The Challengers Uprising x Nerd Street Gamers New Years Showdown came to an exciting conclusion over the weekend, with SolaFide Esports taking home first place convincingly after some hard-fought series. We wanted to highlight players that rose above and beyond in an exciting way to kick off the 2021 Proving Grounds!
SolaFide Esports Zeyzal
Zeyzal stood alone from his competitors with his stellar performance during the tournament. Zeyzal’s game-changing flanks on melee supports like Pantheon and Galio demonstrated a level of proficiency that far exceeded previous amateur scene standards. His laning partner Apollo provided great stability in the laning phase throughout the tournament, enabling Zeyzal to make integral roams to help the rest of his team.
Zeyzal was the star initiator for his team during the tournament, which he expertly handles thanks to strong communications skills from years of professional experience and the ability to execute plays at a high level. He played especially well on Gragas, fully utilizing the champion’s kit to set up skirmish flanks that enabled his teammates.
By all accounts, Zeyzal’s performance, reminiscent of his efforts on the international stage, reinforced the existing narrative that SolaFide Esports will be a favorite to qualify for Proving Grounds. And at this rate, it looks like he’s going to make sure that no one second guesses their supremacy.
Cloud9 Amateur eXyu
Another very bright performance came from eXyu, the centerpiece of C9 Amateur’s lineup. Aggressive junglers like Lee Sin, Nidalee and Graves make up the majority of his pool, requiring supportive teammates to move and help him invade the enemy jungle, or hold their lane states to facilitate power farming.
Despite C9 Amateur losing 1-3 in the finals, eXyu’s gameplay hinted at his high ceiling. He demonstrated his great potential on picks like Graves, generating CS differentials for himself while his team was at a deficit and displaying the individual mechanics necessary to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Lee Sin was another pick that eXyu piloted effectively with calculated aggression and play-making. Given the tools to outplay, eXyu jumped on any misstep by his opponents and individually carved a path to success that took Cloud9 Amateur all the way to the grand finals.
Going further into the year, if eXyu can find a way to infuse his flashes of mechanical genius with the ability to incorporate the team’s position in the game around him, Cloud9 Amateur will easily storm their way to the top of the Proving Grounds Circuit.
ANEW Rising RobbyBob
Even though ANEW Rising lost 1-2 against SolaFide Esports in the first round, the performance put forth by RobbyBob cannot be understated.
RobbyBob performed exemplary when he played a more supportive role – facilitating his teammates on Lulu. The champion slowed Tuesday’s Akali and empowered his teammates, Hyami and Chim, through clever fight manipulation to come back from a devastating early game.
RobbyBob’s best performance came when he piloted Pantheon, a champion with an early game kit that allowed him to impact the whole map through his ultimate. He created an early game lead off of a solo kill on Tuesday, the #1 mid laner in the tournament, and snowballed his advantage into the side lanes with Grand Starfall.
RobbyBob’s performance in the New Years Showcase provided evidence of his high skill level, relative to other amateur mid laners. The road ahead is a long one, but the ANEW Rising squad are off to a promising start this year.
SolaFide Esports Tuesday
Zeyzal wasn’t the only member of SolaFide Esports that stood out, with Tuesday coming in at fourth on our list. Tuesday excelled during SolaFide Esport’s late game, making highly impactful and creative team fight decisions.
Tuesday’s brilliance showed through in mid to late game fights where his positioning and target acquisition were menacing. A key pick that Tuesday excelled on over the weekend was Sylas, where he was able to provide dangerous pressure individually and completely shift teamfights in SolaFide’s favor with his ultimate steals.
Tuesday was extremely successful on the Orianna as well, setting up multi-man Command: Shockwave’s that eviscerated the competition. The lane advantage he gained and his impeccable timing in teamfights made it easy for his team to play around him, and almost impossible for his foes to deal with.
Tuesday is crucial in the early game by providing a neutralizing force and transitioning that into teamfight firepower. The first tournament win of the year bodes well for SolaFide, and Tuesday is on track to take over this year’s Proving Grounds Circuit.
Last but not least we have Dragoon, who showed up big for Mirage over the weekend with strong laning performances. When playing against SolaFide and ANEW Rising, Dragoon held his own versus veteran top laners like Dhokla and Allorim.
Dragoon taught a lesson to his opponents when Darius, his most comfortable champion, was left unbanned. He took firm grasp of an early advantage by punishing Speedo’s avarice in the lane and decimated his opponent, securing his team an edge through the top side. Dragoon established a commanding presence, single-handedly deciding the outcome of the game.
Ornn, a stalwart pick for Dragoon in the past, was used throughout the series to absorb pressure in lane and transition into key teamfight initiation. He consumed waves of pressure by the enemy team early on and became a major source of teamfight decision making for his team. His skillful application of crowd control gave Meech and DNA the space needed in teamfights to wreak havoc on the enemy team.
As a team, Mirage went a full three games in both of their series before losing to the eventual runner-ups in C9 Amateur. While Mirage has a lot to work on when it comes to the actualization of their team identity, Dragoon’s path forward in the Proving Grounds Circuit remains promising.
This year’s amateur ecosystem has never been stronger with the influx of new talent & high profile players, better structure through the Proving Grounds Circuit, and more exposure for promising new players. With a renewed & invigorated scene plus a slew of upcoming amateur talent, expectations have never been higher and the players are just getting started.
If you missed the New Years Showdown and want to check out the action visit our YouTube channel to see the matches!