We have a new European champion in League of Legends
They were unstoppable. No team had ever beaten them in the playoffs. It was a dynasty spanning years, encompassing every season of the League Championship Series. Only one team has ever won the LCS title.
Alliance claimed the LCS title, becoming the first team ever to best Fnatic, ending a three-season run with the boys in black and orange on top. The new champions did it the same way they did everything this season: winning three of four maps.
Alliance finished the regular season with a 21-7 record and won both their playoff series 3-1, the same mark they held against every team during the regular season. That remarkable consistency showed just how dominant they were as a team—they handled every enemy, every different opposing style, every foe who trained specifically to knock off the best team in the league, with the same ease.
The “super” team formed at the start of this year around the best mid laner outside Korea, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. But Alliance struggled in the spring season, searching to find the play style that fit the star talents filling their lineup. In the summer, they figured it out, morphing into one of the most dominant teams in LCS history.
The finals were not particularly close. While Alliance didn’t jump to commanding leads, they maintained steady control of most of the games they played.
Alliance disrupted Fnatic by blocking the typical protect-the-marksman strategy they used to great effect for much of the season. Fnatic likes to pick support style mid laners and top laners to boost the split MVP Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, but Alliance was ready, banning out Orianna in game one and picking Kog’Maw to keep him from Larsson's capable hands.
Game two was a masterful champion select, with Alliance leaving Kassadin open to bait Fnatic. Alliance then responded with Tristana and Lee Sin, scoring the top jungler and a hyper carry marksman, leaving Larsson picking the out-of-favor Lucian due to an Alliance ban of Kog’Maw. Alliance then placed Tristana in mid lane with Hansen, playing a double AD composition, and used it to obliterate Fnatic.
Fnatic finally got a composition they liked in game three and managed to take a win on the back of a ridiculous 10/0/6 KDA Tristana from Larsson, showing why he earned the MVP this season. But that was just a blip on the radar in the grand scheme.
In game four, Hansen showed why he is the best mid laner in Europe with a dominating game on Xerath, posting a 5/0/6 KDA while topping the damage charts.
While Hansen and marksman Erik “TabzZ” van Helvert had their usual solid games during the series, the real standout for Alliance was Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema. Alliance took a leap of faith picking the talented jungler with little top-level competitive experience for the team, and after some uneven play during the team’s first season, Hartsema delivered. He posted a 12/7/31 KDA against Fnatic in the finals, completely shutting down Fnatic’s jungler Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen. Happonen only managed a 3/10/16 KDA, letting Alliance take the initiative in every match.
The best play in the match may have been Hartsema’s escape through Fnatic’s jungle in game four. He dodged four Fnatic players and led them on a wild goose chase through both sides of their jungle, behind one of their towers, and up to the top lane, where he narrowly escaped.
Alliance will need Hartsema in top form to challenge the best teams on the planet when they head to the World Championships next month. Jungling legend Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon just lead KT Rolster Arrows to the OnGameNet championship. While Arrows still needs to qualify for Worlds, those are the kind of players Alliance will need to neutralize if they hope to make noise on the world stage. If Hartsema plays like he did today, they just might be able to do it.
"We had some difficulties in the past where we weren't really synchronized," said van Helvert. "But when we're sychronized as five no one can beat us."
Alliance took home $50,000 for winning the championship, while Fnatic earned $25,000. But the real prize is at Worlds, where both teams will battle for part of the $2 million-plus prize purse.
"We're planning on winning worlds," said Hansen. "But one step at a time."
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube