Giants are currently tied for second in the 2018 EU LCS

Giants Gaming: EU LCS contenders or pretenders?

Going into week five of the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split, Giants Gaming sits tied for second place. Their 5-3 record puts them level with G2 and Fnatic, and above other perennial favorites, such as Misfits and H2K. Fans of the Spanish esports organization may be getting their hopes up for finally having Giants towards the top, but this hope may be misguided.

Giants Gaming has rarely found itself in this position in the past. Despite originally qualifying for the EU LCS five years ago, Giants has only qualified for LCS playoffs twice. The organization has been sent to the Promotion Tournament five times, and relegated out of the LCS twice. Anyone who follows Giants most likely subconsciously considers them a bottom-tier team. An overview of organization’s LCS history easily contextualizes this view.

From Spain to the Main Stage

Giants Gaming entered the EU LCS in 2013

Babeta, Exterminare, Morden, Samux and Motroco

In 2012, Giants Gaming created their first League of Legends team. The roster, consisting of Babeta, Exterminare, Morden, Samux, and Motroco, competed in Dreamhack Valencia and ESL’s Go4LoL. Motroco left in October, but was replaced by JimBownz, who competed with the team at The Siege. Giants finished top four at each event, and went on to Dreamhack Winter, but finished 0-3 in their group.

Due to their relative success, Riot Games invited Giants Gaming to compete for a slot in the premier season of EU LCS in 2013. Along with Fnatic, Copenhagen Wolves, Against All Authority, and Dragonborns, Giants finished in the top five. They instantly qualified for the LCS, making the organization one of the first teams to ever participate in the European league.

Once there, Giants’ momentum subsided. The Spaniards took their first week 1-1 to start in fourth place. They continued to have losing streaks over the 10-week split, finishing seventh place with eight wins and 20 losses. Giants was forced into the first ever Summer Promotion Tournament to defend its place in the league.

The First Worst Loss

Alternate Attax relegated Giants Gaming from the EU LCS in 2013

Kerp, Araneae, ForellenLord, Creaton and Jree

The format of the Promotion Tournament was different in 2013. Teams from three different qualifier tournaments faced off against the bottom four LCS teams in one best-of-five, with the winner earning the LCS slot. Giants Gaming was set to battle Alternate Attax, a German esports organization made up of Kerp, Araneae, ForellenLord, Creaton, and Jree. By winning 3-2, Attax relegated Giants from the EU LCS for the first time.

The Challenger Series had not been developed yet, which meant Giants Gaming was back in the amateur scene. They entered Gfinity London, finishing third-fourth behind Copenhagen Wolves and Eternity Gaming. Gfinity London was the only contest in which they competed for the rest of the year.

Getting Back on the Horse

Throughout 2014, Giants Gaming continued to prove that it was worthy of competition. By April the organization put together an all-new roster, consisting of Reven, Naruterador, Pepiinero, Zigurath and Dave. These five competed in Gamegune in Spain, taking home fourth place.

Giants must not have been happy with that performance, because three months later they brought on Werlyb, Fr3deric, Adryh and Rydle. This was Giants’ second roster overhaul of 2014. This definitely worked out, as they rounded out the

Giants Gaming played in the amateur scene during 2014

Paris Games Week 2014

amateur scene with two gold medals. At Paris Games Week, they took down seven teams including Gamers2, a team Giants lost to at Gamegune. They also won the Liga de Videojuegos Professional, the Spanish regional league.

By becoming so competitive, Giants Gaming was able to move up the European solo queue ranked ladder. And since they were in the top five at the end of 2014, Riot Games once more invited Giants to fight to earn their spot in the EU LCS. They introduced an expansion tournament, which included competitors from the Promotion Tournament, the Challenger Series, and the five-versus-five ranked ladder. Through two stages of gameplay, Giants Gaming took down Reason Gaming to qualify for the 2015 Spring Split with H2K.

