Winter Bash 2.0 Week Three Breakdown!
The group stages in both divisions of the Winter Bash are beginning to fully take shape, with frontrunners already emerging from the pack. As we approach the midpoint of group play, the competition for a playoff position is still fierce, and the teams residing at the bottom of the standings may see their hopes for progression vanish over the next week. With the preseason patch in the near future, Round 3 could provide a number of upsets and change the course of the tournament.
Division One: Group One
JEEK Squad (WIT) vs. DC who?? (DCU)
This game took place yesterday, so this will be more of a review than a preview. DCU came into this fixture needing at least a draw to keep themselves in the hunt against an undefeated WIT team. However, the roster issues that have haunted DCU before came back for this match, as they were unable to field a team on time and forfeited the first game of the series. Their squad for Game 2 put up a good fight, shutting down WIT early. Fighting from behind, JEEK Squad’s teamplay once again came through as they turned the deficit around to take victory, closing out the match 2-0. A few issues for this WIT team came to the surface in this series, but they will be pleased to have secured another three points. WIT 2-0 DCU.
NCI Black Panthers (NCI) vs. Trinity Gankers (TCD)
NCI’s Week 2 game against WIT has been postponed to this week, meaning they have a very important double-header over the next few days. Their other opponents are Trinity, who last week dispatched of DIT in convincing fashion. At this stage, Trinity have wholly assumed the mantle of tournament favourites, and another win in this match would put that status beyond question.
Key Matchup: Slippee vs. Hussey Cat. Teammates for Same Gaming, Slippee and Hussey Cat now oppose each other in the Winter Bash. Hussey Cat, the top laner by trade, should be favoured in theory, but Slippee has shown in previous performances that he is more than capable of holding his own in the offlane.
Prediction: This may be Trinity’s last true test, with challengers to the top spot in Group A diminishing in number. NCI have a well-rounded squad on paper, but their lone previous match put some significant problems on display that will likely give Trinity ample opportunity to overrun their opponents. NCI 0-2 TCD.
UCC eSports (UCC) vs. Same Gaming DIT (DIT)
Both squads currently sit tied for 3rd in Group A, with three points apiece. UCC have established themselves with their first win against DCU, whereas DIT’s team could not surmount Trinity with substitutes leaving the roster short on the firepower they can normally rely on. With some tough fixtures still on the horizon for both of these teams, securing another victory will be paramount to moving on in the competition.
Key Matchup: ivanyoo vs. Serenata. Ivanyoo may not have come in as one of the big names for UCC, but his quietly solid displays have been at the centre of UCC’s play and proved to be a big factor in their recent win. Serenata has had his struggles in the opening two weeks, and while he is showing good signs of integrating with the rest of the team he will need to show more improvement here to prevent ivanyoo from controlling the game’s tempo.
Prediction: In spite of their loss last week, DIT’s full-strength lineup is still something to be wary of for every team in the competition. UCC have been making great strides and there is the chance that they can make something happen this round, but DIT’s individual stars and ability to play from behind will make it a stiff challenge. UCC 0-2 DIT.
Division One: Group Two
MU Star Destroyer (MU) vs. The A Team (DCU) – MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
This is not the position either team would have been anticipating to have occupied two weeks into the tournament. Both sides have executed one relatively simple victory, but have stumbled against Trinity in two 1-1 draws. These set of results ups the ante for their Week 3 fixture, with both team’s playoff hopes on the line. A loss here for either side may scupper their chances of making it to the semi-finals, which would fall short of the standard both MU and DCU would have set themselves.
Key Matchup: Voyna vs. cyber172. Voyna is still one of the top AD Carries in the country, even if some recent challengers have staked claim to his throne. However, his Week 1 matchup vs. a rookie opponent proved to be much more perilous than expected. Cyber172 has been one of the surprises of the tournament so far, his consistent play at the ADC position perfect for his team’s stars to work off of. He will be under heaps of pressure from the MU bot lane, who will be hoping to set Voyna up for a dominant game once more.
Prediction: Maynooth’s deconstruction of ITC last week may have served as enough of a mental reset after the shock of Week 1. Seeing DCU fall to the same foes will also have bolstered their resolve. DCU have appeared to be the stronger team in the opening two weeks, with their one loss being an extremely close affair. This advantage may not be enough to take away a win in the series, as these two teams seem very evenly matched. MU 1-1 DCU.
Pentabyte ITC (ITC) vs. UCD IT (UCD)
ITC’s woes continue as they still search for their first win in the competition after falling once more in Week 2. Their next opponents, UCD, bounced back with aplomb last round with a 2-0 win against DIT that will cast away much of the doubt that surrounded the team. This is another chance for UCD to develop as a unit, and keep themselves within reach of playoffs if the opportunity arises.
Key Matchup: Eire vs. Kevaman. Kevaman was the catalyst for UCD’s victory last week, with a gargantuan mid-lane performance to shut his opponents down at every turn. Eire will stand to be more of an individual challenge in lane for the star mid this week. If he can keep Kevaman suppressed in lane, it may prevent UCD from getting anything going in this match.
Prediction: UCD will certainly have their sights set on another 2-0 in this match to move to 6 points. ITC have been improving, but this is another tough opponent that can likely overpower them in most aspects of the game. ITC 0-2 UCD.
