IPL 5 saw 16 of the best teams come from around the globe to compete over 4 grueling days in what turned out to be the best tournament of the year. The level of skill and strategy that was on display in Las Vegas over the last four days topped anything we saw at the world championships and gave us some truly thrilling games. The field was narrowed down to 4 teams heading into the last day of the event, and World Elite, Fnatic, Taipei Assassins, and Moscow 5 would have all been deserving champions. For the complete bracket and VoDs, check out Leaguepedia. Let's take a look at just how the last day of the tournament played out
There could be only one...
Moscow 5 and the Taipei Assassins met in the loser's semifinal, which itself was worthy of a finals. Moscow 5 looked to be regaining some of their mojo as day 3 came to a close, but their recent history against TPA was against them. Moscow 5 came into the tournament having dropped 3 of the 4 games they had ever played against TPA, and today didn't prove any different. Moscow 5 made the games and interesting, but TPA's solo lanes stepped up to the plate and just played flat better than Alex Ich and Darien especially. Stanley's Nidalee wreaked havoc on Moscow 5, and they found themselves coming up short again against the world champions.
The world champions had rebounded from their early winner's bracket humbling by Fnatic to beat the likes of Singapore Sentinels, Curse.NA, CLG.EU and Moscow 5 all in a row. They dropped only 1 game over those 4 sets and seemed to be rounding back into form. Toyz and Stanley had been playing much better, but they found themselves against the team that had knocked them to the loser's bracket in Fnatic. However, TPA tried to measure themselves against the Season 1 champions again, but couldn't compete. This tournament was surely a humbling experience for the reigning world champions, and just goes to show how competitive the League of Legends is truly becoming. Teams have to continuously practice and improve because being the best at one tournament will not last if they rest on their laurels.
Which brings us to our runner-ups in the tournament, Fnatic. They were coming off a win at Dreamhack just a week before IPL 5, but if you had asked almost anyone around the scene who would be the top placing European team Fnatic wouldn't have been their first answer. Fnatic lost 6 games in the tournament. Only one of those losses (against CLG.Prime) didn't come against the eventual champion World Elite. The entire team proved they could make plays and carry games. Soaz showed up to play today and was a force to be reckoned with particularly with his Lee Sin. Rekkles had his coming out party on the world stage with excellent play all around, even giving Weixiao a run for his money. This Fnatic team has been rebuilt and is back in a big way. They took the first game in both sets against World Elite, but they just couldn't quite close the games out.
On the biggest stage, the slightest missteps are the differences between first and second place. Fnatic found themselves just out of position in the latter portion of the decisive games and allowed World Elite to pick off a champion or just rush straight to Baron and snowball to victory. The lane phase and teamfighting of these two teams were at the highest level we've ever seen in competitive League of Legends, and the difference between the two teams was objective control. Fnatic has proven they've grown tremendously as a team, but won't be able to take Rekkles with them into Season 3 because he falls just under the 17 year age limit required by Riot. One thing is certain with them, if they find an AD Carry of Rekkles caliber or one that can improve to that level, they will be the top European team starting Season 3.
WE are the champions...
World Elite began day 1 of IPL 5 by destroying the competition in the loaded Group A. They didn't lose a single game in the tournament until the final day, losing the first game of separate sets to Fnatic before proving their resiliency and coming back to win 2 straight. World Elite got superb play from everyone on their team, and each of their players stepped up at different times of the tournament when they needed to.
Weixiao was the early favorite for MVP of IPL 5, and Misaya certainly impressed on a number of different champions mid including Twisted Fate and Evelynn, but Caomei was the reason they won the tournament on the final day. Caomei's play top on Rengar was masterful in this tournament and forced teams to auto-ban an additional champion besides Misaya's TF. Not only was he great on Rengar, but his Irelia and Olaf play today was extremely disruptive against Fnatic in both the winner's and grand finals. He finished the tournament 40/20/73 despite having to 2v1 in most games and elevated his game when it mattered the most.
Caomei's play was certainly excellent, but truly all of World Elite had to be playing at the top of their games to come out with a victory at this event. They were coming off a frustrating loss in the world championships full of technical difficulties and long games against CLG.EU, but clearly learned a great deal from that crazy set. At IPL 5, World Elite knew how to close games out once they got ahead, and knew how to get around teams with a better late game composition them. They were put to the test when they met CLG.EU again in the winner's semifinals but conquered their nemesis 2-0 including a second game that was one of the best League of Legends matches ever played.
World Elite takes home the last major tournament of the year along with $50,000, and will wear the crown of best team going into 2013. After seeing them celebrate and some of their players in tears at the event you couldn't help but be excited for them. However they will soon learn, just like the Taipei Assassins did that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. They should enjoy this victory while they can, and if they can continue to improve as they have since the world finals, the world might have to get use to seeing them finish in first place.
What did you think of the event RoG'ers? What teams surprised you and who fell short of expectations? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for more e-Sports coverage, news, and all your theorycrafting League of Legends needs!
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