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The Retrospective: MVP Ozone vs. CJ Entus Blaze

by theScore Staff Jul 15 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of OGN

This is the Retrospective, where we will take you through some of League of Legends' greatest matches. We will relive these classic clashes by discussing the lead-up to the contest, analyzing the historic match itself, and then looking at the careers of the players that competed in them and what they're up to today.

The Lead-up

June 15, 2013 -- CJ Entus Blaze are unstoppable.

Following a shaky start that saw them lose to newcomers SK Telecom T1 #2 and their rookie prodigy Faker and a draw against the middling KT Rolster A, CJ Blaze have gone on to win thirteen straight games. They made quick work of former teammate Reapered's SKT T1 #1 in the quarterfinals before moving on to another overwhelming sweep of their own sister team, CJ Entus Frost.

Blaze are a team spearheaded by a duo of superstars in their solo lanes. Lee "Flame" Ho-Jong is the best top laner in the region and the most dominating player of the entire Champions Spring 2013 season. He casually beats his peers by surpassing them in CS by the 100s and leads the league in MVP points. He outdueled Blaze's former top laner, Reapered, in the quarters before taking care of CJ's other top laner, Shy, in the semifinals. It doesn't matter if you kill him once or twice amidst the laning phase — by the time the late-game rolls around, Flame will destroy you.

The other half of the solo lane pairing is Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong, Blaze's starting mid laner. The current all-star representative for South Korea in the mid lane, he's not as flashy as Flame when it comes to making plays or putting up huge numbers, but his consistency is what sets him apart. But like Flame, Ambition may be held down early or give up first blood in the opening minutes, but he'll find his way back into the game through split pushing and amassing a gold advantage through wave control.

Blaze, throughout their historic 13-0 run to the Grand Finals, don't win in the early game. On the contrary, they routinely find themselves behind early as their bottom lane of Cpt Jack and Lustboy get shut down or Ambition gets toppled in the mid lane. Their strength comes from their ability to control minion waves and play into the late-game, knowing that if Ambition or Flame can get their time alone pushing in the side lanes while the other three members push through the middle, that sooner rather than later they'll break down the opposing squad.

MVP Ozone, their opponents in the Grand Final, come in as heavy underdogs. They were one of the first teams to start Blaze's 13 game win streak to the finals, losing to them 0-2 in the group stages. Ozone were smashed in their games against Blaze, with Flame carrying both games off the back of his impressive Jayce play. The second game only lasted a little over 20 minutes, as Ozone had no answer for Blaze's strength in the top lane.

The former MVP White squad have defied all odds this season, grabbing the third place spot in their group stage pool due to the defending champions, NaJin Sword, slumping after their dominating run to the title a season. At an overall map record of 6-4, Ozone went into the quarterfinals expected to make a quick exit against tournament favorites KT Rolster B, but prevailed in a first of knockout upsets.

After that win, they met the upstart SKT T1 #2 in the semifinals. SKT got first place in Ozone's group in the first round, even beating out Blaze when it came to overall standings. Ozone were expected to lose and go out of the tournament again, and for the second time, they were able to power through a perceived superior opponent. While SKT T1 #2 were possibly individually stronger, Ozone played like a team on the same page.

Coming into the finals against Blaze, Ozone were a team that have gone through a metamorphosis from last season. In the Winter, they were essentially Imp and four body guards, as the entire team would do everything they could to help Imp get into the late-game where he would carry 1v5. He got Pentakills, made huge plays, and the team got to the quarterfinals before getting steamrolled by the eventual champions, NaJin Sword.

In 2013, they'd grown into a team that knows Imp's importance, but doesn't throw all their eggs into one basket. They've entered every series with a plan and have executed to the best of their abilities, with newcomers Dade and rookie support Mata coming up big to help Ozone go from an overlooked group stage team to fighting in the finals against Korea's strongest squad.

Their biggest issue heading into the Grand Finals is their top laner. Homme, one of the oldest pro-gamers in Korea, is the older brother of the group. Compared to Flame, he's a minnow in terms of mechanical proficiency and carrying game. He mostly plays tanks and heavy engage champions, being the first one in for his team in a fight and usually the first one to die as well. Against the best top laner in Korea, the separation between Flame and Homme is almost as wide as any two players in Champions.

Ozone have shown they can make plays in the clutch and beat teams that are seemingly stronger than them. Too bad they have to meet Flame, the best player in the world currently, in the Grand Finals.

History awaits for Blaze.

The Match

...Blaze weren't unstoppable.

Even before the games actually began, MonteCristo and Doa on the English broadcast mentioned that many pros were predicting Ozone to win due to scrims leading up to the Grand Final.

