Winter Bash 2.0 Week One Breakdown!
Collegiate Esports is making its return for the 2017/2018 academic year with the second ICE Winter Bash slated for the next few months. 21 teams from 13 different third-level institutions around the country have signed up to compete in the year’s opening competition. First up is the group stages, where teams will be battling for the top two spots and a playoff berth. Week 1 has brought us some interesting fixtures, here’s a quick rundown of how they’re set to play out.
Division One: Group One
JEEK Squad (WIT) vs. UCC eSports (UCC)
Returning after a third-place finish in the ICC 2017, JEEK Squad have more than enough experience to threaten any opponent in their path, regardless of how strong they may seem. They open up their Winter Bash campaign against a UCC eSports side that sees some of the old guard returning. Make or Brake and MoshiMoshiMe achieved great heights during their Zodiac run in 2016, but some rustiness is expected here. This will likely serve to their detriment against a WIT team who has been building momentum for the last year.
Key matchup: Yachty vs. Cluricaun. UCC’s fortunes may lie in the performance of their new support, Cluricaun. Facing off against Yachty who now has a few competitions under his belt, adaptation to the new patch will be key for both supports here.
Prediction: We’ll see what UCC are capable of later in the competition, but for now they have to spend time moving up the gears. JEEK Squad are likely too much of a challenge for a squad still finding their footing. WIT 2-0 UCC.
Same Gaming DIT (DIT) vs. NCI Black Panthers (NCI) – MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
DIT and NCI are two sides who are very familiar with each other. Both teams revolving around a core of players from the Same Gaming squad, bragging rights are on the line for these teams in Week 1. If either team can pull out a 2-0 victory it will cement their status as one of the most dangerous teams in the group, as both DIT and NCI will be aiming for the playoff spots come the end of the group stage.
Key matchup: Moo vs. Slippee. Moo has been battle-hardened by the top level of competition in the Irish scene, and is ready to transition to a carry top laner for his college team. Slippee, his opponent, is a jungler by trade but has manned the top lane before, and will be aiming to throw a wrench in the plans of his SG teammates.
Prediction: Neither squad will be wanting for information about the other team’s dynamic, with them knowing each other so well. The two teams are also well-matched in skill, although NCI may have the edge in that regard. DIT 1-1 UCC.
Trinity Gankers (TCD) vs. DC who?? (DCU)
The behemoth vs. the underdog. Trinity’s first team is largely comprised of their championship college squad from 2015, reuniting for another shot at the gold after parting ways for the past couple of years. Their first opponents are “DC who??”, a team consisting of a couple of rookies and players making the step up from Division 2. A tough week 1 for the new team, who will have to rely on their unpredictability against a team of established names.
Key matchup: Hussey Cat vs. Niallation. DCU’s captain Niallation is in for a tricky time in a group of strong top laners. First up is Hussey Cat, a veteran tank player who has a few off-meta picks to throw his opponent for a loop.
Prediction: Trinity will have their sights set on first place in the group. DCU will be scrapping for games left right and centre. It’s a trial by fire for the newer side, who will be feeling the heat against one of the strongest sides in the tournament. TCD 2-0 DCU.
Division One: Group Two
MU Star Destroyer (MU) vs. Trinity Rejects (TCD)
We’ve been granted a rematch of the ICC 2017 final in the very first game of the competition. MU field a starting lineup closely matching their 2017 iteration, with Rayezor being required to fill the mid-lane full time due to the new 4-player rule. Trinity, on the other hand, find themselves sporting a depleted roster with the college using two teams. Roleswaps have been utilized and players from outside the college have been recruited in order to shore up the holes as they find themselves face-to-face with the Star Destroyer once more.
Key matchup: Voyna vs. Chrysanthemumon. Trinity’s rookie AD Carry has a tough task ahead in the form of Ireland’s #1 bottom lane. Voyna has found his rhythm with Blaise and the pair are on a tear, especially when it comes to the laning phase.
Prediction: Maynooth are, in all likelihood, the best candidate for tournament favourites in the early stages of the Winter Bash. They were utterly dominant last season, and they don’t look set to stop now. MU 2-0 TCD.
Yargh We Am Pirates 2.0 (DIT) vs. Pentabyte ITC (ITC)
Two of the newer squads to the Winter Bash, DIT and ITC will have the best possible starts against each-other to ease themselves into the tournament. DIT have experience as a squad with a Division 2 ICC run under their belt. The ITC roster largely consists of newcomers, with Eire in the mid lane holding down the fortress while the rest of the team look to play around him.
Key matchup: Orbien vs. Eire. ITC’s star mid laner is set for a positive matchup in their opener vs. DIT. Orbien will need to keep his play tight, and prevent his opposing number from taking over the lane. If he can do that, DIT should be able to wrestle control of the game elsewhere.
Prediction: This is a good opportunity for both teams to get points on the board at the start of the tournament. Both teams will have star players that their strategy likely revolves around, and while DIT have the edge there’s certainly room for ITC to show their prowess. DIT 1-1 ITC.
