Round 1 of Forge of Champions saw the UKLC sides go undefeated. No higher-seeded team dropped so much as a game across four best-of-3s, setting us up for an all-UKLC affair in Round 2. But that streak was desperately close to collapsing.

This week saw the start of the Forge of Champions Main Event, a best-of-3 single elimination tournament with 13 of the strongest teams from different competitions across the UK and Ireland.

Round 1 featured the entry of our four Open Teams into the competition, where they played the UKLC sides that ended the regular season in sixth-ninth place. And the Open Teams exited almost as soon as they entered, without picking up a single game win between them. But that’s not to say they didn’t come EXTREMELY close.

Here’s the rundown of Round 1!

Breaking the ice

Barrage had finished dead last in the UK League Championship, but they entered Forge of Champions having made some changes. Included in those changes were the introduction of Kd0 into the bot lane and Ice Breaker into the top lane. And though both had a stellar start to life on Barrage, it was Ice Breaker who stole the show.

Against Belong Steelers, the Belong Arena Clash SU19 representatives from Teesside, Ice Breaker was the target of multiple Steelers ganks, lane swaps, and ire, as he deftly turned around every attack.

Besides being a walking highlight reel, Ice Breaker also picked up five kills in 1v2—or even 1v5—situations across two games. With his immovable presence in the top lane continuously soaking up pressure, Barrage were able to dismantle the Steelers across the rest of the map.

One hit away

The third game of Round 1 was certainly the closest. In fact, it was almost as close as any League of Legends match could possibly be.

Diabolus were drawn against Barrage: Retirement Home Edition, a motley crew of players with considerable experience in the UK scene, that had earned their spot via the Arena GG Online Qualifier. If you missed it, I’d recommend you watch the whole game (including a slick Baron steal from PFI) for the full experience—but you can check the tweet below to see the wacky ending.

What it ultimately came down to, in true UKLC fashion, was a base race: with Governor’s Ornn caught out and five devils knocking at their door, Jakamaka and Skude went for the backdoor through bot lane.

In the frame that the game ended, the red team Nexus stood at 154 HP, with a Caitlyn auto suspended in mid-air.

So many things could’ve made the difference for Barrage: RHE—if Reclamation had based earlier on Morgana, causing more delay to Diabolus; if Skude hadn’t wasted time channelling his recall, but committed to the push; if Jakamaka had flashed closer to the Nexus to save just a sliver of time—then the old boys would have taken Game 1, and the series might’ve looked very different.

But they didn’t, and the rest is history, as Diabolus closed out the series and moved on to Round 2.

An NVision masterclass

Barrage weren’t the only team to make sweeping changes heading into Forge of Champions. NVision Esports replaced three members of their starting roster, swapping in mid laner Mad My Day, jungler Antero, and welcoming back ex-Barrage top laner Artorias to the LVPukLoL Twitch stream.

They came up against DegreeSports, the University of Exeter super team which had qualified by winning NSE Summer League as ‘ChampionClub’. The meme masters had fully embraced their underdog role coming into Forge, which proved apt; they swiftly found themselves being schooled by NVision.

Despite all the changes, it was arguably the area of the line-up that NVision had kept unchanged—their bottom lane—that exhibited the strongest showing in the series, as Spark and PropaPandah demonstrated why they were worth keeping around.

Led by their unstoppable bot duo, NVision soared to a quick 2-0 victory that suggested they’ve already improved their mid-game shotcalling from the regular season. With their new line-up and the introduction of a new coach, FireVortex, how high is their ceiling?

All-out brawl

The final series of Round 1 pitted two familiar foes against one another. Bulldog Esports, an organisation that had been part of the inaugural UKLC split this spring before their relegation, were ready to challenge at the top tier of regional competition once again after qualifying via Insomnia Masters. Enclave Gaming were charged with defending the UKLC sides’ undefeated streak.

And they were made to fight for it. Game 1 was a violent mess, with Bulldog racking up kill after kill with superior team-fight play. EgoSpeed’s Ornn and Seb’s Rakan were ideal initiators, catching out lone Enclave members on repeat.

Yet Renghis was a constant thorn in their side. His splitpushing Fiora ran amok, and Beeley’s Orianna caused further havoc when he stole Baron away from under Bulldog Esports’ noses.

After a disheartening first loss, Bulldog’s spirit seemed broken. They were convincingly stifled in Game 2, only scoring two kills in a 28-minute defeat. Alongside Belong Steelers, Barrage:RHE, and DegreeSports, Bulldog Esports will have a chance at redemption and qualification to the UKLC in the Promotion Tournament, which starts on the 29th of October.

 


 

The Forge of Champions Main Event is being broadcast in its entirety, so make sure you tune in to twitch.tv/lvpuklol to catch all of the action. After that, there’s the Promotion Tournament, where NVision Esports and Barrage will have to fight for their UKLC survival. They’ll be joined by teams from the Forge of Champions Open Tournaments and compete for promotion to the UKLC Summer Split.

Stay tuned to our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more updates and announcements as all the season’s drama unfolds!

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