We’re all set up for the WNS Championship, and the Last Chance Qualifier brought the final spots for teams to claim! No More Ego finally punched their ticket, alongside Ailish, meaning they’ll be joining Immortals, Sentinels, Tribe Gaming, SuzakuGG, Cloud9 and Saint at the Championship at the end of the month. Let's check out how the teams performed in the LCQ to take the 7th and 8th seed!
With so many teams fighting in hopes of being able to attend the Championship, we jumped into the action part way through Day 1.
No More Ego vs Sabaw Ni Mama
While Sabaw Ni Mama are a new team we hadn’t seen much of, it did bring familiar names. Could they stand up to NME, a team that has been at the top of NA since Wild Rift esports began? Question marks came as they swapped out both jxcki and Truth for the LCQ, so we had to see if bestplayer1 and Gumayusi can live up to the predecessors.
Game 1 looked like a shaky start for No More Ego, with Sabaw Ni Mama seeming to get everything they could want; a Rift Herald, a kill, and two Towers over the first 6 minutes leaving NME with nothing but a Cloud Dragon. But NME collapsed onto a pushing SBW and took a four-for-nothing trade to put them into the lead, continuing the snowball over the next couple of minutes to take them to 9-2 at 8-minutes. Deciding not to finish with a 9-minute Rift Herald push which exposed SBW’s Nexus, NME continued to dominate the game until they closed the game at 15 minutes, 23-8.
With that, NME were warmed up and got their advantage much sooner in Game 2. bestplayer1 got out of a 3-minute gank with ease, and a Super Mega Death Rocket from Gumayusi flew in to claim First Blood for NME. A couple of minutes later Gumayusi struck again, as Aveere and LuanDj fought in the Baron lane and a Super Mega Death Rocket came to secure another kill for NME. These early kills meant that Jinx had a Runaans Hurricane for when our teams properly clashed in the 8th minute. With so much damage coming from Fishbones and Runaans, it was easy for Gumayusi to get the resets and lead NME to the win. From there, it was easy for them to continue finding picks onto Sabaw Ni Mama, and NME found themselves hitting the Nexus within 13-minutes. Although the lack of minions meant they had to leave, and Gumayusi’s clean game was ruined as he was executed. All they had to do was wait for the Jinx to respawn, and force one more fight to claim the 14-minute win, 20-2.
Reflexion vs Funhavers
Both these teams had shown up throughout NA Wild Rift, but it was time to see them clash to see who was superior. Reflexion have commonly been seen in the WNS Majors, albeit falling short of their target. Funhavers were coming in after going 6-0 at a recent tournament, showing they have prowess and some momentum behind them.
The series started in Reflexion’s favor as our teams collapsed on each other, but it was Reflexion who came out on top to kick Game 1 off. With the game going slowly afterwards, it was a 5-minute Dragon fight which put Reflexion in the driver’s seat. A four-for-nothing trade put them 7-2 ahead, claiming the Dragon and Rift Herald to sit with a 3k Gold advantage. Finding picks and chipping away at objectives, Reflexion snowballed the lead and looked nigh unstoppable. With a Legendary Jayce for Osu, Reflexion rounded their scoreline up to a 30-6 lead as they destroyed the Nexus at 17:24.
Bo0m’s Jax found a lot of success at the start of Game 2, and Reflexion held a healthy lead over the opening 8 minutes, but it all came crumbling down as the teams clashed over Dragon. A Quadrakill for Tokki’s Sett gave Funhavers a four-for-two trade and brought them back into the game. With the Sett fed and a Vayne and Olaf looking strong, it was easy for ThatWay’s Lulu’s presence to be felt as they could chase down kills, finding pick after pick. This felt like a mirror of the previous game, as Funhavers controlled it all and took the Nexus in just under 17 minutes, with a 17-6 scoreline.
