Impressions from the Philadelphia Fusions First Week at Blizzard Arena

The Philadelphia Fusion, unfortunately, got less prepare time than other teams due to VISA issues stopping them from participating in the preseason. The 10-man roster is all foreign-born players from across the globe. A team assembled from numerous different teams with little crossover from player-to-player, entered the regular season with, as the casters preached, “the element of surprise.”

In any case, first impressions of the Fusion are a mixed-bag after a 1-1 start. It was good to see the Fusion come out and get a win over the Houston Outlaws in their first game on the big stage, but unluckily the Fusion drew the Spitfire in game two and ended week one with a 3-6 game record.

The Strength of the Fusion

Carpe and Shadowburn. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

However, fielding a starting damage-duo of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha will give the Fusion two reliable players that will keep them in games. That was clear heading into this season. However, the one aspect of this roster that came to the surface in week one was the strength of this teams tank line.

Arguably one of the biggest surprises of the week was the play of flex player Gael “Poko” Gouzerch. Alongside Finnish tank-main Joona “Fragi” Laine, the two paved the way up front for Carpe and ShaDowBurn, while showing up in the kill feed often. Poko was in on nearly every engagement and was finishing off players at a hectic pace.

In their very first game under the bright lights, the world got a first-hand look at the potential of Carpe on Tracer and the hard-hitting ShaDowBurn on Genji and neither disappointed. Taking a look at how each player wants to play, the styles match up quite well. Both players excel in one thing above all else and that’s building ultimate charge and we saw that against the Outlaws.

In a similar fashion, Poko’s ability to stay alive on the payload and build ultimate charge also plays into this teams strengths. Each fight seemingly ended with a fully-charged ultimate from one of those three Fusion players. It’s rather impressive watching this team find shots to build.

The Weak Spots

Boombox practicing. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

It wasn’t all good for the Philadelphia Fusion last week. Playing a team as talented as the London Spitfire will expose a team’s weaknesses without a doubt. For as strong of the front line of the dive-composition is for the Fusion, the backside support doesn’t exactly inspire the same level of fear in opponents.

Facing the Spitfire displayed an inability for the Fusion to defend against diving on Mercy and the failure to avoid attacks from the backline. Against the Outlaws, it was unlimited dragon blade’s and pulse bombs, but facing the Spitfire it came down to simply outshooting the opponent. With more support deaths Carpe and ShaDowBurn weren’t able to play to their strengths.

In light of this, the onus falls to Poko and Fragi to play better up front. The lack of impact from Isaac “Boombox” Charles and the mixing of Mercy’s between Alberto “neptuNo” González and Park “Dayfly” Jeong-hwan seems to be a problem. The Fusion have a talented group of support players with Joe “Joemeister” Gramano coming off the bench, but each player wants to play a different way.

Furthermore, the inopportune timing of the support ultimates against the Spitfire was a big reason why this team lost. It’s not the time for this team to make a change, as Boombox is essentially the only Zenyatta on the roster, but there might come a time where this team needs to reexamine the supports.

In spite of a loss to the Spitfire, this team showed that there’s a good chance they end up in the top-six at the end of the season.

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Featured photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coach Inero addresses Echo Fox’s off-season and Spring Split expectations

LCS fans and analysts are having difficulty placing Echo Fox in their power rankings following the off-season in North America. Many outlets hesitate to place FOX high on their list, citing reasons like “asking [these] players to work together…raises a lot of questions,” “we just don’t see them having good synergy,” “somebody needs to step up and keep the team together when the going gets tough,” and “negative feelings about this organization.” No one is denying the potential prowess of Huni, Dardoch, Fenix, Altec or Adrian. Everyone is unsure of their abilities to cooperate, or that Echo Fox is the organization to manage them.

On Tuesday, January 16, Echo Fox hosted a Roster Day “to familiarize professionals…with those involved in Echo Fox.” The organization invited journalists and other media to interview members of the FOX family, including players, coaches and executives. Many of these interviews involved asking questions about Dardoch’s past issues and public perception. However, every member interviewed downplayed any current negativity, and promoted him as reformed.

Strangely enough, no one has mentioned Echo Fox’s coach, Nick “Inero” Smith, who has been with the organization since May 2017. He coached the LCS team to an eighth place finish last Summer Split, and oversaw team construction in the off-season. It will be his responsibility to weave FOX’s team members together in 2018. Here are his thoughts on the off-season and Spring Split of NA LCS.

Inero is the head coach for Echo Fox in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

the Off-season

Question: What was Echo Fox’s philosophy for building a roster in the off-season?

“Going into the off-season, our plan for the LCS was to create as competitive a roster as possible. Alongside this, we wanted that roster to be young and committed to us for the long-term. Making sure those players that were all committed to the same goal of being a top team was extremely important, and we believe we’ve acquired the best five possible for this. For academy, we took a similar approach but pulled players from our own scouting boot camps.”

