Those few hours of waiting went by pretty fast, and about when EG went up 2-1 the girls were unceremoniously kicked out of the room, as it was time to talk strategy. Obviously, homework had been done, as each player had their own dossier – for lack of a better term – with the Coast logo on it. They knew how important this match was, and so there was certainly no lack of preparation. Picks, bans, secret strategies- it was all hashed out over the next hour or so, but before we knew it there was a knock on the door as players started getting called over for makeup. Within minutes EG looked to have a substantial lead in game four and after a booming “coL-on-three” chant we moved backstage.
By the time we made the thirty second walk the game was over. It was rather solemn as we walked behind the stage. The elated victors in blue and white t-shirts, and the somber boys in white and blue hoodies. Altec especially looked rather down as they walked past us, having just seen their dreams end in an instant. It all started to hit me a bit, right then and there- For these five guys, their hopes, dreams, and aspirations as professional players most likely lived or died on this next match. It’s something really heavy to think about, even for the most seasoned eSports veterans.
I headed down to the crowd with the coL.LoL ladies, and grabbed an open seat on the right side in front of the team, just a couple rows back. The crowd wasn’t particularly full that day, but I’d say there were still 100-150 people there ready to watch Coast fight for their LCS spot. It was definitely not the largest audience I’d ever been in, but they were passionate enough to make up for it.
I’m not going to talk a ton about the actual games because there are VODs for those, but I’m still of course going to mention the things that stuck out to me.
As I watched the draft I saw that picks and bans were going pretty much according to what was planned, and then I saw Renekton get picked up for Westrice. Once again, I’m not a huge League player, but damn do I love playing Renekton top. Some of that is due to the guides that Westrice has made for the champ, but a lot of it is because he is just too much fun. Unfortunately for Westrice he had some very stiff competition in ZionSpartan’s Lee Sin up in the top lane.
During game one the crowd was pretty damned fickle, swaying back and forth with each kill on Westrice, or big play from pr0lly or Robert. The one time it wasn’t was at 50+ minutes in when Corky went around for the flank on bottom lane, trying to pick off the pesky split-pushing Lee Sin. The combo of Westrice and ROBERTxLEE was too much for ZionSpartan, and at the same time BrokenShard stole Baron, and pr0lly got another kill. Chants of “CLB” were whipping the crowd into a frenzy as five coL players with Baron buff marched up the middle lane, and took down the Nexus. 1-0 coL.Black.
After being pretty sure we had lost game one I was on the stage in an instant, slapping backs and all smiles, but the team had marching orders. Win or lose, we’re back in the team room immediately to talk about the next game. Three cameras followed us backstage, and the team talked a tiny bit about what went right or wrong, but mostly about the next game. Bans, picks, and early strategies were the topic of conversation, and the team had to be kept on track, as we only had five minutes between games. That 300 seconds flew by in an instant, and soon enough there was the all too familiar “knock knock” at the door. The team kept talking strategy all the way to the stage, even as Coast was right behind them. I was in the back of the line and I walked just a tiny bit (a lot of bit) slower to try to put some distance between strategy and unwanted ears.
The team was confident going into game two, and I think they got a whole lot more confident when pr0lly was able to grab Ziggs. I had heard a lot about Ziggs; I couldn’t recall any firsthand experience, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out why they were so excited about the mid lane. I asked the girls what the “bouncing bomb” thing Ziggs did was called, and they weren’t sure, so I started yelling out “pr0lly BOMB” as champions fell to the explosions (I later found out from pr0lly that those are actually called Bouncing Bomb – who knew?). With BrokenShard on Lee Sin, and Robert on Caitlyn there was near no stopping us in game two.
The one thing that scared me a bit was when there was a pause from us in the middle of the game. BrokenShard was clearly experiencing some medical issues, but they wouldn’t let me on stage. I found out later that he was just feeling really faint, but a quick snack and something to drink got him in good enough shape to finish on his crushing game of Lee Sin. From minute one to minute 40 I could only describe this one as surgical; coL had the lead the entire time, and Coast looked absolutely demoralized. 2-0 coL.Black.
As the Nexus went down the team did not jump out of their chairs screaming, as they did in game one. The reality had set in that they were in control, and on the verge of a pretty large upset. The only celebration was BrokenShard standing up from his chair, and giving a camera “one more, one more.” The team went back once more to talk strategy, figuring out the game plan for what could be a 3-0 sweep. More cameras, another chant, and knock knock.
As I sat down in the stands once again I could hear the commentators talking about the team going five heal; certainly a strategy I wasn’t familiar with, but I figured the team would be. Familiar or not, the game pretty started to quickly lean heavily in favor of Coast. The crowd had been largely silent throughout game two, but as kills happened and turrets were taken down, the Coast crowd started to roar. With an amazing lineup for push and teamfight the Coast squad just rolled over us in game three, and just shy of thirty minutes into the game our Nexus was dead. 2-1 coL.Black.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have not played or watched hundreds and hundreds of hours of League, like I have with some other eSports, but game four was the best game I’ve ever watched. Maybe it’s because I was heavily invested to the match, maybe it’s because the crowd around me was electric. Or maybe it’s because the match really was fantastic. It doesn’t matter to me, for those 45 minutes I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. 3-1 coL.Black.
If you didn’t watch this match, you need to. That’s all I’m going to say about it. It all comes down to a baserace as ZionSpartan falls, and coL jumps out of their chairs one more time. I was on the stage pretty quick, congratulating the squad, and just breathing it all in. In my time with compLexity, that was the most important match I’ve ever been present for. What a win.
The squad gathered up, hands in, one more time: coL-on-three. This time it wasn’t about the opposition. It was about these five men in black and red, chasing a dream, and finding out what eSports is all about. Brokenshard and pr0lly were dragged backstage, Westrice and Robert were signing autographs and taking pictures, and Bubbadub walked down to hug his wife, as she said “I am so, so very proud of you.” Nerd chills.
That’s what eSports is all about. Living the dream, sharing your passion with people that you love and people that you’ve never even met before. They might be from across the world, speak a different language, or play a different game, but we all get it. The love of gaming, competition, and community.
For coL.LoL, this is just the beginning of something great. Their journey into the NA LCS began with a long trip through the challenger league, but they’ve paid their dues with a 3-1 victory, and now it’s time to join the ranks of the big boys.
Make sure to follow us at @complexitylive, @coL_pr0lly, @coL_Westrice, @coL_Brokenshard, @ROBERTxLEE, and @coL_BubbaDub. And if you want to follow me as well, I’m @coL_Beef and I’ll be doing my best to provide more content on this awesome journey.
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