EU’s Final Showdowns: G2-UOL, FNC-MSF

The last matches of the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split are happening this weekend, April 22nd-23rd. The playoffs have been exciting thus far, and the final two series look to be just as juicy. Fnatic will battle Misfits for third place, while Unicorns of Love attempts to dethrone G2. All four of these teams have rounded out the past few weeks well, but here are some notes going into their last match-ups of Spring.

Misfits

Playoffs: Misfits mid laner, PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage has had an excellent playoff run. Among all of Misfits and Fnatic’s players, PowerOfEvil has been averaging the highest damage per minute: 620 (the next highest is Martin “Rekkles” Larsson with 497). He makes up 29.8% of Misfits’ damage. His average during the regular season was 495, or 28.8% of the team’s total. PowerOfEvil will need to maintain this high level of play and shut down Rasmus “Caps” Winthe if Misfits want to stand a chance of winning.

Their jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, will need to adjust. Between all ten Misfits and Fnatic players, KaKAO sits bottom two in KDA, kill participation, first blood rate, and experience difference at 10 minutes. This is not going to cut it if Misfits are to win this weekend’s series and secure third place. Many analysts have criticized his play on Rengar. His win percentage is only 33% on this champion, so he should try to stay away from it in the draft. Unicorns of Love were smart to ban Lee Sin and Elise, for which he holds 78% and 67% win-rates. His next best options are Ivern and Rek’Sai, for which he also holds 67% win-rates.

Overall, Misfits have mainly lost the early game pressure they exhibited during the regular season. So far, they have averaged 384 gold behind their playoff opponents, which is awful compared to their 820 gold ahead during the regular season. The largest discrepancy between Misfits and Fnatic has been their respective abilities to take the first three turrets. Fnatic holds the top spot among playoff contenders, taking their opponents’ first three turrets in 71% of games. Misfits have only achieved this in 44% of their games.

Fnatic

Playoffs: Fnatic's support, Jesiz

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic’s most improved player for playoffs has been Jesse “Jesiz” Le. Almost every statistic of his has improved over the past two weeks. His KDA went from 3.4 to 5.2. His kill participation rose from 60.3% to 68.9%. Jesiz has been a primary engage tool for the team on champions such as Camille, Thresh, and Zyra. He is also a big reason why Rekkles has been able to get through laning phase on off-meta marksmen. Hopefully, Jesiz is able to maintain this high-pressure playstyle.

While having a wide champion pool can be good, it is not always necessary. Fnatic’s odd champion choices essentially ended their series against G2 last weekend. Vayne, Tristana, Kayle, Annie: these selections were not necessary. The flexing of Camille and Kennen have generally worked well for Fnatic, but branching out much beyond those picks is a bit much. The surprise factor does not outweigh the execution factor.

One area where Fnatic has excelled during playoffs is Baron control. Fnatic has taken the first Baron in 86% of their playoff games (compared to 38% during the regular season). They have also maintained a 71% Baron control rate (compared to 33% during the regular season). This focus is much better than Misfits, and will more than likely be the biggest factor in Fnatic’s favor. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and crew will need to continue to prioritize this objective.

Unicorns of Love

Playoffs: Unicorns of Love's top laner, Vizicsacsi

courtesy of Riot esports

Unicorns of Love have strong players at every position except, arguably, their AD carry. During playoffs, Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert have averaged 605 and 600 damage per minute, respectively (third and fourth highest of all players). Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir tops the competition in KDA (10.5) and has the second-lowest death share of all player in playoffs (8.9%). While Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort generally averages behind in CS at ten minutes, he stays ahead in gold and experience, and he maintains the third lowest percentage of UOL’s deaths (13.3%).

One of the Unicorns’ biggest strengths is their champion pool. Xerxe has 75-100% win-rates on four champions with three or more games (Warwick, Ivern, Rengar, Rumble). Vizicsacsi has 75-100% win-rates on four champions with three or more games (Renekton, Rumble, Nautlius, Shen). And Exileh has won games on 11 different champions this spring. Pinching their pools will be virtually impossible for G2.

As a team, Unicorns of Love has secured first blood and first dragon in every game of playoffs so far. UOL has also secured the first Baron in in 75% of games with a 71% Baron control rate. If they are going to beat G2, it will most likely be off the back of a Baron trade. G2 have averaged a poor 25% first Baron rate during playoffs, and a 50% Baron control rate. During the regular season, G2 secured first Baron 72% of the time and maintained a 74% Baron control rate.

G2

Playoffs: G2's mid laner, Perkz

courtesy of Riot esports

G2 will be a formidable foe for Unicorns of Love. They offer similar strong players in virtually every role. Luka “Perkz” Perković has really shined throughout playoffs so far. He has the highest damage per minute (635) and percent of his team’s damage (33%). He has the lowest death share of all players in playoffs (8.5%), and he has the third highest KDA (7.0). UOL’s Exileh showed a bit of weakness against PowerOfEvil during laning phase last weekend. Perkz will be even more difficult for him to overcome.

G2’s other primary carry has been Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. Although he was not quite as dominant in the Fnatic series last weekend, his match-up with Unicorns’ bottom lane should be much easier. Zven has averaged 6.5 CS and 164 gold ahead at ten minutes. If there is a player who needs to step up in this series, though, it is Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun. Trick’s regular season KDA was 4.7. So far in playoffs, it is 1.8. He averaged significantly ahead in gold, experience, and CS at ten minutes. In the playoffs, he has averaged 7 CS and 108 experience behind.

G2’s early game was phenomenal against Fnatic last weekend. The squad averaged 877 gold ahead at 15 minutes. That was the case during the regular season, as well. What looks like a weak spot is taking early towers. During the regular season, G2 took first turret in 64% of games and the first three turrets in 73% of games. In their series last weekend, they only did 50% and 25%, respectively. Unicorns of Love take the first turret less often, but the first three turrets more often. G2 will have to transition their early game leads into early objectives if they want to stand a chance against UOL. Teamfighting may not be the correct strategy. Smart rotations and perfect execution will be their only chance at victory.

predictions

Fnatic has looked much stronger in the past few weeks than Misfits have. I do not think it impossible for Misfits to take this, but it is highly unlikely. Just as Misfits took one game off of Unicorns of Love, they should get one from Fnatic, but Fnatic should win 3-1.

The finals series will be much more exciting. G2 have looked a bit weaker, while Unicorns seem hungry. Either way, it should be a five game series. If UOL wins it will be from snowballing the top side of the map, while G2 should look to snowball the bottom side. While both will likely happen, Vizicsacsi’s gameplay lately is seemingly unstoppable. This should be Unicorns’ spring split playoff victory.


