Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: Europe

Three teams will represent Europe in the Halo World Championship Finals next weekend in Burbank, California. FAB Games eSports, Supremacy, and London Conspiracy will venture across the pond to clash with Halo teams from North America, Australia, and Latin America. After a disappointing outing for Europe at the Halo World Championship 2016, these three teams seek to make a statement, and prove that the European scene is not to be taken lightly. This article will focus on each of the European Halo teams, and highlight their respective journeys to the Halo World Championship Finals.

FAB Games eSports

Roster: Brandon “Respectful” Stones, James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico.

EU Halo veteran Jimbo. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia

Of the three European teams competing at the HWC Finals, FAB Games eSports’ Halo 5 tenure has certainly been the most impressive. In addition to a dominant first-place finish in the HCS Pro League Fall Season, FAB Games boasts event wins at the HCS Summer Finals, HCS Fall Finals, and Gfinity London 2017. The presence of Halo veterans Jimbo and TuFoxy has helped the team hit their stride. Their chances going into HWC Finals have never looked better.

FAB Games qualified for the HWC Finals after a dominant run at Gfinity London 2017. There, they would crush team Supremacy 4-1 in the Grand Finals, not losing a single series prior. Several consecutive tournament wins, and bearers of the first EU qualifying spot signal that FAB Games is a promising contender for the HWC title. Expect them to enter the HWC Finals with a chip on their shoulder, as the best European team looks to continue their momentum and bring a win back home.

 

Supremacy

Roster: Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec, Romain “PuniShR” Leroy, Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland, Simon “SolaR” Racher.

Hailing from France, and sporting a re-tooled roster going into Gfinity London 2017, Supremacy appeared an unlikely candidate to qualify for the HWC Finals. Only the top two teams from the event would qualify. Supremacy would need to take down successful EU teams like exceL eSports, London Conspiracy, and Team Infused to have a shot.

Supremacy suffered a loss early to the BUK twins’ squad, Pace Making Pandas. Consequently, they would need to construct a herculean tournament run in order to qualify at Gfinity. The team responded with incredible composure, blasting their way through the Losers Bracket. Supremacy met fierce resistance against Team Infused in the Losers Finals. With HWC Finals qualification on the line, Supremacy vanquished Team Infused after a grueling seven-game struggle.

Supremacy would fall to FAB Games eSports 4-1 in the Grand Finals. However, the tenacity of the team left many surprised. Supremacy will need to dig deep to face the competition at the HWC Finals. They have the potential to shock the world if they can make a successful run.

 

London Conspiracy

London Conspiracy. Courtesy of Gfinity.

Roster: Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, Andrew “Ramirez” Corrigan, Casey “Lunny” Lunn, Kristopher “Qristola” O’Keefe

Following Gfinity London, two of the three European HWC Finals spots had been claimed. Halo veterans SeptiQ and Ramirez knew they must win the Last Chance Qualifier if they wanted a shot at one million dollars. London Conspiracy finished a disappointing 5th-6th at Gfinity London. This prompted the departure of Ryan “Batchford” Batchelor, and the acquisition of newcomer Qristola. This change appeared beneficial, as London Conspiracy seemed refreshed heading into the LCQ. Incidentally, London Conspiracy would then defeat Batchford’s new team, Best Routers EU, in the Grand Finals 4-1.

As a result of the LCQ win, London Conspiracy holds the final EU spot for the HWC Finals. A relatively new team, London Conspiracy must play lights-out to have a chance at winning their pool, and moving into bracket play at the HWC Finals.

 

Conclusion

These teams are the best of the best in Europe. But are they skilled enough to beat the dominant North American competition? Only three teams will be representing Europe in the 2017 Halo World Championship, compared to seven from North America. If the European teams want a chance at victory, they seem to have their work cut out for them.

Furthermore, as the time until the HWC Finals grows shorter, anticipation is steadily building. Look for the EU teams to come out swinging while they attempt to topple the competition from around the world. As always, all the action will be streamed live at twitch.tv/halo.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Garrett! Get in touch with Garrett personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @gbSTATUS!

Capcom Cup 2016 Preview: Contenders, Sleepers, and Underdogs

The world of fighting games will come to a stop this week as we focus our attention on the biggest event in Street Fighter: The Capcom Cup. 32 players have qualified from around the globe and will have a shot to take home the $120,000 first place prize this weekend at the esports arena in Santa Ana, CA.

