Position Selection highlighting Jungle

The Most Important Position in the EU LCS

There are five positions on a League of Legends team: Top, Jungle, Mid, AD Carry, and Support. But, have you ever wondered which position is the most valuable? Which position brings the most to the table? Which position is the most crucial? While analyzing data surrounding EU LCS roster swaps in the off-season, I came across some intriguing patterns. These patterns suggest that not all positions are valued equally. Namely, Jungle is the key role.

You can tell a lot about an LCS team’s priorities based on its roster changes in between Splits. One team may choose to keep a star Mid laner, while another may choose to try a rookie Support. Some teams keep an entire starting line-up. Some teams start over from scratch and replace every player. If you look at all of the roster changes as a whole, you will begin to notice some fascinating trends.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of veterans and rookies across each position for the 2017 EU LCS rosters, and how many roster changes occurred within each position in the off-season (as well as the ratio of veteran to rookie players accounting for the changes):

Veterans Picked Up Rookies Picked Up Total Changes Total Starting Veterans Total Starting Rookies
Top 1 3 4 6 4
Jungle 4 3 7 7 3
Mid 2 2 4 8 2
ADC 3 3 6 6 4
Support 1 4 5 5 5

For the purposes of this analysis, I am classifying a “veteran” player as any player who has participated in one or more Splits in the EU LCS. I am classifying a “rookie” player as any player who has not participated in any EU LCS Splits. Therefore, any imported players who will be playing their first Split in EU are classified as rookies (for example, Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon).

Pertaining to the Jungle position, there are two things to point out about this chart. Firstly, the most player replacements happened in this position. 70% of teams changed their Jungler between Summer and Spring. This indicates that many teams were disappointed with their Jungle performance and needed a change in that position specifically.

Secondly, of the seven replacement players, only three are rookies. Compare that to one half of ADCs and Mids, three out of four Tops, and four out of five Supports. Even though many rosters are changing their Junglers, they seem to have disproportionately less faith in rookies and new imports at that position. Many Junglers from last Split simply switched to a new team, rather than retiring, moving to a different region, etc.

Why did so many teams choose to change their Jungler? What about that position made it a priority for so many rosters? Here is a box and whisker plot showing the KDA distribution of EU LCS players by position:

(Disclaimer: the following data only includes players who participated in 12 or more games for the same team.)Junglers represented the widest range of KDA last Summer.

We can see that Junglers occupied the largest range of KDA last year. Some of the highest overall KDAs were Junglers, but also many of the lowest. They had an abnormally low median KDA of 3, 21% lower than the median of all players. This means that there is a large divide between the top 25% of Junglers and the bottom 75%. Half of the Junglers had a KDA between 3 and 6.8, while the other half were between 1.9 and 3.

For a different perspective, I divided all players into tiers based on average KDA last Summer. Players with the top 10 KDAs are Tier 1, top 20 are Tier 2, etc. I then graphed a distribution of each role based on KDA Tier:KDA distribution by role

Besides the huge skew of ADCs to high KDAs, the distribution that stands out is the Junglers’. They are the only other role with more than one player in Tier 1, less than two Tier 2, and less than two Tier 3. It is also the only position with more than three Tier 4 players. Jungle’s line starts high, dips low, then rises high again. That dip, between Tier 1 and Tier 4, represents the divide between excelling Junglers and those under-performing. They generally occupied the high end and the low end of the KDA distribution.

How does this information pertain to the off-season? We can imagine that those three to four Junglers in Tier 1 and 2 would be heavily contested. Teams who have them want to keep them. Teams who do not have them want to incorporate them. The Jungler in Tier 3 is somewhere in the middle, but the Junglers in Tier 4 and 5 should be dropped.

Here is a list of the Junglers from last Split accompanied by their Tier Ranking and KDA:

Trick 1 6.8
Trashy 1 6.2
Jankos 1 4.7
Spirit 2 4.7
Maxlore 3 3.3
Shook 4 3.2
Move 4 2.8
Amazing 4 2.6
Mightybear 4 2.6
Gilius 5 2.5
Memento 5 2.4
Airwaks 5 1.9

Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun, Jonas “Trashy” Andersen,  and Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski were all Tier 1. All three of their teams qualified for Worlds last year. G2, Splyce, and H2k retained them in the off-season. Lee “Spirit” Da-yun barely fell into Tier 2, and mutually parted ways with Fnatic. Then there is a drop off from 4.7 KDA to 3.3. All other teams either dropped or swapped their Junglers. Many teams then picked up one of the dropped Junglers, due to their veteran status.

This analysis shows that the top-tier teams have top-tier Junglers. And those top-tier Junglers are significantly ahead of their low-tier counterparts relative to other positions. Since there is such a variance between good Junglers and bad Junglers, many teams prioritized the role in the off-season. Worlds-qualifying teams kept their Junglers, while all seven other teams incorporated new players. Many of these new players have played at least one EU LCS Split, showing a lack of faith in rookies for Jungle in particular.

In conclusion, I argue that Jungle is the most important position in the EU LCS. There are so many variables that go into the role. Junglers contribute to ganks, lane pressure, neutral objectives, and vision. Oftentimes, viable Jungle champions dictate the meta.

Riot Games has placed a lot of focus on Jungle gameplay. The developer completely reworked the camps, implemented Plants, and adjusted Smite in the pre-season. Lead Gameplay Designer, Andrei “Meddler” Van Roon, recently shared Riot’s thoughts about the state of the game. Simply stated, “We believe jungler influence over game outcome is too high.”

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Can Mastermind Weldon solve G2’s International Woes?

Weldon’s Own Success

G2 Esports made an amazing addition to their League of Legends team with the official announcement of TSM’s former assistant coach, Weldon Green, joining their coaching staff. Weldon has been working vigorously within the Pro League of Legends scene with high-profile teams such as TSM, CLG, and Fnatic as a team psychologist. With his recent success with TSM, other teams have picked up on this trend and decided to hire their own team psychologists. They are meant to help deal with the mental grind that pros endure throughout the season, along with helping players deal with the jitters that may be related to playing on stage.

Weldon began on TSM in small sessions during the 2016 Spring Split, eventually landing a full-time position for the Summer. TSM finished the Summer Split with a phenomenal 17-1 record while also finishing first place in the NALCS, before failing to get out of their group at Worlds. Weldon was credited with playing a major role in their success last season. TSM decided that they wanted to part ways with Weldon for the upcoming season, noting that having his assistance may be better in sessions as opposed to full time.

Current State of G2

Courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

Weldon enters a G2 team that has found much success, almost breezing through the EULCS competition last season. They have a talented roster that has failed to show up in international events since they’ve begun their LCS journey. Last season, G2 failed to make it out of groups at Riot’s Mid Seasonal Invitational, struggling against most of the teams there. They received a lot of hate and criticism from the community when they stated they decided to give their players a break coming into a very serious international tournament that would affect seeding for Worlds.

G2 hoped to redeem themselves at Worlds after being put into a group most agreed they would be able to get out of. That did not prove the case as Albus Nox Luna shocked the World, as they became the first Wildcard to make it out of groups. They beat out CLG and G2 for the second spot out of their group. G2 finished Worlds with a 1-5 record, only taking one game off of Albus Nox Luna. G2 as a whole received a lot of hate from the EU community for representing their region so poorly, coming in as the “best team” from Europe.

