The upset loss is an unfortunate end to an otherwise dominant season for USC.
The CU Boulder League of Legends team claimed the Pac-U championship Saturday, April 2nd, defeating USC in a 3-0 clean sweep. The previously undefeated USC League of Legends team was the projected favorite in the matchup against their CU Boulder counterparts, who’d also had a strong season (going 5-2 overall).
It’s an unfortunate end to an excellent season for the Trojans. Boulder will go on to represent the Pac-U conference at the College League of Legends (CLOL) Championship beginning later this month. Although this is likely the end of the season for USC, there is a chance that they are selected to compete in the larger competition through a lottery system to fill the final spots.
The Boulder victory was a surprise to many, including tournament caster Raphael “Hotfish” Bein.
“The fact of the matter is that the highest ranked players on CU are equal to the lowest ranked players on USC,” he said after the tournament. “I thought, ‘oh yeah, this is gonna be a wipe. USC’s going to destroy them.”
Towards the conclusion of their broadcast, Bein and co-caster Ryan “mental health” Back admitted they had expected a 3-0 blowout in the other direction.
“I did not see this coming at all,” laughed Bein.
“It just looked like USC weren’t as prepared today,” agreed Back.
There are several factors which contributed to the upset victory: first and foremost, Boulder played three excellent games. Their performance can only be described as dominant in the first and second matches and - although it was marginally closer - the third as well.
“Sometimes one team might be more talented, but the other team might have more practice than you or be willing to make more mistakes than you,” said Bein.
There were, however, some external factors affecting the outcome of the match. According to USC’s Joseph “The Humbler” Hong (who also plays as “Levitate”), a recent update to the game had a significant impact on USC’s style of play.
“[The patch] definitely hindered us,” he said. “It forced us to change our gameplan.”
USC’s coach Joe Jacko reiterated that sentiment, and added that the patch was particularly impactful for his team specifically as some of their most highly-favored characters (known as “champions” in LoL) were among those most affected by the update.
“We had a huge amount of practice put into some of the champions that were actually gutted in that patch,” he said.
Still, both Hong and Jacko believe the USC team just wasn’t playing at their peak performance, regardless of game-specific quirks.
“I think the momentum just got away from us a little bit in the series,” said Jacko, “and really, we just didn’t play up to par. It was an off day for us. And yeah, it feels like if we could have another go at it, we would’ve crushed it. It’s very unfortunate.”
“Boulder came very prepared, and they were at their best condition. They played a great match, but I still think we’re the better team,” echoed Hong. “It just wasn’t our day; it was unlucky timing for us.”
Spirits are high on the formerly-underdog Boulder team, as they look to carry their momentum through into the larger upcoming CLOL tournament.
Owen “Sarorian” Wilson, who plays mid lane for Boulder, said his team went into their match with USC expecting a challenging fight.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “We knew USC was undefeated; we were expecting a 3-2 either way, whoever won.”
Even after winning the first two matches, Wilson says he continued to expect a turn in the tides - one which never came.
“I was thinking, ‘Well, we have to lose the third game now… that’s the script we’re supposed to go through, right?’” he said. “In the back of my mind, there were still some doubts. Obviously, I didn’t want to vocalize those to my team, but I think we were all thinking the same thing. But in game three, we just played our game; and, yeah, the rest is history.”
A history that will continue to be written when the CLOL Championship begins later this month.