While there was no official broadcast for the World Championship Qualifier rounds, a few individuals within the community took it upon themselves to grab perspectives from players in the tournament and put on a bit of a show for the community. If you didn’t know this was happening or didn’t catch any of them don’t worry - through these broadcasts, I have been able to compile a recap article for the World Championship Americas Qualifier.
In case this is your first time hearing about the qualifier stage or you just need a refresher, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the format. 64 players on the AM server got here through 3 different qualification methods; Seasonal tournament points, ranked ladder, and Seasonal Top 4 finishes. Those 64 players faced off in a double-elimination bracket until only 6 remained who will now go on to the main World Championship against the 5 representatives from EU and 5 from SEA/Asia. Curious how they whittled it down to 6? With it being double elimination, we have a winners (upper) bracket and losers (lower) bracket. Players who win 4 rounds in the upper bracket automatically qualify through to the round of 16 as they would have finished in the top 6 at worst were the bracket played to completion. The lower bracket has 7 rounds, with round 6 being at the start of day 2 where 4 players who slugged through the lower bracket would face off against the losers of the upper bracket round 4. This may still come off as a little confusing as it’s a difficult thing to visualize, so let me try and simplify a little further. Round 4 Upper Bracket = winner goes to Worlds, loser goes to Round 6 Lower Bracket. Round 7 Lower Bracket = winner goes to Worlds. Any upper bracket round prior to 4 sends the player to the lower bracket, and any lower bracket loss sends the player home. Because of the nature of the broadcasts, we’ll be jumping intermittently between the lower and upper bracket, so bear that in mind. With the housekeeping out of the way and you (hopefully) having an understanding of the stakes, let’s see how the players did and who will be representing the Americas server in 2 weeks.
Starting off the show with a bang, we decided to check in with our most recent Seasonal Champion, Moe. Obviously at an event of this calibur every match is sure to be a good one, so it's always nice when you can find an extra layer of narrative behind it; in this case, a rematch from the top 16 of the Rise of the Underworlds Seasonal. While that match took place just 2 short weeks ago, the only deck making a return from it is Moe’s Pirate Aggro, which Nalkpas banned.
In Game 1 Moe started off with Overwhelm into Nalkpas’ Zoe/Nami. Normally the Nami deck seeks to pass the first 2 turns and play a copy of Double Trouble on turn 3 to level up Nami on turn 4, but against an aggressive lineup like Moes, it’s a line you often can’t afford to take. Nalkpas didn’t even try to pretend he was going to be able to pull it off, and played a Zoe on turn 1 to reduce the cost of a main-decked Supercool Starchart in hand. Moe responded with a few one drops of his own, starting off with a Treasure Seeker and summoning 2 Omen Hawk on the following turn. Treasure Seeker traded with a Lunari Duskbringer and only 2 damage was pushed through.
Moe’s next attack turn wasn’t nearly as impactful as he would have liked, drawing a Ruthless Predator and Ancient Yeti over the next two turns. With no playable Omen Hawk buffed units, he cast Waking Sands. Nalkpas found a Crescent Strike from a Starchart, and Moe was left with just his Omen Hawks to attack with. He cast Ruthless Predator and attacked Zoe with the 3 attack Hawk, prioritizing killing Zoe over pushing damage in the face of a potential protection spell.
On turn 5 Moe found a very timely 8/5 Ruin Runner thanks to the Omen Hawks, and Nalkpas ran out another Zoe alongside two Wiggly Burblefish. After Nalkpas’ attack, he had the health lead with 17 nexus HP to Moe’s 13. Next turn Moe elected for an open attack to avoid walking into Crescent Strike again, but no blocks from Nalkpas made things tense. Fleet Admiral Shelly hit the board, and that meant Nalkpas was going to have 9 mana with a Shelly and 3 other elusive units to try and push through 13 damage while Moe had only a Troll Chant to try and stem the bleeding. Nalkpas had plenty of spells in hand, including a stolen Ruthless Predator, and ended up way over the necessary amount to win the opening game of the series.
For Game 2, Moe made the switch over to Spiders against Lulu/Poppy. In theory this was a matchup that could work out favorably for Moe. Wiith Yordle Smith being one of the focal cards of the deck, it meant Nalkpas could struggle to deal with fearsome units in the early game. It’s a struggle that persisted into reality as Moe pushed through 6 damage on turn 3 with 2 copies of Arachnoid Horror. Nalkpas was able to respond with a Poppy on turn 4 with 3 other units, but Moe traded away his units without a care as he sat on 3 copies of Imperial Demolitionist and a Decimate. With all the burn added up, Moe would only need to find 4 more damage along the way in order to take the series to a game 3.
