Last week’s matches saw two teams, Kingsgrove North High School and Knox Grammar School face off in the NSW regional semi-finals, with only a best of three between them and the regional finals.
The first match of the night got underway with a flash, as the Blitzcrank played by Spark on Knox Grammar flashed forward in an attempt to hook the Ornn played by Wards Save Lives. With lightning quick reactions, the Ornn flashed out of the way and that moment set the pacing of the game.
Despite Knox’s early aggression, first blood went over to Kingsgrove who took down jungler ninjapanda191 on Graves, coupled with a clutch escape by Panda 1 on Kayn to narrowly avoid death.
Knox did fight back though. They secured the first dragon, and then two kills on Panda 2’s Syndra and OuO on Nami.
Game one fell apart for KNHS from the first dragon, as KNHS gave up another two deaths in the top lane. With the pressure of the Graves in the jungle and the Blitzcrank-Taliyah botlane, it was going to be a tough game for KNHS.
- Read more: META High School League Tiebreakers Recap
The game ended at just over 31 minutes, with the scoreline eight kills for KNHS and 30 over on KG. However, they were in a best of three series and Kingsgrove had the chance to do a mental reset ahead of the next two games.
“For the first game, we kind of gauged their champions. We saw that the Graves was good, so we got rid of the Graves. The Taliyah, it’s not that it was intimidating, it was annoying,” shared Wards Saves Lives, Kingsgrove’s top laner.
“We decided to switch things up. I went to the jungle and the jungler went top. We also switched up our mid laner and our ADC. And yeah, we got a bit more success from there”. He went on to mention that their regular jungler top laner, Panda 1, likes to play carry junglers, but “we put him on a carry top and I swapped to a supporting Jungle role.”
The adapted gameplan heading into match two proved to be a game-changer for Kingsgrove. They banned four of the picks that Knox used in Game 1: Shen, Blitzcrank, Graves, and Vel’Koz.
An early gank from ninjapanda191 in the bottom lane saw first blood go to him with a swift kill on OuO on Nami, with the assistance of Spark on Leona and Goodge on Taliyah again. However, Panda 2 on Kai’Sa picked up a cheeky snipe on the leona, who was sitting on less than 100hp after the exchange.
From there, the first dragon went over to Kingsgrove after Panda 3 got a swift kill on Olaf, rendering the ability to contest the dragon useless. A sneaky invade from Knox almost cost Jarvan his life, but with a good ult and a flash, he trapped them and escaped with his life.
Despite the early advantage, the game wasn’t looking favourable for Kingsgrove. Knox was up 14 kills to seven, and the tanky Sion, SebDaSeal, was proving to be a nuisance.
However, Kingsgrove’s top laner, Panda 1, was on Vayne and was able to scale, with the Silver Bolts ripping through Sion’s health. In the late game, the Vayne and Kai’Sa finally came online, with the Vayne tearing through the health bars of Knox Grammar while Kai’sa sniped anyone who managed to escape. KG surrendered at 26 minutes, giving KNHS the victory and tying up the series.
Game 3 was explosive from the start as well. Panda 1 on Darius and Wards Save Lives on Jarvan ganked D3ATHWISHDOUG2 on Sett and secured first blood. Less than a minute later, ninjapanda191 on Olaf was in the bottom lane and assisted Goodge on Xayah and Spark on Nautilus kill OuO on Lulu.
The first dragon went over to Knox not long after, with the Cloud Drake being taken down. Olaf was all over the map, and after rotating bot again, got a double kill on Kingsgrove’s bot lane, but unfortunately traded his life for the efforts. From there, he rotated and took the Rift Herald, returned bot and dropped it, and took the second dragon, bringing the hotly-contested Ocean Rift to the match.
Initially, it looked like Knox had the upper hand again. They were dominant, and Olaf was consistently getting kills and pressuring the entire map. They took the second Herald, and used it to take the mid lane tower after securing the third dragon of the game at 17 minutes.
KNHS was down 7 kills by this point, and were facing some scary scorelines. However, with Knox dropping their guard, they were able to hunt down and secure three kills, catching them off guard. Baron spawned immediately after, and they were able to secure the Baron without contest.
They used it effectively, and were able to back and finish some key items in time for the dragon, which was important to secure to prevent KG from getting the Soul. However, Knox fought their way back, taking the next Baron despite a valiant steal attempt from Kingsgrove. and would need to do so every time to ensure they didn’t get the powerful buff.
They used that pressure to secure the Ocean Soul, and look to end the game. Knox ran down mid, cleared the inhibitor and two nexus turrets, but despite the huge effort were unable to secure the Nexus.
Kingsgrove would fight tooth and claw to avoid losing the game. Knox ran towards the enemy base in the bottom lane, and with a sneaky Nautilus hook on the Jarvan, were able to burst him down to 10% health, and despite the Lulu ultimate, secured the kill with the Vel’Koz ultimate.
They attempted to dive under the turret to secure the rest of the team, but with Darius reaching full stacks, the juggernaut turned the tides of the fight, netting a triple kill and an ace in the 4v5.
This was the moment that Wards Saves Lives described as the turning point.
“The third game was really tense — near the end I was under bot turret and got caught. It was a 4v5 from there, and my team managed to turn it around and kill them. We felt like we were winning and I felt proud of the team for that.”
KNHS went on to secure the Elder dragon, and used that to secure the baron as well. From there, they ran down the mid lane and took out the inhibitor.
The final advance was underway by Kingsgrove, and with a fantastic J4 ultimate to catch Knox off-guard plus the two powerful buffs, KNHS took down the two nexus turrets of Knox Grammar and proceeded to take down their Nexus, securing the best of three victory.