Grading CLG’s junglers since 2014

With Counter Logic Gaming currently tied for second place with the ever encroaching TSM, special attention must be paid towards the organization’s many junglers. It is without a doubt that Counter Logic Gaming has attracted some of the most skilled junglers as of late, but has this always been the case? Here we will grade the past five junglers CLG has had on the League Championship Series stage.

 

 

The turbulent CLG squad. Of this line-up, only Aphromoo would stay on the CLG we now know today. Courtesy of qz.com

Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp (C-)

Dexter played on Counter Logic Gaming for the Spring and Summer split of 2014 before he returned to EU to play for Elements. Prior to joining CLG, Dexter had already made a name for himself in EU on teams like Lemondogs and mousesports. Dexter’s achievements on CLG would grant them a third place in the 2014 NA LCS Spring Split.

Known for his Elise play during the 2014 NA LCS Summer split, Dexter was a middle of the pack jungler for a middle of the pack CLG. His on stage performances heavily wavered from games on Elise where he would average a 5.05 KDA to games on Rengar where he would average a 1.38 KDA. Fans never knew what to expect. This is in large part due to the turmoil of tumultuous drama that brewed between each member of CLG during this high stress season. Whether Dexter was better than his on stage performances showed depends a lot on what was happening during the off stage time spent with his teammates.

 

Jake “Xmithie” Puchero (S on Immortals/ A- on CLG)

Ever since his days on Team Vulcun (XDG Gaming), Xmithie has been a staple jungler in the NA LCS. Currently on Team Immortals, Xmithie was a CLG jungler who seemed unscathed by the drama that arose from being on CLG during the peaks and troughs of previous splits. Competing in three separate world championships, Xmithie is potentially the most consistently accoladed jungler of the NA LCS.

Known as the Golden age of CLG, this lineup found great success landing a first place trophy. Courtesy of lolesports

 

Xmithie excels at play making junglers like Elise, Gragas and Lee Sin. His stats on Gragas make me question why that champion ever gets into his hands. His success on each and every team he has gone to show that he has the ability to lead a team to victory with these play making champions. As a shot caller, Xmithie clashed with other voices on CLG, but on Immortals he has found a loudspeaker for his decision making. While his KDA this season has yet to impress, his macro decision making has propelled Immortals into the first place they currently own.

 

Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett (B-)

If CLG’s eagerness to find a substitute for Dardoch does not worry you as a CLG fan, then you may not be aware of  Dardoch’s track record. With one of the lowest kill participation and some unimpressive stats in general, the risk CLG took in trading away Xmithie may not have been worth it. These risks arise from Dardoch’s unstable temperament. Being known for flaming his teammates as well as being one of the most proficient Lee Sin players in the LCS, Dardoch is the number one hot button LCS player.

 

For being the LCS bad boy, he doesn’t look like too bad of a guy… Courtesy of lolesports

That being said, CLG had all this information and more when they made the trade with Immortals for Dardoch. While second place in the LCS is deserving of much praise, Dardoch’s individual performance has by no means been the variable that has placed CLG so high in the standings. Having the most deaths per game out of any jungler with over 25 games played, Dardoch’s high risk, high reward play style seems to match his personality.

 

Omar “Omargod” Amin (B?)

The jury’s still out on Omargod. In the four games he has played, Omargod has had significant impact on their victories and troublesome performances in their defeats. However, Omargod has not had the easiest time in his four game tenure. With two games against the first place Immortals, one against a very strong team Dignitas and a flawless Olaf game against FlyQuest, Omargod has played against some very strong opponents. 

While only playing two different champions in the NA LCS so far, Omargod has drawn bans on Elise, Maokai and Zac. Time will tell for Omargod, however, he appears to be performing better than his counterpart and against tougher opponents too.

 

Honorable Mentions

It is true that CLG has had several other junglers throughout the organization’s past. Of these, two come to mind: Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco and Sam “Kobe24” Hartman-Kenzler. As for Kobe, this foxy devil, would only stay in the competitive League of Legends scene for one year after retiring to join Riot’s beloved casting squad. Kobe used to be known for missing smites,

I think we can all be happy that Kobe dropped the 24 and joined the casting crew at Riot games. Courtesy of lolesports flickr.

before Saintvicious himself, and would often be mocked through the “24” meme, which became a suffix for any other jungler who missed smite. It was not until he gave up competitive League of Legends and dropped the “24” in his name, that he would pass the missing smite meme onto his replacement, Saintvicious.

