League of Legends in the UK was full of twists and turns last year, with dozens of teams (and hundreds of players) vying for a shot at the Forge of Champions trophy. Many of those same teams and players are now returning to compete in the all-new UKLC, which starts on Wednesday, the 13th of February.
With the new competition fast approaching, what better time could there be to look back and recap last year’s action?
Forge of Champions 2018 consisted of four tournaments, each worth an increasing amount of points. Forge provided amateur teams a chance to compete with the best in the country (as it will, again, later this year). Open qualifiers fed into the main events, allowing top upcoming talent to play against the eight teams from the previous UK Premiership in a single-elimination bracket.
The first tournament was won not by Misfits Academy, Wind and Rain, or MnM Gaming—three of the favourites for the competition—but by arrogant upstarts Diabolus Esports. The organisation, only a few months old, had seemingly come from nowhere. They showcased the irreverence that would become their trademark to take a temporary lead in the standings.
Diabolus couldn’t maintain that momentum, however, as they failed to reach a single final in the next three tournaments. Indeed, they finished outside the top four in both of the last two. Instead, a new hierarchy emerged, with Enclave Gaming, Excel Esports, and Misfits Academy forming a definitive top three. Over the course of several weeks, players gave their all in an attempt to take the tournament trophies for the best seeding in the end-of-season playoffs.
Excel showcased their strength to take the second tournament, though they couldn’t match the consistency of the only team to finish above them—Enclave Gaming—throughout the season. Enclave bounced back from a lacklustre first tournament to reach the finals of the rest (winning the third tournament) on their way to a table-topping season, securing a spot in the EU Masters. The fourth tournament was won by Misfits Academy. They finally came into their own after originally failing to live up to their billing as a team with EU LCS backing.
Finally, it was time for the end-of-season playoffs. The top eight teams were all set to face off for a chance to make the semifinals, which would be held at LVP’s studios in Spain. Ultimately, the teams which qualified for the playoffs were the same eight that had previously plied their trade in the UK Premiership. However, they were given a proper run for their money by some outsiders, like the meme-fuelled Super Duper Giant Truck Team, and the impressively coordinated Nuclear Storm Gaming.
The main stories of the Forge of Champions playoffs were twofold; on one side of the bracket, Misfits Academy proved that they’d hit peak form at just the right time, taking down a pair old UK favourites, MnM and Excel, on their way to the top two. On the other, Diabolus surprised everyone by returning with renewed vigour, dominating Wind and Rain and three-time tournament finalists Enclave to make their own shock appearance in the playoff finals.
The finals themselves were everything a spectator could have hoped for, going a full five games as Diabolus tested Misfits’ resolve. There was plenty on the line, with the winning team earning a spot in the group stages of that year’s EU Masters…. plus the small matter of who would get home to take the Forge of Champions trophy, and with it, ultimate bragging rights in the UK.
In the final game, and despite being at a kill deficit, Misfits took a heavy gold advantage. But Diabolus’s gold was concentrated on Emtest’s Kog’Maw. With their composition focused on protecting the carry, for a while it seemed as though they might just do the unthinkable.
It was not to be, however, as Misfits’ multi-threat line-up finally won a convincing teamfight. After 45 minutes of back-and-forth action, Misfits took the game, series and title in one fell swoop.
With Misfits Academy now migrating to France’s LFL, and with top UK talent spread across a multitude of line-ups, the inaugural UK League Championship is anyone’s to take. Check out our UKLC Team Rundown for more on all the competing teams, or find out more about our new format—including the return of Forge of Champions—here.