Deja Vu

In similar fashion to their first LCS split, Giants Gaming started 2015 with a bang. Pepii and crew had a 2-0 week one, placing them at the top of the standings. H2K and Unicorns of Love took Giants down a peg in week two, dropping the team to fourth. Another 0-2 in week three put Giants into a free fall, slipping down to seventh. Fast forward seven more weeks, and Giants Gaming finished the split with a 5-13 record, tying MeetYourMakers for last place. Luckily, Adryh’s late-game Sivir pick was able to come online and win Giants the game, saving them from auto-relegation.

Another Spring Split and Giants faced another Promotion Tournament. Coincidentally, they met Reason Gaming in a best-of-five to defend their slot. Just as they had in the expansion tournament, Giants took down Reason 3-1 and reclaimed their LCS spot. This qualification marked three times in three years.

A Glimmer of Hope

G0DFRED joined Giants Gaming in 2015

G0DFRED joined Giants Gaming in 2015

Leading into Summer Split marked the first off-season where Giants’ roster remained mostly intact. G0DFRED joined as a rookie support, but everyone else stayed. Together they were able to get through the regular season 8-10, tied for fifth. ROCCAT won the tie-breaker, but Giants still made it into playoffs for the first time since its inception.

H2K skunked Giants in the quarterfinals of the Summer Playoffs. They took the series 3-0, and the longest game was 30:19. Giants garnered enough Championship Points to qualify into the Regional World Qualifiers. ROCCAT shut them down 3-0 in the first round, as well. Nonetheless, Giants had a somewhat successful first split back. They avoided the Promotion Tournament and made it into their first playoffs ever. They even had a slim chance to go to Worlds. It seemed like a great place to start Giants’ new time in the LCS.

Another Spring, Another Let-down

Spring Split 2016 rolled around, and Giants Gaming looked a little bit different. Werlyb and Fr3deric changed teams, and Giants brought in Atom and K0u as replacements. After starting the season 0-4, K0u was benched in favor of BetongJocke, H2K’s substitute jungler. They followed up with another 0-4 streak for weeks three and four, before finally getting their first win in week five versus ROCCAT.

Giants floundered their way through the rest of the split. Smittyj, Wisdom and S0NSTAR moved onto the starting roster in week eight, and Hustlin came on in week nine. Despite all of these changes, Giants finished the 2016 Spring Split in dead last with a 3-15 record. They had to enter their third Promotion Tournament.

As fate would have it, Giants had to face two Challenger teams with former roster members: K0u on Copenhagen Wolves and Werlyb on Huma. After a 3-2 and a 3-1, Giants Gaming re-qualified for the EU LCS. This was their fourth time re-entering.

Giants’ Best Split to Date

Giants Gaming in the 2016 EU LCS

Before coming back into the LCS for Summer Split, Giants took a long look in the mirror. The final member of the original cast, Pepii, left, and NighT, a Korean player from Ever8 Winners, joined. They also brought on a rookie jungler, Maxlore, to replace Wisdom. Smittyj remained in the top lane, S0NSTAR and Hustlin composed the bottom lane.

Giants started the split 0-3, leading many to write them off yet again. But a couple of wins in weeks two and three kept them competitive. A 2-0 win over Fnatic in week five, and a 2-0 over H2K in week six elevated Giants to a new level. Through the 10 weeks, Giants compiled an 8-3-7 scoreline, placing them third overall.

For the first time in its history, Giants Gaming entered the Summer Playoffs quarterfinals as favorites. They also kept the same roster throughout the whole split, which was new for them. Unicorns of Love eliminated Giants from the playoffs by winning 3-1, putting Giants in a fifth-sixth finish for the season. Like the year before, they had enough Championship Points to try the Regional Qualifiers. However, they met Unicorns of Love, yet again, who took the 3-0 win to move on and knock Giants out.

Fool Me Twice, Fool Me Thrice, Fool Me Four Times

Flaxxish and Memento played for Giants Gaming last year

Flaxxish and Memento played for Giants Gaming last year

Despite their Summer Split success, Giants entered the 2017 Spring Split with three more new players. HeaQ and Flaxxish were rookies, while Maxlore traded to ROCCAT with Memento to Giants. NighT and Hustlin stayed as starters, and S0NSTAR moved to a coaching role.

