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Wild Rift North American Series: Second Circuit - Major 2 Recap

                                                                                                         WNS Major 2 Recap by @AlistairOP

The Wild Rift North America Series is in full swing, and with Major 2 complete we now have teams qualified for the North American Regional Championship!

Major 1 saw Immortals take a clean run to qualify for Major 2, joined by No More Ego, Sentinels, and Tribe Gaming. The Second Circuit brought new challengers through the Qualifiers as SuzakuGG brought household names like Tsuki and isjerboa to the fray, while 16-Bit Genesis, Cloud9, and Reflexion return after falling short in the previous Major.

With prize money to pay for, the main goals were tickets for Major 3, or the crème de la crème of two guaranteed spots at the Championship. Let’s dive into it.

Cloud9 vs Tribe Gaming

This was thought to be an evenly matched series to start the weekend, with Cloud9 slowly rising to be challengers whilst Tribe Gaming still sought for their 2021 form. It was Cloud9 that took control of the series from the start, however, as they Aced Tribe around the first Dragon before 5 minutes of Game 1. But Tribe wouldn’t back out of the fight, and a Rift Herald fight brought them back to even. After a 10-minute Dragon fight, which looked to go Cloud9’s way, our teams were practically dead even. This truly lived up to how closely matched we thought the teams would be. But Cloud 9 had the upper hand, another Ace was found as Selmaw’s Malphite continuously focused priority targets, and it was only a matter of time until they could clean up the game; ending with a Quadrakill for Meals’ Akali.

It seemed that Tribe had learned their lesson going into Game 2. A switched-up draft and trading objectives gave them a much better start. This was then elevated with a 3v3 fight engaged by Selmaw, and was turned around with a 3-man knock-up from MaxGreen’s Rakan. Rift Herald took the final kill, giving Tribe a 4-1 lead at 6 minutes. Incredible engages from MaxGreen and various skirmishes set Tribe with a growing lead, but it all fell apart at 13 minutes with Selmaw’s Gragas simply bodyblocking everything and allowing Cloud9 to take a teamfight win. This evened the teams up, with no more lead for Tribe, and a triple stacked Elder Dragon on the board for Cloud9, Tribe was forced to fight for the objective. It didn’t go their way and allowed Cloud9 to take the sub-20 minute win to close the first series of the weekend.

“In the blink of an eye, that's an ace for Cloud9”

Tribe Gaming fell to the lower bracket to face Reflexion, joined by SuzakuGG and 16-Bit Genesis. The Upper Semifinals, meanwhile, would be a clash of titans.

No More Ego vs Sentinels

The last time we saw these teams, they were facing off in the Major 1 Lower Finals, with NME taking the 2-0 to advance to the Grand Final. It looked like Sentinels were out to get revenge. Game 1 started with a 3-man roam to the Baron lane from NME, laying claim to First Blood in the 4v2, but they bit off more than they could chew and allowed Sentinels to equalize .It was a chaotic game of messy fights, but it was Sentinels who came out on top; after a 10-minute skirmish, they were sat with a comfortable 14-6 lead. Sentinels started rolling, and they just didn’t stop, giving them a 15:27 win with a 22-7 score.

Sentinels didn’t let up either, going into Game 2 ready for a quick sweep into the Upper Finals. Unlike the previous game, there was more emphasis on the bottom side of the map, with First Blood coming in around the 4-minute Dragon fight. While NME started with a kill lead, Sentinels claimed objectives and kept the Gold even. As we saw Mali claim a 1v1 Kill onto Truth, the rest of Sentinels finished the Ace as they dropped a Rift Herald in the Mid lane. This gave them the momentum they needed, and they soon utilised their lead to get another Ace just minutes later. NME made one final stand, hoping to take a Dragon, but a fed Kha’Zix was on the hunt. Sheesh claimed a Pentakill to finish the game. At 14 minutes and 18-6, Sentinels set themselves up with an Upper Finals appearance thanks to a 12/1 Kha’Zix.

