Team Liquid Keeping Goldenglue and Piglet

The Summer Split is right around the corner. A lot of roster swaps are incoming, but not all teams have decided to change their lineup. One team in particular is Team Liquid. This raised many eyebrows in the NA LCS community, as Team Liquid struggled to avoid being relegated last split. They went so far as to bench starting mid laner Greyson ”Goldenglue” Gilmer and sub in starting ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. Then, shockingly, Team Liquid picked up Yilang “Doublelift” Peng in a desperate attempt to stay in the league. All those changes worked out, as the team managed to survive the relegation tournament and return for the summer.

However, Team Liquid decided that they won’t make any changes to the starting roster from summer, despite the rough Spring Split. Goldenglue and Piglet will be returning, along with Samson “Lourlo” Jackson in the Toplane, Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin in the jungle, and Matt “Matt” Elento as support.

THE GOOD

Team Liquid looked shaky all spring, but in the offseason has made some moves towards improvement. Most notably Goldenglue who, in his time off, has been bootcamping in Korea. He has lived with LCK challenger squad Ever 8 and has been spamming Korean soloq. He did this all this in an effort to improve his mentality and game sense, as well as refine his mechanics. Goldenglue should be returning stronger than ever, and able to hold his own against the other mids of the league.

It’s also worth mentioning that the team has played together for most of a split now. This means that they’ve had time to work through any communications and synergy issues that they may be facing. Moving forward they should have streamlined shot calling and in game communications. A team with good shot calling can go a long way even with substandard players.

Team Liquid also has a great infrastructure and plenty of funding. They can afford to make dramatic roster moves and high profile pickups. This indicates that Team Liquid can afford the best for its players. The team has been around in one iteration or another since 2015, when it bought out Team Curse. This means that the org has an established infrastructure, and even though there was some struggling they have never been relegated.

 

THE BAD

No pick up or roster swap saved Team Liquid from finishing ninth last split. But they made a clean run in the promotion tournament, not dropping a set. Team Liquid’s goal isn’t to be successful in promotion tournaments. Team Liquid is taking much too big of a gamble by fielding the same roster and hoping the training has paid off. The team could have easily picked up another player, or subbed in someone already on their roster.

This is especially prevalent when you consider that they elected to move Piglet to mid, rather than sub in Austin “Link” Shin last split. It’s clear that Piglet is the most mechanically skilled player on the roster, but he’s played exclusively ADC during his professional career. Link has plenty of mid lane experience having started for CLG in seasons 3-5. Team Liquid had a clear and defined option to replace Goldenglue with, yet they elected to place a player in his off role and sub in a rookie.

It’s heartening to see a team that believes in their players, but the results don’t support their decision. The team has been in decline since summer 2015, finishing worse in each subsequent split. If the trend continues, we will see the team inevitably in relegations again, and maybe this time unable to make it out.

 

THE UGLY

There are two major points of contention with this team. This first is Piglet, positioning much too aggressively, especially in recent splits, and gettting caught out. He also has a clear mental barrier. Piglet wants to succeed and has lots of drive, but often tilts. He has also been in decline since joining the team. It’s apparent that at this point Piglet has run his course with Team Liquid. There are other options available for Team Liquid, and if they want to survive as a team they should explore these options.

There’s also the issue of Goldenglue. Who, despite playing for many teams on the LCS or CS stage, has fallen short numerous times and has failed to impress. Sure, he’s been away on boot camp in Korea, and there is no doubt that he has improved, but there’s little reason that he can’t be replaced. With Liquid fighting to remain in the LCS they should be trying to maximize their chances to win, rather than trying to develop existing talent.

The team is taking a massive risk by sticking to what has failed in the past. Matt had a great first split, but didn’t live up to expectations. This could be chalked up to sophomore slump, but another weak split will be cause for concern. Lourlo also struggled, often being left on an island in the top lane to fend for himself. This was a result of Reignover looking lost without dominant lanes. These are all issues that seem to stem from the weaknesses from the mid lane and ADC positions.

So while Team Liquid seems confident in their players, the reality seems much less certain.


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Images by Riot

An Interview with Team Allegiance Jungler Weak3n

Kurt “Weak3n” Schray has been playing Smite competitively since before the Smite Pro League was a thing. He is a World Champion with Team EnVyUs in the Smite Console League, as well as a Masters champion with his old SPL team AFK Gaming. He is currently the Jungle for Team Allegiance of the SPL.

If you want to learn more about Smite or Weak3n, you can check him out on Twitter, Twitch, or Youtube.

 


 

First off, congratulations on splitting with Luminosity Gaming. What went right for you during this set that allowed your squad to be competitive in the game 1 loss, and then take a close game 2?

 

-Game 1 we had an early lead between all of us which was what kept us close throughout the entire game, but we had a comp that was built around killing the god who was in front of our mage/hunter and we did not play around that in team fights. We let them dive us and instead of making them pay we fell back which was a mistake each fight.

 

You’ve been playing Smite competitively since before the SPL even existed. What motivates you to compete for such a long time, and into the future?

 

-The fact that the game changes and adds new gods every two weeks is the main reason I haven’t gotten sick of the game. Also the fact that I do not have a PC World Championship is a big motivation.

 

You have a lot of fans, as evidenced by your success on Twitch and YouTube. However, you’re also looked at as a villain in the eyes of some SPL fans. What is it like to be viewed this way, and does something like this fuel you to win?

 

-The hate doesn’t really affect my drive to win, I have been the same since I started Smite when no one knew who I was. I enjoy having both sides of the spectrum though because I want to enjoy my community and this weeds out the audience that I don’t relate to.