Saintvicious, who is currently one of the coaches on Team Dignitas alongside his former teammate David “Cop” Roberson, has been in the League of Legends competitive scene since before his receding hairline began receding. Beginning on Team SoloMid, Saintvicious later on went to play or coach for what feels like every team in the LCS. Expect to see Saintvicious staying in the competitive League of Legends scene until his hairline no longer exists.

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Featured image courtesy of lolesports Flickr

H2K are trending up in week six EU LCS

Trending in EU LCS: Week 6

The EU LCS returned this week after a brief hiatus to accommodate Rift Rivals. Since week five, Riot introduced patch 7.13 with several minor balance updates. Fans were able to see some adaptation in the various regional showdowns, but many European teams were able to experiment longer with the patch while Fnatic, Unicorns of Love and G2 played on the patch against representatives of the NA LCS.

Every new patch affects the meta. Every new meta affects teams’ performances. There were not too many huge shake-ups in the standings this week. However, week six does finish with some EU LCS elements trending up and others trending down.

Trending Up

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week six of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

G2 are trending up after week six of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2

G2 bounces back from a disappointing Rift Rivals showing by defeating Splyce in a dominant 2-0. Perkz looked much more comfortable in the mid lane, ending the series with a 16-1-15 scoreline. Trick utilized Sejuani in the jungle in both games. All-in-all, G2’s wins were clean. For example, the second game was less than 24 minutes long, and the samurai accumulated a 10,000 gold advantage in that time. With Misfits’ loss to Unicorns of Love, G2 tie for second place in Group A with a 4-3 record.

H2K

H2K secured another 2-0 over a Group A team, Roccat. While the win is not unexpected, the sheer severity of Roccat’s losses show that H2K wants to be at the top of Group B at the end of the Summer Split. Game one ended in 26 minutes and game two in 21 minutes. H2K did not die a single time in game one, and only sacrificed two turrets. Roccat got five kills in game two, but only one turret. Nuclear and Chei did not die a single time over the course of the series. H2K has finished every winning series 2-0, and they have only lost games to UOL and Fnatic. They will look to solidify themselves as the third best team in Europe against G2 next week.

MM Kikis is trending up after week six of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MM Kikis

Mysterious Monkeys picked up another series win this week against Roccat, but it was not pretty. Monkeys’ top laner, Kikis, came up huge in every single game to keep the team competitive. In game one it was a split-pushing Jayce. Game two was a mechanically intensive Akali, weaving between enemies, in and out of stealth. In game three it was an aggressive Renekton, finishing almost 4,000 gold over his lane opponent. While the Monkeys do not look too great as a team, Kikis is trying to be a menace in the top lane.

Cinderhulk junglers

The Enchantment: Cinderhulk jungle items were buffed because “while tanks are trying to farm Cinderhulk, everybody else around them is already farming more quickly,” according to the 7.13 patch notes. In response to this change, EU LCS junglers prioritized Gragas and Sejuani much higher than week five. Zac maintained his high ban rate, and was picked once by H2K’s Jankos. Olaf was locked in twice by Vitality’s Djoko. There were still other non-Cinderhulk junglers, such as Elise and Kha’Zix, but they were much less frequent.

Kalista ADC

The Spear of Vengeance has returned to the bottom lane in week six. While Kalista has seen a few lock-ins prior to this week, her play rate jumped this week. She was picked in seven out of 15 games, and banned in another three. This bump in pick and ban comes off the back of her strong showing at Rift Rivals, particularly the LCK-LPL-LMS showdown. Kalista enables her support to engage or disengage around her ultimate, Fate’s Call. Therefore, EU LCS bottom lanes paired her with Alistar, Rakan, Braum and Thresh. Finishing with four wins and three losses, she is not a guaranteed win, but Kalista will most likely continue to be a prioritized marksman pick.

Trending Down

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week six of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

Splyce's bottom lane is trending down after week six EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce bottom lane

Splyce lost 0-2 to G2 in their week six series, and none of their players looked particularly strong. One part of the map that looked weaker than usual was Splyce’s bottom lane duo, Kobbe and Mikyx. They ended the series with a combined 1-17-15 record playing Kalista-Rakan and Varus-Bard. In game one, G2’s Zven got a Triple Kill before 18 minutes, which included Kobbe and Mikyx. In game two, Zven killed Mikyx around five minutes, and Perkz killed Kobbe around seven minutes to start the snowball.

