League of Legends, News/Announcement, Tournament Preview

LoL Winter Championship 2017: Welcome to Division 1

It’s Division One: the biggest of boys, the most titillating of titans and the most humungous of homunculi, coming to a stream near you. Here’s a rundown, complete with catchy headlines, of what to expect from the teams that have fought so hard to get here.

Group A

(Rapper’s obscure cousin fights large cats in Scottish highlands as washed up memers look on)

50 Kent – In Da Rift (University of Kent) – London and the South-East

Kent’s favourite rapper has been doing pretty well for himself in the South-East. A 3-0 against Reading, Cambridge and Surrey meant they ended up topping their group. It was a win that denied Reading is Hard a place in Division One and secured Kent’s place. In such a competitive league, Kai “kaiwhy” Growcoot will be proud of his team’s efforts. Crucial to their efforts will be their master tier jungler and star player Serge “Skudzy” Huleani. A fan of junglers with strong gank potential such as Elise and Rek’Sai, he’ll be looking to snowball his laners early and maintain that advantage going into the late game as shotcaller. Apparently Greg “Greggo” Smith has been drawing bans for his Irelia and Darius, the “ultimate star player”.

Champions to look out for: Elise, Kayn, Irelia.

UoL Tigers (University of Leicester) – Midlands

The Tigers are the second seed from the Midlands as De Montfort, Aston and Birmingham all fell to the big cats. Corey “Beeley” Beeley and his boys will be hoping to prolong this run of form in a tough group, despite claims they have “two inters, a lettuce and a top laner who can’t call ss”. The top laner in question (and one to watch) is Rehan “crown prince” Akhtar, a player specialising in carries, so don’t expect too many tanks. This will likely be paired with someone with strong waveclear (eg. Ziggs) in the midlane. However, with such a focus towards the top side of the map, it may leave their other lanes open for exploitation. At the very least, their playstyle will be more predictable, particularly if they do decide that the lettuce will be in their starting lineup. Whether the other teams will be able to match them will be the challenge.

Champions to look out for: Jayce, Ziggs, Xayah

Strathy (University of Strathclyde) – North

Strathy were identified as one of the teams to watch at the beginning of the tournament. They experienced a slow start by their standards, but they gradually felt their way to third place in the North. Sat behind Leeds and York, they won’t be too disappointed. Yet they’re back in the big leagues now and they need to prove that the hype is real. A solid six man roster including many of last year’s players means that there is plenty of choice for captain Alex “Alexxxx” Kershaw. Everyone’s favourite Nunu player Euan “Euan” Halliwell will be at it again, but a quick browse of solo queue suggests this player with the oddest champion pool known to man might have a rogue Nidalee on the cards. Previously Challenger Alastair “Eroop” Poore can sit back on his Jhin with Douglas “patsie” Cameron right behind him. They’ll be hoping this isn’t another case of “nearly there”. They won’t lack motivation though as they’ve been matched up against archnemesis DRG in another one for the ages.

Champions to look out for: Janna, Jhin, Nunu, Nidalee?! (you heard it here first).

DRG (University of Bath) – Wales and the South-West

A 2-1 record in the final week meant DRG claimed their place in the next round of the competition. These guys were another team to look out for at the beginning of the tournament, with their own Barrie “Bazzalisk” Wright proclaiming Will “Champions Tale” Zhang to be a “top level talent”. A confident Zed and Katarina player, it will be interesting to see how their midlaner fares with the new runes. Derrick “Kurama” Lee also looks a potential carry from the jungle with a strong Lee Sin and Kha’Zix. Matthew “Biochipmunk” Young and Luciana “AngelArcher” Nadrag form a solid bottom lane. However, the lack of a natural top laner may count against them in a group full of top lane carries. Whoever plays will be forced to weather the inevitable storm. DRG have gone from strength to strength and will be confident of winning that fight.

Champions to look out for: Lee Sin, Kha’Zix, Zed, Katarina.

Group B

(Football team trapped in animal enclosure with esports players unable to prevent DMs)

University of Leeds Team A (University of Leeds) – North

The boys from Leeds did a-okay (see what I did there) as they topped the North with a rather large eleven wins. Only the CU Apes from the Midlands managed to make it to the same number. Under the leadership of Jacob “who is Francis Beckerleg?” Kirwan (actual IGN: Yak Yak Yak), they’ve only lost one game to their closest rivals the bUoYs from York. Their star player is Thomas “Noltey” Nolte. A Master tier player with a fondness for early pressure, expect any of Nidalee, Lee Sin and Elise to make an appearance. Their captain is a flexible top laner (though by trade a Renekton main) while Srabon “LeBrown” Akter on support has been mixing it up on the new patch. Normally a Thresh player, Sona, Janna and Lulu have all been made their way into his playbook. There’s no “i” in team, but there are five in “individual brilliance”. They’ve got six individually brilliant players, so this could be a toughy. Their only perceived weakness is a lack of dedicated midlaner. Perhaps the other teams have an in?

