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IEM Oakland Day 1 recap: UOL, Longzhu advance

Unicorns ride, Chiefs fall.

The pendulum swung back and forth many times over the course of the opening day of IEM Oakland.

After an impressive showing at worlds, INTZ fell from its international pedestal as EDG-beaters. Or, more correctly, the Brazilian champions were thrown off by the neck and hit repeatedly on the way down and kicked until they weren’t moving. It started with a lot of Nearlys. Yang nearly solo killed Vizicsacsi. Tockers nearly solo killed Exileh. Team rotations nearly ended in multiple kills and objectives. But these things did not happen, and UOL capitalized.

The Unicorns of Love, after being eliminated from an unlikely Worlds dream by Splyce what seems like forever ago, have not been sleeping. Upon realizing they could outplay and outrotate INTZ, the results of the last two months of training became apparent; our European equines eviscerated the Brazilian squad 2-0. The weight of disappointment pre-Worlds swung back to determination. Tick tock, boys.

INTZ Yang stares down a hefty defeat.

In an unexpectedly interesting game, the grudge match of old rivals Stanford and Cal didn’t have expectations to work with, so instead the game swung back and forth. Stanford found an early lead, but Cal managed the aggression and hung on for just the right moment, turning the tides back and grabbing a healthy gold lead. Looking to close out, Cal pushed, taking objectives, but an unexpectedly patient Stanford worked on its countersiege, taking back shreds of Cal’s lead where possible. Nothing but a nexus health bar stood between Cal and victory.

Oh, and STA Beastli’s Ezreal.

Zero effs were given that day as the “low elo” Platinum Beastli flung himself into the team 1v5, managing to push them off, diving headfirst into danger where Cal’s ADC feared to tread. The teleports came in for the Cal nexus towers, and the pendulum swung again, taking the base and the game with it. Three swings of tempo, and Stanford’s refusal to give up in the face of insurmountable odds allowed them to walk away winners. Tick tock.

A rare moment of rest for the hosts.

The Oceanic Pro League’s Chiefs Esports Club faced off against the LCK’s Longzhu Gaming in a series that will be remembered far less than it should. Indiana “Froskurinn” Black wrote earlier this week that all the Chiefs had to do was to make Oceanic players proud, and pride flowed forth from the Oceanic fans in the crowd. When the Chiefs picked strategies, they were the right ones. When they executed on them, they out-played and out-manoeuvred. They fought hard for small victories, and the victories piled up. But miniscule moments, mere lapses, stole both games out from under the Australian squad, ultimately putting Longzhu into the semi-finals against the Flash Wolves.

After earning their spot at IEM Challenger in Paris, the Chiefs momentum had swung from “won’t they” to “will they”, but sadly, we end day one with a solid “won’t”.

IEM is spectacular to see. Sliver.tv’s VR broadcast was a sight to behold; you don’t know fear until you’ve looked down the barrel of Jhin Curtain Call, crit-shot hurtling quite literally at your face. Nicki Taylor and KiwiKid 1v1’d on gigantic bucking couches. Twitch personalities Cowsep and OMGitsfirefoxx flitted through the crowd, every bit both spectators and attractions. Pizza rolls.

Bjergsen playing VR games; hilarious.

Seriously though. We need to talk about the pizza rolls. I’m not allowed to have any more pizza rolls. Totino’s, you need to stop this. Okay? Okay.

IEM’s final day, Sunday the 20th of November, promises to be brutal, with TSM facing Unicorns of Love, and Longzhu staring down the barrel of the Flash Wolves. Will TSM’s Worlds disaster swing back to an IEM victory? Will Longzhu go from nearly-relegated to independently crowned?

Will I eat more pizza rolls?

Check back tomorrow.

Tick tock.