Building off Regular Season Success

Weldon comes in looking to improve off an overall successful regular season from G2, and improving on the international problems that have plagued them. In EU, Trick and Perkz have looked like two players with amazing synergy and individual talent. As we know, that hasn’t translated into international play just yet.  Meanwhile, Zven and Mithy, have proven to be one of the best bot lanes in the West, but even they didn’t look as good as most people expected at Worlds. Their top laner, Expect, for the most part, was a consistent performer, doing what his team needed. His miscommunication on Teleport, however, cost his team at times.

What is it about performing at international tournaments that hinder G2 so much?  In a twitlonger posted by Perkz after Worlds, he stated, “I was mostly sad that I disappointed myself because I had a lot higher expectations of myself after the whole Korean bootcamp where I felt like I had reached very high level and consistent performance in scrims and not being able to translate that on stage hit me really hard”. The bootcamp in Korea resulted in many rumors that G2 was one of the stronger teams at Worlds. When it came time to play week one, their showing was miserable. They went 0-3, while not looking competitive for basically every game, besides a strong early game vs. ROX in which some poor teamfighting led them to another hard loss.

Weldon has a tough task ahead of him. With a lot of new, young, revamped LCS teams coming into Europe, G2 will not have as easy of a path to Worlds as they did last season. Will he be able to show off the same success as TSM, or will G2’s nerves get the best of them?

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Does Spring Split Really Matter?

The Effect of Doublelift Stepping Down

A month has passed since Team SoloMid (TSM) released the announcement video that their star AD carry, Yiliang, “Doublelift”, Peng would be stepping down for the Spring Split in an attempt to relieve some of the burnout of being a pro since season one of competitive League of Legends.  

For most spectators who follow the scene, they saw a move like this coming.  It’s fair to say that Doublelift has been a premiere star in North America since pro League of Legends started back in 2011. But playing the game for such a long time at a high level has worn him down.   

This sparks an interesting discussion of how relevant Spring Split is in comparison to the Summer.  It seems that for the most part, teams are content with “trying out” a roster in Spring Split with hopes of improving. They use a possible roster move or two to help themselves contend even harder in the Summer, similar to what we saw in Splyce this past season in the EU LCS.  

Many teams have been quoted in the Spring Split as being “Summer Split teams” aiming just to do well enough to avoid relegation. While hoping to fix team issues in time for a real run to worlds in the Summer.  In an interview with Travis Gafford from Yahoo Esports, Doublelift describes Spring Split as “being a huge waste of time as a pro”.  

He elaborates on this more touching on the fact that for most popular players, they end up losing a lot of money scrimming during the regular LCS split as opposed to streaming. Combining that loss of significant income with the health issues that come from practicing the game 10-12 hours a day for 10 months, it may slowly become appealing to see if some players want to follow suit.

From a fan’s perspective, could some of our favorite stars begin dropping out of Spring Split in hopes of coming back for a fiery summer?  Moves like this jeopardize the state of the LCS in that fans aren’t getting to see teams at their best and in the absence of some of some longtime fan favorites.  

It also hurts the competitive scene in a sense that teams aren’t facing the best that their region has to offer.  What if longtime pros in the scene such as Bjergsen, Sneaky, and Froggen all see this as a prime opportunity for them to take a much needed break?

They are earning much more money streaming as opposed to scrimming for some mere circuit points that may not even matter in terms of qualifying for Worlds. Could Spring Split be used as a much needed break physically for those who have brought attention to wrist injuries such as Bjergsen or Hai?

In terms of circuit points for Spring Split, a team is able to earn 90 points for first, 70 for second, 50 for third, 30 for fourth, and 10 for the remaining teams.  It’s evident to see how these points can go to waste as exemplified by Origen in the EU LCS when their 70 points went to waste in Summer when the team couldn’t stay above relegation standings.

Cloud 9 is a good example of showing how disappointing Spring results didn’t translate to Summer. They were able to secure a spot at Worlds to represent the NA LCS after a few small roster changes and bringing in coach Bok “Reapered” Han-Gyu for Summer Split.  With the want for teams to keep their star players healthy, could we see more teams possibly giving player’s breaks for Spring? Ultimately, if your team is strong enough, you can auto-qualify for Worlds through winning Summer Split or through the Gauntlet without the needed circuit points from Spring Split.  

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Picture courtesy of Riot Games Flickr

Options for a Spring Split Replacement

It allows one to question, what could be a good replacement for Spring Split if it were to be removed? Longtime fans of pro League of Legends and pros would benefit from having more international competitions given the opportunity.  

We witnessed Korea stomp on the rest of the world for another season. Pros are begging for more international competition vying that it could be the jump start needed for Western teams to be real contenders at Worlds.

Isolate the best region, and you will continue to see the same thing at Worlds every year.  It makes it really hard to improve when you spend 6-8 months(LCS) beating up on NA/EU teams that just aren’t up to par with what it takes to win a World Championship.

Cloud 9 in Season 3, Fnatic in Season 5, and TSM in Season 6 are all prime examples of teams that have dominated their LCS region/season only to be destroyed by the Korean powerhouses at Worlds.  It raises the question that if they were given more competitive games against Korean teams, would they be able to match their level?

Until that happens, we may have to continue to watch as Western teams try to import Korean solo que stars in hopes of having the individual talent to compete at a World Championship level.  It’s become evident though that having individual talent just isn’t enough to win anymore  

Results from TSM this Spring Split and Summer, will play a huge factor in seeing how a move like this will affect the scene.  Will Doublelift return as a reincarnated ADC God that dominates the Summer Split?  Or will he enjoy streaming too much to even reconsider wanting to go back to the grind of being a pro?  Could we see more stars in the future ask for a break for Spring?

All of those questions will need to be answered as we see this season unfold.

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Three Things to Look Forward to in the first week of EU LCS

Courtesy of LoLesports.

Courtesy of LoLesports.

Well, another offseason has passed us by and we’re entering into what looks to be another crazy Summer split. As much of the drama over two major organizations receiving the ban hammer from Riot has settled over across the pond, EU has its share of drama. G2, the representative for Europe at MSI, lost the region their First Place Seeding at Worlds, which was essentially gained for the LMS representatives. While many fans thought CLG looked to be the weakest team, Europe’s own seemed to struggle much of the tournament, and it’s questionable whether it was because of the so called G2 Vacation or whether it was just because, well, they’re a relatively young team. Some player trades and movements, too, have fueled the region’s own off season drama too.

But that’s behind us, and now we’ll go through some of the exicting things to look out for in the opening week of EU LCS.

 

1: Bo2 Format

 

This has to be, in some ways, one of the most radical things going on in the EU LCS. Gone are the days of Bo1’s, and while Bo2’s are not necessarily here to stay, they certainly will bring some interesting change to the scene. Riot has purposefully given Europe and NA different formats (Bo2 and Bo3 respectively,) in an attempt to ‘test’ which of the two works better. Regardless, it is certainly going to be refreshing for both fans and competitors alike, as a Bo2 format will be a better test of a team’s strength.