Roccat

Roccat finishes week six with two series losses against H2K and Mysterious Monkeys. This is going to heavily hinder their chance to make playoffs. H2K completely demolished them in two sub-27-minute games. Roccat lost large early leads in games one and two against the Monkeys. Luckily, they were able to bring it back in game two. However, they still lost game three in convincing fashion. Roccat’s record falls to 2-6, two games ahead of Ninjas in Pyjamas and two games behind G2.

Top lane Galio is trending down in week six of EU LCS

Image from LeagueofLegends.com

Galio top

While he was not completely relegated from professional play in the EU LCS, Galio was not drafted into the top lane this week. Tanks and bruisers, such as Renekton, Jarvan IV, Kled, Jax and Gnar were prioritized more. Galio’s armor was reduced in patch 7.13, which made him particularly weak against these AD threats. He may remain as a mid lane niche pick, as he was drafted by UOL’s Exileh and NIP’s Nagne in week six.

Lee Sin jungle

Unlike Galio, Lee Sin was not targeted in patch 7.13 at all. However, Enchantment: Cinderhulk, Rek’Sai and Kha’Zix were all changed in ways that negatively impacted Lee Sin. He was picked once by H2K’s Jankos and once by MM’s Amazing. Graves and Kindred were both picked while Lee Sin was still available. Olaf and Elise were played just as many times, or more. While Lee Sin is almost always a possible pick in professional League of Legends, he seems to have taken a back seat in the EU LCS for the time being.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, LeagueofLegends.com

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TSM is trending in Rift Rivals

Trending in Rift Rivals: NA v. EU

Rift Rivals is on in full force, as regions around the world battle for bragging rights. This new international event is clashing metas against each other, to surprising effect. The Atlantic rivalry, North America versus Europe, has been particularly exciting.

There was so much speculation coming into the event, regarding which teams would be strongest, which player match-ups would be most intense and which pocket picks might be locked in. Some of this guess-work has followed through on stage, but much of it has been turned on its head. Today, we will be looking at what is trending at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing since playing at Rift Rivals. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

C9 Jensen is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen

Even though Cloud9 has had a 50 percent win rate after three days at Rift Rivals, their mid laner has been putting up quite a performance. Jensen has the second highest overall KDA (10.4), the second lowest overall death share (7 percent), and the highest overall gold and CS leads at 10 minutes (427, 11.3). Critics in the NA LCS suggested Jensen’s performance may be inflated due to the wide mid lane talent pool within North America. Rift Rivals just may convince them otherwise, having withstood Rasmus “Caps” Winther, Luka “Perkz” Perković and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert.

Phoenix1

Heralded by many to be the weakest team coming into the event, P1 has been rocking the house in Berlin. The orange-and-black hold a 4-2 record after three days of competition, higher than Cloud9, Unicorns of Love, Fnatic and G2. P1 has been the dominant early game by far, averaging 1,272 gold ahead at 15 minutes. Maintaining the highest kill:death ratio, 1.87, P1 is also the team going for blood. Their matches have been invigorating for NA LCS fans hoping for a strong showing.

TSM

Analysts are beginning to shed more and more of their doubts about TSM. The defending champions of North America are on a tear, currently sitting 5-1 with the best record at Rift Rivals. The decisive, coordinated playstyle that allowed TSM to dominate the NA LCS in Spring 2016 has re-surged. They are averaging 1,438 gold ahead at 15 minutes against some of Europe’s strongest contenders. The biggest difference between TSM and other teams in the tournament, however, has been their neutral objective control. At 75 percent dragon control and 80 percent Baron control, they are among the highest of all teams.

Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung

Phoenix1’s jungler is making quite a name for himself in his first international performance. MikeYeung has become a playmaker that is not afraid to aggressively invade the enemy’s jungle or contest neutral objectives. His Lee Sin is very slippery, sporting a 9.8 KDA and 100 percent win rate over three games. Rift Rivals is furthering his claim for “Rookie of the Split” in the NA LCS (even if he is the only one currently eligible).

