Summer 2017 over/under (part 2): LCS players above expectations

With three weeks of NA and EU LCS in the books, audiences are starting to get a feel for teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Some squads have carried over similar strengths from Spring Split. Others have risen or fallen in performance. But even within rosters that tend to play consistently, there always seems to be an ebb and flow on the individual player level.

Last week, I highlighted players who need to return to past form for their respective teams to have a chance at peak performance. This week it is all about the other side, summoners who are trending upward so far this summer. These players have visibly improved. They are putting up statistics that are exciting and surprising. More importantly, though, these members have elevated their teams’ overall performances with their gameplay on the Rift.

Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha

CLG, Top laner

KP%:    61.8%   (2nd top laner)

D%:        19%    (4th top laner)

Darshan is a player who has come and gone as a presence in the top lane. While he almost mirrors his statistics from Spring Split, Summer Split seems different. Many of the imported top laners who struggled to find their place last split currently feel much stronger. Yet, Darshan has been able to keep up enough in lane to help CLG pressure the map through split-pushing and cleaner Teleports. Darshan’s team will rely on him to anchor his lane against top-heavy teams in the NA LCS.

CLG Darshan is exceeding expectations in top lane

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DIG Shrimp is exceeding expectations in the jungle

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Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon

Dignitas, Jungler

KP%:    79.1%   (2nd overall)

XPD@10:    325  (3rd overall)

Dignitas’ newest jungler, Shrimp, has been on a tear so far this split. He and top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, are the only members of the team to start ahead of their opponents at 10 minutes. Despite Dignitas’ early deficits, Shrimp has enabled the team to control Elder Dragon and Baron better than most teams in the NA LCS. His Lee Sin is particularly strong.

Choi “Pirean” Jun-Sik

Team Envy, Mid laner

KDA:    4.2   (4th mid laner)

DPM:    494  (6th mid laner)

Pirean is by no means close to the best mid laner in the NA LCS. However, his addition to Team Envy has seemed to boost their overall performance. Within the team, Pirean has the highest KDA, lowest death share, and ties Apollo “Apollo” Price in damage share. Even in Envy’s losses, the mid laner looks proactive on picks like Taliyah and Ahri. Pirean seems like a much better fit than Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo in spring.

NV Pirean is performing above expectations in mid lane

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UOL Samux is exceeding expectations in bottom lane

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Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort

Unicorns of Love, Bot laner

DPM:    604   (4th overall)

DMG%: 28%  (6th overall)

Despite already meshing well with Unicorns of Love in his rookie split, Samux is solidifying himself as a top AD carry in EU LCS this split. He is putting out high damage and keeping his deaths low, sporting a 7.7 KDA. Samux’s positioning and decision-making have been crucial to Unicorns’ scary team-fighting. Standing out this way among a strong field of European bot lanes truly is a feat.

Kim “Wadid” Bae-in

Roccat, Support

D%:   15.4%  (2nd support)

KP%:  68.5%  (6th support)

The flashiest Rakan player in the EU LCS, Wadid has been a primary initiator for Roccat this split. This trend started during Roccat’s win streak towards the end of Spring Split, but he has blossomed these past few weeks. Wadid enables his bottom lane partner, Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss, to get ahead during laning phase and clean up team-fights. Viewers feel this player’s presence on the map, which is impressive considering there are several competitive, veteran support players in the league.

ROC Wadid is exceeding expectations as support

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honorable mention

IMT Cody Sun and Olleh are above expectations in bottom lane

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Li “Cody Sun” Yu Sun, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung

Immortals, Bot lane duo

DPM: 534,251 (2nd bot lane duo)

FB%: 27%,20% (1st bot laner, 1st support)

The success of Immortals’ bottom lane is difficult to separate between marksman and support. Both Cody Sun and Olleh have exhibited vast improvements from their starts at IEM Gyeonggi. Many fans could see the power shift towards the end of Spring Split, but not to the current degree. This duo has consistently pressured opponents throughout the game in laning, turrets and team-fights. Olleh’s aggressive Bard and Morgana pairs particularly well with Cody Sun’s Caitlyn and Varus. Immortals’ bottom lane has been a force so far, and remaining at the top of the standings will definitely depend on their continued growth.

All of these players are playing above their previous benchmarks. It only takes a short time for above expectations to turn into the expectation, and, as the NA and EU LCS advance, viewers will look for continued improvement. No one will necessarily remember which teams and players were stomping or slumping three weeks into the split. If these players truly want to leave their mark, they will need to maintain this high level of gameplay over many more grueling weeks of League of Legends.


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Summer 2017 over/under (part 1): LCS players below expectations

The EU and NA LCS Summer Splits are part-way through week three. Every team has played at least four series, and most starting players have played six or more games on stage. The beginning-of-split grace period is coming to an end, and excuses, such as team synergy or a new meta, are no longer acceptable.

Mid-season roster changes and substitutions are shaking up the standings compared to the 2017 Spring Splits. Most of the mix-ups can be attributed to team and player improvements, but just like every split, some players are standing out as weak links. No player can take full responsibility for an under-performing team, but the players below definitely have some work cut out for them if their teams are to reach their maximum potential.

Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong/Jeon “Ray” Ji-won

Cloud9, Top laners

D%:    26.9%/23.5%   (2nd-3rd highest overall)

CSD10:        -8.5/-11           (lowest top laners)

Something is obviously wrong with Cloud9’s top lane. Ray and Impact have both had their lulling periods in the past, but fans hoped those issues might be gone. Ray has had a full split to assimilate into the team, and Impact has been on the team a full year. Cloud9’s other members seem to be playing well, making this top lane duo a liability. Ray and Impact fall far behind in the early game and do not have the KDAs or damage per minute to justify such high death shares.

C9 Ray is underperforming after 3 weeks of LCS

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Phoenix1's Inori is underperforming after three weeks of LCS Summer Split

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William “Meteos” Hartman/Rami “Inori” Charagh

Phoenix1, Junglers

KDA:    1.5/3.0   (lowest and 8th junglers)

DPM:    223/187 (9th and lowest junglers)

Another substituting duo that is struggling, Meteos and Inori, has uprooted P1’s entire team. Neither of these junglers has looked well-rounded. Inori brings fewer deaths, but also less damage and lower kill participation. Meteos has higher damage per minute and kill participation, but sacrifices a lot of deaths. In week three, P1 has decided to start Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung, indicating that he may be a better option right now.

Luka “Perkz” Perković

G2, Mid laner

XPD10:    -507   (2nd lowest overall)

DPM:    511      (7th mid laner)

G2’s slow start is a bit of a conundrum. Despite minimal roster changes in Group A, Perkz has fallen in rank in almost every statistic. His KDA, damage, death share, and laning differentials are significantly worse than Spring Split. This is surprising considering how well Perkz performed at the Mid Season Invitational. Mid lane has some of the highest parity among EU LCS positions, so weakness here can inhibit G2’s success.

