3 years ago, the Unicorns of Love rose from obscurity and made their fame as an organisation on the semi-final stage of IEM San Jose against TSM. The crowd roared as Kikis locked in his now-infamous Twisted Fate jungle and UoL proceeded to sweep the NA squad 2-0. Fast forward to today and UoL have once again found an opportunity to prove themselves, this time on the main stage in the Spodek arena in Katowice.
This year, the Unicorns qualified through a gruelling playoff bracket at IEM Oakland 2016, beating their American rivals TSM 2-1 in the semis, then ending the tournament with a narrow 3-2 over the Flash Wolves. While UoL have proven that they have the finesse required to compete on the big stage time and time again, this is a very different line-up to the rag-tag squad that captured so many fan's hearts 3 long years ago.
The roster that's looking to make history at Katowice this year still has two remaining veterans of the team, Vizicsacsi and Hylissang. The top laner and support player have been a cornerstone for the new squad to be built on, but this is already an accomplished group. With the current midlaner Exileh, the Unicorns managed to place 4th in the group stage of in the LCS 2016 summer split. They even achieved second place in the gauntlet, meaning they were just a single map away from heading to Worlds. Since then, Move and Veritas, the jungle and ADC respectively, have left and now Xerxe and Samux will be stepping into their shoes.
Looking into the squad a little deeper, who are the players to watch? Immediately you have to gravitate the team's new ADC, Samux. He's a player from the european challenger scene bouncing between academy squads with no real experience of international play. This will be a huge leap for him and possibly too tall of a task, but alongside players like Exileh, some of the burden is lifted. The midlaner is incredibly explosive and his ability to carry is often unstoppable, if they can get the ball rolling. An honorary mention goes to Vizicsacsi who is one of the most consistent Top Laners in the EU LCS. Always a factor in the team's victories and never the cause of a defeat, Vizicsacsi is a huge boon to the team and will be a pillar for his team to lean on.
So what should we expect from the Unicorns at IEM? Will they be able to perform in front of thousands of screaming fans once more? It's difficult to provide a confident yes or no answer before having seen them in the LCS this split, with two new players a lot can change. What is safe to say though, is that UoL always have something up their sleeve when it comes to crunch time and cannot be counted out. With a history of upsetting big names and a reputation for outdoing expectations, we should go into IEM revering this team. Any opponent who underestimates The Unicorns of Love is a foolish opponent.
With such a storied team entering the fray, you cannot afford to miss IEM Katowice 2017! Be sure to secure one of the remaining tickets to the event and follow IEM on Twitter and Facebook to not miss any updates.
Article by: Joe "Munchables" Fenny