 

The SPL has had a copious amount of what fans call “rosterpocalypse” over the last few splits. Team Allegiance, and you specifically, have been at the center of these roster changes. Knowing your roster signed with ALG for a full year, what is your opinion on the way roster changes are handled in the SPL?

 

-Roster changes are usually pretty basic, the only difference is the community tries to get involved in it and they don’t understand what so ever. This leads to the players sharing more information than needed. Most times teams make changes it’s because of business.

The entire idea of “hey x team, you need to play together forever to be great,” is just unrealistic. Some players work well together and some don’t. The only way to find out is to try it. Look at all pro teams in sports, every single team makes changes through each year.

 

Compared to past Seasons, do you enjoy Season 4 more or less?

 

-I honestly just go with the seasons and enjoy each with what they bring. Every season the players complain about something, it changes, and then something else is complained about. Just have to roll with it and try to win with whatever is in place.

 

You’re a player that is sort of known for falling a bit behind in order to feed your teammates. How has the current meta, with the aggressiveness and over abundance of sunder, affected your playstyle?

 

-Well I build a lot of sunder. I don’t really fall behind as much in this meta, but that is mainly because I have a team of people who aren’t selfish and I don’t have to deal with being proxy’d in lane or having buffs killed before I get to them.

 

It’s no secret that NA was embarrassed at Masters. What is it about EU that made them so dominant so quickly, and what does NA need to do to catch up?

 

-EU has been experimenting and not just going with the standard stuff, which is what NA was known for in previous seasons. I think until NA gets in that mindset we will be a step behind.

 

As a follow up, how do you feel your roster has done at making that jump, and how do you compare against the other NA rosters?

 

-Our team is a top 3 team now. We have energy, positivity, a second shot caller with immense game knowledge, and a team that enjoys playing together. All of this will lead to our team getting stronger over this season.

 

What needs to happen for Team Allegiance to compete at DreamHack Valencia for Summer Finals?

 

-If we play aggressive and as one unit we will make Valencia. Nothing needs to change. Continued work will just put us further ahead.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Quick Hits

 

Favorite God?

-Serqet

 

Favorite pair of shoes?

-Kevin Durant IV “Weatherman”

 

Favorite video game of all time?

-Halo 2

 

Most memorable Smite moment?

-Winning our first LAN back in season 2 when no team would even practice against us at the LAN.

 

Favorite SPL player to Gank?

-Zapman

 

Can I have Speed Buff?

-No.

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Good luck to ALG during the rest of Summer Split, and I hope we can see you competing at DreamHack in July.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Hearthstone’s Cost Problem

Journey to Un’goro may be the most balanced, diverse and flavourful Hearthstone expansions ever released. It’s lead to well-spread, interesting meta, every class has its counters, and no Tier 1 deck ruins everyone’s day. However, the launch of Un’goro was marked by unprecedented frustration over cost.

Across the Hearthstone Subreddit and official forums, users complained about disappointing packs and underwhelming options with their new opened cards. The decks they wanted to theorycraft seemed to be hidden behind huge dust or cash investments. Conspiracy theories spread about Blizzard cooking the books to reduce the number of usable legendaries or increase duplicates. While these were quickly rebuked (and corroborated by community data), the fact that the openings felt so disappointing should speak volumes.

And while the issues with launch pack opening disappointments trailed off (largely as most Quests turned out to be less than competitive), core concerns and frustrations about the overall cost of Hearthstone remains. Here are the key reasons Hearthstone’s felt a lot more expensive lately.

Hunter Or Nothing

There are almost no decent budget decks like old Zoo

It’s definitely possible to succeed with budget lists. Popular streamer and meme master Disguised Toast recently managed to achieve Legend rank on a free-to-play account started soon after the launch of Un’goro, without the usual Arena grinding that hallmarked other free-to-play efforts. However, his efforts represent the experience of many new players; he was railroaded towards Hunter. Midrange Hunter represents the only option for semi-competitive decks that doesn’t require Epics or Legendaries. This is fine for those who enjoy the Aggressive Midrange playstyle; but for those who are enthralled by the other archetypes, it’s hardly a good advertisement for the game to have this as the only low-cost option.

Worse, with its reliance on class cards and without any other Hunter archetype available, the easiest avenue into semi-competitive play also represents a dead end, with no other decks to springboard onto.

The Progression Gap

If we chart the trajectory of a player as they explore a new deck, class, or the game as a whole, we can see it in terms of three phases. First, the initial learning and discovering phase where they try out with their initial cards as best they can. Then, the collection and refinement of cards and skills, with incrementally improving decks. Finally, the adoption of highly refined decks and strategies, with later exploration into other less familiar archetypes as the cycle begins anew. While the first and particularly the last phases of the game remain as strong as ever in Un’goro, with interesting mechanics, synergies and balanced high-level play rewarding player’s skill and ingenuity with fun and success, the second phase is looking shaky.

Simply put, there’s little viability in “budget” versions of existing decks. Every single non-hunter competitive deck not only contains multiple expensive Epics and Legendaries, they demand them. While you can try Murloc Paladin without Vilefin Inquisitor, Tirion, Sunkeeper Tarim, Murloc Warleader, Gentle Megasaur, or Finja, you won’t see much reward for your perseverance. Quest decks are self-explanatory in their cost. Priests simply have to include two Shadow Visions and likely Lyra, even outside of Dragon’s Potions, Silence’s Shamblers and Karazhan Purifys. Even historically cheap aggressive decks like Pirate Warrior and Aggro Druid are questionable at best without cards like Patches, Southsea Captain or Living Mana. Perhaps the closest to a non-Hunter budget deck to build on, Secret Mage, rests heavily on the Epic Primordial Glyph, Karazhan’s Babbling Book and Medivh’s Valet.

