Interview, League of Legends

Interview with the relentless underdogs, UoB Thunderstorm

One of the standout performances of the Nuel Summer tournament and undoubtedly one of the most surprising top 10 finishers is the showing from University of Birmingham Thunderstorm. Four of the five members are in Gold with only one, Matt ‘TutleFail’ Martin, in Platinum. 

Before the tournament most of the members of the team were strangers. Peter ‘Aezure’ Dakin and Matt ‘TurtleFail’ Martin had been friends previously however the rest came together for the first time as UoB Thunderstorm.

The members of the team are:

Adam ‘Mr Comelio’ Comelio – Top Lane

Daniel ‘Danyhood’ Gittings – Jungle

Peter ‘Aezure’ Dakin – Mid Lane

Matt ‘TurtleFail’ Martin – AD Carry

Ollie ‘Ollie Campo’ Kamperis – Support

The burning question as I went into the interview, was: How do they do it?

What are your ambitions for the team?

Mainly to get into the Wildcard tournament, I think expecting beyond that would be ridiculous as we would have to win the Wildcard tournament to make it any further and as we are in the lowest qualifying spot for the Wildcard tournament I think it’s unlikely. The problem now is that teams are getting a lot better.

As you get further up the ladder you’re playing against players who just out-skill you. We work together pretty well but mechanically you get to a point where the skill level of the other teams is too high.

We’re used to being in a situation where you don’t expect to win lanes, but the opposition gets to the point where you can’t overcome that with good map movement, objective control and teamfighting.
Our general strategy is to survive lanes and win through a superior team fighting composition.

Quite a lot of the time we come from behind with better team fights.

One of the struggles with Nuel is that you don’t get a lot of time to scout your opponent, finding out who they are roughly ten minutes before the game. We have a set specific style to the way we play and we have a set of picks that fit into that. I take care of picks and bans and I try to get people to play as close to that as we can given the champions still available.

So can you give away your secret composition?

[after a few moments of internal debate]

It’s basically just a big team fight comp, you take a lot of champs with very strong teamfights and strong mid-to-late game power curves for example Wukong in the jungle and Twitch for ADC.

I think our style of play just came from limited champion pools when we started playing. To begin with, everything other than my Morgana was pretty shoddy and, no offense to Dan, everything other than his Wukong was shoddy. Adam only plays tanks so that made our team comp, put Adam on Sion and he’s our engage for the day.

With a Mid-laner like Morgana that sounds like a fairly low damage composition. Does the pressure fall on Matt’s shoulders to carry?

Well Dan doesn’t really understand the supporting role as a jungler. When he goes Wukong it’s not for CC, it’s full damage Wukong.

There was one game where the opposition Tristana got extremely fed and we ended up winning because in every teamfight he would blow the Tristana up instantly.

You just ult her and she dies before she hits the ground
[team chuckles]

I am a Twitch main which is pretty anti-meta at the moment but he’s great for teamfights. He brings a lot of damage which is what the composition needs. Whilst Twitch is my main there are other champions which I can play.

So why can’t the other teams just ban you out?

Well in the last patch Elise got strong, and Dan can play Elise. With Elise I like to play Cassiopeia which just turns me into a machine gun as long as I don’t feed. Also they are buffing Lucian and Matt plays Lucian. So this means it’s harder for them to completely ban our composition.

So do you know who it is you will be playing the next round?

Nope, although the other team from UoB is ninth now so we might be playing against them. We have yet to play them in the tournament but we did play against them in a scrim.

We got dumpstered, yeah…

Well we didn’t get dumpstered, we were ahead early…

Matt [cuts in]:
Yeah but as we all know if we are ahead early then we just lose.

Adam [amongst more laughter]:
It doesn’t happen often does it.

How does your team manage objectives?

We don’t really prioritise any objectives. We try to take each game as it goes. We rarely take Barons however. Unless we are really far ahead, which doesn’t happen often as Adam said, we tend to avoid it. Whenever we get into a position to take objectives I will call out to the team what we are going to do whether it’s group and take mid turret or do Dragon.

If you don’t manage to get your ideal team composition in the picks and bans is the match pretty much over?

We could probably do alright, except when I don’t get Morgana. I have only lost one game on Morgana in the Nuel. Knowing how people scout in the Nuel I put a lot of effort into making it so that Morgana isn’t anywhere near my top ten most played champions. Most of the bans targeted at mid are Cassiopea and Diana because people don’t want to play against them.

Adam what role do you play in the composition and what are your main picks?

Well I am the designated tank for the team. My top three picks would probably be Dr Mundo, Nasus and Sion. I know Nasus is a weird pick, we actually won a game on stream with him. Ever since I first started playing league all my friends were better than me so I had to learn to play a champions that just outscaled other champions. So Nasus fit that mould perfectly. Additionally (and this is in Adam’s own words) he has the dankest E-Q combo. He spins his cane above his head and just dunks them, it’s just the best. One of the issues with Nasus is that I do sometimes split push too much. Peter is like “Please Adam come help us we are losing four vs five here” and I’m top lane stacking my Q.

We do sometimes just win the four vs five’s though.

My kill participation is really low because of how much I split push and apply map pressure. It’s something I know I need to work on.

My problem with Nasus is that he doesn’t really fit into our ideal teamfight comp. He survives lane just fine but he avoids teamfights [team laughs]. Personally I prefer the Sion or the Mundo. Mundo is unkillable with a Warmogs and Sion has an amazing engage tool whenever your team needs it.

So to finish, Ollie what are your main support picks?

My top three picks would be Thresh, Braum and Shen. My job in the team is basically to stand on top of Matt and try to stop him from dying.

Wouldn’t Janna or Soraka be better for that?

I used to play them but they are pretty boring. I will play them if Peter asked me too.

Well Braum is God tier right now.

Well I’m of the opinion that we need a tank support because they are just too good right now, anything that’s squishy is kinda meh. I specifically asked him to learn Shen.

After this interview took place UoB Thunderstorm went 2-1 the following evening and qualified for the Wildcard tournament which made it their fifth consecutive week of going 2-1 in their matches. This consistency was however sadly broken in the second round of the Wildcard tournament where they lost in a close match to USW GEMS Dragoons.

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