With the series at 1-1, it was no wonder that Game 3 started a little more cautiously. Reflexion tried to press their Rift Herald advantage, using it to help start a dive at 5 minutes, but a double bubble from ThatWay’s Nami stopped it in its tracks, and made it a one-for-one trade. As Reflexion seemed almost overly confident, constantly pushing too far and making mistakes, it was easy for Funhavers to constantly punish and grow a lead. After a scrappy 10-minute trade, Funhavers were 12-3 on kills, 10k ahead, and had broken into Reflexion’s base. It looked dire for Reflexion, and they never found a way back into the game. The game ended within 15 minutes, and Funhavers moved on to face NME in the Upper Finals.
We were done with the Upper Bracket for the day, so we moved on to the Lower Bracket where we had two more series lined up. Sabaw Ni Mama had another chance to take on Yawn as Reflexion faced down Ailish. Their lives were on the line, backs against the wall, one lost series was the end of their season. There were no more second chances.
Sabaw Ni Mama vs Yawn
Sabaw Ni Mama managed to find an early kill as they started Game 1, and as the teams traded evenly, it meant that they held that step over their opponents for the first 8 minutes. A huge package from Too Young only secured their control as they put themselves up 6-3. Yawn claimed the Dragon as a consolation prize. With a split fight over the 13-minute Dragon, Yawn was able to claim the Ace to equalize the scoreline, and shutdowns only gave them the Gold lead as they secured their third Dragon of the game. As the game slowed, Yawn just bided their time as they searched for picks. With the Elder Infernal Dragon on the cards, Yawn found their targets. A Triple kill came in for Zenith’s Shen as they Aced their opponents once more, claiming the 18-minute win.
After an even start to Game 2, it took 6 minutes for Sabaw Ni Mama to break away from the equal scoreline. Although Yawn stayed hot on their heels, SBW sat with a healthy 3k Gold lead as we ran through to the mid-game. After an extended fight over Dragon, which gave SBW a three-for-nothing as well as the objective, they led 9-5 with a near 6k Gold lead as we went into the 14th minute. While Yawn was able to steal away the Baron and Elder Cloud Dragon, it cost them the game. SBW were able to claim the Ace and pushed for an 18 minute win with a 10k Gold lead. Yawn nearly clawed their way back through stealing objectives, but Sabaw Ni Mama stayed calm to take the win.
Everything came down to Game 3, where Yawn instantly found themselves a lead and sat with a 1-0 scoreline and grew the Gold lead to 2k until the 6th minute, where they picked up their second kill. It all looked good for Yawn, calm and controlled, but a fight over the 9-minute Dragon put a wrench in the works. That 2-0 lead became a 4-5 deficit, and Sabaw Ni Mama closed the Gold gap as the momentum swung their way. Game 3 could not have been closer, and the teams were even as we went into the 14th minute, but a Dragon fight put Yawn back into the driver’s seat as they were able to claim Baron. It wasn't clean, and by the time we got to the Elder Infernal Dragon at 19 minutes, the teams were 14-11 with less than 2k Gold separating them, but Yawn was able to come out on top after a very close fight. They went on to destroy the Nexus for a 19:40 win, less than 7k Gold between the teams with a 19-12 scoreline. We could not have asked for a closer series, as the teams fought for their lives in the Lower Bracket of the Last Chance Qualifier.
Reflexion vs Ailish
We then moved on to see who would face Yawn. We’d of course seen Reflexion but Ailish was a new face for us. Having fallen to SBW in the Upper Bracket, they’d made a clean run through the Lower Bracket, and weren’t about to slow down either.
Ailish kicked Game 1 off with a solo kill for Angetenar in the Baron lane within the first minute. Even with a lead, they knew to not push it and bided their time as this turned into a game of Dragons for them. Even when their Midlaner was caught around the 4-minute Dragon, the Ahri was able to slip away as the rest of Ailish collapsed in a four-for-one trade. As Yawn looked to equalise, it all slipped away from them at the next Dragon, with a four-for-nothing trade going Ailish’s way again. While the Gold difference was minimal, Ailish led 9-3 at 10 minutes, and they only needed to wait for the next Dragon to get another favorable fight, which led them to the Baron. With the Baron push opening Reflexion’s base, we waited for the Elder Dragon to spawn for Ailish to put the nail in the coffin with their near 14k Gold lead and 21-6 scoreline.
