Super Regionals

EU Super Regionals: Winners and losers

Elevate

Elevate have come into form at the exact right time this season. While looking decent for most of the season, this split they have come into their own. They started off the split really strong, with a string of solid victories. However they tapered off a bit towards the middle and end of the split.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Popular opinion probably marked them least likely to qualify for SWC out of all the European teams going. However, everyone had to reevaluate that after they took Obey to a game five in the semi-finals. Ultimately they managed to qualify through groups, proving that they are a very strong team and now a dark horse for the SWC.

The big story about Elevate is that they by far looked their strongest running double hunter and three guardians. This is the setup that got them an SWC spot, where they look capable of beating any team on the planet. The only question that remains is, by SWC, will other teams have figured out how to beat it, or will Elevate have any other strategies?

NRG

One of the big story-lines this season has been about NRG not performing to their usual high standards. If this time a year ago you had said that NRG would have gotten their SWC spot by coming through the Gauntlet and group play, not many people would have believed you. Yet here we are. NRG had to fight extremely hard to secure their spot at SWC this season.

While NRG by their own standards have been sub par this season, you cannot say that about their groups performance. They looked like the strongest team there and showed probably some of the best and most consistent play we have seen out of them all season. At least now we are in the much more familiar territory of NRG, looking like a very serious contender for Worlds.

Rival

Rival once again showed at Super Regionals that they are a far better team on LAN than they are online. If we are honest, what team wouldn’t want it to be that way? As long as you qualify who cares where you place online.

They no doubt looked like the best team at the LAN and must have given themselves a huge confidence boost heading into Worlds. On their way to winning Super Regionals, they beat what many would have called the best two teams in the world: Dignitas and Obey. If that doesn’t give you belief (something the Rival players have never seemed to lack), I don’t know what will.

Dignitas

What a sad story it is for Dignitas, so impressive all season long, just to completely crumble at Super Regionals when it matters most. Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo must think they are reliving a nightmare. As they went through a similar story last season with Orbit, looking incredibly strong online then not qualifying at Super Regionals.

It’s hard to say what happened with Dignitas. Everybody knows they are a far better team than what their performance at Super Regionals showed. Nobody would have expected them to only win against Noble; nobody really expected them to go into groups in the first place.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

The only explanation people have had is that after that game two against Rival where they lost after taking down three Phoenixes, their heads dropped. Their confidence and morale dropped. Then, going into groups, they had two tough games early which they lost and thus deepened the problem.

Overall it is a shame to see a great team lose like that. Dig is a team full of players you would love to see compete on the world stage. Let’s not forget Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming set this team up with the intention of winning Worlds. That is why he left Obey, he didn’t see them as capable of winning at all. Trixtank and Qvo left their team because of the disappointment of not qualifying last year. So it must be gut wrenching for them to look so strong all year and then over the course of five days have it all fall apart.

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Top image courtesy of europa.eu

Who will win the Gauntlet for North America?

With the first two seeds locked in for North America, there is one more that will earn their spot at Worlds through the Gauntlet. This may be the tightest race ever for the final Worlds spot. Every team in the Gauntlet have a chance to possibly make it out. Let’s take a look:

Flyquest

While Flyquest just barely avoided having to play in the relegation tournament this split, they did earn enough points from last split for a Gauntlet spot. This isn’t unfamiliar territory for them as 3/5 members were on the Cloud9 team that had to play through the Gauntlet in season five to qualify for Worlds. Not only did they qualify, they did it off back to back reverse sweeps like we’ve never seen before. There’s just something about mid laner Hai “Hai” Lam that makes you never want to count a team with him on the roster out. His leadership and shot calling ability can make even the worst rosters look like contenders.

Flyquest also has the luxury of having not played on stage in quite a while since they missed playoffs; Nobody knows what to expect from them outside of scrims. Nobody has seen them play on this patch, so they’ll have the surprise factor heading into their first game of the Gauntlet. What they choose to do with it will be the real mystery. Expect some interesting cheese picks to come out from them.

Dignitas

Photo by: Riot Esports

Dignitas heads into the Gauntlet after a nice playoff run where they upset Cloud9 in the first round before losing to TSM 3-1. They made the mid season move of taking on the bot lane of Adrian and Altec. The move has paid dividends as the team has looked much improved from their mid slump. In their series against Cloud9, they looked like the better team with Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho leading the way. Ssumday has been the solid rock for this team all year.

In their next two series of the playoffs, it looked like the team may have peaked. TSM and CLG seemed to dismantle the team effortlessly in the early game. Mid laner Lae-Young “Keane” Jang seemed to fall behind without jungle pressure. He was a weak link for the team. Without an early game lead, Dignitas looked lost on how to come back from such large deficits.

Counter Logic Gaming

Counter Logic Gaming go from zero to hero over a playoff series. On one hand, they looked shaky against EnVy and Immortals. On another, they dominated Dignitas in their third place match. It was almost a night/day performance for rookie jungler Omar “OmarGod” Amin. In their previous series he was one of the more inconsistent performers for the team, but in their third place match, he looked very comfortable. He was making plays and looked to be synergizing well with the team. Maybe they just needed time, but CLG looks to be the favorites heading into the regional qualifier for now.

Cloud9

Cloud9 had one of the easiest routes of the all the teams looking to qualify for Worlds. As long as they made it past the first round of playoffs, they’d auto qualify with circuit points if things went as expected. They did quite the opposite and now have created a much harder path to Worlds for themselves.