Still, Blaze were Blaze, the undisputed best team in Champions. They were on a thirteen game winning streak led by Flame, the best player in the region who was dissecting every team he was put up against. In the quarterfinals against Repeared, he pulled out an Akali for the first time and sliced through the SKT T1 #1 lineup and Blaze's former top laner, leaving them in tatters after a 3-0 sweep that was more of a warm-up than a playoff match. The match against CJ Entus Frost in the semifinals was expected to be an all-time classic, and it ended up with Blaze steamrolling their sister team like they were nothing.

The reason why MVP Ozone beat CJ Entus Blaze in the 2013 Spring Champions Grand Finals isn't some mystery. They won because they were better coached and knew how to play more than one strategy. Blaze got through their thirteen games by playing one type of game style to perfection. It didn't matter if they got into an early game hole, Flame would sit in a long lane after the opposing team knocked down a tower and froze a minion wave, growing in gold total while the rest of the team did their work around the map.

Countless times in the season, there would be instances where teams would force 5v3 or 5v4 fights against Blaze, banking on the fact that Flame was a million miles away, farming. The fight would break out and Blaze, who were an elite team-fighting squad, hung on long enough to chunk down the opposing team so Flame could stroll along through the jungle. By the time Flame finally popped up from a brush, he was at full health on a champion like Ryze who would blow up any stragglers that were left.

Blaze were never a diverse team. They were terrible at Blind Pick ace matches. They knew how to play their roles and execute them, but if you threw a wrench into their plans or forced them to adapt, they were too slow to the trigger and would get blown up. That's exactly what happened against Ozone, a team who were given two weeks to prepare for Blaze before the finals. In those two weeks of preparation, Ozone broke down Blaze's stagnant (but extremely effective) style of play, figured a way how to beat it, and went to work on ways to destroying a team that was on the verge of becoming a superpower.

Ozone's plan from the start of the series against CJ was to never let their opponents have a second to breathe. Teams did get Blaze down, take early turrets, and get into an advantage through gold totals, but they never broke CJ. They would back off, happy with their lead, letting Flame and Ambition do their things in the side lanes while their time for winning would start counting down.

To combat this, Ozone put Dade on Zed for three straight games, Blaze not banning it out. With a roaming assassin, Dade pressured the map from the first few minutes of the game, picking up kills, and never letting Flame or Ambition have the peace and quiet they were accustomed to in the mid-game. If Flame tried to freeze a wave and got his expected 100+ CS advantage over his opponent, Ozone would dive him with Zed and company, blowing him up again and again while never letting their foot off the gas pedal.

Homme, the biggest negative for Ozone, played the best series of his career. He picked Zac in game one and knew who he was up against, picking a champion with a revive passive that could save him in the laning phase if Flame tried to grab an early advantage. That actually happened in the first minutes of the series, Helios coming down to camp for Flame like usual, pouncing on Homme's Zac and killing him. Luckily for Ozone, Homme was able to flash under turret, die with his passive up, and revive under tower with no quick gold going into Flame's pockets.

Flame was contained the entire series against Ozone. After being prioritized and held down for two straight games against MVP's roaming tower dive death squad, Blaze tried to gamble in the third game by having Flame play in the middle lane as Vladimir and Ambition as Kha'zix in the top lane. The plan went well in the early stages, with Flame doing what he did best, being the best farmer in the game, and getting out to a big lead in the middle lane vs. Dade's Zed.

Then, like the rest of the series, everything fell apart. Flame was trying to power up for the late-game, but Ozone simply ignored Blaze's ace and went for everyone else. They killed Ambition. They killed Helios. They killed everyone else on the team, never letting Flame have an impact on the game or series. Ozone capped off the match by using Blaze's tactics against them, the rest of the team killing off Blaze members while Dade split pushed in empty lanes to grow Ozone's lead.

With Blaze's "Sixth Man Strategy" blown up and Flame pinpointed, the match then came down to the team's ability to be flexible. Ozone showed in the first game how they were going to beat Blaze and neutralize Flame, and it was up to the proposed best team in the region to step up with a new strategy or composition to take down Ozone.

It never happened. Blaze couldn't revolutionize. They couldn't change things. They sat dead in the water, Dade's Zed ripping them apart for three straight blowout victories, winning Champions Spring and taking home the season MVP award that was expected to go to Flame. Homme, the player everyone thought that was going to be the end of Ozone's run, turned out to be a necessary bait that led Flame to his death. When Flame thought he had an open window to get the small lead he needed to blow the game open, Dandy and Dade would be there, knowing he'd try to kill Homme and trampled him for his overzealous nature.

