UNT LoL Varsity Starts Off the Season Right with a Crushing Victory
Updated: Jan 31
On January 22nd, the UNT Esports League of Legends varsity kicked off their 2022 Collegiate League of Legends Championship campaign with a bang. The Mean Green was ranked 8th in the South Division out of 72 teams, one of their highest rankings in the program’s history. And due to the Swiss System UNT Esports was put up against the 65th ranked Roanoke Esports.
The first week of the season is usually seen as a time for tune-ups, shaking rust off, and having new rosters gel together. Very few upsets happen in week 1 (and even when they do, it is usually around the middle of the table) due to the massive individual skill discrepancies. This match was no different, UNT was heavily favored, and the only question was how good this roster with two different starters was going to look coming out of the gate.
As it turns out, the answer was very good.
The draft of game 1 was fairly standard starting off. Roanoke chose a strong teamfight comp with frontline and engage with champs like Amumu and Tham Kench, with Sivir as the ADC for late game damage. UNT responded by picking up a very aggressive bot lane: Leona for Khan “Rainy” Phan, and Tristana for team Captain Sammy “PuertoJew” Siber. Matt “Flick” Sheldon also took Jarvan IV into the jungle.
Then the second half of draft happened, and things got a bit weird.
Yes, that was a Teemo top lane for Justin “Arsenals” Hampton. Considering Teemo hasn’t really been in the meta since his existence, and that Arsenals was expected to play a weakside tank, this was quite the surprising pick. UNT rounded out the draft with a Ziggs for Nathan “Lil Nate” Box, a slight departure from his signature pool of champions. With Roanoke last picking Yone top, faking out the Teemo pick, perhaps a major upset would take place?
No, no it would not
UNT Esports would showcase excellence across all 5 positions as they steamrolled their way to a quick victory. Roanoke was like a faulty computer, and the Mean Green performed some good old percussive maintenance. UNT took advantage of Ammumu’s weak early game and invaded him relentlessly. The Roanoke jungler never even had a chance to play the game, and thanks to UNT’s faster rotations and more aggressive early team comp, UNT Esports had a 3k gold lead by 5 minutes with a 4/0/0 score line for Lil Nate. Things quickly snowballed for UNT. They cracked an inhibitor by 10 minutes. Four out of five members of UNT had completed their first items, while Roanoke only had completed boots and item components. The game would not last much longer. Flick was all but unkillable on J4 and he lived in the Roanoke jungle. Lil Nate was an untouchable source of big damage and tower destruction. PuertoJew was well on his way to a second item while his counterpart barely completed their first. Rainy hit a vast majority of his Solar Flares and Zenith Blades, had 52% kill participation, and was deathless despite being a primary source of frontline and engage. Even the Teemo popped off. Arsenals out damaged all 5 members of Roanoke. He had more damage than the two members of the Roanoke bot lane combined. UNT finished the game with a 21-6 kill lead and an 8k gold lead. The game only lasted 14 minutes. The early surrender option only opens at 15 minutes. Roanoke couldn’t have surrendered even if they wanted to. It looked like things couldn’t get any better for the Mean Green. And then the second game happened.
The game was over almost as early as the draft phase. Lil Nate got his Ziggs back, as did PuertoJew with his Tristana. The Jarvan IV swapped hands from Flick to Rainy as he ran AP J4 support. Flick grabbed himself a Volibear while Arsenals nabbed the Trundle. Meanwhile, Roanoke ran a rather baffling composition. Ashe/Morgana is a fine bot lane. It is rather safe, has a ton of crowd control and could be a solution to the early aggression of UNT. But it is also quite squishy, and the two will die from a light breeze. To support it, Roanoke picked up a Hecarim, a Zed, and a Gwen. These picks make a bit of sense in a vacuum. Hecarim works well for diving into the Tristana/Ziggs backline. Zed works well for picking off the squishy members. And Roanoke had almost no AP damage, so the Gwen was almost necessary and will outscale the Trundle in the late game.
The problem comes when you put it all together.
How does this team win a teamfight? Hecarim and Zed will be diving into the backline leaving the bot lane behind, and Gwen isn’t really a true frontliner. Your engage is rather telegraphed. You get destroyed in the front-to-back 5v5. The only way Roanoke wins a fight with this composition is if they get a pick and make sure a true fight never happens in the first place. That is a lot of mechanical pressure to put on a team going up against the 8th seed in the division.
Is it any real surprise what happened next?
The game was just about as one-sided as the first one. Roanoke did make some adjustments. Lil Nate saw constant ganks and the Zed and Hecarim were able to pick up a few kills off them. They did not want a repeat of game 1. It mattered very little in the end as not only did the other members step up to carry, he still ended up getting 2k more gold than his laner and outdamaged 4 out of 5 members of Roanoke. Meanwhile, Arsenals crushed the top lane matchup, both because Trundle’s early power, but the first blood money also helped. He ended up with a 57% kill participation, delt the most damage in the game, and posted a KDA of 6.5. Flick had the same KP and was responsible for the bot lane getting as far ahead as they did. Speaking of the bot lane PuertoJew and Rainy were almost unstoppable. PuertoJew finished 2 full items + boots and dealt about as much damage as Arsenals while his counterpart was sitting at 0/7/5, 1 item, and tier 1 boots. Rainy was the unsung hero. He provided both buffs and engage, and was instrumental in the quick victory. He only had 3 deaths despite not building as a tank and posted a 91% kill participation. The only reason the game didn’t end even faster than the previous one was because UNT was trying too hard and got caught out as they lived inside of the enemy base. At no point in the series did Roanoke hold any sort of foothold. They only got one tower across two games.
This might have just been a tune up game for the Mean Green, but the team showed plenty of promise. They won their games through aggressive level 1 plays and snowballing the game off that. They didn’t get sloppy despite holding massive advantages. They didn’t look past their opponents as they showed up, put their foot on the gas, and took care of business. If this is what the team is capable of now, I am excited to see them grow from here.
The UNT LoL Varsity team will take to the rift again this Saturday at 3pm CST against the SMU Mustangs. SMU is currently ranked 30th and they also swept their first opponent in the UT Tyler Patriots. With the Swiss System guaranteeing that the opponents will increase in difficulty, and with little room for error, (only 6-0/5-1 teams make playoffs) the Mean Green can’t afford to drop their guard for a second. 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!