What can fans look forward to with the new format? Well, if it wasn’t already a thing, Europe’s going to love ties. The region is notorious for having multiple tie break games at the end of the split to determine middle of the pack seeding, so it’ll probably be a repeat of history. But there’s another point to be made: teams that are far superiour to the other team will gain ‘more’ than, say, two more evenly matched teams that go 1-1. Why is this? Well, a 2-0 win will give the victorious team a total of three points which go towards determining standings. If teams go 1-1, each team is award only a single point to go towards their standings. Teams, then, that are able to overpower their opponents will shoot up, while teams that go even will be left behind.

Courtesy of lolesports.

Courtesy of lolesports.

It also allows teams to have even more games to play, which can only mean good for the region. More practice will only improve the region, who, along with NA LCS, has lagged behind the East in moving towards a Bo3 or Bo2 format. It also allows teams to have experience in these formats, which require a certain level of endurance, strategy and adaptation from previous games that is not the case in Bo1. Alongside this, it also gives teams a chance to play and draft on both blue and red side, and the ability to adapt and change against a team in their drafting, rather than being completely lost against a secret draft from an opponent and swept away without reply. Overall, Bo2 will provide a much better litmus tests of teams strength and most importantly, will give us more and more games to watch!

 

The New El Claissco

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

Fans of the EU LCS will remember the ‘old’ El Clasico which was between Fnatic and SK Gaming. The teams had a history of placing always beside each other in the ranking, and had a rivalry not unlike that of TSM and CLG over in NA LCS. Now, SK Gaming managed to lose their EU LCS spot, and Fnatic have, in some ways, fallen off (although this may change with the return of Yellowstar.) But, oddly enough, the new El Clasico, between Origen and G2, has a bit of the old in it still: both owners of the team played against each other in the old El Clasico and even against each other in the same lane. Ocelote and xPeke, the owners of G2 and Origen respectively, were also the midlaners for SK Gaming and Fnatic back in the heyday of El Clasico. And now they’re facing off again, but in a very different way.

The Scarfed Spaniard and owner of G2. Courtesy of ocelote world.

The Scarfed Spaniard and owner of G2. Courtesy of ocelote world.

Not only was it these two teams that eventually met in the latest EU Finals, there’s a bit more ‘drama’ going on between the two teams: Zven and Mithy turned in the blue and black for the grey of G2, while Hybrid joined Origen in turn (Origen picked up FORG1VEN to replace Zven as well.) It was a move that surprised most of the scene, while rumours were whispered amongst fans, and it’ll change the landscape of the scene quite a bit. Origen looked to struggle during the whole of last split in all but one regard: their botlane. Zven won them at least a majority of their games during that split, and the loss will be huge to a side that saw a resurgence in the playoffs, but fell short in the end. G2, on the other hand, look to redeem themselves before their European brothers for a shameful performance at MSI.

 

And in the other corner of the ring, xPeke, the King of Backdoors. Courtesy of Gosugamers.

And in the other corner of the ring, xPeke, the King of Backdoors. Courtesy of Gosugamers.

But it’s not like Origen were forced into a bad position for their botlane either. A pickup of FORG1VEN, who may’ve fell off in H2K’s playoff run, is still one hellva an ADC, and Hybrid is no shrug in the botlane either, previously supporting G2’s import Emperor. The question is whether this duo can do what Zven/Mithy did last split for Origen which is carry the hell out of them. It’s hard to say really that Origen won out in the off season though, as Zven and Mithy just seemed to be one of the strongest duos in Europe, while FORG1VEN and Hybrid are an unproven botlane (together.) Only time will tell, though, whether the new Origen duo will be able to match the old, or whether the old will be as strong in the new G2 roster. But we’ll get a test of it in our first game today!

 

Return of the King

 

Europe’s had a rough bit of a year since their amazing run at Worlds last year. First there was the European Exodus that saw many star players from Europe cross the Atlantic to greener pastures in NA. Then G2, arguably one of the strongest European teams during the split and even the playoffs, floundered in amazing fashion internationally at MSI, birthing the G2-8 or Vacations memes around the globe. But there is a light that many of the European faithful will remember, a beacon of hope for the region, one could say a King: Yellowstar. The Frenchmen was a long-time member of Fnatic, the team’s captain, and arguably one of the reasons the team made their perfect split last year, and not he’s back.

Returning to his home region from his brief trip over the pond to TSM, where he wasn’t able to bring the team the coveted NA LCS title, Yellowstar returns to much of the

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

same: Two Koreans in the top half of the map, Febiven in the mid and Rekkles his partner in death in the botlane. Yellowstar has his work cut out for him in leading the squad that seemed to meander around the middle of the pack all last split without much of a purpose, sometimes doing excellent, others looking abysmal. But if there’s anyone who can whip together a team into shape, it seems it would be Yellowstar, who saw the team through a rebuilding split into a perfect split into one of the strongest showings from a Western team in a long time at Worlds.

While the drama and the swapping around has largely focused on other teams like Origen, G2, H2K, and even the recently remade UOL and Roccat, Fnatic look to have made potentially the biggest move towards addressing some of their previous issues. A solid, sturdy, veteran shot caller like Yellowstar is the missing piece that arguably saw Fnatic act without purpose last split. Fnatic is one of the few EU LCS teams that has secured itself as a staple in the scene as an organization, and while they had their first non-showing at an EU LCS Finals in their teams history, the team looks to be heading in the right direction going forward. The question remains whether this will translate onto the rift, whether Rekkles and Yellowstar will click like they did, and whether the team will again form around their captain and secure themselves a good showing.

MSI Power Rankings

Alright Everybody, MSI is just around the corner and it feels like its about time to release my predictions as to how everyone will perform. There are some pretty obvious choices, but there are a couple wild cards too. Rather then use any kind of S+, A, etc. system, I’m just going to do a pure 1-6 ranking with my predictions and thoughts.

 

  1. SKT T1 -This seems like the obvious answer. SKT has repeatedly proven to the world they are the best. Any questions had during the Spring Split were wiped out when SKT beat ROX Tigers. There may come a day when SKT isn’t the best team in the world, but for now the throne remains theirs.
  2. G2 Esports – once against it feels like Europe will be the greatest threat to SKT’s dominance. I’m not sure that G2 will outperform last years Fnatic (I don’t expect a Game 5 against SKT), but I don’t see any other teams giving G2 much trouble. They looked consistently great all of Spring, and will continue their high level of play at MSI.
  3. RNG– This is the point where I feel comfortable moving teams around, but I do believe that RNG will be able to claim the third place spot. RNG have not consistently performed, but if they play at their best during this tournament, they will easily take bronze. Also I’m a Looper fanboy… so that may have some impact on my thoughts as well.
  4. Flash Wolves– This is one of my bolder predictions. I think fourth is the very best FW is capable of doing, but I’m not sure how confident I am that they will perform well enough to hit this mark, but I firmly believe that FW at their best is a better team then the remaining options.
  5. CLG– I honestly feel kind of bad putting CLG this low, but I’m just not expecting much. CLG had a fairly good, but not incredible split. Despite the preseason hype, NA was not the most impressive region this split, and I don’t think even the top NA team can compete with the other teams at this level.
  6. Supermassive– Who? Again… I feel bad about ranking them this low. They have performed well in the context we’ve seen them in so far. But are they capable of competing against the likes of SKT, G2, or RNG? I think not. I’m honestly pulling for these guys, It would be great to see a smaller region get some love on the international stage, but I just don’t think its going to happen this weekend.

