NLC Mid-Season Recap
Five weeks of competition, 40 intense matches, two weeks remain to playoffs to then crown the one undisputed champion of the Northern League of Legends Championship, or the NLC for short. This milestone of a merger has blessed eager spectators with every type of match: from fiestas to ‘siestas’, thrills, and a lot of kills, to nail-biters and absolute displays of dominance.
Both groups have seen every team fight fang and claw to reach the top spots. The level of competition promised with this union is slowly bearing fruit, and the road to playoffs is looking very much like a thorny path for our brave contenders. Let’s take a look at some of these heroic stories as we countdown the days to the end of the NLC’s regular split.
Of the two groups, Group A appears to be the more volatile and unpredictable one. Even BT Excel, who had a perfect regular split in the UKLC in spring, have lost to Riddle Esports not once but twice. They just might emerge as Excel’s kryptonite in the long run.
Botlaner Matthew “Deadly” Smith says “last split we went 18-0 and it means nothing if you lose” and are “treating each game like a scrim and learning from it”. We certainly expect a very scary BT Excel when playoffs rolls in, especially with midlaner Jørgen "Hatrixx" Elgåen pulling out this extraordinary Azir play.
Nordavind missed their chance to top the table as last placed Team Singularity mounted a huge upset victory, but Nordavind came back roaring against Godsent to place themselves firmly in second place.
Support David "BeBopBulli" Siira believed Nordavind can contest the academy duo. “We for sure can contend, we’re putting on the same level of commitment as they do. We’re matching them outside of the game, so why can’t we match them inside of the game?”
The tussle for playoffs remains tense with Riddle Esports starting off strong but faltering in recent weeks. Their recent win over Excel again should be the pick up the squad needs right now, while ENCE seems to be going from strength to strength with their botlaner, Aleksi "Kehvo" Merta, really stepping up recently.
Key Game: BT Excel vs Nordavind, Week 6
Keep a close eye on the battle of Group A titans as they tussle for supremacy and to top the group. The last time these two teams met, Excel’s toplaner Rosendo "Send0o" Fuentes Bóveda’s jaw-dropping Ornn plays snowballed the game hard for his team.
Group B embodies a recent meme posted on Twitter, whereby Fnatic Rising rule the group with an iron fist. They are the only unbeaten team thus far in the NLC at 6-0 and sit comfortably at the top of the standings. While some games have been close till the mid-game point, Fnatic never faltered and pulled away with a victory every single time. If that doesn’t give the other teams in the group cause for worry, head coach Nicholas "NicoThePico" Korsgård mentions “in general, against most LEC teams that we scrim, we usually go even or ahead”.
Fnatic are certainly not without their flaws, and the battle for second place here has been an absolute slugfest. Before week five, many had eyes on either Tricked Esport or Munster Rugby Gaming to lead the charge, but Dusty came back surging after organising a bootcamp for their team in Iceland. By winning both their games in Week 5, the sole representative from Iceland is back in the conversation for not just a top 4 spot, but a potential dark horse candidate to upset those above them.
Despite their loss to Dusty, Tricked are still the favourites by many to get second, as guest analyst and LEC caster Indiana "Froskurinn" Black tweeted: “Tricked are one of the few teams in the NLC to showcase discipline and patience. They understand that in certain conditions, it's fine to do nothing. Really impressive endurance from this squad. Very well coached”.
Munster have been looking in rather shaky form recently despite the additions of names like ex-LEC jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian, and will need to pick themselves up as they face Fnatic next week.
Barrage Esports and MNM Gaming have been struggling greatly this split, but don’t count them out completely as Barrage shown they are no pushovers even in defeats. Their rookie midlaner Jadran "Jadran" Belic in particular, has shined brightest.
MNM’s woes continue but bringing in two new players in Isak "Energy" Pettersen Fjell and Cenk "EliWood" Parlak has given the UK based outfit new hope. And they will need it for at 0-7, relegation is a very real possibility.
Key Game: Munster Rugby Gaming vs Fnatic Rising, Week 6
Munster have said a few times now that they're confident in making EU Masters with the roster they have. The best way to silence the doubters? By taking down the kings of the group, Fnatic Rising! In their first match, Munster showed grit and held Fnatic for a time but eventually Fnatic’s superior teamfighting and coordination pull through. Will it be a repeat result?
Only two weeks remain
Week 6 will be a harsh test for many of the teams with aspirations to make playoffs or avoid relegations, but the final week is the true gauntlet with three days of games. Playoffs are on the horizon, and curious gazes lock squarely onto the NLC, keen to decipher what this new endeavor means for its two representatives at the European Masters.
Who will come out on top? Will the academy teams finally be pushed to the very brink? What heroic, underdog stories will we witness? New tales will be woven as we approach the final legs of the regular split, so stay home, stay safe, and stay hyped! Matches continue this Tuesday, Jul 21 at 19:00 CEST.