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Roses Esports Recap

Joseph Higgins runs down the exciting action that was the Roses esports.

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Image Credit: David Shaw

Author's Note: This article was written the week after the roses event but due to personal circumstances and the exam season I didn't have chance to post it until now. Sorry for the delay!

The Roses esports event came and went this weekend and York’s own FragSoc put on a brilliant event in the law and management building on Campus east for us all to enjoy. While it may not have been the most popular spectator choice of the Roses weekend, the atmosphere inside the venue was a joy to be a part of and the competition was tough and entertaining to behold. The event was probably the longest of all of the roses competitions, starting at 12 noon and ending just after 9pm, so without further adieu it is time to recap and analyse nine hours of entertaining esports.

The day began with a helping of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. For those unfamiliar with the game, five players from each university competed with some of our favourite nintendo characters beating each other up, it really was fun to watch. Each side started with 15 stocks (or lives for the uninitiated in Smash like myself) with each player from each university representing three stocks on their chosen character. If a player managed to eliminate their opponent with two stocks remaining they’d keep those two stocks when they played against the next player and the winner stays on. York’s ‘Weazy’ started the event off well with his Bowser pick, beating Lancaster’s Lucina player ‘Deckthalz’ with one stock left to make the overall scores 13-12 but was instantly rebuffed by

Lancaster’s ‘Boat’, a relative newcomer to competition in university esports, who brought the scores even with Snake. York took a few moments to deliberate who was going to take on Lancaster’s dark horse and settled on ‘Banana-Fish’ on his Ness. Ness turned out to be the perfect foil for Snake and Fish took the game 3-2. Leaving the scores at 10-9. Once again however, York’s lead lasted only one stock as Lancaster’s ‘Cactus’ came in on his pokemon trainer (ivysaur specifically) and took ‘Fish’ out of the running. ‘ExKirby’ was up next on the Mii Gunner for York and took the stage by absolute storm. After an unfortunate early stock loss versus ‘Cactus’ he came back to extend York’s lead beyond one for the first time in the match making it 8-6 to York when CharChar from Lancaster came to play on Dark Samus. Dark Samus proved more than a match for the Mii-Gunner and lancaster had soon brought their deficit back down to one with a 6-5 stock lead for York after ‘ExKirby’ was eliminated. It was nailbiting up until the final two players. York’s ‘kEVIN’ took to the stage with pikachu and instantly traded a stock with CharChar, a few seconds after the match began. ‘kEVIN’ eventually eliminated Dark Samus with a dramatic ledge block to make it 4-3 to York.

Lancaster’s final player was ‘Yato’ on Ganondorf, unfortunately for him however, that spelled the beginning of the end for the Red Rose in Smash. ‘kEVIN’ was ready for him, and extended the stock lead once more with some quick eliminations, Pikachu’s speed and agility proved too much for Ganondorf and soon it was 4-1 to York. ‘Yato’ with one life left did manage to tack ‘kEVIN’s’ last stock but it was all for naught. At 3-1 stock lead York’s final player ‘Scrob’ came out on Donkey Kong and eliminated ‘Yato’ fairly quickly to bring the victory in Smash Ultimate over to York. Making the total standings 1-0 to York on the day and for the points in the overall Roses event.

League Of Legends (LoL) was up next, and the Casters made a point to mention that some of the starting rosters for each team weren’t as normal due to some people not being able to make the event. Therefore different players had to play in roles they were unaccustomed to. Everyone was optimistic for York’s chances in this game because for the past two years, York have won the Roses LoL matches. The first match got underway after an interesting Champion selection. York chose to field: Lulu, Kai’sa, Orianna, Poppy and Kha’zix. Lancaster chose: Vayne, Nami, Ari, Sion and NuNu and Willump.

The first game was a fairly balanced affair with both teams testing the waters with some early aggression. Lancaster scored first blood within two minutes but York had traded back by the end of 3 minutes to make it a 1-1 kill game. Notably though, Lancaster had the gold lead, an advantage they would keep for almost the entire first match except for a three minute interval where York got a two kill lead and took gold advantage by about 300 gold but Lancaster swiftly took back initiative with NuNu for the red rose earning a double kill in the mid lane to take down York’s Tier one tower in that lane. From there it felt like only a matter of time before Lancaster would take the victory in the map, which they eventually did.