 

I’m looking forward to watching the competition, and I’ll be posting game by game analysis right here on The Game Haus, so make sure to come back and check out if my predictions come true!

 

Summing up what makes the Promotion Tournament stand out

The Promotion portion of the LCS season is something special. The 8th, 9th, and 10th place team in the league have to fight for their spot in the next split against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd team from Challenger.

Changes this split to the Promotion tournament have eliminated the tenth place team being automatically demoted, and has given them a chance to stay. The Promotion tournament takes place over three days. The format for the matches is best of five. Round one is a best of five between the ninth place LCS team and the second place Challenger team. The loser of this series is eliminated from contention. The second day, we see the eighth place LCS team play the winner of the first round match, and the first place team from Challenger play the 7th place LCS team with the winners of these series earning a spot in the LCS. The final round takes place between the two teams from day two who didn’t win. The winner of that series makes it to the LCS, with the losing team playing in Challenger.

Renegades, a team who went 6-11 in the LCS this season, played last summer in Challenger. (Image http://lol.esportspedia.com/wiki/File:LA_Renegades.png)

Renegades, a team who went 6-11 in the LCS this season, played last summer in Challenger. (Courtesy of esportspedia.com)

This Spring split, Renegades, Team Impulse and Team Dignitas will have to fight to stay in the LCS against the top two challenger teams, Team Dragon Knights and Apex Gaming. Before the rework, Team Dignitas would have been automatically demoted with Apex Gaming automatically advancing. Now, Dignitas has a chance to defend their spot while Apex Gaming has to fight their way in.

In Europe, the Promotion tournaments already happened and all of the LCS teams remained. Giants! Gaming cut it the closest, playing in 3 best of five series. The tenth place team, they played on day one and won, eliminating the second place Copenhagen Wolves. They then lost to Splyce on the second day, giving Splyce a spot in the Summer split. Then, the third day they faced Team Huma, who lost to ROCCAT the day before. Winning 3-1, Giants! reclaimed their spot in the EU LCS.

The promotion tournament as it played out. The LCS teams remained. (Image http://lol.gamepedia.com/2016_EU_LCS/Summer_Promotion)

The promotion tournament as it played out. The LCS teams remained. (Courtesy of gamepedia.com)

The new Promotion tournament is designed to do this. It even says it on the page on lolesports.com where it was announced. It was created to help “stabilize the LCS.” It is designed to keep the 10 LCS teams in, and the Challenger teams out.

Some of the reaction of this was negative, but I don’t see it that way. The LCS teams should have the advantage when it comes to staying in, after all they already worked to get that spot. They should be given the edge to keep it. If the Challenger teams want to get in with the big boys then they can win a few games.

Think about how unique of a concept the Relegation/Promotion is. This is really the only setting where something like this could work. Think about the rosters. There are ten teams of five, plus they’ll carry one or two substitutes. That means that the whole LCS is somewhere around 60 players. That is less than one football team, and it’s around 5 NBA teams.

There are great players out there who aren’t in the LCS. There is no possible way that the gap between the stars of the LCS and the stars of Challenger is that big. Not when the LCS has so few players. Plus, the players are all split up into defined roles. You’re telling me that the top ten jungle players on the North America server are the ten junglers in the LCS right now? That could not possibly be true, one of them is Crumbz. It is not unreasonable to think that the best player on the server in a certain role is in Challenger. This gives that player the fast track to the LCS.

Sorry Crumbz (Image taken from Worlds Season 5 VOD on lolesports.com)

Sorry Crumbz (Image taken from Worlds Season 5 VOD on lolesports.com)

Also, they are not geographically based, as much as I would love a world where the Cleveland Browns are in the minor leagues where they belong, robbing Cleveland of an NFL franchise would have too much of an impact on the city as a whole. However, the only thing an LCS team being demoted affects is that team. They all play in the same building, they all play on the same days. There are no home or away teams. This is truly the only sporting league in the United States where this could happen.

It’s amazing. I love every second of it. It is my favorite part of the LCS. Plus, once a team is 0-5 or 1-7, this will be the hardest game they play all split. Once they throw in the towel for the regular season, they’ll start scouting the top Challenger teams and begin preparing for this event. Will they have another chance in the LCS? Or will they have to go down to Challenger and climb back up? The revisions to the Promotion tournament have proven to keep the LCS teams in the LCS in Europe, we will have to wait and see what effect this has on the North American server.

League’s advantage over traditional sports

League of Legends and Esports in general are contrasted by traditional sports in that the demographic involved in Esports is much more specific than that of traditional sports. Traditional sports are not dominated by a specific demographic. Some races may prefer basketball, others may prefer football and still others may prefer soccer. Nonetheless, every demographic, including age, gender and race is heavily represented in traditional sports. One potential advantage and disadvantage of League is how heavily concentrated within one demographic League is. It used to be that of males in their late teens to early twenties, but even that is expanding.

demo 1
Initially, Esports was associated with only nerds playing games and watching other people play games. In the interest of the community that perception is slowly but surely changing as a legitimate form of competition. As Esports has expanded, the demographic of people that play League has expanded as well, with more and more females, older people and younger kids being introduced to the game. The game has transitioned from the nerdy stereotype to a game played by all races within the male demographic of early twenties and late teens. That is to say, the game has evolved into attracting all kinds of males, not only gamers.
Unfortunately, the game is still heavily dominated by the demographic of High school and college males, and this allows for considerable differences with traditional sports. We can observe traits or characteristic of people of this demographic throughout all aspects of the game. A few characteristics of this demographic are immaturity, trollness, interest in comedy and unprofessionalism. All these traits are not necessarily bad, they are just characteristics of the interest of a certain demographic. Everyone goes through different phases in life and there is nothing wrong with identifying them, and analyzing as to how they affect the game is marketed. There is nothing intrinsically wrong for someone to have a “trolly” personality, it is the job of the person to evaluate whether that it is something that provides personal satisfaction and whether he or she should continue to endorse such character. The same thing applies with the other traits, there is nothing wrong about being immature. Everyone is immature at some point in their lives, it is the job of the individual to determine if that is something he or she wants to adopt as a life-style. In modern times, immaturity has a negative connotation, but the way it is used here is just as generalization of a specific demographic and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

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In particular, the NA and EU LCS broadcasts attempt to provide the most entertainment in light of their understanding of their audiences. The NA and EU broadcasts can be described as very trolly, and sometimes a little immature. They are trolly and immature relative to similar broadcasts in traditional sports. Which by the way, I find hilarious. The shows Primetime League and All-Chat are an exacerbation and satirical representations of the unprofessionalism we are discussing. All together, the leagues broadcasts, and the shows produced by Riot, even the popular videos by other sources like Sky and Thoorin, are specific examples that the community enjoys comedy as much as it does strategical analysis of the game and that is a wonderful thing.
The fact that the game is heavily dominated by a single demographic gives the ability to Riot to provide for more entertainment for their audience. Since most of all belong to that demographic, most of all will want something out of League related content that it is more specific than what the average Super Bowl viewer wants. The avergae Super Bowl viewer is not average at all. Almost half of the U.S population watches the Super Bowl and there is very little that unites them that can be specific enough to take advantage of, the thing that the average super bowl viewer likes is music and that’s what they get. However, in League we take advantage of the fact that we are immature, sarcastic, satirical and unprofessional people, and we can take advantage of that. Even though we all want League to expand because it will provide with some benefits, the specificity of the audience is something that will be lost as the game continues to expand.
The unprofessionalism of League and the small niche it targets can be seen as serious disadvantages, but they are in my opinion, big advantages over traditional sports in terms of the entertainment they are able to provide.