Question: Echo Fox brought on an entirely new roster for 2018. How much of that change came from Echo Fox scrapping everything and starting fresh, versus the previous players deciding to find other options? 

“Our main objective was to have a roster that all were aligned towards the same goal, while also being as competitive as possible. We didn’t go into the off-season wanting to completely redo the entire roster, but when rosters begin moving it happens very quickly and we must be completely certain that all the players we sign are ready and willing to commit to those same goals.”

Inero is the head coach of Echo Fox for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coach Inero stressed that Echo Fox’s main objectives for roster-building in the off-season were competition and alignment. He wants players that will be able to play at the top level of League of Legends. He also wants players that can come together and build their synergy around wanting to succeed. Fans will look at Echo Fox’s roster for Spring Split and see all competitive players. None of them are talentless. And the big synergy question comes down to hunger for victory. Inero is betting that ferocity will bring these individuals together into a functional unit.

The Spring Split

Question: How do you plan on managing the dominant personalities joining Echo Fox, in-game and out-of-game?

“I don’t think the personalities on this roster are as dominating or conflicting as people make them out to be. Public perception of the players on our LCS roster is overall pretty negative, but it mainly comes from people who have never worked or interacted with them before. Having five players that all want the same thing makes everyone’s lives a lot easier, and everyone is extremely cooperative with one another. For the coaching staff, this means we can all focus on becoming NA LCS champions, rather than trying to motivate the players to want the same thing.”

Question: With that in mind, what are your expectations for your LCS and Academy rosters in Spring Split? 

“I have really high expectations for our LCS roster over the course of this year, but as a step-goal for the Spring Split, we’d like to bring the organization to the playoffs for the first time in their history. Every other team under Echo Fox is performing at the top of their league, and it’s time for us to do the same. I fully expect that we’ll go further than just reaching the playoffs, but also reaching playoffs is a decent start. For academy, it’s tough to say, with every academy team taking different approaches to the league, but I have full confidence in all five players and Peter to be in the top half of their league as well.”

Dardoch and Adrian join Echo Fox in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Just like Dardoch and other team members denied any clashing of personalities, Coach Inero assuages the community’s fears. This is powerful, coming from the coach who oversees everything. Inero describes FOX’s roster as “cooperative,” not something you will find in any power rankings. He believes Echo Fox can realistically make playoffs for the first time since its induction to the LCS. This would be a landmark win for the organization, and it would prove doubters wrong.

With the return of best-of-ones and new organizations entering the LCS, it is impossible to predict this split. But if Echo Fox is able to become a contender in the NA LCS, then Inero should be given credit. There has been so much dissent towards Echo Fox in the past, and towards the current roster in the off-season. If Inero is able to align these players, then he should earn massive props from the community.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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The “Poko Bomb” is tearing up the Overwatch League

Teams in the Overwatch League will now have to prioritize the ultimate status of Gael “Poko” Gouzerch’s self-destructs after sheer domination with it through the first two weeks. Throughout the entire league, no other player is even within striking distance of total ultimate kills and after a huge performance against the San Francisco Shock, it’s not looking like anyone will catch him.

In fact, the team twitter account is actually looking to change the name of D.va’s ultimate to the “Poko bomb.” If this keeps up, I think Blizzard will have no choice, but to change it. Here’s a stat to illustrate Poko’s self-destruct dominance.

That stat says it all. Poko’s success rate is at an incredibly high-percentage right now and that’s proven by the gigantic lead in ultimate kills league-wide. The overall number is impressive, but it’s not the volume of ultimate kills, it’s the consistency. 

During the Philadelphia Fusion’s 2-1 victory over the Shock, an overwhelming amount of fights were won simply off self-destructs. Poko’s not only consistently getting kills, but finding quick ways to build his ultimate. Following his aggressive tank partner, Joona “Fragi”  Laine, who helps clear out space allowing for the DPS-mains and an ultimate building minded Poko to farm ult-charge.

Once it’s ready, it’s just a matter of time before D.Va’s mech comes crashing down on you because it’s not only the angles he throws the self-destructs at, it’s the timing. Waiting for the moment the opposition uses their ultimates or decides to fall-back to strike. It’s also the creative heights in which he flies and the targets he picks out. It’s all calculated.

From here on out, tracking Poko’s ultimate usage is going to be a priority. On the final game on Eichenwalde, three straight self-destructs led to double-kills while taking out Mercy. This was the case all afternoon for the Shock. Expecting a George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, the constant aggressive self-destructs kept catching the backline off guard.

In only three games, Poko has established himself as a specialist with that ultimate. Moving forward, it’s going to be in the back of teams’ minds. Teams will be forced to make adjustments if he continues to find kills at this high of a success rate.

Additionally, Poko’s style of play is very much aligned with how his Fusion teammates approach the game.This bodes well for them as they develop and hone their strategy. Poko fits in this role behind two capable DPS-mains and Fragi on the Winston. Those three distract as Poko positions himself for an end of the fight self-destruct. 

