When the Unicorns of Love first qualified for the EU LCS back in Spring 2015, it was an unexpected outcome. The team had gone a combined 0-4 in two regular season Challenger splits, finishing in third place in the Challenger playoffs. But a surprise run through the promotion tournament culminated in a 3-2 victory over Millenium to secure qualification.
What happened next surprised everyone. UOL went 9-9 in its first EU LCS split, making the playoffs and ride another miracle run to the final, which they dropped 3-2 to Fnatic. UOL has made the playoffs in every split since, but it took until last split to make it back to the final — this time a 3-1 loss to G2.
Only two players remain from that first team -- Vizicsacsi and Hylissang, who remain the hearts of this team on opposite sides of the map. They are bolstered by a trio of talented prospects -- 20-year-old mid laner Exileh, who came into his own last split, bot laner Samux, who was one of the top performers in EU, and 17-year-old jungler Xerxe, who won EU’s Rookie of the Split award.
Xerxe wasn’t the only Unicorn to bring home a big trophy last split — Vizicsacsi won the region’s MVP award. That’s the big advantage UOL has over G2 in the fight to be EU’s top team. Vizicsacsi has been considerably ahead of Expect in level of play over the past year, and when you put together the entirety of the season, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Xerxe and Exileh performed better than their G2 counterparts as well.
Where UOL gets into trouble against G2 is the same as most teams: the bottom lane. G2 still has the best bottom lane in the west, and as good as Samux and Hylissang were last split, it’s just hard to compete with Zven and Mithy.
Luckily for UOL, G2 isn’t a team they really have to worry too much about until finals, as they are once again in opposite groups. Group B is looking a bit trickier this split, however: H2K’s roster has now spent another split together, Vitality and Splyce have made changes they have reason to feel good about, and the Mysterious Monkeys will almost certainly be more competitive than Origen.
For UOL, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to repeat as Group B champions. But when G2 stands waiting in the playoffs, will they have enough to bring home their first title?