But things aren’t always as simple as they seem, especially when Bandle City is involved. After using a Frenzied Skitterer to push through more fearsome damage, Nalkpas was left at 5 nexus health. On turn 6, neither player had any spell mana banked. Nalkpas still had a Poppy and 2 Bandle Commando on field, so Moe’s choices were simple with his 2 card hand; if Nalkpas open attacks, play the Decimate. If he develops, play the Arachnoid Sentry to stop the Poppy from buffing up the board even more. But Nalkpas was able to find a rock and hard place to shove Moe in between. He started with Loping Telescope, getting Moe to use the Sentry. Nalkpas then followed up with his manifested card - Aloof Travelers. Moe drew Noxian Fervor, but was forced to discard his Decimate. It’s hard to keep an aggro player down though, and the celebration of killing a Decimate was immediately cut short as Moe drew Doombeast for turn and finished off the 5 health nexus with Fervor into Doombeast.
Mr eMOEtional 1-1
It wouldn’t be much of an opening set if we didn’t take it to game 3, where we would get probably the only Overwhelm vs Lulu/Poppy game of the tournament. Things got out of hand pretty quickly in this game. On turn 4, the game looked very simple. Both players had full spell mana, 20 nexus health, and 1 unit each. A Rock Hopper for Moe, and a vulnerable Loping Telescope for Nalkpas. It was Nalkpas’ attack turn, so he started us off with a Tenor of Terror while Moe played Renekton. Nalkpas attacked with his Loping Telescope, and Moe chose not to block so he had a vulnerable unit for Renekton to pull for some additional damage. On turn 5 Moe slammed a Battle Fury onto Renekton and attacked the Telescope, pushing 13 damage and leveling up the Renekton. Then Nalkpas went wider with another Tenor and Yordle Squire. On turn 6, Nalkpas started things off by playing Poppy. Moe spent 3 of his 6 mana to play a Merciless Hunter, giving vulnerable over to a Bass of Burden and tapping him below the use of his Three Sisters he had in hand. Nalkpas used all of his remaining mana to play Yordles in Arms, giving his board +4/+4. Moe threw down an Omen Hawk as another blocker, but when the attacks came out and the math was done, Moe was staring down exact lethal from 18 nexus health. With the entire board getting +5/+5 between Poppy and Yordles in Arms, and with 4 units having the new keyword impact, it was too much for Moe to handle and Nalkpas was able to exact his revenge from the Seasonal.
While much of the tournament was still running around playing Akshan/Sivir mirrors, viewers at home were treated to another unique matchup: Zilean/Xerath vs Noxus Bandle Tree. With a Desert Naturalist in the opening hand, BBG would at least be able to deal with the first Tree that was played. But the matchup is a bit more complex than that, as Poppy is of course a good secondary win condition.
And a hard to deal with one in some hands it seems. Drisoth went wider than normally allowed thanks to a Bandle City Mayor reducing the cost of Fizz and a Hungry Owlcat to 0. When Poppy came down alongside the wide board on turn 4, (also for a reduced cost) BBG had to Ancient Hourglass his Zilean and destroy it with Rite of the Arcane. While the Naturalist secured BBG’s position against a Tree, he was being buried in nearly every resource. The gap continued to grow as Drisoth opened turn 5 with another Bandle City Mayor, meaning the cost of all multi-region followers would be 2 less than normal. BBG played a Time Bomb, and destroyed it with another Rite of the Arcane to kill a 2 mana Poppy that Drisoth threw down. Not wanting to risk his Mayors in combat, Drisoth used a Pokey Stick onto the nexus and attacked with his elusive units, Fizz and Bandle Commando.
BBG drew Preservarium and found another Zilean off of it. Drisoth used Aloof Travelers to make BBG discard his only Arsenal for the time being, and then played a Yorlde Ranger. After combat on the next turn, BBG was able to use a time bomb to clear out Fizz and Yordle Commando. He also drew a leveled Xerath and it looked like he might be able to start to take the board back, especially with 2 Poppy dead on the side of Drisoth. With a board of 5 landmarks and a Zilean however, BBG elected to burst pass to let one of his Roiling Sands be used rather than overwrite something with Xerath. Xerath was able to pick off a unit when the 2nd Sands were consumed, but the fact of the matter remained that Drisoth was much wider than BBG, who was only at 10 nexus health. Every unit removed was immediately replaced, and BBG’s 2 Sarcophagus were still 2 turns away from hatching into Restored Devouts.
