Entering the quarterfinals, both teams had some challenges to overcome. Curse’s 11-17 season was less than encouraging for fans. For Dignitas, though, the problems were much bigger.
In late March, Dignitas’ most recognizable member, the affable William “Scarra” Li, was removed from the active roster and became the team’s coach, leading the way for Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer, a promising rookie, to take his place. Gilmer led the team in a late season match against Team Curse, scoring eight kills.
Fans were subsequently puzzled by the announcement that Li would be rejoining the team as it began playoffs. The team said it wanted a more experienced hand, but many were confused by the sudden change. The team’s jungler, Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo, put it simply, “Scarra’s back, and we’re going to win.”
But as the games began, it became clear that Curse was ready to put up a fight. Dignitas and Curse took no time to push down each other’s towers, clearing opposite lanes on the field. Dignitas came out slightly ahead, and used that lead to keep up the pressure on Curse.
Armed with Li manning the spear-throwing Nidalee, Dignitas proved to be superior in that first game, challenging objectives from afar and pushing Curse back until they were starved for gold. Nidalee’s high damage and long range attacks proved to be one of Dignitas’ biggest strengths as they took the win.
Game 2, however, came with a reversal of fortunes. Dignitas again pulled out ahead in the early game turret race, but Curse was keen on defending. The biggest change was in Curse’s top laner, Diego "Quas" Ruiz, whose use of the champion Jax proved to be too much to handle for the Dignitas squad. Ruiz eventually steamrolled Dignitas, opening up the game for Curse, which pushed back to tie up the series.
It all came down to the final match, where again Li armed himself with Nidalee. But it seemed by now that Curse had figured out his style. The secret to defeating Nidalee’s long range is simple—dive in and don’t let her escape. All they had to do was wait for Dignitas to move to take an objective, like the Dragon, and then dive right in.
By sticking close to Dignitas, they won almost every major team fight, as Dignitas fell further and further behind.
Starved out, and with Li’s spears unable to find home, Dignitas had to throw in the towel. Li’s return hadn’t been enough, and with him managing only four kills over all three games, he may have even been a weak point.
Curse, however, felt vindicated after a poor regular season. “This match means a lot to me. We did not have the best season,” Joedat "Voyboy" Esfahani explained. “I’m really proud of how far we’ve come.”
Dignitas falls down to the fifth place match, where they fight to stay in the LCS, while Curse will advance to the quarterfinals to play against Cloud 9 in tomorrow’s matches.
Photo courtesy of Riot Games