fight them for the dragon in the river, but failed to overtake either the dragon, or Azubu. Azubu would only continue to snowball out of control into a win.

The second game got off to a much more interesting start. TSM chooses a much more gank-focused team, choosing Ashe, Twisted Fate, and Nocturne, while Azubu, on the other hand, focused on durable characters. While both teams went to invade each other’s jungles, neither would meet before taking their lanes. TSM tried to pull out a bevy of early-game ganks only to have most of them backfire. Towards the mid game, the ganks start picking up success, and managed to push in on Azubu. Azubu kept cool playing defensive and, eventually, their team’s durable characters manage to outlast the quick burst damage that the incomplete builds of TSM pulled out, and scored an Ace. Going into late game, TSM finished the high-damage items on Ashe, Nocturn, and Twisted Fate, moving in and pushing Azubu back to their base when…

The stream dies! Technical difficulties struck, and eventually, the match had to be restarted with the same champions picked, and the same rune and masteries set up.

The restarted match begun with a lot more action, as Azubu wins a level 1 jungle invade, two kills to one. By 15 minutes into the match, Azubu lead TSM in kills, 7-3, and took the first tower shortly after. It seems that, for a while after, TSM was managing to catch up by ganking and killing the occasional lone member of Azubu. They are quickly shut down when Azubu popped back in force to win a teamfight at 27 minutes in. The final nail in the coffin for TSM was when they tried to force a team fight by baiting Azubu at Baron, only to have Azubu obliterate them instead, the TSM nexus falling very shortly after.

Final thoughts:

Team Azubu Blaze really came in strong to represent Korea in this tournament. Only one team managed to beat them at all, Curse Gaming, and even then, it was only in one game out of the three they played. $10,000 went to the winners, and — I can only imagine — a strong sense of national pride. The level of skill they showed as a team was really something to marvel at. Plus, that ReaperTear used Irelia. Nothing can go wrong with an Irelia around.

There were a few other things that did universally stand out during the weekend. A big thing that was seen, pretty much all three days, was Maokai, jungling, and building Boots of Mobility as the first item. It’s an interesting prospect, because the boots do allow for faster movement, which is important for a character like a jungler, who will be frequently crisscrossing the map. Another trend I noticed was an extremely clutch use of the teleport spell. Not only for getting back to lane faster after returning to base, but for quickly getting to teamfights from across the map, and even by ReaperTear in the start of the third game against Team Black to snag credit for an attempted tower execution during the level 1 jungle invade.

You can go here for more detailed rundowns of the scores, and individual stats of each player. If you visit the MLG YouTube channel, you can watch highlights of each game from the competition. And if you want even more, replays of each game will be available to the public over here starting Wednesday, August 8th.

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Sterling Lyons
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