Compared to old metas, which largely had numerous cheap decks or decks that could be remade in a far more budget-friendly fashion by curving lower with cheaper, smaller minions, we are seeing a situation where playing a new deck without losing a huge amount of competitive viability is simply too expensive in terms of dust for many players.

No All-powerful Neutrals

Dr. Boom was expensive, but he could go into almost every deck

Say what you like about Doctor Boom, he was an equal opportunity giggling goblin. Equally at home in an Aggro Paladin as a Control Warrior, he was a staple not only for his power but also for his versatility across uncounted numbers of decks. Similarly for pre-nerf Knife Juggler, Piloted Shredder, Ragnaros, BGH, Sylvanas and Azure Drake; the defining feature of pre-Standard Hearthstone was arguably a huge number of immensely powerful Neutrals. While these auto-includes hurt the game in many respects by reducing diversity and making for a more homogeneous experience, they did nonetheless make one’s collection far more versatile. Often, when trying a new deck, you could rely on having a decent core already in your collection simply by having a few key neutrals.

Un’goro’s coinciding with many of these cards rotating (building on the impact caused by the previous set of Standard rotations, Hall of Fame inclusions and nerfs) added fuel to the cost issues. No longer would it be possible to build the skeletons of multiple decks out of a limited pool of high-powered neutrals. Instead, decks would now have fewer and fewer cards in common; leading to a diverse and interesting meta, but higher barriers of entry for players looking to branch out.

Harsh Transitions

With every expansion, Team 5 is given the difficult task of creating balanced, interesting, flavourful cards that players will want to use lots of. This last part is key; the designers must push the envelope of power on each expansion if the cards they so lovingly added will ever get used. This is nothing new; but the addition of Standard rotation can lead to huge changes in the classes and cards that are competitive.

The best example of this is the transition from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan to Un’goro. Numerous entire archetypes were rendered obsolete by the rotation of Reno, leading to large amounts of transitional problems for players seeking a new main, as their Jarraxi, Inkmaster Solias and Razas became less than useful. Standard rotations, while necessary, can massively increase the cost burdens on players in this manner.

Feeling Expensive vs Being Expensive

No one would disagree that Hearthstone needs to attract paying customers if the game is to survive, grow and receive high-quality development resources. However, attracting and incentivising people to pay up to get that cool new Epic or Legendary isn’t helped by a progression system that feels stop-start and punishing. High-paying “Whales” are already strongly incentivised to pay for large numbers of packs to access the latest decks, niche legendaries or golden cards. More attention needs to be paid to the players who treat Hearthstone spending splurges as an occasional treat without pushing them over the cost threshold where they’d rather not play at all.

This doesn’t need to necessarily involve reducing costs or giving away free stuff. Instead, ensuring a strong, meaningful and fluid progression system rewards players who slowly improve a deck over time without having to splash out in one huge purchase would greatly encourage a long-term paying customer-base and more satisfied and entertained players. More meaningful stepping-stone decks and cards is key to this, allowing players to experiment and remain competitive without dipping into their life savings. After all, progression is the true heart of any CCG, and making that experience as fun and rewarding as possible is just as important as inculcating a healthy meta or compelling gameplay.

 

Title art courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com. Art by Joe Wilson

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image courtesy of dota2.com

DotA Update 7.06: 11 Changes You Didn’t Notice

DotA’s 7.06 update saw some changes everyone noticed like the jungle respawning every minute, Sven’s improved god strength, Windranger’s lvl 20 invisibility, Magnus’ upgraded shockwave, and Furion’s lvl 25 no cooldown teleportation…

Here are a few you may have missed!

 

 1. DAGON COUNTERPLAY VS SPECTRE & MORPH

dagon counterplay 7.06

Dagon active now 1-shots haunt/replicate illusions

Haunt can be a big problem… the illusion does significant damage, cancels your blink, and gives Spectre the option to get right on top of your hero. Now you can solve that problem for less than 3000 gold by quickly zapping the illusion.

Morphling’s replicate illusion is hard to kill because unlike other illusions it takes 100% damage. With a Dagon handy there’s no need to split up and follow Morphling & his replicate when he uses it while being ganked. If he already has a replicate back in a safe location, the Dagon could also be used to pop his Linken’s Sphere instead. On top of that it can be useful when he makes an illusion of one of your allies with a strong aura, like Shadow Fiend’s presence of the dark lord.

 

2. OFFLANE ENIGMA IS EVEN MORE OP

Now that denies give 30% exp, Enigma can get +27 exp for each range creep he denies with conversion.

Keep an eye out for Enigma to become even more popular as a result of this change, and all the extra jungle farm on the map. Even without a shrine available for the first five minutes, offlane Enigma is still hard to punish and insanely strong when opponents lack a BKB-piercing disable.

 

3. NEW URN ‘RECIPE’ GIVES SUPPORTS OPTION TO BUILD CHEAP ARMOR

cheap armor dota 7.06

image courtesy of aliexpress.com

Costs: raindrop (225)+ circlet (165)+ ring of protection (175)+ recipe (310) = 875 gold total
Gives: +2 all stats +2 armor +1.0 mana regen

Since Tranquil Boots no longer give any, supports will still be walking around with < 3 armor well into the mid-game, unless they delay core items for a Buckler/Medallion. A couple armor from Urn is a welcome option, especially now that it is effectively 225 cheaper since everyone buys Infused Raindrop anyways (just be sure to put it in your backpack when it’s down to 1 charge).