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Fnatic win quarterfinals over H2K

Fnatic Quarterfinals Highlights and the Road Ahead

Fnatic played a stellar series against H2K last weekend, finishing 3-0. While H2K looked out of sorts, Fnatic played calm, coordinated League of Legends. This was their best series so far in the 2017 EU LCS. Here is a compilation of their best plays from the quarterfinal match-up.

While Fnatic should be proud of this achievement, they have a challenging playoffs road ahead. Their next opponent will be G2, a squad which has suffered only one series loss thus far. Hypothetically, if Fnatic wins that match-up, they will still need to face the winner of Misfits vs. Unicorns of Love in the finals.

G2 does exhibit some playstyle similarities to H2K, but with fewer weaknesses. H2K’s biggest issue seemed to be communication in their quarterfinal loss. Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho were not on the same page with each other or the rest of the team. Many of Fnatic’s advantages came from Nuclear and Chei’s poor positioning. Fnatic should not expect Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez to make the same mistakes.

Fnatic also surprised H2K, and spectators, with lower priority marksmen picks: Twitch, Vayne, and Kennen. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Kennen pick is not surprising, but hardly any other bottom laners look as comfortable on the pick. Twitch and Vayne, though, came out of nowhere. Though these picks most likely threw H2K for a loop, G2 now have the advantage of knowing Fnatic is able to draft and win with such picks. The surprise is no longer a factor.

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer will need to continue to demonstrate high levels of pressure in the jungle and top lane. They will also need to remain coordinated with the rest of the team to properly rotate, pressure objectives, and counter-gank.

Jesse “Jesiz” Le should try to remain on support champions with strong engage potential. He stood out as a highly impactful player throughout the quarterfinals. If Fnatic are able to replicate the strategies they used against H2K, then their series against G2 this weekend should be a treat.

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TSM Playoff Profile

TSM Playoff Profile: Long Live the Kings

No one should be surprised that TSM finished the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split at the top of the standings. Finishing the regular season 15-3, this squad was a challenge to all others. Since making a run at the World Championship last year, TSM has done its best to prove that they are still an international threat. However, this team has shown themselves to be far from perfect, and playoffs will be the time for others to capitalize.

TSM Playoff Profile: Mid laner Bjergsen

courtesy of Riot esports

TSM has remained anchored in the mid lane by Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. An NA LCS icon, continually an MVP candidate, and a world-class mid-laner, there is little to question about Bjergsen’s gameplay. He hardly ever loses lane. His teamfight positioning is stellar. There have been several instances where all seems lost for TSM, and Bjergsen cleans everything up. He is just that good. Of course, he will still need to play 100% to beat other contenders, but Bjergsen has been dependable time and time again.

TSM Playoff Profile: Top laner Hauntzer

courtesy of Riot esports

In the top lane, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has had his best split yet. Some fans have also nominated him as NA LCS MVP. Exerting constant pressure in top lane, Hauntzer has become a true force. He can play tanks or carries with high dependability. It is hard to blame TSM losses on the top laner’s play. Hauntzer is also adept at safely absorbing pressure when he has the lower hand in his lane. Expect TSM to play well around Teleport advantages and mid-game side lane pressure, in thanks to his continual improvement. 

TSM Playoff Profile: Jungler Svenskeren

courtesy of Riot esports

Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen has been a moderately consistent jungler this season. His kill participation (65.1%) and his death share (27.4%) are fairly bad compared to other NA junglers. Svenskeren also trends behind in gold, XP, and CS at 10 minutes. What Svenskeren does contribute to the team is vision. He leads junglers in wards per minute (.81). This is partially attributed to his fondness for playing Lee Sin, but it is one of his biggest strengths for TSM’s laners. He also contributes some of the most kills and assists among junglers, but his KDA is middling due to his high death count. While playing against strong jungle talent such as Juan “Contractz” Garcia, William “Meteos” Hartman, and Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun, Svenskeren will need to exhibit much more calculated play.

TSM Playoff Profile: Bot laner WildTurtle

courtesy of Riot esports

TSM’s most widely fluctuating position is bottom lane. Most analysts would agree that Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has proven to be a downgrade from last season’s Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Vincent “Biofrost” Wang has not synergized to the same level with him either. If other teams are to defeat TSM in the playoffs, it will be off the back of bad bottom lane plays. WildTurtle’s kill participation and damage per minute are the lowest in the league, and his death share is one of the highest among playoff ADC’s. He averages even in lane, but only does 23.7% of TSM’s damage. Other marksmen, such as Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, make a much larger impact in the game, and may prove too challenging for TSM to overcome.

TSM Playoff Profile: Support Biofrost

courtesy of Riot esports

On the other hand, Biofrost has the second highest KDA among supports, high kill participation, and a low share of TSM’s deaths. His Thresh, Braum, Lulu, and Malzahar have 75% or higher win-rates. Biofrost tends to draw important bans from enemy teams. He helps WildTurtle get through the laning phase as much as possible, and then executes teamfights well. Fans should expect big plays out of Biofrost, and be confident in his consistency.

Overall, TSM stand a good chance at winning this whole tournament. The organization has always proven itself in high pressure LCS situations, especially longer series’ like Best-of-5’s. TSM should have a strong showing, regardless of which team they face in the Semifinals. Cloud 9 will be difficult to overcome if they are TSM’s opponent in the finals. However, if TSM are on their A game, they should close this split in first.

Prediction: TSM make it to finals and beat Cloud9 3-2. Any other opponent will lose 3-1.

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EU LCS Week 10: FNC Rekkles

EU LCS Week 10: ROC or FNC?

The final week of the EU LCS Spring Split is here. While Giants, Origen, and Vitality have no chance at making it into playoffs, they will still have a say in how the standings end after week 10. The top three teams in Group B could swap positions, depending on how their match-ups go. Group A is all but settled except for third place, which will go to Fnatic or Roccat. Fnatic currently holds third with a 5-6 record, while Roccat sits just below at 5-7.

This week, Fnatic will face G2 and Misfits. Roccat only plays G2. And since G2 has been undefeated thus far, it is highly unlikely that either squad will take a series off of them. There are three possibilities for these two teams at the end of week 10:

Fnatic Wins Both Series

EU LCS Week 10: FNC Rekkles and Caps

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic’s best case scenario is to win both week 10 series. They will need to muster their focus and execute properly to beat G2 and Misfits. Any viewer will tell you this possibility is highly unlikely, though. It would truly be shocking if Fnatic beats G2 in their current form.

