HWC 2017: UGC St. Louis Preview and Predictions

The first event of the 2017 Halo World Championship season is this weekend, January 20th-22nd! UGC St. Louis, while not awarding spots for the HWC Finals, will still be important to teams, as it serves as seeding and LAN practice for HCS Las Vegas, which will award HWC spots. Let’s take a look at my predictions for what the top eight teams will be come Sunday!

#8. Luminosity gaming

Roster: Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor

Victory X. Courtesy of ESL.

Luminosity’s first dive into Halo ended with a 5th place finish in the Fall Season. Their new squad, while not necessarily worse, has much more fearsome competition to contend with. With eL TowN and Victory X bringing excellent support and objective work to the roster, their main concern will be slaying power. TriPPPey has proven himself to be very competent in this area, but his performance against higher-seeded pro teams remains unproven. This team should be able to dispatch teams outside of the top eight with relative ease. If Ninja can step up and be the jaw-dropping slayer we all know he can be, this squad can easily do even better. But with a 0-8 scrim record against other teams on this list, I’m not sure this LG squad can pull it off.

This tournament will serve as practice more than anything for Luminosity. They need to learn how to work together well and build a camaraderie outside the game. I fully expect their scrim scores to improve following this event, but I’m not sure I see them breaking into the top six before HWC Las Vegas.

 

#7. Str8 Rippin

Roster: Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette

I have a hard time saying that Renegade is an upgrade from Kevin “Eco” Smith. Both are great power slayers, but I feel Eco just slightly ekes out Renegade in most if not all categories. The advantage that Str8 has however, is that this team already has some previously built-up chemistry. Renegade played with Str8 before they were able to pick up Eco over the transfer period. Even with this, the team is not necessarily worse, but the competition has far improved from last season.

When it comes to scrims, Str8 has beaten Luminosity by only one game. However, the reason I put Str8 above LG on this list is because they have consistently done better against other rosters than LG. For example, both teams have scrimmaged the new Team Allegiance: Str8 lost the scrim 8-5, while Luminosity lost it 11-2. This sort of scenario has repeated itself multiple times with several different teams, and in most, Str8 comes out better than LG. UGC to this team will be about continuing to build their chemistry and seeing where they truly stack up against other top contenders.

 

#6. Team Allegiance

Roster: Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Ayden “Suspector” Hill

This is where things start to get especially close. The new Allegiance roster will have to fight through the open bracket, but once in the champ bracket, they’re sure to start making it farther down the rankings. This squad has three top-tier slayers and an excellent objective player.

Commonly

Commonly, also lovingly nicknamed “The Problem.” Courtesy of ESL.

This squad can very quickly switch places with any team in the 3rd-6th spots. In scrims, this team has lost to OpTic Gaming by only one game, and has also split scrims with both Team EnvyUs and Team Liquid. While LAN results may differ, this team could be without a doubt a top four contender, assuming Spartan kicks up his game to a near-insane levels like he did at the Fall Finals. UGC will provide solid practice to see if this new roster can play well together and to see if their online results translate over to LAN.

 

#5. Evil Geniuses

Roster: Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski, Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton

ContrA. Courtesy of ESL.

Now, to be clear, if this was an online qualifier, EG would most likely be in 7th or 8th place. But this is LAN. It has been proven time and again over the past decade that the the Brown twins are not to be tested at a live event. Throw in ContrA and PreDevoNatoR, another two players who have proven to be far superior on LAN to online. With a similar mix of play-styles to the EG team that dominated Halo 2: Anniversary, the potential of this squad is through the roof.

Despite this, numbers don’t lie. EG has lost all but one scrim out of the nine they’ve played. Despite this, they’ve taken a fair amount of games from both OpTic, EnvyUs, and Liquid. However, LAN EG is a completely different beast. During HCS Las Vegas last season, EG was able to take EnvyUs to a game five, pushing what virtually all view as a top two team to their absolute limits; and I’d say this squad is stronger. All of these players on LAN can far outdo themselves online, and as a fan of EG since they returned to Halo in 2014, I can’t wait to see what this team can do. UGC will serve as excellent practice for this squad, as they have not played on LAN since that Vegas event. However, teams that are absolutely brimming with talent are what is holding this team from joining the top four.