However, a team that is focused on flanking could be hard-countered. In their loss on Dorado, the Shock committed heavily to anti-dive and waited for ShaDowBurn to flank. It was the only time the Shock had success against the Fusion dive composition. 

However, is this sustainable for Poko? He’s landing two-kills on basically every self-destruct attempt. The 2.38 ult kills per 10 minutes is not sustainable but don’t expect to see anything less from Poko. He’s logged plenty of practice time into perfecting the timing and distance of D.va’s explosion. Even if he lands fewer kills, Poko is still a threat to turn every team fight when he has full-charge. 

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Featured photos via Overwatch Wiki

Player Spotlight: Babybay

Courtesy of Babybay

Overwatch League Player Spotlight: Babybay

Every week here at The Game Haus we will be highlighting one player from the Overwatch League. This weeks player is Babybay of the San Francisco Shock.

Andrej “Babybay” Francisty is the main DPS/Flex player for the Shock. He is part of a very strong roster of talented players but Babybay manages to separate himself from his peers. He was one of the biggest stand outs from this years preseason where his Widowmaker play was simply something to behold.

Another reason he is able to separate himself is that he is American. Americans aren’t known for our Esports prowess. Babybay is more well known for his Genji, Mcree, and Soldier 76 which was part of the reason his Widow stood out to so many people. After the matches during the preseason he was interviewed and seemed to relish in the crowds cheering.

History of Babybay

The last time Babybay played in a LAN competition was the Overwatch Winter Premiere back in January of last year. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been competing for longer than that. His history in Esports runs fairly deep. The last team he was a part of was Kungarna. He was part of their roster on two separate occasions.

The Shock have two more players joining their roster later this season as they are ineligible to play due to the Overwatch League age requirement. Babybay and the Shock will look to keep up the high level play as they not only fight for the Overwatch League title but fight for California supremacy as they are joined in California by the two Los Angeles teams, the Valiant and the Gladiators.

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Overwatch League’s Uprising may cause some upsizing

Big numbers in Day two of the Overwatch League. Big numbers coming out of cities hosting watch parties 

Boston Uprising watch party at The Greatest Bar.

Upsizing not Uprising

This is a picture taken last Thursday at the Boston Uprising watch party held at The Greatest Bar (clever name, not my opinion.) inside the TD Garden where the Celtics and Bruins play. Over 125 people crammed into the two floors of a Boston sports bar.

Now I don’t know if any of you have been to Boston sports bars, I’m sure some of you have. This is the last thing anyone expected. Especially The Greatest Bar. Boston Uprising hosted the event and also had people there giving out free merch to fire up the crowds. To see people cramming themselves into a bar to watch video games gives me immense hope for this sport. For this league. For the next generation of geeks.

Watch parties like this have been held all over the country for the Overwatch League. San Francisco hosted one and had Sinatraa and Super, players who are currently ineligiable to play, there to meet and take pictures. Around 100 people showed up to watch that one.

Picture of Houston Outlaws watch party.

Houston, from all the pictures Posted around the internet had what appears to be the biggest watch party of them all. Over 600 people came out in support of the Houston Outlaws! That’s insane!

Some fans even drove across the country to the Blizzard Arena to watch their favorite teams complete.

These two guys drove 2,700 miles to watch the NYXL. Viewership on Twitch yesterday peaked at just about 250,000. I know it’s still early. I know it’s the “cupcake phase” or however you want to say it. It’s still new and exciting but even people who aren’t fans of Esports have to at least admit this is impressive.

Did you attend/throw any watch parties for your favorite team? Let us know! Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Links are down below!

Credit to The Esports Writer.

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Do the London Spitfire have a roster problem?

In this week of completely logical, and non-overreaction reactions, one (successful) team seems to have an eventual roster issue if things stay as they were in week one. The London Spitfire did come out and dominate to no one’s surprise, but the lack of substitutions raised some questions.

Birdring and Profit coming to stage in Burbank, CA. Photo via of London Spitfire Twitter

The first question, and the most important question moving forward, is if this starting roster will continue to play the majority of games? There’s a good chance that the starting six will stay: Kim “birdring” Ji-hyuk and Park “Profit” Joon-yeong on the damage heroes, Kim “Fury” Jun-ho and Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee on the tanks and Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae and Kim “NUS” Jong-seok as support mains.

In all eight games, the Spitfire stuck to this group. No substitutions throughout the week. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung, who’s notably one of the best Winston mains in Korea, sat on the bench behind Gesture all weekend. In the same vein, players such as Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-woo on support, Jung “Closer” Won-sik sitting back NUS on Mercy and another well-known player in Kim “Rascal”  Dong-jun all sat on the bench.

Will it change in week two?

Based on interviews, it feels as if the Spitfire is running with two separate groups. In case anyone didn’t know, the Spitfire is made up of primarily one of two of the best Korean teams at the time of the signing period for the Overwatch League. It seems as if there’s internal competition, and while the starting lineup is made up of some GC Busan players, it still feels lacking.