Immortals vs Cloud9

While not a matchup we’ve regularly seen, Immortals historically seemed to get the better of Cloud9, and after their performance at Major 1 it looked doubtful that it would change. With a show of fancy footwork, Hoon was able to escape a 5-minute dive from Cloud9, which helped to set up a 2-0 lead for Immortals as they capitalised. It was clean play from both teams, but Meals’ Gragas came just short of what would have been a fantastic Flash Belly Slam, and it turned to disaster for Cloud9. This trend of close fights continued, as a 9-minute Dragon fight only went Immortal’s way due to a max range Ahri Q picking up two Kills to close the exchange. Despite how close it felt, it was still a commanding win for Immortals as they closed the 13 minute game with Rift Herald, 10-1 on the scoreboard.

Both sides showed restraint going into Game 2, and if anything Cloud9 were slowly building a lead for themselves. But it only took 5 minutes for Immortals to turn the heat up and by 8 minutes they were up 9-3. The game went into Immortals’ hands, and they weren’t letting go. Just a minute later, our teams clashed over Dragon, and Immortals claimed a clean Ace. The game came to a close when Cloud9 thought they’d found a pick on a lonely Lebmont, but Immortals were quick to collapse and took the scoreline to 20-4 with a Baron to boot. The game might have gone on longer than expected, but it was a clean one for Immortals as they finally destroyed the Nexus at 18:07.

With Immortals and Sentinels set for an Upper Finals match, we looked to the Lower Bracket where we had No More Ego and Tribe Gaming waiting for us, along with Cloud9 and SuzakuGG.

No More Ego vs Tribe Gaming

These old friends were ready to clash once more, and gave us an exciting series. And would we expect any less from the two rivals?

YikeZ kicked off Game 1 with a Flash Hook, and the Thresh set NME with First Blood, answered with two Kills going over to Tribe. This was repeated, however, with YikeZ waiting behind ttigers’ Blue Buff to take a second kill for NME. This game was reminiscent of the Tribe of the past, with DNZio getting a three-man root with Senna to set up for a free and easy Rift Herald, and as Starting killed Tibe in a 1v1, it all looked clean and high level. By 10 minutes, Tribe Gaming were 10-4 and over 6k ahead on Gold. There was patience, but it was dominance from Tribe, with a 12/0 Jayce for Starting. This was the performance we’d been expecting. A 15-minute Ace came through, and the game ended 21-4.

Then started the No More Ego sweep. Game 2 began on a knife’s edge, with slithers of health but no kills coming through. It took 6 minutes for First Blood to finally be claimed, and Tribe exploded it into a 3-1 lead as NME funneled themselves one by one into their open arms. It was slow, but it felt like Tribe’s game as they sat 8-4 at 15 minutes. It all came down to Elder Infernal Dragon. The teams first met at 18 minutes and clashed for a full 3 minutes before NME finally secured the objective at 21 minutes. Even so, Tribe were in form and it felt like they nearly clawed their way back into the game, but No More Ego played the macro game perfectly as they opened Tribe’s base. With the constant pressure from the Super Minions, Tribe could no longer challenge and eventually fell. A 27 minute slugfest to take us to Game 3.

Game 3, the end of the series, saw a clash right from the start, with the teams trading kills as they fought for their Major 2 lives. However, it took until the 5-minute Dragon for NME to take a lead, and only a small one as they went 4-3 up and claimed the objective. By the time we got to the 10 minute mark, the teams were separated by less than 1k Gold, as NME picked up the second Dragon of the game. After such an exhilarating Game 2, this one felt a lot more toned down. As we approached 15 minutes, with Dragon ahead of us again, the teams were tied. 11-11 and near enough even on Gold. With a teamfight win, this was Tribe’s first Dragon of the game and their eyes turned to Baron. But they clearly weren’t willing to take risks, and when they finally committed to it, disaster struck. Ttigers not only stole it, but got away alive, and NME rushed straight to the Elder Dragon. With Tribe on their heels, it was an easy turn to make and NME cut through their opponents, a 21-minute Ace, and an easy push with Baron. With an even 17-16 scoreline, and having been even on Gold all game, this was a thrilling finish to the series.

