The ESL Arena once again played host to a firecracker of a semis and finals for the EU Masters Summer 2019 – let’s see how it all went down with the final four.
The four best teams of the tournament stared each other down, steely gazes and grim determination all sharing one singular objective: to utterly decimate their opposition and finally lift the EU Masters trophy. Four teams enter the Polish arena, two will make the finals and amidst the raucous cheers of the European fans, only one will be crowned the European Masters champion.
As with European League of Legends, there’s always a surprise around the corner. Despite the close projections for the semis, fans were left with two rather unexpected results and an extra helping of hype going into Grand Finals, considering how dominant the two finalists looked. Let’s recap what happened during the stunning weekend in Poland when Europe’s finest teams meet face-to-face in the arena of stars.
Semifinals #1: mousesports (DACH) 0 - 3 Berlin International Gaming (DACH)
The Premier Tour finals rematch; a grudge match for BIG who have a mighty score to settle after coming so close to becoming back to back champions. Mousesports, who we called the Crimson Swarm, and labeled by caster Michael “Veteran” Archer as ‘the brains of the DACH region’ relished facing BIG again to prove their win was no fluke. But BIG, who have improved in a huge way – or at least, realised their potential – throughout the whole tournament, had potent measures drafted up to counter the Red Plague and won in a fashion no one really expected.
Game 1 was the ‘perfect’ BIG game whereby they employed their most preferred style of play and won the game. Despite mousesports getting jungler Zhiqiang "Shadow" Zhao one of his signature picks in Kindred and Norman "Gistick" Kaiser his Pyke, they could not overcome BIG in skirmishes or teamfights around crucial objectives, which in turn made the gold lead steadily grow larger and larger. The final fight of the game at 29 minutes saw BIG completing an Ace over their DACH rivals before they marched steadily onto the Nexus. Slow and steady wins BIG the crucial first game.
Game 2 arrived and mousesports remembered how terrifying Dirk "ZaZee" Mallner’s 10/1/3 Sylas was previously, so they banned it and picked a very surprising Ekko for Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság. In typical DACH fashion, this game was another steady crawl to the mid game and both teams more were more or less even, winning and losing some engagements each. At 33 minutes the gold was completely even at 59k. But even with the Baron, mousesports botched a big teamfight later on and BIG pounced like hungry predators, seizing the advantage and never letting go. One Baron and Elder Drake later, BIG sealed Game 2 at 43 minutes. Match point for BIG.
Game 3 for mousesports was truly do or die. Facing Matti "WhiteKnight" Sormunen’s Urgot and Carzzy’s Ekko once more, mousesports gambled on giving Shadow Taliyah and putting midlaner Ardian "nite" Spahiu on Pantheon. Despite another even and somewhat promising start for mousesports, a lost Rift Herald contest (like the past two games) and a lost contest for an Infernal Drake put BIG in the driver’s seat. A big fight at the Baron pit went the way of BIG at 33 minutes in, and they grabbed the buff, grabbed the Nexus and grabbed a ticket to the Grand Finals in stunning fashion.
They carry the weight of the DACH scene on their shoulders now as they hunt for the region’s first ever EU Masters title.
Semifinals #2: Vodafone Giants (Spain) 3 - 0 Fnatic Rising (UK & Ireland)
Another classic rivalry harkening back to multiple historical events in the past, Spain vs UK promised to be a spicy match. Vodafone Giants have been destroying everyone they faced and quietly climbed the ranks, while Fnatic Rising once again overcame many of their problems to reach the semis. Both teams were thought to be more or less even coming into this match – but Giants blew that assumption out of the water.
Game 1 started, and what was supposed to be the match to show who was the best ADC between Matthew "Deadly" Smith and Matthew Charles "xMatty" Coombs, it disappointed many as xMatty was placed on Leona, while Ronaldo "Ronaldooo" Betea went Syndra bot, along with a Gragas/Yasuo combo. The early game was all Fnatic, but Giants clawed their way back by winning multiple skirmishes, continuing to punish Fnatic’s overextensions and overexuberance to start fights. With the gold even at 50k at 27 minutes in, the momentum swung sharply toward Giants as they secured Baron. Two huge teamfights wins later and Giants took Game 1 at 32 minutes in a bloody game that consisted of 45 kills in total.