It’s no doubt they were clear favorites at the beginning of the year to be top contenders once again, but questionable drafts during their Dignitas series and under performing members makes us question if they can actually qualify for Worlds.

They’ve had the same issues all year it seems. No early game playmaking and relying heavily on the mid game to snowball. Even with an early lead, Cloud9 squandered their leads in their series against Dignitas.

They’ve had time to practice so hopefully they’ve figured out their issues. This hasn’t been a new trend though, it’s been the same issue all year. This team heavily relies on Jensen to carry a lot of the load. If he doesn’t snowball his lead, the team seems to struggle to find production else where.


Photo by: Riot Esports

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NA LCS 3rd Place Series: CLG’s Redemption or Dignitas’ Ascension?

Warning: Spoilers

Walking to the TD Gardens for the NA LCS 3rd Place Series feels surreal. As a Canadian, the TD Gardens, and the Boston Bruins, are familiar names, even to someone who admittedly knows very little about hockey. But today, it’s a different black and yellow jersey that takes to the stage: Dignitas. Across from them sit one of the oldest names in League of Legends history, Counter Logic Gaming. A rollercoaster of a team, standing before the scrappy underdogs of the regular split, Dignitas.

As is par for the course, EU LCS goes first. The NA LCS fans eagerly await for their own 3/4th place games to begin. But the crowd isn’t silent, as the fans slowly filter in, the audience comes alive, cheering on their fellow western league in a riveting series. As the series wraps up, the crowd grows bigger and louder.

One wouldn’t be too hard pressed to imagine that CLG, with it’s longer continuous history in the league, would win the jersey war, but Dignitas’s new and old fans are out in force, as an equal amount of yellow and black are in the crowd as the many colors of CLG jersey’s.

The stadium may not be full, but the eruption from the crowd fills the TD Gardens. As the roar dims slightly, James “Dash” Patterson, saluting the local storied sports franchises in the Bruins and the Celtics, is met with a deafening reply.

Dignitas is the first team to be introduced, and as the yellow and black walk up to the stadium, the crowd is alive. The obvious fan favorite Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho unsurprisingly receives the loudest cheers, but the notorious Double A bot lane are no strangers to the crowd.

The loveable Ssumday. Courtesy of LoL Esports Flikr.

As David “Cop” Robertson, the ever stylish coach for Dignitas, is finished being introduced, Counter Logic Gaming enter the fray. The Pocket Pick Prone mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun receives a lot of love, rocking the black hair again. The “B Tier” ADC Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes is met with similar fanfare, but the star Support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black steals the show.

The games begin, with Game 1 a testament to the series. Everyone is locked onto the screen, and as if we were watching the LPL instead, the opening minutes are action packed, with CLG’s Omar and Darshan creating a very strange, yet favorable, top side engagement. The composition is all out aggression. CLG are like a train and DIG quickly become someone strapped to the tracks, as none stop, in your face engagements from CLG pummel the caster voted favorites of the series.  

It’s a statement game from CLG: We are not the team who almost lost to EnVyUs. We are not the team who lost to Immortals handily. They looked confident, they looked on the same page. And most importantly, they didn’t give up the lead.

If Game 1 felt like a statement from CLG, Game 2 was the exclamation mark. CLG again came out of the gates swinging, securing another first blood, this time before the minions even spawned. CLG’s composition, similar to Game 1, are a non-stop aggression of multiple skirmishes and engages going their way. Aphromoo’s Rakan is a tyrant on the Rift, and Dignitas are left dancing to the beat that CLG is playing. Game 2 is almost handed to CLG by the 15 minute mark, and the score goes 2-0 in favor of CLG.

Dignitas look reactive and lost. Some questionable macro plays, and honestly some very unlucky plays, have the underdogs looking like a different roster than the upstarts who took down Cloud 9 no more than a few games back.

Counter Logic Gaming, on the other side of the Rift, look entirely different from their near loss to EnVyUs. They look like a team with a purpose, a team with a concrete win condition, and honestly, a team that understands their identity.

New Hair, New CLG. Aphromoo was a consistent terror throughout the series for CLG.

Huhi drew a consistent two bans to non-meta champions each game. Vel Koz and Aurlion Sol are too much to give away to the once criticized Huhi. Darshan, too, was too much of a threat in the series, and banning champions against him would’ve been useless: he looked strong on three separate champs.

Game three starts, and everyone in the stadium is tense. CLG’s no stranger to being reverse swept, but Dignitas desperately need to shore up some of their shortcomings if they want to stay alive in the series. As the Pick and Bans come to a close, the crowd loses their mind upon seeing the Jax locked in for ZionSpartan– I mean, Darshan. The aggression, and identity, of CLG in this series carries on.

CLG secures the first blood again, off of a counter invade from CLG, Stixxay, on the Tristana, instantly rocket jumping in for the kill. The communication and confidence from CLG is astounding, and Dignitas are again knocked off balance in the opening minutes of play. Fate seems cruel to Dignitas, as multiple occasions a cocoon out of Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon barely misses and CLG narrowly escaping with flashing health bars. This was unfortunate to the many good macro plays out of Dignitas.

A great play from Ssumday’s Jarvan, ultimately resulting in a 4 for 5 trade for a very behind Dignitas, breathes some life back into the game, but ultimately CLG’s pressure and control over the map wins out. While the game’s results aren’t overly impactful for either team, both having secured the gauntlet already, just fighting over who would face FlyQuest and who would wait for the results of that.

If there is one way to summarize the series overall, it’s that CLG looked almost like an LPL squad. If there was a chance to fight, a chance to throw down, CLG were there. Even though the games felt short, they were bloody. They didn’t look like the CLG of the EnVyUs or Immortals series. They looked decisive, confident, in the face of competition many had heavily favored going into their confrontation.