Storylines to Follow and Games to Watch going into the EU LCS Week 8

The IEM Katowice homecoming

IEM Katowice brought with it the chance for Europe to test itself against the other regions of the world. Fnatic made EU proud, Origen's struggle continued. Courtesy of IEM site.

IEM Katowice brought with it the chance for Europe to test itself against the other regions of the world. Fnatic made EU proud, Origen’s struggle continued. Courtesy of IEM site.

The big question heading into this week is going to be the returning European teams of Origen and Fnatic from IEM Katowice. IEM Katowice was a test of strength for many of the regions, with everyone, as always, jostling around with their eyes on World’s. Europe, again, can hold its head high in one regard, and scratch its head in another. While Fnatic took second place after an extremely strong showing, Origen did not bring as much glory home for the European Union, and the strange story of Europe is continuing to show: somehow always able to show up, and yet also be in question.

You were expecting another witty comment about Origen, weren't you? Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

You were expecting another witty comment about Origen, weren’t you? Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

We’ll cover the negative first. Origen only managed to take one game off of NA side TSM before being sent packing from the tournament, and that win wasn’t an easy one either. While Royal Never Give Up (RNG) are nothing to scoff at, TSM seem a shaky mess of talent, and such a showing against them calls Origen further into question for fans. It’s a reoccurring statement, but it’s still a very big puzzle as to Origen’s fall from grace. Origen can at least take their time at IEM Katowice as a possible learning experience, hopefully, but, particularly when contrasted with their EU brothers in Fnatic, Origen has a lot to answer for. Still, they’ve all but secured their place in the playoffs, and that’s a vital win for the organization. If they can focus themselves and bring what they learned from IEM Katowice into place, maybe Origen can make a surprise run in the playoffs. Of note too is that xPeke is listed as the starting Mid laner for this week for Origen, while no reason is given it might be speculated that they are seeing if his shot calling or presence is the missing piece. [edit: Power of Evil is feeling sick so xPeke has taken the midlane for this week.]

Fnatic look poised to reclaim their place at the top after a strong showing at IEM Katowice. But will that confidence translate into results in the last two weeks of the split? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Fnatic look poised to reclaim their place at the top after a strong showing at IEM Katowice. But will that confidence translate into results in the last two weeks of the split? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Fnatic, on the other end of things, can hold their heads quite high coming out of IEM Katowice, even with ‘just’ a second place showing. Fnatic, in a lot of ways, lucked out in that their road out of groups meant never crossing SKT T1, who went undefeated throughout their run. Still, they beat out CLG, whose macro style play has been the bane of many a team and can now include Immortals’ scalp as one of them, and Qiao Gu, the second favorite for coming out of Group B. Not only did they beat one of China’s representatives, but they also beat RNG, the other Chinese team, and eventually coming to blows with SKT T1 but ultimately falling in that fight. Still, Fnatic look again like a revitalized, upset-causing team again and that should carry into their EU LCS week. While breaking into the top 2, and thus a berth into the semi-finals, is unlikely for them, they can rest on their laurels that they will be in the playoffs, and can hopefully bring the Fnatic that was at IEM Katowice to the gauntlet if they want to defend their title.

 

 

GIANTS make giant Roster changes

A really late in the split roster change shows a Giants gaming that is gearing up for relegations. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

A really late in the split roster change shows a Giants gaming that is gearing up for relegations. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

In what is quickly becoming an almost cliché of itself, GIANTS have made a roster change that, on the surface, seems like the formula for mixed results: bring in two Koreans and pray it works. Dropping Atom, betongjocke and original member adryh, in place of SmittyJ, Wisdom and S0NSTAR. SmittyJ is a familiar face to many European fans, he played for G2 eSports in the Challenger Series, and most recently wore the yellow and gold of Diginitas over in NA. Wisdom comes from Korea, hailing from the ROX Tigers (at that time,) which brings a certain pedigree within itself. Still, Wisdom doesn’t carry the same weight behind him as a Spirit or Rush. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact he can bring to the lagging Giants, who surely are looking ahead to relegations and maintaining their spot in the LCS. S0NSTAR comes from a much lesser team in the LCK, Incredible Miracle. While still a team in the LCK, and thus still a strong contender, Incredible Miracle has been a largely inert force until its disbandment and reformation into Longzhu. Whether S0NSTAR can bring the much needed carry potential in the botlane to Giants will be the real test going into this week.

The major storyline here is whether this is a literal formula or not, that is, whether dropping two players for two Koreans is the way the West will keep up with the international arms race. While it’s unlikely that Giants will really shock many of us with a swift turnaround, because they’ll still most likely crash out of the Spring split at the bottom of the rung. But if the team starts to show life again, they might be able to stave off the incoming EU CS teams that are looking scarier with each game. Giants will need to make some real changes within themselves to prove they deserve a spot in the EU LCS, but this recent shakeup might be just what the doctor ordered. Sticking with what they had just wasn’t doing the trick, and week after week of losses weren’t showing any real improvements.

 

The god remains: FORG1VEN stays

 

Probably the biggest story coming out of the EU LCS, even bigger than IEM Katowice, was the news that FORG1VEN was being drafted into the Greek army, and was going to be forced to leave before finishing the split and not be back until next year. A heartbreaking interview, as FORG1VEN was visibly close to tears, shook much of the EU LCS (and reddit) and what seemed to be the worst luck story of FORG1VEN was going to come full circle in losing out at his best chance for an EU LCS title.  H2K and FORG1VEN managed, however, to have this service deferred to a later date, so FORG1VEN will finally catch a break and be able to ride the H2K wave into the playoffs. While EU LCS fans sighed a huge sigh of relief, as the best ADC by far in EU LCS would remain for the split, it’s still a very big question mark as to how long this deferment will last.

Ohh look, another "by far" meme. Very original.

Ohh look, another “by far” meme. Very original.

While it’s hard to look a gift horse in the mouth here, FORG1VEN’s being allowed to stay until (we assume) the end of the split and into the playoffs is a small victory for the team. While a successful run in the playoffs can secure a good amount of points towards Worlds, if they’re without FORG1VEN it’s hard to say whether they’ll have the same kind of impact. Furthermore, Summer might not even be a guarantee without him. And there’s a relative silence on the exact terms of this deferment, whether it’ll last post-Spring, into Summer, or even until the end of World’s. The hopes of many fans is that FORG1VEN can post-pone conscription at least until the end of World’s, it’s hard to say whether that’ll be a possibility given the murky territory  that is Government-esports interactions (see VISA issues for a case in point.) Fans can only wait on baited breath for further information, as H2K and the Greek government are probably in some form of discussion over the matter.

 

The fight for 7th

The bottom teams scramble to address internal issues, some making roster changes while others feel their current roster is the strongest it can be. Only time will tell who really was right in the end. Courtesy of lolesports.

The bottom teams scramble to address internal issues, some making roster changes while others feel their current roster is the strongest it can be. Only time will tell who really was right in the end. Courtesy of lolesports.