G2 Perkz is underperforming after three weeks of Summer Split

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P1 Arrow has been underperforming after three weeks of Summer Split

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No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon

Phoenix1, Bot laner

DPM:    464   (3rd lowest bot laner)

CSD10:    -5.8      (lowest bot laner)

Arrow has fallen far from MVP of the NA LCS Spring Split. While P1 has issues greater than just Arrow, the bot laner has not looked remotely close to form. KDAs are always lower on losing teams, but laning statistics such as gold differential, experience differential, and CS differential are mostly on the individual. Arrow’s laning statistics are significantly lower than last spring, and his overall damage has dropped off, which is strange considering hyper-carries are playable in the current meta.

Austin “Gate” Yu

Echo Fox, Support

KP%:   58.6%  (lowest support)

XPD10:  -119   (2nd lowest support)

Echo Fox has had a stalwart start to the split, but almost none of it can be attributed to Gate. While most other supports are drafting playmakers such as Rakan, Thresh, Blitzcrank, and Zyra, Gate has locked in Karma four games, and Sejuani three. FOX only won one of the three Sejuani games, and Gate did not seem to impact the series at all. For Echo Fox to reach the next level, Gate will need to contribute more meaningfully and consistently.

 

FOX Gate has been underperforming three weeks into Summer Split

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Each of these players has shown high points in the past, and should be able to bounce back from these first few weeks of competition. However, if they wish to remain contenders for playoffs, then they will need to improve as efficiently as possible. It is not uncommon for professional players to slump here or there. It happens every split. Getting out of it will require change. Trying new champion picks, setting different goals during practice, and working on communication within the team are all ways in which these LCS pros can overcome the criticism thrown their way.

Tune in next week for Summer 2017 Over/Under (Part 2): LCS Players Above Expectations.


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Dragon Fist Lee Sin splash art

SICK KICKS: Dragon’s Rage as Used by LCS Junglers

Lee Sin is an ever-present pick within the jungle pool for professional League of Legends. Players all around the world have perfected the complex mechanics of this champion. The Blind Monk is valuable for his quick clear, his impactful early ganks, his vision on the map, and his outplay potential.

So far in the 2017 EU and NA LCS Summer Splits, Lee Sin is picked or banned in 71-72 percent of games. This presence is massive, especially when considering how often Lee Sin has historically been playable in the meta. His ultimate ability, Dragon’s Rage, is a particularly popular ability, for competitors and audiences alike.

Players use Dragon’s Rage for a range of purposes. A caught out enemy is punished by pushing him into Lee Sin’s team. The jungler can also help peel for primary carries by kicking a chasing enemy back away from the team. Or Dragon’s Rage can zone certain threats out of a fight or away from an objective. This ability gives a player so much agency that fans keep their eye on the positioning of the Lee Sin.

Highlights from week two of the EU and NA LCS Summer Split are below. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon, Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, Juan “Contractz” Garcia, Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian, Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun, and Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen are the featured players in the montage. Each of them uses Lee Sin’s Dragon Rage in various ways to demonstrate the power of a well-timed, well-placed kick. This single ability was crucial to several series wins and losses.

Lee Sin currently sits at a 64 percent win rate in the NA LCS, and a 54 percent in EU. Players generally build Tracker’s Knife (Warrior) for the warding and attack damage. Black Cleaver offers health and armor shred. Ninja Tabi grants movement speed and damage reduction, while Deadman’s Plate comes with armor, health, movement speed and attack damage. Lee Sin is best played into Kha’Zix and Elise, according to Games of Legends. Understanding when Dragon’s Rage is available is key to viewing Lee Sin on-screen, or playing against him on Summoner’s Rift.


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UOL Xerxe will jungle against H2K Jankos in Week 2

Unicorns Will Grapple with H2K for Group B Dominance

This Sunday, June 11, Unicorns of Love will take on H2K to establish the top of the standings in Group B of the EU LCS. It will be a crucial series, as these two teams seek the top spot within the group. While audiences were able to see UOL and H2K debut in Week One, their opponents looked significantly weaker. Week Two will be the true test for Group B dominance.

At the end of the Spring Split, UOL narrowly edged out H2K for first seed going into playoffs. H2K had a 10-3 record, while UOL finished 11-2. H2K lost both head-to-head match-ups against UOL over the course of the split, so they will look for redemption in the series this week.

Spring Split Series

Week Two

UOL and H2K first faced off in Week Two of the Spring Split this year. The Unicorns won games one and three, while H2K took the second game. In all three games, H2K secured a gold lead of 3,000 or more. They took the first kill, the first dragon, and the first turret in all three games. This usually involved UOL initiating a fight or turret dive, and H2K properly absorbing the pressure and punishing the failed attempts.

However, H2K never got these early accomplishments for free. UOL generally secured kills of their own just after first blood. The Unicorns also did not slow down the tempo of the game. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert were almost always more proactive than H2K’s mid-jungle duo, and most teamfights went in UOL’s favor. In H2K’s losses, they allowed UOL to swing the gold back in their favor twice, dragging the game time beyond 36 minutes. In H2K’s win, they finished before 33 minutes.

These mid-game teamfights transitioned into Baron posturing. Unicorns’ wins came off the back of successful Baron takes post-30 minutes. In H2K’s victory, they did successfully push UOL off of a Baron call, punished the rush, and ended the game.

Week Eight

The other UOL-H2K match-up occurred in Week Eight of the Spring Split. While the Unicorns did win the series 2-0, the games were still competitive. Game one saw H2K with over 7,000 gold over UOL. Game two took UOL three Baron takes to close out the game. The strengths and weaknesses of the two teams carried over into this series, as well. In both games, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski secured first blood and one of H2K’s solo laners received the second kill.

But, again, UOL excels at securing counter-kills and keeping up the tempo. When playing from behind, they absorb the pressure of H2K’s Baron buff and make sure to take the Infernal Drakes. When playing ahead, UOL pressures the map, takes Baron themselves, and pushes the pace. The aggression does occasionally get them into trouble, though.

Last split, UOL was the only squad with higher first Baron (80 percent) and Baron control (78 percent) rates than H2K. Fighting around the pit is UOL’s biggest strength. Meanwhile, H2K’s early game is key to their success. They maintained the highest average gold lead at 15 minutes (1,056) and the highest first blood rate (63 percent).

It is between these moments where the match-up will be decided. H2K needs to snowball their early leads efficiently and close out the game before UOL gets the opportunity to snag a Baron. Unicorns of Love will need to match H2K’s aggression throughout the first 30 minutes, then pressure Baron and out-fight in the late game.

Summer Split Series

H2K v. Splyce

H2K’s first series of the Summer Split was against Splyce. The series ended 2-0 in H2K’s favor, but the first game did not go as smoothly as the second. Splyce built up a 3,600 gold lead pre-20 minutes. However, H2K’s mid-game teamfighting was too much, particularly out of Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten. H2K took Baron around 22 minutes, swinging the gold lead back in their favor and ending the game. In Game Two, Jankos got three kills on Graves in the first four minutes, and H2K snowballed completely from that point. It was over in 24 minutes.

