What an incredible season! We saw six teams jostle for not just playoffs spots, but also first place in the regular season. Playoffs was predictably a tense affair and ultimately NVision Esports emerged as the sole victor. It’s the first time the UKLC has had a new winner since Fnatic Rising were promoted to the NLC.
For 2021 – in accordance with the new system when the NLC merger happened, we will be seeing the top team from the UK Esports League (UKEL) attempt to climb the tower, and prove themselves worthy to compete in the UKLC in the Relegation Series. The bottom two teams from the UKLC are Barrage Esports Academy and Bulldog Esports. They will face Resolve and nerdRage respectively for a chance at remaining in the UKLC next season.
Barrage Esports Academy
Barrage’s NLC team achieved nothing short of a miracle by making everything work in the final weeks and succeeding in making playoffs, even defeating Godsent to finish in fifth/sixth place overall. Their academy team however, were not so lucky. In such a competitive season and a team full of rookies, Barrage Academy finished seventh with a record of 4-10.
That being said, the final weeks looked rather promising for this young roster. Barrage’s strength has always been their proactive and strong early game. But when it comes to the mid and late game, they’ve often left both fans and our casters scratching their heads. However, the team is acutely aware of this and it showed on Week 7. If they have been continuously working on shoring up their weaknesses, their opponents have much to fear indeed from the warships Barrage bring to bear.
Botlaner Connor "Kd0" Cryans has performed on multiple occasions under high-pressure situations with his signature Ezreal and his pocket Heimerdinger. Toplaner Harry "Akkers" Akrill too showed up when Barrage needed him most. They will probably be the ones that nerdRage keeps a close eye on.
NerdRage has some good players but I don't think they are at the UKLC level as a team. Maybe one or two players are at that level now, however, I don't think this will be an easy series and by no means are we coming into this disrespecting our opponents. I think it will be 3-1 to us, but we're looking forward to an entertaining best-of-five regardless. May the better team win!
Before the start of the UKLC 2020 Summer Season, there was an Open Qualifier to find the four best teams to enter the Close Qualifiers, where teams would fight for two spots to enter the UKLC. NerdRage did not make a successful run to the Closed Qualifiers. However, they didn’t give up and entered the UKEL for summer, finishing second in the regular season and defeating Viperio to reach the finals thus qualifying for the Relegation Series.
Despite falling in the finals to UKEL rivals Resolve, nerdRage definitely are not a team Barrage should underestimate. While most think of the lower tier teams who randomly fight for no reason, nerdRage -perhaps quizzically considering they have ‘Rage’ in their name- are on the calmer, slower side. Led by their jungle + mid duo of Tyrin "Tyrin" Davidson and Dominic "Nice guy dom" Grunwell, nerdRage prefers the more calculated approach while also letting toplaner Romanos "Ivok" Kasinopoulos split push with champions such as Aatrox or Jax.
NerdRage certainly have the more difficult of the two series, but they will no doubt relish this second chance to promote to the UKLC. Also in regards to jungler Tyrin: Leave Evelynn open at your own risk!
Of course I respect Barrage Academy's individual abilities, but while they are backed by a much bigger org and have more resources, their squad is not better when it comes to skill. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the two UKEL teams winning both matchups in the relegation series. We could be playing against MAD Lions and I'd still tell you my prediction is a win for us. No matter the circumstances, I will always believe in my team. 3-0 to us.
To put it lightly, Bulldog Esports had a thoroughly forgettable foray into the UKLC Summer Season. Joining the UKLC from the aforementioned Closed Qualifiers after defeating Viperio, Bulldogs proceeded to go on their now infamous 0-14 record, not being able to find a single win the whole season. What’s more, they constantly swapped players in trying to reach playoffs to no avail. Their failure to keep a consistent starting lineup meant they would be playing in the Relegation Series.
That being said, Bulldog have shown signs of life yet in them. In the final two weeks they seemed to have slowly and finally found their groove. Bringing in a new Head Coach and more or less solidifying their starting lineup, Bulldog showed some very decisive performances particularly in the early game, where their proactive plays helped them generate clear leads. They did not pick up any wins because they lacked cohesion as a team in the mid to late game, but it is evident that will be what they will be working on before their relegation match.
For all their roster shuffling, only one member always remained: Midlaner Thomas "Thomas Goh" Goh Balleby Hansen, and with good reason. Even during Bulldog’s bleakest moments, Thomas Goh would always shine brightest and many a time tried to pull games back from the brink. Bulldog come into the relegations as somewhat of an enigma, no one really knows what to expect from them. But like their namesake, they will not go into relegations without a fight.
I think the problem with the team were the basics, we have good mechanical players but they lacked a lot after that. Also, communication was awful before and we are really working on that. We are improving consistently and following our step list system, you could say we needed to find our way in draft and we’ve found it.
Champions of the UKEL 2020 Summer, Resolve have come out swinging this season. In the Closed Qualifiers, Resolve were once best-of-three series away from making it before their run tragically ended at the hands of London Esports. Completely unfettered, Resolve tore through the UKEL. Their run to the finals saw them only losing once the whole season which was at the hands of LDN UTD in Week 2.
Resolve as a team are in a word: aggressive. Very aggressive. While they have shown that not every fight they take is the optimal choice, their teamfighting prowess and coordination almost ensures they make it the best choice. Their often dominant laning phase ensures this strategy works most of the time too. But rather than just blind aggression, Resolve are also extremely timely on their objective takes and often ‘resolve’ to challenge their opponents if they’re slightly late.
The synergy between jungler + support Linas "Lyncas" Nauncikas and Kevin "Rychly" Rychly is particularly noteworthy, and if you leave them alone throughout the game they seem to appear everywhere. Up against the Bulldog Esports, they will no doubt be confident after Bulldog’s winless season. Can they finally make it to the UKLC?
I don't have a high opinion on Bulldog Esports, they didn't even manage to keep a stable roster during the summer season. We defeated them in the previous Closed Qualifiers, and I believe we will win again: 3-0 in the upcoming best-of-five series. I'd say keeping a stable roster throughout the season is the minimum expectation from an organisation, regardless of the results they deliver.
Tune into Relegations
The relegations series starts on the 23rd and ends on the 24th. Who do you think will stay up and who will go down? Whatever your answer is, it certainly will be exciting times for the UKLC next season! Watch the relegations on the 23rd and 24th of August from 18:00 BST!