The players qualified in a number of different ways, from taking home first place at a qualifying event or through earning enough points based off a players final placing at a qualifying event. All the hype, all the buildup will come down to a 32-player, double elimination bracket with the players having to win three games out of five in each set. All the action gets started this morning so let’s dive into the contenders –

The Contenders

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The obvious name that comes to mind when considering contenders has to be the reigning Evolution Street Fighter V champion in Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee. The top seed at this event will look to pick up the first Capcom Cup trophy to add to his already impressive SFV resume.

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Infiltration, despite having a dominate 2016, is not the favorite heading into this weekend. The two names to watch out for as favorites is America’s own Du “NuckleDu” Dang and China’s Zhoujun “Xiohai” Zeng, both of whom have been the most consistent placers as of late. The two players are seeded inside the top five, but unfortunately these two are slated to meet in winners quarters before facing Infiltration.

NuckleDu is an interesting name to watch considering he’s the best multi-main player and adds such a tough element to fight against with his diversity of characters. He’s also been the most consistent player overall in the past couple of months. How he’ll face up against Xiohai’s Cammy is a completely different story.

Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, the second overall seed, is another dangerous name in this bracket. Consistently the second best player in SFV’s short life cycle, his Ryu has helped to redefine the character and how it should be played. Outside of one bad tournament at Evo 2016, Tokido hasn’t fallen out of the top-three in any Capcom Cup qualifying tournament.

The big surprise in terms of seeding, Justin Wong, will be playing as the three seed. Justin made sure early on to travel to enough events to rack up qualifying points and it paid off. He faces Japanese legend Naoto Sako In the first round. Wong’s Karin will have to step up against Sako’s interesting play style with Chun-Li to get that first round win and advance deep into bracket.

The last player I think can make a push towards the grand prize is a former Evo champion in Keita “Fuudo” Ai. His talent is undeniable. He’s one of the most explosive players in this bracket and his mix-up game with Mika can throw his opponents for a loop. His side of the bracket sets up nicely for a winners run.

I also want to stress that all 32 players are contenders. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. I didn’t even mention some juggernauts like Joe “MOV” Egami or Bruce “Gamerbee” Hsiang. The potential for each of these players is there to make a deep run through bracket.

The Sleepers
The United States somehow managed to sneak eight American players into the Capcom Cup, but those same eight players are capable of doing some serious damage this weekend. The name to look out for here is Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley. His skill is overwhelming at times if you’re not prepared for his Cammy. He’s been making waves in tournament recently, so look for him to pull some upsets.

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The ultimate sleeper in this bracket is none other than the beast himself, Daigo Umehara. It’s no secret he’s struggled to find his footing in SFV, but his calm demeanor and control over his nerves will play a big factor in a tournament of this magnitude. The bracket sets up nicely for him too if he can win some games early on Friday.

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A player I almost put in the contenders category because of his upside and experience, Yusuke Momochi. It’s clear Momochi hasn’t fully turned his attention to SFV in 2016, but with this much money on the line we can expect to see a focused Momochi on main stage. Remember, he’s won this event in the past and has shown his pure nerves of steel.

The last two sleeper picks in this event are two Evo champions in Street Fighter IV. Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue and Olivier “Luffy” Hay are two players that can carry momentum. It all depends if they can get out of the first couple rounds, but with their skill ceilings it’s two players that can’t be slept on.

The Underdogs
It’s going to be real tough for any American born player to make a deep run into the money, but with a biased California crowd cheering for American born players anything is possible. Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez and his unorthodox Dhalsim play, as his entire career has been categorized by, could give players fits. Champ also does a great job of playing off the crowd so getting an early lead and crowd engagement will be key.

Players like Filipino Champ will have to work a little harder with a weaker character, but his play style and unique circumstances could play out in favor of Champ. Kun “Xian” Xian Ho is by no means an underdog as he currently sits as a 13 seed, but his character choice of Ibuki and F.A.N.G. is unique compared to the rest of the fields character choices.

Europe is also a continent that can’t be overlooked with six players in attendance. Ryan Hart, Benjamin “Problem X” Simon, and even one of the most surprising names on this bracket in Arman “Phenom” Hanjani are a threat to win some games. All three of the players mentioned have either beat another top player or even won a qualifying event.

The last two underdogs that needs to be discussed are two top-eight finisher at Evo 2016 and widely considered two of the best players in Japan: Fajimura “Yukadon” Atsushi and Goichi “Go1” Kishida. The two roommates made their characters viable in the early days of SFV and helped pushed the game forward.