Top Side Synergy. Courtesy of LoL Esports Flikr.

Dignitas, bloodied but not broken, are looking to prove themselves to not just be upstarts, but real contenders to represent NA at Worlds. They’ll have to go through FlyQuest first, and then face off against first CLG in the second round of the gauntlet, and Cloud 9 as the final boss. Dignitas have to pull a CLG in this series, coming back from a tough loss stronger for it.

It was the story of redemption for the top side of CLG that dominated the narrative though. Darshan hasn’t seemed as strong in the post-split push centric metas, and Omargod was promoted trying to fill the big shoes left by Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. This series, though, showed that both are still starter material. The real crucible for these two teams will be the gauntlet, and whether they can perform there and possibly at Worlds.

For Dignitas, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Their win over Cloud 9 started the giant slayer narrative, but ultimately against CLG it was difficult to find much silver lining. Still, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho’s performance, even when behind, was of the caliber one would expect. Dignitas need to review the VODs, reflect on their early game, and ultimately shore up some of the micro, mechanical errors that cost them compounding issues throughout the series.\

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Nisqy is NV's MVP of NA LCS quarterfinals

Recognizing the MVPs of the NA LCS quarterfinals losers

The North American LCS Summer Split playoffs began last week with two quarterfinal match-ups. Cloud9 faced off against Dignitas. Counter Logic Gaming took on Envyus. Each of these teams had clear ups and downs during the split, so it was difficult to peg the favorites going in, except maybe CLG should beat NV.

However, things did not really go as planned. DIG took down C9 convincingly, finishing with a 3-1 series. Dignitas’ bottom lane, in particular, was able to shine. Although, every member of the team performed well. Cloud9 looked shaky in all but game three.

The CLG-NV match-up was even closer, with CLG barely edging out NV 3-2. Various members on both teams had highlight moments, as each adaptation came through. Rookies and veterans faced off in an exciting five game series, but CLG did close out game five, thanks mostly to Darshan’s success with Camille.

Cloud9 and NV left the arena disappointed. C9 has a long history of playoff success within the North American region, including the finals of the Spring Split this year. NV pulled themselves up from 10th place last split to a spot in playoffs. Even though they were so close to pushing through into semifinals, it fell just beyond their grasp.

There is a specific player from each team that deserves recognition for stepping up in quarterfinals. These are players who put their carry pants on, and did what was needed for their teams. Here are two players that proved to be most valuable to Cloud9 and Envy during the first round of playoffs. Each should feel proud of their contributions.

C9 Jensen

Jensen is C9's MVP of quarterfinals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Jensen found himself in a central position with Cloud9 during quarterfinals. Many of C9’s compositions revolved around Jensen and Sneaky dishing damage, while Impact, Contractz and Smoothie acted as utility tanks. Jensen held up his end of the deal. The rest of the team did not.

On Cassiopeia, Jensen prioritized farming over early skirmishes. In game one, C9’s top lane, jungler and bottom lane had ceded kills before 17 minutes, while only securing one in exchange. In game two, the early game was a bit less lop-sided, but still in DIG’s favor. Jensen did get caught out at Baron around 29 minutes, which swung the game heavily to C9’s disadvantage. However, he followed it up with a crucial four-man Petrifying Gaze at 34:20 to completely deflate DIG’s pressure.

In game three, Jensen completely dominated. His mid lane Lucian was 5-0-2 around 25 minutes, and never really got shut down. Contractz looked much better on Elise, bringing more early game pressure. Of course, part of their advantage came from Shrimp’s curveball Nocturne pick, which did not have a large influence on the game. The Lucian was locked in again in game four, but did not have as strong an effect, due to the low effectiveness of Impact’s Galio and the losing bottom lane. Jensen was still able to finish with a 3-2-7 scoreline.

Considering how threatening Ssumday’s Maokai was throughout this series, it is impressive how many fights Jensen came out alive in. Despite losing the series 3-1, Jensen’s statistics were still powerful. He averaged 19 CS ahead of Keane at 15 minutes. He did 33 percent of Cloud9’s damage. 81.7 percent kill participation and a 5.5 KDA are strong on a winning line-up, let alone one that lost.

NV Nisqy

Nisqy is NV's MVP of NA LCS quarterfinals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

One of the more one-sided series going into the quarterfinals, Counter Logic Gaming versus Envy was much closer than expected. CLG took game one, NV responded with two wins of their own, and then CLG closed out the final two games, finishing 3-2. In all but the final game, NV actually had the lead at 20 minutes. However, CLG’s mid-late game fighting proved more effective, particularly around Baron.

Despite the series loss, NV’s mid laner, Nisqy, truly proved himself. He showed a wide range of champions and playstyles, locking in Cassiopeia, Corki, Galio and Kog’Maw throughout the match-up. Nisqy finished the best-of-five with a 5.2 overall KDA, going deathless in NV’s victories.

Nisqy came out of the gate in game one with an aggressive play in CLG’s jungle to pick up two kills, evening out an invade gone wrong. CLG responded with a mid lane gank to shut him down. After Omargod stole the Baron from NV afterwards, there was very little they could do. Every member of CLG got ahead, and the long distance engage of Zac made NV’s carries easy targets.

In games two and three, Nisqy had a huge impact. His Galio ultimates at eight minutes and 25 minutes were crucial for turning around teamfights targeting Apollo. Nisqy expertly utilized Galio’s zoning and crowd control to split up CLG’s carries and tanks. His Corki roam around 16 minutes resulted in a triple kill, and every teamfight for game three he dished out massive damage.