 

4. DEATH PROPHET LATEGAME BUFFED

Refresh now replenishes charge-based abilities.

As it stands Death Prophet is the only hero with a charge based ability for which refresher was already a common purchase. Spirit siphon heals DP up to 33% of an enemy heroes max hp while also dealing the same amount in damage (before reductions), with a 45 second charge replenish time. Now when DP uses refresher she gets up to four additional charges on top of refreshing the rest of her kit: exorcism, Eul’s, BKB, Shivas, Ghost, etc. That is the equivalent of what would have been three minutes of siphon recharge time!

death prophet dota 7.06

images courtesy of dota2.gamepedia.com

 

5. COMBO GHOST SHIP WITH LOWER LEVELS OF X MARKS THE SPOT

Ghost ship now spawns the appropriate distance behind Kunkka to travel the full 2000 units to the targeted location.

Nerfs to torrent’s damage and cooldown that made it less of a value point contributed to Kunkka being forgotten, but having to max torrent is less painful now that you can combo with lower levels of x mark.

 

6. NIGHTSTALKER GANKS FROM UNEXPECTED ANGLES

nightstalker dota 7.06

Everyone probably read “Hunter in the Night can now be activated during the night to grant 1200 vision and flying movement for 2 seconds” and immediately thought of the potential for dewarding, vision in teamfights, and escaping over terrain…

BUT this also means Nightstalker can wrap around over impassable terrain instead of giving the gank target and their allies time to respond while he is running in.

 

7. TIDEHUNTER BACKSTROKES INTO THE META

tidehunter dota 7.06

Gush manacost rescaled from 120 to 90/100/110/120.

Aside from this making support Tidehunter less terrible. This change means that if supports rotate to your lane before you have Arcane Boots you’re more likely able to use gush, since it only costs 90 mana at level one. Having this four second 40% slow more available in the early game gives allied supports more options, and thus makes them less predictable and more successful in their rotations. Furthermore, Aghanim’s upgraded gush now gives vision on units it hits, which is completely game changing for getting vision for contesting Roshan.

8. ZEUS 0.7 SEC STUN DURATION ON BOLT MEANS NIMBUS IS NUTS

Replaced Respawn Talent: +0.5s Lightning Bolt Ministun (Level 20)

Nimbus does not cast a bolt every six seconds like Zeus does, but rather every 2.25 seconds. With a 0.7 second stun, that means a lone opponent would be stunned 30% of the time.

With an Octarine it is every 1.7 seconds, which is 42% uptime.

With an Octarine AND Refresher, if the casts are properly staggered, a single enemy in two nimbus clouds would be stunned for 84% of the time —  and this is disregarding the bolts from your hero!

 

9. WHEN A LVL 20 WARLOCK DIES IT DOESN’T JUST SPAWN A GOLEM…

Replaced Respawn Talent: Summons a Golem on death (Level 20)

The patch notes are a but unclear in this regard so some confusion is to be expected. Effectively the talent casts ‘chaotic offering’ at Warlock’s death location, but does not benefit from Aghanim’s Scepter. If you’re within the 600 radius watch out, you only have HALF A SECOND to get out of the radius or you will be stunned.

 

10. FORMER VLADS + DESO HEROES CAN GO MORBID/ MADNESS/ SATANIC INSTEAD

deso lifesteal dota 7.06

images courtesy of dota2.gamepedia.com

Desolator is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier.

This will almost certainly change ‘the build’ on Phantom Assassin, allowing for the Vladmir’s Offering upgrade to be skipped in favor of a deso 1175 gold earlier. Leaving a a casual Morbid Mask to be upgraded into Satanic later in the game. This works out to a huge buff when you also consider that both Vlad’s and Deso would have previously been replaced in the lategame to transition into an ideal 6-slot with Satanic. Now that Desolator is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier, you’re saving gold in the early game AND in the lategame.

 

11. MORE DIFFICULT FOR OFFLANERS TO PEEL CREEPS ALL THE WAY TO THEIR TOWER

Creep aggro duration reduced from 2.5 to 2.3
Creep aggro cooldown increased from 2.5 to 3.0

Although peeling creeps back to the tower eventually pushes your lane, in the short term it can be a great way to get some exp in an otherwise tough situation. Now that there is a 0.7 second downtime after creep aggro expires before it can be reacquired, pulling these shenanigans puts you at greater risk.

 

That about wraps it up peeps, let us know which are your favorite changes of Dota 7.06 in the comments!

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

The New Shifter’s Shield and Why It Is Broken!

Shifter’s Shield

Shifter’s has gone through a few changes in its long history in Smite. For a while though it has been regarded as a pretty useless item. The former theory-crafter and current Paladins designer, James ‘Krett’ Horgan, highlighted the failings of the old Shifter’s shield. He showed that Void Shield was not just better defensively but provided more damage thanks to the pen. Shifter’s shield has always tried to be a Jack of all trades. Unfortunately, the theme has always been master of none.

Stats

The new Shifter’s Shield is incredibly good. Gone are the days of being a master of none, instead it is a case of one size fits all. This is what Hi-Rez wanted. They said in the patch notes that they ‘want to highlight this aspect of the item’ (Its multi-purpose role).  The item lives up to its name now, going from a very offensive item to a strong defensive item, shifting its role to your needs. Let’s see what it does compared to other items, when it’s fulfilling either one of its roles. When it’s damage and power you are looking for, it provides 70 power. That is the third highest physical power base in the game. Only being beaten by Bloodforge at 75 power and Transcendence at 97 power (fully stacked and at level 20 on a Hou-Yi). Both these items are more expensive, considerably so at 2850 and 2600 respectively.