Unfortunately for Yukadon, his character isn’t as strong as he was before (Nash) which could hold him back, but I could see another strong showing in America out of him. Go1 isn’t consistent enough to be considered a contender, but his Chun-Li’s undoubtedly the best when he’s on point.

The Bracket
Here’s the full bracket – obviously I didn’t cover every player, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore a player. As I said in this piece, every single player is capable of making a run and that’s what makes the Capcom Cup great.

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The hope is one of the American players slips into top 8 on winners side. Nuckle Du has a legit shot to take this event if he plays anything like he has in the past month.

Need stream, schedule, and any other info? Go here: http://capcomprotour.com/capcom-cup-2016-live-stream/

The Melee Weekend Recap: Local Upsets Edition

As I wrote earlier, the Summer of Smash (http://thegamehaus.com/2016/09/13/summer-smash-melee-recap/) has come to a close and now it’s back to local and regional tournaments.  This past weekend didn’t have the flare of the Summer, but it did have four tournaments with 150+ entrants. We got surprise winners and some high-level match ups throughout the weekend.

Syndicate 2016

The most notable tournament of the weekend had to be Syndicate 2016. The event that took place in the Netherlands brought together Europe’s best players and Weston “Westballz” Dennis. It came down to two familiar faces in Grand Finals with Westballz matched up against Adam “Armada” Lindgren.

Armada was his usual self, only dropping two games against Westballz in the entire tournament. He took out notable European players like Jeapie (#1 EU Captain Falcon player) and Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas, Britain’s top Fox player. Charles “Fuzzyness” Kimmelman was able to make it back into the top four after dropping a set in winners round of 24.

Outside of Armada’s run, Westballz was able to utterly dominate against Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya. He took the two sets with a combined set score of 6-1 with three-three stock wins. Westballz second place finish was his highest finish since Clutch City Clash, where he got fourth.

Here are the full top 8 results –

  1. Alliance Armada (Peach)
  2. G2 Westballz (Falco/Fox/Captain Falcon)
  3. mYi Ice (Fox)
  4. Revolution Fuzzyness (Fox)
  5. VwS Professor Pro (Fox)
  6. Zgetto (Fox)
  7. Overtriforce (Sheik)
  8. Baxon (Falco)

Only five original characters used in this top 8.

Norcal Loves Teams

Norcal Loves Teams is an event that was put on by the company Discord at the Discord HQ in Burlingame, California. The event had both a singles and double event but was centered more around the team’s tournament.

The event brought out ranked players not only from Northern California, but from all over the west and east coast. Randomly enough, a southern California Captain Falcon main, Johnny “S2J” Kim, and an east coast Marth player, Ryan “The Moon” Coker-Welch took home the doubles event.

S2J did get the win in teams, but DeJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel got his revenge in singles winning 3-1 in Grand Finals. Shroomed took the overall stock count at 6-1, showing how strong Sheik can be in that match up when played correctly.

Kevin “PewPewU” Toy didn’t make it into the top 16 losing to Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams in winners and to The Moon in losers. It was a tournament of upsets as Captain Faceroll and Connor “CDK” Nguyen both finished in the top eight. CDK finished fourth and Faceroll fifth. Faceroll’s run included wins over ranked players such as PPU(2-0), Tafokints (2-0), Darkatma (2-0), Hugs (2-1), and Homemadewaffles (3-0).

Here’s the singles results –

  1. Winterfox Shroomed (Sheik)
  2. Tempo S2J (Captain Falcon)
  3. Splyce Nintendude (Ice Climbers)
  4. CDK (Fox)
  5. Captain Faceroll (Sheik)
  6. Laudandus (Sheik)
  7. HomeMadeWaffles (Falco)
  8. Azusa (Peach)

Three Sheik players in top eight. Only one Fox and six unique characters.

sss

Super Smash Con 52

The final event of the weekend was the Socal classic, Super Smash Con. Mike Haze, a seasoned veteran in the Southern California scene, was able to take home his first SSS title with a narrow win over Joey “Lucky” Aldama, 3-2. The field of players wasn’t at its strongest, but it still had a number of ranked California players there. Mike Haze, who has been on the up as of recently, had little trouble at the large local. The only player he struggled against was Lucky, but he still won in straight sets. Haze continues his success against spacie mains with four set wins over Fox/Falco at SSS 52.