NV’s game four loss could be mostly attributed to their lack of reliable engage. Seraph’s Cho’Gath, LiRa’s Rek’Sai and Hakuho’s Nautilus could never pull off the necessary initial engagement to set up Nisqy’s Hero’s Entrance. Without the proper team-wide execution, the Galio fell flat.

They switched up their composition in game five by drafting Kog’Maw in the mid lane. Nisqy’s damage output came up huge, particularly in the 32:30 teamfight. Unfortunately, Seraph’s Gnar could not overcome Darshan’s Camille counterpick, and NV’s dual-marksman composition had difficulty surviving CLG’s engages long enough to compete, damage-wise. Nonetheless, Nisqy’s heavy contributions throughout this entire series were apparent, which deserves recognition.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Player Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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The resurgence of Dignitas

What a journey it’s been for team Dignitas. With high hopes and big name Korean imports Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun, the team looked lost. They had just bought their way back into LCS and on paper, looked like a top team. The coaching and team synergy was way off though and they were barely able to sneak into playoffs for Spring. They started off Summer hot but soon fizzled out back to their former selves. A few changes throughout the team have helped along the way. Let’s take a look:

Changing up the Coaching staff

Dignitas started spring with Korean coaches Kim Jeong-soo and Park Jae-seok. A surprise to many, their coaching really wasn’t helpful for Dignitas at all. As they were watching their spring split hopes wash away, they decided to bring in a familiar face in David “Cop” Roberson. Cop coached many of the former APEX squad during their first run at LCS. Dignitas was able to finish the second half of Spring strong enough to garner a playoff spot.

This split they brought in another familiar face in Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco. Saintvicious has been involved in pro League of Legends for awhile now and also worked with the team when they were APEX gaming.

It was obvious under the Korean coaches the team did not know how to communicate effectively. They could often get decent early leads, but had no idea how to snowball games. With the induction of Cop in spring the team looked revitalized and were taking wins off some of the better teams in the league. They began to struggle mid split of Summer, but a few roster changes turned their season around.

Roster changes

One of the big changes over summer was letting go of Chaser as the starting jungler in favor of Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon. Shrimp played with the team on APEX and just seemed to mesh better with the team stylistically. His Nunu play in their quarterfinals match against Cloud 9 was huge in helping them secure a semi-finals spot.

Shrimp is similar to Xmithie as he’s a selfless jungler who is good at tracking the enemy jungler and providing good vision for his laners. He has the second highest kill participation in the league for junglers which speaks volumes to how active he is for his team. In a meta of tanks, Shrimp is quite comfortable and can even pull out the Nunu to enable ADC Johnny “Altec” Ru to carry even harder.

Altec and Adrian

photo via riot esports

In the bot lane we had the induction of Altec and Adrian “Adrian” Ma into the starting lineup. With a history of issues on other teams, Adrian is stepping up huge for Dignitas this split. He’s shown that he can play more than just his signature Soraka, with he and Altec contending to be one of the better bot lanes this split. Many questioned Altec’s decision to leave Flyquest for Dignitas where he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a starting spot. After he and Adrian were subbed in the team hasn’t looked back.

Altec has looked like a complete monster on this team. He finished 3rd in CS diff@10 and 2nd in DMG%. He’s shown some great plays on meta picks such as Sivir and Tristana. Him and Adrian have developed into one of the best bot lanes in NALCS. TSM is next on their list of upsets.

Dignitas looked great in their 3-1 victory over Cloud 9 yesterday. This only makes their match with TSM more interesting as they’ve held a great record against them during the regular season. If they are able to pull off the upset, who’s to say they aren’t good enough to compete for a championship?

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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Dignitas

Team Dignitas’ rise to the top

This split has been a roller coaster for Team Dignitas. Initially playing with a top-heavy map DIG came out of the gates strong this summer, but suffered through a mid-season slump. However, after the recent roster swaps the team has begun to surge forward again. Moving into the playoffs they still have to square off against IMT and CLG. Dignitas has proven themselves up to the challenge with a convincing 2-0 win over TSM on Saturday and a close 2-1 loss to C9 yesterday.

As a result, Team Dignitas for the first time since early season three is considered a top team in North America. Long gone are the days of baron tosses and being a middle of the pack team. Instead DIG has the second highest baron control in the LCS and in the last two weeks have been utterly crushing opponents with snowball comps.

The Landscape

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The LCS is in utter upheaval. It feels like EU LCS in season three and four: everyone can beat anyone else. There are only two weeks remaining in season before playoffs begin and seeding for the tournament is still up in the air. A rift has opened between the top six teams and the bottom four teams. The teams that will participate in the playoffs are likely locked in, but the gap isn’t insurmountable though. An undefeated run from any of the bottom four teams has the potential to put them in the playoffs.

Team Dignitas is in prime position to take advantage of this upheaval. They are resting in fourth place and have won three of their last four games. They have a chance to ride this winning run to a bye in the playoffs. Winning out will give them a 12-6 record and, assuming CLG or IMT drop a game, tied for second. DIG winning out means a win against both teams, which would tie up the head to head against each team. This means it would come down to game Win/Loss record for who is seeded higher.

At the very least DIG will make playoffs. Even with a 1-3 record in the last two weeks DIG would sit at sixth place. However, it seems unlikely that DIG will drop more than two sets in the next two weeks. The other teams they face off against, other than the aforementioned CLG and IMT, are Echo Fox and Team Liquid. Each series is DIG favored, despite TL coming off an impressive 2-0 week.

