Winter Bash 2.0 Week Four Breakdown!
Two more weeks of group stage play. We are closing in on the playoff stages of the competition, and a lot of teams are still in the hunt for a spot in the final four. We have also had one week to get used to the new Preseason Patch, and all the twists that come with it. The teams are still acclimatizing to the fresh meta as they round out the group stage, and will need to be up to date with the game’s new power picks for their matches this week.
Division One: Group One
JEEK Squad (WIT) vs. Trinity Gankers (TCD) – MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
The two teams that sit at the top of Group A will meet this week to try secure their spot in the playoffs. WIT’s undefeated streak ended with a 1-1 draw against NCI, indicating their occupation of an unsteady position near the top of the ladder. On the other hand, Trinity’s clean sheet remains intact. They are looking more and more dominant with every win, and their goal of escaping the group with a spotless record may just be an inevitability at this point.
Key Matchup: Gulag vs. Celtic Tiger. WIT’s captain has lost some of the momentum that he has had in previous months, even if his team has been building it as a unit. Still challenging to be one of the top junglers in the tournament, his next matchup is crucial to his team’s chances. Celtic Tiger is not one of the stars of his team, but is certainly no slouch and can certainly match Gulag if the WIT jungler is not at the top of his game.
Prediction: At this stage, Trinity are looking like firm favourites for the whole competition. They certainly have a vice-like grip on Group A, with clean victory after clean victory. Despite their good run of form, WIT are likely just outmatched man-for-man here, and are set to meet the same fate as all who have stood in the path of the Trinity Gankers. WIT 0-2 TCD.
DC who?? (DCU) vs. Same Gaming DIT (DIT)
The second DCU team met their end at the hands of WIT last week, with a 0-2 loss now preventing them from making it beyond the group stage. All that is left is to play spoiler, and the first opportunity for them is against DIT this week. DIT themselves will be none too pleased after dropping a game to UCC in the previous round, jeopardizing their challenge for the playoffs. Still trailing 2nd place by three points, they can ill afford to lose many more games.
Key Matchup: Mileey Dyrus vs. OpticBlade. Mileey Dyrus is less of the dependable force that he has been in lower divisions, and now wavers between strong play matching up against the powerful mids of the competition and lackluster performances that hurt his team. His team will be hoping for the former this week as he lines up against OpticBlade (bar substitutions), a roleplayer for his team that brings good consistency in mid to back up his team’s stars.
Prediction: Unfortunately for DCU, they are unlikely to get any respite this round against a quality DIT team. While they have had their issues with individual performance, DIT have enough good players in their starting five to make it a non-issue in this matchup and their ability to outmanoeuvre their opponents should win the day. DCU 0-2 DIT.
NCI Black Panthers (NCI) vs. UCC eSports (UCC)
It took three weeks, but NCI finally managed to secure their first game win of the competition against WIT. But one point after three weeks is too little, too late. Their results have placed them too far behind to make a comeback for second place in Group A. This may lessen their focus against UCC, whose draw last week still has them in the running. A tough close to the group stage faces UCC, and they will be scrapping for the points that they need to complete the upset run to the semi-finals.
Key Matchup: Yall Need Jesus vs. Dorney. Yall Need Jesus has been the star for NCI this tournament, the biggest positive in a bleak series of matches. Dorney has been less focal for his team but has produced some flashy plays at AD Carry, alongside some unfortunate blunders. He will need to be on point this week, to prevent NCI’s biggest asset from getting rolling and commandeering the fights.
Prediction: NCI are delivering the level of performance that was expected of them before the tournament, or close to that level at least. It makes them a formidable foe for UCC, who are still improving as the competition progresses. In all likelihood, their development is not far enough along to give them the victory this week that they desire. NCI 1-1 UCC.
Division One: Group Two
MU Star Destroyer (MU) vs. UCD IT (UCD)
The battle to break Group B last week open may have only created further uncertainty as to who will progress. MU’s 1-1 tie with DCU has left both teams tied for second with Trinity, a situation that will have all three sides nervous about the upcoming weeks. UCD are the biggest beneficiaries of the tie, as they now occupy first place in Group B with 6 points. Their last pair of victories are enough to inspire some confidence, but now they face off against a Maynooth team who cannot afford any mistakes from this point on.
Key Matchup: Blaise vs. Slut. It has been over a year since the support rivals of old clashed. At the time, Blaise was the newcomer to a battle for the position of #1 support in the country, a battle which Slut was at the forefront of. Now Blaise has the crown, with Slut working his way back up to compete for the status. The veteran will have to channel his play of old to match up to Blaise here, and he will come into this series all guns blazing in an effort to prove himself once more.
