Winter Bash 2.0 Week Semi-Final Breakdown!
After five weeks of back-and-forth battling between the 21 teams entered into the 2017 ICE Winter Bash, we have our final four in each division. The meek have been culled, leaving us with a worthy quartet of teams in both Division 1 and Division 2, ready to continue the fight for the Winter Bash crown. The level of competition has been increased, as teams from Trinity, Maynooth, WIT, NUIG and DCU get for the penultimate challenge of the tournament.
Trinity Gankers (TCD) vs. Trinity Rejects (TCD)
|Trinity Gankers||Trinity Rejects|
|Top||Hussey Cat||Booster Gold|
The Winter Bash has been a tale of two teams for Trinity in Division 1. In Group A, the primary team of the college got to work, routing the competition week after week. Emerging with an 11-1 record, they established themselves as firm tournament favourites heading into the playoffs. In Group B, the Trinity Rejects were faced with the tall task of battling the reigning champions of Maynooth and a powerhouse DCU team. They took on the challenge without fear, and were rewarded with big draws against both of these formidable opponents. Forcing a 3-way tiebreaker in the group, it would be one more victory against DCU that would book Trinity their spot in the semi-finals.
These two teams will be wholly familiar with each other, knowing full well the capabilities of their opponents. For the Trinity Gankers, their overwhelming individual strength has allowed them to simply pummel opponents into the ground early, mid-game and late. Trinity Rejects have been a lot less clinical, but a lot more exciting and unpredictable. Many of their games revolve around tense late-game scraps, and while their shotcalling leaves a lot to be desired, they have shown to pull through in the toughest of scenarios time after time.
Key Matchup: Deviilz vs. Chrysanthemumon. Deviilz’ performance in the competition so far presents a strong case for himself as the tournament’s MVP. His laning phase with bgscurtis is dominant, his mechanics unquestionably clean, and his teamfighting prowess the engine that drives his team to victory.
But if we’re talking about teamfighting, Chrysanthemumon certainly cannot be overlooked. His early game has not matched up to the premier bot lanes of the competition, as him and Tedblonde adopt a defensive style in tough lane matchups. When the teams group for fight, his calculated aggression is a core component to the manic teamfight setup that the Trinity Rejects employ. This can cost his side against well-drilled opponents, but when it works, it can swing a game in their favour. Whether this ramp-up time and potential for error will be punished by his veteran opposition is to be seen.
Prediction: Last night’s tiebreaker loss against Maynooth was the Trinity Reject’s first crushing defeat, and may serve as a blueprint for future opponents to utilize. Clean calls and avoidance of the hectic fights that the Rejects need can shut them down entirely. Their more experienced opponents are capable of controlling the game’s flow, and the Trinity Gankers also have the individual talent advantage working in their favour. TCD Gankers 2-0 TCD Rejects.
MU Star Destroyer (MU) vs. JEEK Squad (WIT)
|MU Star Destroyer||JEEK Squad|
For the first few weeks, it looked as if the ICC 2017 champions may not even make it out of the group stage of the Winter Bash. Underperforming against both Trinity and DCU, they found themselves pulled into a tiebreaker against both of these foes to determine their fate. A rough opening against DCU seemed to give credence to the team’s doubters. But from behind, Maynooth managed to gather themselves and forge a comeback. Displaying shades of their former selves, they closed out a victory against DCU, and followed with a dominant display over Trinity to secure first seed.
Their opponents, WIT, are no strangers to a battle for the playoffs. JEEK Squad endured their fair share of ups (drawing with Trinity to end their undefeated streak) and downs (dropping a game to NCI) in the group stage. Dropping a game to DIT in their final group match threatened their progression to the final four, but WIT regrouped for Game 2 of the series and cruised to a crushing win, earning them second place in Group A by a single point.
MU have been finding their stride once more in recent weeks, returning to an altered version of their style of old. All-in on their star bot lane, many opposing duos have fallen to Voyna and Blaise who are supported heavily by the rest of the team. On the other hand, WIT have a much looser style that can be dependent on where their positive matchups are. Nearly every player on the team has had standout individual performances in different matches so far, showing an adaptability and well-roundedness that could benefit WIT very well in this matchup.
Key Matchup: Voyna vs. Jeek. The other AD Carry matchup of the week, as both tell a similar story. A lot of praise has been sent the way of Voyna over the past few months for his play on Ferocity eSports. His first few matches in the Winter Bash did not meet the same level as his games outside the tournament, but now he is well and truly back in form for this competition. One half of the competition’s most dominant 2v2 lane, Voyna also bears the burden of teamfight carry, using his team’s supportive drafts to output absurd amounts of damage every time he takes to the rift.
A lot of questions will be asked of Jeek in this semi-final. His early performances in the tournament were some of the strongest we have seen from Jeek since his entry onto the scene. He displayed the ability to be the focal point of WIT’s strategy, but lacklustre performances against top-level AD Carries showed a few flaws in his play. He will likely not get the chance to be the star carry this week against an opponent of Voyna’s calibre. Jeek and Yachty will require a clean laning phase, and as much of a presence in teamfights as possible to match the presence of Maynooth’s bot combo.
Prediction: MU’s performances over the past few weeks have restored confidence in their key players and their teamplay as a whole. They are approaching Star Destroyer status once more, with a very real chance of taking another collegiate tournament victory in the Winter Bash. WIT have shown they can match the top colleges in some games, but not enough to topple the giants. MU 2-0 WIT.