Going into Drisoth’s attack turn, a Scrappy Bomb countdown immediately took out the weakest unit thanks to Xerath. It was replaced by a Poro Sled, but Hexplosive Minefield stopped it in its tracks. Another Hungry Owlcat was played, and one of BBG’s two Desert Naturalists was used to pop the Minefield, stun a unit, summon a Rockbear, and shoot the weakest unit. With the board solidly in BBGs favor for the turn, Drisoth only attacked with his Trickster. On BBGs turn his Sarcophagus released the Devouts, and he drew an Arsenal. Going on the offensive, his Arsenal came down with 10 keywords - none of which were spellshield. Drisoth used Group Shot to damage it through tough and finished it off with Scorched Earth. With the wind taken out of his sails, BBG sent in his final offense, taking a series of trades. With a Desert Naturalist still in hand but only 2 mana left for BBG, Drisoth played a completed Bandle Tree and won the game.
Things weren’t looking good for BBG at the start of game 2 as he would have to pick up a win with Draven/Sion against Drisoth’s Darkness, a historically poor matchup for Sion. For the first half of the game, BBG couldn’t find his footing. Zaunite Urchin? Pokey Stick. Grave Physician? Darkbulb Acolyte. Twinblade Revenant? Stilted Robemaker. At least the card advantage was slowly building in BBG’s favor, at least until Drisoth played a pair of Conchologists on turn 5. BBG played Draven and Risen Rider but lost the Rider to Darkness. Another Twinblade Revenant came down with a Boom Baboon, but Drisoth responded with another Acolyte, and combined Darkness and Vile Feast to kill Draven. With no damage pushed onto Drisoth’s nexus going into turn 7, BBG was going to need his Sions and Get Exciteds to do some heavier than normal lifting.
On turn 7, BBG played Sion and Drisoth played Senna with Hidden Pathways. Open attacking on 8 was risky for BBG as a Minimorph would totally nullify his attack turn, so he decided to develop. Sump Dredger discarded Flame Chompers, and Drisoth played an Ixtali Sentinel. It was stunned by Arachnoid Sentry, and Drisoth played Otterpus, holding 2 mana for Darkness. BBG played Boom Baboon, and it was time to get into the combat phase of the turn. Darkness was used to save Senna from Twinblade Revenant, and Sion hit the nexus uncontested while units traded on both sides. Drisoth’s turn passed without much action from either side, and when BBG got the attack token it was time to send in the forces again. Sion went in first with a few other units, and Flame Chompers pulled Ixtali Sentinel to the end of the line. The eye told BBG Drisoth would live at 6 when all was said and done, but a Get Excited in combat would kill the nexus before the Sentinel could hit the Chompers thanks to Sion’s overwhelm. He queued it up, and Drisoth responded with Absorb Soul (from Conchologist) onto his Ixtali Sentinel. BBG put a 2nd Get Excited on the stack to present lethal once again, but his Sion was blasted with Senna’s Dawning Shadow. Despite starting the combat at 10 nexus health and getting 2 Get Excited tossed into his face, Drisoth ended the fight at 12 health. Sion Reborn hit the board with just a 2/1 Sump Dredger alongside him, and Drisoth still had 5 mana and an Ixtali Sentinel for lifesteal. With 7 mana left of his own, BBG played Risen Rider. Drisoth mounted his defense with Twisted Catalyzer. BBG summoned a Reborn Grenadier and Flame Chompers, and Drisoth added another Twisted Catalyzer to his wall. Twinblade Revenant brought BBG back to 6 units on the field, and Drisoth Pranked to reveal the Arachnoid Sentry in BBG’s hand, and looked at a Survival Skills in deck as it couldn’t reveal the 2nd Sion. BBG tried for the 2nd time to throw his entire board at Drisoth’s nexus, and the end result was a Conchologist and Catalyzer for Drisoth to pair with his dwindling 3 nexus health. He open-attacked on the following turn to knock BBG down to 5, who cast Rummage to try and find a way to finish off the remaining health of Drisoth’s nexus. Drisoth took a similar approach, knocking BBG down to 4 with a Pokey Stick. Not finding anything appealing from the Rummage, Sion hit the board and prepared for another open attack. Drisoth however had found another Ixtali Sentinel, and thanks to the Catalyzers was able to Darkness both Sion and the nexus for 4 damage each, sending BBG to the lower bracket.
