Established in 2013, Roses Esports began as an unofficial competition between Fragsoc and LUGES, the gaming societies of York and Lancaster Universities respectively.
After several years of trials, esports was eventually added to the official Roses line-up in 2016, with Lancaster taking the series 2-1 to earn 4 points for their university.
Things did not go so well for Lancaster on their return to York in 2017, suffering a humiliating 6-0 whitewash at the hands of the home side, and they looked to bounce back this year. How did they do in each game? Charlie ‘MrCH1LL’Hill provides a recap.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U (Exhibition): York 13-15 Lancaster
Kicking off the proceedings for Roses was a new event for 2018: A Super Smash Bros for Wii U crew battle. Each university fielded 5 players, each of whom had 3 lives. They fight against each other one at a time, with the winner taking any remaining lives onto the next match. This continues until a team has lost all its lives.
As this was a new event, the Smash 4 crew battle was an exhibition match and thus did not earn the winning team points towards the overall Roses Esports score. Nevertheless, pride was on the line, and heading into the match Lancaster were the clear favourites.
"The match began explosively, with Lancaster sending out Adeeb ‘UrbanTurban’ Mahmood, who looked ready to sweep York’s entire roster after taking 7 stocks in exchange for only one of his own."
The match began explosively, with Lancaster sending out Adeeb ‘UrbanTurban’ Mahmood, who looked ready to sweep York’s entire roster after taking 7 stocks in exchange for only one of his own. His overconfidence got the better of him, though, and after killing himself twice, York were in with a shot.
The match contained to remain in Lancaster’s favour, but two standout performances from York took the match to the wire. Charlie ‘Nin’ Morris and York’s captain Elliot ‘BananaFish’ Townend took 9 stocks between them before eventually being shut down just 2 stocks from the finish line.
The result was as expected, but York put in a far more respectable and competitive showing than most would have predicted.
CSGO: York 0-2 Lancaster
Coming into Roses 2018, the most hotly anticipated event by far was CSGO. Last year’s tournament was by far the closest event of the series, with York surprising Lancaster to take an impressive 2-0 victory, a feat they hoped to repeat in 2018.
The first map was York’s pick of Train, and they gained their preferred CT side after winning the knife round, but it was Lancaster who took the pistol round after a comfortable 3k from Rhys ‘Exparilis’ Maddren.
After the conversion to 3-0, York took the next six rounds, with Iwan ‘Eyewan’ Harvey leading the way with some crisp multi-kills on site retakes. Lancaster managed to slow the game down, however, and brought the final round count for the half to 8-7.
The switch to T-side brought more woes for York, as a failed flash gave Lancaster the pistol, and they quickly capitalised with six on the bounce. York were finally able to break through in the seventh round of the half, but it was too little too late, as Lancaster were able to push it over the line for a 16-10 victory on York’s map pick.
"Last year’s tournament was by far the closest event of the series, with York surprising Lancaster to take an impressive 2-0 victory, a feat they hoped to repeat in 2018."
Lancaster’s pick was Overpass, and whilst traditionally this has been a strong map for the York team, it was Lancaster who would dominate the game. The pistol fell to Lancaster, and they were able to convert to 3-0, then 5-0, on the CT side.
A clutch 1v2 on B site from Matt ‘Mattwan’ Nottley gave York their first round, but as on Train, they struggled to find purchase on site against Lancaster’s superior defence. Some smart fights led them back to 5-3, but after losing momentum in the 9th round, York crumbled to 11-4 at the end of the half.
The pistol was crucial, but for the 4th time in the series Lancaster took it. Some sloppiness on the conversion round led to early kills on A in York’s favour, and a clutch ninja defuse from Eyewan gave York a bonus round.
It was Lancaster who decisively won the 4th round of the half, however, and closed the map 16-7, giving them a 1-0 lead in the Roses series.
League of Legends: York 2-0 Lancaster
Next up to the plate was League of Legends, and Lancaster were looking to avoid the embarrassing 2-0 defeat they suffered last year at the hands of a vastly superior York team.
Lancaster took blue for the first game and were on the back foot immediately after a late level 1 fight went 2 for 1 in favour of York. This combined with two heavily early-favoured matchups in the top and mid lane gave York a significant pressure advantage across all three lanes and the jungle, with Freddie ‘Fredstaa’ Payne’s Olaf invading and forcing a flash from Dragos ‘xSkillsS’ Cernea’s Sejuani within the first five minutes.
