Reignover joined CLG for 2018

Reignover’s journey from 2015 Worlds to the bottom of the NA LCS

When Fnatic announced Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin as their starting jungler for the 2015 Spring Split, the LCS community aired its skepticism and criticism:

“Korean imports again. Can only end well. -_-”

“haha, reignover really?”

“This roster is pretty underwhelming, considering the talent that was available…FNC looking like a bottom-half team atm.”

Several online news outlets voiced similar sentiments:

“While that should have been significant incentive for Fnatic to pull together the best talent they can, the results are somewhat mystifying. To wit: While picking up premier new midlane talent in Febiven is an undeniably good choice, every other decision on the roster seems questionable.”

Reignover joined Fnatic in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

“Their Worlds placings; their endless top placings in LCS splits; the players who won those games and splits were no more. What was Fnatic’s response? They imported a Samsung Galaxy sub and his duo-que buddy, an ADC from the challenger scene, and the star mid-laner of H2K; Huni and Reignover, Steelback, and Febiven. A lot of people thought of these acquisitions as sub-optimal and disappointing.”

“It’d be a tough season, fans began to reason, but Fnatic had a tremendous eye for talent and would surely find the best possible players to replace their former stars. This general assumption resulted in a great and terrible gnashing of teeth when Fnatic’s signings to complete their new roster for Season 5 included two Korean players—Kim ‘ReignOver’ Yeu-jin, formerly of Incredible Miracle, and Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon, a complete newcomer to competitive League of Legends.”

At the time, importing players from other regions was still uncommon in Europe, and Huni and Reignover were relatively unknown quantities in Korea. It was understandable that audiences would question Fnatic’s pick-ups, following the departure of several star players. Little did they know, these two players would be pivotal to Fnatic’s deep run at the World Championship that year.

Reignover’s Beginning: Spring and Summer Titles

Reignover had a spectacular year with Fnatic in 2015. Huni and he had instant synergy as a top-jungle duo, which allowed them to finish the spring regular season in second place with a 13-5 record. Reignover even earned weekly MVP of the EU LCS in week two for his Rengar and Olaf play.

Reignover and Fnatic won Spring and Summer Split 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic went on to win a heated playoff bracket that spring. They beat H2K in the semifinals 3-2, despite losing two early games using a double-smite, Lee Sin top composition. With Unicorns of Love upsetting SK Gaming, Fnatic came into the finals as favorites. The series saw several different champions played, but Fnatic was able to pull out another 3-2 to take the Spring Split title. Reignover won MVP of the finals, Huni won the Outstanding Rookie award, and every Fnatic member represented the EU LCS first team All-Pro.

After bringing Europe home a fourth place finish at the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational (and taking SKT to fives games in the semifinals), Fnatic returned to the Summer Split with one new member–Rekkles. He turned out to be the key that unlocked Fnatic’s full potential. This roster finished the regular season undefeated, 18-0, solidifying Huni, Reignover, and the rest as some of the best Europe had ever seen. Reignover’s efficient jungle pathing with mostly Rek’Sai and Gragas provided Huni and Febiven with the upper hand in most match-ups.

The entire Fnatic line-up won first-team All-Pro honors again, and the summer playoffs went mostly as expected. Fnatic took down Unicorns of Love 3-0 in the semifinals. They met a formidable Origen squad in the finals, which went to five games. This match-up represented the narrative culmination of “old Fnatic” versus “new Fnatic”, with xPeke and Soaz facing off against Rekkles and Yellowstar. Huni and Reignover played large parts in allowing Fnatic to win the series 3-2, reinforcing the organization’s off-season roster decisions, and sending them to Worlds as Europe’s top seed.

Reignover’s Peak: Top Four at Worlds

Heading into the 2015 World Championship, western media outlets put Fnatic and Reignover under the microscope with statements like “To make it through their Group and beyond, Reignover needs to be successful in his ganks, specifically top side, to put Huni ahead,” “Reignover relies on high gold values to be effective in team fights, as he likes to play high damage picks like Elise, but with other high gold jungle monsters in this group, that’s less of an easy advantage,” “It’s easy to tag ReignOver as the weakest player on Fnatic based on his performances during the latter stages of the EU LCS,” and “Many have looked at Reignover’s champion pool as a target for Fnatic.”

