After eight weeks of intense matches, Forge of Champions is nearing the finish line. So far the tournament has been brimming with scintillating plays, simmering rivalries and action-packed matches from rookie and veteran rosters alike. Every team has put in the hard yards, but only the strongest will emerge from next week's Grand Finals and take up the UK's two spots at EU Masters. The pressure is certainly ramping up and we can't wait to see who takes the Forge of Champions crown. Read on if you're just joining the action or fancy reliving the journey so far, and check out the extended highlights video below to see how we got here!
Tournament 1 was all about Diabolus Esports. The team may have struggled in recent weeks, but their dominance was once something to be feared. Even tournament favourites Enclave Gaming couldn't stand strong against Diabolus, who wiped the floor with them, picking up a decisive 2-0 win that took them to semifinals. Taking a series away from the current kings isn't easy, but Diabolus did it in style, with plenty of calculated plays and superior teamfighting. Every game was consistent and Zeph wrought havoc with his masterful mid-lane plays.
However, Misfits Academy weren't going to go down without a fight and they met Diabolus head on in the semifinals. Game 1 was a back and forth affair and both teams traded blows well into the late-game. However, a triple kill from Prosfair's Pyke gave Misfits a clean ace, gifting Baron and the Nexus to the rookies. Despite Diabolus taking a tumble, they managed to bounce back and took the next two games by storm.
It was clear Diabolus meant business and they rode this success into the final against Wind and Rain. Wind and Rain had previously managed to overcome the elements, beating both Phelan and MnM Gaming in back-to-back 2-0 performances. Crossman's powerful burst mage plays were an area Diabolus was all too keen to control, especially since his 9/0/5 performance on LeBlanc crushed MnM's hopes of making it to the final. Fortunately, Diabolus' star top and mid-laner were ready to carry their teammates to victory. Both Flaxxish's Renekton and Zeph's Taliyah gave the team the boost they needed to take the tournament's first finals victory.
Misfits Academy kicked off the second round of games and successfully took down Phelan after a tense 2-1 series, but they struggled to maintain form against rivals Enclave. After being defeated by Diabolus in the quarterfinals, it was clear Enclave had a lot to prove in this series. Respective top-laners Shikari and Rift took off their boxing gloves and exchanged bloodied blows, but it was Bendy's Lucian who gave Enclave the power they needed. Just when it looked as though Misfits would take the game, Bendy unleashed a barrage of purifying bullets into Misfits' backline, killing both mid-laner xKenzuke and ADC Chrisberg. Then Enclave's mid-laner Eren teleported mid and took down the Nexus before Misfits could even retaliate. Bendy then topped this performance when he managed to secure a quadra kill on Varus thanks to jungler Munckizz's game-changing Baron steal. It was a statement game from Enclave and the team quickly rose to the top of the rankings.
Meanwhile, exceL were thrown into contention following their back-to-back 2-0 performances against Nuclear Storm Gaming and MnM. Even the imperious Diabolus couldn't stand strong against exceL's might, especially when support Quixeth was around. Quixeth constantly locked down Diabolus' in teamfights and his tanky Alistar engages were absolutely monstrous. ExceL used their superior teamfighting to destroy Diabolus and quickly punched their tickets to the final, where they would finally face Enclave.
What followed was a nail-bitingly tense five-game series that featured some incredible performances, especially from top-laner Send0o's Gragas as he famously managed to outplay both Rift and Munckizz for an early-game lead. We even got to see one of the cleanest counter engage fights of the tournament thanks to ADC Venzer's deadeye performance on Lucian. ExceL used this opportunity to reverse-sweep Enclave and they took Tournament 2 by storm.
Tournament 3 was the redemption arc of the Forge of Champions tournament and Enclave were out for blood. The team's powerhouse performance was in full force and they looked noticeably stronger, leaving Forgotten In Time, MnM and Hyperion in the dust. It was clear exceL's upset win had shaken them and Enclave were fortifying their defences to stave off any further blows. However, exceL were hot on their heels and rapidly catching up to their rivals. In fact, exceL delivered one of the most shocking moments of the whole tournament when Send0o secured a game-winning pentakill against Barrage. His dominance in top lane demonstrated just how impactful he could be, while also making a statement to those that dared to misjudge his power.
