BCS Week 2 Recap: Match Forfeit, Interview With Finlev
The Battlerite Community Series continued to impress this week with another round of hype matches. Though the scores mostly looked a little one-sided, we continued to see innovation in champion picks and strategies by the winning teams, making the meta look far more diverse than anyone predicted in the week leading up to Patch 0.10.
After last week’s opening games, all teams had one free schedule match to play off-stream during the week. After the dust settled, Project Vision and Mongo Meta sat atop the rankings at 2–0 coming into week two’s streamed games.
Featured: Excel Wizards (1–1) vs. Legendary (1–1)
This was always going to be an exciting match: most had these two teams pegged to be in the top three, with each team sporting big names in the NA scene and distinct playstyles of their own. That last point is important because it’s the matchup between those playstyles that gave us our best chance at predicting the outcome.
Legendary is renowned for their all-melee, full-on aggressive composition while Excel Wizards favors a slower poke-heavy team based around neewha‘s famed Lucie play. Anyone that’s played enough Battlerite should be well aware that the Alchemist’s weakness is melee champs getting up in her grill, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that this match was a write-off for Excel Wizards based on comp advantage alone.
But Excel Wizards proved that their individual skills were more than enough to beat the odds, even when the matchup was stacked against them. They stuck to their guns, with neewha’s Lucie and Skywind‘s Ruh Kaan providing the strong backbone we’ve seen through most of their BCS games, while flex player Finlev treated us to a spectacular showing on a comfort Taya pick. This double-down on ranged potential looked like it might have been foolhardy in the first round when Legendary’s burst train wiped neewha from the face of the earth, but adjustments were quickly made and Excel proved themselves more than a match for Arakune‘s squad.
Smart battlerite choices from neewha mitigated the offensive power of his foes and soon he was kiting them with ease, shutting down all of their attempts to close while showing off some stylish Clarity Potion combos, bouncing the hapless aggressors into perfectly placed Goos. Skywind found himself largely ignored while his teammates were hunted with increasing desperation, his skill at reading his enemies’ counters allowing him free reign to chunk down Legendary with massive ults. But it was Finlev who stole the show on Taya, posting insane damage totals even when he was being focused, pushing the Wind of the West to her full potential. He won 1v1s with ease and proved uncatchable when more resources were dedicated to shutting him down.
The first map ended with a 5–3 score line. With Legendary feeling the pressure, they swapped their comp for map two. Ultimately the strategy failed, with Excel Wizards performing even more dominantly the second time around, ending the match with a confident 5–0 shutout. More important than the score, Excel Wizards simply looked better than ever. It’s clear that they’re developing as a team, and at the rate they’re improving it might be hard for the rest of the pack to catch up.
Final score: Excel Wizards 2 — Legendary 0.
In order to understand the allure of Taya and the increasingly impressive results of his team, we got in touch with Finlev for an interview.
Taya seems to be regarded by many as slightly underpowered compared to the bulk of the champion pool in 0.9. Do you think she needed the help? Why do you choose to play her despite her disadvantages? Is she good on her own or is she more of a synergy pick?
Finlev Well, as you know now, Taya went through a major rework this recent patch, so I guess this is kind of a moot point. To answer your question though, I did believe Taya needed some help… but not much. I think the only thing that needed to be changed out of her core kit was to give immunity to roots and snares while hasted, and perhaps extend the range when you fly out of Tornado. Why did I choose to play her? They call me Hipsterlev, haha. I am attracted to champions that are seen as weak because I find it more fun to challenge myself with the uphill battle, so that when I win, I know that I outplayed my opponent. She is also incredibly high risk/high reward, and that type of gameplay excites me as well. She is definitely good on her own, but she does need a bit of babysitting when facing off against teams that know how to exploit her vulnerabilities.
You and neewha have been playing together for a while now, teaming up for several tournaments. How much does playing with the same partner(s) for so long affect your performance? How important is your synergy with your team compared to personal skill?