Now, a scenario could arise where the Spitfire go with an entirely different unit than in week one. It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a possibility. Remember, this team has the maximum number of players on one roster so there’s the option to start a different six than before. It feels even less likely that Fissure or Rascal will continue to ride the bench.  

Here’s another scenario, the Spitfire coaches are carefully watching to see how each unit works against what teams and comps. It’s early in the season and the Spitfire knew they matched up with a bottom six team in the Florida Mayhem and the Philadelphia Fusion who missed the preseason entirely. It’s a good chance to see what they are up against.

Is this the best starting six?

Coach Park Chang-geun setting the starting lineup. photo via London Spitfire twitter

Lastly, the question needs to be asked if this coaching staff will role with this six considering the hero pools of each player and skill level. Yes, the lineup they went with in week one is considerably better than almost any combination from any other team in the league.

Looking at these names, Profit is arguably the best Tracer and birdring the best Widowmaker/Soldier 76. Gesture and Fissure are as equally gifted Winston players, but Gesture’s only role is on the dive-Winston. In any scenario where that’s the play, Gesture will outshine Fissure. Same goes for Fury on the D.va instead of taking Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-hyun.

It goes without saying, but BDosin has a long-standing history of incredible Zenyatta play. It will take quite a turn from BDosin to be forced out in favor of HagoPeun, especially after week one. I expect Closer to get some run at Mercy over NUS.

So, in essence, this is likely the best starting six possible based on the composition and game planning strategy this team runs with. Regardless, don’t expect this lineup to stick forever. There’s plenty of talent on the bench to give this team a needed push when called upon.

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Featured photos via London Spitfire twitter

And the Overwatch League Week One MVP is…

The opening week of the Overwatch League has now come and gone, and after two games a piece the teams are already starting to separate themselves. In similar fashion, certain players stood out amongst the talented group and flashed early on.

It is no surprise, the best teams in the league are the heavy-Korean teams such as the Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior. All of whom ended the first week at 2-0. The other undefeated team is the one surprise from this week, the Los Angeles Valiant sweept their matches ending the week up 7-0 in games.

Who was the week one MVP?

After the dust settled, four players stood out among the rest of the player pool. The first player to be mentioned is Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun for the Seoul Dynasty. Unlike any other player this weekend, Fleta went above and beyond with his hero pool. Seven unique characters all combining to do massive amounts of damage and help carry the Dynasty to a 6-1 weekend.

Pine signing autographs after the win. Photo via the Overwatch League

As for the unsung heroes of the opening week, how about Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and the Valiant taking the league by storm? Led by SoOn and his backline Tracer play the Valiant rolled through the San Francisco Shock and came out victorious even though they were the underdog against the Dallas Fuel. SoOn’s presence made the difference with his constant pressure that worked wonders alongside Valiant’s dive composition.

Looking at the New York Excelsior roster, there are a few names that took a big step this weekend. Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon’s flashiness on the Widowmaker and McCree or Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol rolling on Tracer made it a tough decision to make. One Excelsior separated himself from some of the other support mains in the league

Bang “Jjonak” Sung-hyeon was responsible for huge picks, a great deal of healing, fight winning transcendents, and a ridiculous amount of healing on Zenyatta. It truly was an all-around great performance. In terms of best Mercy play, one half of the Dynasty dynamic support-duo, Jin-mo “tobi” Yang, was nasty with Valkyrie, moving in-and-out of danger in a flash.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the London Spitfire roster considering that roster still feels very much in the air. Keep an eye on the Spitfire to have a more fluid starting roster in the future.

Drumroll Please

As for the best of the weekend, it’s quite simple, Fleta was the workhorse for the Seoul Dynasty. Anytime the Dynasty needed a hero switch and a big push, Fleta would switch and the Dynasty would win. It’s nice to see a wide variety of top-end talents at multiple heroes and position making a name for themselves. Now let’s see if they do it again in week two.

 

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Featured photo via Overwatch League

The 2018 North American Academy League starts soon.

Introducing the 2018 North American Academy League rules and rosters

Along with the franchising of the North American LCS, Riot is introducing an Academy League for the 2018 season. This league is replacing the North American Challenger Series of previous years. Each LCS organization is required to support an Academy roster alongside their primary team, which will compete in the “minor league.”

While this move is not a huge change for North American League of Legends, Riot has stated slightly different goals for this Academy League compared to the Challenger Series:

“At its core, Academy League is a service for organizations to develop in-house talent–unlike its high-stakes predecessor, the Challenger Series, whose focus was to promote new teams to the NA LCS.”

The Academy League is not necessarily designed to be competitive in the same way Challenger Series was. It is a space for organizations to focus on bringing in players and coaches to season them into LCS talents.