The Players

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The reason Dignitas finds themselves in this fortuitous position is because of the recent roster swap. The team was slumping because the only threat was coming from Ssumday in the top lane. He was able to carry them through the first few weeks, but teams eventually realized that they just needed to shut him down in order to win.

Now though with Altec and Adrian coming in for Lod and Big, the bot lane has become a threat. This has opened up the map for DIG in the sense that they can play through any lane. If a team focuses too much on shutting down Ssumday, DIG can channel resources to their bot lane and win from there. If a team doesn’t focus on Ssumday he’s able to snowball and carry the game.

A threat in the bottom lane has also unlocked Keane. Keane has been a solid, consistent midlaner this split. He isn’t one to carry his team to a win, but certainly never gets stomped. Now that the pressure is more focused on Dignitas’ top and bottom lanes Keane can play for the teamfights and late game damage, something he has shown to be his forte.

Last, but certainly not least, is Shrimp. Shrimp has been suffocating his opponents in the jungle on his Nunu and Graves these last couple weeks. He’s taking away the jungle pressure from other teams by counter jungling, counter ganking and making them have to focus on neutral objectives instead of lanes. Shrimp understands his role very well and plays to that role. He knows he must get his lanes ahead and they will carry the game.

The Future

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

DIG came out to three great weeks, slumped in the next two and have now had two great weeks. They are looking to break the trend of peaks and valleys and ride out this victory train into the playoffs. They’ve proven that they can take down the top teams in decisive fashion and certainly have a chance at the NA LCS title. Despite their loss to C9 the series was close and game one was a stomp in DIG’s favor. They can certainly hold their own against top teams, and have a good chance to take down both CLG and IMT. If they can perform in the playoffs to the degree they have shown in weeks six and seven they have the ability to make it deep.

Overall Dignitas looks strong. At this point anything less than fourth in NA LCS should be considered a failure. They put themselves in a position to succeed and are the masters of their own fate. DIG doesn’t need any other teams to have key losses to make the playoffs. They just need to keep winning. As for their playoff run, if they take away some good wins and keep up the level of performance they will take some momentum into the playoffs. They may still be able to secure a bye round, or at the very least a higher seed for side selection and an easier first round.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Can a new team break into Worlds for North America?

Over the past two seasons we’ve seen North America represented by the same three teams at Worlds: Team SoloMid, Cloud 9 and Counter Logic Gaming. These organizations have become fan favorites for most, but some new challengers have risen this split to possibly take their shot on the World stage for North America. The North American scene seems to be looking better and better. TSM has continued their dominance, while CLG and C9 have had their share of inconsistencies. Cloud 9 have almost guaranteed their spot at Worlds as long as they do well enough in playoffs. Second place for Spring granted them a massive amount of circuit points. With 3rd/4th place teams Phoenix1 and Flyquest looking close out of the playoff race, CLG will need to play well to ensure their spot at Worlds.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the teams that could contend for a spot:

Immortals

Due to Immortals finishing 7th place last split, they have zero circuit points to help with contention. This almost guarantees that they’ll need to earn their spot either by winning Summer or qualifying through the gauntlet. The latter will be the most likely scenario.

Immortals have become known for having great regular seasons, aside from last spring. This split came as a bit of a surprise to most. People expected the jungle swap of Dardoch and Xmithie to favor CLG, but both teams have benefited greatly. Not only the jungle swap, but the hiring of former ROX tiger coach, Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo, has given them the knowledge to properly out-macro opponents.

Every lane seems to have come into their own. Young rookie, Li “Cody Sun” Yu Sun has developed into a top tier ADC this split along with support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. Cody Sun is near the top for DPM and DMG percentage among ADC’s. Olleh has shown great performances on playmaking champions such as Thresh.

Immortals is currently tied for first with TSM and CLG. They’ll need to prove that they can finally perform when it matters, not just the regular season if they want to make it to Worlds.

Dignitas

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

Dignitas stormed out the gates this split, contending for first place for a few weeks before going on a losing streak. They still have their inconsistencies at times. Last week against CLG they flashed the potential to be able to dominate some of the best teams in the league. Other times, they play to the level of their inferior opponents and drop matches.

With jungler Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon taking the reigns as the full time starter now, Dignitas can maybe gain some consistency for a Worlds run. Shrimp has the second highest kill participation percentage among junglers. In the bot lane, they’ve added two veterans of the LCS in Altec and Adrian. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes the full time bot lane for the team moving forward.

What’s worrisome is how average of a mid laner Lae-Young “Keane” Jang can be. Keane has middle of the pack stats in comparison to the rest of the NA mids. If he can play up to the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen, Pobelter and Huhi, then maybe Dignitas can make it.

Dignitas has 10 championship points from last split which likely means they’ll be battling in the gauntlet for a Worlds spot. If the team can find some consistency, don’t be surprised to see them as real contenders for a Worlds spot.

Phoenix1

Despite Phoenix1 not being far from the playoff race at the moment, and tied for last place, they still have a ton of circuit points that can help them qualify. A third place finish from Spring granted them 50 circuit points, more than a lot of the teams outside of C9/TSM. Even if they don’t qualify for playoffs they still have a shot in the gauntlet based on circuit points.

Rift Rivals was seen as a stepping stone for the team after a rough start to summer split. They had a good performance and were looking to carry that momentum into the second half of the split. That hasn’t been the case as they’ve stumbled coming back. Star rookie jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung hasn’t looked as dominant since he’s returned. The tank jungler meta hasn’t allowed him to show the same carry performances we saw at Rift Rivals.

