Cup magic was alive and well in Round 2 of Forge of Champions. The tournament may have started out entirely in accordance with the script, but Barrage ripped their screenplay to shreds when they took down Excel UK.

This week was the second 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.

With the four bottom UKLC sides dutifully eliminating the four Open Teams in Round 1 without dropping a game, few thought the first upsets of the tournament would come at the start of Round 2. But upset Barrage did, after Diabolus also took down a higher seed to enter Round 3, where they were followed by Phelan and MnM.

Here’s the biggest stories of Round 2!

PFI sends Demise packing

Demise finished above Diabolus in the UKLC this split, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the way that PFI dismantled their team.

The Reapers were welcoming back their returning captain, Batu, after the Dane travelled to Korea for his own bootcamp. But Batu’s return was quickly overshadowed by his opposite number. Showing a tremendously proactive early game, PFI consistently found openings to gank and punish overextended Demise members on Gragas and Elise. And it wasn’t only him that had a standout performance, as Diabolus continued their excellent form at Forge of Champions.

With a 2-0 victory, Diabolus continued to uphold their undefeated record in Hell Clàsico, proving that Devils > Reapers when it comes to securing dominion over the underworld.

Barrage rock the boat

Did our 9th-placed UKLC team knock out Excel UK? You bet they did.

So, how does such an earth-shattering upset come about? Well, there’s a few reasons…

A flex too far

First up, there’s no denying it: Excel’s draft was a flex too far to keep control of the series, even for them. While a few experiments worked out (evidenced by Jeskla’s Kayle KDA and KaSing’s nutty Kai’Sa outplay), many of them… didn’t.

(Somehow, Nasus bot was one of the ones that did).

Fastlegged feeling it

MVP of the series Fastlegged blitzed through Excel in Game 2, landing hook after hook to punish out-of-position opponents. His peak play was definitely this gutsy dive, however:

His excellent performance led Barrage to their first game win and proved that Excel could bleed.

The Honeymoon phase

The ‘Honeymoon phase’ is a much-discussed topic in the wider realm of traditional sports. The arrival of a new manager or a star striker can spur a team onto short-term success; in esports, a few players coming in can change the atmosphere and give their team a temporary kick (see: ‘The Kasing Effect‘). The same phenomenon appears to be affecting Barrage, who made a couple of roster swaps heading into Forge of Champions.

Suddenly, everything has clicked. Fastlegged, little more than a fringe player during the regular season, is making highlight plays. Diva, who had always only shown glimpses of greatness, is suddenly putting together a montage in the middle of a series with EU Masters quarterfinalists.

Now, the whole team looks sharper, quicker, and more incisive than ever before. Diabolus and the rest of the teams left in the tournament will be hoping it’s just the passing euphoria that comes with team changes. If not, they could well be in trouble.

Throwing the dice

Sometimes, the game can flip on a single moment.

We saw as much in Round 1 of the competition, when Barrage: Retirement Home Edition were less than one autoattack from winning the first game against Diabolus. One missclick here, an inefficient base timing there, a single wrong decision—and the game is lost.

Such was the case with Enclave Gaming in their first game against MnM. With two dead and the enemy base in shambles, Enclave took the gamble of ending the game against the three remaining Marshmallows. But Shogun, Chibs, and Only Angel were not to be outdone.

With the base protected, MnM turned the game around to take the series lead. And, just as Diabolus did in Round 1, they carried the momentum into an easy second victory, leaving their opponents to wonder: “What if?”

Controlled aggression

The final series of the week was arguably the most one-sided. Despite NVision showing solid improvements in Round 1 and even in many moments during their defeat, Phelan Gaming proved that they were still the same team that had swept aside half the UKLC in that unbelievable Gauntlet run.

The key to their victory? Aggression.

With Achuu Arcane Shifting forward, Chemera constantly Distorting in, and finally Sof committing to hard engage inside NVision’s base, Phelan looked confident and strolled to a Game 1 victory.

Game 2 was messier, but met the same outcome. Even when fights were ending blow-for-blow, Phelan ensure they were always taken on NVision’s turf: leading to a dropped tower or inhibitor, and pressing their advantage until the minions finished the Nexus.

 


 

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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