Prediction: Maynooth still look as if they are lacking the cutting edge that brought them the championship last season in such an overwhelming fashion. However, they are still a force that is insurmountable for teams not equipped with dealing with their star players individually. UCD have made strides, but should still fall short in this matchup. MU 2-0 UCD.
The A Team (DCU) vs. Yargh We Am Pirates 2.0 (DIT)
DCU’s attempt to distance themselves from Maynooth fell short last week after a disastrous Game 1, but they salvaged their changes with a closely fought win in Game 2. They have the easiest route through the rest of the group stage of the teams locked in the 3-way tie, their first opponents being DIT. DIT’s promising opening to the tournament has petered out, and with two behemoths still in front of them points will be hard to come by.
Key Matchup: Limitless vs. kgbbi. Limitless made a key error in Game 1 against Maynooth, but made up for it with a strong jungle performance in the second game to propel his team to the mid-game lead that they needed. He is re-establishing himself as a competitor in the jungle for Division 1 with each and every week. His opponent, kgbbi, has proven to be tough to exploit so far this tournament, and will need to continue this trend if DIT are to cause an upset here.
Prediction: After two weeks of hectic battles, DCU are looking for a bit of a breather in Week 4. They can’t underestimate DIT, whose style has caused problems for their opponents so far, but a team of DCU’s calibre will be aiming to dispatch of their opponents in this match efficiently. DCU 2-0 DIT.
Pentabyte ITC (ITC) vs. Trinity Rejects (TCD)
With another 0-2 behind them, ITC now require a very specific set of circumstances to compete for a spot in the playoffs. They have not been eliminated from the tournament yet, but their odds are extremely slim. They require two wins, one of which must come against Trinity this week. Trinity themselves cannot rest on their laurels, as any slip-ups in the final two weeks of the group stage will put their chances of progressing at risk.
Key Matchup: CerebralBear vs. Tedblonde. CerebralBear may find his starting position at risk with CosmoSolartrance capable of stepping in for ITC. This week’s challenge in Tedblonde may prove to be a little less dangerous for CerebralBear. Tedblonde is gaining experience at support and finding his place within the team, however still has a way to go before solidifying himself in the position.
Prediction: Trinity will have to stay hungry and try maintain their momentum in the case of a tiebreak at the end of the group stage. ITC will certainly struggle if Trinity can deliver as they have in previous weeks. ITC 0-2 TCD.
LYIT eSports B (LYIT) vs. UL Wolves (UL)
Both of these teams sit at the bottom of Group A, but there is still the opportunity for a sweep through the group stage to a Top 2 spot. This will have been the matchup that LYIT and UL will have had their sights set on, for their development as a team and their best chances at securing points. Now both teams require a 2-0 victory to remain in the tournament, increasing the stakes of this game even more.
Key Matchup: ThePhantomSnake9 vs. Valeana. ThePhantomSnake9 has been one of the more consistent players for LYIT, his Galio play helping stabilize the team in dire times. This steady play will be crucial against Valeana, whose burst mages could cause some issues for LYIT if she can generate picks for her team.
Prediction: Even though both of these teams require a clean match victory, I’m not sure either is totally capable of securing a 2-0 result. The sides are closely matched, and while I would grant UL the upper hand there’s certainly enough for LYIT to grab themselves a game win, if not the series as a whole. LYIT 1-1 UL.
NCI Panthers (NCI) vs. Trinity Forced Meme (TCD)
Trinity’s crushing 2-0 victory against DCU have put them firmly in the driver’s seat in Group A. It has made their task of qualifying for the semi-finals a whole lot easier… and NCI’s trials a whole lot harder. This series is NCI’s final match of the group stage, and an 0-2 loss would seal their fate. This is the last stand for the former Division 2 champions, and it could not have come against a tougher opponent.
Key Matchup: fekar vs. Ragnorh8ts. Ragnorh8ts has played 4 games so far, amassing a KDA of 49 across them. His play has been watertight, contributing the damage his team needs while making sure he doesn’t hand over advantages to his enemies. Fekar is arguably his toughest challenge yet, and the NCI mid will need to unseat his opponent in the 1v1 to threaten Trinity and, hopefully for NCI, bring them crashing down.
Prediction: In theory, Trinity’s latest 2-0 victory should allow them to see the group stage out without much hassle. In practice, their match was against a depleted DCU lineup that missed a step. This certainly raises some questions as to can they repeat this success against NCI. NCI are certainly capable of getting the points they need to stay alive. But Trinity have not only won, they’ve dominated, and appear to be unstoppable in Group A. NCI 0-2 TCD.