Meanwhile, Diabolus and Misfits' Tournament 1 dominance was absent and both teams struggled to maintain form against Hyperion and Wind and Rain. The cracks had begun to show and they soon collapsed under the pressure. ExceL and Enclave made their semifinal matches look easy and both Wind and Rain and Hyperion's finals journey came to an abrupt end.
All eyes were on Enclave, and after falling to ExceL in the previous final, they were ready to get their revenge. Enclave came out of champ select swinging, delivering clean teamfights that saw them pick up a cool, calculated ace. ExceL fought back to take Game 3, but Enclave ramped up the pressure and secured a dominant victory in Game 4, ahead 19-8 in kills with an 11k gold lead. Enclave had finally secured retribution for ExceL's Tournament 2 victory and stood proudly atop the leaderboard.
Misfits Academy have had a rough time in Forge of Champions and despite some strong showings, they always struggled to make it to the final. However, this changed in Tournament 4. Their game against Diabolus was a heavily one-side affair and mid-laner L1DER used his superior mid-lane mechanics to solo-kill Zeph time and time again. This was the start of Misfits' rebellion and L1DER was the one leading it. His lightning-fast mechanics on Irelia and Zed quickly caught the eye of the casting desk, especially when he famously duked three members of exceL with Zed's Living Shadow. Misfits had proven that they could trade blows with the Forge Gods themselves and their rise to the top looked unstoppable.
However, Enclave's Tournament 4 journey was also a dominant one and the current kings demonstrated exactly why they're at the top. The quarterfinals saw Enclave take complete control, with every member securing huge kill advantages over their bottom-rung opponents. Barrage desperately tried to defend their structures, but the engage from Munckizz's Gragas and pure damage from Rift's fed Darius meant there was little they could do. In fact, Barrage couldn't even win a 4v1 against Rift without trading a double kill. It was solid performances all round and Enclave stormed into the final after beating Wind and Rain in a tense 2-1 series.
Previous encounters between Misfits and Enclave have always gone in Enclave's favour, so fans were shocked when Misfits managed to beat veteran roster 3-1. It was an absolute shellacking and even Rift's Camille couldn't stop Misfits' L1DER from carrying his team to victory. Misfits constantly punished Enclave's over-aggressive plays, perfectly demonstrating why Irelia should be banned whenever L1DER's around.
Barrage skulked around the middle of the pack for a while and subsequent losses to the top three teams have made climbing difficult. As a result, fans expected a clean sweep when Enclave faced them in the quarterfinals. Barrage weren't going to go down without a fight though. The first game of the series was incredibly close and both teams traded structures and kills well into the late-game, but things took a turn when Enclave secured a 38-minute Baron. Enclave then stormed into Barrage's base and Bendy secured a game-winning pentakill on Varus before obliterating the Nexus. Barrage fought back in Game 2 and evened the score with their own revenge Baron play. Unfortunately, Barrage began to crack under the pressure and Enclave quickly took the final game with incredible precision and immaculate rotations.
Diabolus and Misfits' quarterfinal games went smoothly with both teams securing 2-0 performances against Wind and Rain and MnM, but Hyperion was desperate to make an exceL upset. Hyperion have been outclassed by nearly every team in the Forge of Champions tournament, so this match was the last opportunity they had to grab a win. For exceL, beating Hyperion was a matter of pride. ExceL had looked a little shaky in their previous quarterfinal showings, but the roster was determined to cover up any weaknesses. The first game was an absolute bloodbath and the Nexus fell to exceL after a 46-minute slogfest – in fact, it was the longest game of whole tournament. However, Hyperion bounced back in Game 2 and an absolutely huge Poppy ultimate from top-laner DanXD launched three members of exceL into the fountain, giving ADC Yusa's fed Lucian plenty of time to kill Quixeth before breaking open the Nexus. Hyperion may have lost their series against exceL in the end, but their Game 2 upset win gave them some solace at the end of an increasingly impressive tournament showing.
Forge of Champions concludes this coming week, with semifinals on Wednesday 5th September and the Grand Final on Thursday 6th September. The broadcast starts at 5.45pm BST (UK time) at https://twitch.tv/lvpuk.