Mid laner, Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook, stepping down certainly doesn’t help their cause either. Ryu was an integral part of the team, and it’s hard to say that Pirean can come in and perform up to veteran Ryu standards. If Ryu does return after a needed break, Phoenix1 can definitely make a C9 Cinderella run in the gauntlet.

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

With only two and a half weeks left in the split, any team can make a late run for Worlds. Will it be CLG, Cloud 9 and TSM at Worlds once again for North America? Or will a new team emerge from the ashes?

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Cover photo by Riot Games

 

 

NA

How Dreamhack highlighted the ever growing gulf between NA and EU

How we got here

The big story in competitive Smite throughout Season 4 has been competition. There have been two aspects in regard to competition. Firstly, competition has grown incredibly within the regions. Seed one through six are all capable of taking games off each other now in both regions. What is possibly the bigger story is that NA have fallen off a cliff competitively when it comes to LANs.

In every other season NA has been able to compete at the highest level. Admittedly NRG have been top dogs for the last two years, but between the rest of EU and NA there has not been much difference. However, at the very end of Season 3 things started to change. EU sent only two teams to SWC after not performing all that well at the preceding LAN. However, EU dominance started to show there as both EU teams went to the final. This was even more impressive as at the time Obey were not respected as the team they are now. The second team in EU was OrbitGG who didn’t go to SWC due to poor performances at the preceding LAN.

It was at the Gauntlet though and Smite Masters where we really learned just how big the gap had grown between the two regions. It was dominant from EU just putting NA to the sword. Nothing epitomised this more than the way in which Rival handled Soar (now SpaceStationGaming).

Where we are at now

na

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

EU was known to be stronger than NA; however there was hope that the gap would shrink. Day one of Dreamhack Valencia put such vain hopes to rest. In the three sets between NA and EU only one game went to NA. What was more telling was the way in which EU won. It was brutal, NA were made to look like one of the minor regions. 4th seed in EU, Team Rival, absolutely took SSG, the first seed from NA, to pieces. The way in which that happened makes me confident that Eanix, EU’s 5th seed, has a better chance of winning SWC than any team in NA.

Why?

NA have little success in Moba’s. In pretty much all Moba’s NA are significantly behind the rest of the competition. A few theories are banded around but I don’t put a huge amount of stock in any of them.

Firstly, you hear that ego hinders NA teams; they think they are all better than they are, don’t play for the team and big egos clash. This doesn’t make any sense to me for so many reasons. I mean is John ‘Barracuda’ Salter’s ego getting in the way of LG competing internationally? I think not. You occasionally hear that NA doesn’t take competitive gaming seriously and conventional sports are much more popular. EU is no different, conventional sports are far and away dominant over esports. Most people don’t really know about competitive gaming as a thing. I honestly couldn’t give you the reason, but it is a trend which is hard to ignore.

How?

More focused on Smite I can’t tell you the core problem, but I do have some ideas as to symptoms of the issue. The big thing here that everyone notices is how much more objective focused EU are than NA. I think one of the best ways in which we have been shown at Dreamhack so far is through mid lanes and supports.

The first time this is apparent is in the Rival vs SSG set. Game 2 was won through objective control. The Ra pick by rival was huge. Firstly, it takes away one of Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward’s favourite picks. Secondly, it gives you a great ultimate for objective secure. Then SSG backed themselves into a corner with the Hades pick. They had zero objective secure. Up to 20 minutes the game was close but Rival were behind in kills, but had three Gold Furies.

Take away those Gold Furies and SSG are in a dominant position in the game instead of slightly behind. Their objective play was just sloppy as a whole that game though. When they lost a Gold Fury because five people backed at the same time, it was infuriating. This is something that has been known since the game was in open beta. I mean this is not EU playing amazingly but NA playing pretty poorly. Rival were also taking Gold Furies in the face of SSG. This is because of their dominant objective secure.

Look at game number one in the NRG vs Dignitas set. Dig have a Sol in the mid lane and NRG had a Vulcan. While Sol’s objective secure is not bad it just can’t compete with a Vulcan. Dignitas recognise this though, so Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling starts with a HOG.

NA

Image courtesy of smitepedia.com

This allows them to really compete and contest at Gold Furies. It shows the thought that EU are putting into making sure that they don’t fall behind in the objective game. Something NA clearly are not doing at the moment. Notice how he didn’t go HOG when NRG had a Morrigan in the mid lane, showing that this is a thought process based around big mage ults.

NA also seems to be one step behind when it comes to Meta. One way in which this has risen to prominence is how little they value the Sobek. Sobek has been dominant this LAN. Objective wise he is one of the best supports. If you are baiting a Gold Fury he is great as anybody who comes near has to fear the pluck into your entire team. Same goes for anybody trying to contest. You could be one second away from being flung into the entire opposing team.

On top of that he probably has the best ult for securing objectives, with Lurking in the Waters, slowing anybody who comes in, doing huge amounts of damage to players and objectives. For example, when Trix went HOG on Sobek he alone could probably burst the Gold Fury from 30 percent down in a second or so. If you look at the only NA team to win a game, it was when Sinjin ‘Eonic’ Thorpe was playing the Sobek. NRG noticed this though and started banning out the Sobek vs Trix.

