Unicorns of Love growing complacent with their dominance in the LCL
Unicorns of Love have clearly dominated their domestic competition for over two years. The same cannot be said for their performance on the global stage, as they repeatedly flop against other regions at big events. The team’s weakness compared to top global teams had been apparent, and part of their poor performance is due to the state of their domestic region.
Weak contenders domestically have not challenged UoL to grow and reach their ceiling, but the team is also at fault for being complacent with their performance and doing the bare minimum to win out games week in and week out.
Will this complacency comes to bite them at Worlds 2021?
Unicorns of Love getting complacent
Unicorns of Love had originally been one of the better EU LCS teams. However, in an unfortunate turn of events they didn’t get franchised in the LEC forcing the organization to move their primary League of Legends operations to the LCL, a much comparatively weaker region. Being a well-funded esports organization, Unicorns of Love immediately dominated the LCL, having won every Spring and Summer playoffs event since entering the region.
Unicorns of Love had managed to advance to the group stage in the 2020 League of Legends World Championships, but the team’s weakness compared to top global teams had been apparent, leading them to drop every game in the following group stage event. The recent Mid-Season Invitational saw Unicorns of Love yet again place in the bottom half of the competition in 7-9th place. They had even been beneath Pentanet.GG, a team from Oceania, a region that had been significantly weakened due to a talent drain in late 2020.
Domestically. Unicorns of Love remains at the top of the leaderboards for the 2021 LCL Summer Season yet again, however, their complacency and failure to improve may once again hold them back in the world stage. UoL have only made a single roster change to their starting line-up since the end of 2019, and unlike teams from top regions, have no imports. The team’s lack of imports and slow change may preserve their position as the LCL’s top team. However, it is also a clear weakness when competing in the world stage due to their lack of growth and understanding of the meta of other regions.
The drafts reflect this, as UoL is quick to jump to comfort picks and play the same tried the true tactics week upon week. Rek’sai for AHaHaCiK and Nocturne for BOSS are both nice and quirky picks in some comps, but picking them cause of comfort is not doing the team any favors in the long run. The stale approach to the game is even causing problems domestically, as even the local teams are starting to edge closer and closer in challenging the kings.
Can anyone challenge UoL?
There had been four main contenders which clearly stood above the rest in the 2021 LCL Season. One Breath Gaming finished first in the Spring regular season, ending 12-2. OBG had been the team to beat, ending two wins above the Unicorns of Love, the region’s longtime champions. Unfortunately, OBG tumbled in the semi-finals, falling to CrowCrowd 3-0. Ultimately, UoL pulled through for fans in Playoffs, winning against Gambit Esports and CrowCrowd in decisive 3:1 sets.
Black Star Gaming are the newest team and underdogs of the LCL having joined the league by replacing the disbanded Gambit Esports. The team had only been formed in June, joining the Summer season less than two weeks later. Despite being a new team, Black Star Gaming are already sitting near the top of the competition, only a single win from the Unicorns of Love. Considering the team is newly formed, their ability to grow and develop is extremely promising. This is especially so considering many players on the team are being supported by a team of managers, coaches and analysts for the first time.
In Gambit’s absence, CrowCrowd is the final remaining challenger to UoL domestically. They remain the only team to truly challenge UoL in a series and even push best-of series to a somewhat contested state.
All three teams have a better and keener sense on the meta than the Unicorns, but fail to deliver performance on stage to edge ahead. There is something to say for UoL’s persistence and longevity with their roster, as it outperforms challengers on experience and synergy. While having a roster gel together well can give the edge over domestic opponents who are largely unstable, when it comes to big events, synergy and veteran status alone wont cut it.
It is time for UoL to dig deeper into their pools and either get with the meta or break it. Let’s hope they do not disappoint the fans in both EU and CIS look forward to Sheepy and pink unicorn at Worlds 2021.