When we look at what it provides defensively, the numbers are great again. While above 50 percent health, the 15 of each protections it provides are a nice little boost, but nothing special. However, the 50 protections it provides while under 50 percent health is very noticeable. For comparison, a Spirit Robe only provides 40 and you would need five stacks on a Hide of the Urchin to get the same amount of protections. While I am not arguing that this makes you as survivable as a Spirit Robe due to the great passive it provides, it does show that Shifter’s does do the job rather well.

Practical Uses

Image courtesy of Smite Wiki

By amplifying the passive, the practicality of this item has gone through the roof. Who are most likely to build this item? Junglers, as we have seen in the SPL so far, this has become a staple third item for Junglers. Amplifying the passive is incredibly important, particularly for Junglers. This is the case because of how Junglers play the game. When you go in for the gank and blow your kit on whichever poor laner has attracted your ire, 70 power is incredible. However, counter-rotations are a thing you will encounter. You are also most likely an assassin, balancing that tight rope of having to be right on top of people while being squishy. So, this item allows you to gank powerfully, and then helps you get out, running away spamming the VEL’s.

An example of this is God’s like Thor. You dunk in right on everybody’s face, drop all your cooldowns with the 70 power bonus then as you get focused the 50 protections really help you either finish of a target with a few AA’s and gives you enough time to get your hammer off cooldown for the escape. Another example would be Camazotz, who is seeing a massive rise in popularity. As like Thor you have to be right in the thick of things and unless you are using your ult for escape, which is not ideal you do not have a huge amount of escape. The early protections of Shifter’s when combined with his natural sustain do give you the survivabilty required to get out after your picks. It also allows you to get the picks as your damage has not been hampered like it would normally from building early protections.

Image courtesy of Smite Wiki

This is not just a Jungler’s item, ADC’s and Solo’s are building it too. Most notably ADC’s, and the question is why wouldn’t they? Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar on the first day of the Summer Split showed us the Shifter’s on a Hou-Yi, and others have followed suit. It is a great power base and a much quicker power spike than the Transcendence, being cheaper and not requiring stacks. Being an ADC is like having a target on your back all the time. You spend most of the laning phase in the longest lane, often by yourself. You are also incredibly squishy, with normally one movement ability being the sum total of your survivability. The late game damage you provide also incentivises people to be gunning for your life. Be it to stop you getting to that late game, or the inability to let you free cast once it has become the late game. So, as a hunter, finally being able to build defense without sacrificing power is a dream come true.

For Solo laners, it has not been quite as prevalent as the other two primarily physical roles. However, as Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov showed in game 2 against Rival, it is a great way to capitalise on a lead. He got ahead on Sun Wukong and went into a third item Shifter’s. This made the already higher level Sun Wukong really start to swing. This showed in the amount of early kills he was getting. Let’s not forget the great synergy this item has with the Sun Wukong passive.

Another big problem Shifter’s Shield has always had is that it does not give you any pen. However, nowadays Physical pen is so much easier to build than it ever has been. From the Jungler’s viewpoint, lots of builds currently have three of the four maces being built. The Crusher, which is the one mace not being built regularly, is not an awful item either. It also bridges me to the next major role using Shifter’s, ADC’s. With Ichvial, Fatalis and Executioner being so prevalent in hunter builds as well as full access to the mace tree, they are not short of pen either. Also, the Shifter’s is mainly being built by ADC’s in the place of what would be a Transcendence. So they haven’t actually lost any pen in the build, just gained a shed-load of on demand protections.

Overall, this Item is probably a bit too strong at the moment. Also Hi-Rez has made a point of trying to create build diversity and avoid cookie cutter builds. Something Shifter’s in its current form is not doing, everyone’s buying it. It pains me to say this as someone who spends most of his time in the Jungle or in ADC, but it does need a nerf. However, I love how the item works and think it should remain in the meta. It would be a mistake to relegate it to the state of uselessness it has spent most of its life being. I think the easiest way to do this would be a slight price increase and see how that works. However, that may be enough just considering how much this item gives you.

Top Image Courtesy of Smite Wiki

 

CLG’s 2016 spring of dreams: The sports anime team of the LCS Part 2

Welcome to Part two of our CLG’s 2016 spring of dreams: The sports anime team of the LCS. For the first part looking at the build up and protagonists of our CLG story, check out my article here.

 

The Split

Not many fans of CLG were expecting much from the Spring Split. Eyes were glued to how the new rookies would integrate into the squad, whether the veterans could teach the new kids how to play the Rift in the LCS, and truthfully if they’d manage to scrap their way into Playoffs. First was the surprise win over long time rival and new home of star ADC Doublelift, TSM. Then, the honor of being the only team in the Spring Split to actually take a win off of the (almost) undefeated Immortals squad (with a cheeky baron steal into Darshan backdoor win). CLG surprised everyone with a 13-5 split, narrowly passing Cloud 9 in Week 9 with Team Liquid being… Team Liquid… and securing fourth place.

Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

It was the split that even the most faithful were cautious in hoping for. The team meshed together as a unit, and countless interviews with CLG players highlighted this. The story line was never about one star player winning games. Rather, it revolved around which player would the team elect to carry them this game. We saw stellar performances obviously from the likely culprits: Darshan with the split pushes that the other team could not answer, Xmithie with the Smite wars and overall map control, and Aphromoo leading his lane to dominance.

