It’s time for the group stage action of the EU Masters 2022. Teams are divided into four groups of four teams each. That means each side will play a total of six matches, all of which are in a best of one format. The top two from each group will then advance to the Playoffs that will be held between April 28 and May 7.
Vitality Bee (moneyline)
This bumper clash kicks off action from Group A. Vitality have had to come through the play-in stage, where they ended with a 5-1 win-loss record to top their group. So they are in good form coming into the group stages.
This is also why the bookmakers have listed them as favourites going into this clash. There is nothing that comes close to match time and confidence derived from victories. So expect Vitality Bee to come out trumps, but it may not be a walk in the park.
Like Vitality, the other French outfit Karmine Corp too finished the play-in as toppers, securing their entry to the knockout stage. Vitality squared off against EGN Esports, the Portuguese outfit, while Karmine played Lithuanian side Iron Wolves. The two French sides dominate proceedings to get to where they have.
Vitality scored a 2-0 win, making it their first qualification to a European Masters Main event. This will somewhat soothe the disappointment of their three previous attempts, which had ended in tears. Similarly, Rekkles and his teammates overcame their opponents to ensure Karmine Corp were undefeated in the EUM for the moment. They haven’t lost a best of three or a best of five clash since the 2021 Spring Split.
While this could be a bit of a deviation from the game we are previewing, it reiterates how the French teams have been well-oiled and carry immense confidence and self-belief from the recent set of results. Two other French outfits – BDS Academy and LDLC OL – are also in the mix. The French sides – for the record – have maximum representation among all leagues.
AGO Rogue, the academy team of Rogue, dominated season seven of the Ultraliga like no other. The domination was a bit like T1’s in the LCK. They ended the 10-team double round-robin league phase with a 15-3 win-loss record. The next best, Iron Wolves, managed a 13-5 record. In all, only four sides managed more than 10 wins in the league phase.
They set the pace early on and went on a winning spree that so easily helped them move ahead of the rest of the pack. So in terms of match time and confidence, they are equally up there. This is also why the odds haven’t been pegged so wildly against them. AGO can actually be a safe bet, even if they are not overwhelming favourites.
Crvena Zvezda (moneyline)
Crvena Zvezda, the Serbian outfit, are a very successful franchise. Among the oldest in the country – founded in 1945 – they have teams for football, rugby, basketball, volleyball, handball and other sports. In terms of a culture, they know how to build one. This has now successfully traversed into the e-sports landscape.
They have been consistently top of the class in the country’s League of Legends scene. In the regular season that finished in March, they topped the eight-team pool with 11 wins and three losses, just about managing to pip Valiance to pole position. And they did so emphatically, by beating their nearest rivals 3-0 in the final league fixture.
Their opponents Eintracht Spandau are a German outfit, who have been working hard to establish themselves as an important player in the local esports landscape. Acquiring Euronics Gaming has helped them compete directly in the top diction of the Strauss Premier League.
Make no mistake, they have had to transition into the big league but the manner in which they’ve risen to become giants in the local scene has been quite meteoric. The best part is they are showing no signs of slowing down. Coach Christoph “nRated” Seitz expects big things from this group and now wants them to show the same level of domination at bigger tournaments.
The real turning point came when they beat BIG, one of the best teams in the Premier League history. That they did so after losing four games in a row in an 18-team pool is all the more admirable. They still managed to finish second with a 12-6 win record. This makes them the favourites going into this match.
It’s easier to get noticed in smaller leagues when you rise to a standards of some of the more established players. Top laner Wondro has risen through the ranks and has emerged as one of the most established LoL players, with adaptability being his biggest strength.
The ability to play solo across the entire map should the situation arise also strengthens his case further. He can also consistently play in the weak side, an attribute not many possess.
BDS Academy (moneyline)
BDS Academy were rank underdogs in the LFL playoffs, but found enough ammunition when it mattered to take down a top team like Karmine Corp despite the presence of some terrific players like Rekkles and Hantera. There is no reason why they can’t pull off similar results at the EU Masters. In short, there’s potential and there is plenty of it to win the EU.
Each of their entrants have previously featured in the two editions of the tournament. That each of them have been part of the top teams in the summer split also means there is considerable experience to play with. In the spring split, they finished third in the standings with a 12-6 win-loss record, having surged towards the end with four wins back-to-back.
Overall, they were just one win away from finishing top alongside LDLC OL. The LFL is brimming with talent and one of them who will be watched closely at the EU masters. Francisco José ‘Xico’ Cruz Antunes’ presence as a team player and a strong mid laner has helped BDS come back from the dead to close out multiple games in a short span of time.
He is one of the key reasons why they are where they are. Crownshot adds an element of intrigue, while Erudote’s impressive body of work in his second year with the team also makes him a key player. He has risen to arguably become one of the best support players in the league, averaging a massive 745.1% kill participation in the spring split.
Team ESCA have risen to become one of the rising forces in the Polish league, along with AGO Rogue and Iron Wolves. ESCA Gaming finished the Ultraliga Season 7 split with a 12-6 record, being one of four teams to win over 10 matches in the split. It’s quite an inspirational rise because not long ago, the team was fighting in the amateur League of Legends competition in the country.
To brush against the top sides in the world from there on is quite a phenomenal rise. A first win in the playoffs has earned them the right to compete at the EU Masters. For all their recent history and the ability to consistently punch above their weight, when they are up against a champion side like BDS Academy, you’d think victory immediately could be a tall order.
This explains why the odds are so heavily stacked against them. Should you place your bets on them, you’re likely to return a near 3X winning reward should they win. It’s an attractive proposition no doubt, but the occurrence of such a result at least for the moment seems unlikely.
LDLC OL (moneyline)
LDLC OL finished on top of the LFL Spring Split standings. A part of their success was Yike’s form. Playing in an entire split for the first time, the 21-year old Jungler was one of the surprise packages int he league at large. He managed to play just one game of Quiyana in the LFL, but it turned out to be his most played champion in solo queue.
A record that reads 342 damage per minute this year, the highest among junglers in the LFL, makes it a record not to be scoffed at. His form will be crucial for the team as they chart a new journey at the EU Masters.
Atleta Esports are a new organisation in Italy, who have earned a promotion into the PG Nationals to begin the Spring of 2022. Atleta pulled off a stunning come-from-behind 3-0 win over regional favourites Macko Esports to book their entry into the EU Masters for the first time.
Having gotten here the tough way, they will have to banish first-time nerves and jitters pretty quickly if they are to hit the high notes. Still underdogs by a long way, the odds are heavily stacked against them in this clash.
|European Masters 2022 Spring Split Information|
|Teams||Vitality Bee v Ago Rogue, Atleta v LDLC OL, BDS Academy vs ESCA|
|Time||Thursday, April 14 at 11.15 AM EST onwards|
|How to watch||Official Twitch channel|
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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