Of Mash and Men

mashcoo

The fantastic Brandon “DontMashMe” Phan has been a nomad in League of Legends esports in search of the right team that can go the distance. From the Great White North down to South Bay, DontMashMe has carved out his place in the esports scene. Traveling from team to team he has never found a shortage of friends.

Through victory and defeat DontMashMe has continued to learn and adapt to remain a reliable and viable competitor out on Summoners Rift. Despite falling from the ranks of the LCS he has taken the words of his doubters in stride to be the best he can be. “The best-laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” But what do they say of Mash and men?

A New Frontier

DontMashMe began his competitive career in early 2011, winning the SoloMid 1v1 tournament. This quickly demonstrated his raw mechanical talent to the competitive players around trying to make a name for themselves. MashMe began competing in smaller tournaments with LiQuiD112. From the name Team XXX to unRestricted this large team was able to perform exceptionally well. Some of the teams most notable players were Pobelter, Nyjacky, as well as Doublelift.

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This young team was noticed by one organization that was preparing to take its baby steps into the world of esports. That organization was Curse Gaming. Along side LiQuiD112, Nyjacky, Lapaka, and Pobelter, DontMashMe entered his first LAN tournament at MLG Raleigh in 2011.

However the team did not fare well going against the North American powerhouses of Epik Gamer, Team Solo Mid, and Counter Logic Gaming. In a Round Robin Best of 3 series Curse wasn’t capable of winning a single series. The teamed proved to still being in a building phase with this poor performance. As the competitive scene was shaping in League of Legends, so was Curse Gaming.

Curse continued having many problems with roster swaps and players like MashMe and Lapaka having issues with the direction LiQuiD112 was taking the team in. MashMe was benched in favor of the increasingly popular and talented Doublelift. With these roster changes Curse’s performance became worse and the team finished below fifth place at both IEM VI and IPL 3. The bench life didn’t suit MashMe and he officially left the team in November 2011.

MashMe was one of the most sought after AD carries in the competitive scene and it wasn’t long till he found a new team in Too Tricky, which soon became Complexity Gaming. While his time with his teammates Nubbypoohbear, IWillDominate, and RicePanda didn’t last long there, it was the beginning of a partnership that would define the next part of his career. DontMashMe would find himself in lane with Patoy.

Singularity

get to da choppaJanuary 2012, a team was born that would start making waves in the ever growing ocean of League of Legends esports. They were known as Choppa In Da Car. The roster started off with Reidan in top lane, Chu8 in the middle, Naryt in the jungle, and the seemingly inseparable duo of DontMashMe and Patoy in the bottom lane.

While the team was capable of finding success in lower tier tournament such as Go4LoL, by March there were roster changes being made. Reidan was replaced by I Got a while Chu8′s position was taken over by Jintae, a player DontMashMe would become quite familiar with his time on Team Coast.

allstarAlso that March, LoL esports would have one of its first All Star games. IGN ProLeague SXSW All Stars 2012 featured a show match between East Coast (and Canada) vs. the best of the West Coast. The East was represented by Lapaka, TreeEskimo, TakashiX, Dyrus, and DontMashMe and faced the West’s team of DanDinh, Westrice, Salce, NhatNguyen, and Atlanta. Even with the West consisting of four out of five Epik Gamer members, MashMe and the East Coast took the victory 2-0.

 

Come May 2012, Choppa In Da Car was picked up by Monomaniac eSports and became Dominatus. However this sponsorship did not save the roster from falling in on itself. By June, Dominatus wouldn’t be recognizable as Naryt, Jintae, and I Got a were replaced by Lexvink, xHazzard, and future Velocity eSports middle laner Vileroze.