Champions to look out for: Nidalee, Lee Sin, Rengar, Thresh, Renekton, pretty much anything.

UAE Monkey Cage (University of East Anglia) – London and the South-East

These guys irritate me. Maybe it’s because despite being UEA, they’ve decided to go on a MAD ONE and call themselves UAE? Maybe it’s also because this resulted in me looking a fool in one of the first articles of the tournament because of this? Maybe I’m petty? Who knows? Anyway, I guess they made it through to the next round, whoop dee doo. They’re probably quite good at League of Legends. Second in their group on OMWP would suggest so. They also won the Summer Championship, so there’s that. They have one of the best junglers in the competition too, Lucas “Lolman07” Maurin. He’s Challenger, a “decent rank” according to their captain, and plays a lot of tank junglers (Rek’Sai, Gragas, Sejuani) but has been spamming Evelynn recently. In fact, he can probably play anything. Word is that their top laner has “never bought a control ward in his life”. That might need fixing. Rayan “TheKat” Karout also plays a lot of Thresh. Seriously though, I sound apathetic at best, but they are really quite good. The matchup between this team and Leeds is looking spicy.

Champions to look out for: Evelynn, Rek’Sai, Thresh

Bristol Palace (University of Bristol) – Wales and the South-West

These guys, a “team of complete strangers” according to some sources, qualified as the third seed from Wales and the South-West, securing their place with a solid 2-1. However, with the quality of the teams they find themselves up against, this may be as far as they get. Star player Daniel “Aux” Harrison will be hoping to prove otherwise as he carries his team on the back of his Braum shield. He has an incredibly deep champion pool, with Thresh seeing a lot of play on the most recent patch, alongside other tankier champions. The botlane looks to be a key area for this team, Gregoire “supergreer” Colli a notably strong AD carry. They’ll be hoping that they can soak up the inevitable pressure from the group’s top tier junglers.

Champions to look out for: Thresh, Gangplank, Braum, Yorick

DMUrGirl (De Montfort University) – Midlands

Two losses in the final week prevented the tournament’s most prolific dm-ers from securing a higher seed. However, a solid OMWP meant that they took fourth place and thus a place in Division One. Captained by their jungler Tom “Macphet” Macpherson, they could yet spring some surprises. A quick glance at op.gg shows that their captain has been having a decent stab at Tristana in the jungle while Leon “Ayur” Jiang is a Diamond Rengar main (in the top lane might I add). However, the man who holds everything together is the midlaner Christian “reformedtoxicmid” King. A strong Zed player able to fall back onto Twisted Fate, Ahri or Akali, he’ll be looking to roam as much as possible to help out his side lanes. The team lack a tank player in any capacity so split-pushing will be the name of the game.

Champions to look out for: Rengar, Zed, Kha’Zix, Tristana?!

Group C

(Armageddon as gamers terrified by wolfman and pack of primates)

CU Apes (Coventry University) – Midlands

Coventry topped the Midlands league with eleven wins, their only loss a surprise defeat to the Midland Kings from Aston. They have strength in depth with a seven man roster packed with talent. Most notable is Joshua “3nacho” Hunt, a Master tier Twisted Treeline player (wow). This is probably the most flexible lineup in the NUEL, with players able to fill multiple roles. Seriously though, I have no idea how they’ll line up for the games on Sunday. Tom “TZNewman” Newman is probably going to be found towards the top side of the map, recently getting some game time on tanks like Ornn and Maokai, but he also plays a fair few carries. Words from Tom earlier in the season suggested that they were “hoping to maintain our dominating performance in Nationals and at least make it to the quarter-finals”. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Soton Smurfers (University of Southampton) – Wales and the South-West

The second seed from their region on OMWP, the team went into last week joint top with one other team and emerged joint top with two other teams. They’d been sticking out at the top of the table, but a loss to the ghost of Droolio past meant that they couldn’t rise above the rest. They may as well be treated like a first seed. They have stong AD carries in the form of their captain Jorge “Gould” Lujan and Osama “Tencai” Rehman (apologies, no idea how to write cedilla), both with strong Caitlyn’s and their captain with a notable Jhin. Benedict “Enclave Dusk” Annis will be looking to snowball his lanes with a plethora of playmaking junglers. However, some Rammus spam in solo queue might suggest something new on the cards. Matthew Wong Sang, otherwise known as “Prelude in C” will is an ultra-flexible top laner with tanks and carries readily available. If that wasn’t enough, their midlaner Dan “Don Garillo” Garillo is a dirty Yasuo main (he can play a decent Twisted Fate as well don’t worry). A lack of a dedicated support is their only weakness. Good luck. Despite the CU Apes record, I’d mark these guys as favourites to progress.