The bottom half of the standings are gearing up for a strange little battle of their own, and that one isn’t setting their sights on Playoffs and beyond, but mere survival. The race to secure 7th place is heating up the bottom of the batch going into this week, as Elements and Splyce lock horns as they are tied for (currently) 7th place, while Roccat, revitalized with their new support in Noxiak, and Giants, having undergone their own roster shake up, look in hungrily. For those who are unaware, 7th place in the standings gives a kind of ‘grace’ spot, as the team manages to stay in the EU LCS without having to fight for relegations, but are not part of the playoffs. It’s basically making the best of a bad situation for the teams, as nobody wants to have the pressure of relegations hanging over their head and their organization’s life on the line.

The contenders currently for this safe haven are Splyce and Elements, Splyce showing a bit more signs of life having won two of their past 5 games, while Elements has only pulled off a single victory (their position largely secured by their 3-1 first two weeks.) In this way, Splyce looks to be the clear favorite going ahead, although the true test will come this week as the two face off against each other. Neither team can be said to have an ‘easier’ week(s) ahead of them either, so it’ll be a real test of their mettle, but also possibly down to a lot of luck. And, of course, it also depends on how the two teams below them act in the next two weeks.

Roccat and Giants are from the outside looking in for, truthfully, most of this split. Roccat look a lot livelier than Giants, having taken a surprise victory against Unicorns of Love to pull themselves one victory ahead of Giants and one victory behind the current duo at 7th. The permanent (potentially) solution of adding Noxiak may have fixed some problems within the Roccat camp, communication and cohesion being a glaring weakness prior. Giants too come in with a much more new roster than Roccat, having dropped three players for three new ones quite late into the split. Still, Giants just haven’t really shown up this split, so it’ll be a real show of who deserves the spot, if either, when the two go head to head next week. Until then, both will be posturing themselves to come from behind to snake away a spot at staying out of the Relegation pit in the coming months.

 

 

Team Vitality vs. G2 eSports

Our Match of the Week is a clash of titans between the rising Vitality and a bloody G2 eSports. Courtesy of lolesports

Our Match of the Week is a clash of titans between the rising Vitality and a bloody G2 eSports. Courtesy of lolesports

This is pretty much the clash of titans for the week, and should be the most exciting going into this week. The last time these two met, Vitality walked away victorious, and both teams haven’t really seemed to be weaker than the other at any point. Namely, what makes this matchup so exciting is that these teams are tied, so for all intents and purposes this is both a tiebreaker and a kind of testing of these two teams going into Playoffs. Arguably the clear favorite teams to take it all are: H2K, Vitality, G2, and, after IEM Katowice, Fnatic. Two of those four are squaring off, and this should prove to be, in my opinion, the match of the week.

It’s also a clash of styles that will see which comes out on top here. In a lot of ways, Vitality is becoming the CLG of EU (not CLG.eu, sadly,) in their emphasis on macro game over simply dominating lanes and team fights. G2, on the other side, thrive in those domains, constantly just being one up of their opponents in almost all regards. But G2 have kind of come back down to earth in a lot of ways, and it’s also worth mentioning that the last time they met, Vitality came out on top. Still, it’ll be a great showing of the two styles of play, and while it won’t conclusively say which is superior, it’ll definitely show which is stronger at the moment. And that kind of confidence is more important than the wins now.

 

Fnatic vs. Team Vitality

Can the IEM Katowice second place team show up against the top dog Vitality? Courtesy of lolesports

Can the IEM Katowice second place team show up against the top dog Vitality? Courtesy of lolesports

Our second game includes Vitality again as they square off against the returning Fnatic. While Fnatic showed up big at IEM Katowice, which I think took a lot of people by surprise, when it wouldn’t have last year. It’s impressive too, given the kind of turbulent split that Fnatic’s had, but they’re coming into this with fresh validation that they, again, have a world class team. Vitality, not having the same experience, still seem a strong contender, and if the standings were the only element going into this it might not be as exciting of a game as it will be. But the real storyline, and excitement, is just how well this newly energized, and in some ways titan killing, Fnatic is versus the tried and true side of Vitality.

The big hype going into this match is going to be how Fnatic do. I mean, if Fnatic show up, it’ll be great. But, many weeks back in Week 1, the last time these two met, Vitality came out on top. Still, it’s hard to really see that as relevant now. What’s interesting, too, is that both teams started out rougher than they currently are as far as form goes. Vitality dropped its first game to Roccat, and Fnatic’s only showing an 8-6 record, both not overly indicative of the strength of each squad. Well we don’t really say whose going to win in our matches of the week, one has to feel that the ball is in Fnatic’s court here, and that a loss on their part will mean more than a loss on Vitality’s part. Fnatic just went toe to toe with SKT T1, while not taking a map and not really making them sweat, this still has to give them a kind of edge for experience. Fnatic, too, looked great in some of their games, and maybe picking up Klaj was exactly the missing piece for Fnatic. This is Fnatic after all, their Support role has always been a major piece in their squad. Vitality, on the other end, want to show themselves to be the real contender for the top, if not first place overall, by taking down the reigning champs (albeit, with the majority of those champs being in other teams.)

FORG1VEN: From marksmen in CS 1.6 to the best “by far” Marksman on the rift

It’s a comparison not often made, but FORG1VEN very well could be EU’s answer to NA’s Doublelift: strong mechanics, always shining on his team, even if the team seems to lag behind other teams, and very… emotional in loss. But it’s hard to say anything about FORG1VEN’s actual talent other than “by far.” Similarly, then, FORG1VEN’s been at once praised and chastised, not only by his teammates but by Riot itself, as FORG1VEN received a $1000 fine for breaking multiple parts of the Summoner’s Code (i.e. being toxic.)

FORG1VEN’s eSports career began back where many others did: Counter Strike 1.6. While he played that on a semi-professional level, becoming somewhat of a star in his local Greek scene whilst also making his way to a few LANs with teams, ultimately his desire for the game waned and he found League of Legends, which he jumped right into. In Season 2 ranked play he got 2200 Elo and continued on from therein, constantly playing at the upper echelons of the infamous Ranked play until eventually finding himself on teams that we’ll get to. If ever there was a Soloqueue hero for EU, it probably was FORG1VEN.

However, it was announced, in what seemed a surprise not only to the production staff of the EU LCS but to Pulse who was interviewing him, that FORG1VEN will be forced to step down from his arguably best split yet due to being conscripted to the Greek army. In what was arguably the second saddest moment in LCS broadcast history (Dyrus’ retirement takes the cake, in no way belittling this,) FORG1VEN told the viewers that he would have to leave in March and would possibly be playing his last game in the EU LCS for over a year (a 9 month required service would mean he would be unlikely to be picked up until at the earliest next spring split.)

The Man of Many Jersey's in probably his earliest with the Copenhagen Wolves. Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

The Man of Many Jersey’s in probably his earliest with the Copenhagen Wolves. Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

Many fans probably first encountered FORG1VEN on his stint with the lower tier team of Copenhagen Wolves, who took him on as a replacement for Rekkles, who left for Fnatic. A relatively uninspiring tenure with the Wolves still showed that FORG1VEN was one of the strongest ADCs in Europe, even with a weaker team behind him. Still, as in a lot of things in life, a step in the door was all that FORG1VEN needed to make his breakout into the EU LCS.