 

#4. Inconceivable

Roster: Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Michael “Falcated” Garcia, “Shotzzy” (Full name unknown)

Be sure to give Bubu your Dubu this weekend, because he and Shooter are not going to be playing nice at this event. After being (for lack of a better word) screwed out of a Pro Bracket spot by their former teammate, these players are going to be hungry. Most of the attention is going to young-gun “Shotzzy,” a player who is so new and unknown that I can’t, for the life of me, find his actual name. He formed a duo with another young player to win several Team Beyond 2v2 tournaments, which included knocking out some pros. His movement and slaying power is already up there with the best, and he doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet. This team also won the NA placement cup prior to UGC and is in prime position to get into the top four. This squad has insane slaying power, led by Bubu’s clutch plays and top-tier objective work.

Scrims have gone very well for this new squad, including a 12-1 victory over Luminosity. They have also split games with both Liquid and Envy. However, the one thing holding them back from top three, is ironically Shotzzy. As far as I know, he has not played at any LAN events. This lack of experience can be detrimental to the squad, as his performance under pressure has not yet been tested. If Shotzzy holds up, this team is right up there with OpTic and Envy. Shotzzy’s performance will no doubt be a focal point for all teams this weekend at UGC. With this is the ongoing situation with this squad and the Pnda Gaming squad. If these two meet, I can only hope for the following scenario to be true:

t5evHFs.jpg

Bubu Dubu knocking out Carlos “Cratos” Ayala. Courtesy of “Craneteam,” from the Team Beyond Forums.

 

#3. Team Liquid

Roster: Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith

If you asked me to throw together the most talented pro players who were not on Envy or OpTic, this is probably the squad I would come up with. A squad of all relative newcomers. Rayne and Penguin have been an amazing duo since first seen on LAN at NA Regionals last year. Rayne provides excellent support play, StelluR is one of the best main-slayers in the league, and both Penguin and Eco have proven themselves as excellent power-slayers.

This team has split games with Envy in scrims and even won a scrim against OpTic by one game. This team has also traded scrims with Inconceivable, but as I said, I believe Shotzzy’s lack of LAN experience will separate these two. I am sure this team will be top four, but UGC will decide if they can join Envy and OpTic in being a step above other teams in the league.

 

#2. Team EnvyUs

Roster: Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese (Wizard), Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

Pistola, the resident Wizard of Halo. Courtesy of ESL.

The Fall Champions. The King-slayers. The only team to ever beat OpTic on LAN. With a star-studded arrangement of amazing slayers, this squad has done what many thought would have been impossible. With Ola and Mikwen not even making Worlds last year, this battle will be especially personal for them. In scrims, they have won all except for one tie with Inconceivable. They defeated the Pnda squad 12-1. To say the least, this team is dominating.

And yet, I have them at #2.

OpTic may have fallen, but I don’t think they are defeated yet. In fact, as I have said earlier, I think Envy have awakened a sleeping dragon. However, their previous win at Fall Finals may also further motivate Envy to continue their win-streak all the way to being the 2017 World Champions. But to do this, one squad stands in their way.

 

#1. OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, Tony “LethuL” Campbell

This squad needs no introduction. There’s a reason that I have OpTic winning UGC this weekend despite performing worse in scrims than Envy. LAN OpTic, in a similar fashion to EG, is a whole different beast. Losing at X-Games one year ago motivated the squad to become the first ever Halo World Champions. I’m betting that losing at Fall Finals will do the same. However, I don’t think OpTic will dominate as they have previously. At Fall Finals, OpTic was able to 4-1 Envy in the Winner’s Finals. Envy will surely take games. But I don’t think the #Greenwall is ready to go quietly quite yet. These two teams will be battling back and forth for the foreseeable future, but I think OpTic is going to be the defending world champs for yet another year.