Reignover and Fnatic went to Worlds in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Invictus Gaming, Cloud9 and AHQ Esports Club joined Fnatic in Group B, pitting Reignover against Mountain, Hai and KaKAO. In the round robin, Fnatic lost to AHQ and Cloud9 once each, then won their other four games. The 4-2 record put Fnatic at the top of their group, pushing them into the bracket stage.

For quarterfinals, Fnatic faced EDward Gaming. The Chinese organization finished first in the LPL regular season that summer, but flopped in the playoffs to finally place fourth. They won the Regional Qualifiers, which allowed EDG to qualify into Worlds. During the group stage, EDG lost both games to SKT, but went 2-0 against H2K and Bangkok Titans. Clearlove was a primary factor in EDG’s success, which meant all eyes would be on Reignover.

Clearlove and Reignover went back and forth with Rek’Sai and Gragas picks, but Reignover proved to be the better jungle on the day. He finished with more gold and assists in every game of Fnatic’s 3-0 victory. The series win qualified Fnatic for the World semifinals, an achievement no western team had reached since season three (which was also Fnatic).

Unfortunately, KOO Tigers, a top Korean team, crushed Fnatic 3-0. They joined their European rivals, Origen, finishing third-fourth in the tournament. These placements reinstated the EU LCS as a top region behind the LCK, and Fnatic as an international threat.

Reignover’s Move: Immortals’ Domestic Dominance

Reignover and Huni joined Immortals in 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Reignover’s off-season, following such an impressive year with Fnatic, brought opportunities unlike any other. Eventually, Immortals announced their entrance into the NA LCS, and their successful signing of Fnatic’s top-jungle duo–Huni and Reignover. The two were such a hit together that they became a package deal.

Expectations for Immortals’ top-side was through the roof. “Immortals will be relying on the touted top-jungle synergy of former Fnatic duo of breakout rookie top laner Heo ‘Huni’ Seunghoon and junger Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeujin to take them to the top of the standings,” “[Immortals’] starting five is headlined by Fnatic’s South Korean duo from last year, the explosive Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon in the top lane and his partner Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin at the jungler position,” and “Yes, it was a fantastic move, especially if the Koreans can bring along some of Fnatic’s winning culture and approach, but Immortals really scored points for how they built their team around Huni and Reignover,” were all remarks by the media. It was clear that Reignover and Huni had risen from Korean nobodies to titans in the span of a year.

Spring Split proved these presuppositions to be warranted. Immortals tore through North America’s teams to finish with a 17-1 record, only dropping one series to Counter Logic Gaming in week seven. CLG was the next closest contender, with a 13-5 record, four wins behind. Huni and Reignover won first team All-Pro honors for the third split in a row, and Reignover was deemed North America’s MVP.

However, TSM was able to find Immortals’ achilles heel and vanquish them in the playoffs. Some questionable top lane picks for Huni, and lackluster decision-making from Immortals, resulted in an 0-3 loss, which they took out on Team Liquid for third place. This moment marked the first major domestic shutdown of Reignover and Huni since their start as professional players. 

Reignover and Immortals barely missed playoffs in Spring and Summer Split 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The Immortals roster stayed together for Summer Split, which left many wondering if they could repeat their dominating spring performance. TSM proved to be the only contender, finishing the split with a 4-1 game record against Immortals, and the only team above them in the standings. Immortals 16-2 regular season record was still impressive, but not nearly as dominant as their prior first place finish. Reignover was the only Immortals member to be first team All-Pro, with TSM taking the other spots.

Playoffs seemed all but certain to end with TSM facing Immortals in the finals, but history decided to repeat itself. Immortals faced Cloud9 in the semifinals, and fell 3-2. For the second time in two splits, Immortals missed the NA LCS finals, due to uncharacteristic play in the semifinals. And again, they won the third place match. They took down CLG 3-2, which provided enough championship points for Immortals to get a direct seed to the regional finals for a spot at Worlds. Everyone’s anxieties came true, as Cloud9 defeated Immortals again, this time 3-1. All three losses were fairly one-sided, with most of Immortals’ players suffering negative KDAs and significant gold deficits.