Game 2 resumed with xMatty on support duties, and Giants toplaner Antonio "Th3Antonio" Espinosa put on a different tank in Shen. Once more the early game went Fnatic’s way, but time and time again Giants proved why they are one of the most feared teamfighters in the EU Masters, overturning any deficit and securing their first Baron at 24 minutes. Fnatic put up a good fight by punishing Giants several times for their overly aggressive positioning but despite that, Giants won another big engagement and took the Nexus thereafter at 31 minutes in. Match point to Giants.
Game 3 saw Fnatic completely fed up with Deadly’s deadly Lucian (11/5/4 in Game 1 and 7/2/8 in Game 2) so they banned it and resumed normal order with xMatty on Kai’Sa, Ronaldooo too getting his menacing Rakan. Giants however, were done playing second fiddle in the early game and matched Fnatic blow for blow, taking every advantage to start fights. And as it has been the trend this series, Fnatic could not match Giants in the later teamfights. And an early Baron at 22 minutes for Giants snowballed their inevitable victory, slowly pressuring the UKLC champions into a corner and beating them in just 27 minutes.
The Spanish Armada once again sails to the finals, but would their cannons and gunpowder be enough to win them the ultimate prize? They still held a perfect, undefeated record after all.
Grand Finals: Berlin International Gaming (DACH) 3 - 1 Vodafone Giants (Spain)
It’s the event you’ve all been waiting for: the two best teams in the EU Masters facing off in a mouthwatering finals! In the blue corner, we have Berlin International Gaming, here to deliver the first ever trophy for the DACH region and complete their Misfits Premier-esque run. In the red corner, Vodafone Giants, the Spanish titans bringing in their imperious record from past to present, here to cement the SLO as the strongest region once more. No more words need to be said: EU Masters Summer 2019 Finals, let’s go!
Game 1 of this best of five promised a bloodbath from the analyst desk and it delivered. Fight after fight, everyone thought this would be Giants’ game to take with a near 10k gold lead at 29 minutes but toplaner WhiteKnight had other ideas. His gigantic flank on Kennen won BIG the ensuing fight and BIG proceeded to mount a monumental comeback. Bit by bit, fight by fight and objective by objective, BIG closed the gap, found a prodigious teamfight at 39 minutes in and ended a grueling Game 1 after, giving Giants their very first loss of the EU Masters Summer 2019.
Game 2 gave us a very angry Giants… and we know what those do in fantasy tales. The Spanish side reverted to a playstyle that almost had us nickname them “Giant Never Give Up” in lieu of Royal Never Give Up’s style from the LPL, whereby they revert to a ‘raising the puppy’ composition, and oh boy did Deadly grow up to be Cerberus in this one. With Aljoša "Milica" Kovandžić’s impenetrable shields, Petr "denyk" Haramach’s clutch engages, Th3Antonio’s almighty Sion and Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz’s impeccable pressure, Giants acquired a fiery triple infernal and bowled over BIG with an even bigger Xayah in 32 minutes. Game 2 was theirs.
Game 3… just WOW. Remember the phrase uttered at Mid-Season Invitational 2019, “This is what peak League of Legends looks like and it comes from Europe!”? This game is certainly worthy of that line. Like Game 1, it was a slaughter. But better than Game 1, it featured comebacks and plays on a knife’s edge from both teams. Milica’s mouth gaping Baron steal for example, kept Giants in the game. Then it went down to big teamfights from both teams to constantly find gaps to close it, and despite an incredibly valiant performance from the Spanish Armada, the Teutonic Titans found the crucial teamfight and ended the game in an even more exhausting 50 minutes, both teams having a combined kill score of 51 kills. BIG moved to match point with this win.
Game 4 would be the kingmaker for the “mighty DACH’s”. Tired of Vodafone Giants’ dominance of the early game in the prior three games, BIG fully embraced their namesake by going big and sending Giants home. The early to mid game was BIG utilising their obnoxious Olaf with the even more annoying Garen/Yuumi combo to constantly pressure Giants. Giants tried their hardest with a double hypercarry comp in Tristana mid and Vayne ADC but alas, no one could stop the rising crescendo of “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK” as BIG decisively closed out the series with a big teamfight win in Giant’s very own base, sealing their victory in 35 minutes and taking home the first ever EU Masters title back, ending a stunning series and writing another magical run from Play-Ins to Champions tale.