Throughout roster changes fans believed that Patoy and DontMashMe would always be the constant, the foundation of the team they loved. Yet the bottom lane duo was torn asunder in July when Patoy joined Team Dignitas. Soon after this split DontMashMe took off to join TSM.Evo and Choppa In Da Car became nothing more than a memory

A Dynamic Change

MashMe’s run with TSM.Evo would prove to be a short one. Taking over a vacant AD carry spot left by Aphromoo, DontMashMe found himself competing for the Season 2 regionals in the end of August 2012. Plagued by communication issues and a fresh roster change, TSM.Evo lost to DontMashMe’s former team Curse Gaming 0-2. This loss would lead to the disbanding of TSM.Evo.

Of the members of that TSM.Evo roster, MashMe is the only one still in competitive play today. The end of Evo seemed to be a rebirth for the G-spam King, DontMashMe. It wasn’t long till DontMashMe would be playing with another former mMe team, then known as the young Team Dynamic.

In October 2012 DontMashMe was officially announced as Team Dynamics new AD carry replacing their longtime marksman, zig. He found himself having great synergy with the support player Pixel. However, the team would be entering a long lasting rebuilding phase as only days after MashMe joined, their middle lane player Paradoxical would leave.

Despite the lack of a complete roster DontMashMe found himself right at home with this teams nearly recklessly aggressive play style. Unlike his experiences with TSM.Evo, he believed the communication within Team Dynamic to be one of their greatest strengths.

TDMashThat November, Phan entered his first LAN with his new team, the 2012 MLG Fall Championship in Dallas. The team would have little luck there. The middle lane was vacant so Team Dynamic brought in Nientonsoh as their substitute. To turn up the heat on the young team even more they were matched up with Cpt Jack and Azubu Blaze in their first match. Losing that match 0-2 knocked them down to the losers bracket where they lost to CLG.Eu 1-2.

 

In early December, the team participated in IPL 5 with TakashiX at middle lane. This time Team Dynamic would leave the event early without a single win. Being placed in one of the most competitive groups with Azubu Blaze, Fnatic, and Team WE did them no favors at this event. Even so, a lot of work would need to be done if this team had any hope in making it into Season 3.

Their Season 3 dreams however were not completely dissolved as of yet. In mid-December the IPL Online Qualifiers gave them an opportunity to invest in their future. No team in the online qualifiers offered much of a challenge compared to this experienced team except for Hai’s endlessly renamed team which later became Cloud 9. After the pre-Cloud 9 team took Team Dynamic down 0-2 in the winners bracket, the team qualified through the MLG Online Qualifier. This left Dirtnap Gaming and Team Dynamic as the only teams left, and subsequently both qualified for the Season 3 Offline Qualifiers.

The announcement of the Season 3 League Championship Series earlier in the year brought a lot of questions on how Team Dynamic would move forward. There were now new rules to competitive play. And in those rules, came age restrictions:

1.1 Player Age

No player shall be considered eligible to participate in any LCS-affiliated match before his or her 17th birthday, defined as having lived 17 full years. This shall not, however, prevent teams from signing Free Agents who are 16 years old, granted that they may not participate in an LCS match until they turn 17.

Team Dynamics was the youngest team in the scene and with this rule their youngest member, Pixel, would not be eligible to compete. The team’s construction season would go longer than expected. Moving Pixel to a substitute position, the team then brought in I am Anjo and a little known Monomaniac alumnus, Shiphtur to man the mid.

A Formal Education

A new year, a new name. DontMashMe and the team departed from the company Team Dynamic and formed Good Game University. GGU came with a new lease on life entering the offline qualifiers. 16 teams were competing for five spots in the new LCS and GGU quickly fought to show why they deserved to be there.

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Exiting group stages they were matched up against Cris, jdwu, Pr0lly, Ecko, and Prophet of Dirtnap Gaming. This DNG roster was in the business of making matches difficult for other teams. Many were familiar with the legendary play of Pr0lly since his days on Team Legion, and his team rarely would give up an easy win.