H2K v. Mysterious Monkeys

Mysterious Monkeys did not put up much of a fight versus H2K in Week One. While MM was able to get a few early kills in the first game, H2K turned it around at the dragon pit. After taking the Infernal Drake, H2K built a lead over 10,000 gold and closed it out. Game Two was a complete stomp. H2K secured six kills before MM could get one, then they took the Baron and ended.

Unicorns v. Team Vitality

Unicorns’ wins against VIT followed a similar trajectory. Although VIT secured first blood, first turret, first dragon, and Rift Herald in Game One, UOL only allowed them to take one more turret after 10 minutes–no more kills or neutral objectives. They secured Baron around 22 minutes, and closed the game. In Game Two, UOL only lost five deaths and two turrets, while securing 18 kills and a 20-minute Baron.

H2K v. UOL This Week

These two teams seem to be utilizing similar strategies to win this summer as they did in spring. H2K is averaging the highest gold difference at 15 minutes among all EU LCS teams. Unicorns averages about half as much. H2K has secured first blood in two out of four games, while UOL did not in either of their games. H2K also has a higher first turret rate, first dragon rate, and Rift Herald rate.

However, UOL took the first three turrets in both games. Their kill-death ratio as a team is over twice that of H2K, which means Unicorns will be looking to win fights. Both teams have a 100 percent first Baron and Baron control rate, but UOL has historically bested H2K around the pit. H2K should stick to their playstyle of getting far ahead early and out-rotating their opponent. UOL needs to absorb that early pressure, punish missed opportunities, push the pace whether ahead or behind, and posture around Baron to force H2K’s hand. This series should be explosive, and the top of Group B is on the line.


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Splash art for Rakan and Xayah

Rakan’s Grand Opening into the EU and NA LCS

Week One of the EU and NA LCS has been a professional unveiling of League of Legends’ newest support champion–Rakan. The Charmer lands on the Rift with his significant other, Xayah, as a bottom lane duo. The two have synergies that do not carry over to other partnerships, but they are still playable separately. Seeing as professional support players have already drafted Rakan into their team compositions, it is important to understand how this Vistaya fits into the game.

Rakan’s Kit

Rakan’s passive ability is called Fey Feathers. Rather straightforward, Rakan will occasionally gain a light yellow shield that scales with his AP. Damaging enemies reduces its cooldown.  This is a simple ability that helps him trade a bit in lane or gain some durability before entering a fight.

Gleaming Quill is Rakan’s Q ability. A skillshot, Gleaming Quill deals magic damage to the first struck enemy. Minions, monsters, and summoned pets (Tibbers, Daisy, etc.) can block this ability, but if Rakan’s Q lands on an enemy champion or epic monster, then a circular mark forms around him. After three seconds, Rakan heals himself, but if any allies step inside the mark, then they will be healed, too. Gleaming Quill is used to poke opponents in lane and receive health in return.

Gran Entrance is Rakan’s W spell. Using this play-making ability, The Charmer dashes, pauses for one second, then knocks up all enemies within the circle. LCS players utilized Grand Entrance to great effect in Week One. Rakan’s W is a serious crowd-control ability. When cast with Flash, supports can easily outplay enemies.

Grand Entrance does follow through over walls. It can be used as a heavy engage tool, but also as an escape. Most of Rakan’s gameplay revolves around this spell and its cooldown.

Grand Entrance can also be used in conjunction with Rakan’s E ability, Battle Dance. This ability allows Rakan to dash to his teammate, which shields them. Players can cast Battle Dance a second time within five seconds, even on the same target. Rakan’s E is similar to Lee Sin’s Safe Guard. It helps keep allies alive, and also allows Rakan to dash in and out of fights as needed. A common combo for Rakan supports is E towards the fight, W into the fight for the knock-up, then E back out of the fight.

Rakan’s ultimate ability is The Quickness. When activated, Rakan’s movement speed increases by 50 percent. After hitting an enemy champion, this bonus speed increases to 200 percent, then decays back to 50 percent. For the four seconds that the ability is active, Rakan charms every enemy that he contacts. The Quickness allows the support to corral several enemies into one spot and sets up allies for area-of-effect damage and crowd control.

Synergy with Xayah

Much of Rakan’s kit has additional effects when paired with Xayah. Their secondary passive, Lover’s Leap, allows them to enter each others’ recalls mid-animation. For example, Rakan can start recalling, Xayah can clear a few more minions, then click on Rakan’s recall to immediately follow him.

Rakan may also cast Battle Dance (E) from farther away with Xayah than other champions. Therefore, Rakan can travel more distance to shield Xayah, to set up for Grand Entrance (W), or to escape a fight. Finally, Xayah can grant Rakan bonus attack range and speed with Deadly Plumage. No other support gains this bonus.

Rakan’s Week One LCS Statistics

Teams in the EU LCS banned Rakan four times and picked him once, giving him an overall presence of 38 percent. The one game that Roccat’s Kim “Wadid” Bae-in played Rakan resulted in a win. He finished with a 14.0 KDA and 100 percent win rate.

In the NA LCS, teams opted to draft Rakan six times and ban him once. These picks and bans combine for a 29 percent presence. Cloud9’s Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Envy’s Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent played him twice. CLG’s Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and Team Liquid’s Matt “Matt” Elento played him once. Out of the six games, only Aphromoo’s ended in victory, resulting in a 17 percent win rate.

So far, Rakan’s LCS play has not resulted in much more than flashy plays. Teams prioritized him as the fifth or sixth support pick, but only won two out of seven games with him. His performance overall was worse than other priority supports, such as Zyra, Thresh, Braum, Karma, Tahm Kench, and Bard. However, Rakan’s win rate did exceed Lulu’s. Hopefully these poor statistics do cause supports to shy away from picking Rakan in the future, because The Charmer is fun to watch, if nothing else.


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Teams participating in 2017 EU LCS Summer Split

Summer Watchlist 2017: Splyce, Vitality, Roccat, and Ninjas in Pyjamas

Since reflecting on the Spring Split, there have been several changes to the contenders within EU LCS. New organizations have entered the fray, and familiar faces are donning unfamiliar jerseys. Multiple teams have rearranged coaches. All this change is an effort to get ahead of the pack and win Summer Split.

G2 finished MSI in second place

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G2 dominated Spring Split: they only lost one best-of-three series out of thirteen. The Samurai went on to finish second place at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. No other team in Europe looked to be on par with G2 before the tournament, but MSI certainly quieted any dissent. With no roster or staff changes to speak of, G2 looks to remain at the top of the ranks. Their eyes will be on the world stage.

Fnatic and Misfits are between G2 and the rest of Group A. Misfits finished the regular season second in their group, while Fnatic tied Roccat for third. However, Fnatic ultimately beat Misfits for third place in playoffs, beating them 3-0 in the best-of-five. Fnatic picked up a new coach, Dylan Falco. Misfits released their jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, and acquired Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian. The effects of these changes do not appear to be drastic on the surface. Fnatic should be able to retain second place within Group A, putting Misfits third.