For the third round of the day we followed rank 4 ladder player BBG into the losers bracket to see how he would fare into rank 7 ladder player Rattling Bones. Fresh off a loss to Drisoth’s Darkness, BBG queued up his own for game 1 against Draven/Caitlyn.
Expectedly, there wasn’t much action in the early game. BBG had plenty of cards to buff up his Darkness, but no cards that could generate it except Ixtali Sentinel, the most expensive one. So when Bones played an Aloof Travelers on turn 5, it set BBG back into a Darkness waiting room while he simply buffed it up. With 2 Robemaker in play, BBG was looking at a 1 mana 2 damage Darkness whenever he could find a generator for it - which conveniently came right on time with turn 6 in the form of Senna. BBG elected to play a Concologist instead, finally knocking his Hidden Pathways down to 3 mana. He played it and found Veigar with another Sentinel, but a Flashbomb Trap finished off one of his Robemakers. Bones pushed the board advantage by killing the Concologist with Sump Fumes, leaving BBG with a Spiderling and Robemaker against a wide but low health board. With Wither Wail and Vile Feast in hand, BBG was set to take no damage on the following turn if he didn’t want to. Bones took an open attack, and BBG used Pokey Stick and Wail to clear the board along with a block. Bones summoned Arachnoid Sentry and passed. Smelling the weakness in his opponent's hand, BBG went wild. He pranked Bones’ hand to reveal a Mystic Shot and Scorched Earth, then summoned a Concologist to manifest Fading Memories, which he used on his Robemaker to get his Darkness down to 0 mana. It wasn’t until combat was finished that Bones decided to use Rummage to discard his pranked Scorched Earth and a Get Excited for some new cards, finding an Aloof Travelers and using it to replace the Ixtali Sentinel in BBG’s hand with a Minimorph.
The players moved into turn 10, and BBG decided that with 2 Senna and a Veigar in hand it was time to start playing Champions and getting through Bones’ removal. The first Senna ran into a Tri-Beam Improbulator, yielding a Yorlde Grifter. Another Otterpus pranked a Get Excited, and BBG passed. Bones was starting to take control of the board with a hearty army of 3/3 units and ran it into BBG's 1/1 squad. While his Darkness was 0 mana, it was still only doing 2 damage. So when he found a Catalyzer, he used a Stress Defense to save it from removal but Bones had Ravenous Flock, trying to keep the Darkness damage under control. Another Senna ran into another Tri-Beam, this one summoning The Clock Hand. BBG played his last Senna, and a Thermogenic Beam sent her packing straight away. Clock Hand summoned an Inner Sanctum, and Bones used the Lucky Finds to give it spell shield and tough. BBG popped the spell shield with a still 2 damage Darkness, and Minimorphed it.
On round 18, BBG drew another Veigar. Bones was starting to finally take the reins in terms of card advantage, but neither player had any significant threats. BBG played a Sentinel, but with Darkness still at 2 damage, he was mostly looking to take advantage of the body. On round 19 he decided it was finally time to see what answers Bones had been saving for his Champions, and played Veigar. Bones stunned it and hit it with a Ravenous Flock. He tried to finish it off with Mystic Shot, but BBG used Stress Defense to save Veigar, prompting the final Tri-Beam from Bones, which hit a Fleet Admiral Shelly. With only 2 cards left in hand, 1 of which was a 7 mana Get Excited, it was unlikely Shelly would get much done. With Bones on just 1 mana (thanks to attune), Veigar #2 hit the board and was finally able to tick up Darkness at the start of the round.
With Bones at 15 life, BBG continued to pick apart the board rather than send the Darkness at the nexus, and Bones was struggling to keep up after using so many resources to kill the first Veigar. He topdecked a Thermo Beam and killed it after Darkness was up to 4 damage, but BBG had taken back the board. At least until Bones finally found Lost Souls, which prompted a Minimorph onto Twinblade Revenant. BBG drew his 6th Champion of the game, and decided he had enough of controlling the board. He then targeted the nexus with Darkness, putting Bones at 11. Next round he repeated the process, putting Bones at 6 and setting up for lethal on the following turn. Not out of it yet, he used his 7 mana Get Excited to damage the Veigar and finished it off with Scorched Earth. Bones was left with no cards in hand, and 5 units on board. BBG also had 5 units, but still had a hand. A hand which contained yet another Acolyte, and Lost Souls was lost to Darkness. BBG swung out and Bones full-blocked to go to 4, and BBG used Stress Defense to save one of his damaged units from a Spiderling and fully heal it. Bones drew Lost Souls, but with 4 units still on the side of BBG the game finally came to an end on round 26, likely one of the longest games of the tournament.