To say FORG1VEN didn't have a massive effect on SK Gaming's best regular season would be impossible. Courtesy of Dailydot.com

To say FORG1VEN didn’t have a massive effect on SK Gaming’s best regular season would be impossible. Courtesy of Dailydot.com

FORG1VEN’s probably second most successful time with a team was his stint with SK Gaming, a then household name in the EU LCS (the second dancer of the old El Classico, always contending with Fnatic.) The 2015 EU LCS Spring Split saw SK Gaming take first place for the regular season, where they seemed to just dominate the EU LCS (and I racked up many Fantasy victory’s thanks to it…) SK Gaming, however, fell apart when the playoffs hit, only managing to get a Fourth place finish for themselves against H2K gaming losing 2-3.

Another dip in FORG1VEN's storied career was his stint with Gambit Gaming, which ended in a disappointing 8th place. Courtesy of Dailydot.com

Another dip in FORG1VEN’s storied career was his stint with Gambit Gaming, which ended in a disappointing 8th place. Courtesy of Dailydot.com

While history shows that SK Gaming ultimately seemed to crumble after this split, their Summer Split was horrendous to watch, one could argue that this was because of the loss of FORG1VEN to then Gambit gaming. However, that’s not entirely certain, as Gambit also had a terrible split, going 7-11 overall, only one win over SK Gaming. It was also during this split that Riot dropped their four game ban on FORG1VEN, arguably sinking Gambit’s ship for Playoffs.

Gambit eventually dissolved, selling its spot to Vitality and our story shifts again to another team: H2K. While it’s true H2K managed to get to World’s, the then roster didn’t impress in any ways and largely was forgotten amongst the noise. H2K rebuilt themselves, while many analysts unanimously thought they had ‘won’ the offseason with their roster moves. Acquiring the Polish teammates in Jankos and Vander for Jungler and Support respectively seemed a solid upgrade over a failing Loulex, and maybe Kasing. But, it was their acquisition of FORG1VEN that really made the roster a true contender for the top.

A much brighter future looked ahead for FORG1VEN and the H2K squad until his conscription notice. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

A much brighter future looked ahead for FORG1VEN and the H2K squad until his conscription notice. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

While a worrying showing at IEM X Cologne may have had fans worried, given the rosters relatively little practice time together, it was easily excusable as a bump on the upward looking road. Nobody could look at H2K’s recent performances as anything but dominant, and an 11-3 record in a three way tie for the top is impressive. Anyone following this split will know that FORG1VEN has played a pivotal role in H2K gaming’s rise to the top, and while it is true that EU found themselves missing many familiar talented faces this time around, it’s still a feat worthy of the talent that FORG1VEN brought to the table.

But as seems the fate of the bad luck FORG1VEN, just as things were finally looking up, they crashed hard. Almost everyone in the community has seen the interview, we all know how hard it hit him, and it’s hard to think of him having to go like this, on these terms. Not just for him, but for his teammates as well. This is a harsh blow from ‘reality’ to their breakout into the top of the EU LCS, even after having VISA issues with their ‘mob-boss’ Ryu.

You thought you'd go a whole article talking about the Great FORG1VEN without this dank meme? You thought wrong. Courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IWojm7QngI

You thought you’d go a whole article talking about the Great FORG1VEN without this dank meme? You thought wrong. Courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IWojm7QngI

While the team has expressed that they are doing everything they can to have the conscription pushed back, a hopeful prospect given the limited time that was given to FORG1VEN, it is uncertain exactly what the fate of FORG1VEN will be. To date I do not think any eSports professional has had to deal with forced conscription into military service and attempt to justify avoiding/delaying it over their current occupation. It, if nothing else, will be a telling chapter of eSports-Government relations going forward. But the simple fact is that FORG1VEN will be missed, he really seemed to, as a player, having grown from his toxic self into a respectable member of the competitive community this split, and it’s nothing short of tragic to see his hard work taken away from him.

 

Storylines and Games to Watch in Week 7 of the EU LCS

 

Late Roster Swaps: The right moves or trying to save a sinking boat with a bucket?

 

The Spring Split on both sides of the pond has been rife with VISA issues, on the NA side we had the kerfluffle that was Echo Fox’s first couple of weeks, while the European edition saw Ryu from H2K temporary out, while both Diamondprox and Edward seem to have been denied a future in the EU LCS. Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise to see the two teams affected making a last ditch roster change, even with only a few weeks remaining.

Unicorns of Love are our first team we’ll talk about, mainly because they’re still quite high on the standings. UOL brought in Challenger hero Rudy, who at times seemed to shine but also very much seemed a SoloQ hero. Instead of what could be a diamond in the rough, pun intended, UOL has gone the other team building direction: LCS experience in a team environment over raw mechanics. They picked up Loulex to fill the void in their Jungler position, which is either a major upgrade or a major downgrade.

Can the dishnoured French Jungler bring the experience UOL needs? Courtesy of Leaguepedia

Can the dishnoured French Jungler bring the experience UOL needs? Courtesy of Leaguepedia

It all depends on a few things for UOL, things that fans will be desperately paying attention to. The first, and most vital, is whether the rest of the team, talent wise and carry wise, can take a hold of the game without the mechanical pressure from a star jungler. Loulex was never known to make major plays on H2K, but his clear experiential lead over udy is what he will bring to the team. But this all depends on whether UOL has enough of the necessary raw talent to make the games swing in their favour. Or go full CLG and try and out-macro your opponents. This is could be a possible style change for UOL, who in their first incarnation were known and loved for their chaotic playstyle with lots of team fights. The only remaining members of that team are Viscicaci and Hylissang.

Roccat, on the other hand, had a clear upgrade in their botlane from extinkt to Noxiak. Extinkt never really… inspired me much when watching him, he just didn’t seem to be completely comfortable in the position. Noxiak, however, is quite the veteran of being tossed around in the EU LCS in League’s most underloved role of Support. It’s hard to say exactly what Noxiak can do for Roccat given how late it is in the split for the team, but it’s not just about standings for Roccat now: it’s about survival. Relegations are an almost certainty, so the team needs to be looking inwards seriously to figure out the problems within themselves so they can prove they belong amongst the best.

Can the travelling Noxiak finally find a home in Roccat? And will that be a home that'll last? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Can the travelling Noxiak finally find a home in Roccat? And will that be a home that’ll last? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Roccat is just a team that can’t seem to pull off what Elements can, that is, being the leftovers of Europe and still managing a few decent wins. As far as raw talent goes, though, Roccat is in a much better position than Giants and Elements, so there is hope that maybe the addition of Noxiak can solve some of the problems that plague Roccat. But I think it’s going to take a lot of work to fix those problems, and that’s if players and the organization stay together as a unit. But in all truth Roccat needs to look to the future of the Summer Split, while hoping to prove that they belong in that split in the next three weeks.

 

Looking for slip ups from the top

Courtesy of LoLeSports.

Courtesy of LoLeSports.

A lot of the storylines from the last couple of weeks have been the jostling of the upper teams proving themselves against each other.  Most, if not all, of the top contenders for the throne were up against each other in some capacity. This week is different. The only teams who we can reasonably say are challenged will be our Games of the Week, that is, the Fnatic vs. H2K and Origen vs. G2 eSports. Those are the only two games I feel could be really contention points between the teams, but I’ll talk about that later in the article.

