|NACL - First Day Impressions and Recap|
Just before World Finals, Riot announced an official Challenger league that would feed directly into the LCS, allowing teams the chance to take a shot at achieving that pro-level dream. Previously, many Challenger leagues were held by smaller grassroots organizations. While most stayed on a small scale, drawing a modest amount of fans, this new league sponsored by Coke Zero marks Riot’s move to organize the Challenger circuit under one official banner and injecting it with some much needed visibility.
The North American Challenger League (NACL) is one of those community-driven organizations looking to feature the Challenger scene before Riot’s official season starts in early 2014. On October 7th, the NACL kicked off an 8-week season of amateur circuit goodness where teams will duke it out in two separate groups over the course of the next few months for a shot at the $35,000 prize pool. Games are streamed Monday through Thursday, from 5 PM-9PM PST. The top three teams from each group will make it to playoffs at the end of the series.
There are plenty of familiar names participating in the competition: LCS spring split runner-ups Team Coast, fan favorite compLexity, a newly reforged Curse, and, of course, Challenger royalty, ggLA, just to name a few. With such high-profile team playing, can we expect greater viewership and more interest in other Challenger series events? Will any off-season attention to the amateur scene be temporary?
Monday’s broadcast went off smoothly, despite a few tiny overlay snags. If you missed the night’s games, or don’t have time to catch up on VODs, keep reading for picks, bans, and match recaps!
If the first night’s games are any indication, this season is going to be filled to the brim with exciting Challenger series play. Be sure to tune in again tonight. To Be Determined face off against Velocity. Later, ggLA will take on Team Coast. coL will play Napkins in Disguise, and to close out the night, Infinite Odds will play Curse Academy.
Although first blood went to Coast, by ten minutes, COG were up four kills and 700 gold. Coast picked up the first dragon, and COG retaliated by taking the outer bot tower, establishing a 2k gold lead and edging ahead by mid game.
Coast quickly pulled themselves further into the lead, taking outer and inner mid towers and creating a hefty 3k gold lead. Coast continued to drive the pace of the game with their heavy CC, assassin-style team comp, catching clean kills and punishing COG for positioning mistakes. Coast burned down the middle inhibitor with a 5k gold lead, and took the first Baron just shy of the 30-minute mark.
Later, an explosive fight at COG’s bot inhibitor ended with Coast closing on the Nexus to take the first win in the first game of the season.
Infinite Odds started the game with a late invade onto Velocity’s blue buff, and successfully stole it. A failed gank from Velocity results in a double kill for
Infinite Odds looked to pick up the first dragon at 7 minutes. By 8 minutes, Infinite Odds led the game with a 2k gold lead, holding the tower, kill, and dragon advantage. Within the first 10 minutes, things didn’t look great for Velocity.
Velocity managed to trade objectives, making counter-pushes and not allowing Infinite Odds to bully them all over the map. Infinite Odds started fights, Velocity turned and cleaned up, but Infinite Odds always managed to limp away without too much lost.
Overall, Velocity put up a good fight, but Infinite Odds began to take possession of the map. Much of the game was played on Velocity’s half of the map, and Infinite Odds began to chip away at Velocity’s base. The only gains Velocity seemed to make were punishing Infinite Odds for attempting to pick off base turrets and inhibitors.
Infinite Odds finally broke down Velocity’s defenses and took the Nexus by 40 minutes.
compLexity Gaming secured themselves an early lead in kills and gold, as To Be Determined lost their outer bot turret. An overextended Chuuper went too deep in mid lane, and TBD managed to kill him and counter-push, evening out the gold because of the mistake.
coL took the first dragon of the game, and secured outer top turret as well. MegaZero continued to pressure top, taking the inner top turret as well. TBD were forced to set up defensive wards and wait it out as coL relentlessly tore up TBD’s base, backing out only after securing bot inhibitor to heal and shop with a significant gold lead.
coL made an attempt at Baron later in the game. Despite TBD’s attempt to steal and contest, coL were ready and waiting, punishing them quickly. Chuuper cleaned up for the triple kill, and coL rocketed down mid lane for a definitive win.
The first fifteen minutes were fairly even as the teams traded towers across the map. Over time, Curse Academy pulled ahead in kills, while ggLA were up in turrets.
The turn came at a dragon fight where ggLA cleaned the fight up and took the objective. ggLA then went on to turn a teamfight in mid, and evened out the kill difference, raising their gold. Later, they picked up the first Baron of the game.
ggLA pressed their advantage into the late game, taking down the Nexus just as Curse Academy surrendered, as the first day of the North American Challenger Series ends in a double Nexus explosion.