Boasting a two-level advantage over his Lancaster counterpart, Fredstaa continued to dominate the early game, keeping vision control over both sides of the jungle and allowing all three of his lanes to constantly shove into Lancaster’s towers.
"Fredstaa continued to dominate the early game, keeping vision control over both sides of the jungle and allowing all three of his lanes to constantly shove into Lancaster’s towers."
By the 18th minute, all three of the outer turrets fell in favour of York. A pick onto Sejuani gave York a free baron at 23 minutes, and after an explosive team fight in the south jungle, York took the game at 27 minutes.
Game 2 saw Lancaster take up the red side, and whilst the game was bloodier, the game’s progression was almost identical to game 1. Last year’s perfect game involved Fredstaa dominating the Lancaster jungler with Graves into Kha’Zix, and with these picks replicated, history was doomed to repeat itself in 2018.
An invade into the north jungle again forced xSkillsS’s flash away and a quick trip to top lane left Tom ‘INT TimTam’ Wood in a rough spot in the lane after Fredstaa chunked his HP. This combined with winning lane picks in the mid and bot lane created a similar situation to the previous game. Lancaster did manage to pick up some kills, but once the bot tower fell, York’s vastly stronger bot lane transferred their advantage to the other lanes, taking all three outer towers at 18 minutes.
The pressure became too much for Lancaster, and xSkillsS’s inability to respect York’s jungle vision gave York a free baron at 21 minutes, followed shortly afterwards by the game. With the Roses series tied at 1-1, all was left to play for in the final game of the day.
DOTA 2: York 2-0 Lancaster
York have a history of dominating Lancaster at DOTA 2, and despite long-time captain David ‘Faraday’ Meehan rotating out of the roster into a coaching position, York’s new roster showed no signs of breaking this tradition in 2018.
With the Roses series on the line, York were confident in their picks heading into game 1 on the Radiant side, and this paid off early with Jack ‘Fyre’ Tinsley picking up a first blood onto Matt ‘FairyPrincess’ Wood with his Slark. Heavy harassment from York’s Riki and Bane picks and a lack of lane pressure in Lancaster’s draft meant Slark quickly snowballed out of control, leading to a 3k gold lead for York at 10 minutes.
Despite this, after a series of ‘death ball DOTA’ exchanges in the mid lane, with both teams overstaying their welcome attempting to capitalise on picks, the game swung into Lancaster’s favour. At 20 minutes, Lancaster had collected a 2k gold lead for themselves, and were looking to pressure York further, but Slark was too far ahead in gold, and after a messy team-fight York forced Lancaster into their base.
"York have a history of dominating Lancaster at DOTA 2, and despite long-time captain David ‘Faraday’ Meehan rotating out of the roster into a coaching position, York’s new roster showed no signs of breaking this tradition in 2018."
A couple of picks and buybacks were exchanged, prolonging the inevitable, but eventually Lancaster were caught without buybacks on their carries, and York swiftly closed the game at 35 minutes.
Lancaster fancied their chances heading into game 2, but York surprised them by sending Bane into the mid lane. Lancaster did take first blood with a 3-man dive on the top lane tower, but despite this, all three of Lancaster’s laners fell behind extremely quickly, with Jiwan ‘Water’ Gupta and his elemental counterpart Fyre dominating their opponents with Bane and Terrorblade respectively.
Lancaster attempted to 4-man stack throughout the game, hoping to snowball kills into some kind of opportunity, but York for the most part were unresponsive, letting the superior laning and skill of their carries do the work. York did give up several kills in sequence to a Lancaster squad that refused to leave the top lane, but the carries were too far ahead for York, and eventually Lancaster overextended, picking up just one kill and tier 1 tower in exchange for a tier 3 in the top lane.
Lancaster were able to get the odd pick, but York were always able to trade back, and after Roshan fell to York in the 29th minute, the game followed, giving York a comfortable 2-0.
Series Score: York 2-1 Lancaster
Despite a dominant showing in CSGO, Lancaster were unable to contest York in either MOBA, and lost the Roses series 2-1.
Despite this, Lancaster will take heart from not getting whitewashed as in 2017, and with new games like Smash, Overwatch and Hearthstone all looking to enter the Roses line-up, things could be very different heading into York’s Roses defence in 2019.
Charlie ‘MrCH1LL’ Hill is a double English graduate and Roses Esports veteran from the University of York, looking to break into the Esports journalism scene