- Edward Brady
UNT LoL Varsity Pulls Off the Upset in Dramatic Fashion in Week 4
On February 12th, the UNT Esports League of Legends varsity team faced down the Florida Gators in a battle of undefeated teams.
Given That the Gators were ranked 4th in the South, hadn’t dropped a game, had the second highest team KDA of anyone in the conference, their mid laner had the 3rd highest KDA of all mids, and they had a Challenger top player, it would have been understandable if UNT took their first loss of the season. Despite all the odds stacked against them, The Mean Green fought on, and took down Florida in a stunning 2-1 upset to remain unbeaten and put themselves within one game of clinching a playoff berth.
The draft of game 1 went relatively well for both sides. Almost everyone barring the Florida jungler (who had Gwen and Viego banned in round 1) got a champion they had experience on and were comfortable playing. The usual suspects were there for UNT (Rainy’s Leona, Lil Nate’s Akali, Flick’s Xin Zhao), while Florida picked up a Sett in the top lane, a Sylas in the mid, and a strong Jinx/Thresh bot side. It was looking to be a close showdown with many members of Florida outclassing UNT on paper.
Then Flick and Lil Nate picked up first blood onto the Sylas.
And then a top side roam from the Sett was punished with 2 more kills.
With 3 kills onto the side of UNT before even 5 minutes, the game was blown wide open early. The mid/jungle duo of UNT would continue to be a point of strength throughout the entire game, while the Sylas was put in a hole he never really dug out of. By 9 minutes, UNT had 7 kills to 0 and a 3k gold lead. 4 kills for Lil Nate, and 3 for Flick. The supposed match between titans was quickly turning into a slaughter for the Mean Green.
However, Florida didn’t get ranked 4th by laying down and dying at the first sign of adversity. An overaggressive engage by Rainy was punished as Sett threw him under Florida’s mid tier 2 turret. The rest of the fight was a wipe as Florida killed 4 members of UNT while losing none of their own. With a dragon ready to be taken to stop soul stacking and a big lead thrown, momentum was starting to shift Florida’s way.
Then PuertoJew’s Zeri did THIS.
Modern League of Legends champion design. You gotta love it.
With the ball squarely in UNT’s court, the rest of the game was mostly a stomp. UNT took the soul, Arsenals got a triple kill on the Gragas, Lil Nate and PuertoJew were massive carries. Surely the game would just end right?
Then UNT almost threw the entire game away at their opponent’s nexus! The Mean Green tried to end too early without crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. Florida wiped UNT off the map, took the baron and won the next fight convincingly. The throw of the century was only narrowly avoided thanks to some heroics from Lil Nate and Arsenals, the star of the show and the unsung hero of game 1.
Unfortunately for the Mean Green, game 2 would not go nearly as well. Although some of it could be attributed to the draft, (Florida got a comfort pick in the jungle, top got to keep Sett while Arsenals was forced off Gragas, bot lane drafted for utility instead of dominance) it really boiled down to Florida exploiting the one crucial flaw of UNT.
The trademark UNT aggression doesn’t have an off switch.
Rainy’s early Leona dives were punished with a Jhin/Thresh combo that could lock him down and kill him for going in at level 1. Multiple summoner spells were blown on a bad early trade and the Jhin picked up first blood. Lil Nate was punished for not running flash as the Sylas took his Akali under tower, stunned him, and killed him to heavily swing the matchup in his favor and negate the strong 2v2 power that won game 1. Without the early pressure. Their mid laner Fryat got to show why he was one of the most statistically impressive mid laners in the conference. He ended 6/0/7 and dealt 26% of his team’s damage. The game was a complete stomp in the other direction, and unlike the Mean Green, Florida had no issues closing out with the lead.
With the first game loss of the season for both teams, it would all come down to a deciding game 3. The winner would only need one more win to make it to playoffs. The loser would be in a do-or-die situation for the final 2 weeks. With their aggression having been exploited in game 2, UNT needed a new game plan. And they made one.
It just wasn’t what anyone expected.
If you were to run the draft of game 3, you would think someone on stream simply got the nameplates swapped around (the casters shared this sentiment). A Zeri ban on the blue side. A first pick Gwen for UNT. Fryat and Lil Nate traded champions with each other. The Sett which helped keep Florida in game 1 and win game 2 was swapped out for a Jax despite not getting banned out. The only consistent things were that Rainy and Flick remained on Leona and Xin and that Florida ran back the Jhin (paired with Morgana this time). And what was UNT’s response to Florida figuring out how to hang with their aggressive early game?
Double down on the aggression.
For the first time since week 2, UNT ran a level 1 invade and it paid dividends by getting PuertoJew first blood onto Jax. The trades in bot lane between the Ezreal/Leona of UNT and Florida’s bot were consistently going in their favor. A response from Florida’s Kayn after a gank from Flick turned into a 2v2 disaster for the Gators. 2 early kills for Arsenals, and 2 early deaths for Jax. That top lane matchup would come to define the game. Arsenals was a monster in game 3. He was unstoppable on the sidelanes. He was a menace in the teamfights. The Jax never even had a chance to play the game as Florida’s Challenger top player posted a game 3 scoreline of 0/10/6. The bot lane was going just as well. PuertoJew looked very comfortable on the Ezreal and Rainy was back to his usual self on Leona. As one of the very few sources of poke for either side, PuertoJew had a field day in game 3.
7/1/9, almost 5k gold ahead of his opponent 1 full item up, 3 levels up, 24K damage and 35% of his team’s total damage.
Although Florida would try to stay in the game, the Gators never really found a way back into the game. UNT cleaned up their movements around the map and didn’t allow Florida any easy picks. They only took fights they new they could win. They played for objectives very well. They never really got a fight on their terms. UNT simply hit Florida with their wallets for the rest of the game. One final fight in the enemy base and 30 minutes later, UNT closed out the series with a victory to take it 2-1 and jump to 4-0.
Needless to say, this match was huge for UNT. With this match and Virginia Tech’s loss to UCF, there are now only 5 unbeatens left in the South Division. And the Mean Green are one of them. UNT has now matched their 2021 win total in week 4 and have a cushion in case a loss does happen. The team showed they can learn from their mistakes and handle adversity and pressure well. Being the lowest ranked undefeated left, UNT are almost guaranteed to play either the #1 ranked University of Saint Thomas, or the reigning champions of not only the South, but the entirety of CLoL in Winthrop University. While UNT would be considered an underdog against both, this match showed that you can never count the Mean Green out.
This was supposed to be UNT’s first loss of the season, yet if they just cleaned up the mistakes in game 2 (and whatever game 1’s ending was), they honestly could have swept Florida convincingly. If things continue the way they have been going, UNT could make the CLoL playoffs for the first time in program history. And who knows where they could go from there? After a hard-fought match like this, the sky is the limit for the Mean Green.
The UNT LoL Varsity team will take to the rift again this coming Saturday at 3pm CST. Their opponent is currently unknown. You can catch all of the action on UNT Esports’ very own Twitch channel https://www.twitch.tv/untesports. You can also get updates on all things UNT Esports on the twitter page https://twitter.com/UNTEsports. Make sure to cheer on your Mean Green as they look to conquer the South Division of the Collegiate League of Legends Championship!