It is hard to believe how disappointed each of Immortals’ members were once they realized they would not make it to the 2016 World Championship. Huni, Reignover and Pobelter had all competed in 2015, and regular-season-Immortals felt like they were set to go. This probably felt like a low point for Reignover, coming off of two years of solid performance. Playing with Immortals in North America had to feel like playing with Fnatic in Europe, except Immortals fell just short of glory–no trophies, no MSI, no Worlds. Reignover could not know that the following year would only get worse.

Reignover’s Fall: Team Liquid’s Mismanagement

Reignover joined Team Liquid in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Immortals rebuilt their roster around Pobelter in the off-season leading into 2017. Reignover and Huni were given opportunities to weigh other offers, and they ended up splitting for the first time in two years. Huni made the move to Korean powerhouse SKT, while Reignover signed with Team Liquid in North America. He joined Lourlo, Goldenglue, Link, Piglet and Matt.

The media was even higher on Reignover in this move than they had ever been before. Esports news outlets touted “Reignover is a master of being in the right place at the right time,” “Reignover was the best jungler in NA last year, and he’s a welcome, experienced addition to this team,” “If Team Liquid does as well as I’m projecting, it will be mostly due to their superstars, Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin and Piglet, both of whom are arguably the strongest players at their positions in North America,” and “Stars like Chae ‘Piglet’ Gwang-jin and Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin can be terrifying.”

This roster turned out to be a mess. They finished the Spring Split in ninth place with a 5-13 series record and a 36 percent game win rate. After announcing changes in the middle of the split, Liquid decided to move Piglet to the mid lane and bring in Youngbin as AD carry. After a couple of weeks with no improvement, Doublelift joined the team as a temporary sub out of his break, and Adrian later joined and started a few games. All of this turmoil and chaos completely overshadowed any positive gameplay out of Reignover.

Luckily, Team Liquid avoided relegation. The Promotion tournament was an extreme low point for the organization, and Reignover himself. No one had questioned his talent and consistency in over two years. Going into Summer Split, everyone was wondering what Liquid would do to rectify the situation. It turns out, they did not change anything. They picked up Inori and Slooshi as substitutes, but kept Lourlo, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet and Matt as starters.

Reignover and Team Liquid played both promotion tournaments in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Similar results ensued. TL finished Summer Split in ninth place again, with a 4-14 series record and a 30 percent game win rate. Just like spring, as the split went on, Liquid started Inori, Slooshi, and KonKwon. They brought back Dardoch, despite past troubles with the controversial jungler. They imported Mickey, a Korean mid laner from ROX Tigers. Liquid even swapped out David Lim for Cain as head coach. They went on to compete in the Promotion Tournament, and defended their spot, yet again.

This was truly the lowest point for Reignover. He was completely dropped from conversations of “the best jungler in the league,” in favor of LiRa, Xmithie and Contractz. Fnatic, Immortals, Huni, Rekkles and Pobelter had some of their best splits yet, and were heading to Worlds. Reignover was fighting in promotion tournaments, getting benched for Inori and Dardoch, and falling from grace.

Reignover’s Present: CLG’s Struggles

Enter CLG, an organization also in need of redemption. Darshan, Huhi and Stixxay carried over into 2018, while Reignover and Biofrost joined in the off-season. Although several sources predicted CLG to be a top three team in their preseason power rankings, few commented on Reignover in the same tone of awe as they had in the past.

Several weeks into the split, CLG sits tied for seventh with a 3-5 record. Many of their losses have chalked up to Stixxay’s shortcomings, but coordination and decisiveness in the late game are contributing, as well. Reignover needs this split to be a success. For his stock to rise, CLG needs to make playoffs and prove they can compete at the top level.

Huni and Reignover are playing in the NA LCS in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Reignover was patient with Team Liquid last year, but now it’s time for dividends. Huni is even back in North America, playing for a different team, and solidifying himself at the top of the standings. A bottom-three finish would be detrimental to Reignover and CLG. In fact, CLG looked best in their 2016 Spring Split victory and MSI performance. They have fallen slightly out of favor since then, narrowly missing a chance at Worlds last year. This organization and this player need each other for success. A high finish this split, and this year, could be an ultimate catharsis for such decorated League of Legends entities. Reignover’s journey has been treacherous thus far, but it is not over yet. 

