MLG Summer Arena Recap: Blaze Torches the Field

Another exciting weekend of competitive League of Legends has come to an end. Four of the best teams from around the world competed for a $10,000 first prize, and the level of play was truly a sight to behold. Unfortunately, VoD's of the MLG Summer Arena will not be available until later in the week if you did not purchase an HD pass, but these games, particularly the matches between Azubu Blaze and Team SoloMid truly lived up to the hype.

The tournament opened with a round robin stage between the four teams competing. BLACK from Europe, Azubu Blaze from Korea, and finally Team Curse plus Team SoloMid from North America. Each team played each other three times, and the teams with the best record at the end of the round robin would play in a best-of-3 for first place. Coming into the tournament, most people viewed this as a two team battle between North America's most recently successful team, TSM, and Korea's reigning OGN champion Azubu Blaze.

Fans wouldn't have to wait long for the two favorites to square off, as they met on the first day of the tournament and played a thrilling 3 games. The games were close, but Azubu Blaze proved to be more aggressive than TSM, not just going for kills, but aggressively pushing and taking down towers forcing TSM to play from behind early and often. Blaze took all 3 games on Friday, and all but assured themselves a spot in the finals with just 3 victories.

Curse took care of business against BLACK the first day, beating them 3-0 with the help of early jungle invades and superior individual play, particularly Pobelter on AP Janna with teleport. Unfortunately for BLACK, they came into this tournament with two substitutes (their jungle and AD carry) because they could not get their international travel arrangements completed in time. BLACK would not win a game in the tournament, but it will certainly give them much needed experience on LAN against some of the best teams in the world.

Curse followed their Day 1 sweep of BLACK with a disappointing showing against TSM. They were beaten 3-0 with each game getting progressively more one-sided. Elementz would later admit they chose Urgot not because Cop was proficient with him, but because they felt he was overpowered on the Jayce patch in which the tournament was played on. Curse continues to have trouble getting their five individuals to work together as a team for the entire game and do things as one unit. On Sunday, they did manage to take a game off of Azubu Blaze, the only team to do so all weekend so the talent for Curse is there, if they can just figure out how to play well both individually and as a team on a consistent basis.

With TSM's victories over Curse, it allowed them another shot at Azubu Blaze in the finals. They believed Blaze was very beatable because TSM had done well in the games they were so far behind in even taking some team fights. However, a different Blaze team came to play in the Grand Finals.  Blaze's bottom lane of Lustboy (support) and CptJack(AD carry) were the players who were hyped coming into the weekend, but Blaze showed they were much more than a two man team. ReaperD impressed throughout the tournament with his dominating Irelia play, and his ability to 2v1 on a number of champs either top or bottom. Ambition outplayed every AP mid the tournament threw at him and showed off his impressive list of champions that included Ahri, Karthus,Twisted Fate, Vladimir and Ryze.

The MVP of the tournament has to go to Blaze's jungle Helios though for he was the key to Blaze's responsive and brutal strategies. His Skarner and Maokai play wreaked havoc in every single game, and he always seemed to be in the right place a the right time. Blaze impressed the world by showing teamwork and trust in each others play and Helios was the crux of that. Every single time Oddone would gank mid for Reginald, Helios seemed to be there to counter-gank for Ambition and Blaze was the team that would pick up the kill. He would come into lanes and help them push down towers early, and his mobility boots on these champions helped him always have a lane presence.

Blaze bested TSM in the in the finals 2-0 and looked like a completely different team. If the team on Friday was very good, the Blaze team that won on Sunday was dominant rolling out a tanky lineup that seemed invincible with Urgot, Ryze, Irelia, Alistar, and Maokai. TSM simply didn't have the answers and lost their first LAN event since Dyrus has joined the team. They came in slumping of late in offline events, and Reginald seems to be searching for go-to champions. Seeing how the best the Koreans have to offer though should be a scary thing for the rest of the world because if TSM can ever achieve the level of teamwork Blaze showed this weekend, the world will be in trouble.

Fans won't have to wait long to see another LAN event as the IPL Face-Off at San Francisco happens this weekend featuring a number of North America's best teams, along with Singapore Sentinels and China's feared World Elite for a $20,000 first place prize. Stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for more updates on the IPL Face-Off, and all your other League of Legends needs!

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