NLC Spring 2021: Playoffs Preview
Here we are: the final four. The four best teams of NLC 2021 spring, gathered in the crucible, ready to do battle. Four teams, two EU Masters spots, and one NLC champion. All to play for.
We begin with Nordavind vs Team Singularity before the battle of the academies in BT Excel vs Fnatic Rising, and we also spoke to them ahead of their matches. Let’s see what they had to say.
Lower Bracket Finals
Nordavind started off spring with quite a bit of expectations but stumbled a lot in their journey. It was such a crazy regular season that if they had lost to Dusty in Week 5, we might have seen Nordavind in relegations instead!
Them handing BT Excel their only defeat in groups during Week 3 seems to have galvanised this team, and they have looked better and better after every match played, continuously refining their playstyle. And here they are in top 4, after defeating KOVA Esports 2-0 and Barrage Esports 2-1.
Caster Troubleinc will no longer be disappointed in putting her faith in star botlaner Chrisberg any longer, for the Norwegian titans are here to play and they will not be denied!
“First of all, the lads deserve a lot of credit for turning the ship around.
Some came from a tier below, others from a rough split, and then we started off 1-4 and didn’t look anything like expected. But they showed real strength of character and bounced back.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and I believe we got what it takes to challenge any team left in the competition. We are the only ones to take a game from BT Excel, and we’re ready to give Singularity hell.” - Kami, Nordavind Manager
No matter the outcome, Team Singularity can be proud of how far they’ve come. From relegations last season, to beating Granit Gaming 2-0 and Tricked Esport 2-1 to make top 4. It is a remarkable achievement.
In the regular season, you could say other than Fnatic Rising in Group B, Singularity have been extremely consistent. Their somewhat more methodical and less risk averse playstyle has served them well so far, and despite some shaky mid-game showings against Tricked they should come in to the series confident.
The botlane duo of Dradgar and Prosfair came under scrutiny coming into spring, but now have proved they are more than a match for the best in the NLC. Can they bring it home?
“I'm extremely happy with achieving top 4 in the NLC and can't wait to face Nordavind in the Lower Bracket Finals. Exceeding our sixth place seed and running the Lower Bracket feels fantastic, and demonstrates the resilience and work ethic of my players and staff.
Nordavind is a great opponent, and have shown a strong ability to comeback in both the regular season and their playoff games. However, I'm confident in our current level and I can't wait for a competitive series.” - Torok, Team Singularity Head Coach
Upper Bracket Finals
There isn’t much to say about BT Excel that you probably don’t already know. Excel went 9-1 in Group A then proceeded to dismantle Barrage’s best laid plans in two sub-30 minute games to move on to the Upper Bracket Finals.
It is quite clear from their performances that BT Excel for maybe the first time ever, go in against arch-rivals Fnatic Rising as favourites. At the start of the season, Excel played more cautiously but now they seemed to be fully unleashed on the Rift.
Statistics do somewhat support Excel’s imperious performances, with their players consistently topping the charts and as a team, always clocking in the shortest average game times in the NLC. The casters have been mightily impressed with jungler Markoon (with good reason), and he just might be the key to Excel’s ultimate victory.
“I'm expecting Fanatic to be our most challenging opponents yet. Watching through their games they look very controlled, methodical and I don't think either team has really been tested yet. I'm expecting this upcoming match to be a preview of the finals.
As for how our season's been, it may look like we've had a smooth ride to the top of Group A but behind the scenes every team has their ups and downs. The players have put so much effort into becoming the best that they can be in the lead up to the finals and EU Masters.
We know there's still a long way to go, but I think we're happy with the progress we've made this split as a team.” - Swiffer, BT Excel Head Coach
Fnatic Rising once again find themselves in a familiar position: Upper bracket finals, one series away from EU Masters qualifications and a familiar foe in BT Excel. Ah, just as the script foretold!
Fnatic too had an incredible regular season despite dropping two games in Group B, and after some difficulties in Game 1 vs Tricked, Fnatic promptly put the series to bed and advanced on. Though as the casters have pointed out, Fnatic have looked far from the infallible memories we associate them with.
That being said, it is...hard to bet against Fnatic Rising. No matter how tall the wall has been, they’ve always climbed it. And it would be a disservice not to mention midlaner Febiven, who has faced just about every adversity in his professional career. Can he lead Fnatic Rising to another convincing title defence?
“We are going to face BT Excel in the upcoming game, which is quite exciting! To be fair, we were waiting a long time for this game and we can't wait to clash with another LEC academy team!
We want to see how strong they are, and how strong we are compared to them so it’s an important game for sure. I think both teams are really keen to determine how far or close we are to each other in terms of skill.
BT Excel has really good players and they’ve had a near flawless regular season, but my players are really amazing too and I see them everyday tryharding and achieving their goals step-by-step. It’s going to be a great game and let’s hope we deliver a good show for the people watching at home!” - delord, Fnatic Rising Head Coach