Chiefs face their demons

By Alex Manisier

Picture the lobby of a convention centre, buzzing with enthusiastic gamers. Three professional League of Legends players are posing for photos and shaking hands, but struggling to keep a smile on their faces. The other two teammates are back in their hotel room, unable to face their fans. The biggest upset in Oceanic League of Legends history has just taken place.

Fast forward a year and the stage was set for it to happen again. Chiefs eSports Club - the undefeated juggernauts of Oceania, coming into the grand final off a 26-game winning streak. Legacy eSports - the enthusiastic challengers, but far from the likely victors.

As the two teams faced each other, not a shred of the overconfidence that had cursed Chiefs in last year’s Winter Regionals was present. This time, Oceania’s kings would be ready.

Here’s how it happened under the Big Top at Sydney’s Luna Park on Saturday night.

Game 1

The series kicked off with both teams selecting very distinct team compositions - Chiefs with a mobile pick comp, and Legacy with a powerful lategame lineup. Chiefs began on the losing side of a lane swap, losing three towers within nine minutes, but as Legacy began to overextend for farm, Simon ‘Swiffer’ Papamarkos’ Twisted Fate was able to begin his team’s snowball with some well-chosen Destinies.

As they ramped up in strength, Chiefs continually punished Legacy’s carry duo of Aaron ‘ChuChuZ’ Bland and James ‘Wallythacka’ Shute for farming solo, and it looked like Game 1 was a lock. But at the 25-minute mark, Chiefs rolled out into Legacy’s side of the river searching for kills - and fell right into a trap. Playing off the tight corridors of the red-side jungle, Legacy pulled out a miracle teamfight win as ChuChuZ’s Azir tore Chiefs to shreds.

Still, for every kill that Legacy were able to find, Chiefs could easily take three more. Tightening up their vision game, the reigning champions chose more intelligent fights and eventually found one crucial ace in Legacy’s blue-side jungle to take out Game 1.

Game 2

Legacy started Game 2 with a twist, as Minkywhale loaded onto the Rift as Tahm Kench. The early game progressed much better for them this time around, as ChuChuZ and Wallythacka both surged to leads against their opponents. All the while, Chiefs top laner Brandon ‘Swip3rR’ Holland had been building up a significant advantage as Fizz against Minkywhale, keeping his team within 1000 gold of their opponents.

While Swip3rR scaled up, Chiefs began to find kills around the map as jungler Samuel ‘Spookz’ Broadley baited Legacy into overly aggressive ganks which were swiftly punished by the Chiefs cavalry. Things came to a head 30 minutes in as Legacy started an ill-advised Dragon off the back off a pick on Chiefs support Bryce ‘EGym’ Paule. Chiefs cleaned house on the low-health Legacy, and from there, the game was Chiefs’ to lose as they picked up Baron and sieged to a win.

Game 3

After bringing out a pick comp in Game 1 and a poke comp in Game 2, Chiefs again switched gears as they opted for a ‘JuggerLucian’ strategy with Raydere as the star. Although Swiffer’s Lulu and EGym’s Janna did great work in protecting and supporting Raydere, Legacy were able to prey on Chiefs’ early game troughs in the same fashion that Chiefs punished them in Game 1.

To top things off, Swip3rR’s Hecarim play was thoroughly outdone by Minkywhale’s Shen. The Legacy top laner was everywhere in Game 3, making both aggressive and defensive plays with Stand United. His overwhelming map presence pushed Legacy closer and closer to victory, and Chiefs were never able to reach their lategame power spike against the decisive rotations of Legacy.

Chiefs’ 28 game winning streak came to a screeching halt, and they suddenly found themselves staring down a possible repeat of Winter Regionals - another nightmare upset.

Game 4

As Chiefs rolled out in Game 4, it was quickly apparent that this was not the same roster that had bowed out of Worlds contention in 2014. Spookz and Swiffer showed off the ‘buddy system’ that had earned them a spot on the Chiefs roster, outplaying Legacy at every turn and putting ChuChuZ in a trough for much of the early game. EGym’s Alistar made a return to the forefront as well, setting up Swiffer for some truly impressive Command: Shockwaves.

Legacy were undeterred, however, and managed to get one back at the 27-minute mark as they picked off EGym near Dragon before taking down three more members of Chiefs with some beautiful kiting from Wallythacka’s Sivir. Minkywhale’s Abyssal Voyage nearly grabbed them the ace, but Raydere’s Corki proved to be too slippery for death.

At this point, Swiffer’s Orianna truly switched on, and Legacy were unable to find another perfect teamfight. The Chiefs captain led his team to their first-ever win against Legacy, and punched their ticket to the International Wildcard Qualifier.

MVP: Swip3rR

It wouldn’t be a bad move to give the MVP award to anyone on Chiefs, given the level of team cohesion and interdependence that they displayed during the final.

But while all of the Chiefs showed up on Saturday, Swip3rR played the best series of his life. In the final, he truly shedded his former role player image, showing Oceania that he is capable of carrying Chiefs when his more flashy teammates are not able to.

On Maokai, he was able to survive with mere scraps of farm, always showing up to a fight when he was needed. On Hecarim, the odds were completely stacked against him through no fault of his own, but he still managed to develop into a credible threat and act as a ray of hope in a dire Game 3.

Most impressively, on Fizz, he pressured out Minkywhale in two games, limiting Legacy’s options and putting them on a timer for victory. With or without Spookz’s jungle assistance, Swip3rR consistently outperformed his opponent, catapulting Chiefs back into the game when they encountered a spot of trouble with his keen eye for potential kills.

Where to from here?

Chiefs will move on to the International Wildcard Qualifier in Turkey, where they will face Japan’s Detonation FocusMe, Turkey’s Dark Passage, and a yet-to-be-decided team from Southeast Asia’s GPL.

Catch the action live on LoLesports on August 28.

4 years ago

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