Providing a platform for Europe’s next stars to make a name for themselves, the European Masters has once again crowned an ERL champion.
Providing a platform for Europe’s next stars to make a name for themselves, the European Masters has once again crowned an ERL champion. Along with the prestige of winning the tournament, the five winners will now be next in line for chances in LEC organisation rosters.
Winning the tournament for the 2nd time this season, France’s KCorp have now made history, not only as the first team to win the tournament twice but also the first to do so successively. Had it not been for their LFL finals loss this split to Misfits Premier, the team would have completed a grand slam season (2 LFL titles and 2 EUM titles). I suppose they’ll have to settle for their single French title this season to accompany their two EUM trophies!
Speaking of their 2nd place finish in LFL Summer, this was enough to grant them entry to the main event group stage in EU Masters, however it did so as only a second seed. This landed them in the group of death, joined by the SuperLiga champions Vodafone Giants, Prime League third seed mousesports and PG Nationals winners Macko Esports.
Despite the stacked group, KC made things look easy as they cruised through to the knockout stage, dropping only a single game to Giants and progressing as the group’s top side. This earned them a quarter-final spot against Spain’s UCAM, another squad that was no match for KCorp as the French favourites beat them 3-0.
Up next was Germany’s Berling International Gaming, another team who topped their group with a 5-1 record and progressed through the quarter-finals in a 3-0 series. Against their toughest opponent so far, Karmine Corp struggled to dominate BIG in the same fashion as they did against UCAM and came unstuck to lose game 1.
KC fought back to take the next two matches, earning a 2-1 lead, only for BIG to draw level in game 4. Finally, KCorp turned on the style in game 5 and booked their spot against Fnatic Rising in the final. Their NLC opponents had beaten the odds to reach this far and had nothing to lose heading into the title-deciding series.
Despite a solid stand for Fnatic in game 1, Karmine Corp was able to secure both of the opening matches to take an early series lead and looked all but certain to sweep their opponents 3-0. Fnatic Rising fought back, however, largely led by Maxi’s impressive Viego displays, and managed to defy the odds to level the series.
KCorp’s play in the final game looked as though a switch had been flipped and they were now suddenly playing their best, making plays across the map (sometimes even with number disadvantages) to wipe Fnatic off of the rift and close out the quickest game of the series to secure their 2nd successive EU Masters trophy.
With no EU Masters finals having previously gone the full five games, few would’ve expected any different this time around as Fnatic Rising entered as huge underdogs against the French heavyweights Karmine Corp.
Game 1 kicked off in dramatic fashion with a kill per minute in the opening stages, including back to back top lane fights which saw almost all players roaming up the map. While both sides continued to pick up kills heading into the mid game, it was Fnatic Rising that had managed to eke out a slim lead.
Finding themselves almost 5k gold behind at 25 minutes, KCorp suddenly swung things into their favour as a fight at Cinkrof’s blue buff finally went their way.
Further teamfight victories for the French side quickly earned them their own lead, along with a baron buff, and they soon found themselves barrelling down the mid lane to claim Fnatic’s nexus within 30 minutes.
The second game of the series started much more tentatively without a single kill in the opening 10 minutes. In fact, it wasn’t until 13 minutes when a bottom lane rift herald from Fnatic Rising set up the first fight, one which KCorp won to grab the early advantage.
Having taken control in the early stages, Karmine Corp managed to build on their lead throughout the game and never allowed an avenue back for their opponents as they eventually brought the series to match point at 2-0.
With their backs against the wall, Fnatic Rising fought their way into the series in game 3. The NLC runners-up took the early lead on this occasion, winning out in skirmishes and securing early dragons until a 25-minute teamfight, dominated by jungler Maxi’s Viego, garnered a 7k lead as well as a baron buff. The Dane’s strength proved to be too much for KC to handle as he ended the game with an 8/0/6 scoreline while dragging his side into a fourth match.
Game four started in a similar fashion as Fnatic once again took the early game, with Maxi astonishingly allowed to pick up Viego for the fourth match in a row. The result this time was also the same; Fnatic not letting Karmine Corp have an easy ride to the title as they levelled the series at 2-2 to set up a Silver Scrapes-led game 5.
Fnatic looked to continue their momentum in the series as they picked up a few kills in the opening stages of the series decider, however Karmine Corp was not about to roll over and didn’t allow Fnatic to gain any significant lead. In fact, by 10 minutes it was KC who had taken control as skirmishes both in the mid and bottom lanes went in their favour.
This ultimately proved to be the most one-sided game of the whole series, almost as if KCorp had been playing with their food during the other matches, as this time around the EUM holders garnered a whopping 9k lead in only 20 minutes. Minutes later and the French team had stormed the Fnatic base and destroyed the nexus, claiming their historic back-to-back EUM titles and staking their claim as LEC-calibre players.
The only Karmine Corp player not involved in their Spring title win, ex-Vitality top laner Cabochard had as much as anyone to prove in this tournament as the veteran player looked to earn a return to Europe’s top flight. The Frenchman shone throughout the tournament, proving that player’s skill level unsurprisingly does not fall off of the face of the earth if they can’t immediately make it back onto an LEC roster.
Many have called for his return to the LEC and this would make an unusual example of a player coming back, with many former LEC pros dropping to the regional leagues and being cast aside in favour of rookie talent.
Cabochard thrived during the tournament, perhaps helped by his experience on much greater stages, and shone on Lee Sin and Renekton along with a few other champions sprinkled throughout KC’s run.
Fnatic Rising to reach the grand final
If there was to be another NLC finalist in the EUM final once again, many would’ve tipped Spring runners up BT Excel to face KCorp while few would’ve expecting their arch-rivals Fnatic Rising. Shockingly, BTXL failed to even reach the tournament, finishing 3rd behind both Fnatic and NLC champions Tricked Esport as they missed out on one of the two available spots.
With Fnatic Rising changing mid laners from former-LEC champion Febiven to rookie Dajor mid-split, all signs were pointing towards a difficult transition period that was likely to cause huge disruptions to any EU Masters plans.
A reasonably straightforward EUM play-in run saw the side comfortably through to the main event with little issue where they eventually finished in second place. Subsequent best-of-five upsets against Movistar Riders and Misfits Premier saw the organisation reach the grand final for the first time in their history, finally surpassing the semi-finals where they had crashed out twice before, and the side almost upset the apple cart further by taking KCorp to five games.