Another huge day full of League of Legends action went down yesterday at PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington. Four teams took to Summoner’s Rift to battle it out for the coveted chance to represent North America in the World Championship, while two challenger teams fought for a seeded spot in the Spring Qualifiers for Season 4. To Be Determined (TBD) took on Complexity (COL) in the semifinals of the challenger series to kick off the day, followed by a match between CLG and Curse to decide who would be guaranteed a spot in the Season 4 LCS. The final two sets of matches featured some higher stakes, as the winners would earn the right to represent North America in the World Championship, as well as move on to the finals and claim the number one spot to be the best team in North America. The final two games of the day saw Team SoloMid (TSM) take on surprise second placers Vulcan Gaming, while Dignitas had the monumental task of taking down LCS first place team Cloud 9 (C9). Again, spoilers will follow, so if you’d like to watch the games before knowing who wins, you can find the VODs here.
The semifinals of the challenger series featured a lot of well-known faces in the League of Legends scene. Complexity made a bit of a splash in the Spring Split when they took won one of the qualifier tournaments to secure themselves a spot in the tournament. Unfortunately, their luck didn’t hold out as they placed too low to continue and failed to qualify for the Summer Split. After a slight roster change that saw Team Marn’s former top laner, Megazero, join the crew, Complexity looked stronger than ever heading into the finals. However, TBD has a past history of defeated Complexity, so their confidence was at an all-time high. Popular players like Westrice and ROBERTxLEE, both known as entertaining streamers and solo queue players, joined with other strong competitors to make the TBD team, and the stage was set for an epic finals match in the challenger series. TBD’s duo laners got a bit overconfident in their efforts to force Megazero out of lane, allowing Complexity’s mid laner and jungler to walk right up the unwarded river and secure first blood. Complexity kept their lead going through the early game, taking the first two turrets and the first dragon, but TBD rallied back with a good fight that netted them three kills for free. Unfortunately for TBD, Complexity’s objective control proved to be too much, as they won another fight and secured the second dragon of the game. With a 6k gold lead less than 20 minutes into the game, TBD’s odds proved to be insurmountable, as Complexity rallied together in the midgame and forced down the Nexus. Complexity rode their momentum into a strong start in Game 2, with their jungler picking up plenty of kills with Amumu’s ultimate, but TBD made a gutsy turret dive in the bottom lane that brought the game back to 7-7 in kills and equalized the gold. Capitalizing on a risky dragon call by Complexity, TBD managed to steal the dragon and pick up four kills at the cost of one. Despite Complexity’s best efforts, they could never recover from the lost fight, as TBD destroyed the enemy Nexus and forced a Game 3. Complexity tried to establish dominance early in Game 3, taking the first turret and trying to dive the defenders, but TBD’s team collapsed perfectly and managed to snag four kills for one in return. However, TBD tried to press their advantage too much and got outmaneuvered by the Complexity team, who managed to topple three turrets and take a dragon, putting them in a gold lead despite having a deficit in kills. The back and forth action continued with a flurry of action in the midgame that saw plenty of turret dives and crazy Tresh hooks. Pressing their advantage, Complexity managed to grab three more turrets and extend their gold lead to 9,000. Despite this, TBD still managed to exchange evenly in teamfights, but in the end, Complexity’s objective control proved too much, as they took all three inhibitors and overwhelmed the TBD Nexus with sheer numbers. In the end, Complexity was the team who ended up with the win and earned the chance to face Cognitive gaming in the finals.