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Quotes: Reddit, Esports Heaven, Concussion Gaming, Thorin’s Thoughts, Dot Esports, EU LCS Broadcast, LoL Esports, TheScore Esports, TheScore Esports, Esports HeavenYahoo Esports, TheScore Esports, TheScore Esports

Historical Data: Leaguepedia

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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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Golden Guardians enter week three in last place in NA LCS Spring Split

According to history, LCS teams finishing 0-2 this week will miss Spring Split Playoffs

Following two weeks of European and North American LCS Spring Split, many fans and analysts will jump to conclusions. Some sites placed Echo Fox as a top 10 Worlds contender, G2 as the sixth best in Europe, or FlyQuest as ninth in NA. While anyone will say that the rest of the season will be unpredictable, LCS history can help temper expectations.

This split feels less predictable

Spring Split generally feels more chaotic at the start, because teams make more dramatic roster changes in the off-season after Worlds. This off-season, in particular, introduced several new organizations into the LCS and many keystone players changed rosters. With so many questions of synergy, cooperation and communication in the air, it is clear why analysts are left scratching their heads.

CLG enters week three tied for seventh in NA LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The best-of-one, single group format of EU and NA LCS this year is a large contributing factor to everyone’s perceived unpredictability of results. Placements have felt more stagnant over the past few splits, thanks to best-of-threes, best-of-twos and Europe’s two-group format. However, these leagues have not always used those formats. In fact, EU and NA used their current format in the 2015 and 2016 Spring Splits: best-of-ones, a single group, ten teams.

Revisiting past splits

Spring Split standings seemed unpredictable in 2015 and 2016, too. In 2015, NA and EU expanded from eight teams to ten. Huni and Reignover just joined Fnatic. Elements, one of the first super teams, entered the EU LCS. In NA, four new organizations stepped onto the scene. Imaqtpie left Dignitas.

Elements entered the LCS Spring Split 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Origen, G2 and Splyce played their first Spring Splits in 2016. H2K picked up Jankos and Forg1ven. In 2016, NRG, Echo Fox and Immortals had their inaugural Spring Splits. Cloud9 got Jensen, and ZionSpartan changed his moniker to Darshan. These were times of massive change and adjustment, which left analysts with the difficult task of predicting team strengths.

Maybe reviewing the results of these previous splits can help predict the results of the 2018 Spring Split. The trajectories of different teams from week one to week 10 in 2015 and 2016 could reproduce themselves this year. Starting the season at the top may not have a history of panning out to success by the end of the split.

Emerging patterns

Some teams that started in the top six EU LCS Spring Split 2015 did not make playoffs

1. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six EU LCS Spring Split 2016 did not make playoffs

2. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six NA LCS Spring Split 2015 did not make playoffs

3. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six NA LCS Spring Split 2016 did not make playoffs4. Image from Leaguepedia

Some patterns emerge when looking at the standings over time. In 2015, two out of six EU teams, and two out of seven NA teams, finished the second week as a playoff team, but dropped out by week 10. In 2016, one of the six EU teams, and two of the seven NA teams, fell under the same circumstances. Seven out of 26 teams across these years and regions failed to qualify for playoffs, despite starting the split in the top six. That amounts to a 27 percent rate of failure.

2015 saw Elements and Giants fall from third and fourth to seventh and ninth. 2016 Elements finished their second week tied for first, but dropped to seventh again. In 2015, Team 8 and Winterfox finished seventh and eighth, despite being tied for fourth in week two. In 2016, Team Dignitas and Team Impulse ended at the bottom of the standings, falling from their third place tie in week two.

The 2018 week two results do not quite match up with those of the past. North America has a three-way tie for second and a tie for fifth. Europe has a four-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fifth. However, broad trends have happened in the past that could repeat themselves this year.

For example, other than Elements in 2016, every team that started first or second in week two qualified for playoffs. That statistic bodes well for the European teams currently tied for first, Echo Fox and the North American teams tied for second. More importantly, 10 out of 12 teams, regardless of rank, that had a 0-2 week three did not make playoffs at the end of Spring. If that trend continues, then organizations that finish this week 0-2 have an 83 percent chance of missing playoffs.

