We’re finally here, the NLC 2021 spring playoffs! From 12 teams we are left with 8, all of them eager to not just be crowned NLC champions but also to book a spot in the prestigious European Masters tournament.
What can we expect in playoffs? To find out, we spoke to casters TroubleInc and Guldborg. They talk about their favourite moments, their match to keep an eye on and which teams they think will make the European Masters.
The NLC playoffs are just around the corner, but first let’s talk a quick look back at the regular season. After what were essentially five superweeks, what was your most memorable game or moment in the NLC 2021 Spring Season?
Troubleinc: Week 5 day 3, Barrage vs Riddle. 50 minutes of absolute nonsense. It’s easily the most obnoxious game I have watched in a while. I had absolutely no clue what I was watching and for how long, but man did I love the fiesta. More of this please!
Guldborg: For me it was Week 4, Nordavind vs Tricked Esport. I don’t get to cast often but that game truly delivered and had me rolling on cast with Hiprain. My favorite moment was probably when we had a very long pause, Hiprain and I just got to use the time as our podcast to talk about our trips to Japan!
Excoundrel: Absolutely the most memorable game was Barrage vs. Riddle, as Trouble said. It was a complete fiesta that had the entire broadcast laughing and shouting at the program feed as we were watching behind the scenes. Brilliant game!
Which players or teams surprised you, and which ones did not meet your expectations?
Troubleinc: My biggest surprise this split would honestly be Team Singularity. They almost got relegated last season, but for this spring they managed to assemble a superteam that can contest the two academy teams.
My biggest disappointment would have to be Nordavind hands down. Two split, two incredibly promising rosters...yet they just seem to crack under the pressure. Hopefully they can show us what they’re made of in playoffs!
Guldborg: My biggest disappointment would probably be Riddle Esports. I thought they had some cool storylines — Bravado and Orre, the duo-queue buddies, and toplaner Kektz who used to be feared in the Nordics. But at the end of the day, they just never really delivered.
Granit Gaming was by far the biggest surprise of the league. And while they are not a first place contender, they definitely made the game more exciting to watch and made the competition much fiercer.
Excoundrel: KOVA Esports were my big surprise. They came in with zero expectations and whilst they didn’t have the explosive start that Granit had — they absolutely impressed with quiet consistency in Group B. I expected them to sit in the relegation zone and the fact they escaped that fate whilst also qualifying for playoffs was awesome.
Honestly, I was disappointed in Dusty. I genuinely thought they had a top tier roster that could easily have qualified for playoffs. They showed some of their best play in the relegation series vs. MNM Gaming. If only we saw this Dusty earlier in the split!
If you had to choose your MVP of the regular season right now, who would it be and why? (We all know who TroubleInc’s pick will be.)
(Author’s note: There we go.)
Guldborg: It’s a tough call for me but I think...Orome, Markoon and Advienne are all great frontrunners, and I also think Rhuckz has been insane as well. I honestly can’t choose between all these skilled players!
Excoundrel: It would have to be Nordavind’s bot-lane duo. Chrisberg and Touch have both stepped up massively for their team and helped Nordavind find that all important playoffs qualification spot. Markoon –and most of Excel– have been fantastic but I expected that of them. Without Chrisberg and Touch, I think NVD would have struggled in our second half of the season.
So for the playoffs, we’ve got a lot of exciting games on our hands! Which series are you looking most forward to and why?
Troubleinc: It would have to be Nordavind vs KOVA. Both teams have left us with huge smiles and huge question marks on whether they can challenge the top teams. Now it’s their time to prove it in a do or die situation from the Lower Bracket.
Guldborg: It’s got to be Barrage Esports vs. BT Excel. For some time now, there really hasn't been a UK roster or team that’s been able to contest the academies [Fnatic and Excel] this closely. I want to see how Barrage fares against a powerhouse like Excel.
Excoundrel: I agree with Guldborg, Barrage vs. BT Excel will be an absolute banger to kick things off. Barrage have been quietly improving throughout the regular season and Excel have not looked infallible. Expect some fireworks!
Which team or teams do you think are potential dark horses and ones people should keep an eye on?
Troubleinc: It’s absolutely Barrage. These guys seem to have grown so much together over the course of the split. It has been refreshing seeing them move around the map and constantly pressure their opponents. I also do believe they have one of the best botlanes in the tournament, if not the best.
Guldborg: In terms of recent form, I think Barrage is definitely a dark horse you can’t underestimate. But that goes the same for KOVA Esports in the Lower Bracket. Like Granit, they too might not be frontrunner for first place, but I definitely think they can pull a upset in the Lower Bracket if they are not respected.
Excoundrel: I think Singularity could pull a fast one in the Lower Bracket. They have a talented roster and I wouldn’t count them out when matching up against the big competition in the bracket.
Going to put you on the spot here: Which two teams make the finals and goes on to the European Masters? Any spicy predictions?
Troubleinc: Yes, very spicy. Fnatic Rising and someone who didn’t make it last split...BT Excel. Spicy right?
Guldborg: BT Excel and Fnatic Rising. Sorry guys. Maybe the EU Masters should give us a third seed? Food for thought right there.
Excoundrel: I want to believe this year will be different, I really do, but I think BT Excel and Fnatic Rising will be our qualifying teams. They’ve looked too dominant with only momentary weaknesses, and I fully expect them to perform in a best-of-series format.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Troubleinc: I am honestly mesmerised by how different this split looks from any others. The skill level has been raised so much, that I honestly believe we deserve a third seed at the EU Masters! Thank you!
Guldborg: To all the new players, you have been amazing this split. This split proved that even newcomers can be a force to be reckoned with and while you may not take it all, you’ve proven that there is always so much untapped potential in the national leagues. I look forward to seeing you all again next season!
Excoundrel: KEKW No Third Seed at EUM KEKW, also D E N M A R K.