York battled back valiantly, taking Lancaster’s top Tier one tower and winning a team fight in mid with three kills to one trade, but it was all in vain as Lancaster took the tier two mid tower and, with a 5000 gold lead went on to battle the Baron. York fought them off the baron several times, winning a team fight with three kills just before it spawned, but it was too late, off respawn the Lancastrians steamrolled through the York defenders, killed the baron and then moved into York’s base. Vayne scored an Ace on the respawning York players and the Game ended with a 16-14 kill lead for Lancaster after 27 minutes.

With Lancaster 1-0 up, York huddled around their stations to strategise before the next game which payed off when it came to the Champion draft. With a strategic ban of Lancaster’s Vayne York decided to change their strategy, picking some less conventional Champions to roll with what’s comfortable for them. York chose: Lissandra, Yasuo, Kayn, Janna and Malphite and Lancaster chose: Nautilus, Kai'sa, Ahri, Kha'zix and Maokai. Game two was dramatically more one sided than the first in the mid to late game, York’s removal of Vayne and less conventional but clearly more comfortable picks led to them gaining a lead that they never really relinquished.

However, it was definitely a slow burner to start with. Both sides were clearly more cautious than the first game and first blood was drawn by york after six minutes. They followed up with several more kills over the next few minutes and took a huge team fight eight minutes in to bring the kill lead to 7-1 in favour of the white rose. Lancaster did a decent job of keeping the gold advantage for York minimal but the pressure eventually become too much, Lancaster’s Ahri lost a crucial fight in mid against Kayn and York steamrolled through Lancaster’s tier one tower in both Top and Mid lanes. When the Baron spawned, a huge team fight that York won commenced and lead to York having an 18-3 kill lead and the baron dead. After that York just waltzed into Lancaster’s base and systematically crushed all of Lancaster’s remaining towers and defences. The Game ended with a 27-6 kill advantage to York with a 13,000 gold advantage after 24 minutes. A truly one-sided affair.

With the Scores tied 1-1 Lancaster took a long time to return from the break between the matches. When they did return to the stage with their Coach in tow they looked focused and determined. Another surprising Champion Draft spelled early disaster for York, as Yassuo and Lissandra were both target banned by Lancaster, with York failing to target ban anything except the Vayne from the first game. York chose to field: Kai’sa, Orianna, Kayn, Soraka and Poppy and Lancaster chose to field: LuLu, Ahri, Hecarim, Ashe and Kled.

This third game played much like game one in the early game, the audience could tell things were not going well for York as they struggled to match Lancaster’s early aggression. When Lancaster’s Hecarim pulled out a double kill in the first three minutes it began the chain of events that lead to a dominant Lancaster victory. Lancaster won every important fight in the entire game, chipped away at York’s towers from the first few moments and emerged at the Baron with an 18-1 kill lead, even greater than the lead that York had at the equivalent point in the previous game. The final ten minutes of the 24 minute long game felt like a formality as a severely underleveled and out-matched York tried in vain to park the bus in their base and push out. Eventually Lancaster took it 26-3 in kills with a 17,000 gold lead. Lancaster won the League of Legends matches 2-1. In doing so, the two teams had broken a streak that has lasted since esports became a part of Roses, as it was the first match in any best of three series to go all three games since the event’s inception. The historic milestone however, still meant that the scores leading into the third different game of the day was 1-1 for the Points towards the Roses totals.

Going into Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) York were the heavy favourites. Due to unfortunate timing and scheduling conflicts Lancaster’s first team was not able to make the event and their second team declined to attend the event, meaning their third team had the misfortune to be playing against York’s best players. Predictably, York won the CSGO point in a 2-0 sweep of both maps with very little analysis available, it was dominant in both games. However, it is a testament to the sporting nature of FragSoc and Luges as the two university’s gaming societies that the match took place to begin with and the atmosphere in the crowd was electric for the entire game as even those of us from York bellowed out cheers and applause when Lancaster won their first round after York had won 15 straight rounds in a row.

The games became exhibition matches, but it was all in good fun, after a dominant display (16-1) on Nuke, York took it a bit easier on Inferno. Both teams were buying Zeus’ and LMGs that are hardly competitive weapons but were fun to see and be used all the same. While not turning the event into a joke, the obvious skill gap meant that the result was a foregone conclusion, and the subsequent half hour of the players having fun and taking each round in their stride really spoke about what esports, competition and video games should be about; having fun no matter what. After York eventually put an end to the fun and games the score stood at 2-1 to york in total, guaranteeing the white roses were taking home at least 2 points. But there was still one game left to play.