If Fnatic does pull out two wins this week, then Roccat’s match-up with G2 is null, as their record would finish at 6-7, while Fnatic’s would finish 7-6. Fnatic would automatically seed into playoffs.

Fnatic Wins One Series

EU LCS Week 10: FNC sOAZ and team

courtesy of Riot esports

Misfits has looked shaky lately. They have not had a series win since week 6, including a 2-0 loss to Roccat last week. Fnatic should focus on that match-up, as it is their most likely chance of retaining third place after week 10. If Fnatic wins this best-of-3, and Roccat loses to G2, then their games against G2 will not matter. Fnatic would end with one additional win over Roccat.

However, if Roccat does win against G2, but Fnatic only wins one series, then things gets interesting. Fnatic’s record would end at 6-7 and Roccat’s would also be 6-7.

The tiebreaker rules state “if two teams have the same record, ties will be broken by Head to Head record.”

Fnatic beat Roccat in week 3. Roccat beat Fnatic in week 8. So, their Head to Head record is 1-1.

The next set of tiebreaker rules state “if Head to Head records are identical, total games won will be used.”

Roccat’s game record is 12-16. Fnatic’s is 14-16, so they have the edge. At this point, it is impossible for Roccat’s game record to match Fnatic’s if they both win a series. Therefore, Fnatic would still qualify for playoffs.

Fnatic Loses Both Series

EU LCS Week 10: ROC Hjarnan and team

courtesy of Riot esports

The last possibility is that both teams lose out. Roccat has been on a surprising tear over the last three weeks, but G2 is the toughest possible opponent they could hope for in week 10.

If Roccat somehow wins, then it will force Fnatic to win at least one of their series this week. Hypothetically, if Roccat beats G2, and Fnatic loses both best-of-3’s, then Roccat will surpass Fnatic’s series record and take third place in Group A. Roccat would end the regular season with a 6-7 record, while Fnatic would finish at 5-7.

If neither Roccat nor Fnatic secures a win in week 10, then the standings will remain the same. Giants are unable to climb more than one win.

There is a possibility that Fnatic could take second place from Misfits, but that would involve Misfits losing to Giants and Fnatic, and Fnatic would also have to beat G2. The Head to Head between Misfits and Fnatic would be 1-1, which would elevate whichever team had more game wins. In that case, Misfits would need at least two game wins to trigger the tiebreaker match with Fnatic for second place. If Fnatic wins both series, and Misfits are unable to acquire two game wins, then Fnatic will automatically secure second place.

However, the realistic expectation is that Fnatic and Roccat will both lose all of their series in week 10. G2 should easily be able to dispel these two teams in a best-of-3, and Misfits should also be able to handily beat Fnatic. Fnatic and Roccat will need to play at their highest possible level and hope that G2 and Misfits do not.

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Reflecting on Pre-Split EU LCS Expectations

On JANUARY 20, 2017, the second day of the EU LCS Spring Split, I wrote a piece with my initial thoughts on four teams. I chose these four teams, because they seemed to have the widest possible range of results. The final standings would be determined by their performance. Check out that article here.

As the EU LCS finishes Week 9, it only makes sense to revisit my preseason thoughts. There has been a smaller gap between groups than expected. Some teams have performed as expected, while others have been surprisingly strong or weak.

G2 and Splyce

Preseason Thought: “G2 and Splyce decided to retain their entire starting rosters. None of the other teams seem prepared to challenge these two for group dominance. Unless the new pick-ban phase exposes unforeseen weaknesses, we expect these two teams to stay at the top.”

G2: EU LCS #1 team

courtesy of Riot esports

G2 has truly secured their spot at the top of the standings. Sitting at 11-0, few teams have even been able to take a game off of this squad, let alone a series. Maintaining the starting lineup from Summer 2017 has allowed G2 to remain dominant within EU. Even through meta shifts from patch changes, G2 has adapted to every opponent they have faced in the LCS. They may even be performing better than analysts expected.

Splyce: EU LCS #5 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Splyce, on the other hand, has seemed much weaker than last year. Early losses to H2K, Unicorns of Love, and Misfits proved that Splyce would need much improvement to reach the top of Group B. Spring has shown them beating teams below them, but losing to teams above them. Splyce currently sit third in their group, with a 7-4 record. They have generally performed below preseason expectations, but fans have seen flashes of Splyce’s former dominance.

Origen

Preseason Thought: “Origen seems to be the only team that did not catch a break in the off-season. After a 9th place finish in the Summer Split last year, the entire squad dissipated. Origen’s pick-ups each appear to be a downgrade from their respective predecessors…The floor is low on this team, and we expect that they will round out the bottom of Group B.”

Origen: EU LCS #10 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Poor Origen. Boasting a series record of 0-12, and a game record of 2-24, they have performed at the lowest possible level. The lineup has been plagued with issues this split. Substituting in the support and jungle roles has not been ideal.  Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez has had to step into another new seat. Unfortunately, Origen will be heading towards the Spring Promotion Tournament to defend their spot in the LCS. They have performed as analysts expected.

Roccat

Preseason Thought: “I am keeping my eyes on this new ROCCAT. They could get a few wins under their belt and avoid the Summer Promotion series this year. They could end up in last yet again, but everyone loves an underdog, right?”

courtesy of Riot esports

ROCCAT began the split 0-7, which had analysts believing they would be destined to return to their third consecutive Promotion Tournament. However, over the past few weeks, ROCCAT has swung back, going 5-0. They currently sit in fourth in Group A, just below Fnatic. Depending on the results of Week 10, ROCCAT can actually slip into the playoffs and boot Fnatic. Being one of the only teams to truly climb through the standings, ROCCAT have performed much better than many preseason expectations. (I kind of called it, though.)

Misfits

Preseason Thought: “If Misfits want to make an impact, they will need their remaining players to continue to play at the top level, while incorporating PowerOfEvil and KaKAO seamlessly. Barney ‘Alphari’ Morris, Steven ‘Hans sama’ Liv, and Lee ‘IgNar’ Dong-geun will need to maintain lane dominance against tougher lanes. This team does have a high ceiling, but these roster changes will need to prove themselves fruitful.”

Misfits: EU LCS #4 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Misfits have definitely made a splash in their first EU LCS split. Their 7-4 record is nothing to overlook. Misfits sits solidly in second place in Group A, four wins below G2, two wins above Fnatic. The team has looked slightly weaker in recent weeks, but should still be a force in playoffs. Barney “Alphari” Morris, Steven “Hans sama” Liv, and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun have meshed right into the professional scene. Each of them have had standout performances. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon have proven my skepticism wrong. Misfits demonstrated team synergy earlier than expected, and PowerOfEvil looks like an entirely new player compared to last year.

