The 2017 League of Legends College Championship continued to excite with yet another March Madness-like upset as Maryville University punched its ticket to the tournament finals with a hard-fought 3-0 win over powerhouse Robert Morris University in Los Angeles on Saturday.
"Playing online you get comfortable, but playing on stage adds a different level of nerves. Once you get that first game, all you know is your strategy for the next game is to win, and that's what we did," MU jungler Cody "Walrus" Altman said after the match.
Both teams looked jittery early in Game 1, as over-extensions from both sides saw RMU AD carry Zachary "BukZacH" Lapham's Caitlyn pick up first blood in a duo lane skirmish, but MU got the better end of that deal with top laner Tony "Saskio" Chau picking up a double kill and double buffs as Kled. Maryville rotated around the map well into the mid game, earning a solid lead, but BukZacH decimated MU in an extended teamfight that went 6-for-3 in RMU's favor (MU support John "Papa Chau" Le died twice as Janna), bringing BukZach's 2/0/2 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) up to 7/1/3. Despite the huge teamfight win, Saskio's Kled was simply too far ahead for anyone on RMU to deal with, decimating the bottom lane inhibitor while the rest of MU picked up a Baron kill at 22 minutes. RMU could only do so much to stop MU and Saskio, as Maryville eventually took a clean ace in RMU's base and secured the Game 1 win in just under 30 minutes.
RMU had a strong start to Game 2, shaking off its previous loss with mid laner Derek "Gillette" Castro's Orianna getting the first blood. MU used mid laner Andrew "ckg" Smith's Twisted Fate to find picks around the map, but RMU stayed ahead with a massive Command: Shockwave setting up a 3-for-0 fight and Rift Herald secure for RMU at 14 minutes. After pushing its lead into the mid game, and taking a 4-for-1 cross-map fight into a Baron kill, RMU did its best to push through MU, but ckg's splitpushing went unchallenged as MU valiantly held off RMU's siege. A second RMU Baron buff at 36 minutes was matched by a MU Elder Dragon, setting both teams up for a crazy late game. After a 39-minute, 4-for-4 slugfest, RMU made one last desperate push at 42 minutes, taking both Nexus towers but losing members in the process. MU capitalized by exposing all of RMU's base before securing a 44-minute Baron for a 4,000-gold lead. One final, messy teamfight in RMU's base, and MU completed the comeback in 47 minutes to take Game 2.
RMU had another great start in Game 3 as RMU found two kills and first tower gold in the bottom lane after a roam from Gillette's Taliyah triggered a domino-effect 5-vs-4 teamfight at just eight minutes. RMU's 3,500-gold lead at 15 minutes appeared to be safe as RMU continued stacking up advantages, taking 3-for-1 teamfights at 15 minutes and 25 minutes. Up by about 6,000 gold, RMU took out MU's bottom lane inhibitor, but got pushed back in the top lane, where MU stopped the bleeding with a 1-for-0 fight after losing its top lane tower. RMU returned to the top lane, where EvanRL's Sona hit a flashy Crescendo on three MU members, but MU again won the fight, this time trading 4-for-3. Then, disaster struck as RMU's attempted Baron at the 33-minute mark was stolen by MU jungler Walrus' Nunu, helping MU fight off super minions flooding its base through the top and bottom lanes. RMU tried again to enter MU's base through the top lane, but MU AD carry Marko "Prototype" Sosnicki's Jinx picked up a massive quadrakill in a 5-for-2 fight to finally seize control. A second Prototype quadrakill a few minutes later gave MU a 5-for-1 ace in the mid lane and a second comeback-victory as Maryville punched its ticket to the finals with a win in 41 minutes.
"I realized after Game 2 that my team was playing really really well. In fact, I had never even seen them play so well. I took a step back and said 'Okay, my team's playing well, I'm not doing too hot in this tournament,' and I just focused entirely on my own play. So when it came down to the team fights, which is my time to shine, I basically just looked at the most important skill shots that I needed to dodge and knew that if I did, we would win those fights," Prototype said.
With the win Saturday, Maryville University advances to the League of Legends College Championship finals Sunday at 3 p.m. ET against the University of Toronto.