UCD IT (UCD) vs. The A Team (DCU)
UCD’s first foray into an ICE tournament comes with a roster that certainly has the tools to deliver in Group B. They may need an opportunity to gel correctly and find a good rhythm as a unit, but the pieces are there for a good showing. Their opening fixture is against a DCU side who have managed to pack their roster with the best talent their college has to offer. They will have their sights firmly set on a playoff spot, and will be aiming to come out of the gates strong.
Key matchup: Kevaman vs. Renghis. We may be jumping the gun here by assuming this is the mid matchup, but in any case these are two players whose performances will have a huge bearing on their team’s performances. Kevaman is the captain with a wealth of high-level experience, Renghis is the dominant player who has destroyed all in his path the last few months.
Prediction: It may be a little too early for UCD to pull off the level performance they would need to challenge a side like The A Team. DCU look great on paper, and might be set to overpower their Week 1 opponents. UCD 0-2 DCU.
Division Two: Group One
LYIT eSports B (LYIT) vs. DCU Kawaii Spuds (DCU)
Two teams consisting of mostly rookie players, LYIT B and DCU prepare for a Week 1 fixture that is all about getting early momentum for the rest of the competition. This is one half of a two-part LYIT vs. DCU clash in Week 1, but both sides should have their focus on their own progression in the tournament. Some tough fixtures are on the cards for both these teams (DCU face off against NCI next week), so the goal is to get early points on the board in an unpredictable Group A.
Key Players: ketsu zenmetsu + Reaver King. Leading a new team can be a difficult task, and team captain ketsu zenmetsu has to make sure the troops are ready for their opening fixture. On the DCU side, we expect Reaver King to be manning the jungle role where he will look to sow discord and doubt in the LYIT ranks, while setting his own team up for success.
Prediction: The system in place in DCU has been good for finding players and producing good teams, especially at the Division 2 level. This new batch of summoners may be set to follow in that tradition, and should be favoured against a LYIT team we don’t know much about. LYIT 0-2 DCU.
UL Wolves (UL) vs. NCI Panthers (NCI)
The 2017 Division 2 champions have returned, but in a much different form than their previous iteration. Charkz and KingBaldyLoks are the only holdovers, aiming to guide the team’s new players to the success they have obtained before. First up for the defending champs is UL, who will be building off of their previous ICC experience to challenge the teams at the top of the division.
Key Players: Mickzilla + FreeFriedRice. Captain and AD Carry for UL, Mickzilla will be at the forefront of the team’s progress through the tournament. On the other side of the rift is FreeFriedRice, one of the new NCI players whose solo queue statistics should catch the notice of opponents, and may be one of the key players for this new lineup.
Prediction: For all intents and purposes, this NCI squad should be considered a new team, however there’s a lot about this lineup to be excited for. UL definitely come in as underdogs, capable of an upset but not expecting a sweeping victory. UL 0-2 NCI.
Division Two: Group Two
LYIT eSports A (LYIT) vs. DCU Pickles (DCU) – MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
The flagship Division 2 teams for both of these colleges clash in Week 1. For LYIT, this is a chance to really break out and make a name for themselves early in the tournament. For DCU, this is another attempt to snatch the Div 2 crown after coming so close in Spring. One team with a lot of potential on paper looking to prove themselves, another aiming to right the wrongs of before and once again show the country that they are here to run the competition.
Key Players: R3vUp + Icebergheim. We are, in all likelihood, going to be seeing these two players face off in the mid lane. Icebergheim was a semi-finalist in the ICC 2017, watching his fellow students fall in the final. Back for another tournament, his first opponent is no slouch. R3vUp may prove to be the strongest mid laner in the division, for which DCU will have to be prepared.
Prediction: These two teams look very evenly matched. LYIT look as if they have a minor advantage in terms of the ranked stats. DCU have the experience to fall back on, even if this is a new collection of players assembled. Will be difficult for either team to truly find an edge. LYIT 1-1 DCU.
Galway Pub Stompers (NUIG) vs. Dundalk Kinetic Intelligence Team (DKIT)
I believe this is the first instance of an NUIG team entering an ICE tournament. They are coming in with a solid roster for their first competition, which may be ready to spring some upsets on unsuspecting teams in the group. On the other side of the rift for Week 1 is DKIT, whose last outing was a rough Division 1 stint in ICC 2017. Now competing in the lower tier, DKIT may feel a little more comfortable – and may prove to be more dangerous as a result.
Key Players: FlamingDwagon + Mah Tea. FlamingDwagon is slated to start as the NUIG support (subject to change), and will be hoping for a good debut performance alongside expected ADC, iFifaDinho. DKIT’s Mah Tea has a lot of experience at the support position, including a part in DKIT’s previous Division 1 run. If he is part of the duo lane, expect him to turn up the heat on NUIG’s bottom pair.
Prediction: NUIG have a good squad by the looks of things, and jungler Bruce Jhinner can use his previous Division 3 experience to lead the team. DKIT might just find themselves outgunned in their opening match. NUIG 2-0 DKIT.