Unicorns of Love look to top Group B

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Unicorns of Love sit at the top of Group B. Following a similar trajectory to G2, UOL finished the regular season 11-2. They did not drop a series to other members of Group B. UOL went on to finish second in the playoffs. Seeing as the top teams in Group B did not have any major roster updates in the off-season, the Unicorns should easily maintain their top position.

Although playoffs were not pleasant for H2K, their regular season went well. They finished 10-3, losing twice to UOL and once to G2. H2K had not lost to any other team until Fnatic beat them 3-0 in the quarterfinals of playoffs. Only earning 10 Championship Points, H2K will need to perform at a much higher level to re-qualify for the World Championships.

Mysterious Monkeys sit at the bottom of Group B after purchasing Misfits Academy’s LCS-qualified slot. While EU Challenger teams have historically performed well in their first split of LCS, this roster’s talent is questionable compared to the others. They even lost their starting jungler. The Monkeys come into the split with low expectations, most likely ending the regular season in fifth for Group B.

The other four teams should be less predictable. These rosters have all incorporated new players or coaches. These teams’ performances over the split will shape the standings within their respective groups. With huge strides, these squads can climb the ranks. But if they falter, then they will decline. There are major questions surrounding Splyce, Vitality, Roccat, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Is a new coach enough for Splyce to qualify for the World Championship?

Splyce finished Spring Split in 5th-6th

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It is hard to believe this is the same roster that qualified for Worlds 2016. Coming into 2017 as one of two European teams to keep every member of their 2016 team, Splyce was supposed to top Group B in spring. Instead, they squeaked by with a 7-6 record and lost 3-2 to Misfits in the quarterfinals of playoffs. They only earned 10 Championship Points.

But this time last year, Splyce came into the Summer Split with zero Championship Points. It did not stop them from finishing Summer Split in second place, earning 90 Championship Points, and winning the Regional Qualifiers to represent EU as third seed at Worlds. Theoretically, it could happen again this summer.

Splyce only updated the coach position in the mid-season. Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi parted ways with the team, and they brought in Fayan “Gevous” Pertjis to take his place. Gevous previously coached Red Canids in Brazil’s CBLoL. This spring, they finished first place overall and qualified for Mid-Season Invitational.

It is unclear what Gevous will add to Splyce. It is possible that a new coaching style may help bring Splyce’s members up to a new level. The players know they can play up to the same level as Unicorns or H2K. The anticipated meta shifts will probably help Splyce, as well. Tankier junglers with fast clears and impactful kits suit ‎Jonas “Trashy” Andersen, and  Martin “Wunder” Hansen generally looks more influential with damage-dealing split-pushers.

Is VandeR the answer to Team Vitality’s shortcomings?

VandeR joins Team Vitality for Summer Split

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This is a match made in heaven. Vitality had a rough Spring Split, and the support role was a major reason. Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan (now “Comeback”) finished with a 1.7 KDA and 27.9% kill share before he was benched. Schalke 04, on the other hand, had an excellent spring, and Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan was a major reason. As support, VandeR finished spring split with a 14.4 KDA and 11.4% kill share.

While support is an oft-overlooked role, this is a huge pick-up for Vitality. VandeR is a proven veteran with international experience. He will be joining Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi in the bottom lane, one of the more consistent members of Vitality last split.

This is another team that looks to benefit from the upcoming metagame. Top laner, Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet, looked best as a split-pusher when Vitality finished the regular season in third place in Spring 2016. A more anchored bottom lane and pressured top lane could open Charly “Djoko” Guillard up to have more options in the jungle. Vitality could look to move up in Group B if they mesh properly and other teams show weakness.

Will Roccat carry over the momentum from the end of Spring Split?

Roccat come into Summer Split with some momentum

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Roccat avoided the relegation tournament for the first time in three splits. This spring they narrowly missed making it into the playoffs, surging in the last few weeks of the split to finish 6-7 after starting 0-7. The storyline was so exciting to witness.

That momentum needs to carry into the Summer Split. Although Group A is daunting, every team has shown significant weaknesses. Roccat had 1-1 records against every other team in their group, including G2. The mostly new roster was able to click after several weeks of play.

The jungle position is the only one that changed in the mid-season. Maxlore left for Misfits, and Roccat picked up Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes from Misfits Academy as his replacement. Both of these players draft carry junglers such as Graves, Lee Sin, Kha’Zix, and Rengar, so Roccat’s playstyle should not drastically change. Pridestalker is a rookie, though, so incorporating him may take some time.

Roccat will come into summer an underdog, yet again. But if they can build off of their gameplay, synergy, and growth from spring, then they can definitely take games off of other Group A teams. Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren, in particular, should be able to continue drafting lane bullies such as Gnar, Fizz, and Renekton, which he played well in the final weeks of last split.

Are Ninjas in Pyjamas as bad as everyone anticipates?

HeaQ joins Ninjas in Pyjamas for Summer Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Ninjas in Pyjamas have caught a lot of flak for their player choices since they purchased Fnatic Academy’s LCS slot and replaced the entire roster. On paper, the team looks like a hodge-podge of Korean import solo laners, washed-up legacy jungler and support, and an LCS rookie.

Kim “Profit” Joon-hyung, in the top lane, comes from the LCK’s SK Telecom T1. He played nine games this spring as a substitute: five games on Nautilus, three games on Rumble, and one game on Shen. They won all but one of them. Beyond this small sample, Profit is virtually untested. If he was on SKT, then he is most likely the real deal, but until he hits the Rift this summer, it is hard to gauge him against other top laners in Group A.

Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon is the other Korean import for NiP. He is a mid laner most recently from Wan Yoo Dream, a Korean Challenger team, but previously from KT Rolster when they world contenders. During that time Nagne excelled on assassins, such as Zed, Diana, and Ahri. He also frequently played control mages, such as Lissandra and Azir. Nagne will be facing some of the top western mid laners in Group A.

Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema and Hampus “Sprattel” Abrahamsson are both alumni of Elements before Schalke 04 purchased. Shook most recently played for Vitality in 2016, but was replaced in November. Sprattel most recently played for Paris Saint-Germain in the Challenger Series. Neither player has been viewed as incredibly talented within the last two years.

And Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa will round out the bottom lane for NiP. He played for Giants Gaming last split, and has decent statistics for being on a relegated team. This will be HeaQ’s second split in the EU LCS.

Each of these players is an outcast in their own right. While this team will most likely be the Spring 2017 Origen of Summer Split, it could also come together as an unexpected surprise. If Shook can manage to find synergy with Profit and Nagne, and HeaQ and Sprattel can grow together, then they could find upsets in Group A. This could also be Coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård’s shot at redemption, as well. If they can all put aside their past failures, then they just may find success.


