Unicorns of Love SE (moneyline)
In the first of fixtures to kick off the EU Masters 2022, we’ve got a heavyweight Group D fixture that pits Unicorns of Love SE against Atleta. On paper, Unicorns start off as overwhelming favourites. They finished the Spring Split of the German League in third place after losing to eventual champions GamerLegion by a 3-1 margin. But their growth over the past season has been phenomenal.
On form, you back them to beat the relatively young Atleta Esports, the Italian organisation, who are featuring in the EU Masters for the first time in their history. So there is one team trying to prove a point, another trying to shrug off nerves in what promises to be their biggest stage so far.
In 2018, the franchise decided to move to Russia, thereby setting up a “sexy edition” in Germany where the team’s academy setup was based. From 2018-2021, they experienced a bit of a churn, failing to achieve any degree of success. Making it through to the EU Masters was an absolute long shot in terms of achievable goals.
For years together, when they were part of the UOL banner, they were known to be an aggressive outfit that lacked direction. They had the tendency of taking up every object on the map without major complexes. Somewhere in late 2021, they realised the need to change things around.
In 2022, the winds of change were here. Tobias “Dreamer Ace” Schreckender is the only link from the side of 2018 to the one that has ushered in a revolution of sorts. The team is more structured and have a pace and style of play that has become unique. Stability on the upper side of the map has become their signature over time.
Having blown hot and cold for a majority of the regular split, they found their bearings towards the end. They could’ve finished first or second, but for some errors towards the end of the league engagements. They ended with two deflating losses back to back.
The outfit only entered the professional structure in 2021, but their structure has undergone a transformation already. They currently include two renowned Ukrainians – XoNix and MightyDragon – from the LCL. Last week, they finished the PG Nationals 2022 as toppers to earn the right to play at the EU Masters.
The addition of two new coaches to their roster in Thomas “Phone” Kifle as head coach and Evan van Loon as a strategic coach speaks highly of the investment they’re making to get the best out of the current group and to hit the ground running. On paper, victory immediately may seem a bridge too far, but don’t discount a team that is high on team ethos, one that is more than capable of causing a few upsets.
Next up is a Group B fixture that pits the mercurial GamerLegion against the shaky Phantasma, who have the odds massively against them in this one, even though they are a massively improved outfit. In the spring split of the Greek League, they finished second in an eight-team pool with a 11-3 win record.
They were in contention to top the pool for much of the league phase, but a combination of a mini-slump that coincided with WLGaming Esports going on a run of eight successive wins meant they had to settle for second.
GamerLegion have been around for four years, a time when the Prime League, the organisation that owns the games, were not yet in existence. At the time, GamerLegion were one of many outfits in the reckoning. It’s only over the last two years that they have built a formidable squad looking at the future. In 2020, they had three veterans and two promising rookies as part of their combination.
Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss and Benjamin “Visdom” Ruberg Larsen were part of their roster at the time, but the general perception was they were past their prime. Hjarnan proved to be one of their weakest links in the worlds semi-final for G2 Esports.
The unknowns – Jochem “Rabble” van Graafeiland and Ardian “Nite”mSpahiu – are now making waves at AGO Rogue. It just goes to tell you how a little bit of investment and effort into building a core group can pay dividends.
GamerLegion barely made it to the playoffs in the spring split, but with wins over BIG and Unicorns of Love SE, they showed plenty of promise. What GamerLegion will need to watch out for is infighting and unpredictability, two traits that have somehow come to be attached to the group. If they play as one, they can be mighty formidable.
Phantasma failed to make it to the EU Masters play-in stage last year. They have used the setback as a springboard to something bigger.
A year on, here they are. On the back of a stunning come-from-behind five-game series over WLGaming, and they will hope to carry the confidence from that into the EU Masters. They will, however, need to prove they are more than just an extension of mid-laner Peppe’s proficiency.
Fnatic TQ (moneyline)
It’s ESCA’s grit v Fnatic TQ’s maverick ways that will dominate this Group C fixture. From being an unheralded outfit, ESCA have proved over time why they’re among the best up and coming teams in Europe. They have already risen to be the trend setters in there Polish League with their performance in season 7 split ample proof of their abilities.
But performing in their league – which, let’s be realistic is still a few rungs below the leagues of Fence, for example – is a different cup of tea altogether. There is a wide gulf in standards that they are trying to bridge and opportunities such as this against the big boys promises to give them the exposure.
When they take the field, the odds are so heavily stacked against ESCA that a 1 USD bet on them to win could nearly give you 4X returns should they cause a massive upset. The chances of that happening, though, are remote.
Karmine Corp (moneyline)
This is a blockbuster clash, and it’s likely the organisers couldn’t resist the temptation to pit these two tournament favourites at the first available opportunity. It’s unbelievable to think of it that these two teams share a rivalry for the ages, without actually having never played each other before.
This inter-European rivalry between the LEC veterans Fnatic and G2 has been the most celebrated rivalry of them all. This one is fast getting into the same territory, and their first meeting promises to add a fascinating chapter to it.
While national pride is something that’s very rarely felt in the world of esports, EUM as a tournament – where teams from different nationalities come by the hordes, manages to elicit the feeling. The fans of Karmine Corp are known to be some of the fiercest protectors of the team; X7 are no less. So in terms of support too, it’s as exciting as it can get in terms of the build-up.
You may wonder how two sides who have never met have such a rivalry. The genesis goes back to the makeup of the squad. Polish player “Badlya”, the jingler, who plays in the Ultraliga for Gentlemen’s Gaming managed to make a tweaked version of Karmine Corp’s mascot to represent the colours and emblems of the other rival European teams.
While the art work used by KC is a commissioned piece, Karmine Corp fand have been enraged about Badlyyga using their team’s artwork as his own.
They claimed copyright violations, with a number of subject matter experts adding to the controversy. The drama intensified when NX posted a modified version of this on twitter, sporting their emblem and colours.
All members of X7 also posted the same on their social media accounts. Social media frenzy turned into a full-blown war. It also got ugly when the official NCL account, the national league that X7 competed in, also posted the same. And so when the two sides take the field, tempers may fray occasionally, sparks could fly and it promises to be a tense battle.
|European Masters 2022 Spring Split Information|
|Teams||X7 vs Karmine Corp, Phantasma vs GamerLegion, UoL vs Atleta|
|Time||Friday, April 15 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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