Photo via Riot Games (CC-BY)
For the second time in the organization’s history, one of Splyce’s teams find themselves out of their depth against international competition. A magical regular season run has turned into the stuff of nightmares for the League of Legends squad, after they suffered three defeats out of three games in their opening week of the World Championship.
The Danish side’s path has mirrored that of the North American Splyce Counter-Strike: Global Offensive lineup. Though perhaps the League side earned their qualification a little more than their friends across the pond. It took two team dropouts for Splyce CS:GO to even obtain their spot at the MLG Columbus qualifier, where they captured the hearts of fans with passionate screaming and wins over Counter Logic Gaming and Vexed.
Splyce League, on the other hand, crawled through a gruelling season of the European League Championship Series, consistently defeating teams supposedly better than them, and refusing to collapse. While not as instantly exciting as two upset victories in a tournament they weren’t supposed to attend, it’s certainly a tougher challenge and warrants even more praise.
Despite the differing paths, both teams ended up in the same place—way out of their depth, facing international competition packed full of experience and ready to tear them limb from limb.
In a polar opposite to their qualification, it was two swift defeats that sent Splyce CS:GO packing from Columbus. They can hold their heads high. No one expected anything from them and, after facing two of the world's elite lineups, they were knocked out. It happens. Better luck next time.
The League squad, however, have triple the amount of games under their belts to prove that they aren’t simply a gimmick, a wildcard, or just lucky. The first week of worlds is over, and after three games they find themselves yet to pick up a victory. No one said it was going to be easy. Samsung Galaxy, TSM, and Royal Never Give Up are some of the best the world has to offer, but they all earned their qualification the same way Splyce did.
Despite the first week defeats, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Chres “Sencux” Laursen has been able to translate regional performances onto the world stage, producing a final top-tier appearance against TSM that seemed to only unravel due to their own macro gameplay weakness, or perhaps the strength of TSM in that regard. The bottom lane and jungle have shown some, but less, promise. While the elephant in the room sits in the form of Martin “Wunder” Hansen, who’s been less than impressive in the top lane.
It’s not surprising to see first-timers lose their cool when performing at the pinnacle of competition. Hundreds of thousands watching and judging every move, whilst also battling with the best the world has to offer. Jungler Jonas “Trashy” Andersen looks mediocre at this level, the bottom lane duo has given up the odd kill here and there, but Wunder seems to be failing at the basic levels of the game.
Before we all jump on the hate train, this could simply be a symptom of poor macro decisions by the team. Kled, Kennen, and Gnar are all frontline engage champions (under certain conditions), and sending Wunder in first under deteriorating circumstances certainly won't do him any favours. In fact, generally speaking his laning has been fine, not good, but certainly capable, though the decision to not invest in a Zhonya’s Hourglass on Kennen still boggles the mind.
Whatever the problem is, Splyce have now had a few days back at the drawing board. Four days to save their tournament aspirations and salvage any chance of progression to the later stages. Four days to prove to the world that they belong with the elite. At the very least, to restore some pride to the European region.
Splyce, your chances of making it out of group D are slim to none. By this time next week you’ll most likely be back at home, watching the tournament unfold behind your monitors and wishing you’d tried just a little harder, pushed a little bit further, played a little bit better. And that’s okay. No one expected you to set the world on fire, but that’s no excuse to not get back on the saddle and do your utmost to prove that this qualification isn’t a fluke. You earned your right to be there as much as anyone else did, but you haven’t earned the right to go home satisfied. Yet.