In game 2 BBG cosplayed the aggressor for a short time, running out Zilean and Endless Devout in the first few turns. Bones matched the Devout with Caitlyn and took 3 damage. When he went to push his 3 damage back into BBG’s nexus, he found the Devout in his way. BBG then used Desert Naturalist to destroy his Sarcophagus, summoning a Restored Devout and Angry Rockbear. Arachnoid Sentry/Ravenous Flock killed the Rockbear, and BBG switched back to the control plan, drawing 2 cards with Hidden Pathways. After a weak Tri-Beam killed the Devout, it looked like BBG would be able to surmount a hefty card lead as he continued to find draw, but a Lost Souls discard halted the plan. BBG would need to find a way to get back on the board before he lost it completely, and a Time Bomb sought to clean up Caitlyn and Golden Ambassador, prompting a Scorched Earth onto the Bomb. Roiling Sands filled BBG’s board, and Bones played the Twinblade Revenant into it. It traded with an Endless Devout, and BBG summoned Rock Hopper. With 2 Xerath and an Ancient Hourglass in hand, it seemed like BBG was going to be taking the board back very soon. But first, he played another Naturalist onto Sarcophagus, and Bones summoned Lost Souls. BBG summoned Arsenal, utilizing quick attack to kill Lost Souls.
On Bones’ attack turn, BBG drew another Time Bomb, which paired very nicely with four 1 health units sitting on Bones’ field. Noticing this himself he sent in a full attack, trading out the board. BBG was left with a 2/1 Naturalist, and summoned Xerath and another Naturalist, killing a Minefield to kill a Twinblade Revenant and summon another Rockbear. Damage was pushed onto the Rockbear and a Get Excited was lobbed at Xerath, both of which were finished off by Flashbomb Traps on the next turn. This series of events took away BBG’s board presence. He then had an Arsenal milled by an Aloof Traveler and things looked like they might be squeaking back into Bones’ favor as BBG sat with an awkward hand containing 3 Rite of the Arcane. With a Twinblade Revenant in Bones’ hand it was going to take more than Rite to seal the victory, and after protecting his Xerath from 2 spells with Ancient Hourglass, it seemed he might have found that something more. For good measure, he also drew his 3rd copy of Arsenal.
Things got a little dicey in regard to a Tri-Beam summoning a Fallen Reckoner, as it meant BBG would need to block with his Arsenal that didn’t have regeneration or fall to 4 nexus health. He elected to take the hit, and Bones used a 0 mana Thermo Beam to remove the spell shield. With scout/elusive/lifesteal, BBG went in with Arsenal. Bones had no answer and conceded, ending his Worlds run.
Yes, you read that right, Realkey brought 3 Bandle Tree decks. Bilgewater Lulu, Poppy/Teemo Noxus, and Fizz/Ziggs Freljord. The Poppy/Teemo Noxus deck was banned, but it was really funny to me to just type out every deck as Bandle Tree.
For game 1 we got our first Bandle Tree mirror on camera, with Realkey on his Fizz/Ziggs Freljord against Xeloo’s more standard Poppy/Teemo Noxus. Both players hit Bandle City Mayor on curve, but it was Xeloo who found the 2nd one. Realkey’s 1 mana Loping Telescope was matched by Xeloo with a 0 mana Telescope. Both players continued to rack up the regions with 4 for each of them already on turn 4. With Xeloo having the Mayor advantage, it positioned Realkey well to be the beatdown. Knowing Xeloo wouldn’t want to throw his Mayors into combat if he could avoid it, he threw down an Arena Kingpin and Yordle Ranger. While the Ranger only got off one attack before falling to Ravenous Flock, the health buff for his board finally let him chew through Xeloo’s Bandle Commando while keeping his own. Xeloo did manage to avoid taking significant damage, and also snuck a 3rd Bandle City Mayor onto the field. This allowed him to open the turn with a 1 mana Aloof Travelers, getting a Minimorph out of Realkey’s hand and drawing a Scorched Earth. Realkey responded with their own Aloof Travelers, but Xeloo seemed to have made some kind of deal with the Travelers as they blessed him with a Poppy while discarding his own Minimorph. With 3 Mayor on the field Poppy was only 1 mana, and with Fizz as the only multi-region follower left in his hand Xeloo decided it was time to spread his sea legs. He all-out attacked, threatening lethal. Realkey went for a full block, only taking 3 damage from a Mayor and preserving his Ziggs and Aloof at 1 health a piece. Xeloo threw down his 0 mana Fizz thanks to his surviving Mayor, then drew another Poppy with Messenger.
