Burning up: Pre-game with Auburn University


     Before Auburn University made their way onto the rift Wednesday night, I was able to ask them a few questions. AU’s top laner, “Ansgar”, and his mid laner, “alexr2226”, took me behind the scenes of how they’re prepping for their match. “Our biggest issue is communication, and realizing that is half the fight,” says Ansgar. Both players explained that their main way of preparing to take the rift is just by looking at their opponent’s raw statistics an op.gg profiles. “We still have to respect every team we play against in order to win these games”. With their mental game in check, it was time to win the real game.  


All or nothing: Stratosphere vs. Auburn University


     With the second place spot on the line for these two teams, Stratosphere and Auburn University put it all on the rift tonight. Intensity is high, but the stakes are higher. Only one team walks away with a series win, and Stratosphere is that team.


     Not one person on the rift tonight waited to waste any time. Both teams start out game one hungry, but AU’s “Jadrian” on Kai’Sa draws the first blood. Auburn squeezes every last advantage they can out of the early gold lead, but Stratosphere is able to stay on their ball. A four versus four around the Infernal Drake is setting the ball for the remainder of the match. Stratosphere wedges their way through the fight with squeaky clean mechanics and takes the Infernal Drake, snowballing into the first turret, clearing their own path into the mid-game. Neither team is willing to give up any pick and is treating every move they make like their lives depend on it. SSE and AU constantly are teamfighting and not giving up any free picks. When both teams meet at the Baron Pit, things start to (au)burn up. A 3 for 0 fight in favor of SSE is just what they need to get enough leverage to take down Baron Buff and look at ending the game. After a handful of more small skirmishes, SSE has what they need to end the game and they’re going to do just that. SSE’s “Medik” on Xayah takes a triple kill in the final teamfight to seal off game one at 25 minutes. 


     Game two follows the same rhythm of game one as AU takes first blood once again in the bot lane. AU’s “Commisioner” on Thresh creates his own as well as his adversary’s death sentence, leaving his ADC with an early double kill to jumpstart his lane. Unfortunately for Auburn University, this is their first and last advantage in game two. SSE takes hold of the wheel and steers their way through the mid-game with ease. SSE uses borderline flawless positioning to control the map in its entirety as well as take hold of the playbook. Constant picks left SSE’s “Hamilet” on Orianna with a 6/0/2 KD before the late game rolls around. At this point in the match, the series verdict was clear: SSE takes a 2-0. Finishing with a bang, SSE secures the series after a Baron Buff and exposes AU’s nexus turrets. Stratosphere’s stellar communication and teamwork denies any sort of comeback from the enemy team, ending the series with a 2-0 sweep.


  Unleash the Beast: Post-Game with Stratosphere


     Coming off a fresh series sweep, Stratosphere’s ADC “Medik”’s ego returned back to normal after a couple of games of teamfight tactics. On the other hand, “Hamilet” in the mid lane offered a more serious inside look at the match. He noticed that “they got [bot lane] ahead but they focused it way too hard. The first couple kills were good but when they hid in our jungle for 30 seconds, they were being a human ward and giving me free gold.” After this realization, he was able to notify his teammates to play accordingly and played an overall flexible game to bend around their teammates. “As a team, we used our strengths to counter their weaknesses”. A team like this is one to watch out for in playoffs and as “Medik” best put it, “can’t wait for our next interview after we win the UCL.”

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