Reflexion weren’t willing to go down without a fight and came back swinging in Game 2. It was a safe and cautious early game, as Reflexion didn’t push any advantage too far, and we finally got our first kills around the 8-minute Dragon. Osu’s Diana led the charge with a 5-man Moonfall, and Reflexion were able to take the five-for-one trade to take control of the game. Within minutes, Reflexion sat with a 7k Gold lead and Ext1rpate was happily 1v1-ing everyone he could find. With a 14-minute Baron under their belts, and Ailish unable to trade against Reflexion, it was only a matter of time before the Nexus fell. A 15-2 scoreline within 16 minutes, and over 14k Gold ahead.
With a season’s worth of work and effort on the line, our teams went into Game 3. Although Reflexion looked for early leads, applying pressure and sending three men to the Mid lane, it was to no avail. Our teams clashed over the first Dragon giving Ailish a 2-1 start, and the objective before they met once more just a minute later at the Rift Herald, which sent Ailish to 5-2 and allowed them to take the objective away. By 10 minutes, Ailish were 9-5 ahead with a growing Gold lead and control over objectives. While Reflexion looked to find picks, it was just an objective game for Ailish. With Elder Cloud Dragon to complete their collection and a Baron to boot, it was clean sailing to the win. Ailish ended Day 1 with a 21 minute victory, 19-7, to send them to Day 2 and keep their WNS dreams alive.
While Day 2 is an achievement, it wasn’t all our teams needed. With four teams remaining, and only two tickets left to the WNS Championship, the teams needed to make the Grand Finals, or their season would be over.
Ailish vs Yawn
To start the day, we had Ailish and Yawn fighting over a top 3 spot. Baby had been subbing in as the Baron laner for Ailish in Day 1, but came into Game 1 here to put on a clinic with Jungle Gragas. An incredible Exploding Cask and a Flash-Body Slam helped to set Ailish up with an early lead as they went 3-1 up with a Dragon at 5 minutes. This only continued to snowball, and by 10 minutes Ailish were 9-1 up and nearly 8k Gold ahead. With no way back into the game, Yawn only fell further behind and in a blink of an eye, as we approached the 14th minute, they were gone. A team fight seemingly out of nowhere with a 5-man Exploding Cask from Baby gave Ailish the Ace they needed to close the game.
Our teams got sucked into Game 2 right away, as Yawn set up a dive in the Baron lane within the first couple of minutes. Nine then roamed to the Dragon lane to claim a double kill, setting Yawn up with a 4-2 lead in the opening minutes. Ur Dumb was making his presence felt with a 4/1/0 scoreline, as Yawn sat 7-3 up at 6 minutes, but Ailish were racking up objectives and held the Gold lead. With Ailish looking for their third Dragon of the game, Yawn’s season came to an end as they tried to find their footing for a fight. An incredible engage came from Ailish as JustMobileGamer found a huge taunt with the Galio. The Darius went dunking, claimed a Pentakill, and Ailish suddenly found themselves destroying the Nexus for a 14:31 win, just 10-9 ahead.
Funhavers vs No More Ego
With these teams in the Upper Finals, they only needed one win to get to the Grand Finals and claim a WNS Championship spot.
NME went into Game 1 to put on a clinic, picking up early kills as they showcased their prowess, but Funhavers had built a team fight composition and it paid dividends. By 10 minutes, they’d taken hold of the game and continued to snowball it as they could force fights with their Malphite. Time after time we saw Funhavers dominate fights until they could close the game 22-8, with a 10k Gold lead at 16 and a half minutes.
