This past weekend saw a number of terrific games at both the European Challenger Circuit: Poland and in the TSM Invitational. Both European and NA fans were treated to a number of highly competitive and close games between some of the best teams in their respective regions. Teams like SK Gaming, MTW.NA, and Dignitas all excelled with a new face somewhere on their team. Old favorites like CLG.EU, M5, and TSM were in the hunt for victories at their respective tournaments. For VoD's of ECC Poland click here and for the TSM Invitational here.
European Challenger Circuit: Poland
The top teams of Europe squared off for a $40,000 prize pool and the tournament played out how many thought it would, at least until the final day. The four teams expected to make it out of the group stage all did, Curse.EU and SK out of Group A and CLG.EU and Moscow 5 out of Group B. By far the most impressive team of the group stages was CLG.EU, as they unveiled a strategy no one could cope with on Day 1 running Rumble top, Alistar jungle, and Karthus mid in most games and slaughtering their opponents. Froggen was as dominant of a player as we've ever seen over those matches wracking up a first day total of 28 kills 4 deaths and 22 assists.
Day 2 of the event was a different story, as CLG.EU struggled mightily in their semifinals match with a much improved SK Gaming. SK has received a lot of jeers from the community of late because of their frequent roster changes, and the general way in which they are conducted, but they performed very well in this tournament and should be encouraged by Araneae jungle and Kev1n top. SK took Game 1 of the series with a dominant Jax top performance from Kev1n, and looked poised to enter the finals in Game 2 with a big lead and Baron buff, but eventually fell in a brutal 50 minute game to CLG.EU and lost quickly in the decisive third game.
The finals of the event saw Moscow 5 face their current nemesis CLG.EU, a team they have never beaten on LAN. However, Moscow 5 was on top of their games and showed why their LAN record is incredible on Sunday. They dismissed Curse.EU in the semifinals including a second game where they had no deaths and approached the finals confident. CLG.EU had beaten them in the group stage, and tried their same strategy of double AP with Malphite in the jungle this time.
Moscow 5 allowed them to have the same picks that beat them before because they had figured out a way to beat it overnight - counter picking Froggen mid and their tried and true super aggressive ganking strategy. Alex Ich played incredibly in Game 1 as Kassadin against Froggen's Anivia and then in Game 2 he played a Gragas game that was awe-inspiring. His roaming and ganking with Diamondprox caused devastation to both the CLG.EU top and bottom lanes and they were unable to recover. Neither game was close 23-3 in the first game and 26-6 in the second and the Russians got their revenge along with $15,000.
Solomid Invitational 5
North American fans weren't disappointed though as they saw some of their favorite teams compete in the 5th Solomid Invitational. A gauntlet of games are played in this event as it is a double elimination affair with all series being best-of-3's. Dignitas fans were rewarded off the bat of the tournament as they 2-0 the feisty Team Dynamic in the opening series and continued their success into the winner's final. Patoy seemed to mesh well with Imaqtpie and they rarely missed a beat all tournament. In the other side of the draw, TSM had some trouble early in the day with Ordinance gaming pulling out a tough 3 game set but seemed to right the ship against MTW.NA who was playing with new AD carry Aphromoo. TSM has not won their own invitational since the very first one at the end of May, and hoped to rectify that heading into this weekend's MLG Summer Arena.
The second day of the tournament kicked off with TSM playing in extremely close games against Dignitas. However, there old sense of teamwork and ability to dominate the mid and late game just doesn't seem to be there. They ran into numerous problems with Scarra's Zyra and Anivia, and eventually fell to Dignitas. They met MTW.NA who has won and placed second in the last two tournaments respectively. MTW.NA fought through the loser's bracket knocking out Dynamic and Ordinance Gaming with strong play particularly from their bottom lane of Muffinqt and Aphromoo. The two have great synergy already, and were not only a major reason they got to the loser's finals against TSM, but also the ability to overcome TSM in another grueling best-of-3. Muffinqt's Leona is always a joy to watch, and this team should be one to be feared going forward.
The finals between MTW.NA and Dignitas featured a one-sided game one win for Dignitas and then MTW.NA answering with a dominating performance in Game 2. MTW would have to win not just the final game of that series, but another best-of-3 to take the tournament. It wasn't meant to be though, as Scarra on Anivia showed why the ice bird is one of the most dominant team-fighting carries in the game. The team formerly known as Goose couldn't force a second set and Dignitas picks up a win and $1,200 in their first outing since coming home a bit earlier than they would have liked from Korea's OGN Summer League.
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