Trinity Rejects (TCD) vs. Yargh We Am Pirates 2.0 (DIT)
With two fantastic matches behind them, I think we are all ready to believe in the Trinity Rejects. A group that many would have expected to be a two horse race has been up-ended by TCD, who have now made it past the toughest competition Group B has to offer. DIT come into this fixture off of a loss to UCD which will have put a dampener on their aspirations for the tournament. They may still prove to be a surprise package in any case, and a few of the players on the TCD side have shown to produce inconsistent results in the past.
Key Matchup: Hawkens vs. Orbien. Hawkens was at the core of Trinity’s 1-1 against DCU, with a clinical individual performance to take control of the match from the mid lane. He’s less likely to find the same opportunities against a more defensive player in Orbien, but last week showed that this is a potential option to exploit DIT if played correctly.
Prediction: There are still a couple of question marks surrounding this Trinity team, namely their ability to defeat the teams at the bottom of the group and their consistency. However, this is now certainly a team to be wary of at the very least, if not to fear outright. DIT will be hoping for an upset, but on past performance this should be Trinity’s first match win of the tournament. TCD 2-0 DIT.
Division Two: Group One
LYIT eSports B (LYIT) vs. NCI Panthers (NCI)
Both LYIT and NCI find themselves in tough positions after suffering losses in their most recent fixtures. LYIT have had a bye week to recuperate from a harsh opening loss to DCU. NCI were felled by the same foe in Week 2, creating chances for themselves early but just not being able to capitalise fully in fights. Anything but a win puts either team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy, and neither side will be wanting to risk falling at such an early stage.
Key Matchup: Nevrescope vs. FreeFriedRice. LYIT are capable of swapping top laners, however their more successful combination was with Nevrescope in the top lane when they played in Week 1. If he lines up against FreeFriedRice, expect an evenly weighted top lane matchup that will be crucial to the game at large.
Prediction: NCI will be reeling from their recent loss, however the team should be able to maintain themselves for their next match. On paper they have the upper hand here, and their lack of coordination in fights will not come into play if they can develop and utilize individual leads over LYIT’s champions. LYIT 0-2 NCI.
DCU Kawaii Spuds (DCU) vs. Trinity Forced Meme (TCD).
DCU overcame a big test in Week 2 with their victory over NCI, marking themselves as the team to beat in Group A. Now their biggest rivals in the group are Trinity, whose opening match against UL was a statement in its own right. Neither of these teams have suffered a loss, and while their playoff position does not hinge on this match keeping a clean sheet will give the winner of this series prime position for good seeding – and the bragging rights.
Key Matchup: Reaver King vs. R8X. Reaver King’s early pressure has been at the core of the DCU’s play so far this tournament, allowing his team to transition into picks and skirmishes with a lead over their opponents. R8X will have his hands full shepherding his side through the onslaught, and bringing them to the teamfights where he has been a huge factor for his teams in the past.
Prediction: DCU will be riding a wave of confidence after their victory over NCI. They would do well not to underestimate a Trinity team that is not fully tested, but have shown good early signs. DCU will be the more likely team to succeed in this matchup, but Trinity should have the ability to take advantage of whatever mistakes their opponents make. DCU 1-1 TCD.
Division Two: Group Two
LYIT eSports A (LYIT) vs. Galway Pub Stompers (NUIG) – MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
LYIT have not played a game since their opener, with both this match and a clash with DKIT in the works. NUIG have been on the opposite end of things, with two matches over the past seven days. A crushing victory over DKIT was offset by a demoralizing loss at the hands of DCU. This matchup has now been set as the series to determine who grabs the second spot in Group B, with neither team willing to concede a Top 4 spot.
Key Matchup: R3vUp vs. Thrasius123. R3vUp’s Week 1 performance symbolised both his team’s strength and weakness, with his individual playmaking providing little combined with an inability to coordinate with his team meaningfully. He finds himself opposing another premier mid laner of Division 2 in Thrasius123. Thrasius had an impressive showing in NUIG’s victory, but needs to be able to reproduce this against a skilled lane opponent.
Prediction: LYIT’s break from action makes this series difficult to properly predict. LYIT should have more chances to benefit from their individual strength, but NUIG’s early play is solid and their teamplay contrasts their opponent’s style in an interesting manner. I’m leaning towards the Galway team, but LYIT are close enough to push for a draw, if not even a victory. LYIT 1-1 NUIG.
Dundalk Kinetic Intelligence Team (DKIT) vs. DCU Pickles (DCU)
With another victory against NUIG, DCU have put themselves firmly in pole position of Group B. For them, it is all about rounding out the group stage with one more victory and securing top spot. DKIT are yet to win a game, but still have an opportunity to make a comeback in the tournament with two matches remaining. However, they will need a win in this series to do so, and this will be hard to come by against the Division 2 favourites that have met their pre-tournament expectations.
Key Matchup: Mah Tea vs. diezombiefool. Mah Tea’s performance against NUIG was a little lacking as his team floundered in their opener. His matchup against DCU’s support will require more poise in order to give his team the opening they need. His champion pool matches up well into diezombiefool’s, and he will need to capitalise on this against an opponent coming off of a strong individual Week 2 showing.
Prediction: DCU have battled through two tough matches, and still appear infallible. If they continue with this level of play, Dundalk will struggle to overcome them in their final fixture. It will take a massive step up for DKIT to find the upset that they need to remain in the tournament. DKIT 0-2 DCU.