After long, grueling semesters of league play, Clark has four representatives in their respective NECC Finals matches, all in different games!
League of Legends Obsidian, Rainbow Six Red, Valorant Grey, and Overwatch Obsidian have all reached the final stage of competition, looking to beat their final opponents in the upcoming week.
Let’s look at how these teams got here.
After the initial short pre-season with the last breaths of Overwatch 1, Obsidian was a brand new 4th Clark team created because of the renewed interest in Overwatch 2. Put together mostly with talented yet inexperienced players under leadership of a veteran Team Captain uber-flex Kristopher ‘Kamba’ it was difficult to know what to expect from the team after tryouts concluded.
Edward ‘Valenlord’ showed surprising promise on Sigma early on, but was very rough with his flexibility on other tank roles. Freddie ‘Codenuggies’ had the mechanical skill to thrive on many DPS heroes but lacked the experience to make the most out of it. Noah ‘DerpDragon’ showed flashes of brilliance but taking a break towards the end of Overwatch 1 didn’t help his consistency. And Sam ‘GreenMemes’ showed great potential on flex support but sometimes had trouble with team chemistry.
It was a ragtag group of players who had little experience and a lot to prove. Despite this, they came together and took their division by storm. After a rocky first match where they scraped together a nail biter 3-2 victory over a tough Catabawa Blue team, they soared dominating the division and winning match after match becoming the only undefeated team heading into November a perfect 6-0.
Then their first encounter with hardship ensued as up and coming DPS Freddie ‘Codenuggies’ couldn’t continue, needing to drop out to focus on very important priorities. A replacement had to be found, and it wasn’t easy. After a thorough search, it was determined that the best replacement for one Nuggie was another Nuggie. Our Apex team’s season ended around this time and Torin ‘Nuggie’ answered the call to try and transition into Overwatch 2. He had next to no experience in the game, but much of his Apex skills could theoretically transfer over to the DPS role. It was worth a shot, but it wouldn’t be easy. So many heroes to learn about. No map awareness.
Things would be easier with the addition of Owen ‘Spark’ Record to primarily coach the team. He helped Torin become a star in Apex, and his knowledge in Overwatch was just as keen. On paper it was the perfect answer to the unpredictable problem, and a decisive 3-1 victory over Midway would prove it. The team was undefeated through 7 games with only one match left to complete the perfect regular season. And then Rio Grande slapped the team back into reality with a statement-making 1-3 defeat. It wasn’t just going to be that easy.
Good teams can win. Great teams know how to bounce back from a tough loss and improve. Which team was Clark Obsidian going to be? Coach Spark worked with the hungry players individually and as a team improving their micro, macro, and tempo. Torin ‘Nuggie’ was learning the game bit by bit but it was Edward ‘Valenlord’ that really stepped up and put in more time and effort than ever to improve. Learning new tanks, controlling tempo, communicating opportunities. The entire team took this as a wake up call, and they put a target on Rio Grande.
The way the brackets set up, Rio would be their likely opponent in the Semifinals and they spent the majority of their time preparing for them specifically. First, they had to overcome their sister team Clark Chromatic in the first round. It was no small feat. Their playstyle was different than what they were used to and they almost turned things around in the 3rd map with their Orisa swap, but a 3-0 victory set them on a crash course with Rio Grande in the semifinals – just as they prepared for.
What better way to showcase this revenge story than to have it casted on the main NECC stream? Obsidian came ready… but so did Rio Grande. In a slugfest, each team traded map victories. First Obsidian, followed by Rio into a 2-2 tie in their best of 5 series. The entire team was showing Rio what they had worked on, but an improvisation to retake Nepal with a beautiful Gravatic Flux by Edward ‘Valenlord’ followed by a perfectly timed and placed Dragon by Noah ‘DerpDragon’ himself at 99% secured the first point win. With Rio’s backs against the wall, Obsidian did exactly what they were taught to do. Apply pressure. The second point wasn’t nearly as close as the first, with another amazing Dragon by MVP of the match Noah ‘DerpDragon’ securing a key team fight as Obsidian punched their ticket into the Finals securing revenge and respect with a great Rio Grande team ending their season in a classic that you can rewatch here!
This was just the semifinals though… and there was still one challenge left to go. Not to be overlooked, that Catabawa Blue team stormed through their side of the bracket without dropping a single map. The same Catabawa Blue team that almost beat us all the way week 1 is now going to finish where it all started this Thursday. But how will this story end?
League of Legends Obsidian
Placed together after the League of Legends tryouts back at the start of the semester, League of Legends Obsidian was an unlikely bunch. Three of the six team members were acquainted with each other prior to the season, but a language barrier between the bot lane and the remaining three roles made it challenging to communicate initially.
Many teams would have crumbled under the pressure of navigating a language barrier–a problem that sinks even some of the best professional League of Legends teams around the world. However, Obsidian found a way to prosper and get to the finals of the Navigators Northeast division.
How did they do it?
“At our core, I think we just like playing League of Legends together,” captain Liam “Chicken of War” Wang told me. In the end, the team has found a way to keep everyone’s spirits up through the experiences they’ve had together.
Some members have been playing the game for upwards of ten years, while others are practically brand new to the MOBA. This balance creates a passion in a team that many would have written off at the start of the year.
At the start of the regular season, Obsidian hit the ground running on their pure mechanical skill, defeating both the NEC Grims and sister team Clark Pearl. The team suffered their first defeat in week three of play, as they fell to SUNY Potsdam in a three-game clash.
The first loss of a brand-new team can often begin a downward spiral toward the bottom of the standings, but Obsidian did just the opposite. The team of predominantly freshmen picked up two more victories against SUCO Scarlet, and the Post Eagles, before falling to uOttawa Blue in week six.