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Team Liquid's starting roster for 2017 NA LCS Summer Split

NA LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates

The break between spring and summer has been relatively quiet in North America. Very few big name players were traded, acquired, or released from teams. Most of the biggest changes are at the coaching position, whose impact is difficult to gauge without watching drafts and getting feedback from the players themselves. Here is a summary of every mid-season roster update so far in the NA LCS:

Traded Players

Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett

After a single split with Immortals, Dardoch has been bounced to another roster. Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) traded their jungler to Immortals for Dardoch. He brings a higher carry potential and early proactivity. He also brings an out-of-game personality that has been cited as the source of team-wide issues. CLG’s support staff will need to rein Dardoch in and properly channel his aggressive playstyle to find success.

Jake “Xmithie” Puchero

CLG's Xmithie was traded to Immortals for Dardoch

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Xmithie was traded to Immortals in exchange for Dardoch. This is a surprising trade, considering CLG decided to keep their entire roster intact in the off-season leading into Spring Split. Immortals will be receiving a seasoned, veteran, shot-calling jungler to compliment their remaining teammates, particularly the younger players in the bottom lane. Hopefully, Xmithie will ameliorate any out-of-game issue and provide stability within the team.

LCS Aqcuisitions

Jason “WildTurtle” Tran

Unsurprisingly, WildTurtle has decided to leave TSM to find a starting role elsewhere, and he has. FlyQuest is bringing him on as the primary AD Carry. WildTurtle helped TSM win the NA LCS Spring Split, but had a rocky performance at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. FlyQuest finished fifth this spring, and with this acquisition they will look to move up in the standings this summer.

Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer

FNA Nisqy enters NA LCS ad mid laner for Team Envy

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Nisqy enters North America from the EU Challenger Series. His spring split team, Fnatic Academy, qualified for promotion into the EU LCS Summer Split. Their slot was bought by Ninjas in Pyjamas, who signed an entirely new roster. Nisqy joins Team Envy after his strong showing within EU CS. Envy finished last split in tenth, and fought their way through the promotion tournament to defend their spot in the NA LCS. Changes in the mid lane may stabilize their gameplay for better overall performance.

Choi “Pirean” Jun-Sik

Team Envy is also signing Pirean to their roster as a mid laner. Pirean most recently started for Phoenix1 in Summer 2016, and helped keep the team in the LCS after finishing eighth and fighting through the promotion tournament. This past split he was benched as a substitute mid laner behind Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook. Pirean looks to share mid lane duties with Nisqy. However, Pirean does seem to be the starter on the LCS website.

William “Stunt” Chen

Stunt is switching teams for the second time in six months. From substitute support on Dignitas to starting support on Phoenix1 to sharing the support role on Phoenix1, Stunt is now signed to Immortals as a substitute. While Stunt had some of the highest first blood rates, kill participation, and average KDA, he sacrificed high death shares and lower overall damage than his counterpart, Jordan “Shady” Robison. The Immortals infrastructure may be able to develop his talent in a stable team environment.

Terry “Big” Chuong

Big joins Team Dignitas as support

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Big is listed as a player for Team Dignitas in Riot’s Global Contract Database, and may be starting over Alex “Xpecial” Chu in Week 1. Xpecial was benched in favor of Stunt a few times throughout the Spring Split. Big most recently played for Echo Fox’s sister team, Delta Fox, in the NA CS. It would be surprising if his starting role on Dignitas is permanent this summer.

Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon

Team Dignitas also signed Shrimp, a jungler substitution. DIG’s early split woes, and late split streak, rested mostly in the jungle position, as Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun built synergy with the rest of the team. Signing Shrimp on as back-up could be a response. Shrimp split jungle duties for Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe this spring, helping them finish first in the regular season and second in playoffs.

Brandon “Mash” Phan

The last NA LCS substitute worth mentioning is Mash, who has signed to Echo Fox as AD Carry. Echo Fox started the Spring Split strong, but faltered in the second half, finishing eighth in the regular season. The bottom lane was much to blame. Mash comes onto the roster after finishing first in the NA CS with Gold Coin United. While Yuri “Keith” Jew is still listed as the starter for Week 1, it would not be surprising to see Mash splitting time in this role.

Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo

Ssong is another newcomer to Immortals this summer. Stepping in as coach, Ssong has been the head of LCK teams such as Longzhu Gaming and ROX Tigers. Most notably, he was coach when ROX Tigers finished top four in the 2016 World Championships. Signing Ssong shows Immortals’ dedication to improving as a team, and building the proper environment for growing talent. It will be interesting to see how much he elevates the team compared to last split.

Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco

Saintvicious returns to Team Dignitas as coach

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

One of the longest serving veterans of the NA LCS, Saintvicious returns to Team Dignitas this summer. After Apex Gaming chose him as coach, and they qualified into the LCS, Saintvicious was kept on as staff when Apex and Dignitas were acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers. Coming into Spring 2017, Saintvicious joined Team Liquid as a strategic coach. However, after Liquid’s nasty Spring Split, Dignitas has welcomed him back to assist David “Cop” Roberson.

Nick “Inero” Smith

Formerly of OPL’s Tainted Minds, Inero will be head coach for Echo Fox this summer. Prior to Tainted Minds, Inero coached Dream Team and Mousesports in the EU and NA Challenger Series. Tainted Minds was caught up in scandalous reports of mismanagement from players within the team, which eventually led to a competitive ruling from Riot. The staff and players were released, which has allowed Echo Fox to sign Inero on as head coach.

Dong Hwan “Violet” Kim

Team Envy has signed Violet, a reputable Starcraft II player, as head coach for the summer. Violet has been signed to Envy as a Starcraft player since the beginning of 2016. His crossover into coaching League of Legends seems risky considering Envy just missed relegation this past spring. Maybe Violet’s strategic gaming background will allow Team Envy to develop new tactics or playstyles.

Changes to Starting Rosters

Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng

Doublelift promoted to starting AD Carry for TSM

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unsurprisingly, Doublelift returns to play the Summer Split as starting AD Carry. Although the star AD Carry had taken a temporary hiatus from professional play, Doublelift was temporarily loaned to Team Liquid by TSM for the last few weeks of the Spring Split to help prevent their relegation. Although TSM won the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, the team aspires to improve for international competition. Based on their underwhelming performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, Doublelift could be crucial for attaining their higher goals.

Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer

Starting Goldenglue as Team Liquid’s mid laner is one of the most controversial roster appointments going into the Summer Split. Leading into the Spring Split, Team Liquid signed Goldenglue and Austin “Link” Shin for mid lane duties. Later in the split, Team Liquid overhauled the roster, moving their AD Carry into mid lane and starting the substitute AD Carry in bottom lane. The team was also almost relegated, even though they had Doublelift on loan from TSM.

In the meantime, Goldenglue bootcamped in South Korea to play against the best in the world and elevate his gameplay. Only time will tell if his Korean solo queue experience has paid off. Goldenglue may be the player with the most pressure on him, coming into this split.

Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin

Piglet is also being reset into his normal role, AD Carry. Team Liquid announced their roster on Twitter as the same roster they signed coming into 2017 Spring Split. While “Midlet” exceeded expectations on a few occasions, it was not a long-term solution for Team Liquid’s problems. Hopefully, the bottom lane meta is more suitable for Piglet to carry, as he has done historically.

