The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) burst into action with the North American Qualifier, broadcast live from Los Angeles, California. Sixteen teams, some veterans and some dark horses, battled for five spots in the LCS.
Day 1 saw half the teams eliminated with hundreds of thousands of fans watching the matches. Fan-favorite Epik Gamer, comprised mostly of well-known veteran players, were devastated in their opening match and knew they had to overcome relatively unknown Team Towerdive TV to keep their dream alive. The two opponents battled for 50 minutes until Epik Gamer's patience finally waned and they staggered in a merciless teamfight at Baron. Team Towerdive TV won the exchange with a solid ace, quickly finished the match and knocked Epik Gamer out of the tournament in a huge upset.
Team MRN swept Group D with a strong showing from their jungler, ClakeyD. In their final game, Team MRN staged a stalwart comeback against Azure Gaming by patiently picking their fights and launching cautious, guerrilla attacks against turrets and minion waves. An ace at Baron turned the tables on Azure Gaming and gave Team MRN the momentum they needed to clinch the win. Good Game University had an equally impressive debut with ZionSpartan's daring Katarina and NintendudeX's rampaging Shen setting the team up for snowball victories in the group stage and beyond.
With only eight teams remaining in Day 2, fans were confident that Team FeaR and Curse Gaming were on the cusp of qualifying and they didnt disappoint. Both teams qualified with 2-0 sets and left Team MRN, Dirt Nap Gaming, The Brunch Club and Good Game University to duke it out for the third and fourth slots. The Brunch Club surprisingly swept Team MRN 2-0 to qualify for the LCS with no-nonsense targeted bans and aggressively pressuring their opponents into making crucial mistakes. GGU performed admirably as well, securing two wins and a spot in the LCS.
Hope was not lost for the defeated on Day 2: one spot was left to be claimed by the best team remaining. After the first round of best-of-three single elimination matches, Dirt Nap Gaming and Team MRN were left to fight for the final LCS spot.
As the minions spawned, all eyes were on Dirt Nap Gaming's Cris, waiting to see if he would conjure the Shen magic that pushed his team through Day 1 and against Azure Gaming in their previous matchups. An early Azure lead was gradually diminished by Team MRN's unflinching defense and culminated in an incredible mid-air Baron steal by ClakeyDs Nocturne that sealed DNGs fate in game 1.
In game 2, Team MRNs MegaZero faced off against Cris world-famous Riven in a top lane duel. Ultimately, it was MegaZeros almost un-killable teleport/ghost Olaf that rampaged through the game, leading his team to a devastating game 2 win. Team MRNs journey, from climbing the NA ladder to claiming the final spot in the LCS, is sure to make them a fan-favorite as they prepare to battle it out in Season 3.
This weekend's qualifier left fans with five new teams to root for in the LCS North American region: Good Game University, Team FeaR, Curse Gaming, Team MRN and The Brunch Club. As the teams settle in and focus on honing their skills for the start of the season on February 7, were patiently awaiting the new strategies, team comps and personalities that these teams will bring to bear in the League of Legends Championship Series.
Be sure to tune in for the EU Live Qualifier on January 25, broadcast live from Warsaw, Poland, where underdog teams once again seek to earn their place in the EU bracket of Season 3.