But it wasn’t just the vets. Viewers caught glimpses of greatness with Huhi, as he broke out the Aurelion Sol to great effect, still drawing bans against that pocket pick. And Stixxay came up huge when the team needed him most. His triple kill in the final fight between the long time rivals took the Finals for CLG and sent them to MSI. In many fans’ minds, it was clear that the CLG management knew what they were doing, maybe even better than they thought.

But back to the story lines. What a roller coaster of a split. While some looked to CLG’s playoff as a result of other teams failing expectations, that shouldn’t detract from the accomplishment at hand. They didn’t take it because Huhi or Stixxay were amazing diamonds in the rough. It wasn’t the steadfast veterans, the grizzled familiar faces after the roster shuffle, that carried the CLG banner to victory. No. It was the team. They came together, they held each other up, and most importantly, they never stopped believing in each other. The rag band team of veterans and rookies took the split, and ultimately the finals, to propel them further than even they had hoped for: representing their region at the second most important Riot tournament besides Worlds.

Sweet, sweet victory. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

From “Unlikely” to “Runner-ups”

The now (in)famous power rankings going into MSI 2016 didn’t have CLG doing much. At their brightest, CLG were a dark horse roster, one that could make some upsets and maybe see themselves get into Playoffs. But they weren’t expected to do much. If they showed up, it would be mildly surprising. If they flopped, it also wouldn’t be too shocking a revelation. They weren’t the dominant (domestically) G2, the juggernaut SKT T1, or the stacked Royal Never Give Up. Heck, they weren’t even as hyped as the LMS’ representatives Flash Wolves. The Flash Wolves didn’t mince words with their expectations of CLG, with SwordArt’s comment towards them simply being, “We don’t actually have any preparation. Because CLG is the worst team besides IWC teams.” Ohh the irony.

Worse than an International Wildcard Team you say? Well that’s awkward for you. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

In true CLG fashion, they did the exact opposite of what the pundits and critiques expected them to do: they thrived. I’m not one for taking phrases from others, but man did ESPN writer Tyler Erzberger put it perfectly for CLG’s mantra, “Respect all, fear none.” This was a roster that didn’t claim to not prepare for an opponent they felt was weaker, because they knew they had to do that to every opponent they would meet. Their record tells the story of group stage well. They had a 2-0 record against Flash Wolves and G2, and a 1-1 record against SKT, RNG, and BAU Supermassive (I mean, it is CLG, Wildcards are pretty much confirmed their kryptonite…).

Of course, in a perfect kind of story line, the team that looked down on CLG were the ones facing them in the Semis. The Wolves had to look across the Rift at the team they felt was as strong as an IWC team. Still, even with their group stage performances, many were timid to cast their vote in favor of CLG. Sure, they had bested the Flash Wolves, but that didn’t paint them as clear favorites going into their confrontation. Keen observers would’ve had the two as neck and neck, equal parties, and that the battle would most likely be a back and forth series.

It was, in a lot of ways, a clash of styles, and a clash of ways to play League of Legends. Flash Wolves brought strong talent and mechanics in their games. Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan in particular found many advantages in his laning phases that put the Wolves ahead. Of course, CLG, on the other side of the spectrum, trusted in each other, in their own style: teamwork and macro plays. CLG played the maps out like an ebb and flow of a tide, and ultimately came out on top of the Wolves in a 3-1 series. The under-looked team, practically spit upon by SwordArt’s comments, came out convincingly on top to move onto the Finals of MSI, the first time any North American squad had done so at a Riot International tournament.

To Face a God

It was only a befitting ending. Sports animes aren’t Mary Sues. It’s about learning, about hardships and about trying to take those lessons and bringing them into the next competition. So when CLG lost 3-0 to SKT, not many were surprised. It’s the narrative any time a team faces SKT, whether it’s in region rivals like KT Rolster or pre-exodus Rox Tigers, or the latest crop of non-Korean teams hoping to make a dent in the armor that is SKT’s record internationally.

Heads held high to face the gods. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

It was a bit of a miracle run overall, and while they did lose it all in the end, CLG weren’t completely outmatched. Like any good team, they had their shining moments against SKT. In the first game, far behind SKT and ultimately completely outplayed for the first half of the game, CLG almost made the comeback against the Gods. Through smart play and a cheeky hide-and-then-five-man-dive-poor-Faker-and-Wolf, they almost mounted a convincing lead, but ultimately lost to the superior skill and experience of SKT.

On the back of a strong comeback that ultimately fell short, CLG started game two strong, with a 3K gold lead on the Korean giants at the 14 minute mark. The rest of the game was a back and forth, punch for punch game where both teams matched each others plays, with the game being swung in SKT’s favour during a decisive team fight victory. For all the hype and near moments of excellence, CLG eventually dropped the game, unable to withstand the onslaught.

Game three was probably the finale of the series everyone expected, but no NA fan hoped for. It was a lashing, as SKT showed masterfully how to rotate the map and pick off CLG members who seemed completely caught off guard. Outside of a prolonged fight that showcased a lot of CLG’s strength at the 32 minute mark, it was hard to say they stood much of a chance. Ultimately the bloodiest game of the set, and really the most one sided, SKT walked away heads held high, sitting on top of the world of League of Legends.

Murica. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

CLG, on the other hand, walked away beaten but not broken. They still stood toe to toe against the team favored to take it all, the team who ultimately would take Worlds again, and then would end up taking MSI again too. It’s hard to imagine a world where the rag tag team, compiled of a couple of rookies, would be able to take down that dynastic of a team.