With only two more matches to go, Obsidian needed to close the season strong to secure a favorable playoff spot. They did just that, defeating both uOttawa Red and the NJCU Gothic Knights in a back-and-forth contest. This brought them to 6-2 on the year, an amazing accomplishment in itself for a brand-new roster.
But Obsidian wasn’t satisfied.
Their first-round matchup, SUNY Potsdam, was responsible for one of the two losses Obsidian suffered on the season. Obsidian ended up with the last laugh, defeating the New Yorkers in two scrappy, yet controlled games.
Now onto the semifinals, Clark matched up against top-seeded Ithaca College, a team they did not have the privilege of facing in the regular season. While many would have counted Obsidian out, the team played it like any other game, stomping the previously 7-1 team 2-0.
Ithaca left open Jace “LeEpicTroller” Misiano’s signature Shen in both games, alongside strong carries in Syndra and Tristana in games one and two, respectively.
With all the momentum, Obsidian will meet the NJCU Gothic Knights in the championship match this Wednesday. The two faced off in the last week of the regular season, with Obsidian edging out a victory 2-1.
In preparation for the match, Wang said: “Bo5 finals is sure to be another beast entirely compared to the Bo3s so far, but, like always, we’ll do our best. Like we did with all our opponents, we’ll use what time we have as best we can, prepping picks, refining our strategies, and studying our opponent’s games”
We’ll all be rooting for them to bring home Clark’s first League of Legends championship in the school’s history.
Rainbow Six Red
The dominance of Clark’s premiere Rainbow Six team continued in Fall 2022, as they made yet another NECC final. Hailing from the Navigators division, the Rainbow Six boys have a history of success in past years, as they look to capture their first title this Tuesday.
The six-man squad has two remaining members from their inaugural campaign last fall and four holdovers from just last spring. Gradual progression and improvement has been clear throughout Clark’s Rainbow Six competitive history, as they initially reached the semifinals, then the finals just last semester.
After speaking with team manager Jasper “Cream” Louden, it’s clear that this roster has been continuously improved.
Last spring, “Certain new members (Brock and Silas) joined, and they brought not only a lot to our mechanical and tactical skill, but they also clicked with the team as people. Add onto that the fact that the newest members Max and Zack fit perfectly into the culture we had already started to establish in the spring, and added their own flare to it, and we had perfected our squad composition”
This culture has not only helped the players’ chemistry in-game, but out of it as well. “Over the last two seasons this team has become a group of friends that now transcends the game that brought us together in the first place,” Louden said. “I know no matter how frustrated I get with them on rare occasions, they will always have my back in real life, and give their all when it comes to scrims and games.”
The team certainly gave it their all during the regular season, finishing with a 6-1 record, tied atop the Navigators division. It was mostly smooth sailing for Clark, falling defeat to only Buena Vista University.
However, towards the end of the season, burnout started to creep in due to the grind of playing siege day in and day out. This burnout, along with an end-of-season patch, caused Clark to almost be upset in the first round of the playoffs by SIUE Black, a team they had only lost three rounds to just a week prior.
Despite the scare, Clark etched out a victory in three maps, qualifying them for the semifinals–a rematch with Buena Vista. This time, however, the result was different, with the Cougars using the quarterfinals wake-up call to defeat BVU in two maps.
Once again, Rainbow Six Red has reached the finals of their NECC division. They now face top-seeded University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) on Tuesday. The two met in a close regular season battle, with Clark ultimately coming out on top 2-1.
Louden explained how his team is not taking this opportunity for granted: “We have been focusing heavily on reviewing the vod from that 2-1 victory so we can identify and isolate not only ways we can improve, but also the opponent’s tactics and tendencies so we can create a tailored response to them.”
The team is asking for your support in their best-of-five matchup against UNK, as Clark looks to finally capture a championship in Rainbow Six.
Valorant Grey had a much easier road to the finals than any of their Clark counterparts. A brand-new roster, everything clicked for the team right from the jump, as they cruised to an 8-0 regular season.
Dominating the Navigators Northeast division, Valorant Grey accomplished the only undefeated season in all of Clark Esports this semester. Despite this, they finished second in their division, as the only team they did not face in the regular season, the Lambton Lions, also went undefeated.
Lambton closed their campaign with a 16-1 map record, with Clark dropping two maps on the year, giving the Lions the tiebreaker. However, Grey did not get discouraged, as they fought their way through the playoff bracket.
First, a matchup with seventh-seeded OWU Crimson was in order, a team Grey took care of previously. This match was more of the same, with Clark coming away victorious in straight sets (13-8, 13-5).
They faced an unlikely opponent in round two in uOttawa Red, as they had upset third-seeded Montclair State in the week before. Nonetheless, the Canadians were no match for Clark, as Grey once again swept their opponent (13-8, 13-6).
On the other side of the bracket, Lambton has been taking care of their business with wins over Lees-McRae and Trent Excalibur Blue, respectively. Trent managed to take Lambton to overtime in their first map of the semifinal match but was not able to come away with the victory losing 12-14. Lambton immediately responded with a 13-1 stomping in the second and final map, showcasing how dangerous of a team they can be.
Both Lambton and Clark have been on a collision course toward the finals for quite some time. The matchup will finally become reality this Monday at 6 PM, as Grey will look to win their eleventh consecutive match.
Both teams are undefeated–yet one will have to lose. Let’s hope for a great best-of-five series on Monday.
-Andrew ‘Pizza The Cat’ Diiorio
-Nicholas ‘Shifty’ Travis