The PCS 2020 Spring Split entered the first week of the Playoffs phase, with four upper bracket match series being played. The 4th seed, Berjaya Dragons (BJD) and the 5th seed, Alpha Esports (ALF), raised the curtains for the playoffs, and did not disappoint in an adrenaline-filled, three-game series. Talon Esports (TLN) narrowly missed out on the top two spots in the Regular Season, which would’ve granted them a bye in Round 1. Instead, they had to settle with playing against the 6th seed, Nova Esports (NOV). Time was not wasted at all by TLN, as they swept past NOV to a 2-0 victory in convincing fashion.
BJD and TLN advanced to the 2nd Round of the Upper Bracket to face the top two seeds, Machi Esports (MCX) and ahq eSports club (AHQ), respectively. Players on the BJD team showed exceptional individual skills but were no match against MCV’s superior team organization. The team that finished 1st in the Regular Season extended their win streak to 15 games after beating BJD 3-0.
AHQ took on TLN, the only team that AHQ did not manage to beat in the Regular Season. Unfortunately, that record will continue to haunt AHQ after they suffered a soul-crushing defeat against TLN in the Upper Bracket Round 2 match. TLN had to dig deep after trailing AHQ 0-2, before eventually mounting a sensational reverse sweep to advance to the Upper Bracket Semifinals match. MCX and TLN will play on Saturday, 18 April for a spot in the PCS 2020 Spring Split Finals.
Despite their losses, ALF, NOV, BJD, and AHQ will each receive a second life to play in the Lower Bracket. The 7th seed, JT, will meet ALF while the 8th seed, HKA, will go up against the Bangkok-based NOV. Both matches will be played on Friday, 17 April. The winners of those matches will then play against AHQ and BJD respectively.
Match of the Week – Talon Esports (TLN) vs ahq eSports club (AHQ)
The match between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams was touted to be the highlight match of the week. However, it was in danger of becoming a clean sweep by AHQ after they secured a comfortable 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series. Remarkably, AHQ had never won against TLN prior to this match. Coach AHQ Greentea seemed to have the numbers on TLN as he managed to outdraft their opponent within the first two games.
In Game 1, AHQ had an almost perfect performance of 15 – 0 kills, losing only one turret and a Mountain Drake that was stolen by TLN Candy. TLN was unable to cope with AHQ’s flawless teamfights. Multiple attempts to burst down AHQ Wako’s Miss Fortune were fruitless as he was well protected by his teammates throughout the game. AHQ had such a great advantage, they were able to initiate the Baron fight to bait out TLN and to eventually destroy them in front of the pit. AHQ pushed for the win after securing the Baron.
In Game 2, TLN left Aphelios open for AHQ and that decision came around to bite them back hard when Wako ended the game with 7/1/4 KDA. Despite AHQ drafting much better than TLN in this game, the team from Hong Kong showed signs of improvement and AHQ capitalized on their advantage to set themselves up for a match point.
On the losing side, TLN was given another chance to pick their side for Game 3 and they chose the Blue side, prioritizing the Miss Fortune pick for Unified, while Hanabi had a chance to play his favourite champion, Gangplank. TLN executed a much more proactive style, despite falling behind in kills during the early games. They kept the pressure on AHQ and the gold difference as little as possible, challenging every objective and committing to three-man ganks in lanes. Despite multiple attempts by TLN to steal Infernal Drakes, AHQ was able to collect three of them, as well as the Infernal Soul. The turning point came when AHQ initiated the Elder Drake fight and TLN successfully disrupted their first attempt, allowing the Elder Drake to replenish its HP. AHQ made a second attempt almost immediately, but AHQ Kongyue had been severely weakened during the first attempt. Gangplank’s ‘Powder Keg’ and Candy’s LeBlanc ‘Distorted’ took Kongyue out of the battle.TLN immediately took over the fight to secure the Elder Drake, followed by the Baron, granting them immense buffs to push into AHQ’s Nexus and into Game 4.
AHQ picked the Blue side and was able to pick up Aphelios for Wako again, while TLN played Elise in the jungle — Syndra with Leona pairing for their bot lane, and Hanabi on his Gangplank for two games in a row. TLN launch their aggressive style yet again, applying severe pressure on the bot lane with four-man ganks to slow down Aphelios’ progression. Their aggression paid off, with Hanabi putting on a fiery show, blowing up everyone with his ‘Powder Keg’ and ‘Cannon Barrage’. At the same time, Candy flanked their opponents after AHQ’s attempt to disrupt TLN’s Baron initiation. This move immediately backfired, as AHQ was Aced by TLN in that fight, and the death timers were long enough for TLN to push for the Nexus, tying up the series to 2-2.
TLN regained their momentum after coming back from an 0-2 deficit, which grew their confidence for Game 5. They changed up their draft by picking the Xayah and Rakan lover pairing, with Renekton at the top. AHQ appeared to have taken on a more proactive role by looking for fights earlier in the game, however they seemingly lost their cool, ending up on the wrong side of the stick multiple times — including their skirmish for the Rift Herald, for which Kongyue failed to pick up the Eye of the Herald after two of AHQ players fell, forcing them to retreat. The play went from bad to worse for AHQ as TLN picked off one or two players at a time, while slowly accumulating Mountain Drakes and its Soul to grant themselves insanely high armor. AHQ could not find a way to penetrate TLN, and could only look on helplessly as their opponent rampaged down their base to an unprecedented reverse sweep.
Player of the Week – MCX Gemini
MCX’s steady improvement throughout the split has given the likes of Mission, Bruce, and Koala the spotlight. However, Gemini has truly gone under the radar despite his immense contribution that aided the team to its first-place finish in the Regular Season. In their Playoffs Round 2 series against BJD, Gemini demonstrated his ability to dominate and carry his team. In Game 1 on Rek’sai, he proved a nuisance for BJD in the early game, taking home a kill per gank on each lane.
In Game 3, Gemini picked up Olaf and once again, gained advantage thanks to his early kills. He was two levels ahead of his opposing jungler, BJD Enso, when he challenged both Enso and his teammate, Azhi, to a 1 vs 2 fight for the Rift Herald. Azhi — left with half HP — attempted to fend Gemini off but was swiftly taken down. Enso rushed to help Azhi, only to find that Olaf had gained an additional level after defeating the Mordekaiser and with the Rift Herald still pouncing on him. Left with nowhere to run, Enso failed to avenge his teammate and gifted the Rift Herald to Gemini, which he then used on BJD’s bot lane. MCX found themselves inside BJD’s base within 18 minutes after demolishing their opponent’s Inhibitor and its tower, but Gemini did not stop there as he hunted down BJD for a quadra-kill to cap off a wonderful performance.