But it’s not the victory that makes the story line. It’s the sheer run of it all, a team from NA, going up against multiple opponents who not only were touted to outclass them as a team, but were supposed to outclass even their region. It was the first time an NA team made it into the finals of a Riot international tournament. What an amazing run from a team whose only talent was in working together, in picking up where their teammates faltered.

It wasn’t big roster moves and long time rivals TSM. It wasn’t storied Cloud 9, the wunderkids of the NA LCS, with their opening split of dominance in their minds. No, it was the roster that had every single NA LCS fan, even the most faithful of CLG fans, scratching their heads at the off season. They took it to the finals of MSI and brought recognition back to their region. While the ‘best’ story line is highly subjective and up for debate, the Spring Time of Dreams CLG are at least in the top five for League of Legends esports. And it’d be a damn good sports anime plot line too.

 

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Are Six Man Rosters Ideal for Professional LoL?

Six man rosters have slowly been rising in popularity among professional League of Legends teams in recent years. Long time pros of the scene have expressed concerns of burn out, and having a viable sub for the team is slowly becoming more enticing for teams. One of the most successful teams in the world, SK Telecom T1, have used this strategy in utilizing different strengths of certain players. There are definitely some strengths in having an extra player to split scrims with and bounce ideas off of. There can also be flaws in splitting scrim time as well.

With ADC, Jason “Wildturtle” Tran, heading to Flyquest, TSM is still looking to field a six man roster for the summer. Fans are a bit confused as TSM has one of the best ADCs in the World in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.

Player burn out

Photo by: Riot Games

It’s no doubt that player burn out is a concern for some of the long time veterans of the scene. TSM’s Doublelift took the Spring Split off to take a rest from the fatigue that sets in from being a pro player. Practicing 12+ hours a day, plus the stress of competing at a high level can be a grueling process for some players.

Pro players have begun to develop wrist injuries to the point of playing more than a few hours a day can be painful. Having someone there to split practice time with could be beneficial for both parties in preserving the longevity of one’s career.

Different Playstyles

Another perk of having an extra roster member is the ability to show off different play styles. Most notably, Cloud 9 did this last split with top laners Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Jeon “Ray” Ji-won. Impact was known more for his stellar tank play, while Ray handled playing the split push/carry top laners. Ray described it as a “sword and shield” relationship among the two. Cloud 9 hopes that Ray will be able to learn more from Impact and develop into his replacement one day. This also gives the players a chance to bounce ideas off one another. Having another person who masters the same role as you gives way to more ideas for improvement and discussions.

SK Telecom T1 also did this quite well back in Season 5 when they’d go on to take their second World championship. They utilized two mid laners in Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon. Easyhoon became famous for his Azir play, while Faker dominated on Ryze. SKT continues to use multiple players at different positions among the roster. They’ve been one of the most successful teams in utilizing subs.

Is splitting scrim time bad?

Photo by: Riot Games

It raises the question if splitting scrim time is bad for players. On one end, the team has to adjust to a different player for half the scrims. Some say Impact fell off a bit last season from his phenomenal playoff and Worlds performance of last summer. This could be a result of him needing to split scrim time with Ray and not getting the necessary amount of practice needed to play at that high level we’re used to seeing. Less practice means your competitor could be getting double the practice than the person they’re facing.

EU has yet to really look into fielding a six man roster. In NA it’s slowly becoming an upward trend for teams with star veterans of the pro scene. LCK has begun to utilize it more as well after seeing how much success SKT has had with it. Developing young players under star veterans gives them a chance to reach their ceiling much quicker than if they were thrown into pro play right away. This may explain why LCK is known for developing the best players into League of Legend stars.

Six man rosters are slowly becoming the norm for professional League of Legends. This could slowly develop into ten man rosters so that each position has a sort of “position coach” to bounce ideas off of and learn from. It will be interesting to see if teams begin to follow this upward trend.

Cover Photo by Riot Games

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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

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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OpTic Gaming, Splyce remain undefeated in first week of HCS Pro League

The HCS Pro League kicked off the Summer Season this week. The Summer league hosts eight weekly matchups between the top eight professional Halo teams. Week one featured several highly-anticipated matches, and yielded some surprising results. Only two teams remain undefeated after the first week: OpTic Gaming, and Splyce. This article will examine both teams’ matchups, and discuss some of the more unexpected results.

 

OpTic Bounces Back

Following a second place finish at HCS Daytona, OpTic seems to have regained some of the momentum that was lost at the event. OpTic finished the week 2-0, claiming victories over both Ronin Esports and Team EnVyUs.

OG bounced back after their loss at HCS Daytona. Image by Astro Gaming.

The first victory came as the headlining match of day one, against Carlos “Cratos” Ayala and the rest of Ronin Esports. OpTic started the series strong, taking a convincing game one on Plaza Strongholds 100-32. The two teams next battled on Eden Slayer, where OpTic prevailed yet again, by a score of 50-41. With their backs against the wall, Ronin attempted to hold off the Green Wall in Truth CTF, but couldn’t bring more than one flag back to their base. Despite holding OpTic to dual flag captures, Ronin were defeated 2-1, as OpTic completed the sweep.