Looking to the rest of the Spring Split

While these reviews of the past can help contextualize the present, history does not always repeat itself. There are exceptions to every rule. Notice how nothing mentioned above came out to 100 percent. Picking up trends can help predict certain parts of the future, but it can also become unsettling.

Analysts are left to predict the rest of Spring Split 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Will Huni help 2018 Echo Fox be 2016 Immortals reincarnated? Is TSM destined to replace Clutch Gaming or FlyQuest, like Cloud9 did Team 8 in 2015? If H2K goes 0-2 in week three, then are they blocked from playoffs? What are the odds that Team Vitality fall below sixth place?

These and many more questions remain unanswered by historical data alone. But it is interesting to watch each split unfold, while looking for the parallels. With the return of best-of-ones and single groups, the EU and NA LCS are returning to 2015 and 2016 form. The chaos of competition has most fans and analysts trying their best to make sense of everything. Looking to other Spring Splits, and studying the patterns, can help create expectations moving forward. The 2018 Spring Splits will either reinforce, or buck, the trend.

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Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Historical Data: Leaguepedia

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Cam Newton fantasy football

Should you start Cam Newton in fantasy football Week 14?

Cam Newton has enjoyed a bounce-back season from last year. After an abysmal season with 52.9 completion percentage, 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, Newton has been better in basically every category.

His fantasy status has jumped up as well. After finishing last season as the 17th ranked quarterback in standard leagues, Newton has bumped all the way up to the fifth in 2017.

Now he faces his toughest matchup of the year against the great Vikings defense. With fantasy football entering the postseason, it leaves fantasy owners wondering if Newton is worth a start in Week 14.

Case for starting him

Newton hasn’t been perfect for fantasy owners, but he has been good enough to start every week. Arguably the best rusher on the team with 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns, Newton always has a chance to break off a big run and score rushing touchdowns in the red zone.

This will be the key against the Vikings. The Minnesota defense has one of the best secondaries led by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, so the run game will be necessary for the offense to flow.

The part of Newton’s game that fantasy owners reap from the most is his ability to run the football. If he does in fact succeed in running the football against Minnesota, then he’ll rack up the fantasy points for sure.

As for throwing the football and utilizing his weapons, Newton has found much more success recently. Newton has increased his chemistry immensely with Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess, plus this week he’ll be getting Greg Olsen and Ryan Kalil back.

Newton’s success depends on his receivers catch success and his offensive line. The drops have been plaguing Carolina as their inexperienced receiving corps is getting the best of them. With the return of Kalil, it will hopefully provide more stability for Newton and the Panthers offense.

There is a lot of big play ability with Newton, and his rushing ability makes him a viable start on Sunday. However, there is a reason to sit him.

Case for sitting him

Newton may be one of the most frustrating players for fantasy owners. He has the talent and the big play ability to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, but his inconsistency and attitude are holding him back.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Super Cam (Photo from IMG Academy)

As a passer, he has had inconsistencies in completion percentage and passing yards. Newton is averaging just 215 passing yards per game. If Newton struggles to run the ball, then his fantasy numbers may take a hit.

Going up against the strong Vikings defense, if Newton doesn’t play smart and use his weapons like he should, he may struggle on Sunday. His top target, Devin Funchess will be going up against Xavier Rhodes, who has locked down elite receivers all season because of his size and strength. Usually Newton and Funchess can connect with jump balls, but that may not be the case going up against Rhodes.

With the Vikings secondary being as good as they are, and the front seven locking down against an inconsistent Panthers offensive line, Newton is a low tier QB1.

Look for other options, but he isn’t a must bench in Week 14.

 

Featured image from Wikipedia

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Top 5 fantasy TE

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14

In week 13, Rob Gronkowski had a late hit on Tre’Davious White after he intercepted one of Tom Brady’s passes. This hit caused White to endure a concussion and gave him a one week suspension. This doesn’t only hit the Patriots hard, but it also is a huge loss for fantasy owners either already in their playoffs or trying to get into their playoffs.