Haze continues to push his overall rank into the top 20, as he strengthens his resume once again with a SSS win.  Lucky’s downswing the last month continues with another loss to a player ranked below him. Now here’s the rest of the results –

  1. Mike Haze (Fox)
  2. Selfless Lucky (Fox)
  3. Squid (Falco)
  4. NotAlex19 (Fox)
  5. Kira (Fox)
  6. EastCoastJeff (Fox, Pikachu)
  7. LuigiKid (Luigi)
  8. Jace (Captain Falcon)

Five Fox mains made top 8, making it a little bit easier for Mike Haze to take the event. There were five unique characters, but six spacie mains (Fox/Falco mains) overall.

Storylines going into the EU Promotion Tournament

Well folks, it’s that time of year, everyone’s second favourite tournament: Promotion tournament. This is the chance for squads coming out of the Challenger Series to make their mark, enter the LCS and prove to the world that they deserve a place in the most prestigious of leagues. On the flipside of this are the defending teams, the bottom three teams from the Split, who must defend their claim against the newcomers. Almost every time they’re upset, teams that people thought for sure were going to make it and don’t, and times teams that didn’t stand a chance to most analysts pulling it off. It’s always exciting, if not a bit scrappier and filled with more errors, and it’s coming up this Thursday!

 

The format works a bit different this year too. Rather than three Challenger Series teams against three LCS teams, only two Challenger Series teams are in. Also, the way the seeding works is different. The 8th and 9th seed have a bigger advantage, with 8th having two cracks at making it back into the LCS, 9th having two as well but in much tighter contentions, while 10th has to fight through the second seed from Challenger and then win again before making it into the LCS. It’s all a bit complicated, so here’s a  helpful diagram Riot put together to describe it further:

 

Diagrams are fun kids! Courtesy of lolesports.

Diagrams are fun kids! Courtesy of lolesports.

The promotion tournament is a great improvement on prior years, giving a higher chance to the LCS side team to make it back in, while removing Auto-relegation for 10th place and yet still punishing teams for doing so poorly. It favors those who placed higher in the regular split quite heavily, while also putting pressure on the Challenger side to do well in the playoffs. 1st place Huma has a much easier time ahead of them than 2nd place Copenhagen Wolves. Still, it’s anyone’s game currently, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the new format takes shape.

Giants come into the promotion after the most disappointing split of their careers. Can the new roster turn things around for the slumping Giants? Or will they be be back into the Challenger Series to figure out what happened? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Giants come into the promotion after the most disappointing split of their careers. Can the new roster turn things around for the slumping Giants? Or will they be be back into the Challenger Series to figure out what happened? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

So what are the stories to watch going in? Well, the first set between Giants and Copenhagen Wolves seems to have the most going on. Giants have recently swapped out four of their five members for new players, two Koreans of note, and are hoping to prove that last splits horrible showing was a fluke in their overall history. And proving is definitely the name of the game for this Giants team, as a lot hinges on this first battle. If Giants manages to succeed, they’re back in the running for an LCS spot. If they lose, they’re out, and will have to be reconsidering their Challenger Series team’s name from Underdoges to Giants gaming. Again.

The Wolves are pretty much a staple of the Promotion Tournament, so it's great to see them back at it. Can they repeat their upset victory against Millennium here and make it through the toughest running into the LCS? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

The Wolves are pretty much a staple of the Promotion Tournament, so it’s great to see them back at it. Can they repeat their upset victory against Millennium here and make it through the toughest running into the LCS? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Copenhagen Wolves, on the other end, are no stranger to the promotion tournament. They’ve appeared in every single one of them since they were a team in the Challenger Series. They’ve always, against all odds, managed to claw their way back in, until they were auto-relegated to the Challenger Series after a 10th place showing. If the Wolves manage to again qualify, it’ll be quite a story. Nobody expected the Wolves to take down Millennium, the clear favourite in the EU CS, let alone to do it in a 3-0 fashion. A worrying sign, though, was their inability to close out a series against Huma which they had a 2-0 start in. Still, Copenhagen Wolves are not a team to count out ever when it comes to relegation/promotion tournaments, and it’ll be quite the story if they manage to overcome all those odds to make it back in.