OpTic wins HCS Orange County. Courtesy of ESL.

 

Do you agree with my placings? Be sure to let me know! Be sure to tune in to UGC St. Louis this weekend at: https://www.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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

 

HWC 2017 Rostermania: Teams and Thoughts

With the conclusion of the Fall Season Pro League, many Halo teams have made some huge roster changes, and as usual, some drama has followed. With OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs retaining their previous rosters, let’s take a look at how the other teams are shaping up going into the 2017 World Championship season.

 

Courtesy of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming ended their first stint in professional Halo in 5th place, just barely being knocked out of the Fall Season Finals by Str8 Rippin’s miracle run through the last half of the season. In preparation for HWC, LG has released fan-favorite player, Brett “Naded” Leonard as well as Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. In their place, they have scooped up another fan favorite, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, as well as Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, a player who made it to the Fall Season Relegations. The full LG squad heading into the HWC 2017 Season is now Ninja, TriPPPeY, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, and Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan.

The success of this team lies with the consistency of Ninja. When he catches fire, he can consistently match teams such as OpTic and NV, possibly even beat them. The only issue here, is that Ninja can’t pull off these kinds of performances on a consistent basis. He’s always been an aggressive, high-risk, high-reward sort of power slayer. The issue with this is that it’s been more risk than reward as of late, leading to some low-damage and high death games. With Victory X and eL TowN bringing a proper objective focus to this squad, as well as TriPPPey’s consistent slaying power, this should allow room for Ninja to do what he needs to do. If he shows up, then this squad can definitely break into the top 4.

Evil Geniuses

Being an EG fan has hurt, ever since NA Regionals last February. The twins, Jason “Lunchbox,” and Justin “Roy” Brown have just not been able to catch a break. Not because Roy and Lunchbox (collectively known as “Roybox”) are no longer able to compete, but instead because they have not been able to find players that can match their play styles. Even with this, the twins along with their teammates always managed to place well on LAN. This might just be what brings EG back into the winner’s circle.

Enter Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton. These two are now joining Roybox and coach Ryan “Towey” after the release of Ninja and Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher. ContrA brings excellent slaying power, with arguably one of the best magnum shots in the league. PreDevoNatoR rounds out the squad with a solid flex role, being able to slay and do objective work. The reason this is important, is because this is a similar combination of play styles that EG had when they were dominating Halo 2: Anniversary. While all players have a spotty record when it comes to online play, both RoyBox as well as ContrA and PreDevoNatoR have done far better when it comes to LAN play. They are likely to also break into the top 4. Make no mistake. This team is a threat and has the potential to be as much of a contender as NV or OpTic.

 

Team Liquid

Team Liquid ended the Fall Season with a 3rd place finish. Looking to improve, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali have been released. In an attempt to push to the same level as OpTic and NV, they have scooped up Stellur and Kevin “Eco” Smith to join Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.

Courtesy of ESL

This new Team Liquid is the most likely to catch up to NV and OpTic. Penguin and Rayne have already proven themselves to be a top duo with a top 4 finish at HWC 2016 and at both Pro League seasons. Combined with Stellur and Eco, this team has a scary amount of slaying power. These two have teamed along with Team Liquid previously in the Summer Season, and despite their poor overall placing, they looked like a team that could have made Finals in the final weeks of the season.

*Note: Team Liquid has not yet officially stated that this is their roster, but it is very likely. Regardless, this team will hold the Liquid seed.

 

Str8 Rippin

This is a roster switch that many didn’t see coming. Most, (including me) had hoped that Str8 would stick with their roster of Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz and Eco, especially after the roller coaster they had been on, which concluded with their miracle run to the Fall Finals. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as Eco left the team for Team Liquid. In his place, Str8 has acquired a previous amateur player,

This is not the first time that Jonathan “Renegade” Willette has played with Ace and crew. After Nick “Maniac” Kershner’s retirement, the team picked up their first victory in the Fall season with Renegade. He fills a similar role to Eco, being a great power slayer. Whether this will make Str8 stronger or weaker, remains to be seen.