Trinity Forced Meme (TCD) vs. Galway Pub Stompers (NUIG)
|Trinity Forced Meme||Galway Pub Stompers|
Trinity Forced Meme have exceeded expectations with their Group A run here in Division 2. Drawn against reigning champions NCI and Division 2 powerhouse DCU, they surpassed both with crushing displays week after week. Advancing to the semi-finals with a 7-1 record, they have set themselves up for a tournament win, just like their division 1 counterparts.
Lining up against them is NUIG, whose road to the final four was an arduous one. An opening win against DKIT was followed by a loss to DCU, setting up a final clash with LYIT for second place in Group B. Game 1 was messy, as LYIT wrestled control of the map early and never let go. NUIG looked a lot more confident in Game 2, and while LYIT still maintained a good grip on objectives they could not find the skirmishes necessary to stop NUIG. Leading to a tiebreaker between the two teams, NUIG finally showed their class with a one-sided win to book a semi-final berth.
In this match we have two teams who win games in similar ways, but by different channels. Trinity are a team who take the fight to their opponents early in the game, playing around the top side of the map to find early kills and snowball very quickly. Their one game loss came when they could not secure this early advantage, but preventing them from building this quick momentum is nearly impossible when their star players are on point. NUIG have also found more success with a strong first 15 minutes. This is generally dependent on their solo lanes having comfortable picks, Bruce Jhinner controlling the map’s flow, and the team finding advantageous skirmishes to move ahead in kills. Management of pace will be critical for the underdogs to prevent their opponents from hitting the gas early and accelerating to an insurmountable lead.
Key Matchup: NuaLaoch vs. Atosu. NuaLaoch is a big player in Trinity’s game plan, working as part of the best top-jungle tandem in the division. His lane bully picks ensure that R8X is primed for top lane visits, snowballing the two players and allowing them to pressure the rest of the map from there. Very few have found an answer to NuaLaoch’s lane, and his strength individually could bring Trinity to the Division 2 crown.
Atosu has been a solid performer for NUIG in the offlane, which is what the team has needed. Adjusting well to the preseason meta, he is a functional top laner who can take control of the 1v1 if his opponent is not entirely comfortable on their pick. He is set to face pressure from NuaLaoch come this semi-final, and cannot afford to surrender anything to the Trinity powerhouse. Knowing how well Atosu can play for the team, this is a role that he can fit into just fine.
Prediction: Unfortunately for NUIG, they do not appear totally ready as a unit for a team of the strength of Trinity just yet. We have seen some good teamplay, but they lack a clear direction when faced with strong opposition. Trinity have a simple but effective playstyle that suits their strong players, and it has been shown that only the most informed opponents can truly counteract this. TCD 2-0 NUIG.
DCU Pickles (DCU) vs. DCU Kawaii Spuds (DCU)
|DCU Pickles||DCU Kawaii Spuds|
Our second intra-college matchup of the week takes place in Division 2, with a DCU vs. DCU clash lined up. The DCU Pickles of Group B entered the tournament as favourites, and have shown little to destabilize that position. Still undefeated as of yet, They will look to maintain their clean sheet for one more match against their DCU counterparts. The Kawaii Spuds started off in Group A strongly, with a big 2-0 against NCI cementing their status as a top Division 2 team. While substitute issues have hindered the team, the DCU Kawaii Spuds are working their way through it, and at full strength are a real threat to any team in the division.
For an undefeated team, the DCU Pickles haven’t had the big individual performances that are typical for a dominant side. However, their strength lies in experience and teamplay. They outmaneuver their opponents in the mid-game, control the objectives being taken on the map, find advantageous fights and draft well to their team’s needs. It’s a system that is crisp, consistent and difficult to pick apart. The DCU Kawaii Spuds will need to pick it apart with… picks. Being able to control the vision on the map and prey on isolated members with burst damage, DCU can snowball games or turn them around very quickly. Whether it’s Reaver King impacting lanes or equinnoxbowlake jumping on unsuspecting enemies, the Kawaii Spuds can rack up numerous kills in succession to give themselves the gold necessary for fighting.
Key Matchup: Tomatomac vs. Reaver King/Gharr. The DCU Pickles’ jungler is the perfect example of how the team functions. Tomatomac is not the strongest jungler in the division, but fits his playstyle to exactly what the team desires. He controls the river with his teammates to give themselves a hold on objectives, threatening fights with tanky champions that operate in tandem with the rest of his team.
DCU Kawaii Spuds’ fortunes may be dependent on who is manning the jungle role for this semi-final. Reaver King has only two performances under his belt, but he has shown to be the star player whenever he has taken to the rift, his early pressure and heads-up play bringing his team nice advantages to play off of. Gharr has been unable to match the dominant play of Reaver King, but is finding his niche as a tankier jungler that can get in the lanes. In either case, strong gank pressure is essential for subduing their opponents and keeping the game in their favour.
Prediction: This is set to be the closer of the semi-finals, as two very capable teams meet on the rift. It may be a clash of styles that ends up benefitting the DCU Pickles. Their tight playstyle will not afford the Kawaii Spuds as many kills as they are used to. Without the momentum from picks, the Kawaii Spuds could flounder, and the match will be there for the taking for the DCU Pickles. DCU Pickles 2-1 DCU Kawaii Spuds.