Our next pairing is that between Challenger side Huma and LCS side Roccat. Huma have, in a lot of ways, looked quite all over the place in their play. Sometimes they seem unstoppable, an absolute terror squad of death, with solid plays out of star Holyphoenix and a familiar Danish face in GodBro. Other times nothing seems to stick. Still, the mental composure to come back from a 2 win deficit against the Wolves is promising for this squad. If they can manage to get one of those games where it all just clicks, they might have a shot into the LCS. But if they crumble and look disorganized like they have before, I’m hard pressed to see them in the LCS.

Financial troubles and questionable practices aside, Huma looks like one of the strongest teams coming out of Challenger. But at other times, they look just like a Challenger squad, disorganized and out rotated. Which Huma will show will determine their fate in the tournament. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Financial troubles and questionable practices aside, Huma looks like one of the strongest teams coming out of Challenger. But at other times, they look just like a Challenger squad, disorganized and out rotated. Which Huma will show will determine their fate in the tournament. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Roccat, too, have some proving to do. The team just… seems lackluster. They simply weren’t able to really manage to close anything out for the longest time. The team’s looking a lot better, with some solid team management choices to bring in Tabzz and Noxiak in the botlane, hoping to solidify the squad. But it’s a question of whether this is too little too late. Huma are a strong team, and Roccat hasn’t necessarily looked that strong this split. They need to look inside themselves, find their identity, and use it to win their way back in to the LCS. Otherwise, they’ll have to do it from the outside looking in, either in the Challenger Series or by dissolving.

Roccat look about as shakey as they have all split going into the tournament. Still, a surprise upset against Vitality might have given this squad the confidence they so sorely have been lacking. They'll need to prove that to hold onto their LCS spot, that's for sure. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Roccat look about as shakey as they have all split going into the tournament. Still, a surprise upset against Vitality might have given this squad the confidence they so sorely have been lacking. They’ll need to prove that to hold onto their LCS spot, that’s for sure. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Splyce is our last contender, and it seems like they’re also the most likely to make it out of the whole ordeal, if for no other reason than their seeding in the tournament. Splyce were locked for most of the split with Elements for that 7th place safe ground, missing it by one game, and had a very similar story to much of the bottom half of Europe: inconsistency, with a side of ‘Holy crap that was a good play.’ Some games Sencux would go completely insane. Other games, he’d at best go even. The top lane for Splyce seemed a difficult thing their whole split, and it’ll remain a question whether they can hold onto their LCS spot, and if they do, whether they’ll keep the same roster.

Notice how Splyce is the only one with an accurate team roster photo...? Will this be the advantage of the team, or their hindrance? The Danish boys will need to show up against possibly their brethren, or a radically new Giants team, but they probably still have the best shot at Summer going into the tournament. But this is promotion: anything can happen. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Notice how Splyce is the only one with an accurate team roster photo…? Will this be the advantage of the team, or their hindrance? The Danish boys will need to show up against possibly their brethren, or a radically new Giants team, but they probably still have the best shot at Summer going into the tournament. But this is promotion: anything can happen. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Still, Splyce did have the most success of any team, and are the only LCS team who has not made any roster swaps. This kind of consistent team building for the team might prove just what they need to move on and back into the LCS. Or it might be what holds them back and loses their LCS spot. They face the winner of either Giants or fellow Nordic squad in Copenhagen Wolves, arguably the easier path, and a single series won will allow them to rest on their LCS laurels.

As with every promotion tournament, it’s an exciting and stressful time for both sides. As recent events (Ember) have shown, too, the pressure on Challenger series teams to make their way into the LCS is higher than ever, and in Europe, too, with a weakening of the bottom half, there has never been a better time for Challenger teams to ‘break in.’ Still, they have to prove themselves here, and for some teams they have to prove themselves again and again, before they can see that beautiful stage of the LCS regular split. We’ll see which banners rise and which fall this week into the weekend, with the tournament ultimately being decided by Sunday.

The Five Storylines To Follow Going Into The EU LCS Spring Split

The new El Classico? Courtesy of Fnatic.com

The new El Classico? Courtesy of Fnatic.com

Fnatic vs. Origen: the New El Classico

 

Europe, as a region, has always tended towards monolithic super teams, having some of the greatest talent in the West, born and raised in their own region. During the Summer Split, Fnatic could not be considered any less than the strongest team in Europe, taking the first ever perfect split in the LCS. Right at their heels though were their younger, or older, brother in Origen, the team formed around the leaving of xPeke and Soaz that blazed from the EU CS to the Quarter Finals at Worlds. With the absolute crashing and burning that was SK Gaming’s LCS team, a new El Classico is brewing, that is, between the two European giants in Fnatic and Origen.