 

Pnda gaming

Made up of Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, Brett “Naded” Leonard, and Kyle “Nemassist” Kubina, this roster’s legitimacy of holding a pro seed is questionable at best. Through unfair bending of the rules and usage of loopholes, Cratos and his squad have managed to hold the former Enigma 6 seed instead of the squad made by Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, much to the anger of the HCS community. While the ESL rules state that a team must have two members of it’s previous team to retain a seed (Which Bubu’s squad does and Cratos’ does not), Cratos still managed to snag the seed.

Nevertheless, they hold the seed. However, this squad has weakened from what it once was. Already being forced to Fall Relegations, the loss of Bubu Dubu and Shooter, two players who arguably carried the team through relegations, will hurt the team. With several other team’s looking to snatch one of the seven NA spots at Worlds, it is very possible that this team will not even make it to Worlds, at least as they are now.

 

Team Allegiance

Despite not holding a pro seed, this team will likely breeze into the top 6. Allegiance dissolved their seed from the Fall season to acquire a new roster of Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, and Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. This roster is going to be scary. Spartan, Suspector, and Danoxide are all excellent slayers and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. All this slaying power leaves Commonly free to run objectives however he sees fit and to be a general annoyance for the opposing team.

Spartan, team captain of the new ALG squad. Courtesy of Tyler Ganza

Spartan will be either the catalyst or the anchor for this team’s success. He has consistently been an emotional player who can either carry his squad with jaw-dropping plays, or just be completely shut down and become a detriment. Throughout the Summer Season, he was unfortunately the latter. However, during the Fall Season, this was not so. Spartan was consistently leading his team in slays, and at the Fall Finals, rocketed his team through a game seven Rig Slayer to reverse-sweep Str8 Rippin. Despite not having a pro seed going into UGC St. Louis, this team is likely a top three contender.

Many story lines are taking shape on the road to the 2017 Halo World Championship. The personal battle between Bubu Dubu’s now amateur team and Cratos as well as the ever present OpTic vs. NV rivalry, many questions will be answered this weekend. Come back later this week for a preview and predictions for UGC St. Louis!

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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

 

Dota Pit

Dota Pit Season 5 Event Preview

Dota Pit Season 5 is the third major tournament of the 2017 Dota year, if you include WESG. The tournament will take place from January 20-28th and will be held in the Spaladium Arena in Split, Croatia.

Dota Pit Format

Dota Pit will be played in a double elimination bracket that will take place over the three days. All upper bracket games will be best of three apart from the Grand Finals which will be best of five. It was also announced that the lower bracket games will all be best of one! Best of one brings a huge amount of unpredictability and means that making a lower bracket run in the tournament will come with very high risks.

Dota Pit Prize Pool

The prize pool for the tournament was announced as being $125,000 and would be increased through the sale of in-game tickets and cosmetics. The most recent prize pool announcement was for $136,345. At the time of writing, the distribution amounts have yet to be announced.

Dota Pit Teams

The tournament has been hit with two teams pulling out, which has added two challengers into an already stacked field of teams. With ESL One Genting Champions Digital Chaos being joined by the likes of OG and EG, fans should be in for a treat with some top quality games over the weekend. So who is descending into the pit to try and win the event:

Elements Pro Gaming – Replacing Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Swiftending

Position 2 (Mid) – kole

Position 3 (Offlane) – Mitch

Position 4 (Support) g0g1

Position 5 (Support) – LeBronDota

Most people may have been surprised when it was announced that EPG were selected to replace Wings Gaming, who could not attend due to visa issues. However, they did nearly qualify for the event after losing to OG in the final series 3-2. EPG will be hoping to catch some of the teams by surprise and the format may work in their advantage. This is also a chance for EPG to prove themselves among the biggest teams in the world.

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

EPG has what it takes to catch a team by surprise and due to the best of one lower bracket format, its possible that they can take a game and end up finishing 5th / 6th.