The second match for OpTic pitted them against the HCS Atlanta Champions, Team EnVyUs. OpTic, seeking redemption for their performance at the event, started the series off poorly. The Green Wall fell into a two-game deficit after losses on Truth CTF and Plaza slayer. Facing a sweep, OpTic regained composure, and roared back with victories on Eden Strongholds and Fathom CTF. In game five Coliseum Slayer, OpTic’s momentum proved too strong for EnVy, as TJ “Lethul” Campbell and crew cruised to a dominant 50-38 victory. The reverse-sweep sends a clear message to OpTic doubters, and serves as a testament to the team’s resilience.

 

Splyce Proves They’re Here to Stay

After winning the Daytona Placement Cup, and a surprising top four finish at HCS Daytona, many began to wonder if Splyce would slow down as the Summer Season progressed. If the first week of the Pro League is any indication for the future, Splyce will be a force to be reckoned with. The young team, helmed by Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, finished the first week of Pro League at an impressive 2-0.

The first matchup placed Splyce up against a retooled Evil Geniuses roster. Following the retirement of Brett “Naded” Leonard, the community wondered how the team would stack up in the Pro League. The back and forth series began in Evil Geniuses’ favor, after a jarring win on Plaza Strongholds. Splyce bounced back with two wins, which included an incredibly dominant 50-18 victory on Eden Slayer.

Splyce looked dominant in Week 1 of the Pro League. Image by Halo eSportswikis

Evil Geniuses responded with a commanding win of their own, taking Rig Strongholds 100-22, and tying the series at two games apiece. Both teams battled their hearts out in game 5 Coliseum Slayer, but Splyce emerged victorious, as EG seemed to run out of steam.

The second matchup, much like OpTic, granted Splyce a chance at redemption against Team Liquid. Splyce were defeated in a seven-game series by Liquid in the Losers Bracket Semifinals at HCS Atlanta.

The matchup did not go the distance, however, as Splyce convincingly swept Liquid in their first meeting of the Summer League. The victory paints a new picture of Splyce as a possible top three contender, as they made short work of the usually-consistent Team Liquid roster.

 

Conclusion

With the first week of the Summer Pro League reaching its conclusion, several revelations can be made from the results. First, OpTic Gaming has the ability to shrug off a loss, and bounce back with force. Second, Splyce is only getting better with time. The acquisition of rising star Jonathan “Renegade” Willette will likely continue to benefit them, as they develop into a deadlier team over the course of the season.

Two teams surprisingly under-performed in the Pro League this week: Luminosity Gaming, and Str8 Rippin. Luminosity experienced two blowout losses at the hands of EnVyUs and Evil Geniuses, while Str8 lost a close series to Ronin Esports, and were edged out by Team Liquid. Both teams will need to come out swinging next week if they want to salvage their Pro League record, and avoid the risk of falling into an even deeper hole.

Are you surprised by the Week One Pro League results? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image by ESL 

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Australian Regionals finally announced: What this means for their representation at Worlds

Despite being a host nation for one of the season’s International Championships, Australia has zero Regional Championships this season. At least, this was the case until May 26th, nearly a month before the pre-Worlds stage of the season comes to a close, where two regionals seemingly appeared overnight on the official Pokemon.com event locator.

A Little Late

No kidding. After an entire season of no major events since the Melbourne International Championships, Australia finally has Regional Championships on its schedule. Suffering a large downgrade from seven regionals last season, many were confused as to why there were no regionals announced for a country that was to host one of the biggest events of the season. Finally an announcement comes in May for two regionals happening two weeks apart from each other in June. These two regionals could be “make or break” tournaments for most Australian players, as their Championship totals are not as high as other major regions.

Let’s Talk Championship Points

These are the current Championship Point standings for the Oceania region, where 250 points (formally 350) are required to qualify for the World Championships. Much like Europe, Australia received a 100 point deduction to their CP bar for qualification due to the low amount of potential qualifiers from these regions. According to these current standings, four players (plus Zoe Lou the Melbourne IC champion who is not listed for some reason) have qualified from Australia. Beyond the top 15, there are seven other Australian players who exceed 200 CP.

With only two regionals, a few premier challenges and the current May International Challenge happening this weekend, the remaining CP required for these players could be quite tricky to obtain.

What This Means For Players Still Looking to Qualify

Here is the CP payout structure for 2017 Regional Championships. Considering the fact that it is late into the season and Australia not having the largest competitive scene, the kicker here becomes very important. Some North American and European Regionals have struggled to make the 128 player mark, which makes CP possible for the top 32. If one or both of these Australian regionals don’t break 128 players, a top 16 or better placing becomes the only way for players around the 200 CP mark to qualify if they’re are only able to attend one of these events.

Timing is also a concern for some players. Since these regionals are so close together time-wise (June 10th/June 24th) this could mean only one of these events is possible for some players who have monetary or schedule conflicts. With such a high placing being necessary for some Australian players to qualify, the one event some may decide to attend could be a make or break tournament.

Underrepresented in Anaheim?

While the announcement of regionals for Australia will ensure more invites for the region, this is still quite a step back from the plethora of events from last season. With an invite structure like 2017’s, having a good amount of tournaments for a region is essential for reasonably distributing invites.

Australia had a total of 31 masters qualify for the 2016 World Championships, and we’re likely to see more than half of that amount reduced for 2017. Granted, 2016’s CP requirement was much lower, but Australia has shown to be a fairly formidable region with two players in the Top Cut in two of the last three World Championships.

The 2017 season has been for the most part a flop on the end of TPCi in terms of tournament organization and communication with their player base, and Australia’s situation is no different. I hope that these upcoming regionals in Sydney and Perth will secure invites for more Australian players and that TPCi learns from their mistakes this season with Australia being one of the examples to look back on.

Thanks for reading!


Images courtesy of Pokemon.com

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