What’s to watch between these two teams? Well, right now, Origen looks set to take Europe by complete storm, even more so than last time, and maybe even challenge Fnatics record of a perfect season. Origen looked strong going into the Summer Split in 2015, they looked strong at Worlds where NA teams faltered around them, and they look (possibly?) even stronger with Power of Evil in the midlane (not to slight xPeke in any way.) Fnatic, on the other hand, has done a lot of rebuilding. They lost their Top, Jungler, and Support to NA, and that is a huge hit, particularly in their Support. Yellowstar can take almost full credit for rebuilding the team and leading them on the Fields of Justice to victory, a strong shotcaller and a great support player. Huni and Reignover, Top and Jungler respectively, are huge talent hits, but talent can be replaced. The wealth of experience that Yellowstar brought to the team cannot. Still, everyone casted complete doubt on the lineup that ended up going undefeated in the Summer Split, so if any EU team can almost completely rebuild a roster into a world class team it’s Fnatic. Gamsu and Spirit, Gamsu coming from a rather lackluster Dignitas squad but having his shining moments there and Spirit from Team WE and Samsung Galaxy Blue, are strong pickups to replace the Korean duo for the top half of the map. Noxiak, their Support player, has yet to really be seen, and has some of the biggest shoes to fill coming into this split. The storyline here is a question mark too: will Fnatic and Origen remain the two top dogs in an increasingly competitive league, given some of the star studded talent that’s consolidated in other teams?

The 'Middle of the Pack' squad. Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

The ‘Middle of the Pack’ squad. Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

The middle of the pack shake up

 

Europe’s also probably the most volatile of the regions. Upstart teams like Lemondogs, Alliance, Supa Hot Crew and others, rise and fall almost as quickly. They also lay claim to the most competitive middle of the pack teams ever. Just look to the Summer Split 2015: the four teams ranked 4-8 had 1 game difference between them. That is insanely close. So what does this mean here? Well, these teams have always struggled to really cause the two to three headed giant of the top of the league to sweat. Sure, they’ll take games off of them at times, but overall it’s hard to say that a Roccat or Elements really could take down Origen in a best of three. There’s always something that’ll slip up, maybe nerves or small mistakes, that the upper teams will take advantage of and run with it.

So what’s the story going into this split? Well, the usual talent conglomeration. The Unicorns of Love hope to rebuild themselves, having lost Power of Evil, Kikis, and Vardags, around some pretty talented players: the (in)famous Diamondprox will hold down the jungle, Fox the midlane, a shining player for SK Gaming’s turbulent Summer Split, and lastly the French talent in Steelback, whose tenure in Fnatic is resume enough. For Team Elements, having lost their star in Froggen, they have chosen to try and rebuild largely around Steve, Roccat’s old top laner, and MrRalleZ, the literal Danish ADC Giant. The rest of their roster, other than Gillius who played for Unicorns of Love and G2, are unheard of solo-queue players. Lastly, we’ll look at Roccat’s new lineup, one of the few middle of the pack teams to actually pick up some pretty experienced players in every lane. Fredy112 in the toplane, ex-SK Gaming, Airwaks in the Jungle, ex-Copenhagen Wolves, Betsy in the Midlane and Edward as Support from ex-Gambit, and lastly, the most untested of the team, Safir as ADC, taken from Renegades. Given that each of these players is at least as talented as any middle of the pack team could hope for, it’s the eternal question of whether this can translate onto the stage in any meaningful way.

So, what’s the storyline to follow? Well, the real question hanging over everyone’s head is whether these teams can make any real impact in the league. The dream of every middle of the pack team is to lose that title and make it comfortably in the top 3 or 4 of the League. But, given some of the new talent, this might be just a dream for many of these teams. It’s not impossible, of course, that one of these teams can just ‘click’ and absolutely dominant the league. This is Europe, if it’s going to happen anywhere it’s here. But I think, at least on paper, these teams are going to be a solid middle of the pack group, not able to really make a dent on the pedigree that will claim the top four.