H2K

Preseason Thought: “Will the momentum of last year continue, or did it fizzle in the off-season?…Febiven has proven himself to be a top-tier European Mid laner. He should be able to step in without issue. However, Nuclear and Chei are Korean imports, which could prove to be dangerous.”

H2K: EU LCS #3 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu are as good as ever. The jungler and top laner have maintained dominance while allowing Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten to have a successful split thus far. H2K was obviously disjointed in the beginning of the split, but Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun, and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho have assimilated into the rest of the team relatively well. This team has probably performed slightly higher than many expected, but they are nowhere near the ceiling they experienced at Worlds 2016. H2K is far from the best team in EU.

Fnatic

Preseason Thought: “This roster has a lot of combined experience. But will it be enough?…Most EU LCS fans are probably pulling for Fnatic to do well in 2017. While this line-up’s ceiling is quite high, they could also finish middle-of-the-pack.”

Fnatic: EU LCS #6 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Spring Split has been difficult for Fnatic. Sitting at third in Group A, they hold a 5-6 series record and a 14-16 game record. The same team that took games off of G2, Unicorns of Love, and Splyce also dropped games to Giants and Vitality, even dropping a series to ROCCAT. It seems the combined experience of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, and Jesse “Jesiz” Le has proven insufficient. Substituting at the jungle position has not helped anything. Fnatic’s rookie mid laner, Rasmus “Caps” Winther, has definitely shown strong potential as a solo carry at times. Overall, Fnatic has performed lower than many analysts expected. It has not been entirely surprising, though.

EU LCS teams have one last week to settle the standings leading into playoffs and relegation. This split has had its fair share of exciting match-ups, but much of it has gone according to my preseason expectations. The group format and Best-of-3’s have brought pros and cons, but mostly stagnation within groups. ROCCAT’s recent climb has essentially been the only major action, especially when compared to the NA LCS. Playoffs should be exciting and less predictable, due to the parity between Unicorns of Love, H2K, Misfits, and Splyce. Mid-Season Invitational should be another great test of EU’s relation to the other major regions.

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EU LCS Group Draft format 2017

Thoughts on EU LCS Group Format

For 2017, the EU LCS adopted a new regular season format which involves two groups of five teams. These changes were put in place to resolve fans’ issues with the dual-stream and best-of-2 format. The new grouping would allow viewers to watch one best-of-3 stream at a time. But is it better?

Most LCS fans would agree that the best-of-3 format is vastly better than the best-of-2 last year. The murky nature of ties left many fans feeling unsatisfied. Having definite winners and losers in such a small league is much more appealing. It can also, theoretically, better prepare European teams for international competition by rewarding consistency and adaptation.

Best-of-3 seems to be the perfect balance between viewer satisfaction, player well-being, and proper preparation. In comparison, best-of-1s reward teams that can successfully cheese their opponents for one match, and do not necessarily allow EU to send its most consistent representatives to international competitions. Best-of-2’s and best-of-4’s create too many undesirable ties, and best-of-5’s can result in more fatigue for the players and an extended schedule that would strain the production crews and viewers.

Having a single stream is fairly beneficial, too. It is the most comfortable way to watch every scheduled series live, rather than choosing which to watch in a dual stream. There may be fewer match-ups to watch in a given weekend, but a viewer is able to see all of them without turning to VODs.

EU LCS weekly schedule format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

The sacrifice, it seems, is regular series quality. Of course, the group format should not take the whole blame for this. There are other contributing factors. However, splitting the teams into two groups has resulted in regularly lower quality match-ups.

This split, EU LCS teams were separated into Groups A and B. Teams within Group A play each other twice; teams within Group B play each other twice. But they only play across groups once. This sounds like a small difference in play-rate, but it has huge consequences on viewer experience. For example, G2 and MSF will only face H2K, UOL, and SPY once each, but FNC, ROC, and GIA twice before playoffs. Since the teams were drafted to split their overall abilities evenly, this schedule has created gradients within each group. The gap between the top teams and bottom teams is huge. And just as H2K will only play G2 once, GIA will only play OG once.

Week 9 of the LCS is representative of this unfortunate reality. Previewing the match-ups is not possible because every single one is one-sided. SPY should beat VIT, G2 should stomp GIA, MSF should destroy ROC, and down the list it goes. Most weeks have featured one to three quality match-ups, while the other three to five seem pre-determined.

EU LCS promotion and relegation format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

This group format, however, is sufficient for figuring out which teams should go to playoffs and relegation. The top six and the bottom two are extremely apparent. But week to week series are lower quality. There is less to analyze. There is less guessing or postulating.

If EU mirrored the NA LCS format, it may be a bit better. Sure, audiences would sacrifice the comfort of watching every match-up live, but they would receive much more frequent close match-ups. Teams would need to prepare and adapt against nine opponents, rather than four. And if they really wanted to allow viewers to see every stream live, then they would simply spread the series out over four days instead of three.

While this split’s scheduling and grouping format has been an upgrade over 2016’s, there are still issues that need to be addressed. The EU LCS could possibly allow for more teams in the league, such as 12 or 14 total teams (6-7 per group). This, again, leads to longer schedules over more days, but it may create more frequent close match-ups. As professional League of Legends becomes more and more popular, overall viewing experiences will need to be closely managed. Hopefully, moving forward, EU LCS tournament formatting will be able to strike the right balance between audience gratification, production value, player well-being, and quality competition.

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Week 8: Team Vitality on stage

EU LCS Players Who Need to Bounce Back in Week 8

The EU LCS had a few shake-ups in Week 7. There was a tilting remake in the Giants-Vitality series. Origen took their first match win of 2017. Splyce had a convincing win against G2 in Game 1, then completely dropped the ball. Roccat finished the week 2-0. H2K beat Misfits much harder than many expected.

Coming into Week 8, several teams will be looking to bounce back. There were some brutal losses last week. There were some who underperformed, and others who surprised the audience. There are only three more weeks until Playoffs begin. Teams at the top are vying for first place in their groups. Teams at the bottom are clawing out of the relegation tournament. Teams in the middle are doing their best to maintain their Playoff spots.

Here are five players who will need to come back this week off of heavy losses to boost their teams into higher positions.

Origen’s Jungler

Week 8: Origen Wisdom

courtesy of Riot esports

While Origen must have been excited to win their first game of Spring Split, they still finished the week with another 0-2. They currently sit at the bottom of Group B at 0-9. They are a full two wins behind the next lowest three teams.