Leaving NA LCS

Dylan Falco

Team Envy’s Spring Split coach, Dylan Falco, is leaving North America to coach Fnatic in the EU LCS. His replacement will be Violet, as mentioned above. For more information on Coach Falco’s relocation, and the rest of the roster updates for the EU LCS, check out EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates

Status Unknown

Adrian “Adrian” Ma

No updates yet on Adrian for Summer Split 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Adrian was last mentioned signing to Team Liquid while their support, Matt “Matt” Elento, needed to step down due to personal issues. Last playing on March 18, Adrian has not been mentioned in any team announcements for Summer Split. Team Liquid did part ways with Adrian, and Matt came back to assume the starting role, but nothing has been reported since then. Adrian left Phoenix1 due to disagreements with teammates, so it is possible that teams are hesitant to bring him into the mix.

Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo

After a disappointing Spring Split, Ninja has been replaced by two mid laners. There have been no announcements about his status since. He could be in contact with other NA LCS teams. He could be considered for a Challenger team. Ninja could also transfer to another region. The Summer Splits will be starting soon, so it is possible he remains unsigned altogether.

David “Hermes” Tu

Hermes joined Immortals coming into the 2017 Spring Split. He had an almost completely new roster of players, and together they finished seventh in the regular season and missed playoffs. Since the announcement of Ssong entering this position, nothing has been heard from Hermes. Judging by his Twitter, Hermes seems to be a free agent.

Simon “heavenTime” Jeon

HeavenTime is another unaccounted coach. Echo Fox brought on Inero as a replacement, but nothing has been seen from HeavenTime. With the season restarting soon, it is possible that he remains unsigned, as well.


MSI Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

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Pridestalker moves from Misfits Academy to ROCCAT

EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates

Roster updates have filled the space between the EU LCS Spring and Summer Splits. Teams swapped players. New organizations purchased academy teams. Challenger players were promoted to LCS, and LCS players dropped to CS. Here is a summary of what is known so far.

NEW ORGANIZATIONS

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Ninjas in Pyjamas purchased Fnatic Academy's LCS slot

Image from NiP.gl

Fnatic Academy qualified for the Summer Split by beating Giants Gaming in the Summer Promotion tournament. Since an organization is not allowed to field more than one roster in the LCS, Fnatic was required to sell their slot. Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) has purchased the slot, but the entire roster has been overhauled:

2017 Spring Split

Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek

Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneide

Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer

Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm

Johan “Klaj” Olsson

Kublai “Kubz” Barlas

2017 Summer Split

Kim “Profit” Jun-hyung

Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema

Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon

Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa

Hampus “sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson

Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgaard

Profit comes to the EU LCS from LCK’s SK Telecom T1 (SKT), and Nagne comes from WYDream in the LSPL. Shook last played for Team Vitality in the 2016 Summer Split. HeaQ was acquired from Giants Gaming, and Sprattel from Paris Saint-Germain in the CS. NiP’s coach, NicoThePico, was most recently the head coach for Fnatic’s LCS team before stepping down in March.

While Team Envy (NV) in North America signed Nisqy as their mid laner, it is unclear whether or not Fnatic will maintain the rest of the roster as substitutes. Several of the players have expressed dissatisfaction towards the situation. It is also unclear if Kubz will remain the assistant coach for the organization.

Profit, NiP’s top laner, is arguably their highest profile acquisition. Although he only played nine regular season matches, Profit maintained the highest KDA among all LCK top laners, 8.7. SKT utilized him more frequently as a tank player, mostly drafting Nautilus. Profit joins G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-han and Mysterious Monkey’s Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol as the third imported Korean top laner in the EU LCS Summer Split.

Mysterious Monkeys

Mysterious Monkeys purchased Misfits Academy's LCS slot

Image from Mysterious-Monkeys.de

The other Challenger team to qualify for the EU LCS Summer Split was Misfits Academy. They defeated Fnatic Academy in the Summer Promotion tournament. Since they also already have an LCS team, Misfits was forced to sell their slot, which has been purchased by Mysterious Monkeys.  They have maintained almost the entire roster:

2017 Spring Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

2017 Summer Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Leon “Lamabear” Krüger

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

With the departure of Pridestalker, Lamabear returns as Mysterious Monkey’s jungler. Lamabear was the starting jungler for Misfits Academy coming into 2017. However, he was suspended for four months due to unacceptable in-game behavior. Prior to his suspension, Lamabear played for Misfits in the 2017 Spring Promotion tournament to qualify into the EU LCS. The organization ultimately replaced him and Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan with Lee “KaKAO” Byung- kwon for the Spring Split.

All of the members of Mysterious Monkeys will be rookies in their respective positions, including the coach. The MFA roster averaged 1,291 gold behind at 15 minutes during the regular season of the CS Spring Split and had a 40 percent win rate. However, they had the second highest mid-late game rating, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Yuuki60 averaged the highest damage per minute and lowest death share of all CS players.

LCS ACQUISITIONS

Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian

Maxlore acquired by Misfits

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Misfits acquired Maxlore to fill the void left by KaKAO in the jungler position. This spring he played for Roccat (ROC). Although ROC had a poor early start to the split, Maxlore was a major factor in their late-split run for playoffs. He maintained an 83 percent win rate on Graves, and a 71 percent win rate on Rengar. Despite ROC’s 45 percent overall win rate, Maxlore had mid-high statistics for total assists, first blood rate, CS difference at 10 minutes, damage per minute, and wards cleared per minute. Giants Gaming seemed to utilize him better in 2016, so it will be interesting to see how Misfits incorporate him.

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

Replacing Maxlore on ROC is Pridestalker. This spring, Pridestalker was the starting jungler for Misfits Academy. He played a major role in qualifying them for the EU LCS. During CS Spring Playoffs, Pridestalker maintained the highest KDA of all players, and during the Summer Promotion tournament, he had the second highest overall. Pridestalker also secured first blood in 50 percent of his games throughout playoffs and promotion. Only time will tell if he will be an upgrade over Maxlore.

Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan

A perennial EU support player, VandeR returns to the LCS after a short time on FC Schalke 04 (S04) in Challenger. He joins Team Vitality (VIT) to replace Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan and Baltat “AoD” Alin-Ciprian. VIT had horrible issues in the support position throughout the Spring Split, so this should be a huge pick-up for them.

S04 tore through the competition in CS regular season, maintaining a 10-0 perfect record. VandeR was a huge cog in that machine, averaging a 14.4 KDA and 11 assists per game. However, S04 dropped the ball in the CS Spring Playoffs, losing 3-1 to Misfits Academy. Several players and the coach have left the team. The most likely cause is disappointment.

Dylan Falco   

Dylan Falco acquired by Fnatic as coach

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Most recently acting as coach for NV in the NA LCS, Dylan Falco has been appointed the new head coach of Fnatic. Dylan has worked with several other organizations previously, including TSM, Immortals, and H2K. Former coach NicoThePico had stepped down mid-split, and Finlay “Quaye” Stewart acted as coach temporarily. It is difficult to judge coach Falco’s impact on NV’s gameplay. Fnatic’s roster has more collective veteran LCS experience and does not contain any Korean imports. These differences may be beneficial for him.

Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi  

One of the most shocking reveals this mid-season was the departure of YamatoCannon from Splyce. It has since been announced that he will be the head coach of Team Vitality this summer. Both Splyce and Team Vitality seemed disappointed by their performances this spring. According to YamatoCannon’s announcement video, his leaving Splyce was a mutual decision. While his persona as a coach and analyst will be hard to separate from Splyce’s organization, hopefully this switch will elevate Vitality’s performance.

LEAVING LCS

Olof “Flaxxish” Medin

Team Kinguin acquired Flaxxish from Giants Gaming after Giants’ relegation from the EU LCS. Kinguin is currently participating in the 2017 CS Summer Qualifiers tournament, which will decide if they play in the CS Summer Split. Flaxxish had a terrible Spring Split with Giants, starting with IEM Gyeonggi.

Flaxxish finished the regular season tied for fifth lowest overall KDA. He also averaged the most CS behind, third most gold behind, and ninth most experience behind at 10 minutes. Flaxxish only contributed 302 damage per minute and 18.7 percent of his team’s damage, both lowest among top laners. The pool of top laners in EU LCS is stronger with him in Challenger.

Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi

Memento acquired by Schalke 04

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Memento is another Giants Gaming player to be acquired by a Challenger team for the summer. S04 adds him to their roster to replace Jean-Victor “loulex” Burgevin. Despite Giants’ rough Spring Split, Memento had the second highest kill participation of all EU LCS players, and contributed 18.2 percent of Giants’ damage (highest among junglers). He also secured first blood in 50 percent of regular season games. Giants was able to take first dragon in 50 percent of games, due in large part to Memento.

On the other hand, Memento generally fell behind in gold, experience, and CS at 10 minutes. Almost all of his metrics got worse during the Summer Promotion tournament, which should theoretically be an easier pool of players. S04 had an excellent regular CS split, so Memento will need to play up to his potential if they are to maintain dominance this summer.

Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan

Team Vitality has rid itself of Hachani as support. Arguably one of the worst performers of the Spring Split, Hachani has been acquired by Ever8 Winners in Challengers Korea. During his time on Vitality, Hachani was among the bottom six players in KDA, kill participation, and death share. He also averaged four deaths per game, second lowest among supports. Vitality should be ecstatic to have him gone.

STATUS UNKNOWN

Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon

KaKAO is currently a free agent

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

With the announcement that Maxlore would come onto Misfits’ roster, KaKAO’s status for Summer Split remain unknown. As a free agent, he may be fielding offers from other organizations. He may be returning to Korea. He may be changing to another region, such as China or North America. Maybe he has decided to retire once and for all. Regardless, KaKAO’s spring performance exceeded expectations, and did not seem to be problematic for Misfits’ team. It will be surprising if a team does not sign him.

Origen

Since Origen’s relegation from the EU LCS, they have not discussed the status of the team. The organization did announce on Facebook that their entire roster (except Enrique Cedeño “xPeke” Martínez), including the coach, has been released as free agents. However, that has been the only talk for almost a month. It is unclear who will replace these players, but Origen has implied that they will be participating in the Challenger Series.

Giants Gaming

The other roster mystery lies with Giants Gaming. They, too, were relegated from the LCS and have yet to make any announcements about a new roster. Their AD carry, jungler, and top laner have all been signed elsewhere. There have been no updates regarding Na “NighT” Gun-woo or Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg.


MSI Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

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2017 MSI: TSM's AD Carry, WildTurtle

TSM WildTurtle’s Ups and Downs at MSI

TSM had a poor performance at the 2017 Mid Season Invitational. The North American team finished with a 4-7 record – good enough for 5th place. Every member of the team should accept some responsibility for the losses and wins. None of these players had an outstanding tournament presence.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg seemed to be most consistent. While playing against some of the highest caliber individuals, Bjergsen never seemed to fall behind or become obsolete. His presence is felt throughout every game. Vincent “Biofrost” Wang was a bit less consistent. He timed key ultimate abilities, healing and shielding his allies effectively.

Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen were the least consistent players on TSM at this tournament. Some games they meshed well and flashed the brilliance that allowed them to win the NA LCS Spring Split, but other times they looked outclassed by their opponents. Poor play in the top lane and jungle heavily contributed to the early game losses for TSM.

Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, however, had consistently mediocre gameplay. There were very few moments in TSM’s games where WildTurtle seemed to pop off like the other AD carries. His map movements, his positioning, and his damage output were lackluster. Just watching most of the games, he flies under the radar. Here are examples of WildTurtle’s early game:

As you can see, it is not all that bad. There are a few instances where Biofrost and WildTurtle properly execute against enemy bot laners and ganks. Other times they are not so lucky. But there are fewer early game errors than one might expect.

TSM averaged 894 gold behind their opponents at 15 minutes. WildTurtle actually averaged 20 gold ahead at 15 minutes, compared to Bjergsen’s +59, Hauntzer’s -10, Biofrost’s -17, and Svenskeren’s -73. He and Biofrost were also ahead in experience on average. On Caitlyn, Varus, and Ezreal, WildTurtle averaged over 200 gold ahead at 10 minutes.

The inconsistency starts to crop up in the mid game when TSM needs WildTurtle to dispense as much damage as possible. Here are examples of WildTurtle’s mid game positioning and decision-making:

Just watching some of these highlights, there are clear highs and lows with Turtle. He is able to properly time his abilities, auto-attacks and movement in most fights. But other times he gets caught alone in a side lane or he gets caught in crowd control and picked while baron is available. These are the positioning errors that everyone is going to remember far clearer than the other dozen successful teamfights.

While they were middle-of-the-pack with their early game rating, TSM’s mid-late game rating is the lowest among all six teams in the Group Stage of MSI. They also have the longest average game time. These two factors point to a problematic mid-game that turns over any early advantages TSM secures. These errors would bleed into the late game:

This is where WildTurtle’s mistakes really shine. In these tense teamfight situations, a single death can swing favor into either team’s hand. More often than not, WildTurtle gets assassinated, crowd controlled or zoned completely out of a fight. It is impossible for TSM to win with this issue, and it was a huge advantage for all opponents.

TSM only got first baron in 27% of games, and only secured 28% of all barons. WildTurtle contributed a 2.7 KDA,61.9% kill participation, and 450 damage per minute – all bottom two among AD carries. While SKT’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and G2’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen are two of the best AD carries in the world, WildTurtle should reasonably be at or above the level of the other three marksmen.

Luckily for TSM, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng will be returning for the NA LCS Summer Split. The addition of Doublelift reunites the TSM roster that won the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split and represented North America at the World Championship last year. While the announcement reads “they will be expected to focus on different playstyles and will be fielded according to the strategy the team plans to use,” WildTurtle will need to exhibit higher level gameplay before starting for TSM this summer.