STRUCTURE and RULES

The 2018 Academy League Spring Split schedule is available online

Image from lolesports.com

The Academy League will run parallel to the NA LCS. For every Saturday and Sunday LCS match-up there will be a Thursday or Friday Academy match. For example, since TSM and Team Liquid’s LCS teams face off in week one, their Academy teams also face off in week one. Academy League is a best-of-one double round robin, just like the LCS. Riot will broadcast Friday’s Academy series, but Thursday’s will only be available as VODs. The entire schedule is published on their website.

In order to keep the Academy League true to its goals, Riot has implemented a few roster restrictions. Every organization has to lock in their active roster each Wednesday, then set starters by 1:00pm for Academy, and 12:00pm for LCS, each game day. Riot kept roster changes relatively flexible, because they “felt it would be detrimental for player development if it was difficult for players to move between the starting Academy and LCS rosters.”

In addition, Academy teams have veteran and import player limits. For the 2018 Spring Split, Academy teams can only start up to three veterans and one non-resident. Riot was torn between expanding North America’s rising stars and continuing to support established talents through the chaos of the franchising off-season. Moving forward, Academy teams will be restricted to two veterans.

They define a veteran as “if the player has started over 50% of eligible regular season games over the course of the last two splits of professional, Worlds-eligible League of Legends competition (i.e. NA LCS, EU LCS, etc).” Riot believes veterans bring several benefits to Academy teams. They allow LCS organizations to field a couple of solid substitutes for their bench. Veterans on Academy teams can also help influence young players in and out of the game. Import players can use the Academy to “get acclimated to NA esports, as well as learn English and deal with the transition of living in a new country.”

Academy Team Rosters (previous team-recent achievement)

OpTic Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

OpTic Academy (OPTA)

Dhokla – Sin Gaming – 4th place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Kadir – ÇİLEKLER – 8th place 2017 Turkish Championship League Summer

Palafox – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Andy – Zenith eSports – 2nd place 2016 Carbon Winter Invitational

Winter – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

OpTic’s roster-building strategy did not carry over as much from their LCS roster. While Dhokla most recently competed in Australia, he is North American, along with Palafox, Andy and Winter. Kadir, from the Netherlands, is the only technical non-resident.

This Academy squad seems to truly be about developing young talent, as these players have hardly anything on their resume coming into 2018. Hopefully the OpTic LCS team gels better than predicted, because none of these players appear ready to take the main stage just yet.

Team Liquid joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TL Academy (TLA)

RepiV – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Hard – Echo Fox – 10th place 2016 NA LCS Summer

Mickey – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shoryu – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Joey – CLG sub- 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Liquid’s Academy team centers around Korean mid laner Mickey, who TL brought on towards the end of Summer Split. Hard has some LCS experience as a starter and substitute, while Joey was a substitute for CLG under Aphromoo. He did get to start a couple of times during the Spring Split.

RepiV (previously Viper) and Shoryu are essentially solo queue talents, although RepiV was Liquid’s top lane substitute for most of last year. This Academy roster provides Mickey, Hard and Joey as substitutes if Xmithie, Pobelter or Olleh do not pan out. However, it is mostly a testing ground for RepiV and Shoryu.

FlyQuest joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

FlyQuest Academy (FQA)

Ngo – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

Shrimp – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keane – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Erry – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

JayJ – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

FlyQuest is the only Academy roster to bring on collegiate talent for Spring Split. Ngo (aka iMysterious or Gaow Gaiy), Erry and JayJ played together on the University of Toronto uLoL team last year. The team took second place in North America, but this will be their first test in the minor league.

Keane and Shrimp join FQA from a disbanded Team Dignitas, which took fourth place in the LCS last summer. They are, arguably, the strongest duo out of any Academy line-up. Their mid-jungle synergy should provide FlyQuest with a sturdy anchor to develop the Toronto trio.

TSM joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TSM Academy (TSMA)

Brandini – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Grig – Echo Fox sub- 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Ablazeolive – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

MrRalleZ – TSM sub – 1st place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shady – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TSM’s Academy roster is not nearly as threatening as their LCS line-up. MrRalleZ carries over from last year as a tenured substitute AD Carry. Playing under Zven should expand the veteran’s repertoire even further, after training with Doublelift last year.

Brandini, Grig and Shady have each gotten a small share of LCS experience, but mostly acted as substitutes for their respective teams. Ablazeolive has played in the Challenger Series, but is mostly known as a versatile solo queue mid laner. These individuals should be able to go toe-to-toe with most in the Academy League, but synergy may take time to develop.

CLG joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

CLG Academy (CLGA)

Fallenbandit – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Omargod – CLG – 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Tuesday – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Zag – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fill – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

CLG is the only team that already had a reasonable sister team playing in the Challenger Series. They simply carried over their entire roster from Summer Split and re-added Omargod.

It is hard to say whether this line-up’s synergy will overcome the raw talent of some of these other rosters. Omargod is the closest to a veteran on the team, due to his LCS experience last split. Maybe he will be the leader to elevate the rest of CLGA into a threat.

