NLC – The Wrap
We finally reached the journey's end for the 2020 Summer Season of the NLC. It has been a long, winding road for many of our competitors, trudging along and past the many obstacles entrenched on their chosen path. After braving the biting winds of the North and fending off multiple challengers, only one emerged worthy of wearing the crown. Their name muttered fervently on the lips of faithful watchers: Fnatic Rising.
It’s been a long journey to get here so for today, we take a quick look back at the inaugural season of the NLC and some takeaways (not kebab, mind you) from this ambitious merger.
Not trying to be funny but at this point, Fnatic Rising should really think of renaming their team ‘Fnatic Risen’ for how dominant their stay is within the scene. Them winning the NLC secures Fnatic’s academy team their fourth consecutive ERL championship, from the UKLC in 2019. After all, to be at Fnatic is to be the best.
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In the UKLC spring 2020, Fnatic Rising were not exactly the favorites to win. Two new players in the form of toplaner Mahdi "Pride" Nasserzadeh and support Love "Bravado" Rapp didn’t inspire too many people to think they would win again – and yet they still did. Coming into summer with all their pieces finally settling in, there was very little doubt Fnatic would rule the waves of the North Sea. Their record is astonishing: 17 wins and 3 losses, only dropping one game each for their three series played in playoffs.
Jungler Daniel "Dan" Hockley has really stood out this season too. Not just his 5.95 KDA in playoffs -which never tells the full story- but also his impeccable ability to read, track and nullify the opposing jungler. He will be looking to reach greater heights as the NLC’s first seed going into the European Masters (EUM), because they are placed in a very difficult group. They now carry the torch, fueled by the hopes and dreams of the combined regions the NLC represents.
Despite Fnatic Rising’s continued iron hold on the league, they were shown not to be completely invincible. It is likely with the combined talent pool the NLC offers, we will continue to see more and more challengers rise to the fore.
The NLC ecosystem
When the NLC was introduced, it promised a full revamp or at least, a comprehensive plan to add on to the existing infrastructure in place for both UK & Ireland and the Nordic leagues. This meant six national circuits directly feeding into a new tournament called the Telia Masters, and the two strongest teams there got a shot at promoting into the NLC via the Relegation Series.
While we won’t see any new faces in 2021 since Granit Gaming and KOVA Esports did not succeed in their venture, KOVA did come very close to beating Team Singularity. This proves the best of the national leagues, even in its first season, has the potential to build rosters capable of competing with the best. And not just the NLC, but the UKLC too. Yesterday, we just saw UKEL champions Resolve defeating Bulldog Esports and promoting into the UKLC. From grassroots to the top echelons of this new ecosystem, its direction is looking promising.
Something for everyone
There has been a very nice mix of play-styles ranging from the creatives and proactive Tricked Esports, to the calculated and methodical Nordavind.
Even the teams at the bottom were not afraid to try new things and play the style they think is best, and this provided hugely entertaining matches even if some might point out it’s not the ‘pinnacle’ of competitive LoL (both Barrage Esports vs Dusty games come to mind). We even got this wholesome interview done with Jørgen "Hatrixx" Elgåen’s dad!
And of course we’re left with many moments on the Rift that just leaves viewers in awe. From BT Excel’s Hatrixx with his monstrous play on Azir, Barrage’s Dreedy with his mind bending Irelia against Godsent, to Riddle Esports’ Victor "reje" Etlar Eriksen on his signature Ezreal to which he used with incredible efficiency to destroy the opposition.
Riddle me this...
Sure we’ve all seen the recent teaser of ‘The Batman’ but I’d argue our very own Riddle Esports’ run to EUM Play-Ins was more impressive. I leave the last section to them because of the sheer grit of their team to produce a truly heroic story that few will forget.
Riddle started off on a very rocky foundation. Despite beating BT Excel, their uneven form against just about everyone in Group A was concerning, especially since they vocalised their intent of potentially winning the NLC. Some manner of change was needed and under the veil of secrecy, Riddle sought the aid of former Origen jungler Jonas "Kold" Andersen (or as they call him, Mr. Jambo). It worked wonders.
Riddle turned around their whole season, almost topping Group A. Their 2-1 loss to Fnatic Rising only spurred them on and we saw them on a rampage all the way to the finals, defeating BT Excel again and breaking the iron hold the academies traditionally have had. Riddle, unfortunately, did not make the Main Event for EUM, falling to French titans LDLC OL 2-0. From Aug 15 - Aug 20, Riddle had to play a total of 19 games. How the team managed this herculean feat remains a mystery.
Their sheer determination to reach higher and higher despite almost everything stacked against them serves as a true inspiration. Up until their draw against LDLC OL, they believed till the very end they could compete against the top teams from the European Regional Leagues (ERLs). The NLC’s opening tagline is ‘witness heroic stories’, and Riddle Esports was truly the most heroic of them all.
See you next time
The NLC season has concluded but fret not, for everyone is working behind the scenes to make sure the return in 2021 is even better than before...well, other than watching Worlds of course! So till then, remember the European Masters is still ongoing and Fnatic Rising will be fighting to represent the NLC. Send them your energy and cheers and you can find the VODs on our Youtube channel. Until we meet next on the Summoner's Rift, stay safe!