Riot introduced the group system to the EU LCS in 2017, which turned out to be a death knell for Giants. They found themselves in Group A with G2, Misfits, Fnatic, and ROCCAT. Giants began with a pair of 2-1 losses to G2 and Misfits, then followed with a 2-1 win over ROCCAT. They would not get another series win until week seven versus Origen, heading into week eight 2-7, and finishing the regular season 2-11.

For the fourth time in four spring seasons, Giants faced relegation in the Summer Promotion tournament. Origen was the only team that split with a lower win rate, so Giants easily took that match-up 3-0. However, a hungry Fnatic Academy swept them back with a 3-0 of their own. And for the second time in history, Giants Gaming was knocked out of the EU LCS.

The Recent Past

Giants spent the 2017 Summer Season in the EU Challenger Series, playing against Origen, Schalke 04, Paris Saint-Germain, Red Bulls, and Wind and Rain. In the mid-season they decided to scrap their entire roster and rebuild. Jiizuke, Gilius, Minitroupax, Jactroll and Ruin joined the team with LCS ambitions.

Over five weeks, Giants won four of five games and lost once to Schalke. Their 4-0-1 record placed them first in the standings–Giants’ first first place since 2014. This new line-up looked poised to go into promotions, and they did. Giants took down WAR 3-0, which entered them into the 2018 Spring Promotion tournament with Schalke, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Mysterious Monkeys. By taking a 3-1 over NiP and a 3-2 over Schalke, Giants re-qualified into the LCS. The cycle of qualification-promotion-relegation came full circle for the second time.

In the Present

Giants Gaming is tied for second in the 2018 EU LCS

Giants Gaming is tied for second in the 2018 EU LCS

All of Giants’ members, except Ruin, moved to Team Vitality for the 2018 Spring Split. Giants brought on Djoko and Steeelback from Vitality, Betsy from ROCCAT, and Targamas, a rookie. Preseason predictions put Giants towards the bottom of the field, yet they currently find themselves tied for second. The first four weeks have been a success.

Right now there are analysts and audience members who may want to believe in Giants Gaming. They may think this is their year–that Giants can do better than ever before. But remember to keep this long history in mind. Giants have finished bottom seven every Spring Split in which they have ever competed. Two of those four splits resulted in relegation out of the LCS.

But twice they have come back and reclaimed their spot. Giants has successfully defended its spot two times, as well. This split could be the split to change minds. Giants will need to overcome its past shortcomings, and win the hearts of EU LCS fans by making it into playoffs and making a deep push in this split.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, GosuGamers, Leaguepedia, Millenium.org, WindandRain.org

Historical Data: Leaguepedia

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Josh Gordon fantasy

Is Josh Gordon worth starting in fantasy football Week 13?

The big news that has surfaced in the NFL is the return of star wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon, who hasn’t played since 2014, was one of the NFL’s best receivers and has all the talent that still makes him a threat in the league today. The question that fantasy owners have is whether or not Josh Gordon is worth starting in fantasy football Week 13.

The case for starting gordon

The Browns have been waiting for a star offensive weapon in their lineup to spark this team to contend for a win this year. The last time Gordon played a full season was in 2013 and had a great year. Four seasons ago, Gordon caught 87 balls for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. There is hope that he can replicate those statistics this year.

The Browns go up against a Chargers defense that has been great against the pass this year. They are ranked 12th in the NFL in terms of opposing fantasy points per game, averaging only 17.4 fantasy points to wide receivers they’ve gone up against.

Because Gordon’s first taste of gameplay comes against a defense as good as Los Angeles’, it causes some concern. However, the raw talent that he possesses and the ability to play with any quarterback gives fantasy owners a reason to rejoice.

Gordon put up great numbers in 2014 with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw. Those quarterbacks combined for a 7-9 record while throwing for less than 4,000 yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Now Gordon has the rookie DeShone Kizer throwing to him, who has looked good in some parts of the season, especially last week against Cincinnati. Kizer didn’t commit a turnover and threw for 268 yards and rushed for 39 more yards and a touchdown.

Kizer now gets his top target back and is going to look to continue this trend of playing well against the Chargers in Week 13. Gordon has also looked very sharp in practice, has stayed in shape over his time off, is expected to play a key role on Sunday and won’t have a reduced snap count.