Digital Chaos (DC) – Direct Invite

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC are coming into this event hot, practically on fire. Off the back of an amazing victory at ESL One Genting, the team now have their first LAN win. DC will be looking to build on their first success and carry that forward into Dota Pit. The difference, OG and EG are both returning to this tournament and did not take part in ESL One Genting. Fans will be hoping that DC can continue their fine form at the start of 2017 with another victory at Dota Pit.

Tournament Prediction – 2nd Place

This tournament will come down to a battle between DC, OG, and EG. The three powerhouses are almost interchangeable at the top of the pile and it will be interesting to see how the weekend pans out.

OG – European Qualifier #1

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

Dota Pit signals the start of 2017 for the Boston Major champions. This will also be their first competitive outing on the 7.xx patch. OG had several questions surrounding the team heading into the Major. Could s4 work in the offlane? Could Ana fill the space that Miracle- had left? How would the team manage following the roster changes? OG answered all of these questions in resounding fashion at the Major by winning the event in dominant fashion. OG will be hoping that they can continue the success of Boston and get their year off to a great start.

Tournament Prediction – 1st Place

OG have shown that they are a team to be feared. This will not be an easy tournament for them to win, but if any team can , it will be OG.

Team Secret – European Qualifier #2

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

Dota Pit brings about the return of Team Secret. Having failed to qualify for the Boston Major, and amidst a dispute with former players, Team Secret looked in a bad position. The last event that Secret competed at was the ROG Masters in November, where they finished first.

With a new look roster, and hoping to make a resurgence in 2017, Secret will be hoping that they can impress the Dota community with a high finish.

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

Similar to EPG, Secret are somewhat of an unknown quality. Fans will be hoping that this will work in their advantage and that the format of the tournament can help Secret show that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Dota scene.

Virtus Pro (VP) – CIS Qualifier

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

VP are heading into Dota Pit with a point to prove. After failing to win both the Major and ESL One Genting, VP will be looking to prove to the world that they should still be considered one of the worlds best Dota teams.

VP, however, looked out of sorts at ESL, often times making confusing plays, something they are not normally known for. Lil recently tweeted that quick cast on Earth Spirit (one of his favored heroes) was bugged – https://twitter.com/LilJke/status/818737760668413952. How much of an impact this had, nobody can really tell.

Tournament Prediction – 4th Place

Based on their performance at ESL One, VP did not look like the same team that we considered favorites to win the Major. VP will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of ESL with a strong performance over the weekend.

Team Faceless – SEA Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

Faceless are one the strongest teams in the SEA region. How much you can read into that is another question. Heading into the Major, fans were interested to see how the SEA powerhouse would match up with the world elite. The answer to this questions was shown pretty quickly. Having finished 9th – 16th, Faceless were left disappointed.

Fast forward to Dota Pit and Faceless seem to be re-establishing their dominance in SEA, and will be hoping that they can quiet the doubters with a high placing.

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th

Recently, it seems as if Faceless have been rotating positions depending on the hero being played, with Black often playing the four position Pudge, and xy- playing in the Carry role. Seeing as this worked out so well for Team Liquid at the Major, Faceless may be in for a tough time at Dota Pit.

Invictus Gaming – Replacing Newbee – Chinese Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – BurNing

Position 2 (Mid) – Op

Position 3 (Offlane) – Xxs

Position 4 (Support) – BoboKa

Position 5 (Support) – Q

Time has not been kind to IG. They have had a dramatic fall from grace since their victory at The International 2012 (TI2). The team has been going through a period of transition, but may be starting to find their feet on the world stage once again. Having recently qualified for the Dota Asia Championships (DAC) with a perfect record in their group, they will be hoping to use that experience at Dota Pit.

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th Place

IG are not among friends in this tournament, they are not in China and they are the small fish in the middle of the ocean. On the plus side, expectations will not be high for IG and they may be able to catch a team napping, especially in the best of one lower bracket.

Evil Geniuses – American Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

Dota Pit will see EG’s first real foray into competitive Dota on the 7.xx patch, not including the show matches at Chine Top.

