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Ascension Gaming secures Worlds berth at Conquerors Manila

Ascension Gaming celebrates after winning the Globe Conquerors Manila finals. Provided by Justin Banusing

Ascension Gaming swept MEGA Esports 3-0 to win the Globe Conquerors Manila finals on Sunday in Pasay City, Philippines, securing $100,000 plus a slot at the League of Legends World Championship in South Korea.

The Thai powerhouse entered the South East Asian tournament as the team to beat, having won the Garena Pro League Spring 2018 in March and serving as the region's representative at the Mid-Season Invitational. Despite being seeded in a stacked group containing heavy-hitters such as the Philippines' Mineski and Singapore's Resurgence, the team came out on top with a perfect 6-0 record.

Ascension Gaming's momentum carried on in its semifinals bout against the Kuala Lumpur Hunters from Malaysia. A surprise top lane Tahm Kench pick in the first match from Atit "Rockky" Phaomuang threw the Hunters off balance, and continued aggression from the whole team for the rest of the series allowed it to secure a grand finals berth in four games.

Fellow Thai team MEGA Esports stood as Ascension Gaming's final obstacle before it could go to Worlds, a matchup it was all too familiar with. Ascension Gaming held an 8-0 record over its regional rival heading into the series; as far as numbers go, it was the favorite.

Starting off the series with a bang, Ascension Gaming took advantage of MEGA Esports's subpar early game and put Pawat "WarL0cK" Ampaporn's Gangplank at a deficit through constant ganks. Throughout the game, none of MEGA's late game-centric carries were able to scale up thanks to global pressure from the opposition's Ryze and Tahm Kench.

With Rockky on the Gnar and G4 on Ryze winning their respective lanes, Ascension were able to force MEGA to repeatedly choose between contesting Baron or defending their inhibitor. Eventually, Văn Hữu "Haise" Bảo's Taliyah got picked off trying to gain vision, which led to a Baron that Ascension Gaming used to close out the game.

In the first few minutes of the second match, Ascension's Juckkirsts "Lloyd" Kongubon on Lee Sin was able to secure a crucial first blood against Haise that set a pace MEGA couldn't keep up with -- which was followed up with map-wide aggression from the entire team.

Come late game, Ascension had no problem sticking to their tried-and-true strategy of split-pushing and Baron-baiting to pick off MEGA one by one to secure objectives and subsequently, the game.

In a last-ditch effort to turn the series around, MEGA then locked in Yasuo for Pongsatorn "Coldenfeet" Kornrat, which proved to be a success in the first 10 minutes. With good early pressure from Haise's Gragas, its Yasuo/Alistar bot lane ended the laning phase in the lead after taking both first blood and first tower.

However, G4's stellar LeBlanc was able to hold off MEGA from further widening the gap. With a defensively-built Jayce and underfed Syndra and Yasuo, MEGA lacked the damage to burn through Ascension's lineup.

Conquerors crowned

With its win at Conquerors Manila, Ascension Gaming once again proved that they are not just the best team in Thailand, but the best team in the region.

The event itself was also a success. Its venue, the Mall of Asia Arena, was fully packed throughout the final match despite the lack of a home team in the playoffs. As such, its presenters are confident that Conquerors will be back for 2019.

"There was a great turnout among League of Legends fans, all of the teams played their hearts out and the production was really world class befitting the title the game is," said Globe Gaming director Jake San Diego. "Our partnership with Riot and Garena extends until the next year so all the fans in the Philippines can be sure to expect a Globe Conquerors 2019."

PH LoL analyst Simon Garnace contributed to stats and notes used for this article.