NLC Spring 2021: Relegations preview
As we reach the end of the NLC and look towards the European Masters, we also arrive at the bi-annual promotion and relegations series.
When the NLC was introduced, a whole ecosystem of competition was formed for its various participating regions. We now get to see the best from these leagues challenge the top dogs.
The four participating teams will be Dusty and MNM Gaming from the NLC, followed by Bifrost and Galaxy Racer from the Telia Masters. Can the underdogs rise up? Let’s see what they had to say.
The NLC teams
Dusty remain as the premier Icelandic team, but they’ve had a very turbulent spring. In 2020, they missed playoffs by a small margin but occasionally flirted with relegation. This spring they started off 0-4 after two weeks, only finding their first win in Week 3.
However, their first win would serve as a much needed catalyst and they surprised everyone with a 2-0 week in Week 4. Dusty landing in relegations was by the slimmest of margins, as it hinged on their game vs Nordavind in Week 5: had they won, Nordavind would have landed in relegations instead! That was how close Group A was (aside from BT Excel’s sheer dominance).
It’s clear the team has rallied together in the final weeks, but will it be enough to secure their spot back in the NLC? As the only Icelandic team in the NLC, their fans would certainly hope so.
“After a rough start we managed to pick ourselves up and achieve a lot of progress this season. Some teams take longer to mesh together, and sadly for us it took just a bit too long. This resulted in one loss being the difference between playoffs and relegation in a super close group. All in all the progress we made gave us a lot of confidence going into playoffs, as we’ve seen that on our peak we can smash any team from Telia Masters.
We are very much looking forward to facing Galaxy Racer in our first relegation match. A lot of familiar faces across the board is always fun to see on the other side of the rift. They have smashed their way through the Swedish league as well as the Telia Masters playoffs, and they are looking very strong. We know what to expect from them and I think it is going to be a close fight where we come out on top.” - Quixeth, Dusty Head Coach
MNM once again stare at the gaping maw of relegation, as they did last season. Their 1-9 record in Group B meant they had a thoroughly forgettable spring, with their only win of the season being against KOVA Esports in Week 1. If nothing else, at least their academy team made the UKLC 2021 spring playoffs.
As a team, they’ve had brief moments of brilliance but it was evident from the matches they were still struggling. Things were looking dire as relegations loomed. Due to this, it came as no surprise that MNM decided to add two additional players in jungler Kamil and botlaner Divine.
No one has seen this iteration of MNM perform yet so this could be the edge that they need: an element of surprise! It would be easy to count MNM out, but one must not forget that last season they handily dispatched then Telia Masters second placed team Granit Gaming 3-0. Underestimate MNM at your own peril.
“We are coming off of an evidently disappointing split, even though we had a lot of close games, as there were certain issues we weren't able to fix throughout the whole split. This is why we felt like change was necessary.
With Kamil and Divine coming in, there has been instant improvements on our gameplay and atmosphere which has led to very good scrim results. I can honestly say everyone from MNM is confident going into relegations and I am wishing all of our opponents the best of luck, because without it they will stand no chance against us.” - Tacocat, MNM Head Coach
The Telia Masters’ challengers
Bifrost is a team that everyone is starting to take notice of in 2021. Like their mythical inspiration, they’ve built a solid bridge through participating in different competitions and so far, excelling in all of them. They are the TES Norway champions, currently first in Telialigaen spring and most of all, Telia Masters champions. Not bad at all.
Before coming into Telia Masters, most people had their eyes on Absolved, Galaxy Racer and to a lesser extent Resolve as surefire winners and playoffs bound. Bifrost came in as dark horses and surprised everyone with a finals appearance after exiting a very difficult Group B, defeating favourites Galaxy Racer Esports in a close 3-2 series.
The end is not yet in sight however, as they now face MNM Gaming. Should they succeed, they will be the third Norwegian organisation to join the NLC. As shown in their games, Bifrost are comfortable with both standard and slightly unexpected champion picks. Will this be enough for them to cross the bridge over to NLC?
“In my first off-Season with Bifrost, me and the organisation decided to step up from being a low to mid-tier team in Norway to become one of the best in the Nordics. Obviously it’s a very ambitious goal and we had to change a lot. But when LeeJooHo joined as a Head Coach our first step was complete. Together with him, we built the roster which won Telia Masters!
At the beginning of the split we were pretty underrated, with the newcomers that no one was really aware of. We had some struggles during the TES Norway but every single one of them just made us stronger, and when it mattered we always delivered, hence our first place finish.
Looking on to Telia Masters, I think we got the hardest group that ever existed in Telia Masters. Getting out of Group B as second place was huge for us because we knew this will most likely guarantee a spot in NLC Relegations, due to a very weak Group A. We defeated Nyyrikki and moved on to the finals against Galaxy Racer, which we had faced before and went down with a close 1:2. It was a spectacular series, and this win was something most people didn't expect too.
Looking forward to relegations and our match against MNM, we respect them but don't fear them at all. We have improved every week and showed what we are capable of and to be fair, I don't think MNM can deal with our high tempo, aggression and adaptability.” - Routins, Bifrost Head of LoL and Manager
Galaxy Racer Esports
The Swedish powerhouse team that entered TES Sweden in 2021 came in with huge expectations, and they’ve more or less delivered so far. Galaxy Racer only suffered one loss through TES Sweden’s spring season and emerged as champions, as well as favourites to conquer the Telia Masters.
While Absolved and Resolve failed to gather enough wins in Groups to advance, Galaxy Racer were predictably quite comfortable up until their finals match against Bifrost. Despite their 3-2 loss, Galaxy Racer stuck true to their fearless playstyle and challenged Bifrost at all points of the game.
With an all experienced roster and a very aggressive style of play, Galaxy Racer can not be taken lightly despite being the second seed. They now face Dusty, who have been looking stronger nearing the end of NLC. This series promises to be a fiery affair, and like the finals of Telia Masters, Galaxy Racer will fight tooth and nail to the finish.
"We’ve had a fantastic season in terms of results and development. Most notably, Zvene role-swapping from top to support and becoming an instrumental part of the team.
The finals of Telia Masters against Bifrost was obviously disappointing. Not so much from a playing point of view, but more so because our decisions in draft were not being challenged up until that point.
Dusty are a talented team with two strong solo lanes. Having previously worked with jungler Cheelm, I also understand the dangers he can pose. The setback from the final however has given us a better idea of our flaws and we should be much better equipped to deal with adversity." - Rnglol, Galaxy Racer Esports Head Coach