Recent games have seen Arteezy playing a large amount of Meepo in his solo games. Seeing as Meepo had decent levels of success at ESL, it would not be a surprise to see EG turn to Meepo in an attempt to progress in the tournament.

Tournament Prediction – 3rd Place

Although they have not played in any tournaments since the release of 7.xx EG are still a team to be feared and should make it to the later stages of the tournament. With a few surprise picks they may even finish higher than predicted.

Dota Pit Final Thoughts

EG and OG make their return to competitive Dota, and following the high level of play shown at ESL One, this tournament seems set to produce some amazing highlights. Overall, any of the teams predicted in the top four have the ability to take the tournament, but the quality of OG should win through on paper. But we all know Dota is not played on paper.

Overall Predictions:

1st Place – OG

2nd Place – Digital Chaos

3rd Place – Evil Geniuses

4th Place – Virtus Pro

5th / 6th Place – Elements Pro Gaming / Team Secret

7th / 8th Place – Invictus Gaming / Team Faceless

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OGRE 2’s Return to Halo

The man, the myth, the legend. The greatest of all time. Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan is a legend not only in the Halo community, but the esports community in general. He has won four 1v1 / FFA events, seven 2v2 events, and 40 4v4 events. This all adds up to a jaw-dropping, grand total of 51 tournament victories.

36 of these victories had Ogre 2 alongside his twin brother, Dan “OGRE 1” Ryan. 35 had Ogre 2 play with what came to be known as Halo’s first dynasty, the Final Boss squad, whose logo holds the coveted spot of my phone background. Not to mention being a five-time MLG National Champion across four different Halo titles. All the more impressive when considering there were only eight total MLG National Championships.

Courtesy of Major League Gaming.

Chargers los angeles rams coaches carmelo anthony airball

OGRE 2 competing at his last event before retirement, the HCS Pro League Summer Qualifier. Courtesy of ESL.

Ogre 2 originally played under Counter Logic Gaming at the start of the 2016 World Championship. He was later dropped following the acquisition of Tony “Lethul” Campbell. This event was frequently referred to as “Hurricane Lethul” for the abundance of surprising roster changes that followed.

After being dropped from CLG, Ogre 2 joined Team EnvyUs for a short time. Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the 2016 World Championship at NA Regionals.

Later, following his loss at the HCS Pro League Summer Qualifiers, Ogre 2 chose not to participate in the last chance qualifier. He later announced his retirement from competing. However, this may not be Ogre 2’s final tale.

Ogre 2 announced earlier this week that he would be attending the qualifiers for the 2017 Halo World Championship with amateur players, most notably HCS Fall Relegations player Tom “Saiyan” Wilson. This team scrimmaged a new roster of all HCS Pro League players, including Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi.

The scrimmage ended with an 8-5 score in favor of Ogre 2’s new squad. While this “Bubu-Shooter” squad had lost a scrimmage playing Ogre 2, this result is notable nevertheless.

It is very possible that Ogre 2’s team could break into the much sought-after top eight in the qualifiers and that this team could progress into the HCS Pro League season after the 2017 World Championship.

Ogre 2 has stated that he does not plan to compete past Worlds. However, good results could change his mind. After retiring, Ogre 2 has been streaming Halo 5 consistently. He is now far superior to his former self, and can go toe-to-toe with any pro. Should he make the top eight, and be able to find success after, he may choose to remain. However, with roster swaps abound for amateur and pro teams alike, this could threaten his chances. Ogre 2 carries many fans with him, and his return to Halo has the capacity to bring back many nostalgic fans from the days of Final Boss.

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OpTic or EnvyUs? Who is the Best Team After Fall Season?

Throughout the majority of competitive Halo history, two teams usually stood above the rest, and were the only expected championship contenders; First it was Final Boss and Carbon, then Str8 Rippin and Triggers Down, and later Instinct and Status Quo. In the modern era, it seems that this trend is continued, as eSports giants OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs clash yet again. However, are the king-slayers Team EnvyUs truly ready to outright dominate the HCS as OpTic has done since HWC Regionals?