Now fantasy owners have to try and replace Gronk and the waiver wire is the place to find viable options. Tight ends on the waiver wire won’t always get you points like Gronk does, but here are three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a rough 2017 season, but one of their bright spots has been rookie tight end O.J. Howard. In his first 12 games, he has hauled in 21 receptions for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Howard has found success in the end zone and has amassed more yards than people thought he would have by now. Also if need be, he’s a great fill in at tight end in fantasy.

The Buccaneers face the Detroit Lions in week 14, a team who is struggling to defend against the tight end in recent weeks. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Lions gave up three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown and gave up two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph the week before. O.J. Howard is facing some competition playing alongside Cameron Brate, but here’s why Howard should see your starting lineup instead.

In weeks nine through twelve, Howard out snapped Brate and put up two good weeks with three receptions for fifty yards in both. Even though Brate had a better game than Howard, it seems that Howard is the go to guy in Tampa Bay and he is a good fill in in week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

(Courtesy of; AL.com).

Julius Thomas (Miami Dolphins)

Julius Thomas has had a bounce back season in Miami in 2017. He’s had 37 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns, all of which have come within the last five weeks. Thomas has had a great stretch over his last five weeks with 20 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns. A trend which should continue in week 14 against the Patriots.

The Patriots have been mediocre against tight ends this season averaging an opposing 6.5 fantasy points per game against opposing tight ends. Julius Thomas found success against the Patriots already this year in week 12 when he caught five passes for 52 yards. The Dolphins are coming off of a huge week against the stout Denver defense exploding for 35 points.

They’ll look to continue this trend against New England, as will Julius Thomas if you decide to put him in your lineup week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

Dwayne Allen (New England Patriots)

The first name that comes to mind when replacing Rob Gronkowski is none other than his backup, Dwayne Allen. Allen hasn’t had a great start to his Patriots career, however he has been better as of late. When Gronk sat out week five against the Buccaneers, Allen played a season high 50 snaps. He also has been getting used much more in the passing game as of late.

In the last four weeks Allen has had five receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Before week 10, Allen hadn’t caught a pass all year so those numbers may not seem very strong, but compared to his early season struggles, he’s on the up and up. Allen isn’t the strongest candidate to replace Rob Gronkowski, but given that he’s in the same system and playing with Tom Brady, he deserves some consideration in replacing Gronk this week.

Feature Image courtesy of washingtontimes.com

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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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Julio Jones fantasy

Is Week 12 a new start for Julio Jones?

Julio Jones has been one of the most productive and reliable wide receivers in fantasy football since he entered the league. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 220 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He is usually a solid first-round pick in fantasy football too. However, this year hasn’t been the same.

Through ten games of the 2017 NFL season, Julio Jones had 786 receiving yards and only one touchdown. Through ten games in 2016, Jones had 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There is clear regression in his play, and injuries and regression of quarterback play are clearly the reasons behind it.

Struggles

Through this season, Jones has had nagging injuries that have caused him to miss practices and snaps during games. In Week 4, Jones had to leave the game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hip flexor injury that caused him to miss extended time. Jones had offseason surgery to remove a bunion from his right foot after his 2016 season ended on a negative note due to turf toe, which kept him limited through the end of the season into the playoffs.

Other than injury, a cause of his decline may be the result of Matt Ryan’s play. After a terrific 2016 season capped off by a trip to the Super Bowl and an MVP award, Ryan has seen his play regress from last year, which is warranted. Through 11 games, he’s already thrown one more interception than he did all of last season and is on pace for a worse completion percentage. Last season marked Jones’ lowest reception per game stats since 2012. This season has been just the same.

Ryan has also gotten used to spreading the ball to his other receivers and running backs, causing a lack of receptions for Jones, who is on pace for 96 receptions this season. The emergence of Mohamed Sanu as a legitimate No. 2 receiver also has an effect on Jones. Sanu has already matched his touchdown receptions from last year and is on pace to top his yards and receptions from last year.

Bounce back

Julio Jones fantasy

(Photo by Matt Patterson/AP Photo)

Week 12 may be a bounce-back week for Julio Jones, and fantasy owners can rejoice. Jones exploded for 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He doubled his receptions per game and touchdowns and more than doubled his yards per game. Before this week, Jones was only the 23rd ranked receiver in standard leagues. Jones now outscored every other receiver while having his third career game over 250 receiving yards.