Origen announced that Kim “Wisdom” Tae-Wan will be leaving the team, and they have brought on Jacob “Cinkrof” Rokicki as a replacement. Cinkrof has been playing in the Spanish professional league, LVP. While Wisdom has shown certain bright moments, he stands out as a particularly weak piece of Origen’s roster. He tends to play over-aggressively, especially in the mid-late game, getting picked off or caught out of position regularly.

Cinkrof, if he does start in Week 8, will have his first tests against Team Vitality and Splyce. Neither of these teams should blow Origen out of the water, but they will be challenging. Many fans have written off Origen as already being solidified into the relegation tournament. Cinkrof will be their last hope for rising through the ranks of Group B, and possibly defending Origen’s slot in the LCS.

VIT Djoko

Week 8: Team Vitality Djoko

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Vitality had a rough Week 7, despite their victory against Giants. Vitality gave away Game 1, and Giants were far ahead in Game 2 before the Orianna bug was detected and the game was remade. Giants did lose the next two games, but gameplay-wise, Vitality looked outclassed prior to the bug. Later in the weekend, Roccat beat Vitality 2-0.

Charly “Djoko” Guillard looked particularly weak in these two series. During the first 20 minutes of Game 2 against Giants (prior to the remake), Djoko was killed three times. While he had decent showings on Gragas and Graves, he also had some unconvincing games on Gragas and a sub-par performance on Elise.

In Week 8, Djoko will be battling Origen’s new jungler. This could be a complete wildcard, but it will be up to Djoko to ensure that Vitality maintain control of the game. It should be an easy 2-0 victory, but, then again, same goes for Roccat last week. A loss here could spell devastation for Team Vitality’s chances at escaping the relegation tournament.

SPY Trashy

Week 8: Splyce Trashy

courtesy of Riot esports

Splyce showed us their ceiling in Week 7, Game 1 against G2. They played a clean, fast-paced game, took a decisive Baron, and won. But after that, it all came crumbling down, especially for Jonas “Trashy” Andersen. He finished Game 2 almost 5,000 gold behind G2’s Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun. Game 3 was around 3,500. Since Jungle is such an impactful role in the current meta, these deficits can be difficult to salvage.

Luckily, Splyce play against Origen in Week 8. This series should be a walk in the park for Splyce’s roster; but if Origen’s new jungler, Cinkrof, can hold back Trashy, it may be more difficult than expected. Splyce need to prove to fans that they will be stronger moving forward. Expectations have been high for this squad since the preaseason. If they want to solidify their spot for playoffs and beyond, wins against teams below them have to be convincing.

FNC sOAZ

Week 8: FNC sOAZ

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic had a rough time against Unicorns of Love last week. They did get a late-game win in Game 1, but Games 2 and 3 were not as lucky. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer seemed outclassed overall by UOL’s Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás. Even in the win, sOAZ finished almost 3,000 gold behind his counterpart. The losses were less pretty.

Throughout the season, sOAZ has been floating under the radar as a mediocre top laner. There have been few especially bright moments, even when the team had his partner jungler, Maurice “Amazingx” Stückenschneider, starting. His tank plays are generally decent, but his carry plays have looked sub-par.

In Week 8, Fnatic will face Roccat. Similar to the Splyce-Origen match-up, this series needs to be a solid 2-0 from Fnatic to reinstill confidence in fans. Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren has not looked like a huge barrier for opposing teams, so sOAZ should look excellent against him. The veteran should be quicker on Teleports and create more pressure overall. Fnatic seems stuck in the middle of Group A, but Roccat are coming off of a big 2-0 week, and they would love to leapfrog Giants with a win this week.

MSF PowerOfEvil

Week 8: Misfits PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Misfits went wrong in Week 7. Many speculated that their match-up versus H2K would be a battle of titans, with either winning 2-1. However, once the cookie crumbled, Misfits seemed out of sorts. One individual that needs to bounce back in Week 8, though, is Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. He has been such a rock in the mid lane, and looked weak against Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten.

Top players who have bad games look worse than mediocre players having bad games. All of the members of Misfits share the blame for last week, but PowerOfEvil has been the anchor for them all Split. He will also be particularly important in Week 8, because they will face the number one team in Group A: G2. With G2 comes Luka “Perkz” Perković. Perkz is in the same tier as Febiven, so PowerOfEvil will need to shake off last week and hold steady with him. Otherwise, Misfits will risk another hefty loss. Misfits’ jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, will be in a similar position, but mid lane should be the biggest factor in Misfits’ success this week.

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Champion Rework: Galio (old)

Which is More Satisfying: New Champions or Reworks?

One key element of League of Legends is the constant change. Patches release every two weeks, causing certain champions and items to raise or fall in the power tier. In the middle of the season, and between seasons, Riot releases major updates to classes of champions, neutral objectives, or the map itself. Game designers may redo entire systems, such as runes or masteries. One of the most exciting changes in the game, however, is the introduction of new and reworked champions.

Riot introduces new champions into the game throughout each season. These champions try to fill unique gameplay, design, and lore niches that may not have existed in the game or universe previously. A champion may start with an impactful new ability and build from there. He may start as a previously unexplored mixture of roles. She might be a cool character within the League of Legends story that gets fleshed out with abilities based on her personality or position within the world.

Other times, Riot decides to take an outdated champion and perform a Visual Gameplay Update (VGU). This involves choosing which champions in the game are not fun to play, unhealthy for the game, visually inconsistent with the updated design, or a combination of these factors. Reworking the chosen champion generally begins with designers establishing what parts of it are working, and which are not. What is this champion’s gameplay fantasy? Which abilities are iconic? What is inconsistent between the gameplay, visuals, and lore of this champion? Once Riot has defined what pieces they want to keep, and which they want to lose, they get to work editing the art, lore, abilities, personality, etc.

Aurelion Sol new champion concepts

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

New and reworked champions are under enormous amounts of player base scrutiny throughout the process; from the announcement to release. Fans of certain champions chime in through online forums to discuss what they enjoy about a champion, or where it falls short. This is especially true of reworks. In some cases, Riot barely changes a champion. They may polish the in-game model. They may tweak certain abilities to allow for more counterplay or different windows of strength and weakness. The personality may remain the same as before. But other times, a champion comes out looking and feeling very different.

With new releases, there is a lot less player input prior to release. Riot does a good job keeping new releases secret until Easter eggs or teasers are released to announce the arrival of a new champion to Summoner’s Rift. Between the teaser and the Champion Spotlight, there is generally wild speculation as to who this champion is. What abilities will she have? Will he be a bruiser or assassin? Does it even have a gender? Is she shy? Is he from Demacia or Noxus? Conversations go pretty far to hypothesize just where this new character will fit within the 130+ roster.

