by Laura Byrne & Dom Sacco
Excel Esports swept aside the competition in the first week of the UK League Championship (UKLC) to become tower champions.
They started by beating Phelan Gaming, then Diabolus and finally Fnatic Rising (the new name for Fnatic's academy team), before progressing to face the current tower champions, Enclave Gaming.
Enclave started off as tower champions because they were the last remaining UK representative at the EU Masters summer 2018 tournament (besides Misfits, who are now playing in the French European Regional League rather than the UK).
Enclave fight hard but fall to Excel
The most entertaining match was arguably saved for last, with Enclave putting up a good fight in an attempt to hold onto the tower.
It's fair to say they were the underdogs going into the match against Excel, but surprised with a strong early game. Damian 'Wysek' Adamczyk put in a memorable performance as Kindred in the jungle, with an aggressive and exciting playstyle giving Enclave an extra kick in team fights.
Mid-laner Marcin 'Warszi' Surala did well as Syndra, top-laner James 'Governor' Gove soaked damage well as Sion and ADC Aleksi 'Kehvo' Merta picked up some nice kills too as Kai'Sa, with UK scene veteran Neyas 'Raizins' Guruswamy assisting well as Braum.
But while Enclave did well in those early team fights, and the gold was pretty even around the mid-game, Excel had their eyes on the objectives - and scaled better into the late game.
It all resulted in some action-packed team fights and plenty of carnage:
Top-laner Rosendo 'Send0o' Fuentes carried nicely as Urgot (bagging him week 1 MVP in the process), Christian 'Taxer' Jensen played relatively safe in the jungle and Patryk 'Mystiques' Piorkowski was a real handful as Thresh support. Those three grew tanky into the late game and put up a wall that Enclave failed to knock down.
Mid-laner Fabian 'Exile' Schubert and ADC Nihat 'Innaxe' Aliev also fought well as Lissandra and Ezreal respectively.
The KDAs didn't tell the full story as Enclave fought well, but ultimately it was Excel who secured the tower going into week 2.
On day one (Wednesday February 13th), the best-of-one matches went as follows:
- Fnatic 1-0 Darkspawn
- Excel 1-0 Phelan
- MnM 1-0 Bulldog
- Diabolus 1-0 Barrage
Fnatic picked up the first ace of the split:
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) February 13, 2019
Then, today (Thursday February 14th), Excel beat Diabolus and Fnatic defeated MnM, before facing one another.
Fnatic Rising looked to assert dominance against Excel, however Excel had an incredible comeback in that match, winning when they were 3k gold behind.
Thresh and Urgot became a power pick within the games, with Mystiques pulling off some tasty hooks to make things happen and Send0o playing very well as Urgot.
There were similar picks to what we've been seeing in the LEC. Often, European Regional Leagues have their own mini metas, so it was interesting to see some correlation between the two this time.
Coming through with our first ranking: Excel UK is leading as tower champion, with Fnatic chasing their tales. There's still a lot of games left, nothing is granted, no one is safe! #UKLC pic.twitter.com/QaTht6pMCV
— LVP UK (@LVPuk) February 14, 2019
Excel are now the team to beat. As tower champions, they will get two points for a win, while everyone else picks up 1 point for a win.
Can Fnatic Rising or anyone else stop them in the UKLC next week? Guess we'll find out.
Here's the bracket for next week:
— LVP UK (@LVPuk) February 14, 2019
It's also worth commenting on the stream this week, it was a nice broadcast, with the players that pop up on screen after a good play, and Foxdrop appearing mid-stream for some in-game comments. That worked well indeed.
The stream had a steady 2,000 viewers and peaked at around 2,500 from what we could tell.
On the general set up of the games. the three casters had good energy and synergy with each other and it all flowed well. We move on to week 2.
Further reading: UKLC roster roundup: Who's playing where?