3rd time’s the charm: Cal League of Legends gets revenge against UCSD, 2-1

Julia Shen/Staff

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Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons began his collegiate League of Legends, or LoL, career as a starry-eyed, optimistic sophomore, playing support in the University LoL tournament for the very first time.

Today, Lemons is the seasoned captain of Cal League of Legends, coming up on the final year of his tyrannical, hook-supporting reign. When asked, he describes himself as “a grizzled, war-weary veteran whose only purpose is vengeance for (his) fallen comrades.”

So what happened between now and then? Many things, but at least one of those is facing UCSD. The Tritons have been the team to end Lemons’ season every year since he joined the competitive league — always in a three-game series in which Cal just barely falls short.

Last Saturday, that particular demon was finally laid to rest. Cal League of Legends defeated UCSD 2-1 in Lemons’ final season, bringing the team to a 3-0 record and giving the senior captain some peace.

Game one proved to be a promising start for Cal, as support Lemons and marksman Steven “Issys Cutie” Dai outlaned their opponents, drawing jungle pressure from UCSD to little consequence. An early Rift Herald secured by Cal jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu allowed the Bears to take down three turrets and four members of the UCSD team at once.

With Cal significantly ahead, UCSD was unable to respond to threats across the map, and the game ended at 21 minutes, making it the shortest of the series.

In Game two, the Cal bot lane was perpetually on the back foot against UCSD’s Caitlyn-Thresh duo. Dai was nearly taken down at level one, forcing him to recall and lose pressure. Cal seemed anxious to force risky plays in an attempt to recover, and poorly executed ganks worsened the early game setback.

About 20 minutes into game time, UCSD engaged on Dai and mid laner Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin, who had walked too far up in the mid lane. Lemons, Xu and top laner Patrick “LegendAchiever9” Visan joined the fight late, and UCSD picked up a clean ace and Baron buff.

From there, UCSD roamed the Cal jungle looking for the pick to end the game. The Tritons’ top laner, “SandvichTF2” on Vladimir, flashed in to instantly drop Dai, while his teammate “King Taric” on Thresh hooked Cal’s tanks to their deaths. With another ace on Cal, UCSD poured into the blue-side base to finish game two.

With the third and final game on the line, Lemons knew what had to be done: He picked Blitzcrank, Cal’s favorite unconventional bot laner.

“We just pick it when we really need a win because it allows us to exploit particular weaknesses much more than normal. If they have a member who isn’t as good as the rest or someone who just isn’t dodging as well, Blitzcrank can punish that much, much more than any other support by just hitting a hook,” Lemons said. “They really can’t win when they’re in a perpetual 4v5.”

Blitzcrank has been played once in every series that Cal has lost against UCSD in the past two years. This season, the third time was the charm. Lemons acquired first blood for his team before minions had spawned, hooking the enemy marksman over the dragon pit.

Another Rift Herald for Cal destroyed two of UCSD’s mid lane turrets. Just a few minutes later, mid laner Olguin (on Galio) flash-taunted three members of UCSD, bringing down the jungler and marksman. With these key members out of commission, Cal ran to Baron.

When Cal re-entered the red-side base, Lemons landed two hooks on the UCSD marksman, eliminating him early and wasting some of UCSD’s critical ultimate abilities. A few last kills cleared the path to the Nexus, allowing Cal to mark the end of its captain’s biggest grudge.

“After losing to them for so many years, to finally get a win feels great,” Lemons said. “Especially because our path to playoffs has gotten a lot, lot easier because we already took down one of the good teams.”

In week four of the tournament, Cal plays the University of British Columbia, another team that the Bears have historically struggled against.

Lemons had a few words to say about overcoming the odds a second time: “We win easy.”

Julia Shen covers esports. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @yinglol.