Top lane Gnar is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Top lane Gnar

Gnar has seen plenty of professional gameplay around the world since his release. However, his pick-ban rate has been low for most of 2017: 2.3 percent in spring and 5.9 percent so far this summer. Rift Rivals is seeing a resurgence of the Missing Link in the top lane. Gnar has been picked in seven games, banned in five, equaling 66.6 percent of total games. Teams have won 71.4 percent of games with the champion. This probably signals an increased priority for Gnar for the foreseeable future in NA and EU LCS.

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past.

Fnatic is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic

Following an upward trend last week in the EU LCS, Fnatic have slipped up so far at Rift Rivals. Over two days, the number one European team is only 2-4 against TSM, C9 and P1. Doing a complete 180 from the EU LCS Summer Split so far, Fnatic are averaging 2,378 gold behind at 15 minutes, and they have only secured 10 percent of dragons. No one player can take the blame, though.

Jeon “Ray” Ji-won

Cloud9’s top laner is on the decline since competing at Rift Rivals. While Ray has not necessarily put up star performances in the NA LCS, his shortcomings are on full display at this tournament. The third lowest overall KDA (1.6), third lowest overall kill participation (50 percent), second highest overall death share (29.8 percent) and ninth overall lowest damage per minute (261). These all belong to Ray. 

Rek'Sai jungle is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Rek’Sai jungle

Rek’Sai saw a sharp up-tick in gameplay last week in NA and EU LCS, since receiving a gameplay update. However, the Void Burrower has not been impactful so far at Rift Rivals. RekSai has only been picked or banned in four games, and only won one game. Zac, Elise, Gragas and Lee Sin have had significantly higher priority in drafts and performance in game.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports FlickrSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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The Telecom Wars continue: LCK at its most competitive

The telecom wars, SK Telecom T1 versus kt Rolster, are always the highlight games of the League Championship Korea. This most recent telecom war decided who would be the current captor of first place in the LCK. Before this telecom war occurred, the LCK held a very rare three-way tie for first place between kt Rolster, Samsung Galaxy and SKT T1. The three-way tie in a league where first place (SKT T1) is typically vastly distanced from second place is telling of this season’s fierce competition.

With the winner of the Telecom Wars deciding what phone company LCK caster, Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo, goes with, SKT T1 v kt Rolster is much more than your average professional League of Legends game. The Telecom Wars are typically a preview of who will win worlds. However with the current competition in the LCK, there are definitely more variables than just the two telecom companies.

Game 1: kt Rolster Victory 24:57

Kt Rolster decimated SKT T1 in the first game of their best of three. SKT failed to take a single tower the entire game, lost every single neutral objective (two Drakes, Rift Herald, and a Baron) and only managed to secure three kills in the sub 25-minute game. If you want to see some clean and controlled League of Legends to the point of near boredom, this is the game to watch. Kt Rolster created the team composition to snowball an early victory against SKT T1, drafting early game power with Renekton, Elise, Corki, Kalista and Thresh.

The top lane combination of Renekton stun into Elise cocoon sealed Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s fate in game one. Back to back kills on Huni put him so far behind that he was unable to complete his Cull until the twelve-minute mark. While compared to his opposing laner, kt Rolster’s Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Huni led in CS at twelve minutes, Smeb was already up two kills and an assist. Smeb went off. Up until the 18-minute mark, Smeb held 100 percent kill participation, proving that he is one of, if not, the best top laner in the world.

Despite Smeb’s performance, it was not entirely his show. Cho “Mata “Se-hyeong showed that his Thresh was a must ban for the next game. Mata was able to show up to every fight and have significant impact regardless of where the fight started. He seemed miles ahead of SKT T1 and was able to aid almost every play around the map as soon as he was able to roam. After game one, it appeared that kt Rolster was the new team to beat. With such a clean and decisive victory, kt Rolster illustrated that Renekton and Elise are a disgusting top and jungle combination that must be separated.

Kt delivers a swift defeat to SKT with an excellent draft that SKT would have to adapt against. Courtesy of loleventvods

Game 2: SKT T1 Victory 44:31

SKT T1 starts off game two by removing Thresh from Mata’s hands and once again banning kt’s signature Galio flex. The draft phase that SKT pulled off showed that they had learned from their mistakes in game one. Karma was once again picked early on for flex purposes, but this time was moved down to support, while the combination of Renekton and Elise was removed. In addition to this, Huni was subbed out in favor of Park “Untara” Ui-jin most likely as an answer to Huni’s tilting teleports and laning phase in game one. Untara was also able to get a soft counter to Renekton by securing Gnar in the second part of the draft phase.