The next set was a battle between Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Curse, and while they were only playing for fifth place, there was still quite a bit on the line, as the winning team would move on to the Season 4 LCS, while the losing team would have to win a qualifier at a later date if they hoped to participate. I wish I could find a way to make Game 1 sound exciting, but quite honestly it was a simple demolition. Twenty-one minutes into the game, CLG was leading in kills 6-0, in towers 3-2, and in dragons 2-1. It seemed as though Curse put entirely too much faith in their top laner, who once again spent the majority of the game split pushing while his team tried desperately to prevent CLG from steamrolling the Nexus. Curse tried in vain to mount a comeback in the lategame, but they continued to lose every fight until ultimate and appropriately, CLG destroyed the entire Curse base while the Curse top laner was dancing around on the other side of the map. Unfortunately, Curse tried to go with the same strategy in Game 2, putting their top laner on a late-game, item dependent champion in the hopes that he could later split push his way to victory. This strategy worked well for Curse during the beginning of the Summer Split, but it seems that their opponents have seen the tactic enough, and it hasn’t had the success in the Playoffs that it did during the Summer Split. Even before a kill was made on the map, Curse were at a gold disadvantage simply due to mechanical mismatch. Each lane was losing in minion kills on the Curse side, and CLG continued to push their advantage through the midgame. In fact, Curse even managed to secure the first two kills, but still found themselves about 500 gold behind. CLG had complete control of the map and its objectives, and now matter how many kills Curse managed to get, they consistently found themselves behind in gold. CLG’s methodical march to victory culminated in an explosive fight that was embarrassingly one-sided as CLG aced Curse for the victory.
The third set featured TSM against second place LCS finishers, Vulcan gaming. While this technically makes TSM the underdogs, their historic propensity for making amazing underdog victories had the crowd firmly behind them. The early game was very tame, but Vulcan managed to pick up the first kill of the game about eleven minutes in. TSM took a turret in response and the gold lead with it. TSM’s captain and top laner made a suicide dive into the Vulcan line in order to distract them while his team secured a dragon and an even larger gold lead. A hectic fight in mid showed how evenly the teams were matched. but TSM secured another dragon to extend their gold lead even farther. Vulcan tried to force a fight that looked good at first, as they picked up two quick kills, but TSM managed to turn it on them with a Karthus ultimate to pick up four kills in return. Knowing how far ahead they were from global objectives, TSM forced a fight at baron that ended in an ace for TSM at the cost of only one member. After the fight, they took the baron and prepared to siege the enemy base. With their opponents backed into a corner, TSM dove in for a clean four kills to pick up the victory in Game 1. Vulcan opted to go for a double Attack Damage team comp in Game 2 and managed to get an early lead with two good ganks by the Vulcan jungler, but an absolutely immaculate fight by TSM, they grabbed five kills and a dragon to put themselves back in the lead. Never a team to waste an advantage, TSM forced another fight mid and picked up three more kills and a turret. Vulcan managed to get revenge on the next dragon fight, however, getting a four for one fight and a turret to boot. Vulcan took a huge chance on a risky baron call, and it ended up paying off in the end, despite losing the following team fight four for two. With the gold completely even, TSM forced a huge baron fight that they ended up taking five for one and securing a baron afterwards. Armed with the gold advantage and baron buff, TSM pushed into the Vulcan base and secured their spot in the finals with a 2-0 victory in the set.
The final set of the day featured first place team Cloud 9 facing off against Dignitas. C9′s dominant 25-3 performance in the Summer Split made Dignitas the clear underdogs, but Dignitas is no stranger to pressure and playing on a big stage, and they were seeking to prove they were still a team to beat. Dignitas looked strong in the beginning, with their jungler helping his teammates pick up the first three kills. But C9 proved why they’re the number one team in the region, making a few good picks to bring themselves back into it and forcing a brilliant teamfight underneath Dignitas’s tower and grabbing the kill lead for the first time. After securing three more kills, C9 grabbed themselves a free baron. With this lead in their hands, it was only a matter of time before C9 regrouped and forced down the Dignitas Nexus for a Game 1 victory. Game 2 started off with a lot of back and forth action, but C9 turned on the aggression with an insane tower dive and two turret kills. After quickly toppling the top turret, C9 pushed their advantage and took a large lead in gold and global objectives. With a three kill lead and a five turret lead, it was only a matter of time before C9 picked up the 2-0 victory over Dignitas in a very quick set.
As the action progresses ever forward to the finals, teams have been eliminated left and right in the Pax Prime NA LCS Regionals. Curse was sent home by Dignitas and Complexity eliminated TBD from the challenger series. The brackets have now been finalized for the final day, where Cognitive Gaming will battle Complexity for the first place spot in the Challenger series. Vulcan will play against Dignitas for third place in the Regional Tournament, and TSM and C9, who have secured the right to represent North America in the World Championship, will play in the finals for first place in the Regional Tournament. The action will be frantic and heavy, so be sure to head over to the Riot Games twitch channel. You can find results and recaps of all the action from Day 3 here.