MSI Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

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MSI Semifinals 2017: Team WE v. G2 Esports

MSI: Team WE vs. G2 Esports Preview

Saturday May 20, 2017, the second semifinals match of MSI will be underway. Team WE will face off against G2 Esports for a spot in the finals. Both teams have exhibited their fair share of stellar and underwhelming performances throughout the tournament. They will be doing their best to shore up the weak spots and study their opponents in order to reach peak performance. This best-of-five series will be all or nothing.

Team WE

The LPL representatives have made it through MSI with a 7-3 record, just below SKT. They dropped games to TSM, SKT, and GAM. Every player has had standout performances throughout the tournament. Team WE will be favored to win in this match-up, since they defeated G2 in both of their Group Stage bouts.

How They Win

WE outclasses G2 in almost every statistic. Gold difference at 15 minutes (+1,047/-342), first three turrets (80 percent/10 percent), dragon control (47 percent/30 percent) and baron control (54 percent/38 percent) all heavily favor the Chinese team.

In both of their victories against G2, WE drafted Ashe for Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Malzahar for Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. WE’s jungler, Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie, massacred Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun in the early game. Su “Xiye” Han-Wei played AP diver-assassins LeBlanc and Kassadin. And Ke “957” Changyu has been most impactful on tanky disruptors, particularly Kled.

All of these pieces come together to form a bursty pick composition. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was most often caught out by Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Nether Grasp, Explosive Cask, or Chaaaaaaaarge!!! and deleted before he was able to output enough damage. Team WE should maintain this draft strategy and playstyle, because G2 does not seem to have an answer at the moment.

Both wins were secured between 28 and 31 minutes. Team WE took first turret in both matches, which led to the first three turrets in just under 20 minutes. They then proceeded to take baron between 21 and 25 minutes, which allowed WE to break G2’s base and win. In their first game, G2 secured one tower and one dragon. In the follow-up match, WE did not allow them to take any towers or dragons.

How They Lose

Karma and Nami are champion picks that stick out in Team WE’s losses. Xiye lost both games when taking Karma to the mid lane, and Ben lost both games when playing Nami support. 957 looked weak on top lane Jayce, as well. The individuals cannot be fully to blame, but it seems like a good idea to keep these picks on the bench for now.

All of WE’s losses came off the back of sub-30-minute barons secured by their opponent. Against TSM, the gold difference never rose to more than 2,000 until they took a baron. From there, TSM closed out the game, taking a second baron and only ceding 4 kills. Team WE was leading SKT by 2,100 gold at 22 minutes, but Han “Peanut” Wang-ho landed a baron steal. SKT broke their base, took a second baron and won. Team WE’s loss to GAM was mostly due to Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh’s Kha’Zix getting fed a triple kill around 10 minutes.

If WE gives over baron, their chances of losing are high. When viewing statistics for the four semifinal teams, their win rates align with their first baron rates. This objective is pivotal to their playstyle. Properly pressuring around baron was a main catalyst for drawing in G2 and picking off key carries. However, if WE is sloppy in clearing vision or shot-calling around Smite, then it could spell disaster.

Player To Watch

Team WE’s top laner, 957

Team WE’s victory will rely heavily on 957 in the top lane. They have won every game that he has drafted Kled, and he has maintained a 27.0 KDA with the champion. On the other hand, his single Jayce game fed TSM their first 5 kills. G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-Han is not necessarily the same carry threat that SKT or TSM have. WE will rely on 957 to repeat the masterful disruption he exhibited against G2 in their prior match-ups.

G2 Esports

Making it into semifinals by the skin of its teeth is G2 Esports. The EU LCS representatives finished the Group Stage with a 4-6 record, only picking up wins against Flash Wolves (2), GIGABYTE Marines (1), and TSM (1). Seeing as they lost both matches against Team WE, they are the underdog in this best-of-five series.

How They Win

G2’s victories varied drastically from each other. Three of the four wins were secured 42 minutes or later, and allowed the enemy team to secure at least one baron. Two of those three late-game wins involved G2 falling behind 8,000-9,000 gold at some point. The only champions drafted in multiple wins were Caitlyn, Nunu, and Orianna.

In all of their wins, Zven had two or fewer deaths and had a gold lead on the enemy AD Carry. It is obvious that he is their primary carry threat. G2 lost both games that he drafted Ashe. Zven only has wins on Caitlyn, Twitch, and Kog’Maw thus, G2’s draft will need to revolve around these champions. Ivern, Lulu, Karma, and Orianna have at least 50 percent win rates for G2 thus far. Combining multiple enchanters into the draft may allow Zven to break even through the early game and fully carry in the mid-late game.

Luka “Perkz” Perković has also been a consistent source of damage throughout MSI. Mid lane is arguably the most stacked position at the tournament, and Perkz has been going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world. He has been averaging 28.8 percent of G2’s damage, the highest among all mid laners (second highest overall behind Zven). Putting Perkz on a champion that can control side waves, particularly Fizz, could be a good back-up if Orianna is banned.

How They Lose

There are several situations that G2 should avoid. Keep Trick off of Lee Sin, he failed horribly twice on the champion. Also, they should not draft Ashe for Zven or Zyra for Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Zven needs to be able to output immense damage, and Mithy plays much better on protective champions. Even Tahm Kench or Braum are preferable to Zyra if Lulu or Karma are unavailable.

If Trick continues to have poor early games, then this will most surely be G2’s defeat. Trick has the second lowest KDA and the second highest death share of all players at the tournament. He also has the lowest average damage of all junglers at the event.

While their best strategy generally results in early deficits, G2 will need to play intelligently between 15 and 30 minutes. Team WE’s average game time is over 5 minutes shorter than G2’s, which means if they cede 4,000-6,000 gold leads, then it will be highly unlikely for G2 to win.

Player To Watch

G2 Esport’s top laner, Expect

Expect has been putting up some big games this tournament. He has maintained a 3.7 KDA while only contributing 11.9 percent of G2’s deaths. The top laner has secured wins on Jayce, Gragas, Shen, and Nautilus. G2 also released a video of the final shot-calling from their win over TSM, showing the team’s faith in Expect.

The flip side is that Expect has some of the lowest damage of the top laners at the tournament, and his kill participation is low compared to 957. G2 will need him to be more involved as a proactive member of the team, matching 957’s map movements. Perkz and Zven can pump out the damage. Mithy can shield and provide vision. And Trick is under-performing. Expect may be the biggest factor that could turn this match-up on its head.

Prediction

Unless the stars align, and G2 are able to draft a true “protect the ADC” composition, then Team WE will skunk them 3-0. Trick got steamrolled by Condi in both of their Group Stage games. Mystic and Ben have been performing well enough to keep up with Zven and Mithy. Expect and 957 will most likely be trying to execute similar strategies, but 957 has proven to be more successful up to this point. Perkz matches up against Xiye pretty well, but the synergy among the entire team is heavily in WE’s favor.


Player/Champion Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

All Images: LoL Esports Photos

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