Realkey kicked off the next turn with his own Messenger, and then the two traded units with Pokey Sticks. Realkey found another Mayor, but Xeloo had found House Spider and Proto Poro. He was getting very close to the Bandle Tree win condition, but would still need to find a Tree. He played his Poppy and went for another huge attack, playing for the win condition at hand. Less of the board was traded this time, and more damage went through putting Realkey down to 6 nexus health. Xeloo replaced his fallen units with House Spider and passed, looking very in control of both the board and the Bandle Tree with a slight region lead and a Scorched Earth in hand. That said, most of his power was tied to the board, with his hand containing some questionable landmarks, another House Spider, and Buster Shot.
That’s when Realkey broke out the big guns - a Sanctum Conservator manifested from a Telescope. Xeloo’s wide board was wiped out, leaving only his Champions and Realkey got a copy of the Conservator. As cool as it was to see, it didn’t get Realkey out of the woods, as he was still at 6 nexus health while Xeloo controlled a 3/2 Fizz. He drew another Poppy, but would need to use the Poppy’s Keeper’s Verdict to give Fizz elusive. With Realkey only having Sanctum Conservators and a Lonely Poro, none of the targets were things he wanted to see Realkey play again. Both players were missing Ionia still, and he didn’t want to give Realkey the chance to find the right poro. So he passed. Realkey played another Bandle City Mayor into a Loping Telescope, and Xeloo continued to pass. On the next attack turn, Xeloo was forced to trade away his board, and use his Scorched Earth on a Bandle Tree. He found an Augmented Experimenter off a Loping Telescope, but would have to wait until the next turn to play it.
Xeloo then drew Bandle Tree. He wouldn’t be able to play it and Experimenter in the same turn, and he needed the Experimenter to finish off the Sanctum Conservator. He had drawn through a significant portion of his deck already and decided that the odds were high he could find a 2nd Tree and let the Experimenter rip. He drew Fizz, Bandle Tree, and Minimorph. He full-blocked Realkey’s incoming weak attack now that the Conservators were dealt with, and played his Bandle Tree. He was at 9 regions out of 10 and got a Fae Bladetwirler as his Ionia unit. Realkey would need to play and complete his own Tree to win the game instead as it would go into his attack turn, and his round start ability would trigger first. He started off with a Group Shot, then followed it up with Fizz. He overwrote a unit with Proto Poro. It seemed as though he was playing out his hand to show Xeloo what cards he had, but then he spent his remaining 10 mana on Treasured Trash. Realkey gained 9 cards off the Treasured Trash, and needed landmark removal in order to bring the game back from the brink. Luck wasn’t on his side, and he conceded upon seeing the cards.
Xeloo swapped over to Plunder and Realkey stayed on the Freljord Fizz/Ziggs version of Tree. Xeloo’s opener looked good, starting off with a Jagged Butcher and having a Monkey Idol to level his Champions quickly. He even already had Gangplank, one of the most important cards for punching through the thick defenses of Bandle Tree decks, especially ones without access to Poppy.
Realkey seemed to have a good opener in their own right, throwing down a Loping Telescope and Bandle City Mayor. He followed up with a 2nd Mayor and a 2nd Telescope. Just when it seemed Realkey had finally tipped the luck factor into his favor, Xeloo reminded him of his place. He summoned Gangplank and played Make It Rain, sniping both Bandle City Mayors out of the wide board. He then went in for a full attack, trading his Gangplank for a Poro Sled. Realkey’s attack next turn finished with trading off the boards and he was left with the sole unit on field, a Tenor of Terror. Xeloo played 2 Crackshot Corsair, eyeing the 9 remaining nexus health and looking to set up an easy plunder for his Black Market Merchant. On his attack turn he decided that pushing 3 damage and throwing away a Corsair wasn’t the best he could do, so he played Warning Shot and summoned the Merchant, nabbing a Bandle Tree. He then played Jagged Butcher and Yordle Grifter, nabbing Babbling Balladeers. While the Bandle Tree isn’t the preferred win condition of plunder decks, you make due with what you find. But with only 6 nexus health left for Realkey, it was probably better to stick to plan A.