What this means for competitive Smite

Nothing good comes from this ever growing divide. Smite competitively is hamstrung in one major regard. We have no serious Asian scene. In particular, Korea does not recognise Smite as a competitive game. Having Korea as a region in a game is beneficial for so many reasons. Korea takes esports more seriously than any other region in the world. For those of you who do not follow any other esports, the best way to describe this is to mention Kespa. That is the government body specifically designed to deal with esports, who even go as far as hosting their own ‘Kespa Cups.’ Korea drag every other region up as they are so professional and take esports so seriously that to keep up everyone must try to emulate. Korea is very invested in their esports scene.

Missing those benefits hurts competitive Smite, but now not having Korea becomes even more of an issue. Only having one region who is competitive will get boring very quickly. If it stays this way, there will be no inter-region competition at LAN’s. Inter-region competition is the most exciting part about big LAN’s. When that disappears, interest in major events falls rapidly.

At the end of the day if NA doesn’t up their game soon everyone suffers.

Top Image courtesy of twitter.com/SmitePro

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Best Performers this Split: The EU All Star Roster

ADC

Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska has to be the stand out ADC for EU this Split. This must be incredibly pleasing for the French ADC, mainly because he was the one player people were questioning when Dignitas, the new ‘super-team’, was formed. This Split though he definitely put in an all star performance.

It was not the mechanical skill of Arkkyl that was being questioned though. As in his relatively short time in the SPL he had put in some great performances. Rather it was consistency and how he would manage on a top end team, as there is little doubt that his current roster was a big step up. When on a weaker team, it is often a lot easier to show glimpses of your quality rather than prove it every week. This is down to your team being more likely to be behind and if you are known as one of the best players on a weaker roster you are likely to get a lot more focus.

Arkkyl has more than proved himself to be up to the challenge. Last Split he showed he could be consistent and had some performances which hinted at his potential. However, this Split he has been consistently excellent. He has a KDA of 5.91, 3rd highest in the league. The statistics back up how great his play has been even more, he also has 61 kills the 5th highest in the league. This shows that it is not by being passive that he has such a high KDA but through pro-active aggressive plays.

Jungle

Nobody is going to be surprised at the who MVP in the Jungle for the Summer Split is, it is Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, the King is back. He is not just the MVP for the Jungle though he is probably the MVP for the whole of Europe. This guy would make it onto any all star roster, he is probably the best player Smite has ever had.

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Adapting’s stats this split are eye-watering. He tops KDA at 7.85, which is 1.78 higher than his closest competitor, who just so happens to be his mid-laner. He also has the most kills in the entirety of the SPL with 84. This is 16 higher than anyone else’s and over 23 higher than EU’s closest contender Arkkyl. If you think I have run out of ridiculous stats for Adapting, think again. He also has the highest kill participation in the league at 85.12 percent. All this while managing to come in second in deaths per game at 1.21, only slightly losing out to once again his mid laner!

What else is there to say about Adapting? He has just been tearing up the SPL since he joined. He is so good, he was getting called the best player in the world while this team were still in the Challenger Cup. Last Split it was very much a debate about who the best player in the world was, this split not so much. I’ll end how I started, the king is back!

Solo

It was hard to pick a solo for this all star roster, as the top three in EU have all had excellent performances from their solo-laners. They are all very close in overall performance, so when stuck lets the stats decide!

Harry ‘Varitey’ Cumming just beats out the other two to take his spot in this all star roster. Varitey is someone who has not always been rated as highly as he is now. However, in recent memory he has been lauded as one of the best solo-laners the SPL has to offer, and rightly so.

It is rather simplistic but I see my Solo-Laners in two categories, the Ryan ‘Omega’ Johnson kind who are looking to destroy you in lane. They are forcing you to base at every opportunity, taking your buffs and essentially trying to ground you into the dirt. These Solo laners are bullies in every sense of the word, doing everything short of taking your lunch money and sticking your head down the toilet.

The second kind are in the Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov role who are more willing to take losing match ups to help a draft and are more macro focused. (this is not to say Dimi will not stick your head down the toilet and take your lunch money Smite-wise but it is not all he does) Variety is definitely in the first mold of Solo laners, being especially dominant on Osiris, undoubtedly one of the best in the league on that god.

This is shown by him having the highest kills in Europe for a solo laner on 47. Variety also has the highest KDA for any solo-laner across both regions at 4.59. Showing he is not just aggressive but incredibly successful at it. Another hallmark of a great solo laner is their farm generation or GPM and again Variety tops Europe at 509, putting him 2nd across the entire SPL. An all star set of stats from an all star player.

Support

Step forward you unsung heroes, ye valiant few who die for others sins. Who among these brave and undervalued players of the SPL stands a top the pile? Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone has just edged out all the others this Split.

Stats are a strange thing to examine when it comes to supports, as their deaths can often come from others mistakes or be the best play to make. Kills are also not something that most supports are going for, often being much happier to give it to a carry on the team.

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

However, there are some more reliable stats. GPM is one of them, finding farm on a map when none of it’s yours has always been an art form of the support. Admittedly with the power of Travellers Shoes and Watcher’s gift this has become easier in recent times. In this stat iRaffer came second in the league at 474. What supports really pride themselves on though is assists. Here iRaffer outshone the rest of the league with 152 assists at a rate of 10.86 a game.

Some people may say this is skewed with just how high the amount of kills NRG as a whole was getting but with a participation rate of 74.42 percent which is towards the higher end of the league. Personally I think it is even more impressive. This is because it shows how iRaffer was such a big part of getting these kills and why he is on my all star roster.

Mid

NRG feature again in this all star roster with their mid laner André ‘Yammyn’ Brännvall. He has been consistently one of the best mid laners in the world for the last two years. This Split has been no different, he has been exceptional.