Team EnvyUs:

NV as an org has had a roller coaster of a ride in Halo. The team did not even qualify for HWC 2016, despite having the GOAT of Halo, Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan, and a player affectionately referred to by the community as “The Wizard,” Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese. To put this into context, the previous time Ogre 2 and Pistola teamed, they formed the Instinct god-squad. They won several events, including winning MLG Anaheim 2011 without dropping a single game. Following the conclusion of the HWC 2016, NV finished in the Summer Pro League in third, with a roster of Pistola, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan and Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.

After the Summer Season, both eL TowN and Rayne left the team. With this, came the formation of what is possible the next Halo “God Squad.” Team NV acquired Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, one of the greatest players since the Halo 3 era, and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, a former Call of Duty player who had first made his name at HWC Regionals, and had gained a reputation through legendary snipes such as this (Warning to headphone users: You probably like your sense of hearing, do yourself a favor and turn the volume down):

Crowd footage courtesy of Mishwad

This is the team that has dethroned OpTic Gaming. Carrying their momentum from HCS Las Vegas, they accomplished what no team has been able to do since the start of 2016.

OpTic Gaming

This team, formerly CLG, has dominated the professional Halo scene since HWC Regionals and needs no introduction. With a roster of Paul “Snakebite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal 2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, and Tony “Lethul” Campbell, this team was unstoppable. Snakebite, Royal 2, and Lethul put up constant slaying power, allowing Frosty to do disgusting things like this.

And this:

This squad became the first Halo World Champions, the HCS Summer Season Champions, and won the HCS Orange County event. Their remarkable streak was only broken at the Fall Finals in December. This loss can either motivate them, or anchor them down coming into the Halo World Championship.

Conclusion

One could say that since the NV squad won the last event, they are now the best team. But with OpTic having dominated for so long, can NV be the best after winning once? Both arguments carry validity. What follows is solely my opinion.

Let’s look at the numbers. OpTic defeated NV twice at HCS Orange County with an ending score of 10-2 in favor of OpTic. The next LAN event that these teams met at was the Fall Finals. OpTic dominated NV in the Winner’s Bracket Finals with a 3-1 finish. Meeting again in the Grand Finals, NV reset the series by winning 4-2. They became the first team to beat OpTic on LAN by defeating them in a second best-of-seven series 4-3. The total record of games is 18-11 in favor of OpTic.

While NV has managed to defeat OpTic on LAN, I do not believe they are the best Halo team as of yet. Not only does OpTic out-perform NV on the basis of games won on LAN, but other factors could have contributed to OpTic’s loss that were outside of the game. It is also completely legitimate to say that OpTic just had a bad series, just as they did at X-Games. However, following the end of the Fall Season, the total game score of online scrims is 13-9 in favor of NV. With that said, these are online results, and are far less important when considering that OpTic is a far superior team on LAN than online.

NV may have won the last event and taken the title of Fall Season Champions; But much like X-Games, they may have awakened a sleeping dragon.

I hope everyone enjoyed the read! To find more top-notch articles about sports and eSports, like and follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter! Check out the Team Beyond forums to participate in the discussion of Halo eSports. Get in touch with me personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following me on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

All clips are courtesy of Microsoft, 343 Industries, ESL and the HCS.

ESL One Genting

ESL One Genting 2017 Dota 2 Preview

In just a couple of days. the 2017 Dota 2 season kicks off with ESL One Genting. The tournament will take place from January 6-8th and is hosted at the prestigious Arena of Stars. For the eight teams competing in the tournament, they will be hoping that they can take home the first tournament of the year.

ESL One Genting Format

The tournament will be played in two stages. The first will be a group stage consisting of two groups, each with four teams. They will play each other in a double elimination format until two teams are left from each group who will proceed to bracket play. As with all ESL Dota 2 tournaments, bracket play will be single elimination. Meaning anything can and will happen. As a fan of the unpredictability that single elimination bracket play brings to competitive Dota, I am excited to see what the teams have in store for us over the weekend.