NME weren’t going down without a fight and came to show why they’ve been expected to appear at the WNS Championship. Game 2 saw yet another engage composition from Funhavers, but this time NME had an answer. Funhavers were taking Rift Herald as they engaged onto NME, but Tibe was able to steal the objective as his team responded, leaving with a three-for-one trade before we hit 5 minutes. Funhavers may have had a lot of options to dive into their opponents, but it only benefited NME’s Darius, Riven, and Galio who could easily turn the engage. NME held control but weren’t willing to make a mistake; showing incredible patience as they waited for the right time to take the Elder Dragon. It came just after 20 minutes as a pick onto Tokki turned into a three-for-one trade in NME’s favor. As NME then pressured Baron, drawing all of Funhavers away from their base, LuanDj pushed in the Dragon Lane. Being unable to respond adequately, Funhavers’ Nexus fell at 23 minutes, with NME in complete control.
While their lives weren’t on the line yet, both teams wanted the relief of securing their WNS ticket with just one win here. Going into Game 3, we saw the teams dance over the first Dragon, ending with NME claiming First Blood and the objective before snowballing it into further leads. With such clean play coming from their opponents, it took 10 minutes for Funhavers to claim their first kill, but it was as NME claimed an Ace to set them 13-1 ahead and 11k Gold up. Unable to quite finish with a Rift Herald charge after this fight, NME played with their food for a bit, before finally closing the game at 13 minutes. A 19k Gold lead, and a form deserving of a WNS Championship appearance.
Funhavers vs Ailish
This series was the qualifier for the WNS Championship, the winner going to the Mall of America, the loser going home. With a lot riding on these games, we were expecting a lot of action, and Funhavers delivered with a Renekton support alongside a fasting Senna. After a relatively even start, our teams fought over the 5-minute Infernal Dragon, neither team able to claim the objective as the fight created an even 5-5 scoreline. After respawns, the teams fought over the objective once more, Ailish claiming it as Funhavers claimed a five-for-one trade. The game always felt relatively even, showing how evenly matched our teams were as they fought for the final WNS Championship spot but, as we approached the 20th minute, JustMobileGamer found a huge 5-man taunt with Galio, and the Gold lead finally fell into Ailish’s favor. It took time, but Ailish found the picks and fights they needed, and were able to pump out some damage. After claiming Elder Dragon and Baron, Ailish finally closed the 24-minute game with a 30-24 scoreline.
Funhavers fell back to the engage composition they’d found success on against NME as we went into Game 2; they drafted another Seraphine and Malphite combo. Even with this engage power, it was Ailish that found the fights they wanted, and our first 5v5 around the 5-minute Dragon went in Ailish’s favor as they took a four-for-one trade. It just felt like Funhavers could never find a footing, and Ailish always found the fights that they wanted. Yet again, the Elder Dragon was needed to finish the game, but when there’s a 9/1/2 Darius on Ailish’s side, there was nothing Funhavers could do. Ailish finally destroyed the Nexus at 19 minutes, with a 23-13 lead and nearly 10k Gold ahead.
After such a grueling series and weekend, Ailish were forced to forfeit their Grand Finals match against NME due to an emergency. This meant that NME secured the 7th seed heading into the WNS Championship, and Ailish took the 8th seed.
Historically, NME have always put up a fight, and 7th seed might not necessarily be indicative of their performances, but when it has mattered most they’ve fallen, and that's why they’ve had to rely on the LCQ. Will they bring a revived performance to the Mall of America?
There is so much talent coming into the Championship, and it's split across so many teams. We aren’t expecting one team to be dominant, and that's what makes the WNS Championship so exciting! Can Immortals continue their season of winning? Can Sentinels maintain their upward trajectory? Can Saint and SuzakuGG prolong their run, after dispatching larger organizations throughout the Major 3? Can Cloud9 break their 3rd/4th place curse? Will Tribe Gaming continue their redemption arc and bring about a return of the kings?
So many questions, so much to be excited for, and so many narratives to follow, it all culminates April 29th - May 1st at the WNS Championship!