While Smeb was still able to tear the game apart on Renekton, Untara was able to stop the bleeding by only giving up one kill during laning phase to the crocodile. Untara then drew pressure with his split pushing Gnar playstyle, resulting in a baron for SKT T1 as two kt players killed Gnar. Unfortunately for SKT, they were immediately aced after Faker took the Baron with his Orianna Shockwave. Had the Baron been stolen by kt, that would have undoubtedly been game once again at 25 minutes.

With a very similar early game composition, kt Rolster needed to secure a victory or an early Baron by the 25-minute mark. Unfortunately for them, SKT T1 was able to hold out. At 25 minutes into the game, the score was 2-11 in kills, kt’s lead, but with both SKT solo laners out scaling their counterparts; the game was not yet over. At the 30 minute mark, the score was still 2-11 in kills. By 35 minutes kt Rolster had only managed to acquire two more kills in their favor. Looking to secure the next Baron, kt traded two for one and then went for Elder. With two minutes of Elder buff and Baron buff combined and two open inhibitors, kt Rolster was poised to take out SKT for a clean 2-0.

How a turn around happens; one late game SKT team fight. Courtesy of loleventvods.

But not all went as planned for kt Rolster. They took both open inhibitors, but then stayed to topple the final inhibitor tower. While kt stayed at SKT’s base, their Elder and Baron buffs did not stay. SKT T1 took this moment, their only moment as super minions began pushing down both top and middle lane, to take a momentum-breaking team fight. Bae “Bang” Jun-sik’s Ashe was able to free fire the entire team fight allowing Untara to defend the remains of the base as the inhibitors respawned.

With SKT T1 6k gold and one baron buff down, they somehow managed to clean ace kt Rolster near the Baron pit putting SKT in a position to secure the victory with one dramatic push. While 6k gold is a lot to be down, SKT T1 had reached their individual item power spikes as a team, effectively out scaling kt Rolster’s composition.

Game 3: SKT T1 Victory 44:30

With an incredible upset in game two, SKT T1 looked to continue their late game momentum into the next match. With an early pause due to “Chair Issues”, this game already was off the rocker. An early counter gank made by kt Rolster after seeing Kang “Blank” Sun-gu on Gragas looping on kt’s bot lane left kt Rolster with an early lead once again at 2-0. At 20 minutes kt were 4k gold ahead, however, drakes were in SKT’s favor as they were in prior games. Once again, SKT’s draft for the late game allowed for some of these gold deficits to be nullified by the time thirty minutes came along. At 25 minutes, the score was 7-1 in kills as well as a Baron in kt’s favor. Things were looking grim for SKT, but Untara’s Fiora was just coming online.

Don’t bother looking at the Fiora taking all of your base. Coutesy of loleventvods.

SKT bought more time by catching out  Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu first through a face check into a Thresh and second from an attempt at some untimely vision control. Faker then turned onto Smeb’s Rumble for a solo kill after sneaking through vision gaps of kt Rolster. Things started cascading out of control after this, with Untara’s Fiora taking an inhibitor tower and an inhibitor in one push all while his team was able to get a Baron. This clumsy scramble to address Fiora’s split push sealed kt’s fate. The Untara win condition was too much for kt and they were unable to close out the game before SKT’s composition came online.

The Future of the Telecom Wars

Being the first round of the telecom wars for the Summer split, the matchup between kt Rolster and SKT T1 is and has always been a preview of the highest caliber of League of Legends play. If you do not watch the LCK regularly but are interested in top tier League of Legends play, give this series a watch. Both teams played incredibly well, and games two and three were very close. SKT T1 proved that if you cannot beat them by 25 minutes you will not beat them. Typically drafting towards late game team fights, SKT is the pinnacle of team fight coordination in competitive League of Legends. Pay special attention to how each player rotates their attention to deal with appropriate threats and to stack Crowd Control. SKT makes late game team fights look scripted, even against other top tier teams in the LCK.

Yes, SKT T1 is a team that encapsulates perfection. However, the LCK is as close in skill as it has been in quite some time. Only one victory separates first place from a tie for second place, and fourth place is only two victories behind first; the LCK hosts heated competition. Expect to see the competition grow as, by the time you are reading this, Samsung Galaxy will be playing Longzhu Gaming to see if they can once again tie SKT T1 for first place.