Nonetheless, new personalities and playstyles cause old ones to shuffle around in priority. New or reworked champions may come in overpowered within the meta. They may have a game-breaking ultimate that forces them to be picked or banned. They may fit into a new gameplay niche that allows them to flex between lanes or positions. An item may synergize extremely well with them that provides an early power-spike that no other champion can match. But, which one is more fulfilling for players: new champions or reworks?

NEW CHAMPIONS

New Champion: Camille, The Steel Shadow

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Camille is the newest champion release to hit the Rift. She is a Piltovian assassin with augmented swords for legs. She makes it her mission to maintain order within the aristocratic class by killing those who would want to change the establishment. Strutting with her nose to the sky, her title is “The Steel Shadow.”

On Summoner’s Rift, Camille is a mobile fighter-assassin. Her Hookshot ability allows her to grapple into and off of a wall to catch enemies out of position. Her ultimate, Hextech Ultimatum, isolates a target within an inescapable field. The enemy stuck within must fight or die.

Upon release, Camille was very strong. Lead Designer, Mark “RiotScruffy” Yetter, reflected last month “Her ban rate has been pretty high in the last few weeks, and she definitely released too strong.” Her ability to swing across the map, jump on a squishy target, and secure a kill seemed to be virtually unmatchable. In lane, she created plenty of pressure. She was able to easily trade and push waves, allowing for a roam. Players primarily take Camille top lane, but pros have utilized her in jungle, mid, and even support.

New Champion: Ivern, The Green Father

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Ivern, ”The Green Father,” was Riot’s second most recent release. His early concept came from experimenting with a jungler who does not kill the camps. His secondary role is support. Ivern is a tall, lanky, goofy tree man who roams through Runeterra’s forests, protecting and producing living things.

Ivern’s gameplay is unique. He is the only champion in the game who can take jungle camps without physically killing them. His passive, Friend of the Forest, allows him to receive gold and XP by freeing the monsters. Ivern uses shields and roots to provide utility to his laners. Daisy! Is his ultimate ability, which summons his large, pounding stone sentinel to tank damage.

While Ivern was not too popular in professional play initially, his appeal has slowly developed. More and more pros across most regions have picked up Ivern in the jungle. RiotScruffy commented “The sheer amount of unique things on his kit is pretty staggering (team dash, brush, jungle farm) and this is the high end of how ‘weird’ we think we can take a new champion.” Ivern has introduced a new perspective for champion development that League may see more in the future.

New Champion: Kled, The Cantankerous Cavalier

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Kled is the third most recent champion release. Designers produced early iterations of Kled to create a Noxian meme. He represents the spirit of militant Noxus, a fearless cavalier who runs in and tries to take everyone out. A scarred eye, jagged teeth, an oversized battle hat, Kled appears to be a war-tested creature. He is also one of only two animal-mounted champions, joined by his reptilian steed, Skaarl. Finally, Kled’s voice-over is violent and crass, which has been popular with his fans.

Within the game, Kled only uses offensive abilities. Beartrap on a Rope, Pocket Pistol, and CHAAAAAAAARGE!!! are examples. He pulls enemies in close, shoots them, jousts them, and when all else fails, he creates a large speed path for his entire team to engage. Arguably, the most interesting part of his kit is his passive: Skaarl the Cowardly Lizard. Skaarl and Kled share a health bar. When it is low enough, Skaarl retreats to leave Kled to fight for himself, and only comes back when Kled attacks enough.

Although he has not seen much professional play, each of the five major regions have at least one Kled game this Spring Split. He has only been in top lane. Kled boasts a 53% winrate, and a middling playrate (5%) in Platinum+ ranks. He truly is a pocket pick for most players, but can bring success into his games. Kled represents a semi-joke of a champion with minimal focus on his story or place in the lore, and more about pursuing an abstract idea. RiotScruffy’s thoughts on Kled included “This ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ type approach leads to a very sharp type of champion that some players love, but others will hate.”

CHAMPION REWORKS

Champion Rework: Warwick, the Uncaged Wrath of Zaun

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Warwick transformed from the typical trope of a wolfman into “The Uncaged Wrath of Zaun.” Sporting some new green fluid injectors, this champion got a significant upgrade. Warwick’s visuals, gameplay, and story are meant to execute on the out-of-control-werewolf fantasy. Riot designed him as an introductory jungle champion with enough sustain to get through early stages of the game self-sufficiently.

Riot tweaked Warwick’s abilities to be more impactful earlier in the game. His prior design required the jungler to farm the jungle until his ultimate was unlocked at level 6. Warwick players also suffered from extreme highs and lows of power between ultimate cooldowns. His VGU brought more early utility, such as the fear on Primal Howl, or the lunge on Jaws of the Beast. Lastly, the ultimate, Infinite Duress, became a leaping skillshot that scales with movement speed.

If nothing else, Warwick’s teaser has been one of the most well-received pieces of media from Riot. The video perfectly played up the new Warwick changes. He is currently played in 6% of games in Platinum+, and 12% of games in Bronze; professionally, however, he has only seen six games worldwide. Warwick has been a successful delivery of a specific gameplay fantasy.

Champion Rework: Yorick, Shepherd of Lost Souls

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Yorick mains had been begging for his VGU for a long time. When Riot finally decided to take a crack at him, they cited “the three things we thought were the core of Yorick were that he summons Ghouls, that he is a beefy juggernaut with a shovel, and that he is kind of the ‘good guy’ of the Shadow Isles.” His appearance, gameplay, and story arc changed to a large degree. Rather than an ugly, hunched gravedigger hobbling with his face completely covered, now Yorick is a muscular, veiled monk-type character. His ghouls and the Maiden of the Mist have updated visuals and programming.

Yorick is still a juggernaut. He struggles to close the distance on squishier targets, but he does build health and damage items. His biggest use is split-pushing with his minions and ultimate, Eulogy of the Isles. He is able to trap enemies within the destructible Dark Procession wall, as well. Yorick moves slowly, and bashes opponents with his shovel while soaking large amounts of damage.

With his new visuals, gameplay, and story, Yorick definitely fits into the League of Legends roster more than ever before. He heavily benefited from his VGU for any new players to the game. However, many of his fans seemed to have mixed reviews upon release. Riot dropped aspects of Yorick’s art, mechanics, and personality that attracted some players to the champion in the first place. Also, Yorick’s playrate in Platinum+ is just 1.7%, and his winrate is 48%. Yorick has only seen one game in the LMS and one game in CBLoL so far this split.