After staving off another aggressive turn, Realkey summoned Aloof Travelers. Xeloo drew and discarded a Sejuani, a pivotal piece in pushing through the remaining damage. He settled for Warning Shot into BMM again, this time nabbing a Telescope. While he had only played 1 region of a unit up until this point, he suddenly had access to 5. He played the Telescope and got an interesting selection to try and circumnavigate the remaining 5 nexus health: The Traveler, Encroaching Shadows, and Proto Poro. He chose the Traveler, and Realkey played a Bandle Commando. With 6 mana remaining, Xeloo elected not to play his elusive. Instead he summoned his discounted Balladeers, yielding an Owlcat. Realkey connected with Commando and played his own Owlcat, and with his last 4 mana, Xeloo overwrote his Telescope to play a reduced-cost Bandle Tree.
With luck still on his side, he was given a Navori Conspirator. While it didn’t help the Bandle Tree wincon as he had an Owlcat in hand already, it was an elusive attacker that allowed him to recycle a BMM. He also drew Monster Harpoon for turn, but was 1 mana shy of blasting the Commando and playing both of his elusive attackers. He started off with Conspirator, and Realkey killed his Crackshot Corsair with Buster Shot. Xeloo summoned his Trickster and attacked with both elusives, prompting a Minimorph out of Realkey to block both units.
But Xeloo continued to high roll his Tree, and was given a Ruin Reckoner for the turn. Realkey played a Bandle Tree at 8 regions, and Xeloo nabbed the 3rd Bandle Tree out of the deck with a Yordle Grifter. He used the Warning Shot to knock Xeloo down to 4 and play a BMM, nabbing another Loping Telescope. He took Mind Meld off the Telescope, which would set his units to 5/5. Realkey continued passing, and Xeloo fired off Monster Harpoon onto Tenor of Terror to get 1 unit wider. Realkey matched the board with Avarosan Hearthguard. Xeloo overwrote his Bandle Tree for Ruined Reckoner, getting 1 unit wider and casting Midnight Raid onto his Trickster for a free attack. Realkey was knocked down to 1. With one nexus health away from going to the World Championship main event, Realkey elected not to open attack and summoned a Gangplank he drew for turn. Realkey responded with Treasured Trash, hoping against hope that this time the card would give him what he needed. Xeloo attacked with Gangplank and Trickster, and Realkey’s Treasured Trash once again remained trash.
Round 7 Lower Bracket - TomasZamo2000 vs MajiinBae
You may have noticed I skipped some rounds there, jumping from Upper 4th to Lower 7th. If you want to check out the event in full you’ll have to watch the VODs, and after covering the upper bracket “finals”, it felt weird to move back into lower stake matches. So we’re skipping straight to the lower bracket “finals” - winner goes to Worlds, loser goes home.
The final match of the day opened with Draven/Caitlyn up against Zoe/Nami. Majiin got on board quickly with a Boom Baboon and Draven, but Tomas rebutted with the ideal opener of passing the first 2 turns into Double Trouble. Majiin’s hand was heavy with removal, but nothing that could outright kill a leveled Nami. He poked at the nexus with Draven and started calculating the most effective way to kill Nami. On turn 4 Tomas opened with Guiding Touch onto his nexus, prompting a pass from Majiin and a pass back to end the turn.
With Nami apparently not joining the party, Majiin tried to snipe out a Fleet Admiral Shelly with Aloof Travelers. He hit a 4 mana Wiggly Burblefish, and it became apparent how weak of a hand Tomas was really dealing with. He burst pass with a Supercool Starchart, and Majiin decided to waste no time going on the offensive. He discarded Flame Chompers with a Spinning Axe and pulled the Frightened Ibex off to the side, leaving only Precious Pet to defend against the 3 attackers. The Pet blocked Boom Baboon and Majiin took the opportunity to push some extra damage and level up his Draven, discarding Lost Souls for his 2nd Axe.
Tomas opened his attack turn with a Zap Sprayfin, and Majiin played Caitlyn. Tomas summoned Sparklefly and tried to mount an elusive offensive while waiting for Nami or Shelly to show up. Majiin hit the Sparklefly with a Sump Fumes and Tomas tried to protect it with Pale Cascade, but Majiin used Rummage to fulfill the conditions of the card and bump it up to 3 damage. Majiin developed Twinblade Revenant and Tomas played another Double Trouble, hitting Omen Hawk and Fallen Feline. While the Omen Hawk was potentially a nice hit, the Fallen Feline didn’t mean much as there was no way for Tomas to shuffle his deck to get the Hexite Crystal out of the bottom 10. And with the way things were going, it didn’t look like the game was going to go on long enough for him to draw down that far. Tomas fell to 9 health and lost half his board, then summoned Zoe and ended the turn.