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Featured image courtesy of LOLeventvods

Dragon Fist Lee Sin splash art

SICK KICKS: Dragon’s Rage as Used by LCS Junglers

Lee Sin is an ever-present pick within the jungle pool for professional League of Legends. Players all around the world have perfected the complex mechanics of this champion. The Blind Monk is valuable for his quick clear, his impactful early ganks, his vision on the map, and his outplay potential.

So far in the 2017 EU and NA LCS Summer Splits, Lee Sin is picked or banned in 71-72 percent of games. This presence is massive, especially when considering how often Lee Sin has historically been playable in the meta. His ultimate ability, Dragon’s Rage, is a particularly popular ability, for competitors and audiences alike.

Players use Dragon’s Rage for a range of purposes. A caught out enemy is punished by pushing him into Lee Sin’s team. The jungler can also help peel for primary carries by kicking a chasing enemy back away from the team. Or Dragon’s Rage can zone certain threats out of a fight or away from an objective. This ability gives a player so much agency that fans keep their eye on the positioning of the Lee Sin.

Highlights from week two of the EU and NA LCS Summer Split are below. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon, Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, Juan “Contractz” Garcia, Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian, Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun, and Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen are the featured players in the montage. Each of them uses Lee Sin’s Dragon Rage in various ways to demonstrate the power of a well-timed, well-placed kick. This single ability was crucial to several series wins and losses.

Lee Sin currently sits at a 64 percent win rate in the NA LCS, and a 54 percent in EU. Players generally build Tracker’s Knife (Warrior) for the warding and attack damage. Black Cleaver offers health and armor shred. Ninja Tabi grants movement speed and damage reduction, while Deadman’s Plate comes with armor, health, movement speed and attack damage. Lee Sin is best played into Kha’Zix and Elise, according to Games of Legends. Understanding when Dragon’s Rage is available is key to viewing Lee Sin on-screen, or playing against him on Summoner’s Rift.


Featured Image: LeagueSplash

Video Highlights: Game Haus Vibby

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends

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Does Team Liquid Deserve Their LCS Spot?

After a problematic first week in the North American League Championship Series, Team Liquid’s shaky start promotes questions of the competitive integrity within the League itself. Not too long ago, Team Liquid faced relegations at the end of the Spring Split. Their participation in the Summer Promotion tournament following their poor performance throughout the Spring Split was aided through the convenient substitution of some of the League’s best players: “Adrian” Ma and Peter “DoubleLift” Yilang.

 

CLG bring TL their first loss of the weekend through expert dragon control. Courtesy of lolesports

With Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin in the mid lane, Team Liquid was in dire need of a powerhouse bottom lane, and they bought it. Through “renting” these two players, Team Liquid successfully paid their way out of relegations; conveniently so, as franchising has now begun. In renting DoubleLift, TL successfully rented one of the most mechanically proficient players while also securing a venerated shot caller currently at the head of TSM.

 

 

Team 0-2

Currently, Team Liquid sits at 0-2 in the standings. Their losses against Echo Fox and Counter Logic Gaming were both head scratchers in very different ways. Against CLG, Team Liquid were gifted three kills onto Piglet’s Jhin, followed by ten minutes of TL shuffling up and down the river looking for plays they could not find. In game two of TL vs CLG, dragon control led to an inevitable four stack Elder, allowing CLG to dismantle TL in a team fight forty minutes in the making.

Echo Fox versus TL proved Team Liquid had more weaknesses than substitutions could patch, but it also showed how much synergy matters on the competitive stage. Watching the first game of this series showed one of two things: Echo Fox has mastered map movements to a T, or that TL has no idea how to work as a team around objectives. While the latter is definitely true, Echo Fox did show a masterful ability to work the map. However, this has yet to be challenged by a top tier team.

In game two, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham proved to be a high-pressure combo, killing Slooshi’s Cassiopeia under tower with the Taliyah and Lee Sin synergy. Akaadian then stopped by every lane, snowballing advantages in every sector of the map. Reignover’s Elise was nowhere to be found, failing counter ganks that should have been called out far before they were initiated.

