With the 2016 Spring Season Qualifiers for the ESL UK Premiership starting this Wednesday (January 27th), Craig Robinson takes a look at the teams looking to qualify.
With a £10,500 prize pool up for grabs in this latest UK League of Legends tournament, teams will be competing for their share of the spoils. But that’s only the case for the top four from last season – Team Infused, FM-eSports, Choke Gaming and Exertus Esports.
For everyone else, they need to qualify – and there are four places in the Premiership to be filled.
For three teams – the National University Esports League (NUEL), Terra Cotta Army (TCA) and Team Paria – their mission will be defending their spot in the UK Premiership.
For other contenders hoping to challenge those above teams, they must first participate in the qualifying tournament that will be split into three different schedules: January 27th, February 3rd and February 10th.
Each date will give each team the chance to grab as many points as they can. The three teams with the most points at the end of February 10th will proceed to play against the defenders, as well as MnM Gaming (who qualified via the ESL UK Major Ladder) in a double elimination bracket to confirm who will get into the UK Premiership.
As it stands, here are the current teams looking to enter the ESL UK Premiership (as well as Team Rise, not listed below):
From the current teams involved with the qualifying tournament, the one that stands out the most is Renegades Banditos. Renegades contain majority UK players including ex LCS player and season 1 winner Impaler, plus season 2 winner and rising star Alphari. They are joined by former LCS player/S4 world attendee Tabzz as well as recognised challenger players, ex G2/Denial support Hiiva and former Giants underdoges’ Caedrel, with experienced UK player DXAlchemist as a sub.
They might have been knocked out of the EU Challenger Series qualifiers, but this team is one everyone is looking at and some are expecting them to win the Spring Split already.
But there are other standout entries:
xL eSports: After withdrawing from the Premiership during last year’s summer tournament, they look to re-enter the tournament after acquiring the Rift roster, who finished fifth at i56.
Perilous Void: Perilous are a familiar organisation that entered two teams in the Riot-affiliated 4 Nations tournament back in late 2014. Since their absence from the scene, they recently acquired the team Red Dragon who finished eighth at i56 and look to make their mark on the scene once again.
Nuel teams. A number of teams from universities competing in the GAME National Championship NUEL league have entered this year’s qualifying tournament. Two university teams from Birmingham have entered, featuring players from their numerous national league teams, as is the same for Sheffield Hallam. It will be interesting to see their progress from NUEL into an external tournament competing against some of the best UK players around.
GLB Blue. Gaben Laser Beam (GLB) Blue achieved second place in the ESL UK Major Ladder and have their sights set on reaching the Premiership. The org has previously had League of Legends teams from Europe including a high Diamond German team and a Danish team who won Danish LAN events, however it’s now fully focused on the UK League of Legends scene. Check out our interview with GLB Blue here.
Plex and Friends. Featuring well-known players from the UK eSport scene (according to the team page) such as Nocturnal Plex formerly of Choke Gaming, as well as Toaster and Tundra, the former bot lane of FM-eSports (both teams finished second and third in last year’s Premiership respectively). These three players, as well as their new additions to the team, should be an interesting force coming into the tournament. There are six players on the team page, so one of the players mentioned above may be a sub.
As for the rest. The majority of these players entering the tournament are fairly unknown or have some form of connection to other players through past events. But this isn’t something to take lightly, new players can cause an upset and it’s good to see emerging players enter the scene. Team Rise won a bronze to gold tournament last year, but they now boast an all-new roster. Looking towards Wednesday and beyond, don’t be surprised to see some of these newcomers shine.
“I think our long term goal with this roster is CS which is easily achievable as hard work beats individual skill.”
It’s also surprising to see that AeroX eSports aren’t among the current list of teams hoping to qualify for the ESL UK Premiership. They finished second at i56 and beat Choke Gaming’s temporary team of mixed experienced UK players 2-0 in the group stages. We’ve reached out to AeroX to see if they plan to enter the qualifiers at the last minute (UPDATE: We’ve heard AeroX has disbanded and are awaiting confirmation from them).
You can see the full schedule and list of upcoming qualifiers here.