OCE Winter Regional Update

After weeks of grueling competition, the round of eight has come to an end. Team Immunity, Team Nv, Curse and Avant Garde Ascension have all earned a place in the Winter playoffs and will be off to Supanova Perth this weekend to battle it out. There were plenty of opportunities for redemption (pun not intended) in the double elimination bracket but only four could move on.

Round of Eight Highlights

There were a number of good matches played over the course of the round of eight, but these three unequivocally stood out.

Week 2: YSSC v Avant Garde Ascension

As the Australian vernacular goes, what a ripper. This three-game showdown between two very different teams set a cracking pace for the second week of the tournament. Avant Ascension are the quiet achievers of OCE and, although podium finishes have eluded them for the longest time, they represent a solid challenge to any top-tier Oceanic team. YSSC, conversely, have shown that they are capable of brilliance on numerous occasions, however their recent performance has generally been patchy. There are no safe bets in matches involving Your Soul Shall Chuffer.

There was a strong focus on mid lane during the ban phase of game one, however ChuChuZ was still able to pick his fearsome Syndra and Kayle fell into the hands of lilqtcheese.

YSSC managed to build a slight early lead but astute rotations from Ascension through the mid-game resulted in some free towers and the gap was swiftly closed. Ascension maintained impeccable vision control and, after a strong teamfight in YSSC’s jungle, looked to be in a good position to take game one.

However, this all changed after an ill-advised early baron attempt by Ascension. Zahe jumped in with perfect timing and outsmited Carbon, securing the baron for YSSC as the rest of the team collapsed on Ascension, whose lack of cooldowns left them lambs to the slaughter.

This turned the game irrevocably in YSSC’s favour and, several pushes and a second baron later, Ascension’s nexus went down.

The ban phase for game two went a similar way but Ascension, who were now in an all or nothing position, altered their team composition to allow for strong poke and catch potential.

Ascension started the game aggressively with a five-man invade on YSSC’s top side jungle, looking for the catch that their team comp was so perfectly disposed towards. They didn’t find it, but they did manage to build a three thousand gold lead on YSSC before the twenty-minute mark following a favourable dragon fight.

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Lilqtcheese’s Swain was still a formidable obstacle, however, and undoubtedly left Ascension wishing they’d banned it out. Ascension dealt with the problem by way of perfectly timed mid-game rotations, once again resulting in YSSC being forced to give up free towers. ChuChuZ consistently landed spears on key targets with surgical precision, accentuating the advantages created by Ascension’s superior rotations.

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Ascension identified a chink in YSSC’s armour in bottom lane, where they managed to overwhelm their opponents and take the first inhibitor of the game in the thirty-fifth minute. Ascension took an easy baron while YSSC regathered themselves before returning to bot lane to force a fight in front of the respawned inhibitor. YSSC couldn’t hold out any longer and Ascension took game two in the forty-third minute.

Game three rolled around with both teams undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that a place in the semi-finals was at stake. YSSC picked a strong teamfight oriented composition including Orianna, Wukong and Ezreal, while Ascension looked for wave clear and siege potential, presumably to allow Shyvana to split push with impunity.

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There was aggression to spare in mid-lane; ChuChuZ and lilqtcheese wasted no opportunity to trade with each other, however this early display of friction did not bear any fruit. Both teams were reluctant to engage with each other and the match was extremely even through the early and mid-game. Kills were traded back and forth but no clear advantages arose.

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At forty minutes in the gold difference was still less than one thousand. It was clear that any skirmish or teamfight could determine the outcome of the game. Things opened up when YSSC attempted baron in the forty-third minute. Zahe executed another perfect smite to secure the buff for YSSC but they paid dearly for their folly by losing two inhibitors immediately afterwards. In retaliation, YSSC respawned and pushed hard to take an inhibitor for themselves. The gold difference was still negligible, however, and the game was poised on a knife edge.

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An awkward engage by jakattack’s Jax, which had been extremely well-played up to that point, gave Ascension the window they needed to take YSSC’s final inhibitor and push down the nexus, closing out the series 2-1 and knocking YSSC into the losers’ bracket.

Week 2: Nv v UTS

The second match of day three followed in the same vein as YSSC v Ascension. Team UTS, now home to Chuffer himself, found themselves in the losers’ bracket of group B after their match against Avant Garde Ascension. They probably did not, however, expect to find themselves against the Autumn Regional runners up, Plantronics Nv. UTS were undoubtedly the underdogs in this matchup but they put up a good fight nonetheless. As always, losers’ bracket games produce fierce competition.

Nv found themselves with plenty of comfort picks in game one while UTS sought a slippery team composition in the form of Shyvana, Caitlyn, Lulu and Kha’Zix.

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Nv built an early gold lead and managed to maintain it through to the thirty-forth minute, when they traded one for one in UTS’ top side jungle and forced UTS back to their base, creating a perfect baron opportunity. UTS had no response and Nv pushed up bottom lane to end the game.

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Down but not out, UTS went all-in with a Nasus pick by Sorahh in game two.

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The gamble paid off, however, and UTS were able to take a significant amount of map control away from Nv prior to the twenty-minute mark.

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While Nasus wasn’t a huge problem by himself, the utility provided by wither and spirit fire enabled chenyboy’s Nidalee and Chuffer’s Lucian to skirmish well. UTS had built a huge gold lead and taken middle inhibitor before twenty minutes, leaving Nv’s game plan in tatters. A few minutes later UTS blitzkrieged the open mid lane and pushed to victory after just twenty-two minutes.