Echo Fox show that dominant map movement and teamplay are the two things that matter most in League of Legends. Courtesy of lolesports

TL then proceeded to ignore a Rift Herald drop in the mid lane until it had already taken a tower and a half. Once again, game two was defined through TL being out macroed as an entire team. Each of these players has undeniably great mechanics, but ultimately Echo Fox brought what TL could not buy, teamplay.

 

Liquid Without the Team Part

 

Teamplay is something Team Liquid sincerely lacks. Team Liquid’s lack of confidence in one another transcends the stage as Piglet has suggested in recent interviews. Piglet has told reporters that he would like to play mid again, while also stating that he should not bring it up to his team for obvious reasons. He openly doubts his teammates, creating an environment of disrespect that will deny team cohesion. Piglet calls out his team’s ability to shot call, claiming there is a lack of clarity in calls. This does not bode well for TL as Erving Goffman, American Sociologist, has stated that the greatest threat to a team is not being able to act in synchronized behavior (Goffman, 1959).

The caliber of play Team Liquid has shown in their first week of the LCS is severely lacking in comparison to their super sub bailout squad that barely beat Gold Coin United in the Summer Promotion Tournament. Due to the last minute substitutions during Team Liquid’s escape from relegations, the Summer split now hosts a team that is of an undeniably lower caliber than teams in the NACS. To add insult to injury, fans will be unable to watch NACS games this season, which will undoubtedly be entertaining, to say the least.

 

TL Goldenflue optimistic before his substitution. Courtesy of lolesports flickr.

For the sake of competition in the NALCS, we must hope that Team Liquid can turn things around. Perhaps the “impersonal contacts between strangers [which]  are particularly subject to stereotypical responses, will change [when] persons come to be on closer terms with each other… this categorical approach recedes and gradually sympathy, understanding, and a realistic assessment of personal qualities take its place” (Goffman, 1963). Team Liquid hosts some undeniably talented players, but until they learn to cooperate, they will continue to be an undeniably untalented team.

 

 

 

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of lolesports flickr

Goffman Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959 Print.

Goffman Erving. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, 1963 Print

 

EU’s Final Showdowns: G2-UOL, FNC-MSF

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

Misfits

Playoffs: Misfits mid laner, PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

Fnatic

Playoffs: Fnatic's support, Jesiz

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

Unicorns of Love

Playoffs: Unicorns of Love's top laner, Vizicsacsi

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

G2

Playoffs: G2's mid laner, Perkz

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

predictions

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

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


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The League’s Explorers: A Retrospective

It’s hard not to look back on the League of Explorers expansion with rose-tinted spectacles. It came after the relatively non impactful Grand Tournament expansion that seemed to do little but introduce the much-maligned Secret Paladin, and following on the heels of a controversial Warsong Commander nerf. It provided a well-needed injection of variety and levity. Though the expansion added a number of exciting, archetype defining cards, it’s best remembered for its four eponymous Explorers. These oft-hatted adventurers weren’t just the thematic heart of the expansion; they each provided a powerful and lasting impact on Hearthstone’s history.

 

Sir Finley Mrrglton

This gentleman’s refined demeanor belied his aggro inclinations

Sir Finley heralded the rise of a whole new breed of aggro decks. Previously, many archetypes had been lumbered with an inherently defensive hero power. Classes like Warrior or Shaman could sometimes match Hunters with their quality of cards,; but the consistent pressure granted by the Steady Shot Hero Power made it the premier aggro class. Sir Finley Mrrglton single-handedly smashed that paradigm. He provided a decent body early-game, but mainly allowed a game plan synergistic hero power to replace an otherwise near-useless defensive one. Along with his one mana, 1/3 buddy Tunnel Trogg, he was a vital part in the rise of Aggro Shaman.

Steady Shot and Lifetap were of course the most coveted, but even Fireblast or Druid’s Transform were viable alternatives to the otherwise near-useless Armor Up and Totem powers. Whether or not this impact was healthy in the long run is a matter of perspective. In the short run, though, it contributed massively to an increase in the variety of Aggro. With Hunter on the ropes as a class, perhaps it’s best that Steady shot becomes unique to them once more…

What can we learn after Mrrglton’s Rotation? Well, for one, changing to another class’s hero power might dilute class flavor a bit much. Especially in the days when Small Time Buccaneer and Patches were ubiquitous, opening into the same few cards and the same few hero powers began to get monotonous. On the plus side, his voice acting and entry sequence were truly top-notch. On the other hand, allowing more variety in hero powers can help more viable decks flourish.