100 Thieves joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

100 Academy (100A)

Kaizen – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Levi – GIGABYTE Marines – 1st place 2017 Garena Premier League Summer

Linsanity – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Rikara – Gold Coin United – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Whyin – Gold Coin United sub – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

100 Thieves put together a creative Academy roster for 2018. Everyone will focus on Levi, the aggressive GPL superstar jungler, but there is more to 100A. Rikara and Whyin played together last summer on Gold Coin United. Linsanity has been a touted solo queue mid laner for years now.

Most importantly, Levi and Linsanity could be 100 Thieves’ answer to Meteos and Ryu’s retirement. With a split or two of experience together, Levi and Linsanity could fill Meteos and Ryu’s roles without needing to change out Ssumday, Cody Sun or Aphromoo.

Golden Guardians joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

GGS Academy (GGA)

Jenkins – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Potluck – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Bobqin – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Jurassiq – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Xpecial – Phoenix1 – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Golden Guardians used the same mentality to construct their Academy team as their LCS team. Xpecial acts as the long-term veteran shot-caller who will develop four young North American talents. Hai assumes that role on GG’s main line-up.

Jenkins, Potluck, Bobqin and Jurassiq are relatively unknown quantities. No one can really comment on how effective they may be. However, if Xpecial proves to be better than Matt, then he just may get the starting spot. It also might not be out of the question for Jenkins or Jurassiq to see some starts, depending on Lourlo and Deftly’s performances.

 

Cloud9 joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

C9 Academy (C9A)

League – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Wiggily – Tempo Storm – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Goldenglue – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keith – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Zeyzal – eUnited – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fans should be pleased with Cloud9’s Academy off-season, despite questionable LCS pick-ups. Goldenglue and Keith have previously had starting LCS roles, even if they were weak points for those teams. Wiggily and Zeyzal showed promise in last year’s Challenger Series.

League is the most questionable addition, but C9 worked with him at Scouting Grounds and obviously see something in him worth developing. As long as these personalities mix, C9 Academy should be fairly competitive. All of these players need a bit of development before promoting into the LCS.

Echo Fox joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

EF Academy (FOXA)

Allorim – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TheOddOrange – Team Gates – 6th place 2017 NA Challenger Spring

Damonte – Echo Fox sub – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Lost – Legacy Esports – 3rd place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Papa Chau – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Echo Fox brings together five players with limited professional experience. Allorim and Damonte were substitutes for LCS teams, while Papa Chau subbed for eUnited. TheOddOrange has played in the NA Challenger Series, and Lost started in the OPL.

EF Academy is probably the weakest-looking out of the bunch. None of these players have much prior history or synergy together. Damonte previously played for Echo Fox, but he did not see many starting opportunities. Even parts of last year’s Delta Fox/Stream Dream Team might have been valuable for developing raw talent.

Clutch Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

Clutch Academy (CGA)

Maxtrobo – Tempo Storm sub – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Moon – FlyQuest – 7th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Sun – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Piglet – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Vulcan – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Piglet returns to the minor league as part of Clutch Gaming Academy. He is joined by Moon and three rookies. Vulcan had a decent showcase at Scouting Grounds, and Maxtrobo and Sun have consistently maintained high Challenger solo queue rankings.

Clutch Gaming is smart to bring on Moon and Piglet as substitutes for LiRa and Apollo. These two duos would be interchangeable while still starting two or fewer non-residents. LiRa and Apollo were more consistent in Summer Split, but Moon and Piglet showed high ceilings in Spring Split. Hopefully, they are also able to lead this squad in the Academy League.

Expectations for 2018

Based on the rosters that these organizations have fielded, the 2018 Academy League should be much better for developing new North American players. Less than 10 percent of these players are imports. Close to 30 percent of these players have started in a major competitive league (LCS, LCK, etc.). Many of these players will have their professional debut in the Academy League, and others will finally get a chance to have a starting position in the minor league.

There are still a few players, such as Levi, Xpecial, Piglet and Keane, who have opportunities to rotate into the NA LCS this year. If they are able to prove themselves as leaders, and the rosters can conform to import limits, then they could be promoted. For now, though, they will need to focus on growth and development.

Academy League may not be as competitive as the Challenger Series was previously. It may be more of a training ground for players and coaches to condition and mature. Teams are going to have difficulty synergizing immediately. Some players may find they are unable to work well in a team environment. Nonetheless, 2018 will be full of growth, and the Academy League will be a huge part in continuing that growth for years to come.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports

Other Images: LoL Esports

Team and Player History and Achievements: LeaguepediaOP.GGuLoL

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speedrunning

Speedrunning: Can it be considered an esport?

Whether it’s the debut of the Overwatch League, or the upcoming EVO Japan, this month has delivered a great amount of content to any fan of esports and competitive gaming. And yet, for me, the most special event this January is none other than Awesome Games Done Quick 2018.

speedrunning

At AGDQ 2017, audiences gave a standing ovation to the $2.2 million USD donated to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a record high for the organization. Image: Games Done Quick via Twitter

Games Done Quick is an organization that holds two main events each year. Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) is held in January and Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) is held in July. Both events are entire weeks where speedrunners play through games at exceptional speeds, in addition to speedrunning races and sometimes glitch and/or speedrunning trick showcases. These events also serve as charity events that support the Prevent Cancer Foundation. As of writing, AGDQ 2018 has currently raised over $1.1 million USD.