In the last game against DNG with the LCS on the line GGU took over every lane. Working cohesively throughout the entirety of the game they showed more team dynamic than ever before. ZionSpartan, NintendudeX, Shiphtur, DontMashMe, and I am Anjo were not the students at GGU, but the professors.

The LCS dream was at last achieved but the reality of it wasn’t what GGU expected. February showed the team was still rebuilding. DontMashMe would be juggling support players with I Am Anjo for week one, Bloodwater from week two till week seven, and then finally Daydreamin from week eight and on. In the meantime Shiphtur was only capable to compete for week one due to visa issues. GGU would be competing with Fat for a short amount of time and then MashMe’s former Choppa In Da Car teammate, Jintae.

GGU’s roster was given no stability throughout the Spring Split. They left week five of the split with a dismal record of 3-12. The season seemed irreparable. In week seven Bloodwater was playing with DontMashMe, in week eight he was playing with Zuna. Bloodwater jumped ship to play once again with his old CLG.Black teammates.

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Seeing this great player abandon the team was a wake up call for MashMe and GGU. In week eight the team brought Daydreamin on board, a solo queue support player with a little competitive experience with FXOpen e-Sports. After acquiring Daydreamin the team went 6-4, just barely making it into the playoffs over Team MRN and compLexity Gaming.

 

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Playoffs began and Good Game University shocked the LCS. After defeating the inconsistent Team Dignitas, 2-1, they entered the semi-finals against Team Curse, who ended the split with a record of 19-9. Yet once the split was done the team moved Elementz to substitute and brought Rhux up to play support in the playoffs. GGU took down Team Curse 2-1 and found their way in the finals against the 21-7 Team Solo Mid.

 

DontMashMe and his team were in the middle of the impossible split. For Good Game University to have made it into the finals was testament to their dedication to the game. After each match won MashMe would run over to ZionSpartan and the rest of his team to celebrate. There were few teams which showed the amount friendship and enthusiasm that GGU did during their run through the Spring Split playoffs.

tsmggu

 

Throughout the split GGU did not win a single game against TSM. Yet throughout a smash mouth aggressive series DontMashMe and company were able to take the finals all the way to game five. With first place on the line, GGU came out on the rift with full aggression. Daydreamin landed some spectacular hooks on Blitzcrank, including one delivering first blood to MashMe playing Caitlyn. However dominating the laning phase was, the team couldn’t successfully transition them selves in mid game.

Reginald’s Twisted Fate play was dominating the map at every turn and Xpecial made GGU all but blind with his vision control. Without vision there were no hooks and GGU fell more and more behind drastically. Before 40 minutes the game was over and GGU was the second place team leaving the Spring Split.

There was a new found energy going through this team and many fans thought this would be only the beginning of a successful season in the LCS. In June, Good Game University became Team Coast and even brought in former Team Curse support player, Elementz, as the team’s coach. Teamwork seemed to be the team’s mantra and with Shiphtur’s return early in the Summer Split everything seemed to be falling into place for further success.

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The Summer Split however would hold little of the excitement seen in the spring. The season went to the wind as they finished it off with a record of 9-19, never picking up that one more win against TSM. They finished seventh in the split and were subsequently up for relegation. The future of the team was once again in jeopardy.

 

In the months leading up to their relegation matches DontMashMe and the team would play together in minor tournament leagues such as the NESL and NACL. All wasn’t well with the team though as MashMe saw it was best for his team and himself for him to step down from the main roster. Not finding the synergy and the team dynamic of the past, MashMe found it best to start fresh. Immediately he was on the hunt for a new team. By no means did he see this as his end in competitive play.

 Back to the Start

In January, MashMe would join vVv.Red alongside Bee Sin, PorpoisePops, CheesdBeluga, and Rockblood in efforts to reach the NA LCS through the Online Spring Play Ins. This team would be short lived however, as DontMashme left for an organization he departed so long ago.

mashnFebruary brought the return of Brandon Phan to the Curse organization, but this time as part of Curse Academy. His teammates would include Rhux in the top lane, Patou in the jungle, middle laner Duocek, and support legend Zekent. This team brought experience to the Challenger scene that is hard to overlook. DontMashMe joined IWillDominate, Sheep, Rhux, Zekent, AtmoicN, and Pobelter in the Curse Academy revolving door of former and current LCS players.