The case against starting gordon

Now let’s not move too fast. Gordon hasn’t played a snap in the NFL since 2014. Three years without going up against an opponent at game speed. That is going to be very difficult to come back from in one game, especially going up against the Chargers’ secondary. Gordon still has the ability to play in the NFL and succeed, but this week will not be the amazing week that some people may be expecting.

Casey Hayward and the Chargers’ secondary will prepare to shut down Josh gordon in Week 13 as he is the Browns’ top playmaker on offense, even after sitting out the time he has. The Chargers’ secondary is coming off of a great week, holding the Dallas Cowboy receivers to only 115 yards on ten receptions. Now going up against a much worse offensive line, run game and quarterback, it seems this trend may continue.

The lack of gameplay is the most concerning thing about Gordon’s return. It is very rare for a player to come off of a long break and succeed immediately. Marshawn Lynch took only one year off and hasn’t looked nearly the same since he retired in 2016.

It will take time for Josh Gordon to reintroduce himself to the competition of elite cornerbacks and safeties. Keep Gordon out of your lineup in Week 13, but look to play him late in the season when the Browns face the Packers and Bears.

 

Featured image from AP Photo/David Richard

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Jim Harbaugh Removes Scholarship From 2013 Commit

Jim Harbaugh Removes Scholarship

(Photo Courtesy Fox Sports)

Jim Harbaugh has been making a splash in recruiting headlines lately. He’s had a sleepover with Penn State commit and number one kicker Quinn Nordin. He’s climbed a tree to fetch a football with David Long who’s a four-star cornerback from Los Angeles, California. Today, he sat in class with two targets at their high school in Concord, California.

And now, he’s pulled a scholarship offer from Erik Swenson, who has been committed to Michigan since 2013.

Harbaugh had been giving himself, and his school, a questionable image for the past week or so with his actions. Now, he’s put his school in an awful position.

With the first report that Harbaugh was trying his best to land a visit with Nordin, college football analysts began pondering how odd Jim Harbaugh really was. Not only were Harbaugh’s tactics borderline stalker, he was also targeting a kicker who committed to Penn State in July of last year.

Harbaugh said he would visit Nordin right when the recruiting dead period ended- literally. He told the kicker he’d visit Nordin at 12:01 A.M. on January 14. Furthermore, Harbaugh planned to watch a movie with Nordin, stay the night, and attend class with him the next day.

Sleepovers are cool for kids these days, and Coach Harbaugh is doing his best to make it cool for adults too.

Nordin said he was “in tears laughing” after Harbaugh told him his plans.

Harbaugh is going to extreme measures to land this recruit, but let’s remember one thing.

He’s a kicker.

Nordin won’t change games, he won’t sell jerseys. He might be able to win a game or two in his entire career at Michigan.

Harbaugh’s somewhat creepy actions are supposed to show how much he values his targets.

Maybe those who aren’t getting attention should be worried.

Erik Swenson committed to Michigan in November of 2013. Today, Jim Harbaugh revoked his scholarship, two weeks away from National Signing Day.

Jim Harbaugh Removes Scholarship

Swenson’s smile was as bright as he though his future was at Michigan during an unofficial visit, Courtesy 247sports.com

 

Now, I understand that Brady Hoke originally picked him out and recruited him. But why take his scholarship away with just fourteen days to choose his college?

I really doubt that Swenson did something in recent days to warrant his removal of his free ride. If Harbaugh didn’t want him, he should have let Swenson know much sooner.

And that’s just the thing. Harbaugh never talked to Swenson about him losing his scholarship.

Here’s a tweet detailing what went on prior to today’s event. The tweet was sent out by Bobby Kunz‏ (@UofMDieHards).

“I talked to Erik Swenson today about his scholarship being waived by Harbaugh recently. Take it as you see fit.”

Jim Harbaugh Removes ScholarshipJim Harbaugh Removes Scholarship

Harbaugh gave no warning to the four-star recruit, which is just unprofessional and cruel. His actions give his name and university a bad rep. It’s just too bad it happened to a recruit who fell in love with Michigan in 2013.

Crystal ball predictions now peg Northwestern as the leader to gain Swenson in their 2016 class.