Everything was on the line for Curse Gaming. They needed a win against Dignitas to ensure they’d finish the day with control of the final playoff spot in the League Championships Series, and avoid sitting in the relegation zone, where their careers as League of Legends professional gamers could end.
So what did they do? Pull out their secret weapon: Talon.
Mid laner Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani is a League veteran famous for his aggressive top lane play in his younger years. As the mid laner of Curse Gaming, he’s earned a reputation for his fierce Yasuo play. Today, he bucked the current metagame trend, favoring utility mid laners, and pulled out Talon for the first time in the history of the NA LCS. And it was just what the doctor ordered for Curse Gaming.
Dignitas would try to shut down Esfahani on the carry-oriented Talon in the early game, but they couldn’t stop him from becoming a force.
The threat of Esfahani would allow the rest of his lanes to build up and eventually push Curse into a victory. He would finish the game with a 6/3/10 KDA on the rarely used champion, earning 19018 gold over the course of the match.
“I was just feeling Talon,” Esfahani explained in a post-game interview. “I just said, 'Guys, I think I want to play Talon here,' and they said go for it.”
The team’s support, Alex “Xpecial” Chu, wasn’t so sure about the pick. “I was a bit scared,” he said. “It was the first Talon ever, but we’ve been confident in scrims so I was OK with it.”
Esfahani’s play was all the more impressive in that he was able to control Dignitas mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le, who managed a 4/2/4 KDA on Ziggs. Le leads the league with a ridiculous 8.1 KDA, but Esfahani managed to keep Le contained, even out-farming the farm-heavy champion Ziggs.
“People always say [assassins] are just solo queue champions," Esfahani said, "but in all honesty, you can pull out anything that you think is good, and make it work in a competitive level as long as you have a solid plan and you know how to play the champion. I think we’ll start to see more pocket picks from players.”
Curse Gaming also got solid play from their other carries. Marskman David “Cop” Roberson put up a 9/2/12 KDA on Corki, while top laner Diego “Quas” Ruiz was a handful on new top lane force Maokai with a 5/1/13 KDA.
“Winning today was huge," Chu said. "We really needed that."
The victory pulls Curse Gaming to 11-15, two games ahead of the 9-17 Complexity and 8-17 Evil Geniuses. A single win or Complexity loss will land Curse Gaming a playoff spot, but that’s not guaranteed. Curse Gaming still needs to play LMQ and Team SoloMid, two of the top three teams in the league. Complexity, on the other hand, faces a squad of Counter Logic Gaming substitutes and Evil Geniuses.
Curse Gaming isn’t out of danger yet, but their victory over Dignitas pulled them much, much closer to a playoff spot and avoiding relegation, where their LCS careers may be on the line. And it was in large part thanks to an off-the-wall champion selection.
Image via Riot Games