It is commonly said that one should keep their friends close and their enemies closer. Unfortunately, this strategy backfired on the Cal “League of Legends” team last weekend.
In 2017, UCSD eliminated Cal from regional playoffs — this year, the two teams were practice partners, scrimming each other to prepare for tournament games.
On Saturday, Cal lost 0-2 to UCSD in its final regular-season match. The team concluded the tournament with a 4-2 record overall and no chance of returning to the College League of Legends playoffs.
“Once we saw we had drawn UCSD we knew this would be harder,” said support Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons. “We rely on surprise picks more than they do, but they already knew all our surprises from practice.”
Cal needed to beat UCSD to advance in the tournament, but the team was unable to overcome its practice partner — even with the “surprise picks” that worked so well against other teams.
After two close, but ultimately disappointing games, the Bears bid farewell to their shot at competing for a spot in the college championship.
In game one, Cal fought valiantly, but it succumbed after heavy early losses. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, UCSD had invaded the jungle twice and secured a triple kill for its mid laner.
UCSD abused its early lead to demolish turrets and increase its gold advantage. Halfway into the game, UCSD snuck to Baron while Cal had no vision.
By the time Cal made it to the top side, UCSD had already secured the buff, but in the ensuing team fight Cal got three kills to UCSD’s two.
The brief success seemed to embolden Cal. The entire team waited in a bush, and when two unsuspecting opponents came near, Cal attacked. With the element of surprise, Cal completely wiped the enemy team despite a 10,000 gold deficit.
The Bears’ luck didn’t hold for long as UCSD caught out the Cal jungler, and again rushed to the respawned Baron.
At that point, Cal was so behind that they couldn’t fight UCSD in a 5v5. The game ended with a quadra kill for UCSD’s ADC.
Cal took an aggressive approach in game two, determined to bring back the series. With its support on his signature Blitzcrank, Cal grabbed the first kills of the game.
Early ganks went in Cal’s favor, and things were looking up. Unfortunately, Cal got overzealous, taking a few fights that they shouldn’t have and losing more than they gained.
Once again, Cal was on the back foot. At the 20-minute mark, the team caught out the enemy support but was immediately met by the rest of UCSD. When the dust settled, UCSD went straight to Baron, facing no resistance from Cal.
To initiate the final fight of the match, UCSD’s Skarner flash-ulted Cal’s Brand mid, and the Bears could only watch his swift demise. The health bars of UCSD went dangerously low under the bottom lane inhibitor turret, but their players couldn’t be eliminated without the AOE damage of Brand.
Cal players fell one after the other as UCSD flooded into their base. One clean ace later, UCSD had destroyed both Cal’s Nexus and its playoff dreams.
This defeat marks the end of the 2018 College League of Legends tournament for Cal. With a record of 4-2, Cal is now ineligible to proceed to regional playoffs.
This isn’t how Cal envisioned their finale, but its players still consider this tournament to be a learning experience.
“It was very fun because the level of play was so high,” Lemons said. “Last year we didn’t have to practice — hardly had to communicate or prep at all for other teams just because it was so easy. But this year we had to do it every week, so we got a better idea of how good we are.”
The team has set its sights on the Teemo Cup, a five-round, single-elimination competition for teams that do not qualify for playoffs. Cal is anticipating an easier time, since its more formidable opponents won’t be competing.
Although Cal’s chapter in its most important tournament has closed, one thing is certain — whether facing friend or foe, there is still more to come in the 2018 season.
Julia Shen covers League of Legends. Contact her at