The spring split started February 18th and had multiple stages for these teams to get to where they are today. A 6-week long online portion to determine which teams would auto qualify to Masters and which would get dropped into the Gauntlet. As Team Eager and Luminosity qualified from North America into Masters, so would Obey Alliance and Team Dignitas out of Europe. From the Gauntlet was Team Rival out of Europe, SoaR Gaming from North America, and NRG eSports battling their way out of the Wildcard match. Hailing from Oceania was last years Worlds team LG Dire Wolves. The Brazilian representative Black Dragons would be waiting on both Valorous and Isurus, the two Latin American teams, having to go through a Best-Of-Five in our Esports Arena to see which would advance into the Masters.
Day One – International Day
Isurus 3-0 Valorous
NRG eSports 2-0 LG Dire Wolves
Black Dragons 2-1 Isurus
Day Two – Quarter Finals
Obey Alliance 2-1 NRG eSports
The SWC 2017 rematch. Despite a rocky start in the first game against LG Dire Wolves, NRG would not allow the first game of this set to be anything but firm as they controlled it objectively around the Gold Furies and Fire Giants. Having a 14,000 gold lead at the 26-minute mark is when NRG locked their second Fire Giant of the game and the Titan shortly after. Obey Alliance however would not be counted out. Despite losing the previous game, Obey took it to the two-time defending World Champions. Over commitment from NRG at the 26-minute mark allowed Obey to get momentum as they killed Yammyn and emilitoo in order to secure their first Fire Giant. Knocking down all the towers and two phoenixes, Obey build a comfortable 13,000 gold lead and win the last team fight with a triple kill out of PrettyPrime’s Vulcan! Despite how close the first two games were, this last and final elimination game would be completely lopsided. An early first blood from CaptainTwig onto Dimi’s level 4 Bellona allowed for Obey to control that side of the map. An epic Final Judgement from PrettyPrime’s Thoth secured the first Gold Fury and ended emilitoo’s life! Getting a second kill onto Dimi while maniaKK picks off iRaffer, Obey continue pressuring down the rest of NRG’s towers building a quick burst of gold in their lead. The lead got so far out of control that NRG voted to surrender at 19 minutes 55 seconds into the game as they just lost their tier two tower and was about to allow Obey to get Fire Giant. Eliminating the World Champions finally broke the curse from Obey Alliance at LAN and secured their ticket to the next day.
Team Rival 2-1 Luminosity
The former CycloneGG roster out of Europe continues to dominate Season Four. Their confidence has been through the roof since defeating NRG eSports in the Gauntlet and their showing in this set against the North American Luminosity continues the European domination reign. The first LAN with the new completed roster for Luminosity wasn’t as successful as they would’ve liked. The objective control out of Team Rival was to near perfection in the third game as they continued cashing in the check at the Gold Fury. Playing the Susano, iceicebaby constantly applied a lot of pressure onto BaRRaCCuDDa’s Skadi allowing Vote on the Rama to shine in the later stage team fights.
Team Eager 2-1 Black Dragons
Whether it was tactical or not, Team Eager did not look like their former selves against this Brazilian team. Attempting to either hide their real strategies, or thinking this was actually a strong idea, djpernicus locks in the Aphrodite jungle in the first game. It took Team Eager 45 minutes to win the first game of this set. The Ravana for oShip in the second game proved to be a serious threat as he could not be stopped. Resulting in Eager to ban Ravana in the third game but still took nearly 40 minutes to end the game, 10 minutes above the average game length. The Brazilians gave the North American powerhouse a run for their money.
Team Dignitas 2-0 SoaR Gaming
The newly formed European team’s first appearance at a LAN collectively against the North American survivors from the Gauntlet. A slow and steady game in the kill category for both these teams would eventually be met by the ever growing objective control by Team Dignitas as they secured Gold Furies repeatedly without any true contention. Winning the first game in 25 minutes, and the next in 29, there was a distinct gap between these teams.
Day Three – Semi Finals
This set can be best described as a “battle of the coaches.” Hayzer used to coach the roster of Team Rival, formerly known as CycloneGG back in Season Three before jumping ship to Obey Alliance to assist them in SWC 2017. AlphaJackal took the newly opened coach position and has helped Team Rival get to this spot in the Semi Finals of the Season Four Spring Split. Defeating NRG eSports 2-1, the two-time defending World Champions, is no easy task and this squad managed to execute their victory during the Spring Gauntlet. A battle of the wits, Hayzer and Obey Alliance defeated AlphaJackal and Team Rival 3-1.