So why talk about AGDQ of all things when so much is going on in esports? Simply put, speedrunning has been gaining more and more traction over the past couple years, especially thanks to large events such as AGDQ. Speedrunning showcases players’ skill and dedication to their games. Moreover, speedruns see the emergence of a faithful and passionate community that comes together to talk about and play a game that that community loves. Therefore, are speedruns any different from esports? And to add on to that, can speedrunning be considered as an esport in itself? Let’s talk about it.

The Skill of Speedrunning

A large part of why events such as AGDQ are so successful is for the great display of spectacle it provides to audiences. It’s cathartic to see games that are intended to be hours long be beaten in a matter of minutes. There is an ostensible level of skill and dedication required to speed run games effectively.

Like with esports, speedrunning requires the player to attain a great understanding of a game’s mechanics. However, there is a big difference between esport athletes and speedrunners in how they incorporate their knowledge about the game they’re playing. Esport athletes use their knowledge and understanding of a game’s mechanics to outplay other players, whereas speedrunners use their knowledge of a game’s mechanics to strategize what they can and cannot use to their advantage to complete a game as fast as possible.

Speedrunners and esports athletes both pour hours of their lives into learning more about the games that they passionately admire (or sometimes despise). The level of dedication required to perform well in esports and in speedruns is one of the most identifiable characteristics of both. However, there is another aspect that both esports and speedruns have in common.

The speedrunning community and its similarities to esports communities

speedrunning

Games Done Quick events find themselves on the front page of Twitch, and is among the most watched content on the site. Speedruns include donation incentives, raffles and rewards, constantly encouraging donations. Image: YouTube

Perhaps the largest similarity between esports and speedruns is that they both live and die by their communities. Each esport is perhaps entirely defined by the community surrounding the game itself. Super Smash Bros., Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are three significantly different kinds of games and esports, and the communities for each game reflect this. Each of those games’ communities have their distinct qualities, and these qualities determine the general atmosphere of the competitive scene for each game. All esports communities find commonality through bringing people that love a certain game together, in which people can bounce off ideas and share their love for the respective game that they devote large chunks of their life towards.

Speedruns are almost identical to esports, in this regard. Like with esports communities, speedrun communities bring people that have a passion for a certain game together. This shared passion for an individual game gives rise to both camaraderie and competition to be present in any game’s community, just as is the case with esports’ communities. Moreover, esports and speedrunning communities share a consequence of their presence. Both esports and speedruns allow for games to remain in the public eye for longer than they may have otherwise. For instance, Super Metroid, a game with one of the most prevalent speedrunning communities, has become immortalized due to the game being the host of many speedruns in the game’s twenty-four years of existence. Similarly, a game being an esport, such as Super Smash Bros. Melee for instance, helps give that game a longer lifespan than it may have had otherwise.

“So what?”

The reason I bring up these commonalities between esports and speedruns is that there are certainly more similarities between the two than most people realize. Both demand for video games to be played in a very specific way, and both entertain audiences far and wide. Additionally, both are growing and becoming more well-known at a similar pace. Knowing this, I pose a question: should we consider speedruns as a particular kind of esport?

speedrunning

Games Done Quick events often feature races, allowing for exciting competitions. One of AGDQ 2018’s events was a four-way race in Yoshi’s Island for the SNES. Image: Twitch

There is certainly a sense of competitiveness in the realm of speedruns. On top of many speedrunners trying to claim the world record of a game for their own, many speedrunners also do races against each other, as has been showcased multiple times in AGDQ’s eight-year history.

Moreover, speedruns provide spectacle to its audience, much like esports provide spectacle to its audience. While I understand that the two are certainly different entities, the amount of similarities between them is staggering. Considering speedrunning as an esport, however, results in stretching the definition of what an esport is. While I don’t feel that speedrunning should necessarily be considered as an esport in itself, the similarities between esports and speedruns should be more well-known to more people. Moreover, the communities of esports and speedruns could possibly intertwine and interact with one another.

I would consider speedruns to be a supplement of esports-like content. Speedruns are similar to esports, but ultimately have their own identity that’s quite separate from esports. Nevertheless, speedruns should be in the minds of any esports fan if they find themselves wanting content that is similar, yet still different from esports. For the sake of comparison, I would consider the relationship between speedruns and esports to be like the relationship between baseball and home run derby’s – they’re two separate entities that provide different experiences to audiences, but are linked by their similar aspects.

What are your thoughts?