Both Vitality and UOL have easy weeks ahead of them. If either team doesn’t come out with a 2-0 week that’ll be a worrying sight. Vitality faces a struggling-to-remain-even-LCS-caliber team of Giants, which even a close game will be a worrying sign from the resurging Vitality squad. Vitality also faces the downward spiraling Elements, who has struggled to take more than a single win after their surprising 3-1 first two weeks of the split. Still, Elements have shown to be a team that can surprise some of the upper teams, and Vitality, also, has been one of the two victories for Roccat, so they’ll need to not rest on their laurels, but a relatively quiet week should be expected for the team.

UOL face both Roccat and Splyce this week, the former having joined them in making a last minute roster change while the latter have remained untouched since making it into the LCS (other than the acquisition of Trashy for the Jungle.) UOL vs. Roccat could’ve been a Game of the Week, if it weren’t for the fact that the standings make this a hard-to-hype game. UOL should still be able to take the win, but the real point of interest between these two will be whether the new roster will be able to correct the course of the team. UOL is still quite high in the standings, but in an environment that has been rather scattered and weak and is only getting tougher, UOL need to do better than ‘mediocre.’ The next game against Splyce is similar in ways to the one against Roccat: it should go UOL’s way, but a recent feisty Splyce has shown that while they are low in the standings, they’re still here to stay. Still, a 2-0 week for UOL should be expected, given the standings.

Both H2K and G2 eSports have a single tricky game ahead of them against, oddly enough, the two strongest teams from Europe’s last Summer split, Fnatic and Origen. Both teams face a relatively uninspiring team elsewise: G2 against Elements is relatively easy to call, while an H2K against Giants barely even requires being watched. Still, any slip ups in these games could point to bigger issues for the upstart teams. Anything less than a 1-1 week for either team will be deeply concerning for fans and the teams alike.

 

 

Origen, Elements, or Splyce: Will the final Playoffs team please stand up?

 

[insert Origen and Tilting joke.] Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

[insert Origen and Tilting joke.] Courtesy of eSportsHeaven.com

We’ve talked about playoff seeding before, but it’s going to become a common storyline going forward in the last few weeks of the Split. This is where playoff dreams can be realized or fall apart based on each game, so teams will need to not let their guards down. The three teams, however, that are still contending for this position seem like an odd bunch. First, and foremost, we have the leader of the pack in Origen. Origen, folks, is still in a tenuous position for playoffs. Oi. I’ve already mostly said my peace on them, but they still need to be brought up as not securing necessarily for themselves a place in the playoffs, which have gone up exponentially in importance for teams who want to go to World’s. So Origen needs to hold onto this spot if they have any hope of not having to repeat last years miracle run from CS to the 3-4th at World’s.

Elements shows at times that they've got the right ELEMENTS to win, but seem to crumble in some of their late game decision making. Courtesy of Leaguepedia

Elements shows at times that they’ve got the right ELEMENTS to win, but seem to crumble in some of their late game decision making. Courtesy of Leaguepedia

Elements is another team that, maybe back at their inception, would’ve been a surprise for only existing at this point in the standings. But given the vagabond and misfit nature of the team, a playoff spot would be a resounding victory. However, given their most recent games, I highly doubt it. Still, they have the chance, with a couple of bad weeks from Origen, Elements could find themselves in the playoffs and the possibility for some points towards World’s. Still, given the weak field that is the EU LCS, Elements could go decently far, maybe finding themselves in contention for the 3-4 place, which would be great for a team still struggling to remain more relevant than just a spot to be sold in the offseason.

F&%$ Yea Denmark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_qcD3JjCE for those no in the know.

F&%$ Yea Denmark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_qcD3JjCE for those no in the know.

Our last playoff contender is the one who an older Defico probably still has dreams of, the all Danish roster of Splyce. Splyce entered into the EU LCS as a possible contender for middle of the pack, but have struggled in the early stages of the split. This team has recently picked up a couple of crucial wins that have them still poised to make their first Split also their first appearance in the playoffs. Recently, the team has stated that they have “grown some balls” and are starting to make the aggressive moves they pull off in scrims. Time will tell whether this will translate into an actual consistent playstyle, but it looked good, much better than their “wait for Sencux to carry,” style that got them a few early wins. If Splyce wants to prove themselves to not simply be a ‘relegation contender,’ and a real contender in the LCS, they’ll need to make sure that scrim mentality continues to come out, because it seems to work much better.

 

Games to Watch

 

Fnatic vs. H2K: For Fnatic, proof for being here, for H2K, business as usual.

Courtesy of LoLeSports

Courtesy of LoLeSports

As if it needed being said, H2K looks strong, but now that they’ve returned to their full roster with Ryu in the midlane, normality might be able to return to the squad. But H2K hasn’t really been all that worried by the subbing in of SELFIE. They’re still on the top in a three way tie. Fnatic, on the other hand, have struggled to really assert themselves in the way they did last split, not surprising given their relative ‘emptying of talent’ that took place in the offseason. If Immortals current win streak is any indication, Huni and Reignover played major roles in Fnatic’s record setting split. The loss of shotcaller and veteran rebuilder in Yellowstar was another hit. Still, Fnatic is no team to shrug off, and hence why this is one of our games of the week.

On the line for H2K is whether they will remain at the top when Week 7’s dust settles. They’ll need to gel again as a team, so it’ll really be a story of whether this H2K is deserving to be on the top. Fnatic, on the other hand, have a lot on the line. H2K could reasonably lose quite a few of their games going ahead and still make playoffs. Fnatic can’t. They need each win, and not just to make it in but to also prove that they should be in the playoffs. Fnatic’s been up and down, and while they have all the right tools, it’s got to actually work. The acquisition of a new support player that’s been cited as a shotcaller like Yellowstar is promising. A win here for Fnatic would be huge, while a win for H2K will only cement what many already say, that is, they’re one of the best in Europe.

 

Origen vs. G2 eSports: For Origen, redemption, and for G2, a show of muscle.

Courtesy of LoLeSports

Courtesy of LoLeSports

Origen, Origen, Origen. I’m sorry, but seriously, what the Origen is Origen right now? Just scraping by currently to make it into the playoffs is not at all what anyone would’ve predicted. It really raises the question as to the actual role for xPeke on the team. That aside, Origen needs this win, not to pad their current two game lead over Elements/Splyce, but more so to prove that they won’t be down and out getting 3-0ed in the first level of playoffs. G2 eSports is in a similar case to H2K: this game is really just a sabre rattling to the other top teams more so than proving themselves against a lower tier team. Still, G2 have seemed less like gods lately, so it might still be vital for them to reassert themselves against the other top tier teams.

For Origen and their fans this is the chance to rally behind something this split. Some key victories off the top teams can point towards a good playoff run, ultimately what matters most. Still, even a good showing can be encouraging. Origen need to, though, be sure not to slip too far behind and remain at a comfortable distance from Elements and Splyce, elsewise they may be looking at probably the strangest history of recent teams to date. G2 eSports need to maintain their solidity at the top, while also beating back the increasingly hungry middle of the pack in Europe. Still, the implications of this game for G2 are more immaterial than standings position. G2 need to prove themselves to not just be a ‘flash in the pan,’ but a consistent top tier team, and that means not dropping games to lower tier teams, at least not without a fight.

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