Throughout the early month of 2014 Curse Academy would struggle to find a support player to best compliment MashMe’s play style. CA’s most recent support pick up, Sheep, departed the team to play in the LCS with XDG. Team Curse then moved Zekent down into the CA support role, at the end of February.

The partnership didn’t last long between MashMe and Zekent, as Zekent decided to retire from the competitive scene to focus on finding a career. Curse Academy then turned to long time AD carry and support player Diamond, who later changed his name to Kabigon. Even through endless roster changes in MashMe’s lane the team managed to consistently make it into the top eight of the NA Challenger Series #1 and #2.

NA Challenger Series #2 however was their time to shine. DontMashMe and team fought their way into third place defeating compLexity.Red, 2-0, but falling to Cloud 9 Tempest. Their spot in the post-season for the Challenger Series was secured and the team took third place in the NACS #2 with their 2-0 victory over vVv.

mlgmashWith the post season raging on, MashMe became the center of attention as CA once again went up against a struggling vVv roster. Curse Academy was able to hold off a resilient vVv taking the series in another 2-0. MashMe went 3/0/0 in their dominating game one and 8/2/6 in the back and forth game two, where vVv brought the CA Nexus down to 800 health but failed to close it out.

Curse Academy was then up against LMQ in the semifinals. Once again MashMe would have to play with K1 Pro as Kabigon wasn’t able to make it to the next two matches, two of the most important matches that Curse Academy would be competing in. CA had two chances to make their way into the Summer Promotion series. Game one LMQ put on a terrifyingly dominant display finishing the game in only 23 minutes and claiming 16 kills to CA’s 4. This was the team with the hype behind them that many fans expected to see coming into the NA Challenger Series.

Game two was then underway and CA had the chance to move this best of three series to it’s third game. This second game was a back and forth battle where Curse Academy was able to keep up with almost every move that LMQ was able to make. CA was able to take early advantages, but LMQ continued to gain ground with two steps forward for every step backwards. While MashMe continued with his strong performance, LMQ whittled away Curse Academy’s defenses bring them to defeat 46 minutes into the game. MashMe and CA would be up against compLexity.Black for their last chance at getting into summer promotions.

A best of five against Col.Black is what stood between CA and a promotion opportunity. Here the Westrice Story and Of Mash and Men collided. Two extraordinary players with their incredible teams battled for this final spot. A piece could be written at this length for that series alone. Across nearly four hours of game play the series went to game five where it became a battle of endurance which comes out of experience most of all. Despite MashMe’s spectacular numbers, 27-13-21 across the series, CA fell to compLexity.Black, two to three. This promotion dream would have to be put on hold.

DontMashMe has been one of the longest competing League of Legends players in esports today. He has yet to lose his edge, consistently standing against the best AD carries in the North American scene. Endless aggression and solid mechanics have been in his repertoire since before Choppa In Da Car and he hasn’t let off the gas pedal. His ability to adapt to whatever is thrown his way has kept him in the binding of the book of League esports. No matter what surprises appear, DontMashMe can be relied upon to make it out the other side with his head held high. If he finds himself fighting forward on an LCS bound team or decides to retire from the scene all together, it’s easy to say he will forge his own way to success no matter what he does. The best laid-plans of Mash and men have often gone awry, but since when has that ever stopped Brandon Phan?

 

Josh Alfrey is a video game writer and editor focusing on League of Legends challenger esports. He enjoys long nights in the Howling Abyss and arguing about the best way to punctuate the word esports. Follow him on Twitter @TheMarshawn. There you can read him complain about snow in April with some League of Legends commentary thrown in on a good day.