We are now down to four teams in our Vainglory bracket, and it’s been a road full of dramatic twists and turns. Our first semi-final matchup is not lacking in intrigue, as two Collegiate Vainglory newcomers attempt to punch their tickets to the grand finals. For California State University, Fresno, it’s about making it clear that they are destined to be the new Collegiate Vainglory kings. For University of Massachusetts, Amherst, it’s about redemption and proving that they aren’t to be taken lightly.
For UMASS Amherst’s Infinity Force squad, a win would right the perceived wrong contained in their regular season loss to CSUF. “I am not a believer in excuses but I believe that my team was still getting accustomed to high level competitive play and it resulted in a poor performance against CSUF Gaming,” said team captain Kang “RetroNA” Nam. “That being said, I do respect that they are very good players, especially Fudge who is an extremely talented lane, if not the best lane in Group 2. I think that with a little bit more practice, my team could definitely give them a run for their money and I would really enjoy to play against them in the semi-finals as they are a great team.”
A lot has changed for Infinity Force since that interview. At the time, the team was prepping for a playoffs after a disappointing regular season. “The regular season did not go as I intended it to as I was expecting to have a better outcome in terms of my team’s performance,” stated Nam. Now, the team is riding high after knocking out Group 1’s top seed, University of Toronto’s Justice, an unexpected feat. The team craves redemption, and a victory over CSUF will satisfy that craving.
CSUF, on the other hand, has already proven their talent, it’s just been about keeping everything from falling apart. “It was quite a rough road during the brackets,” said captain Bryan “Super64” Amaro. “One of our teammates couldn’t participate and we had to bring in our sub. We had to change some of our roles to fill in, [and] it made our matches a bit [more] difficult to win than usual. Our team feels a bit more confident now that our main players are back playing our best roles and hope to have great matches in the finals.”
CSUF came out of the regular season at the top of Group 2, with their only loss being a very hard-fought three game series against 2016 runner-up University of California, Merced. UC Merced’s team captain, Cruz Trenado, admitted that “their team pushed us well to our limit”. With Merced already knocked out of the bracket, one has to wonder if the championship trophy is already reserved for the high caliber rookies.
Redemption for UMASS, foreordination for CSUF… the semi-final contestants both have their own storybook endings planned, but only one will be written.