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  • Edward Brady

UNT League of Legends Closes Out Incredible Season

On March 2nd, the UNT Mean Green faced the Florida Gators in the first round of the Colligate League of Legends South Division playoffs. Although this was a rematch between the two and it was UNT’s first ever playoff berth in program history, there was an air of finality and melancholy surrounding the match.

CLoL seeds playoff teams primarily based on their preseason rankings, not what they did overall. Florida and UNT drew the short end of the stick as some of the lowest initially seeded 5-1 teams, getting the 8th and 9th seed respectively and playing what is essentially a playin round before the quarterfinals. The “winner” of the match had the pleasure of playing #1 ranked Saint Thomas. A team that not only outclasses both teams by large margins but swept one of the few teams expected to be competition in Winthrop with no difficulty whatsoever.

Both teams’ seasons were all but guaranteed to end in 2 weeks, but UNT’s season would end one week sooner as they fell to the Gators 3-1. While Florida made significant strides since the two’s first meeting and showcased them in the games they won, UNT did not go quietly into the night.

Game 1 was fairly Florida favored, but if you looked at the game itself, you might’ve chalked it up to UNT getting a bit too experimental. Flick primarily stuck to skirmishing junglers with heavy gank power early to get his lanes ahead while sacrificing his own resources. This time however, he was put onto the Karthus, a champ that requires impeccable farming and scaling to work properly. They also stuck Arsenals on Shen with the last pick, when Florida had already shown Trundle. Trundle not only crushes Shen in a sidelane, he also steals all his stats to become unkillable in a teamfight.

All of UNT’s win conditions were shut down as the Trundle turned into an unstoppable monster once he got his first items, the Akali they picked went unchecked in fights, and the unconventional Veigar bot lane pick worked wonders.

Unfortunately, game 2 revealed it was far more than just a draft difference. Even with UNT on comfort picks, Florida had their number and tricks UNT couldn’t deal with. The Gators ran a double-enchanter bottom lane that reminded everyone why these metas make people want to punch a monitor. No matter how much UNT threw at them, they, and by extension the entire team simply just Did. Not. Die. Florida ran another fighter top with heavy splitpushing power to huge success (Nasus) and before they knew it, the Mean Green were on match point.

However, it wouldn’t be the Mean Green if they went out without putting on a show.

In game 3 UNT played the most “UNT-esque” game of their lives. Prowler’s Claw Sion in an elimination match. Second pick Vayne for PuertoJew. Rainy’s signature Leona. A skirmishing Jarvan IV for Flick. And a Yasuo for Lil Nate with essentially the perfect comp for it to run wild.

UNT played scrappy and aggressive to start. Arsenals had 2 kills on Sion, and PuertoJew had 4 on Vayne BY 6 MINUTES. UNT were fighting for their playoff lives, but you couldn’t tell if they had nerves by the way they played. No matter what, UNT always chose to fight. And Florida eventually got the message and played to the pace. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Prowler’s Claw on Renekton in a serious match, but the Florida top laner proved it can work as he ripped through the frontline of UNT. The Vayne stalled out quite a bit and only picked up 1 kill after the first 4 by 25 minutes. UNT had the Cloud Soul, but Florida had the kill lead, good scaling (Viegar/Gwen), the Baron and Elder buff. One late game buff is big, having both makes the game almost unwinnable for the opposition They had everything they needed, cracked the base and were looking to close out the sweep.

UNT took exception to that.

Despite the massive teamfight victory, things only a few minutes later looked dire for UNT. The engage from Flick onto the Viegar got stopped cold and he was blown up before the fight began. With a 6k gold lead, Florida could simply beat them with their wallets to get the sweep.

UNT disagreed with that statement.

That fight turned into a Baron and Elder buff for UNT. The gold lead not only closed but switched hands. UNT against all odds, fought back from thousands of gold, only nexus towers remaining, and BOTH endgame buffs to take a convincing lead.

And unlike the Gators, they would NOT throw it away.

Unfortunately for the Mean Green, that win was a wakeup call for Florida to clean up their play. Game 4 was an utter rout as the Gators crushed UNT in all aspects from start to finish. Even though Florida was finally forced to play a traditional marksman it hardly mattered. The Florida laners went a combined 18/3/16 in the final game to secure the series.

Despite the ending, this was undoubtedly a successful year and one to be proud of for the UNT League of Legends team. They both started and ended the year in the top 10 of a 72-team division. Three out of their 5 wins were against top 15 teams. They finally made the playoffs after 3 straight years of being one series away. The season was an incredible one to watch and write about and a few losses to the original 4th seed and the likely champion doesn’t change that at all. This is going to be the final year for head coach Ryan Lucich, and the final year in CLoL for support Khanh "Rainy" Phan. And given all they accomplished; it was one heck of a high-note to end on.

While we will absolutely look forward to the next iteration of the League of Legends roster and quite a few starters are expected to carry over to next year, this group of five and the supporting staff around them will always be remembered. They laid the groundwork for success, to the LoL program to the highest height they’ve ever seen and have all but set the bar for future teams to live up to. Everyone can hold their heads high and celebrate the incredible achievements of this year’s season.

This has been Edward Brady, for NTTV.

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