“NME, in a 21-minute nailbiter, will overcome everything and take down Tribe”

SuzakuGG vs Cloud9

We’ve seen Cloud9 be on the rise, but now they face off against the old guard. SuzakuGG, previously Team SNO, bring the likes of Tsuki, isjerboa, and Premonition to the WNS.

After such an epic series, Cloud9 was clearly worked up and ready to go; diving between Towers within the first 2 minutes of Game 1. The dominos soon started to fall just 5 minutes into the game, with Tarzaned’s Lee Sin flying over walls to claim First Blood under Suzaku’s Baron lane Tower as Cloud9 claimed another few Kills to take them to 4-0 by 6 minutes. With this lead came confidence, and Cloud9 soon found themselves 11-1 by 9 minutes. It was absolute dominance, and they knew it. The win was all but assured, and SuzakuGG were gifted no way back into the game. A clean 14:20 win from Cloud9, with a dominant 19-2 scoreline.

Likewise, Game 2 started slow, and it took 5 minutes again for First Blood to come through, as Cloud9’s Dragon lane dived isjerboa as their teams took objectives across the map. With Kill Gold and Tower Gold going onto Oldskool, Cloud9 had their lead where they wanted it and pushed for a 4-0 lead and control of the map by 7 minutes. Cloud9 looked untouchable, having an answer for everything SuzakuGG tried, and by time Tarzaned claimed a 13-minute Baron, Cloud9 were over 10k Gold ahead. One more push down the Mid lane opened Suzaku’s base, and a last push down the Dragon lane closed the game.

It's clear who our Top 4 are in the WNS, and Tribe isn’t far behind as they slowly find the form we’re used to. We may not have seen much of SuzakuGG, but they’re now set to return in Major 3 alongside Tribe Gaming, so we can’t wait to see how these teams improve over the coming weeks.
But Day 2 was all about the remaining four teams, and while a Major 3 place was guaranteed, a ticket to the Championship was on the line.

No More Ego vs Cloud9

We expected these teams to be a relatively even matchup, as NME won 2-1 the last time they met in Major 1, while Cloud9 have been on the rise with cleaner play. As expected, Game 1 started with a lot of attention on the Dragon lane, as Cloud9 looked to get Oldskool ahead whilst neutralising NME’s Support carry in YikeZ. However, this soon cost them, as NME collapsed on an invading Tarzaned and the ensuing skirmish gave them a free two Kills. While the Gold lead stayed on Cloud9’s side, it kept getting worse as NME challenged the Rift Herald to claim another two Kills whilst also stealing the objective, as their Jungler was on the other side of the map for Dragon. With LuanDj getting big, it was clear sailing for NME as they snowballed their lead. Try as Cloud9 might, NME’s Yuumi paired with Darius and Wukong was too strong, and the game closed at 13:50 with a 22-8 scoreline.

NME went into Game 2 of the series with a Yasuo composition, LuanDj on the Champion surrounded by Wukong, Orianna, and Gragas for knockups. Things didn’t go as planned, however, and an extended trade gave three Kills to Meals’ Zed within the first three minutes. Even though NME seemed to find the fights they needed, they were against a fed assassin who could oneshot anyone. Paired with Tarzaned’s Fiora, Cloud9 were able to take over the game. By 10 minutes, Cloud9 sat with a 3k Gold lead and good control over objectives. By 15 minutes, they’d exploded to a near 9k Gold lead and a 12-5 scoreline. With Baron under their belts, it was only a matter of time before they mopped up to end the game.

With their lives now on the line, and the Lower Finals waiting for the winner, NME and Cloud9 went into Game 3 with interesting compositions. Cloud9 took Irelia with the hopes of shutting down jxcki’s Varus, while NME were sporting a squishy comp with no real tank. The game started with skirmishes, and the teams remained even, but NME overextended around the 6 minute mark to give Meals a Triplekill and Cloud9 a lead. Soon they sat with a 10-4 lead, and Cloud9 looked in control, until Truth’s Diana dived in for a huge Moonfall. Joined by Tibe’s Camille, the pair essentially 2v4’d and brought NME back into the game; the shutdowns granting them the Gold lead and saving their momentum. It turned into a back and forth game, messy, but Truth wanted the Major 2 win and he carried NME through to it. As Cloud9 looked to Baron, with a Gold lead and Elder Ocean Dragon buffing them up, Tibe stole the objective away. Combined with the work that Truth had done while split pushing, NME were able to put the buff to use and push for the win. A 22-minute banger of a match to end a close series. It was a battle of the Mids, but Meals’ 14/4 Irelia just wasn’t enough to win.