Champions to look out for: Caitlyn, Lee Sin, Galio, Yasuo

Grey Warwick (University of Warwick) – London and South-East

Marked down as one of the favourites for the title, but if they want another trip to Europe, they’ll have to work hard. They only qualified on OMWP ahead of four other teams, beating UCL Exodus to the third seed. Nonetheless, they remain a threatening prospect. Star player Kallon “kerber0s” Ram still sports strong carry potential with Camille, Jax and a more unconventional Kayle. Yet this may put pressure on jungler Ali “The Carry” Alawi as the sole frontliner, though their top lane will likely default to Darius if needed. Squishy, shielding supports are their captain’s specialty. Picks and bans will be key.

Champions to look out for: Camille, Kayle, Karma, Jhin.

Hullageddon (University of Hull) – North

A loss to eventual table-toppers Leeds in the final week will have done nothing to dissuade them they belong here. They’ve been mixing it with the big boys all tournament and now look keen to continue their underdog story. The lack of a dedicated jungler may hurt them, but they’ll look to overcome this with strong laners. Their AD carry Sean “Sean Bean” Condon will be hoping to avoid death for this film at least while Adam “Eragon” Harney will hope that the movie might be half as good as the book. Expect the side lanes to soak up pressure with a playmaker in midlane such as Le Blanc.

Champions to look out for: Le Blanc, Poppy, Jhin.

Group D

(The boys comfort friend after tough breakup with awful Ridley Scott film notably lacking in bees)

Shout out to my Exe (University of Exeter) – Wales and the South-West

The region’s finest will be confident after finishing the first stage of the competition with a fat 3-0 week. Led by their captain Giles “Jeedos” Gabbutt, a Caitlyn main by trade, they’ll be hoping their partners (or collective partner, 21st century and all that) will take them back. Despite this interesting romantic subplot, don’t expect any desperate plays. A six man roster with dedicated players in each role, they’re a solid outfit. While the botlane is probably the team’s strongest facet, most interesting is perhaps their jungler Alex “Uggz” Hart, a Shaco main. Whether it gets through champion select is open to debate, but it still remains an interesting prospect. It’s another team without a true tank player, but they won’t be fazed.

Champions to look out for: Shaco, Katarina, Caitlyn

The bUoYs (University of York) – North

The NUEL’s biggest b(u)oys will be out in force this Sunday, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. According to sources, scrims haven’t been particularly successful this patch and the team is “struggling to find our playstyle”. Of course, this didn’t stop them going 10-2 and taking the second seed. They ended the first stage of the tournament with a 2-1 week which included a win against first seed and close rivals Leeds. However, they’ll be wanting to step it up, sources saying that A deep seven man roster means there’ll be plenty of cold ones to go around. Michael “Natty Mike” Howard is a player to watch so expect some “Natty” Thresh plays. The York support does have Blitzcrank is champion pool so maybe… we can dream. Of course, it’s their jungler and captain Freddie “Fredsta” Payne who steals the show, a jungler most recently seen with Barrage Esports. Strong junglers in the NUEL? Well I never…

Champions to look out for: Azir, Thresh, Caitlyn, Hecarim

UoB Movie (University of Birmingham) – Midlands

This small roster of five snagged ten wins and third seed in the Midlands. Their final week included a win against Tons of A$$, their Aston rivals. Captain and jungler Alex “Synygy” Winton has confidence in his players going into Sunday. Key to their team’s success will be their support Ashley “Chris Hansen” Price, capable on both playmakers (Thresh, Rakan) and shielding supports (Lulu, Karma) alike. Maybe Annie might make an appearance? Meanwhile, Rory “itsNyx” Miller has champion pool orientated towards picking off members, Lux and Le Blanc his most played. It will be a struggle against some of the talent available to the other teams, but they’ll certainly give it a go.

Champions to look out for: Thresh, Le Blanc, Kled, Annie

UCL Exodus (University College London) – London and the South-East

Despite losing to UAE Monkey Cage, this team from UCL managed to scrape through to Division One by the skin of their teeth at the expense of four others. A seven man roster recently bolstered by the addition of Yossi “SchteibleBochur” Melcer-Neufeld (sweet Jesus what a name), a jungler specialising in Nidalee and Nocturne, they’ll be hopeful of progressing. Top laner Alin “StratospandasDog” Catoiu is the man to watch, the team’s primary carry, recently playing a lot of Jayce and Jax. Support and captain Markus Grueter, a “Beastly Noob”, will be out to show that the beast in question is neither boosted nor an ape. With a deep pool of supports to choose from, his recent match history suggests tankier, engage-orientated champions such as Leona and Alistar may feature for this team. They scraped through to get here, but they’re up for a scrap.

Champions to look out for: Jayce, Vladimir, Alistar, Nidalee

It’s a 6:45pm start, so make sure you’re there. Good luck all our teams in Division One!

James “Nilknarf” Franklin

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