The last hope out of North America against a strong performing all-star European lineup. Compared to Season Three and even the online portion of Season Four, the way Team Eager played this set was very uncharacteristic of them. Picking unorthodox and “out-of-meta” gods is not surprising out of Team Eager but relying on the old-school strategy of Guan Yu jungle for djpernicus dates back to his old COG days. Fenrir solo for Divios and Nu Wa for TheBest meant that it was all up to Aror playing the Khepri to try to assist his mid mage for some poke with that long distant root. Despite trying to group up and forcing the issue with their resilient team composition, it was actually Team Dignitas that punished the North Americans only allowing three kills the entire game in 25 minutes. Heading into Game Two, Team Eager deployed the same strategy for picks and bans but attempted to be more aggressive early on. Needless to say, Dignitas still handled the strange draft from Eager rather effortlessly winning and needing only one more to move onto the finals. Transitioning into Game Three, Eager scrapped their idea of Guan jungle, finally, but still had some unique ideas. With the amount of mobility between Janus from TheBest and Bastet played by djpernicus, the North Americans were still not able to find any hole to exploit against Team Dignitas.
This set was the most anticipated matchup of the tournament. With North America eliminated on Saturday in the Team Dignitas vs. Team Eager set, we had an all European Finals. The former Obey Alliance solo laner, now in Team Dignitas, Variety against three of his former teammates. In the first game, Variety was struggling to start things off as he was in a losing match up against maniaKK’s Osiris along with the Athena global support from EmilZy. However, this did not deter him from making a huge impact in the later stages of the game on his Cabrakan play. The first game was a well executed series of tactics from Team Dignitas as they pushed and pulled Obey Alliance every direction they willed as they slowly chipped away at the 2nd place team from SWC 2017.
Osiris and Ravana were the staple picks for Obey Alliance throughout the set. Demonstrating the effectiveness of their early game power in the second game which also carried into their future wins. Not only were the solo-jungle combination aggressive out of Obey, but their mid player PrettyPrime on The Morrigan found multiple kill opportunities. Utilizing the Phantom Queen’s kit to transform into QvoFred’s Serqet, PrettyPrime took full advantage of the gods that opted for the early purification beads over the Aegis Amulet. The pressure from Obey Alliance was relentless. Without any good answers from Dignitas, they surrendered at the 20-minute mark, only finding one kill the entire game. By surrendering and stopping the bleeding, DiG quickly forget about this game and continue the set being tied and what was a Best-Of-Five has now become a BO3.
Every game is always important in a Best-Of-Five set but Game Three is usually the deciding factor. With the series tied at one a piece, the winning team after this game would end up 2-1 with only one more game to win. After Dignitas lost the previous game, they were the ones to pick up the Ravana that allowed them to dive the back line effortlessly. With Amaterasu, Fenrir, and Osiris for Obey Alliance’s front line, there weren’t many defensive options remaining to keep their carries of Vulcan and Medusa alive. Having a 9,000 gold lead, Dignitas were able to pick up the pace quicker than game one as they secured themselves Fire Giant after winning a team fight skirmish shortly after the 18-minute mark. Obey Alliance had to obey the black and yellow squad as they barreled through the mid lane killing four members and the Titan. Dignitas returned the favor and only have up one entire death.
The former Titan teammates PrettyPrime and Ataraxia paired up to hit some long range snipes from their Nox and Rama respectively on the same targets. After winning Game Two with their “bash brother” style of Osiris and Ravana for maniaKK and CaptainTwig, successfully executing it in their first elimination game yet again by leaning on the Hercules solo out of Variety. In the other side lane, Arkkyl took an aggressive 1v1 skirmish against Ataraxia and his 6 lane minions. Once the Obey hunter took to the sky, Arkkyl had to retreat with his tail between his legs as he fell to the last few archer shots. This gave Ataraxia the 2-1 count in the solo kill department. The collapse of Variety in solo trickled into the jungle which impacted QvoFred trailing behind multiple levels to his counterpart. Once Obey Alliance secured the Gold Fury at the 13-minute mark and then proceeded to take out three Dignitas members, that’s when the game spiraled heavily in Obey’s favor. Winning the game shortly after the 30-minute mark, Obey ties the series two games each and what was Best-Of-Five that turned into a BO3, now becomes a single elimination game for both of these teams!
Based off of pattern recognition, Dignitas were next on the list to win this game. However, Obey Alliance had other intentions of breaking this arrangement. Mini-meta’s are displayed in long drawn out sets such as this one. Hun Batz being locked in for CaptainTwig not only forced The Morrigan ban out of Team Dignitas but made it less tempting for TrixTank to go for his defensive Khepri support. In the first three games, Obey Alliance banned away Fafnir but then picked up the Lord of Glittering Gold in the last two for EmilZy. The snipes from the former Titan players were still prevalent but this time it would be PrettyPrime’s Vulcan instead of Nox. The 27-minute mark is when the most important engagement of the set occurred. As Variety was sticking onto Ataraxia, he unintentionally leashed the Fire Giant with his Mystical Mail ticks. The timing of the knock up from Fire Giant caught both Variety and Trixtank spelling their doom. With some help from the boss in the teamfight, and after with his buff, Obey Alliance continue on the game to win the set and crown themselves the 2017 Spring Split Masters!
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Anatoliy “AnatoLiy” Alekseyenok is an Associate Esports Specialist at HiRez Studios. You can follow him on Twitter @iGAnatoLiy.