Champion Rework: Ryze, the Rune Mage

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Ryze was the VGU released prior to Yorick. This most recent rework is actually not his first. Riot outlined his issues this way: “The Rune Mage had three major problems: he’s too difficult to learn, too strong once you’ve mastered him, and too confusing to lane against for players who haven’t memorized the nitty gritty details of Ryze’s stacking and spell-combo gameplay.” They added a proper storyline to his character. Ryze is an extremely old and powerful mage who scours Runeterra looking for magical runes to keep them out of the hands of evil-doers. His in-game model and all nine of his skins (including the base) got visual updates.

Riot designed Ryze as a “machine-gun” mage with low cooldowns and high damage potential. Based on the order of abilities, his current iteration allows him to combo to create the effects the player wants. Waveclear, roots, Realm Warp; all tools to allow Ryze’s team to play around him. One problem with Ryze historically was his difficulty to balance. Ryze was generally either too strong or too weak for different levels of play. He was picked or banned one patch, and ignored in others. His rework is meant to fix that issue, as well.

Ryze has seen a ton of professional play. His utility, damage, and waveclear allow high level players to hone in on his strengths. Well-coordinated Realm Warps can make or break games. His playrates float between 4%-6% across all elos. Most players see Ryze in a much healthier state than before, but he does suffer from low winrates outside of Challenger tier.

CONCLUSION

Champion Rework: Galio, the Colossus

courtesy of LeagueofLegends.com

Even when some champions turn out to be disappointing in one aspect or another, leading up to the release is always an exhilarating time for League of Legends players. Introducing new stories, new personalities, and new abilities to the game to keep it fresh. These introductions fuel constant adaptations to playstyles, metas, and strategies.

League has seen new champions develop from abstract ideas, innovative role combinations, and powerful gameplay mechanics. The game has also recycled old characters and abilities into more modern representatives of Summoner’s Rift. Whether it is redeveloping a champion around a gameplay fantasy, redesigning unique play patterns, or simply creating a fully fleshed character with healthier balancing opportunities. Each of these releases comes with its fair share of praises and complaints.

So, what do you think? Have new releases, such as Camille, Ivern, and Kled, satisfied you more? Or have you enjoyed the transformations of Warwick, Yorick, and Ryze? Are you more excited to try your hand at Galio’s new kit, or maybe hoping for something better in the next new champion? Feel free to cast your vote in my Twitter poll here.

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EU LCS Week 7: Misfits with coach

EU LCS Week 7: Misfits or H2K?

Most of the EU LCS match-ups this week will pit low-standing teams against one another. However, there is a spicy match-up to tune in for: Misfits v. H2K. Both of these two teams hold second place in their respective groups. They are also coming off of solid wins in Week 6. Week 7 will be their first clash.

There are a number of factors that set up this particular series to be explosive. Firstly, they have similar game records. Misfits has 15 wins, four losses. H2K has 14 wins, five losses. Secondly, they sit in the top two positions for Gold Difference at 15 minutes. Misfits average 1,771 ahead. H2K average 1,351 ahead. Thirdly, according to OraclesElixir.com, they also average first and second in their Early Game Ratings among the EU LCS (Misfits 71.4, H2K 65.4). Expect both squads to do their best to win leads in the laning phase and snowball as hard as they can.

The areas of gameplay where H2K and Misfits diverge are objective control and kills per minute. H2K take the first turret, first three turrets, and first dragon more often than anyone in the LCS. Misfits stand in third, third, and fourth in those respective categories. Misfits only takes the first baron in 58% of games, while H2K secures it in 82%.

However, Misfits is extremely efficient in securing kills without giving deaths. They have the highest team Kill-Death ratio in the LCS: 1.90. H2K average 1.45. Even though H2K has secured 321 kills over 19 games, they have also conceded 222 deaths. Compared to Misfits 287 kills and 151 deaths, H2K’s overall trades are not always the best. Misfits also have the lowest Combined Kills per Minute statistic in the LCS (0.6), which implies that their games rarely become clown fiestas.

Top Lane

Week 7: Misfits top laner, Alphari

courtesy of Riot esports

Barney “Alphari” Morris and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu will most likely be the center of attention in Week 7. Neither of these players are afraid of making big plays. Alphari averages a higher CS difference at 10 minutes (+8.9), and he maintains a higher KDA (4.3). Odoamne has the edge when it comes to doing a higher percentage of damage for his team (24.9%), and he has higher kill participation (59.8%). However, both top laners trend towards the top of the league in most categories.

A major difference between these two is their champions played lately. Alphari showed up huge on Rumble last week, while also putting in two games on Renekton, and even brought out Fiora. Odoamne’s last three champions have been tanks: Nautilus, Maokai, and Poppy. Misfits and H2K have shown flexibility in drafting, but Misfits generally prioritize bully laners for Alphari.

Jungle

Week 7: H2K jungler, Jankos

courtesy of Riot esports

Despite being titled “First Blood King,” Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski has only secured First Blood in 26% of his games this split. On the other hand, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon has the second highest rating in the league (53%). KaKAO has also beat out Jankos in KDA (7.1), kill participation (71.8%), and CS difference at 10 minutes (+3.5). Surely, he will have the upper hand in this match-up, unless Jankos can return to his dominant form. There is no doubt that both Misfits and H2K rely on their junglers to create significant early game leads.

As far as champions go, Jankos’s most recent performances were on Graves and Kha’Zix. He excels at cleaning up fights and isolating the enemy jungler. Elise and Lee Sin were KaKAO’s choices last week. He used their early game gank pressure to enable his lanes and spread vision across the map. In the mid game, he transitioned into tankier items for survivability and utility. Much of the series will be decided by these two players.

Mid Lane

Week 7: Misfits mid laner, PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

Anchoring Misfits and H2K for Week 7 are their mid laners, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten. While both have proved more formidable this split, their playstyles diverge a bit. Febiven tends to farm much more in the early game, sticking to the lane. He averages 6.1 CS ahead at 10 minutes. PowerOfEvil averages behind 2.2 CS, but ahead by 244 gold, indicating that he either gets kills or assists to get ahead in the early game. This is shown by his high First Blood rate (32%) and overall kill participation (74.6%). PowerOfEvil’s KDA is a stellar 7.9, while Febiven maintains 4.6.

Last week, Febiven played Syndra twice. He finished 5-2-5 and 2-1-2 against Fnatic. Meanwhile, PowerOfEvil showcased incredible skill on Orianna and Ahri. Both players have deep champion pools. Other than overpowered meta picks, do not expect many bans to target mid lane.

