When a team needs to “figure out how to play again,” as support Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons said of Cal’s “League of Legends” team last weekend, it’s usually not a good sign. Somehow, Cal made it work, beating Johns Hopkins, 2-0, despite not playing together for weeks.
This match was part of the third round of the Teemo Cup, but it ended up being the first game of the tournament for Cal. The team had been scheduled to play in the two previous rounds, but both opponents forfeited.
“We’d only played 3 games since our UBC series together — we only practiced once,” Lemons said.
Cal’s players got off to a poor start in game game one, as the entire team was rusty because of their lack of practice. Midlaner Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin seemed to be having a particularly tough time. He got caught out in multiple fights in the jungle, and at one point had a score of 0/6.
“I think he kind of spiced things up. He was trying to make things a little interesting,” Lemons said. “He was making some poor calls that don’t work against coordinated teams, so they got pretty ahead.”
After 30 minutes, Cal found the perfect time to regain control of the game. JHU BlueJays went to Baron while all of the Cal players were still alive. Although Johns Hopkins secured the buff, four of its players went down for their trouble.
As soon as they respawned, the Johns Hopkins players dove deep at the middle inner turret to extinguish some of the Bears’ low health bars. The play was quickly turned on their heads.
“Most of their team was not ready to dive, so they just got wiped for no reason,” Lemons said.
The chain of poor decisions marked the beginning of the end for Johns Hopkins. The gold lead that Cal’s opponent had built up over the game suddenly disappeared, and the team found themselves struggling to prevent Cal’s comeback.
In one of the last fights of the game, Johns Hopkins rushed to the Elder Dragon in a desperate attempt to turn the tide. At that point, Olguin’s Veigar had become extremely powerful despite his early struggles.
Johns Hopkins’s Nunu smite and bite combo was no match for Veigar’s W — which, at that point, did more than 2000 damage — and the critical Aspect of the Dragon went to Cal. Cal was able to end the game soon afterwards, with Olguin’s score at 15/8.
In an abrupt twist, Cal completely stomped Johns Hopkins in game two. It became clear that if not for Cal’s lack of preparation, game one would not have been so close.
Early in the match, JHU BlueJays displayed a tendency to get greedy for objectives and overstay — the same one that was shown in the team’s game-one dive. Johns Hopkins lost every fight and gank that occurred within the first few minutes of game time.
“I think it was around 12 minutes into the game we knew we were going to win, just because they had fallen so, so behind,” Lemons said.
Johns Hopkins was thinking the same thing. After Cal clean aced its opponent at 15 minutes, Johns Hopkins voted to surrender; the game ended with only one death on the entire Cal team.
“Surrendering is actually fairly uncommon, but they were down 10,000 gold at 15 minutes. That’s as close to insurmountable as it comes,” Lemons said.
The Bears’ next opponent, Villanova, will pose more of a challenge. Villanova ended the College League of Legends East Conference with a 4-2 record, equalling Cal’s 4-2 record in the West Conference. Both Villanova and Cal lost only to teams from their region that eventually made it to playoffs.
“I think this will probably be the closest in terms of ranking that we’ve ever played,” Lemons said. “We’ll try to practice a little more.”
With this first victory behind them, Cal is warmed up and ready to go in the Teemo Cup.