Finlev Synergy with your team is incredibly important, especially in Battlerite (compared to BLC, that is). I have always been a mechanical player that never really relied on teamwork to win, but after going through a bunch of ups and downs with neewha, I feel like we’ve grown a lot as a team and it has noticeably improved our results. I always trusted him as a support, which is actually very rare for me to do so, but now I also trust him to capitalize on situations that I set up for him, without having to say anything. We do struggle a bit because we are very similar players, so we overlap quite a bit with our skills (i.e. Bakko ulting an enemy right as a Goo is thrown, Taya Tornado right as he Barriers, etc), but that will get better with time.
Have you played with Skywind much before BCS? How is he fitting in?
Finlev [Skywind] has always been one of those elite players that I respect very much as an opponent, so I had no qualms with him joining the team. I think that he and I especially have a lot of work to do in regards to communicating effectively and consistently, but so far it’s worked out simply because we are all good individual players.
On paper it seemed like Legendary was a difficult matchup for your team, since Lucie is notoriously vulnerable to extreme aggression, but it didn’t really pan out that way. How do you feel your keep-away style fares against Legendary’s all-in burst, all things being equal?
Finlev Legendary’s comp is difficult, yes, because it requires near-perfect play from us, so that kind of matchup is very stressful versus a fragile comp like ours. Additionally, Ruh Kaan simply does not help our comp versus rushdown because his character has no hard CC and no consistent disrupt outside of Claw (which has to be wary of counters as well), so he can’t really help us much when we get collapsed on. I think that can be seen in how much we dominated when they switched to a more “traditional” comp. But honestly, the reason the BCS match was so convincing is because the players on Legendary were just, well, predictable (at least in that match specifically, they were). Arakune’s Shifu in particular had an obvious habit of using all of his escapes within a very short time period, so naturally we learned to punish that. Usually a top player will adapt at that point, but adaptation doesn’t seem to be his strong suit. We actually have notoriously struggled against Shifu/Sirius/? comps in the past so it has been a long road of adaptation for us. Thankfully, it seems that we finally figured something out considering our convincing win over Legendary and our victory versus Project Vision in Battlerekt last week.
I think the results speak for themselves! What’s your take on the BCS league system? How does it stack up against more short-term tournaments like Battlerekt, and which do you enjoy more?
Finlev I love the BCS league system! It feels like there are so many tournaments nowadays that they can kind of be written off by fans since it’s hard to keep up with every one, but with a long-standing league, people can get to know teams and follow their progress over a long period of time. It also naturally develops rivalries (which are awesome) and frankly, in my opinion, is just a better format for esports. That’s not to say that I don’t love standalone tournaments… I really do enjoy them, and it’s nice to have a more low-stakes option to test out teams or new comps/strategies. The current tournament organizations also have WAY better production with their streams/brackets/etc, but I understand that BCS is new and lacking the funding so I will give them the benefit of the doubt on that.
Alright, time for character association. I’m giving you the name of a famous person or character, you’re giving me the player or team in BCS that best personifies them. Let’s start with Lindsay Lohan.
Finlev Mongo Meta.
I hesitate to ask, but Donald Trump?
Battlewrong (0–2) vs. Project Vision (2–0)
Facing a Project Vision squad that’s increasingly solidifying their place as the best team in North America, and suffering from a roster restructuring, Battlewrong definitely had their work cut out for them in this match. The Vision boys looked as dominating as ever, even when experimenting with what appears to be an entirely new team composition.
Averse stepped away from his standard Jumong pick in favor of Poloma, also a comfort hero for the young star but one that we haven’t seen from him in some time. If there was any rust, though, it certainly didn’t show. He demonstrated a unique playstyle on the support, using his defensive cooldowns selfishly to maximize his aggressive potential and abusing Pixie to surprise burst helpless foes. The result: some impressive damage totals, often the highest in the game. With the support slot freed up, Outk4st stepped outside his wheelhouse with a Jade pick, providing great Disabling Shot timing and aggressive use of his mobility to keep pressure on Battlewrong’s back line.
Map two saw him switching to a sticky Ruh Kaan, staying in Battlewrong’s face and spacing his defensive cooldowns to maintain a steady, crushing pressure that choked them out of the game. sk3tch continued to solidify his place as the guy who can play anything and play it well with a surprise Ezmo. He relied heavily on Chaos Grip to set up combos for his team and proved unfocusable whenever his foes turned their attention on him, kiting and abusing Siphon Life to stay in the game while his allies cleaned up. Swapping over to Lucie in map two, sk3tch kept up his pressure-focused playstyle, isolating and pursuing weak enemies.