Immortals vs Sentinels

With the Lower Bracket pretty much rounded up, it was time to jump to the Upper Finals. Immortals have been a cut above the rest, but Sentinels haven’t been far behind. A win here would guarantee a spot at the Championship too, while the loser would have to continue fighting for it.

It felt like neither team made a mark in Game 1, with constant back and forth trading from the teams. As we approached the third Dragon of the game at 13 minutes, we were looking at a 6-6 scoreline and only a 2k Gold lead in Sentinels’ favour. But it was a fight made for Sentinels, and MTS’s Garen left with a 4/0/4 scoreline and the ability to start bullying his opponents. Immortals simply couldn’t deal with the tank and couldn’t get past the Sentinels frontline, meaning Sentinels wrapped up the game at 18:16 with a 15-8 scoreline and a sub-10k Gold lead.

Immortals knew what was at stake for Game 2, and came in with a brilliant composition. A Garen and Jax for strong scaling, and Yuumi to keep the frontliners alive. Nevertheless, the first real fight we saw went Sentinels’ way, as the Sheesh and Mali duo tore through four members of Immortals. Just as our casters finished summing up that fight, we jumped in to watch Mali get a Quadrakill after a huge three-person Moonfall. At 10 minutes, Sentinels were 10-5 and 5k Gold up, looking untouchable with the leads in the right places. Immortals may have picked a scaling composition, but Sentinels gave them no time to come online, ending the game, and series, at 15:08 with a commanding 12k Gold lead.

“Kingslayers Sentinels will be the first team to qualify for the WNS Championships”

No More Ego vs Immortals

It wasn’t all over, however. Sentinels may have secured their Championships ticket, but there was still one up for grabs. Would Immortals claim it, as was expected, or can No More Ego rise to the occasion? The Lower Final had the answer to that question.

With a Jayce Jungle, Immortals opened Game 1 with skirmishes to give them an early lead. With a composition that had early power, this lead paid dividends and it was easy for Immortals to snowball, using objectives to create fights which they could win. By 10 minutes they were 12-4 ahead. This didn't stop NME from fighting, though, and we watched them claw the game back from 11 minutes, as they found picks out of nowhere, pushing through the Middle lane to claim two Towers and an Inhibitor, and also claimed a Baron. Even so, they never closed the Gold lead, and Immortals never crumbled under the immense pressure from NME. It all ended around the Elder Ocean Dragon, where Immortals cut down a split NME to allow them to close the game at 20:45 with a 25-14 scoreline.

Immortals were here to make a statement, and kicked Game 2 off with a 2v2 First Blood in the Dragon lane within the first minute. NME were here to meet it, however, and by time we got to the 5 minute Dragon, the teams were 3-3. The nail in the coffin started to come in a fight over the 9-minute Rift Herald, where jxcki put down a wonderful Corki Package to split Immortals up, but Immortals had so many dashes it didn’t matter, and one by one NME fell. This gave Immortals a 10-5 Kill lead, which soon grew to 18-8 at 13 minutes after Hoon and Charm came together to find a wonderful fight for Immortals, and allowed them to close the game.

NME put up a fight, but it was a swift series from Immortals to punch their ticket to the WNS Championship. Now, all that was left was the Major 2 crown. Could Sentinels repeat their earlier series win, or was this the time for Immortals’ revenge?

