The premier tournament for the European Regional Leagues, EU Masters has proved time and time again to be an ideal stage for upcoming talent to make a name for themselves.
The premier tournament for the European Regional Leagues, EU Masters has proved time and time again to be an ideal stage for upcoming talent to make a name for themselves. With 7/10 LEC Spring finalists having competed in previous iterations of the tournament, all eyes were on the new names who were looking to show their worth as potential LEC rookies.
Before EU Masters even began, and arguably before the Spring split even began, France’s Karmine Corp was tipped as the strongest ERL team this season.
Top laner Adam had been rising through the French scene, mid laner Saken had already played in the LEC for Vitality last season and Cinkrof, xMatty and Targamas had been known among the best in their respective roles throughout the regional leagues.
After winning the LFL Spring split, they started life in EU Masters in the Group of Death alongside Spain’s Cream Real Betis, the UK’s BT Excel and Germany’s Schalke Evolution. Easily topping the group with a 6-0 record set a scary precedent in the tournament, not only coming out on top in the toughest group but doing so with ease.
Meeting them in the quarter-finals was the Balkan’s SAIM SE SuppUp, a team that had not been expected to reach this far and looked to be a pushover for the French giants.
SuppUp clearly had other ideas for game 1, massively upsetting the odds to grab a win and put themselves at series point due to most of the knockouts being decided in best-of-threes. With their backs suddenly against the wall, the usual Karmine Corp emerged. The team went on to handily win the next two matches, each being closed out quicker than the last, to book their place in the semi-finals.
Next up was Spain’s number 1 seed UCAM Esports Club, whose team was a surprise champion in the LVP Superliga and on paper looked no match for KCorp. Game 1 appeared to confirm this with KC winning out within a 30-minute affair whereby UCAM were only allowed a single turret. Game 2 saw a fightback from the Spaniards, where they too allowed only a single turret to drop while levelling the series. Finally, a drawn-out game three was eventually secured by the French side, booking their spot in the grand final against the NLC’s BT Excel.
Karmine Corp again found themselves as clear favourites heading into a series, and once again their opponents were not to go down without a fight. Despite KCorp starting off stronger in game 1, Excel was able to stall out and deny a clear path to victory for the French team. Eventually, Hatrixx’s Vicktor and Deadly’s Jinx were strong enough to turn the tides for the UK team as they opened the series 1-0.
Game 2 started off similarly with KC in the front seat, however this time they never handed Excel the keys. Saken’s Corki was able to sway huge fights with his W package and a flash forwards during a key dragon fight took down Deadly and helped to secure game two for his team.
Game 3 was much closer, with neither side taking a definitive lead while both were happy to continuously skirmish. It was eventually Karmine Corp who gained control, making a single pick in the mid lane while the game was still equal and turning it into a match-winning push to take the score to 2-1.
Lastly, another close matchup was seemingly decided by a single fight, this time in the baron pit, that allowed KCorp to secure baron, grab the elder dragon a few minutes later, and close out the series to earn the organisation’s first European Masters title.
From the first minute of the final, it seemed clear who the favourites were. Karmin Corp looked dangerous out of the gates, going aggressive to pick up a 2v2 kill in the bottom lane, seeing Adam and Cinkrof look to pick off Markoon in his own jungle and using Saken’s global Twisted Fate ultimate to make picks around the map.
It’s therefore unsurprising that KCorp amassed an impressive 8k gold lead within 20 minutes and had three dragons in their pocket. A slight slipup on the 23rd minute allowed BTXL to claim back a few kills, however, stalling out the snowball and going on to secure some dragons of their own.
The stalling continued into the late game before a double kill for Deadly’s Jinx in a 2v4 subsequently earned Excel a third dragon and put them firmly in the game. Ornn items came in from Orome and suddenly BTXL’s gold deficit was all but irrelevant.
The match was ultimately decided, as they often are in late-game scenarios, by a single objective fight. A baron for Karmine Corp was paid for at the price of xMatty and Cinkrof’s lives, just enough for Excel to storm down the mid lane and take down the remaining structures and secure an unlikely game 1 victory.
Game 2 started in a similar fashion with Karmine Corp taking the early initiative, this time to set up a bot lane dive which secured the first dragon. Orome did his best to make up for it in the top side by solo killing Adam, before a 19-minute ace for KCorp got them a 2k gold lead. Further fights saw the gold lead lengthen before third and fourth Karmine Corp dragons secured them an Ocean soul.
Much like in game 1, BT Excel didn’t give up. A positive fight in the 37th minute led to a baron before a 43-minute pick got the side an all-important elder dragon. However, an overstep by Deadly in the top lane allowed KCorp to take a fight before another went their way minutes later to ace Excel, claim the victory and level the series 1-1.
Finally, BT Excel managed to begin a game without falling behind as the third match in the series played out more like an ARAM than a professional contest. Constant skirmishing did not see either side take a lead, and by the 25-minute mark, the gold was dead even with 10 kills apiece.
This continued until the 32nd minute when Karmine Corp was making a push onto Excel’s mid inner turret. Despite the game having been neck-and-neck, a single pick onto Hatrixx was enough to turn things completely in the French organisation’s favour as they went on to pick off the rest off XL one-by-one before destroying the nexus and moving to series-point.
Game 4 once again started evenly, each side only picking up a single kill within the first 10 minutes. The first signs of a lead came from an attempted bot lane dive onto Adam from BT Excel, however despite the Frenchman going down, his side was able to collapse and claim 3 kills themselves.
This slight advantage then looked to disappear at 25 minutes with a huge teleport flank from Orome’s Kennen as Karmine Corp sniffed around baron. The Yordle’s usually game-changing Slicing Maelstrom was almost completely squashed by Targamas’ Taric ultimate, however the tight fight was still won out by Excel who claimed an ace.
Seven minutes later and with the scores near level again, the baron pit set the stage once more and this time KCorp came out on top. Earning a teamfight win and baron buff put them in prime position for the elder dragon three minutes later, an objective that the LFL champions also seized before taking out 4 of Excel’s 5 players.
Finally, KC pushed through the bot lane as only Hatrixx remained alive to defend, doing his best to provide a distraction as Orome and Markoon respawned. It was far too little too late from the UK org as Karmine Corp swept through the reviving members to smash the nexus, become the latest European Masters champions and claim the trophy for the third Spring split in a row for France.
Having been the most unheard-of player on a star-studded roster, Adam “Adam” Maanane perhaps had the least expectations placed upon him out of all of his teammates but now exits the tournament as a household name (in LoL Esports terms at least)!
The Frenchman was a menace in the top lane, somehow allowed to continuously play his Renekton throughout the group stage before moving on to picks such as Cho’Gath, Gnar, Camille and even a few Olaf games.
Before the tournament even finished, rumours have circulated of a potential move to LEC veterans Fnatic, a side who are no strangers to French top laners. Whether the rumours are true or not, it seems it’ll be sooner rather than later that the latest European superstar earns his place in the region’s top league.
BT Excel to reach the final
Having made a start to life in the ‘Group of Death’, many wouldn’t have even expected BT Excel to make the knockouts at all, let alone reach the grand final.
Making a stand as the final NLC team added some pressure for Excel to put in a good run and carry their region’s reputation. Huge performances from the likes of Orome and Deadly showed that they only thrived with their league’s reputation on their back and dragged their side to finish in second place.
Any fans who had enough hope that they had actually backed BT Excel to perform so well would have been just as pleased to see them reach the final as the players were themselves.