Project Vision looks more than ever like the team to beat in BCS. Though their champion picks are flexible, Vision’s strength isn’t so much that they can adapt to any composition. It’s that they can adapt any champions to their own strategy, bending and breaking any combination of characters to fit into their mechanically precise, well-coordinated burst playstyle. The real question now is, can anyone beat them? Excel Wizards and Legendary looked to be the most likely to take down a game, but those matchups have already gone the way of Project Vision. It’s going to take a startling upset for the power trio to lose their undefeated streak now.
Final score: Battlewrong 0 — Project Vision 2
Earth, Water, Arrow (1–1) vs. Reformed (0–2)
As Earth, Water, Arrow’s rise continues, Reformed’s woes seem to only be increasing. Although Reformed’s BigDMills went back to his comfort Iva pick after a detour into Jumong territory, and looked much more confident for it, the team still struggled with coordination. Though each player has shown off their individual skill on multiple occasions, they’ve yet to show the synchronized team play that characterizes the more successful teams in the league. They’ve definitely got the potential to take maps from the best of them, and we’ll have to see in the coming weeks if they can fulfill that potential.
On the other hand, EWA looks better and better. Playing for the first time in BCS with their third man InTheFlesh, the team showed off just how strong they can be when fielding their full roster. The Jade player demonstrated a more patient style, using precise Disabling Shots to help his allies burst down exposed foes, consistently baiting enemy counters with Snipe cancels, and abusing Smoke Veil to keep his support safe. MrHuDat was handling those Lucie duties, playing in close concert with the Gunner to completely deny any aggressive movements on the pair, helping to divide and conquer the enemy team with surgical efficiency of his control options while keeping his pals safe and healthy.
This two man tag team allowed Rook player Emperor to really shine, charging in with impunity on Reformed’s back line and wreaking havoc. Spacing his defensive cooldowns perfectly and staying unpredictable with his trademark 360 Rush noscopes, he looked every bit like the top Berserker he is, posting ridiculous damage totals and leading his team to a convincing victory. By the end EWA had only given up a single round, thoroughly demonstrating the value of a well-coordinated playstyle.
Final score: Earth, Water, Arrow 2 — Reformed 0.
Where We Stand Right Now
Due to some unfortunate misunderstandings over scheduling, the fourth match of the evening was not played, and NA Tour EU Winners were forced to forfeit to Mongo Meta, leaving us with the following standings coming into the week two free schedule:
- Mongo Meta (3–0)
- Project Vision (3–0)
- Earth, Water, Arrow (2–1)
- Excel Wizards (2–1)
- NA Tour EU Winners (1–2)
- Legendary (1–2)
- Battlewrong (0–3)
- Reformed (0–3)
There are definitely a few surprises in there. Though Mongo Meta looked strong from the gate, they perhaps didn’t look 3–0 strong. They have yet to match up against the most feared teams in the league, so we’ll have to see if they can keep their streak going against the toughest opponents. Legendary was earmarked as a potential top three contender, so their placing on the bottom half of the ladder is surprising. Their free schedule game this week against Earth, Water, Arrow, who some would say are overperforming so far, should say a lot about where both teams are headed. And after their unfortunate forfeit on Sunday, the European boys are going to have some work to do to climb back up the ranks. A victory over the undefeated Project Vision in this week’s free schedule will do a lot for them, and might be the last reasonable hope for a team to upset PV’s streak.
You can keep an eye on the results of all the free schedule matches on the BCS website. Regularly scheduled games will be back this Sunday at 8:00 PM EST on the BattleriteEsports Stream. Week three’s matches:
- NA Tour EU Winners vs. Battlewrong
- Mongo Meta vs. Project Vision
- Excel Wizards vs. Earth, Water, Arrow
- Reformed vs. Legendary
And remember, if you’ve been enjoying BCS and want to let the players and organizers know that you appreciate the great competition they’ve been providing, you can donate to the community-funded prize pool or add a dollar to the stakes for free with coupon code community.