Game three was extremely loaded; nobody had quite expected the Autumn Regional runners up to lose a game to a collegiate team in just twenty-two minutes. If Nv were feeling unsettled after game two, this feeling was undoubtedly exacerbated by UTS’ picks in the third and decisive game. Heavenz bought out his Cassiopoeia, a pick that, although unconventional, was used to great effect.

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Chenyboy did not disappoint with his mid lane Galio, nor did Chuffer, who had picked up four of UTS’ five kills after nineteen minutes. Nv had developed a slight gold lead, however, and the mid-game threatened to evolve in the same fashion it did during game one.

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UTS pushed viciously, taking six turrets off Nv by twenty-five minutes. Nv remained calm despite the loss of map control and caught UTS during a careless baron attempt. FirstMate’s Lucian was dealing monstrous damage by this stage and UTS’ fate was sealed.

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UTS had no answer to Lucian and FirstMate positioned himself perfectly through the last two fights, ending the game with eleven kills. It was a terrifically exciting series and UTS fought well to make Nv work hard for their victory. One can expect to see big things from Team UTS in the future when they’ve had the chance to practice together more.

Week 3: Nv v YSSC

On the last day of the round of eight, Nv and YSSC faced off against each other in a rematch of one of the first group B matches played. Nv were cast into the losers’ bracket by a very composed YSSC and now they were faced with elimination by the very same. YSSC had surprised their critics throughout the tournament and the pressure was undoubtedly on Nv to keep a lid on Denian and his cronies and push through to the finals in Perth.

Game one began with a nightmare for Denian, who picked Twitch into Lee Sin, Leona, Shyvana and Lee Sin.

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Things did not improve much over the next forty minutes and Nv claimed a solid victory from a lead that had built steadily over the entire game.

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In game two YSSC stacked their team composition with magic damage. It was a risky move but, at this stage, YSSC had nothing to lose. The game was to be won or lost on Denian’s twitch snowballing before Jax and Lee Sin were able to build sufficient magic resist to weather the assault.

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Twitch did indeed snowball and, after building a steady lead early on, YSSC were able to dive Nv, cleaning up the hapless backline and pushing to victory after forty minutes of controlled aggression.

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The third and final game would decide which team headed to Perth to face Immunity in the semi-finals. A poison chalice, perhaps, but one that both teams were evidently eager to fight for. Nv were being tested at every possible stage of the round of eight and their progression rested on their performance against the unpredictable YSSC. As was mentioned previously, there are no safe bets with Your Soul Shall Chuffer; game three could have gone any way.

Heavenz resorted to his LeBlanc while FirstMate and Mattress secured their terrifying Lucian/Thresh combination. Zahe had opted for a comfort pick in the form of Lee Sin, also ensuring that Denian’s twitch would be safe from the terror of the blind monk during the laning phase.

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YSSC tried to emulate the early game aggression they showed during game two but they overstepped the mark and found themselves face to face with a Thresh hook on too many occasions. Mattress brought his A-game when it mattered most and snowballed FirstMate to another eleven kill game on Lucian. FirstMate’s Lucian KDA over the whole tournament is simply astonishing and Immunity will undoubtedly take note of this fact going into the semi-finals this weekend.

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Nv proved too much for YSSC to handle in game three and, after a successful push through mid and bot lane, things looked dire. YSSC managed to repel Nv briefly but there was no stopping FirstMate who, once again, put on an extremely impressive performance with Lucian to, rather fittingly, take down YSSC’s nexus just after the forty-minute mark.

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All five days of the Winter Regional round of eight can be viewed here and the live bracket is available here.

Upcoming Semi-final matches

Immunity v Plantronics Nv

In this rematch of the Autumn Regional grand final, Nv undoubtedly has a steep mountain to climb. Heavenz has yet to win a LAN tournament match against his former team and this factor will undoubtedly weigh on the team. That being said, Nv has the opportunity to apply what they learned from their loss at the Autumn Regional and take the fight to Immunity. The match will be won or lost in mid and bottom lane. Mattress and Firstmate need to be able to exercise some sort of control over the flow of the game to have any hope of winning. Immunity rely heavily on their bottom lane to effect rotations and objective control, Intrepid and Heavenz need to be aware of the ticking time bomb that is Raydere and Spookz and defuse it before it’s too late.

Curse v Avant Garde Ascension

Curse had a difficult run in Group A and now they bear a huge handicap after Keane was called up to sub for Curse Academy in North America earlier in the week. After faltering against Ascension’s sibling team, Redemption, during their first match of the tournament, they had to face them yet again to avoid elimination from the losers’ bracket. Curse rallied, however, with a commanding victory over Redemption the second time around. Minky and the rest of the former Mindfreak crew now stand between them and a place in the grand final. Ascension look to be in good form following their victory over Your Soul Shall Chuffer and, in the absence of Keane, Curse may be in for an extremely rough matchup. Keane is an outstanding mid-laner but the timing of his absence makes matters much worse for Curse, who were forced to find and assimilate a new mid-laner just days before heading to Perth for the finals.

The OCE Winter Regional will continue on 21 June at 1:00PM AEST, live from Supanova Perth. The stream will be available here.

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PineappleSmoothie is a law student with a love for sport - eSports included. He has played League of Legends since season two and is Platinum in OCE solo queue. He currently covers the rapidly growing Oceania scene for Cloth5.

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