Dota 2 came last, and it was also probably the longest of the events through no fault of anyone’s own. Due to a connection issue there was a delay of about twenty five minutes in the second match which really soured some of the mood, especially for myself, as the time ticked later and concerns about people’s travel arrangements and accomodation began to be very real. However, the gameplay on offer was of a very high quality the final result was hotly contested.
The first match began with Lancaster picking the Radient side and the Hero draft went as follows; York chose: Jakiro, Tidehunter, Nyx Assassin, Wraith King and Viper.
Lancaster chose: Shadow Shaman, Rubick, Phantom Assassin, Slardar, and Templar Assassin. And then the games began.

Lancaster started off very hot, earning first blood against York’s Wraith King in two minutes. This set off something of a pattern for the match, as the Wraith King struggled in the Top Lane with the Nyx Assassin seemingly running support for the hero. After eight long minutes York were down 7-1 in kills with a not insignificant gold disadvantage but they were not out of the match just yet. Despite their struggles in top lane, the Jakiro and Viper play elsewhere in the game kept it reasonably close, despite Lancaster taking out York’s middle tier one tower at the ten minute mark with a kill lead of 9-4. York replied two minutes afterwards with three kills, and a single trade to make it 10-7 and narrow the gold lead, with their newfound momentum York went for Lancaster’s own middle tower and after a wicked team-fight brought the kill difference to 13-11 and destroyed the tower. Unfortunately, the game slowed down here as both sides tried to recuperate, York’s Wraith King tried his best to catch up after his poor early start and everything was quiet for five whole minutes until a trade occurred 19 minutes in to make it 14-12.

More kills were traded back and forth as were some towers, the tier two on both top lanes were destroyed over the next few minutes but no one seemed to be able to outplay the other because York kept answer each kill Lancaster won.
However, in a dramatic sequence in the mid lane and surrounding jungle york managed to kill four players with some outstanding play from York’s Viper player Water, who managed to survive on 3% health in three separate fights kiting Lancaster’s players to allow York to take a gold and kill advantage for the first time in the game.

Unfortunately it was not to last, as Lancaster off the respawn turned up their aggression to a new level and decimated York’s remaining tier two and three towers, making a strong push into the home side’s base. A 27-24 kill deficit would be the closest York got to recovering as Lancaster wiped through their base and ended the game after several team wipes. In the end the score was 34-25 ending the game in 35 minutes. While it was close in parts, lancaster sowed the seeds of victory very early and once the middle to late stages were reached simply had more to work with.

Moving in to game 2 both teams picked entirely different rosters of heroes to try and throw their opponents off. York chose: Bounty Hunter, Jakiro, Bane, Juggernaut and Ember Spirit. Lancaster chose: Tusk, Shadow Shaman, Windranger, Terrorblade and Tiny.
This match was unfortunately marred by the long technical issue that was mentioned earlier and while the early stages were close, after the unpause from the break Lancaster proceeded to run away with the game once again. Their Tusk play brought back flashbacks from Lancaster’s own Nunu and Willump play from League of Legends hours before as some beastly snowball attacks just halted any effort York had to gain any momentum. An unfortunate incident of one of the NPC bosses killing Lancaster’s terrorblade player and thus robbing York of valuable gold simply summed up the poor luck that York’s team had, as it was a York player whose technical issues caused the long pause. The match ended in relatively quick fashion on the play clock with a 31 minute match going to Lancaster but many in the audience, myself included, and on the stage struggled to get back into it after the pause and Lancaster took full advantage of York’s inability, coming out swinging with more energy and won out beating York 2-0 in Dota.

After the unfortunate but uncontrollable end to a fantastically close series and day of games the final scores for the Universities were two a piece. Meaning both sides got to share the four points available, taking two each. While this is not ideal for either university who were hoping to see their teams take home a victory, a draw was arguably the most fitting end to the day’s events. Both Universities deserved some kind of reward for their performances and sportsmanship, and while not everyone went home happy with the result, every single performer and player on the stage should satisfied in the knowledge that they’d done a service to everyone who got to experience the event.

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Image by: David Shaw

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