Disclaimer: Not all of UNSW’s games for this tournament could be written on. This is because the tournament was split into two groups (Group A and Group B). The two viewing platforms (Douyu and a Japanese Twitch stream) had to alternate between games, and a result skip some on UNSW’s games...
It's finally the time we've all been waiting for! After conquering Oceania, our very own UNSW League of Legends team had their eyes set on the world stage! No matter how the journey would turn out, to privilege of playing such a high level of League and to play with such amazing players would be the greatest lesson for them.
Unfortunately there were no VODs on Game 1, so it's not possible to write at length on it. However, from memory, UNSW's performance in Game 1 was very fluctuating. The boys seized the earlygame and midgame with many good ganks from Minhcam and strong laning efforts. A highlight of this period was Xternal's clean 2v1 doublekill as Ahri on a roaming Pyke and Swain towerdive.
However, the team wasn't able to keep the pedal on the metal due to a few macro errors in the later phases of midgame. This allowed their opponents to seize Baron control, and eventually take it. It was only time where the superior opposing macro overpowered UNSW's nexus for a comeback victory.
Right from the get-go of Game 2, both UNSW and UCI were met with surprises. Many older or more experienced players may recognise the names of ‘YoungBin and ‘Bloodwater’ as ones of players etched in the history books of the LCS. YoungBin is most famously known for his time in Team Liquid as both starting and substitute ADC, while Bloodwater was a vital member of the once-legendary Team Vulcan.
However, UNSW was not intimidated by these star players. In fact, they responded to this challenge with their own bag of tricks; coach ozo1329 was subbed in for midlaner Xternal, with him roleswapping to toplane and Glup in midlane.
With the game underway, only time could tell how the decision pay off. UNSW’s earlygame consisted of high-action and high-risk plays in order for the snowball-oriented laners of Jax and Ahri to have a comfortable position in the midgame. However, some mechanical missteps and unlucky plays put UNSW behind.
However, UNSW was comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, with playing from behind. This step back did not phase them, and they continued to fight hard and grab at every advantage which appeared.
UNSW’s fighting spirit and attitude was fiercely displayed. For them, this game was not only a win in the ICC, but a message to the Australian fans at home and to all the teams which they defeated in Uni Games to not give up on them.
Sometimes the things which you see in anime start to merge with reality; even if they are 13k and 10 kills down and at the back of an excellent Weaver’s Wall from UCL’s veteran jungler YoungBin, UNSW seemed to start clawing back from what seemed like inevitable defeat in a heart-clenching teamfight victory.
However, in the end the experience gap between both teams showed in a deciding 3v5 fight for UCL after catching out two UNSW players.
In the final game of the day, UNSW looked to put a win on the board against Vietnam’s HCMUS after playing two competitive games against Portugal’s FEUP and the US’ UC Irvine. The first round of picks and bans saw UNSW go for the trio of high priority red side bans in Braum, Aatrox and Rakan whilst HCMUS banned Ahri, Miss Fortune and Kayn, comfort picks for Johnny “Xternal” Xiao, Felix “BADDiE” Addermann and Michael “Minhcam” Cam.
After running Kog’Maw in their first game of the day against FEUP, UNSW double downed on a composition centered around the pick with protective picks in Galio and Nami (though this was forced due to Janna and Lulu bans in the second round). Heading into the game, UNSW sought to scale up and teamfight around the damage of Kog’Maw protected by a big frontline of Ornn, Trundle and Galio whilst buffed up by Nami. This more methodical strategy contrasted HCMUS who directed themselves towards a proactive early game led by Lee Sin looking to force the issue in the strong Cassiopeia and Xayah/Morgana lanes.
The early game was full of action, with Andy “Glup” Liu’s solo kill in the top lane being one of many highlights. Both teams focused on getting their bot lanes ahead, whether it was through skirmishing or ganking. Many of these skirmishes turned into all-ins that went either way, with HCMUS eventually gaining first tower in the bot lane through Luong “AnhVan” Cong Van being in the right place at the right time with his Lee Sin.
The action did not let up from there, with teamfights proper beginning to occur, as HCMUS leveraged leads in the mid and bot lane into won teamfights. Nonetheless, UNSW continued to be tenacious, with Ben “BenSong” Song catching a vulnerable AnhVan at Dragon with a Flash/Ignite.
Ultimately, HCMUS navigated teamfights well to target BADDiE and shut down UNSW’s main source of damage, taking the game at 35 minutes. Whilst Day 1 was not what UNSW were looking for to make their impact in the tournament, their play indicated that they were willing to be competitive and dogged against strong opposition and should be commended.
GAME 4 & 5
Unfortunately, there weren't any VODs either on the last two games of UNSW's run at the International College Cup. However, we do at least know the results.
Heading into the last two games of the group stage, the UNSW team knew that they had to prove themselves or die; they couldn't afford to lose any more game or they wouldn't earn the right to move on to the knockout stage. However, this didn't break their will to fight.
UNSW confidently won Game 4, but however, were unable to pull through in their final game. It's as they say; the closer you are to your dream, the more it hurts if you fail. However, one can look at that and say to themselves that in the end, they tried their best and made it far.
In the end, our UNSW team is the region's finest, and played tooth and nail against the world's best university League players. Our boys literally played a close series against LCS-level players, while also needing to learn, adapt, and evolve against a smorgasbord of foreign region playstyles. They've seen it all, and played their hearts out - and if that isn't just amazing, then I honestly don't know what is.
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Written by Kenzo “Neo Tokyo Floral” Jeanson and Iain "Arkk003" Lew [2018 Marketing (Publications) Subcommittee]