Since 2010, Games Done Quick has raised over $12 million across seventeen different marathons. Speedruns certainly aren’t going anywhere. And neither are esports. Both speedruns and esports provide experiences that are exciting and engaging to viewers, and they are both growing quite quickly. Do you feel that these two entities should be talked about together more? Or do you feel that they are too different from each other to be grouped together? As always, join the conversation and let us know what you think!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of Games Done Quick.

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From our Haus to yours.

Players to Watch on Every Overwatch League Team

The era of franchised esports leagues begins with the opening of the Overwatch League at Blizzard’s Arena in Burbank, California. The team-based, first-person shooter, with millions of players and fans worldwide, throws its hat into the competitive arena, but I’m not here to talk the business side anymore.

It’s finally time for the players to suit up and actually find out who the best is on the battlefield. 120 of the top Overwatch players from across the globe are competing for that title at the end of the season. Each team is crammed with firepower, but here are THE players to watch on each Overwatch team.

Shanghai Dragons: Diya, Hitscan main

Lu “Diya” Weida, a Chinese DPS-main, took the preseason by storm. The Dragons, while talented, had a relatively unknown roster for Western Overwatch fans heading into season one. Diya quickly made an impression with incredible precision on McCree. On a Dragons team lacking solid supports, Diya will have to carry the offense. He’s certainly talented enough to do so.

Boston Uprising: Gamsu, Tank

See? It’s not all damage-mains. The bulk of talent actually seems to bleed into the tank line. Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the famous League of Legends player, now headlines on the Uprising as their consistent tank. In the preseason, Gamsu played a major role in the attack. He sets up for the Uprising damage-duo to do work on the backend.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock: Babybay, Hitscan/Flex

The Shock will be getting much-needed reinforcements with Jay “Sinatraa” Won, but in the meantime, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty will be carrying the Shock offense. This is similar to what he had to do in the preseason. A strong force as a hitscan player that can also flex onto tank roles. Babybay’s damage output could decide games.

Florida Mayhem: Manneten, Tank

Throwing out a curveball here. Everyone knows Kevyn “TviQ” Lindstrom can ball, but analyzing this team, Tim “Manneten” Bylund comes away as the most important player on the roster. In a rather lackluster preseason showing from the Mayhem, Manneten was the only player putting up any sort of fight. His hero pool, as a tank main, is more versatile than most.

Houston Outlaws: LiNkzr, Damage

The Outlaws are a team stacked with DPS-depth, but one player looks on the verge of a breakthrough: Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin. Sure, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio might set the tone for this team, but LiNkzr is the player who’s going to separate the Outlaws. If Widowmaker is as popular in the meta as it was in the preseason, LiNkzr could be even more dangerous.

London Spitfire: Fissure, Tank

The most stupidly, ridiculously stacked team in the Overwatch League is the combination of two of the best Korean teams. Every position is filled with 2-3 players that would be possibly the best player on another team. So, who stands above as the essential personnel? Well, that would be arguably the best tank main in Korea, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. He will spearhead the entire Spitfire attack.

New York Excelsior: Saebyeolbe, Hitscan

Possibly the most exciting team to watch in the preseason, a combination of explosiveness and solid team-fighting. Until Hwang “Flow3r” Yeon-oh arrives, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol will have to carry the reigns of this spectacular DPS-duo. His Tracer play is near the top for one of the most talented characters in all of Overwatch.

Dallas Fuel: Taimou, Damage/Flex

It’s simple for the Dallas Fuel, get Timo “Taimou”  Kettunen sightlines or pave the way for this player. Yes, Félix “xQc Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson are a phenomenal tank-line, but Taimou will make or break maps. In terms of aim, Taimou can destroy pushes with Widowmaker. His hero pool allows plenty of versatility as well, I mean did you see that Roadhog?

Los Angeles Gladiators: Shaz, Support

A support main? What?

Yes, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara will be the key to the Gladiators success this season. Only a few other players impressed me more in the preseason than Shaz. He was involved in every situation and worked in tandem with Benjamin “iBigG00se” Isohanni. Shaz finds a way to stay alive and gives the Gladiators DPS-mains the push needed to take points. The support main to watch this season? Shaz.

Los Angeles Valiant: uNKoe, Flex-Support

Benjamin “uNKoe” Chevasson isn’t the most talented player on this team, but a player who can switch off Ana, Zenyatta, and Mercy is invaluable in any meta-game. Valiant have a load of work to do before this team is a real contender, based on the preseason, uNKoe will be one of the few consistencies on this team. The French player has the most experience on this team.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty: Zunba, Flex-Tank

For my money, Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk is going to be the player that pushes this team over the top. The Dynasty have 10 players to keep an eye on, but it feels as if their biggest advantage is in the Flex-Tank spot, and Zunba being a versatile and strong option in that regard.

Philadelphia Fusion: Carpe, Damage

The remains of the FaZe clan team of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok, George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano will be the core of the Fusion. The experience from these three will be important, but the dynamic DPS-duo of Carpe and Shadowburn will be what this team will lean on.

With the Overwatch League going on this week you can decide who you think the player to watch on each team will be. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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