Should fantasy owners be expecting a return of the Julio Jones we all have come to love? Yes, they should. Over the last five games of the season, the Falcons go up against the Buccaneers, Vikings, Panthers and the Saints twice. Jones should continue to see the most targets on the team and should succeed in a big way against the Buccaneers again, as well as the Panthers. He may struggle against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary, but will continue to see more targets and more work in the red zone.

 

Featured image from bostonherald.com

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Fantasy football: Three injuries to watch for in week 12

The 2017 NFL season has seen key players all around the league go down with season-ending injuries. Like many other years, fantasy owners just have to adapt to injuries and move on with hopes of the backups play just as well. However, the hardest injuries to handle are the ones that linger with your players and cause them to be inactive some weeks and active but not one hundred percent other weeks. Here are three injuries to watch for week 12.

Jameis Winston (tampa bay buccaneers)

The shoulder injury has been nagging Winston since a week six loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Obviously a shoulder injury is something to watch for a quarterback and when Winston missed the second half of the game against the New Orleans Saints. After that game, head coach of the Buccaneers Dirk Koetter, told the media that he would be shutting down his sat quarterback for several weeks to let his shoulder heal.

Now the Buccaneers travel to Atlanta to face off against division rival Falcons. Winston has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons which means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for the Buccaneers. Last week without Jameis Winston we saw the Buccaneers beat the Dolphins 30-20 with “Fitzmagic” throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick is merely a desperation start if need be, but otherwise he should stay out of your lineup.

Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)

Three injuries to watch for week 12.

(Photo Credit:http://www.sportingnews.com)

In the first quarter of a 27-7 win against the Dallas Cowboys, Devonta Freeman took a helmet-to-helmet hit and endured his second concussion of his career. Freeman sat out last week’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks as Tevin Coleman took over lead back duties and struggled. Coleman rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown on 20 rushes against the very solid Seahawks defense.

 

Freeman didn’t practice Wednesday and was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice which is a good step but it seems like he won’t be suiting up in Sunday’s contest against Tampa Bay.

If he does in fact sit out Sunday’s game, it will be Tevin Coleman taking over lead back duties once again as he looks to bounce back against the weaker Buccaneers defense. Plug in Coleman as a steady RB2 and if you’re desperate, pick up Terron Ward to fill a void in your lineup.

Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)

Cam Newton’s favorite target looks like he’s about to make a return to the field in week 12 against the New York Jets. This is a necessity as the Panthers traded away Kelvin Benjamin and lost Curtis Samuel for the year due to injury. Olsen has participated in practice Monday and Wednesday this week and Ron Rivera has said that Olsen is looking good for Sunday’s matchup against the New York Jets.

The Panthers receivers have struggled with drops, other than Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess, so the addition of Greg Olsen to their lineup should give Cam Newton more consistency in the passing game.

Olsen is going to have to fight for targets from Funchess and McCaffrey but he will definitely see his fair share as outside of those three guys, there isn’t many more reliable receivers fighting for targets on the Panthers. Greg Olsen is a TE1 this week and should be started in all formats.

 

Feature Image courtesy of Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

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Oakland Raiders fantasy football

Which Raiders can find consistency in fantasy football?

One of the major storylines of this NFL season has been the disappointing Oakland Raiders. Coming in with high hopes after a great 2016 season and a rested Marshawn Lynch, people saw the Raiders going all the way to the AFC championship game. That won’t happen unless the team can start playing its best, and soon.

The more important question to ask, at least for fantasy owners, is which Raiders can find consistency in fantasy football?

Michael Crabtree (Wide receiver)

One of the bright spots for the Raiders has been the play of Michael Crabtree. He’s enjoying another great year under Jack Del Rio. With 42 catches for 502 yards and six touchdowns, Crabtree has emerged as the top target in Oakland. He shows no signs of losing production, and with the upcoming schedule, regression isn’t on the agenda.

In three of the last six matchups of the year, Crabtree plays against the Giants, Cowboys and the Chargers. All these defenses are favorable matchups if Derek Carr can continue his play as of late. The No. 13 wide receiver in standard leagues, averaging 8.8 points per game, has found success recently without finding the end zone.

