IEM Katowice completed over the weekend and was truly one of the best tournaments in awhile. Close finishes, upsets, and general drama built with each passing day concluding with Gambit Gaming rising from the ashes of an 0-2 group start to take the crown. It was their first tournament win since the EU Regionals and comes just as the whispers of them perhaps being washed up were starting to permeate certain circles of the scene. They showed us that the reports of their death had been greatly exaggerated with their steamrolling of both Korean teams on the final day.
Check out the results and find the VoD's here. Let's take a look at why you can't ever count out a team with that kind of championship pedigree, and what their win means for Season 3 that begins in just a few short weeks.
Will of the Champion
You see it throughout sports multiple sports - winning is contagious. Teams that are able to keep the same roster, or core of players are able to build off their experiences and trust in each other more because they've been to the top with those same guys before. The trust in each other to win is able to be absolute because they've been there done that. We all saw it over the weekend when Gambit Gaming started out Day 1 of IEM Katowice with two losses and on the brink of elimination. They rebounded to beat MeetYourMakers giving themselves a shot at advancing, and because of the wonky IEM rules, Gambit advanced based on the fact of the least time spent in games.
While Gambit struggled to get out of their group, both Azubu teams breezed through the fields undefeated and seemed destined to meet in the finals. However, it simply wasn't to be as Blaze and Frost fell to Gambit in back to back best-of-3's that weren't particularly close. Gambit went back to their roots and was the old aggressive team that teams were insanely lucky to simply take a game off during their storied Season 2 run. Season 3 begins soon, and they certainly won't be the last team to regain their former glory at least once this year.
We've already seen Fnatic make a resurgence of late, and they played well at Katowice before falling in a close series to Azubu Frost that went all 3 games. A team with their pedigree of winning will certainly be heard from perhaps more than once in the coming season. TSM, for all their troubles, are another prime candidate for a return to their winning form. The same whispers that surrounded Gambit of late have been getting louder in regards to TSM. They can't win anymore, they are washed up, they only won because it was only NA teams. It may not happen for all these teams in Season 3, but there is a reason the same few teams always seem to contend in tournaments. Winning becomes a habit, and being able to overcome losses and bring out your team's strengths in the face of adversity is a quality that many teams are never able to learn.
In basketball, time after time young teams will make it to the playoffs only to see themselves outlasted in a series by a team of veterans. They have to learn how to win, and that will be the challenge for many of the new teams from around the world this year. The talent gap in League of Legends, particularly at the top is shrinking every day and teams will have to focus more than ever on how they play as a team, new innovation and strategies, and the mental side of the game if they want to get an edge over their opponents.
Is there a such thing as a good loss?
Most people and teams would probably tell you that they would have always rather won than lost, but that isn't always true. The Koreans have been hearing for months how far ahead their scene is and how great they are (much of it well deserved). They had been destroying the fields regularly when they attended tournaments, and when they lost it was to other teams from Asia. The best thing that could have happened to Korea before Season 3 was to see two of their best and most successful teams get humbled on a big stage. If any scene will take a loss seriously and look to make it a learning experience, it will be their scene.
It's hard not to let overconfidence and even a little complacency creep in when you have been consistently beating similar opponents. Not only that, every single interview they have been doing with other regions they have been asked about how good they are, how much better they practice than everyone else, and why the rest of the world seems to be falling behind them. Then they have to read comments from other teams that say they aspire to be like them, and even if they are the most humble people in the world it can be hard not to let that get in your head just a little bit.
Maybe this didn't play a huge factor at Katowice and Gambit just simply ascended to another level on that particular day. Whether it was the case or not, I would be surprised if the Koreans didn't practice again with a renewed sense of urgency for Season 3 and start doing their homework a little harder on the top teams from Europe especially.
We also learned that the gap between the scenes isn't as big as previously thought. Fnatic did bring Azubu Frost to a third game in their set, and has looked great in general of late. Korea might certainly have the world on depth of teams, but even that has to be questioned now. Season 3 will show us just how every region matches up with each other and with themselves and will certainly be appointment viewing every single week.
What do you think RoG'ers? What did you think of the results at Katowice? Which team(s) will we hear from again in Season 3? How far apart do you think the scenes are right now? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to stay tuned to ReignOfGaming for all your LoL-related needs!
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