With the ESL Premiership fully opening their doors to Irish entrants at the beginning of the 2017 season, we saw a flock of teams from the Emerald Isle take part in a bid to qualify for the Spring Split. A few came close but none could overcome the best the UK had to offer. Bringing about a host of roster changes between the country’s top teams, the scene is set a little differently for the Autumn Qualifiers.
Still leading the charge for the Irish is Ferocity eSports, the most veteran and storied team in Ireland. Ferocity have been on top of the local scene for quite some time, winning tournament after tournament in their path but unfortunately attempts to mirror that success in UK competitions has seen the Irish giants come up just shy of the mark on numerous occasions.
Until recently, Ferocity were pegged as the leading contender from Ireland for the Premiership and the only team with a real chance of qualification. However, some discontent within the roster and a rumored split may have scuppered their chances just as the qualifiers roll around.
Phelan Gaming are a side who have been on the rise locally for the last 6 months, to the point of finishing as runners up at the last domestic LAN tournament in Ireland. The team is constantly looking to upgrade, with a lot of new changes being made over the last couple of months keeping the team out of action.
Their scheduled return is for the Premiership qualifier, where their new bottom lane of Voyna and Soul Lantern will hope to make waves. A team high on individual skill but maybe short in team play, Phelan are likely not a considerable threat to the top contenders. Still, do not take this side lightly as they have the raw power to overcome a lot of teams in the qualifier.
Another team that will have their hopes high for the Premiership Qualifiers NSG eSports. This roster is somewhat of a wild card, as a few of the players are returning to the game from time off, whereas others are making a step up from lower-tier teams. NSG can be very hit-or-miss, with the team led by high-risk playmakers in the jungle and mid positions.
It is a style that allows them to punch above their weight in some cases, but can threaten to destabilize the team’s strategy in others. It is still too soon for NSG to really make a run for the Premiership in my eyes, but keep an eye out for upsets from this team.
Last but not least, Sentinel Gaming are a local organisation who have enjoyed a reasonable amount of success since their formation early in 2016. They have been trying to rebuild a roster since the summer, but recent results and talk from scrims indicate that Sentinel are certainly a tough team to beat.
Star mid laner Azirill has an eccentric but effective champion pool, and the rest of his squad are stepping up to the plate when it comes to teamplay, especially early in the game. I doubt Sentinel are world-beaters, but the team is on form and will be looking to cause problems for everyone they face off against.