The Portsmouth Pirates are the most feared team within the Belong Arena Clash. They have been able to consistently string together back to back season wins, only getting halted in their tracks by a grueling 2-3 reverse sweep in their last final versus the Clyde Claymores. Their opponents, the Preston Invincibles, have had a great performance this season as well and they start of the first game of the night well, picking up First Blood. A really early river fight over a Scuttle Crab goes awry for ShavenTortoise on the Nidalee, and the Invincibles find an early gold lead. However, Teee in toplane is having none of it, and he singlehandedly wrestles back the early game with an overpowering Hecarim performance, getting multiple kills in the 1v1 against Nyangi’s Urgot. As the game progresses, the Pirates show their class, able to find 2v2 and 1v1 outplays and a 5k gold lead at 15 minutes. Despite this frankly overwhelming gold lead that keeps ballooning, the Pirates take their merry time to actually finish off the game. Even at a 10k and 5 dragon deficit, the Invincibles hold on for a an admirable amount of time. It is not until 35 minutes that we see the Nexus fall.
Their hold, however, could spell troubles for the Pirates in the second game. To avoid similar problems, they draft a more aggressive early game for their botlane with a Caitlyn and Braum, while still preserving plenty of scaling in the form of Jax and Zilean. The gold lead isn’t necessarily bigger for them after a fairly eventful early game, but it looks like the Pirates learned their lesson from the last game and can use the Caitlyn to siege effectively. After they pick up an inhibitor and Baron Nashor in the same push, we see the Pirates push through with only one more teamfight.
Although their punish game and their closing were somewhat lacking considering the absurd leads they were able to build up, the Portsmouth Pirates take a 2-0 victory and find themselves, once again, in the finals of the Belong Arena Clash.
For the second semi-finals, the Clyde Claymores were considered the favorites to win. As the current title holder after beating the Portsmouth Pirates 3-2 in an incredible 5 game series at the previous season, they were expected to have an easy time in the semi finals. Although the London Lionhearts have been looking good, having only lost to the Portsmouth Pirates in groups, the Claymores’ late game prowess is feared among their competitors.
In response, the Lionhearts call the Claymores’ bluff, and drafting a composition with an absurd amount of scaling, featuring Ryze, Vayne, Sona and Karthus. Charuzu on the Sylas provides some early game threat, and he cashes in on that in a fantastic way when he picks up a 1v1 kill on Toraakyo’s Vladimir. While the first 10 minutes the game goes relatively even, the Lionhearts surprise by finding multiple fast rotations and making smart use of the Karthus Jungle. At 15 minutes and with a hyperscaling composition, they are in a prime position to take the game when they find themselves with a 3k gold lead. Despite this lead, neither team finds a real way to break the other, and we see 35 minutes pass with a lot of dragons and a Baron here and there, but no teamfight decisive enough to end the game. However, in a lategame scenario, even with a Jinx and Vladimir, it is almost impossible for the Claymores to win a 5v5 teamfight and after a blowout teamfight at 38 minutes, the Lionhearts take a surprising 1-0 lead in the semifinals.
However, the Claymores have fought their way back from worse situations, and they start of the next game strong with an invade, finding them an early kill on Regan. The early game is action packed, with Truohlodorn on the Rek’sai having a really strong showing for the Lionhearts, while Toraakyo evens up the score in midlane, finding kills with his Zoe on the Taliyah of Charuzu. While less scaling, the Lionhearts still have picked up Kayle and Tristana, and yet they still get an early game lead once again. The pace of the game just won’t accelerate though, even as both teams pick up an Infernal Drake. Dinojan’s Kayle is having a really hard time against Hof’s Urgot, and Charuzu is also not having a great game. The Lionhearts are looking upon Truohlodorn and Yerrow to perform in this second game. Despite all of this, the Claymores are still at a 3k gold deficit at 20 minutes. Things are looking up for them after they force a great Baron play, picking up kills on Truohlodorn and Dinojan as well as the big purple worm. Despite the Nashor buff, they seem unable to break open the base of the Lionhearts who showcase some great defensive play. Without any inhibitors down, the Lionhearts can roam around the map freely. At 30 minutes, all one needs to win a game is a good teamfight. Using tremor sense and some clean warding, the Lionhearts set up a death brush in the middle of the map. Unfortunately for the Claymores, Regan’s hook hits on one of their carries. As Toraakyo falls, so do the hopes of the Claymores to reach the finals. The followup fight is so one sided that the Lionhearts push straight to the Nexus in a single unstoppable push, and we end the night with a surprising 2-0 win for the London Lionhearts.
That means our finals at Insomnia 64 will be the Portsmouth Pirates hoping to retake their title, but instead of once again facing the current title holders in the Clyde Claymores, they will have to take on the new contender London Lionhearts! Let’s take this opportunity to also take a look at both of the contestants.
The Portsmouth Pirates are, despite the Lionhearts’ performance in the semi’s, the favorite. They are the more aggressive of the two teams, using Shaventortoise’s aggressive champion pool and the individual prowess of their laners to snowball the early game. They favor early rotations and a more punishing style on their topside, while still maintaining some lategame insurance on their botside. The main playmakers are Teee and Tortoise, while the teamfighting gets carried by the consistency of Rydona who gets enabled by Olivers excellent teamfight positioning. Divinuss is a well rounded player who can play both scaling mages, such as the Zilean they pulled out twice in semi’s, or more aggressive picks like the Akali or LeBlanc.
The Lionhearts are kind of a wild card, but their 2-0 victory over the Claymores show that they should not be underestimated. Although they showed some inconsistencies in their midgame play, their early game thus far has been good, but I want them to see actually leverage those early game advantages in the finals. Their drafts showcased a good understanding of their opponents style, and Truohlodorn seems to be able to consistently find the picks that they need. Charuzu, Dinojan and Yerrow all have shown that they are capable of building upon a lead very well, but they also showed inconsistencies when falling behind. Regan excells in setting up vision and finding picks, but his positioning can be a little suspect at times. The Lionhearts seem to excel in late game shotcalling and vision traps, where they can blow out games that seem to be on relatively even footing.
In a head to head, I’m looking at two things: the draft and general gameplan, and the early game jungle matchup. The Lionhearts impressed me with strategies that seemed tailor made for their opponents, and if they can replicate that at the finals they might be able to stifle the early game aggression from the Pirates. That leads into the second point, the early jungle matchup. While Truohlodorn was one of the highlights of the semi’s, the question is whether he can replicate that success against Shaventortoise’s aggression. If the jungler falls behind, combined with the difficulties that the Lionhearts have when playing from behind, I think they might have a really hard time. However, considering the pressure that Portsmouth is under after how last finals went and the decisive late game that London has shown, this should be an incredibly exciting and competitive finals!
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