After four qualifying tournaments, knockouts and last night’s Grand Final, we have our first ever winner of Forge of Champions! Congratulations to Misfits Academy, who battled hard to overcome Diabolus Esports 3-2 and claim their place as the best team in the UK. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, with both teams enjoying periods of domination in a gripping five-game series. With EU Masters qualification on the line, both teams had a lot to play for...
With both Misfits and Diabolus in good form, the first game saw some incredible back and forth as the two teams attempted to outplay each other and take control. Misfits’ jungler Afflict had a great game, starting with his first blood in the ninth minute. This continued through the early game, with his Sejuani going 4/0/0 before anyone else on the map picked up a kill.
Then a very messy teamfight saw three players go down from each team, suggesting some of the players were still struggling with their on-the-fly damage calculations. Partway through the fight, Misfits ADC Chrisberg left Diabolus mid-laner Bolulu with just a sliver of health, meaning his Tristana lost a crucial rocket jump reset that could have turned the tide of battle.
These messy teamfights kept happening throughout the game, as each team tried its best to unload as much damage as possible into their opponents but came up short. Diabolus took Misfits by surprise in the baron pit and seemed to have the upper hand, but then some clutch plays from Special’s Ryze and Afflict meant it ended in a two for two and sent Diabolus scurrying across the map before being tracked down for a kill on Nji by Special.
Diabolus managed to come back from the mid game, taking objectives and kills. Time after time Misfits attempted a baron play, but Diabolus came at them to interrupt, often resulting in a bloodbath for both teams. Eventually it was Diabolus’ turn to fight baron, but Misfits weren’t fussed. They teamed up in bot lane and sped into Diabolus’ base while they were fighting the giant purple worm, destroying their Nexus just seconds after Nashor fell.
A close, messy, back-and-forth game had set the tone for the rest of the full five-game series.
“We knew we were the better team,” said Diabolus’ head coach Marcus “Blumigan” Blom in the early minutes of Game 2. “We got even more confident after Game 1.”
So began Misfits’ 24-minute stomp of Diabolus. For the second game in a row, Afflict led the charge, ending the game deathless with a score of 4/0/8. Misfits support player Prosfair also played a blinder, ending on 2/0/15 with no deaths and 100% kill participation.
Things went badly for Diabolus early on, as Misfits applied pressure all over the map, gaining and early gold advantage. Only 15 minutes in, they were up nine kills to two, with Chrisberg’s Varus doing a great job of roaming across the map for picks. Solid teamwork and a 12k gold lead at the 22-minute mark meant it was going to be hard for Diabolus to come back.
Impossible, almost. Especially after Misfits managed to pick up baron and storm bot lane to victory, tearing their opponents apart like paper as they went. GG Misfits, 2-0 up.
“Diabolus brought in two new members and they’re both bad. Worse than the previous ones,” Misfits’ L1DER explained in a quick interview at the start of Game 3. “We’re bad, they’re bad. But they’re even worse.”
If only every game of League of Legends could start with an ironic quote from a member of the losing team. Who needs analysts when you’ve got coaches and team members able to predict the exact opposite of what’s about to pass at the top of each game?
30 minutes later, Diabolus had stormed Misfits’ base, ending with a score of 21 kills to Misfits’ 6, plus a 15k gold lead. With Misfits only one win away from EU Masters, you would expect them to pull out the big guns for this one. But the biggest gun in the game - technically a bow - belonged to Emtest’s 6/0/11 Varus, who stole the show.
This was a fantastic comeback by Diabolus as a team, especially after their shaky start to the Grand Final. Early stages were fairly close, but Diabolus’ ability to punish Misfits with excellent counterplays meant they were up 3.5k in gold by the 16-minute mark and the lead grew from there. And all this despite two amazing infernal drake steals from Afflict, who twice managed to blast-cone into the pit, smite the dragon and then dash out again. (Enclave jungler Munckizz, the traditional UK smite stealer, looks to have some competition going forward.) Those heroics aside though, Misfits struggled to stay relevant.
The punishment continued through the game, with Diabolus smacking Misfits whenever they got too lairy. They racked up a solid gold lead and picked off objectives across the map to secure what appeared to be a fairly easy win. Suddenly, surprising many, a series was at hand.
If Game 3 looked like a blip, Game 4 was Diabolus confidently proving they belonged in this series. They ended with another strong score of 24 kills to 11 and a 14k gold lead in a game where, once again, Emtest’s Varus saved the day.
The early game seemed fairly even for both teams, but Misfits’ obsession with baron would prove to be their downfall. Diabolus collapsed on the team at their first attempt of Ol’ Nash and aced them in a five for one, then proceeded to take baron just to add insult to injury.
Perhaps it was here that Misfits’ fate was set, or perhaps it was when Diabolus collapsed on them in the dragon pit, killing four of their team members. Misfits managed to secure their second infernal in the process, but Diabolus’ 5k gold lead ended up being the more worthy get.
After a teamfight by the baron pit went bad for Misfits, Afflict attempted to repeat his Game 3 dragon steals on the other side of the map. Unfortunately he mistimed the smite and was immediately deleted. From there a push up mid by Diabolus was enough to take us to Game 5.
This was it. The winner of this game would be our first Forge of Champions winner and book their place at EU Masters, and while the momentum was very much on the side of Diabolus, Misfits still had something up their sleeve, pulling out a super-aggressive draft with zero tanks and a heck of a lot of damage.
It was the sort of comp that would - as the casters wryly noted - either work or not work. It worked. Misfits’ focus on objectives and CS meant gave them a consistent gold lead, even though their opponents kept securing kills. The key was that Misfits’ gold was distributed more evenly among their multiple devastating carries, whereas Diabolus were extremely reliant on Emtest’s Kog’Maw. The Mouth of the Abyss was flying, 8/0/2 with 396 CS at 42 minutes, but that concentration of resources meant Misfits only needed to secure his death to really take over the game. As soon as they did it, Diabolus were left at the mercy of their carries.
The back and forth in this game made it one of the most fun to watch. With so much on the line, both teams worked hard for their prize, but ultimately Misfits were able to capitalise on their superior macro and get the most out of their team composition, storming through the base to secure the first ever Forge of Champions title.
Congratulations to Misfits Academy, the first ever winners of Forge of Champions! They will go on to join Enclave at the EU Masters in Katowice, Poland next week, and head straight to groups. Diabolus put up a stellar fight though, beating everyone’s expectations and making this a truly memorable Grand Final. Thank you to everyone who competed, from the open tournament right the way through to last night’s final, and we look forward to bringing you more of this crazy UK esports action in 2019!