Brann Bronzebeard

Brann’s wild combos might be best suited to the Wild format

Brann Bronzebeard was an obvious addition ever since the likes of Baron Rivendare’s Deathrattle-doubling effect was introduced. His battlecry duplication ability with only minor stat costs made him a versatile inclusion in a wide variety of decks. From Dragon, to C’thun, to Jade, there were very few archetypes that couldn’t at least partially justify his inclusion.

While his incremental value was impressive, he could also inspire some truly broken combos. While Brann-Kazakus is the most popular now, few can forget the game-ending might of Brann into a Thaurrisan discounted Doomcaller. Barely any decks could withstand the onslaught of three C’thuns.

However, perhaps it’s for the best that he’s rotating out. As Kazakus has shown, he severely limited the design space for potent battlecry minions, or otherwise making certain archetypes and strategies far more potent than they had any right to be (see Jade Shaman). In that regard, Brann is a perfect advertisement for the merits of the Standard rotation system. While his potentially gamebreakingly powerful interactions will still exist to inspire and provoke wonder in Wild, they won’t pollute the carefully tuned balance of Standard.

Elise Starseeker

This card defined Control before Jade and Kazakus

Elise Starseeker was never meant to be anything other than a fun diversion. When she completely redefined Control decks, it was almost by accident. Together with Justicar Trueheart, she marked the temporary transition of Control decks from having heavy threats like Ysera in their deck to largely relying on her late-game value generation after reaching fatigue. The ability to swap out useless card draw and low-impact spells and minions for a cascade of huge bombs led to the evolution of Warrior and Priest decks. They could afford to go as anti-aggro as possible while still having a fighting chance in the control mirror.

The Golden Monkey itself provoked wonder, counter-play, and frustration in equal measure. While Legendary RNG decided many matchups, the variance was welcomed by adding unpredictability to the otherwise mathematically tedious calculations of Fatigue; and whilst she was powerful, there were numerous counterplay options. Most notably saving tempo tools like removal or Sylvanas for after the monkey hard replaced all comeback mechanics with clunky minions.

That said, the promotion of 20-minute plus games was perhaps an unhealthy one. Many players found it tedious and time-consuming facing decks that stalled out for dozens of turns before doing anything proactive. Still, Elise proved a powerful point; the promotion of potent proactive late-game strategies for control decks that don’t rely on replacing significant proportions of the deck with slow bombs could shake up otherwise stale interactions between late-game decks, while keeping their viability against aggro and midrange.

Reno Jackson

The fact that “Reno decks” are a concept tells of this card’s power

Few cards have been as impactful as Reno. This dapper member of the Explorers inspired multiple breeds of decks. Even the name Reno became a byword for singleton decks. His unique ability to provide incredible burst healing to classes that otherwise struggle with survivability, like Warlock or Mage, resulted in a new style of potent control decks. With the near-extinction of Handlock and struggle of Control Mage to find a raison d’etre after Echo of Medivh rotated out and Molten Giant’s mana was raised, the card provided a safe haven for those who wanted to play late-game oriented versions of those classes.

Kazakus provided a boost for singleton decks, making them the only option for Control after Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. This rise provided an additional spotlight on the less pleasant aspects of the class. By concentrating huge amounts of the decks’ power into a few key cards, decks tended to be exceptionally powerful, but horribly inconsistent, especially versus aggro. This made it especially frustrating when draw RNG was in favor of one player, as games often felt like a coin-flip.

Perhaps the best lesson to learn from Reno Jackson is to spread out the power cards for any given archetype over a decent number of deckslots. This will make games not as overly dependent on one draw-specific answers. The other, more positive lesson is already one that Team 5 has learned from; giving players reward for creative deckbuilding challenges pays off in terms of gameplay variety.

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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Week 8: Team Vitality on stage

EU LCS Players Who Need to Bounce Back in Week 8

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

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

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

Origen’s Jungler

Week 8: Origen Wisdom

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

VIT Djoko

Week 8: Team Vitality Djoko

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

SPY Trashy

Week 8: Splyce Trashy

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

FNC sOAZ

Week 8: FNC sOAZ

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

MSF PowerOfEvil

Week 8: Misfits PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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