When the Play-In Knockout matches were drawn, there was one specific match that casters and viewers called out as the main hope for a 2nd Seed to make it through to Groups. That was this series, Hong Kong Attitude vs Isurus Gaming. And after the first two games with the series sitting at 1-1, the prediction was looking pretty solid.
Early Series Stomps
That wasn't the sentiment after just the first game, however, as the LMS representative came out and utterly dismantled the Isurus squad. What started in two early kills for ISG, one in each solo lane, quickly went South after an early roam to Rift Herald from HKA catalyzing them to close it out in under 30 minutes.
Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wingcame up huge in the first game on the Pyke pick, contastly zoning Isurus back, dipping into the fog of war, and securing multiple sacks of gold for his team with his ultimate kills. And while the final kill score was only 9-4, the win really was rather dominant.
"That was just a shalacking... an absolute smacking," Jake "Spawn" Tiberi said after Game 1. And other than a single 50/50 Baron, HKA cleanly worked the map inhibiting any chance of an ISG comeback.
Game 2 was extremely similar but for the opposite team - blue side continuing its domination. Even the early deaths were somewhat mirrored with Isurus failing a dive top side, losing two members, but then immediately bouncing back to gain control over the game.
In a skirmish around bottom river, Édgar Ali "Seiya" Bracamontes Munguía's Akali got a triple kill in a 4 for 0 trade. After that point, nobody could answer Seiya at all, and Isurus utilized their advantages well to cleanly close out their first win.
Evening it Out
While Game 3 continued the story of blue side coming out on top, it was also a story of Mateo Alejandro "Buggax" Aroztegui Zamora vs the world. HKA took their second win, but thanks to the incredible efforts of a flawless Irelia, it was a much closer game, finally one where it felt like each team could win till the end.
Time after time, HKA would engage onto ISG, just for Buggax to stun the whole team up and dance around them all, securing random kills and just escaping with a sliver of health thanks to Thresh's lantern. But despite his best efforts, Isurus' lack of tanks and engage spelt their demise in the end. HKA just needed one more.
Bringing it Home
Game 4 is where the story changed with the fall of blue side thanks to a last pick Veigar for HKA bot laner, Wong "Unified" Chun Kit. HKA seemingly baited Isurus into picking the lovers duo, leaving them the Rakan, just to later counter it with Veigar's cage. With three winning lanes and one of the best early junglers, HKA just needed to load onto the rift and play it out.
Isurus did have incredible scaling, but perhaps too much. With Gangplank and Xayah both locked in, they last picked Corki, meaning all three carries would need three items to come online. Of course they couldn't have predicted the bot counter, but with no real way to control the game other than Skarner ultimates, they found themselves succumbing to the early game power of Hong Kong's comp.
After a rough early game, they somewhat righted the ship, Buggax again getting incredibly strong, and seemed back in favor of taking the victory, item spikes soon to be met. But a sneaky Baron from HKA set them right back firmly in the lead.
In the last moments, Isurus went for a desparate Elder Drake secure in hopes of delaying the game and finding another win condition, but HKA gladly gave it up to teleport their carries straght into the open base. With only two members left behind, Isurus' defense was futile, series won by Hong Kong Attitude.
The series was close, much closer than a 3-1 score might allude to, but at the end of the day, the higher seed proved victorious and the LMS found their 3rd seed back in the Group Stage once again.
The Man of the Match
While everyone on HKA played well and took part in each of their victories, Kaiwing is likely the MVP for constantly finding picks and engaging teamfights throughout the series. His Pyke really snowballed their lead, and his Rakan and Nautilus engaged for the team providing them a sense of agency that Isurus lacked themselves.
The Attitude will find themselves in the Group Draw after the final Knockout Game played between
Splyce and Unicorns of Love, begining the Group Stage later this week.