The VIS Pro: Winter Season Split One has concluded with a stalwart of the esports scene, Cloud 9, coming out on top. Much has happened in the world of Vainglory since Worlds wrapped up in December, and the VIS Pro, hosted by Dragonborn and Tastybacon, provided the first opportunity to gauge the mettle of top North American talent.
Mainstays of the professional scene such as TSM, Cloud 9, Hammers Velocity, MDC (now Echo Fox), Gankstars Sirius and Kinetik (now Immortals) all showed why they have attained success over the past seasons. Consistent shot calling and individual skill advantages carried seasoned teams unscathed to the second round, with only Hammers Velocity dropping a game to Llamapalooza in the round of 16.
Gankstars Sirius, whose sole remaining player from their 2016 squad is their Captain, R3cked, managed to move into the Round of Eight truly unscathed, advancing by forfeit over Zonic VG. Their quarterfinal matchup versus Level Eight took the full three games to decide, but consistency and a deep champion pool from Jungler Xenotek, combined with an explosive game three 12/2/6 performance by IraqiZorro on Ringo, propelled Gankstars Sirius into the semi-finals. Sirius will have to answer questions throughout the 2017 season about how their current roster stacks up against the team that won them third place at Worlds; however, they played with enough individual skill and team cohesion in the VIS Pro to assuage any doubts about their competitive competency.
Hammers Velocity also came into the tournament with a new squad. Former sub ttigers now starts in the jungle alongside Chicken123 and StartingAllOver, the newest prodigal Carry for Velocity. The old squad, who recently took fourth place at Worlds, entered the tournament as Kinetic and sported the tongue-in-cheek guild tag “XPRO.” In a Hammers Velocity past-versus-present quarterfinal matchup, the new kids fought fast and often, capitalizing on early game skirmishes to seal two quick wins. Ttigers deserves mention for a combined 15/2/13 performance playing Glaive and Koshka. Deep dives into the backline by ttigers isolated individual enemies, allowing StartingAllOver and Chicken123 ample opportunity to follow up, secure picks and quickly turn toward objectives.
While they exited the tournament earlier than they would prefer, Kinetik should be in high spirits. DNZio, Aloh4, Vains and Suijeneris were picked up by Immortals, an esports organization with teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, CS:GO and Super Smash. This is only the most recent acquisition of a Vainglory team by a major esports group. MICSHE, LoneDelphi and CullTheMeek joined eSports organization Echo Fox upon their exits from the VIS Pro.
The trio formerly known as MDC were sent packing the the quarterfinals by Cloud 9, who looked more tempestuous than cloudy. Anchored by the play of Captain Gabevizzle, Cloud 9 stormed through the early rounds with six straight victories, in which ILoveJoseph played six unique champions in the jungle. Between ILoveJoseph’s adaptability, Gabevizzle’s consistency, and Oldskool playing Vainglory like efficiently farming minions will cure cancer, things were looking like Cloud 9 was on its way to an easy championship.
Awaiting Hammers Velocity in the semi’s was TSM, who cruised into the final four having dished out 39 kills in four games, giving up just two in the process. Impressive stats aside, TSM didn’t look like the same team that placed 2nd at Worlds just two months ago. VONC had the most kills per game (5.4) and the highest GoldPerMinute (426.0) out of any Jungler in the tournament, and it wasn’t even particularly close. However, VONC’s stellar mechanical play is equally, if unfortunately, balanced by his penchant for getting caught out of position.
The matchup between Hammers Velocity and TSM exposed some of the latter’s flaws, while revealing the bright shining star known as StartingAllOver to gamers everywhere. Just thirteen years old, StartingAllOver made a case strong case for Tournament MVP. Deciding to allow Ringo through to Velocity in three straight games probably sent TSM home. StartingAllOver finished the series with a 15/13/15 statline, not wildly impressive, but his ability to bide his time, flit in and out of fights and jump back in at just the right moment to finish a team fight was uncanny.
Meeting in the finals for the only Bo5 series in the tournament, Cloud 9 and Hammers Velocity used all five games to decide a winner. The first game was all Oldskool; while both he and StartingAllOver picked up early kills, Oldskool on Adagio was able to more effectively translate early gold into power, snowballing his lead into an eventual 9/3/4 stat line. On the other side, StartingAllOver managed to secure Ringo for himself the first three matches, eventually drawing Ringo bans for games four and five after Velocity won games two and three.
Down two games to one, Cloud 9 hunkered down and chose two Tempur-Pedic level comfort picks. ILoveJoseph picked his signature Taka and pushed him to the limit, diving in and out of teamfights and escaping time and time again. In lane, Oldskool fell back on Gwen, who has recently fallen out of meta, but was one of his most successful champions during Worlds. Game four came down to a couple teamfights, but Velocity’s inability to lock ILoveJoseph down allowed Oldskool to explode for a 12/5/10 game. Game five was more of the same; Cloud 9 focused their energy on keeping ttigers down, and his resulting 5/16/4 stat line over the last two games was a disappointing end for ttigers, the best jungler in the tournament for stretches at a time. Left on an island with Oldskool, StartingAllOver fought valiantly but couldn’t carry Velocity to victory.
I don’t think many thought Hammers Velocity would show up the way they did. Young, relatively newly formed, and lacking some of the big-game experience other teams boast, Hammers still managed to play an impressive hyper-aggressive style centered around the early harrass of ttiggers and the late game prowess of StartingAllOver. Cloud 9’s victory was as much a testament to their experience and maturity as team as it was to their skill as individual players.
A huge thanks to the VIS crew and all sponsors for putting on the tournament, and to all the players and organizations who participated. I hope this bit of action has just whet your appetite for the upcoming season of Vainglory. With more multi-game organizations entering the scene, and with several seasons of professional play in the rearview mirror, this year promises to be filled with great Vainglory. Stay tuned with us here at MoEsport for the latest news and analysis!