Sentinels vs Immortals

Earlier in the stream, MTS had talked about how Sentinels always face Immortals at the end, and seem to win the first game but then get swept. This Grand Finals wasn’t going to fare too differently.
Game 1 began with First Blood for Lebmont, as the Olaf went for a Dragon lane dive before the 2 minute mark. This was scary, putting an Olaf ahead with a Yuumi attached to him. With that said, Immortals never really found a meaningful lead. Only a few hundred Gold separated the teams at 10 minutes, as Immortals led 5-3 on Kills with an Ocean Dragon to their name. This all changed as we approached the 16th minute, as Immortals thought they’d caught out Rest but funnelled into a chokepoint for MTS’s Darius to go dunking. With Lebmont in the grey screen, it was a free Baron pick up for Sentinels, followed by priority over the Elder Infernal Dragon. Immortals stalled it out, but the end came at 25 minutes when Mali arrived, as a Valkyrie over the wall ended with a Quadrakill for the Corki. The Nexus fell at 25:27, 15-10 on the scoreboard, and a 11k Gold lead for Sentinels.

Immortals went into Game 2 unphased, instantly picking up early kills to help gain a small lead. After a back and forth fight over the second Dragon of the game, we hit the 10 minute mark with a 5-3 scoreline and 2k Gold lead in Immortals’ favour. But Sentinels started finding picks, and within minutes they’d swung the game around to have a Gold lead and a 5/1 Jax. As the game came to a standstill, all eyes turned to Elder Ocean Dragon, and Sentinels had all three previous Dragons of the game so the buff would be huge. Immortals simply couldn’t stop the objective from falling into their opponent’s hands, and it was only a matter of time until their Nexus fell.

In the usual “backs against the wall” fashion, Immortals were one loss away from relinquishing the WNS crown, so they fell back to the tried and tested - Garen and Yuumi. While Immortals held the lead from the start, it took a while for them to accelerate it into something meaningful. It felt like a MTS vs IraqiZorro show, and 16 minutes in we had a 3v3 in the Mid lane where the Baron laners led the assault against each other. With Immortals winning the exchange, they turned to Baron where, despite Mali’s attempts, they claimed the objective. The Elder Dragon then gave us another crazy, back and forth fight, but it was Immortals who stood at the end of it all. A quick push down the Mid lane, and the game closed at 19 minutes as Immortals kept the series alive.

With the curse for Sentinels coming true, they came into Game 4 with a pick-orientated composition, faced with a full Yasuo comp as Immortals had knockups on every member. The game kicked off with Charm’s Rakan getting a double knockup, leading to a 3-1 start for Immortals at 2 minutes. By 5 minutes, the Yasuo at the center of Immortals’ team was 4/0, and this set up for an easy snowball throughout the game. The game got messy as Sentinel’s fought back, but Immortals were too far ahead, cleaning up their play and ending with a 16k Gold lead.

One game is all that remains of Major 2. The teams had proven themselves to be on top of the game, but now it was a battle for the Major 2 title as well as 1st Seed for the WNS Championship. It felt like a constant fight around the Mid lane to start Game 5, and when the dust settled at 5 minutes, it was Immortals who sat with the Kill lead as Sentinels held a slight Gold lead. Sentinels were able to utilise their pick tools, Ashe arrows, Morgana bindings, and Camille baby cages to ease into the lead. But it wasn’t enough. Charm found a solokill on Mali in the Dragon lane, as Sentinels engaged  4v4 in the Baron lane which only turned into an extended even trading which closed the Gold gap. As we approached 15 minutes, the teams were even with an 8-8 scoreline and barely 1k Gold between them. That was until Lebmont ran down Rest, which allowed Immortals to turn for a 15 minute Baron. Sentinels contested, and fell, leaving their base open for a Baron buffed push. Within 60 seconds, the teams had gone from even to Immortals winning the series.

Immortals keep their streak alive, having only dropped a single series all the way through the WNS so far. But, it is clear that Sentinels have come a long way and put up a fight. We said at the last Major that we were waiting to see who could challenge Immortals, and it seems someone finally has.
Congratulations to Immortals for taking the Major 2 title, as well as the WNS Championship 1st Seed, and we’ll see if Sentinels can improve even further as they progress with the 2nd Seed.

While they have a rest, we move on to the Third Circuit, with another set of qualifiers to see who will join NME, Cloud9, SuzakuGG and Tribe Gaming in Major 3. Four more Championship spots will be up for grabs, keep an eye out to see who’ll take them!

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