Can the new kids on the block bring their A game? Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

Can the new kids on the block bring their A game? Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

New Kids on the Block in G2, Splyce and Vitality

 

In contrast to NA, Europe was relatively quiet when it came to purchases for LCS spots. Sure, Splyce made headlines with their million(!!) dollar acquisition of Dignitas.EU, the first fully national Danish team to make it into the league in a while (since Copenhagen Wolves did many moons ago with Bjergsen.) Vitality, too, bought into the league, picking up Gambit’s old spot and built arguably one of the scariest rosters for these new comers. Lastly, G2 did it the old fashioned way, constructing a good roster, attempting to get into the LCS, failing, rebuilding, and then managing to get in through the Promotion tournament.

As any team entering the LCS has over their head, the big question mark over all these teams is just how well will they do now that they’re at the big kids table of the LCS? Splyce did amazing during the CS, being probably the most dominant force there and making it in through the automatic promotion that Riot introduced (where the 10th place LCS team is automatically relegated, while the top CS series team is automatically promoted to the LCS.) But how will they fare against this new competitive EU LCS? It’s hard to say. They’re actually quite lucky in one regard over the other newcomers, in that they’ve largely all played together for quite some time. They know each other, and that’ll go a long way to (hopefully) having clear communications and good synergy. Talent-wise, the only notable players are Trashy in the Jungle, who was Jungler for now relegated Enemy eSports, and Nisbeth, the support player for also now relegated Meet Your Makers, which isn’t really telling of any greatness. What about G2 eSports, the eSports ‘club’ built by ex-SK Gaming Ocelote? Well, largely they became a farm team for many other organizations. They’ve had many players come and go, but their current roster, revolves around the hope of Emperor, their ADC from Korea and North America’s Team DragonKnights, and Kikis, their Top laner who played Jungler for Unicorns of Love, being able to make an impact. It’ll be interesting to see how this team does for communication, given the diverse languages within the team. But G2 has a steep uphill battle before them, and it’s questionable as to whether they’ll really leave a mark in the EU LCS.

Last, but certainly not least, is Team Vitality, who get their own paragraph because I think they are the newcomer team to look out for. While Roccat were able to snag notable players for each of their positions, Vitality were able to do so and then some. They grabbed Cabochard for their top lane, a consistent threat on the old Gambit lineup. Next is Shook, the very storied Dutchman whose bounced between Copenhagen Wolves, Alliance-Elements, then Copenhagen Wolves, and now Vitality, making great impacts on each team (as much as can be said for some of them.) Nukeduck holds down the mid lane, who’s also been a European standard and has been slated as the potential-ridden midlane, always expected to do big but never quite making it there. Lastly, and I think this is really the strongest point, is the duo lane taken directly from H2K gaming, in Hjarnan and Kasing. H2K was Europe’s third seed going into Worlds, and while they didn’t overly impress many, that’s still something. It’s all going to come down to how this team actually performs though. Talent is one thing, but League is a team oriented game still, and communication and synergy are not just buzzwords. While on paper they look like the strongest ‘new’ team, this has to translate onto the stage.

FORG1VEN to lead another team to glory or to mediocrity? Horrible Photoshop intended.

FORG1VEN to lead another team to glory or to mediocrity? Horrible Photoshop intended.

H2K: Can they keep their top three status?

 

H2K was another example of Europe’s upstart nature, coming out of CS and into quite a strong position within the LCS and eventually making it to Worlds. They were strong before, but I can’t help but feel they’re both in a better and worse position this split. The good? They got FORG1VEN. Anyone who followed SK Gaming in the Spring Split last year knows this is BY FAR the biggest pickup in the offseason for Europe. He is good, really good, and if he can learn to cooperate with his teammates in H2K they can easily retain their third spot position (dropping maybe to fourth at times.) The bad? Well, Europe’s gotten a lot more competitive too, even with the loss of some major talent, and as good as FORG1VEN is he is also… a difficult player to have on a team. FORG1VEN is a definite improvement on pretty much any ADC in Europe, but he is also just as difficult to have on a team as it is to not have him on your team. The storyline of H2K is really going to revolve around their botlane, and whether the veteran in VandeR can keep him both satisfied as a Support and reign him in when needed. The dynamic of H2K will either make or break them as a top team in EU LCS, and the Spring Split is going to be when all eyes are watching them on which it’s going to be.