Being a huge red zone target has been the reason that Crabtree has had fantasy value in recent years. But in the past four weeks, Crabtree has gotten steady volume while producing at a WR2 level. If Crabtree can regain his red zone presence and provide touchdowns, then he will continue to produce consistency and be a valuable fantasy asset.

Derek Carr (Quarterback)

It’s been an up and down season for Derek Carr. He experienced a back injury that kept him sidelined for a week and made him play at a subpar level. Before that happened, the Raiders offense failed to find the chemistry to succeed and win games in the NFL. As of late, Carr has picked it up and produced at a QB1 level.

Oakland Raiders fantasy football

Photo from http://www.sportsworldreport.com

Carr had three straight weeks with over 300 passing yards and at least one touchdown, including an outburst of 417 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs. That made fantasy owners realize that he still has something to prove this year, and the Raiders are still fighting to try and win a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

He obviously has the same schedule as Crabtree, which means he has three games against an easier opponent and three games that could give him some matchup problems. Then again, he did go off against Kansas City once this year.

Look for Carr to continue being a QB1 option in fantasy and start him with confidence from here on out.

 

Marshawn Lynch (Running back)

Oakland Raiders fantasy football

Photo from Daily Snark

The return of “Beast Mode” hasn’t been quite like everyone thought it would be. People expected Lynch to come back with a vengeance and take the league by storm behind the Raiders’ stud offensive line.

Actually, quite the opposite has occurred. Lynch has yet to have a 100-yard game and has only eclipsed 52 fantasy points over nine games. The volume has been there for Lynch, with double-digit carries in six of his nine games, but the production isn’t quite there.

Lynch is one of the players on the roster that I don’t see performing quite well in the end of the season. The defensive fronts of the Giants, Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos and Eagles are all above average and may cause Beast Mode to have less than average games to end his season.

Avoid starting Lynch in fantasy from here on out.

 

 

 

Feature image from bleacherreport.com

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Robert Woods fantasy

Is Robert Woods a legit fantasy wide receiver?

The Rams’ offense has taken the entire league by storm this year. They went from the worst scoring offense to the best and haven’t looked back.

Last year under Jeff Fisher, this Rams team scored 224 points, the lowest in the NFL. Through nine games this season, the team has already scored 296 points. Led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, this offense has flourished. But the true story of this team is the players behind the scenes who have made some noise and helped this team.

In the last two games, Robert Woods has really stepped up with 12 receptions for 241 yards and four touchdowns. He went off for a huge 94-yard touchdown in his last game to really break the game open. In six out of the nine games this season, Woods has had at least four receptions for fifty yards. As of late, he’s starting to pick up in a big way.

Now fantasy owners are asking themselves, “Is Robert Woods a legit fantasy wide receiver?”

Upside on Robert Woods

As Jared Goff has picked up his play this season, it has affected his supporting cast in a great way. Woods has had a great season so far. He has accumulated 39 receptions for 622 yards and four touchdowns in nine games. He already has more yards and touchdowns than he did with the Bills last season.

Over the last two games, he’s scored all four of his touchdowns and has evolved into one of Goff’s top targets. The volume is there for Woods as he has received at least seven targets in four of his last five games. With this volume, he has shown his production and made the most of his opportunity. With double-digit fantasy points in his last two games, each coming with two touchdowns, Woods is trending in the right direction. 

Question Marks for Woods

Now it is true that Woods’ only four touchdowns have come in the last two weeks, which is something to consider about his fantasy production. He produces well on a PPR scale, but for standard league owners, he may only be good if he can find the end zone.

Robert Woods fantasy

Photo from http://www.trbimg.com

Woods is good for at least five fantasy points every week for the rest of the season, but if you’re looking for him to continue his hot streak, he’s going to have to find the end zone. It should also be noted that his latest game of eight receptions for 171 yards and two scores came against a pretty good Houston secondary.

 

In his next three games, Woods goes up against Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona, three defenses that may give him problems. Even going up against these stout defenses, Woods should be given ample opportunities to continue to produce at a high level for the Rams and fantasy owners.

From here on out, Woods should be considered a solid WR2 or a flex play. However, depending on the matchup, you may need to bench him at times.

 

Feature image from USA Today Sports

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