History awaited Blaze on that night, but it wasn't the kind of history they were hoping for. What was expected to be the coronation of the world's best team turned out to be the greatest upset in Champions history.

The Aftermath

Yoon "Homme" Sung-young is the only player from the Ozone vs. Blaze Grand Final to have retired from professional play. He exited pro play only a few months following the historic finals upset, making way for Looper on the newly rebranded Samsung Galaxy Ozone. Homme continues his ties with his former Ozone teammates in China, coaching LPL's Vici Gaming that has two former MVP members on the roster.

Choi "Dandy" In-kyu would go on to have the greatest runs as a jungler in Korea's history. His counter-jungling expertise and vision control led his Ozone team to countless top three finishes in Korea, finishing his career in his home country by winning the 2014 world championship on Samsung White. He now plays under the coaching of his former teammate Homme on Vici Gaming, the team making the quarterfinals in last season's LPL. The biggest change recently for Dandy is his move to the top lane position, playing a new position for the first time professionally in his three plus year career.

Bae "Dade" Eo-Jin is the only Ozone player not to go on and enjoy White's world championship victory in 2014. He would leave his Ozone brothers in the spring of 2014, moving over to their sister team Samsung Blue. Dade would find great success on Blue, becoming their captain and the leader they needed to turn their potential into results. Although not winning a world title, he would end up with a second Champions title, Samsung Blue beating NaJin White Shield a year following his victory over Blaze in the 2014 Spring Grand Finals. He now plays for Master3 in LPL, partnering up with Looper, Homme's replacement in the top lane on Ozone.

Gu "Imp" Seung-bin created one of the best bottom lane partnerships in LoL's history with Mata. Their rookie run together finished with them taking out Blaze in the Champions Grand Finals, and their run as a bot-lane duo would end with them taking out Star Horn Royal Club to win the 2014 World Championships. Imp and Mata would break up in the offseason before 2015, Mata going to Vici Gaming and Imp joining LGD in China. Imp now plays as LGD's starting AD carry, now teaming up with his former Blaze adversary Flame, who is also on the team.

Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong started his professional gaming career in the spring of 2013, his rookie season ending with a miracle championship victory over Blaze. Since then, he's become the world's premiere support, winning the 2014 Worlds MVP award during Samsung White's dominating championship run. He now lives in China like the rest of his former Ozone teammates, playing support for Vici Gaming alongside Dandy in the top lane and Homme in the coaching role.

Lee "Flame" Ho-Jong was possibly the world's best player in June of 2013. After the loss to Ozone, the meta shifted, bringing on lane-swaps and top lane becoming less carry-oriented. This led to Flame declining in 2014, and it all ended with his CJ Entus Blaze failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in Champions history in the Summer '14 season. He left Korea after the disastrous end to 2014, joining his old rival Imp on LGD and becoming one of the team's two top laners alongside former-Blue member Acorn. With the top lane becoming more diverse and allowing for players to carry from the position, Flame is currently playing as well as he's had since his glory days in 2013.

Shin "Helios" Dong-jin, Flame's camping buddy, has bounced around a lot since Blaze's fall to Ozone in the Spring '13 Grand Finals. He left Blaze and joined NaJin Black Sword for a bit before leaving the region, first joining Evil Geniuses/Winterfox before playing for his current team, Team Dignitas, in the NA LCS. Helios, often feeling minimized in Blaze's Flame/Ambition focused compositions, is now finding success as a head shot-caller on a potential playoff team in the NA LCS.

Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong is the only player from the Ozone vs. Blaze Grand Finals to still play for the same organization. Ambition has stayed with CJ Entus his entire professional career, spanning from the first Champions season to the current one. The only change has been his position choice, as he's moved from the mid lane role to being a full-time jungler on the fused Frost/Blaze CJ Entus squad.

Kang "Cpt Jack" Hyung-woo currently plays for the Jin Air Green Wings in Champions, splitting time with Pilot in the AD carry position. The end to his Blaze career wasn't the happiest, with his moving to the Jin Air Stealths following the end of the 2013 season and Blaze's failure to make the World Championships for the second straight year. Although not the full-time starter for Jin Air, he is still one of the better performing AD's in Korea, cutting down on the early deaths that plagued him on CJ.

Ham "Lustboy" Jang-sik is the only member from the 13-0 Blaze team to make the World Championships, getting there last year with Team SoloMid. He left Blaze in the middle of 2014, and decided to join North America's premiere team, TSM. Since moving, he's found great success, winning two NA LCS titles, making Top 8 at Worlds, and becoming the only player in history to hold an LCS and Champions title.

Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is a staff writer for theScore eSports who covers the North American LCS and Korea's Champions.

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