ANOTHER European Exodus. Courtesy of na.lolesports.com

ANOTHER European Exodus. Courtesy of na.lolesports.com

European Talent Exodus

 

European exports to NA aren’t much of news, it’s happened before and made huge impacts, like the move for Bjergsen, and also made very small difference, think Evil Geniuses. This time, however, it’s been quite an exodus. Europe lost Huni and Reignover to newly minted Team Immortals in NA. As if that wasn’t hard enough for EU fans, they lost Yellowstar, the jewel of Europe, to TSM and Svenskeren also to TSM. Surely things couldn’t be worse? Well, then they lost Froggen to Echo Fox a new start up team, and then SmittyJ (arguably less of a hit, but one nonetheless,) to Dignitas. It’s all a bitter pill to swallow, having also seen Alex Ich leave to help form Renegades in NA, alongside Jensen, ex-INCARNATI0N, who joined the then struggling Cloud 9 team.

This storyline is kind of twofold to follow. First, the question most pertinent here is whether Europe can recover. Those who caught the EU LCS trailer know that this is going to be a big storyline there. Europe’s been here before, goes the trailer, they’ve been doubted before, but they’ve always come out of it stronger than before. One of EU’s greatest hopes, in Origen, is still fully intact from this exodus. Fnatic’s rebuilt itself before with less. Heck, EU can even claim to have fully imported something from NA in Safir for G2. But the question could also be rephrased less harshly: not whether Europe will ‘recover,’ but how Europe will show it is still one of the most dominant regions in the world. The second side of this coin? Well, it’s whether these Europe imports will affect NA’s LCS. Bjergsen’s rightfully so considered to have kept TSM afloat and relevant since he joined. He’s the strongest mid laner in the region, at least for now. But then Dexter, CLG’s old Jungler, didn’t seem to have such a lasting legacy for CLG. Then there’s also the story of Evil Geniuses, failed import and eventual dissolution. Jensen ultimately was good for Cloud 9, but when he joined many doubted him a worthy heir to Hai’s throne. TSM’s also known no end of ‘failed’ European junglers too. So the question for NA fans is this: will these injected Europeans make an impact to a region that showed such promise going into Worlds but ultimately fell flat on their faces? As with all our storylines here, only time will tell.

Spring Split Incoming, My Predictions

In just about 2 weeks, the 2016 Spring Split will be upon us. This seemed as good a time as any to put in my predictions and expectations for the split, and maybe offer a bit of analysis into my picks. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be releasing a series of articles giving my analysis of where each team is and how I think they will fare in the coming season. Now, as of today, not every team’s full roster has been announced, so these are subject to changes (which I’ll post in the forum if necessary) but, without further ado, I present to you my 2016 Spring Split NA and EU Predictions!

(Courtesy of zam.com)

(Courtesy of zam.com)

NA Regular Season:

  1. TSM
  2. C9
  3. Immortals
  4. Team Dignitas
  5. Team Liquid
  6. NRG
  7. CLG
  8. Renegades
  9. Echo Fox

 

In every version of this I came up with, I had TSM and C9 at the top. Immortals is a shot in the dark, but they have an incredibly strong roster and I have high expectations. Personally I think this is going to be a great season for Dig. Depending on who replaces Quas, Liquid could move up or down a few spaces. I don’t expect much from NRG, despite having a pretty decent roster, I just don’t see them as a powerhouse. CLG is going to struggle, if they sweep the first weekend I’ll be willing to bump them up, but I predict a mediocre split. Renegades is probably my personal favorite team, but I don’t see them being particularly competitive. Lastly Echo Fox doesn’t even have a roster yet, so until I see some names I’m placing them at 9.

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

EU Regular Season:

  1. Origen
  2. Fnatic
  3. Team Vitality
  4. Unicorns of Love
  5. Giants Gaming
  6. H2K
  7. G2 Esports
  8. Elements
  9. Splyce
  10. Roccat

 

I think Origen is a pretty safe pick at 1, and despite 3 new members Fnatic is never far from the top. Vitality is an intriguing team with a great roster. I love UoL’s new roster and I think they have lots of potential, I also think they’ll be my favorite this season. Giant’s spot depends on who they pick up, but I have high hopes. H2K looks okay, but I’m always apprehensive about FORG1VEN. G2 looks weak. Froggen is probably the best mid in EU, but I don’t think he can carry Elements. Splyce looks kinda meh, they did well in Challenger, but I don’t think it will translate. Roccat has no roster, so they are at the bottom.

Am I crazy? Am I a genius? I want to hear your thoughts, head on over to the forum and post your own predictions! And keep an eye out for my individual team analysis the next two weeks, I’ll be starting with TSM!