Bot Lane

Week 7: H2K AD Carry, Nuclear

courtesy of Riot esports

The bottom lanes for these squads are strong, as well. Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun match-up rather well. Hans sama averages a 7.7 KDA. Nuclear maintains 6.6. Nuclear averages behind 0.1 CS at 10 minutes, while Hans sama averages -2.7 CS. Kill participation and team damage numbers give Hans sama a slight advantage.

Both of these players show true mastery of the meta marksmen: Jhin and Varus. Last week, Hans sama played three straight games on Jhin. Nuclear played two on Varus. Misfits or H2K may attempt to pinch the AD Carry picks and force these guys on Ezreal, Sivir, etc. Regardless, they both seem to play more aggressive than other EU LCS marksmen.

Week 7: Misfits support, IgNar

courtesy of Riot esports

The support players, Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho, are just as formidable. IgNar is more of a roaming playmaker, pairing with KaKAO to spread pressure throughout the map. Warding against Misfits will be important for H2K’s success. IgNar’s KDA is 6.4, and his kill participation is 71.1%. Chei’s are 3.8 and 62%, respectively. However, Chei averages around 80 extra damage per minute. Chei also matches IgNar in total assists over 19 games, 190 and 191. Chei has died 52 times in that period, while IgNar has only conceded 32.

Overall, IgNar seems more flexible champion-wise. He has played nine unique champions, such as Alistar last week. Chei has only shown six unique champions. Just like mid lane, do not anticipate too many support bans outside meta overpowered picks. Misfits or H2K may try to secure a ranged support advantage, but picks such as Tahm Kench and Braum have been cropping up internationally with variable success.

Conclusion

All in all, Misfits seem to have the advantage in this one. Their jungler and support have been extremely proactive throughout Summoner’s Rift to gain advantages in vision and rotations. PowerOfEvil has been having his best split yet. Alphari and Hans sama fill their roles on the team well, while playing as cleanly as possible. H2K will need to hold it together through the early game and do their best to secure leads through taking turrets, dragons, and barons. If they draft compositions with Odoamne on a sturdy tank, and force Misfits onto a non-tank composition, then they may be able to demonstrate their superior late game.

This match-up will be one to watch in Week 7 amidst several low-tier matches. Tune in on Saturday, March 11 to catch the action.

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Week 5 Preview: Fnatic mid lane, Caps

EU LCS Week 5: FNC v. SPY Preview

One of the key match-ups coming into Week five will be Fnatic versus Splyce. Both of these squads sit in the middle of their respective groups, third place. Fnatic are 3-2 and Splyce are 2-3. Fnatic has lost to G2. Splyce has lost to H2K and Unicorns of Love (UOL). Misfits have defeated both teams.

This Week five series will be an important one for gaging the strength difference between Group A and Group B of the EU LCS. We will also see G2 taking on UOL, which will further settle the score. But the match-up between FNC and SPY will be just as important for understanding the interplay of these teams. If FNC win in a dominant fashion, then we can conclude that Group A is stronger than Group B, and if SPY win convincingly, then Group B must be more substantial.

There are areas of game-play where these teams overlap, but there are also several where they diverge. Their overall win conditions leading into Thursday are fairly different. Here is an outline of a few factors to keep in mind.

First Blood

Fnatic have taken First Blood in 50% of their games. Oftentimes, it is a result of Rasmus “Caps” Winther roaming from mid lane to assist his jungler or diving a side lane. You can see some examples in the highlights below.

Splyce, on the other hand, have only secured First Blood in 18% of their games, the lowest in the league. Chres “Sencux” Laursen will need to clearly communicate anytime Caps leaves mid in the early game. Jonas “Trashy” Andersen and the rest of his team will need to ward and path to effectively track Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen throughout the map.

First 3 Turrets

Fnatic also consistently take the first three turrets in a game. Their movement across the map in the early game allows them to take advantageous teamfights and then effectively translate trades into towers. So far, they have succeeded in doing this in 79% of games, second highest in the league.

You can see in the highlights below, Fnatic cleanly win a teamfight against Vitality at 20 minutes. They rotate into the river and start Baron. When Vitality contest, Fnatic go aggressive, earning a few more kills and securing the Baron. Notice both teams have knocked down one turret each. After recalling, Fnatic take a turret in bot lane, a turret in mid lane, and a turret in top lane. They almost get a fourth turret top, but Vitality hold them back.

In their game against Giants, neither team had a turret taken in 12 minutes. Fast forward to 16 minutes, and you can see that Fnatic has taken three turrets with none traded to Giants.

Splyce have only accomplished this in 36% of their games. While they have similar first Dragon rates, first turret rates, and kill:death ratios, Splyce are less likely to push those advantages into multiple towers across the map. Their early-mid game rotations are a bit slower than Fnatic’s.

First Baron

The other area where Splyce struggle is in taking first Baron. They are last in the league here, as well, with only 18% of games. Their team has allowed several unfortunate Baron steals, and they usually are slow to check if Baron is being taken by the enemy.

While Fnatic are middle-of-the-pack taking first Baron, their 50% of games is vastly superior. Even in games where Splyce is ahead, or significantly better at teamfighting, opponents can sneak Barons. Fnatic should be sure to take advantage of this blind spot.

Elder Control

While they are unlikely to take first Baron, Splyce are highly likely to take an Elder Dragon. They have 100% Elder control rates thus far. As you can see in the highlights below, even when they get pushed off of a Baron play, Splyce are willing to take a fight in the bot river and secure Elder before moving to Baron. It is how they took a game off of Unicorns of Love It is a bit risky, though. Elder Dragon takes much longer to kill. However, once it is secured, it allows your team to do tremendous amounts of damage, especially if other Elemental Drakes have been secured. From here it is easy to rotate up to Baron, recall, and then push down the enemy’s base.

Fnatic only have 50% Elder Dragon control. Although it is half as high as Splyce, this is still a decent rate considering how few teams actually take Elder Dragon in a game. Nonetheless, Fnatic will need to be sure to ward top and bot rivers to ensure they can react to Splyce’s gameplay.

Overall, Fnatic have the advantage in this series. They will need to play around Caps in the early game, then roam and find skirmishes in the mid game. Once they win a big teamfight, they can take Drakes, or even Baron. Their primary focus should continue to be turrets, though. If they can open up the map quicker than Splyce, then it will make a win much easier.

Splyce will need to do their best to match Fnatic’s dynamic gameplay. They also need to remember that Fnatic are likely to overextend a push at times. If Splyce are unable to keep up in the early game, then they need to do their best to absorb the pressure until they can get openings to make calculated plays. Vision control will be extremely important in this Week five series.

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