We hit round 8 with Tomas Starcharting another Messenger, still trying to find one of his key combo pieces. He hit a buffed Sparklefly, but Majiin discarded another Lost Soul to Poro Cannon and played the Daring Poro. Not wanting to risk his Sparklefly to Ravenous Flock, Tomas passed without attacking. Majiin was willing to knock down as many boards as Tomas set up, and overwrote his Flame Chompers with another Twinblade Revenant. Tomas used Gifts from Beyond to stun one with Gravitum, but still had to block with every unit other than Zoe. He played a buffed Burblefish and started playing out his spells, knowing time was running out to find a Nami and still win the game. Instead he found what Majiin was looking for, hitting a few Flashbomb Traps that killed Burblefish. Spelltheif leveled Zoe, and Line’em Up//Knock ’ em Down was used to kill Daring Poro, but Majiin simply played the 2nd one.
Tomas finally drew Nami for turn, but at the cost of another Flashbomb pushing damage onto Zoe. Majiin locked in on the tidecaller with Tri-Beam Improbulator on sight for 5 damage, and Tomas just squeaked her out of range with Sunblessed Vigor. Using a similar trick from earlier, Majiin pointed a Scorched Earth at Zoe, bumping Tri-Beam up to 6 damage and killing both units. Tomas played Poro Cannon and summoned both Daring Poros, and surrendered.
By this point in the day, Sivir Demacia vs Zoe/Nami was something we had seen quite a few times, and it was a matchup that kept going the way of Sivir. But if Tomas could win this game, the entire tournament would come down to a Sivir Demacia mirror.
Both players got online with Champions early. Tomas took a turn 1 attack with Zoe, and Majiin got down an early Akshan. Wanting to take advantage of the weak early game of Nami he played a Brightsteel Protector for tempo, then opened with Sivir on turn 4. Tomas walled up with Double Trouble, but failed to hit a 2 attack unit. He deployed his Wings and The Wave and Astute Academic as blockers, then played Nami. When the turn ended and his last mana turned to spell mana, the Nami leveled up. Tomas burst pass with Supercool Starchart and Majiin took aim at Nami with Cataclysm, sending Sivir into the Arena. With 4 mana remaining, Majiin debated using Shaped Stone or Riposte to counter the Sunblessed Vigor Tomas played, ultimately deciding on Riposte in case there was another Vigor. Tomas countered with Pale Cascade cast on Zoe, then a Moonsilver onto Gifts From Beyond and said Gifts. Nami died but Zoe sat at a frightful 12/7, and Tomas played a Wiggly Burblefish as well. With 1 mana left he played the Jailbreak generated by the Burblefish and attacked Majiin for 14 elusive damage, knocking him down to 4.
But Nami was dealt with, and Majiin drew Concerted Strike to deal with Zoe. With only 4 nexus health left it would be difficult to deal with every elusive that came down, but he still had a Sharpsight as well as Shaped Stone/Akshan’s Grappling Hook. The tools were there but they weren’t cheap, and Majiin was already struggling to bank spell mana. He all-out attacked with his 3 units, pushing 6 nexus damage and leveling his Sivir. Tomas Double Troubled into Otterpus and Sparring Student. Majiin decided he didn’t want Shaped Stone getting pranked, and cast it onto Sivir along with Akshan’s Grappling Hook.
And then, Majiin made a rookie mistake. With a 15 minute delay on his stream, he accidentally discarded the delay when he hit the end stream button, immediately ending things before the delay played out. This cut the footage in the middle of the game and deleted the footage for game 3. Majiin popped back onto stream to inform everyone that he lost the 2nd game but was able to win game 3 in the Sivir Demacia mirror so he’d be moving on to the round of 16. It was a real gut-wrencher for such a tight series to end in such an anti-climactic fashion, but you don’t get much more grassroots than a story like that.
And so at the end of the day, the Americas shard is sending through 6 powerhouse players:
Be sure to tune into the main event September 16th-18th to cheer on our representatives, and be on the lookout for their player profiles rolling out over the next 2 weeks!