There are a lot of things on which we can judge a mid laner. Is it their damage output? This is an important factor, as mid laners are the aoe damage dealers for a team. Is it kills? Another important factor but counter-intuitively mages are not the ones to finish off kills a lot of the time with their burst ults. Instead they weaken a team while the more mobile characters sweep in and mop them up. Is it GPM? Well seeming as a mid laner shares most of their farm it seems a hard thing to put at the top, being so dependent on whether or not your jungle and support are taking it. In all these stats though Yammyn is near the top of Europe showing how good is play is.

The stats we are left with and which Yammyn does top the league seem to show a lot more to me. These are KDA and and deaths. Mages are probably the squishiest class in Smite. Incredibly low protection and health scaling, combined normally with a lack of mobility. They are also put into the most contested area of the map meaning there is the constant threat of death. So for Yammyn to only have 15 deaths is an impressive feat. When you combine that with the fact that he has the highest KDA in the league for a mid at 6.07 far above the 4.53 of Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom (the man who would replace him in this list) and joint 2nd highest kills, it gets all the more impressive.

 

Honorable Mentions

ADC – Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark

Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight

Solo Dimi

Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker

Mid PrettyPrime

If you would like to know what an NA version of this would look like, look no further my colleague Brendon has you covered! http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/30/spl-summer-split-north-american-star-team/

A quick shout out to @BluesVult who’s spreadsheet was the source for a lot of these stats.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us, as well as Jonathan Walmsley on Twitter for more sports and esports articles.

The significance of ESL One Cologne to Counter-Strike

After hearing the news some months ago that ESL One Cologne would not be a major tournament this year, I was disappointed. Since its conception in 2014, Cologne set the benchmark for tournament organizers all over the world. Its ability to provide great games, a great atmosphere and most of all major champions made it a must watch for any Counter-Strike fan. I believe we must credit much of Counter-Strikes transcendence into super-stardom to the infamous ESL One Cologne. This is why I believe, now more than ever, we should continue to support the tournament in the same way despite losing its major status.

Historic Games

NiP won the first ever ESL One Cologne championship. [Source: ESL]

At the heart of any tournament, there has to be amazing games; without that the viewer would simply be bored. Over the years Cologne has provided plenty worth watching again and again. One of the most obvious would have to be the 2014 grand final between NiP and Fnatic. At this point in time NiP had made the final of every major, only never to win, with Fnatic the team beating them out in the very first one. The series went to a decider map on Inferno, one of Fnatic’s best maps. However, clutch plays from Adam “friberg” Friberg and Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund sealed their first and only major win.

Another playoff series that stands out is Team Liquid’s win over the same dominant Fnatic side. The crowd was rooting for the Americans and European outcast Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev to get a juicy rematch of the previous major semi-final which Liquid threw away. The Americans narrowly defeated the Swedes 2-0 after winning both maps 16-13. S1mple sealed the deal with one of CSGO’s most memorable plays which earned him an in-game graffiti to commemorate his efforts.

There are even many astonishing group stage games to be re-watched. Hell, we just saw sixty something rounds between Cloud9 and Natus Vincere. One of the most shocking series of all time is Flipsid3 Tactics beating NiP in a best of three at Cologne 2016 knocking them out of the group stage for the first time in CSGO history. One group game full of exciting plays was at Cologne 2016 between Cloud9 and Team Dignitas. Late game heroics from Spencer “Hiko” Martin and Sean “seang@res” Gares secured a much-needed win.

The Mecca of Counter-Strike

Host Alex “Machine” Richardson hailed the LANXESS Arena as being the Mecca of Counter-Strike despite not being the first large-scale arena used in Global Offensive. Fans might be more familiar with the Spodek Arena, the venue for IEM Katowice. The Spodek was first used in 2014 a year before Cologne was moved to the LANXESS, so what makes the latter our very own Mecca?

The LANXESS Arena has played host to ESL One for three years now. [Source: TalkEsport]

Until this year IEM Katowice played host to an array of esports titles including Counter-Strike, League of Legends and StarCraft. In previous iterations, all the grand finals were played on championship Sunday meaning that there was an abundance of fans all attending for different games. The LANXESS arena was the first time a large-scale arena was used purely for CSGO. Not only that but it was actually free to get in, meaning that people all over Poland and Europe could attend at very little cost.

Heading into Cologne 2015 people were skeptical as to whether such a huge venue could be filled. However, the European fans did not disappoint. The year saw record numbers with over 12,000 attending in person and a peak concurrent viewership of 1,323,960.

After the removal of betting skins within CSGO, it seemed as if viewership was going to take a big hit. Despite concerns 2016 still saw an increase in attendance with 14,000 fans knocking on the door according to ESL. Even now with the tournament losing its major status it seems as if the pilgrims will be back again this year to echo the arena with their prayers.

ESL and their efforts

Although ESL might be the burden of many mishaps, they have been running events for well over a decade now. They have always stepped up their efforts when it comes to Cologne. Last year the biggest was bringing on PGL to handle the stream. However, that relationship might be a bit frosty now. In spite of that, they are still bringing on new ideas this year. One example was showing the B stream during a technical issue on the main stream. It not only made for better viewing but eases the pressure on the casters.

Just the inclusion of a B stream alone is something many tournament organizers won’t do so they don’t split viewership. The system means that we can have more games played in one day and means that more games are played overall. This avoids teams playing two best of ones and being knocked out of the tournament.

Although ESL One Cologne might not be a major this year I believe it is important that we continue to support it as if it is one.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of esl-one.com

 

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