Cal League of Legends kept its playoff hopes alive this weekend, going 2-1 in its series against the University of Colorado Boulder. Teams must have a regular season record of 5-1 or better to advance in the 2019 College League of Legends tournament, and with a loss against the University of British Columbia already on the books, Cal had everything to lose.
The team rallied against the University of California, San Diego for a long-awaited victory two weeks ago, and kept its streak going versus CU Boulder on Saturday, bringing Cal’s overall record to 4-1 and sustaining playoff dreams for now.
Game one started off neck-and-neck, with the lead swinging between Cal and CU Boulder until a fight 20 minutes into the match. The Buffaloes went to take dragon, unaware that Cal top laner Patrick “LegendAchiever9” Visan had teleported to flank and the rest of his team was closing in from the opposite side. CU Boulder came away with the dragon buff, but low health and wasted ultimate abilities forced the team to recall.
Cal took the opportunity to try for Baron, but since only one member of CU Boulder had gone down at dragon, both teams made it to the pit. When Baron fell to triple digits of health, CU Boulder jungler “Cars0n” came up with the steal.
Even so, the Buffaloes’ victory was short-lived. For the rest of game one, Cal’s teamfighting ability was clearly stronger; a few fumbled attempts at engaging 5v5s by CU Boulder led to free objectives and ultimately game one for Cal.
CU Boulder brought an aggressive new strategy into game two. With Cars0n playing Nunu and mid laner “I Am Order” on Lissandra, the team was able to travel the bottom half of the map extremely quickly. The team used “Biggest Snowball Ever!” to gank bot over and over again, killing the Cal bot lane 3 times in less than 5 minutes.
Cal failed to respond to the mounting pressure, and CU Boulder was ahead by 3,000+ gold 24 minutes into the game. Despite the difference, the Bears were able to make it even through teamfighting. Cal destroyed an inhibitor after support Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons landed a Galio flash-taunt on the entire CU Boulder team, followed up by crowd control from mid laner Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin’s Cassiopeia.
Even with a brief success for Cal, the Buffaloes’ lead was too great. In a fight outside the blue-side base, CU Boulder marksman “Aconda” (playing Ezreal) was able to quickly take out Cal’s jungler, and the ensuing 4v5 cleared CU Boulder’s path to the Nexus. Thanks to the early game funneling to bot lane, Aconda ended game two with a score of 16/1/11 and dealt more than half of his team’s damage.
With playoff chances on the line, CU Boulder ran the same jungle strategy. But this time, Cal was ready; with Lemons playing Pyke and marksman Steven “Issys Cutie” Dai on Sivir, the bot lane duo was near impossible to catch.
With CU Boulder’s bot lane strategy neutralized and no backup plan available, the game was Cal’s to win. The team played noticeably safer, steadily building a lead. The Bears were in control for the entire 28 minute game, the shortest of the series, completely shutting out the Buffaloes.
This 2-1 win ensures that Cal’s ticket to advancing in the tournament remains intact.
“We have to win next week, then we get at least $1,000 each,” said team captain Lemons, referring to the prize pool for the West Conference of the College League of Legends tournament. “I hope we get an easy match. Thankfully we can’t draw [UCSD] and we can’t draw UBC, the two teams that have beat us before. So we’re in the clear. We’re gonna lose to someone new this year [laughs].”
2019 College League of Legends Overview
The 2019 College League of Legends tournament is the collegiate League of Legends competitive esports league, sponsored by Riot Games. Cal is playing in the West Conference of the tournament against 58 other college teams. At the end of 6 weeks (January 14th-March 3rd), teams with a 5-1 record or better advance to the playoff stage (March 4th-April 3rd) to compete for part of the $100,000+ s