Sector One Black, the greatest underdog story told in the Benelux

Posted by Jeroen Dobbelaere 24 June 2018 in League of Legends

With the rise of esports, major competitions like MLG, IEM and ESL made their entry into the scene. In smaller regions like Belgium and The Netherlands, ESL Benelux is the biggest event where teams can measure their strength. This season of ESL promised to be an exciting one. Sector One was the defending champion, facing Dutch powerhouses like New Dynasty, Echo Zulu and mCon esports. Sector One Black was a fresh lineup made of Sector One community members, once hoping to test themselves against bigger names. They became Benelux’ biggest underdog story. We take a look into Sector One Black’s final weeks of ESL Benelux.

The Underdogs

Coming strong into the qualifiers and relegations, Sector One Black proved to be worthy of participating in this year’s season of ESL Benelux. They had a fresh lineup with no competitive experience, they found themselves among their region’s most powerful teams. Apart from 2 wins, against Avenue and SSKKRRTTTT, they struggled throughout the rest of the competition. They lost 4 other games, leaving them in the 6th spot only 1 week before the end of the group stage. Vengeance and mCon were at 3 wins and 4 losses, S1 Black’s only hope of ending 4th, and qualifying, was by defeating mCon and hoping for a victory of New Dynasty over Vengeance, forcing a 3-way tiebreaker.

With a new midlaner and an interesting draft, they managed to take down mCon in under 28 minutes, winning the 3-way tie by having the fastest victory. Sector One Black managed to do what no one believed possible by finishing the group stage in 4th place; they qualified for the semifinals of ESL Benelux.

ESL Benelux - Greatest Underdog Story Ever Told - Maarten Phoenix Van Dyck
“They always said BO1 is coinflip and in BO3 the better team wins. That’s why we won.” – Phoenix upon winning ESL Benelux.

On Friday the 22nd of June, one day prior to the semifinals and finals, S1 Black moved into a house close by the ESL studio to prepare for next day’s games. This would be the first time all 5 players (Phoenix, Tafikay, Baba Yaga, Mytheos and Bartiono) and mental coach Jerry would meet and have the chance to bond and discuss tactics.

Stress-free Preparations

There wasn’t any stress; the team didn’t have anything to lose. Everyone seemed excited to get the opportunity to play the semifinals, and enjoyed the experience of being there. This reflected on their preparations; the first thing they did upon arriving was to sit down, grab a drink and watch World Cup football together.

After watching the game, the time had come for some ESL preparations. Together they analyzed VODs of all professional LoL games of that day, looking for some inspiration and ideas for a possible game plan.
After having reviewed all the games, Sector One Black drove into Amsterdam to have dinner together, clear their minds, and wash away any remaining stress for the day to come.

Back at their residence, Tafikay and his team sat together and decided the final drafts and strategies they were going to play, hoping to stunt against their big brother: Sector One’s main LoL team.

Onto the Rift

Saturday, 23rd of June. The day had come for Sector One Black to prove to everyone what they were made of. No one believed it to be possible for them to win ESL Benelux. The players were hearing things like “This year’s edition of ESL Benelux will be very exciting, instead of 1 very dominant team, we have 3 strong teams and Sector One Black” and “Whoever faces Sector One Black gets a free victory”. But it only fueled their mentality that there was nothing to lose. The players went into their first duel, hoping to steal away at least 1 win. Thanks to their almost flawless execution, against all odds in, they managed to win the first game.

Everything suddenly seemed to have turned in their favor. Sector One Black felt confident going into game number two. They managed to defeat Sector One’s main LoL lineup by sticking to their draft and playing almost flawlessly, securing their spot in the finals.

The Tables Turn

The tension rose immediately after the game. No one could believe what had just happened. Players were very excited, yet sad for being the cause of defeat for Sector One’s other team. With no time to lose, the players sat down together to watch and analyze how New Dynasty secured their victory against Echo Zulu. They decided the final picks and strategies they were going to play with help of Sector One’s main coach Daniel “Exorant” Hume, and focused on their win conditions.

Once the time had come, the players gathered outside for a small pep talk, and set up for their moment of glory against New Dynasty.

ESL Benelux - Greatest Underdog Story Ever Told - Team is underpressure
Sector One Black, seconds away from winning ESL Benelux in a nerve-wracking final.

Banking on the Snowball

The team managed to take a victory in game one using an impressive draft and by sticking to their gameplan. They hoped to snowball their momentum going into the next game. Suddenly, S1 Black was only 1 win away from winning ESL Benelux and defending Sector One’s title. Nerves started to rise and mistakes happened. After having a lead in the second game, a sudden moment of distraction resulted in a quick defeat. Sector One Black had been the stress-free underdogs with nothing to lose up to that point. They were suddenly in the decisive game for the ESL Benelux’ championship and had everything to lose. Their lack of experience worked against them, but thanks to a very strong mindset, teamspirit, and help from their coaches, they regained their calm and went into game 3 with victory in their sights.

Sector One Black had been the stress-free underdogs with nothing to lose up to that point. They were suddenly in the decisive game for the ESL Benelux’ championship and had everything to lose. Their lack of experience worked against them, but thanks to a very strong mindset, teamspirit, and help from their coaches, they regained their calm and went into game 3 with victory in their sights.

The Final Game

New Dynasty created an oppressive draft, meaning that Sector One Black had a rough start to their last game. Early game went in New Dynasty’s favor due to a poke-heavy bot- and midlane. Sector One Black stayed calm and collected, despite the loss of turrets and objectives. They kept searching for win conditions, finally managing to turn the game around by punishing New Dynasty’s mistakes. They took the nexus in a nerve-wracking final moment.

No one believed it was possible, but it happened. Sector One Black, the underdogs, defeated New Dynasty and thus won the ESL Benelux championship title. The defeat of Sector One’s main team had been washed away. The Sector One community proved to be the strongest in Benelux. Topping off the day, Sector One rewarded their players with a champion’s dinner. After a long celebration, players returned home with the ESL Benelux trophy. As coach Exorant said “What a day. I have won the TCL and played in MSI, but this is a day that I will never forget”.