ESL One Genting Prize Pool

ESL One Genting boasts a $250,000 prize pool, which is a large amount considering it is possible to win the tournament only playing four series. The prize pool is broken down as follows:

  • 1st Place – $100,000
  • 2nd Place – $50,000
  • 3rd Place – $25,000
  • 4th Place – $25,000
  • 5th – 8th Place – $12,500

ESL One Genting Teams

Eight of the top teams will arrive in Malaysia, all with aspirations of winning ESL One Genting. The winners of the last ESL One event, OG, are not attending the event so a new champion will be crowned over the weekend. Lets take a look at who is fighting it out to be ESL One Genting 2017 champions.

Group A

Virtus Pro (VP)

 

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Solo

Position 5 (Support) – Lil

Heading into the Boston Major, VP was touted by many, including myself, as firm favorites to win the event. Unfortunately for VP this was not the case, Evil Geniuses (EG) defeated them, resulting in a 5-8th finish.

With ESL One Genting just round the corner, VP will be desperate to avenge their failure at the Major with a dominant display over the weekend.

Prediction:- 1st in Group A

VP are famed for playing a chaotic style, combine this with their niche picks (Phantom Assassin / Weaver supports) and a single elimination tournament, I foresee VP performing very well and taking home first place in their group.

Fnatic

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – InYourDream

Position 2 (Mid) – Mushi

Position 3 (Offlane) – Ohaiyo

Position 4 (Support) – Febby

Position 5 (Support) – Yamateh

Following disappointment at the Boston Major, Fnatic made the decision to drop three players from their roster. Leaving Mushi and Ohaiyo to look for three players in time for ESL One Genting, but they managed to pull it off. Fnatic announced their new roster on January 4th, a mere 36 hours before their first group stage game against heavy favorites VP.

Fnatic will be hoping that they do not regret leaving it to last minute to finalize their roster for the event. Instead they will be hoping to benefit from taking the time to select the correct players for each role.

Prediction:- 4th in Group A

Unfortunately, I think that Fnatic have decided on a roster too late. The team will not have had a chance to play together very much, and at this level of Dota, skill is not enough to win a series, let alone a whole tournament. ESL One Genting has come too soon for this Fnatic roster, and I expect that they will be hoping to use this tournament as a chance to bond as a team.

Newbee

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Uuu9

Position 2 (Mid) – Sccc

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kpii

Position 4 (Support) – Faith

Position 5 (Support) – Kaka

Newbee is currently one of the two best teams in China, the other being Wings Gaming, and will be hoping to assert their dominance on the international stage at ESL One Genting. Following a very disappointing 9 – 16th finish at the Boston Major, they bounced back in the recent Dota 2 Professional League Season 2 to finish first in the all Chinese league. They will be hoping that they can start 2017 with a bang.

Prediction:- 2nd in Group A

Combine the brilliance of Mid lane player Song “Sccc” Chung with the reliability of the rest of the team, Newbee are one of the favorites to take the tournament. Although I have predicted them to finish second in the group, it would not be a surprise if they nabbed the top spot from VP.

Team NP

 

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Aui_2000

Position 2 (Mid) – Eternal Envy

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – SVG

Position 5 (Support) – Rose aka 1437

Fan favorites NP boast an International winner, in Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling. Aui, along with Shangai Major winner Jacky “Eternal Envy” Mao, will be hoping to lead NP to the ESL One Genting crown. Having formed in September 2016, NP will be hoping to build on recent performances and get the teams maiden first place finish at ESL One Genting.

Known for his insane plays and almost reckless abandon, EE will be hoping that the solidity of the four other players on the team will propel them to glory. Team NP are on the cusp of the elite Dota 2 teams, and they will be hoping that 2017 is the year they join the elite teams.

Predictions:- 3rd in Group A

Unfortunately for Team NP they are in the harder of the two groups and up against the likes of Newbee and VP. I believe that they will finish third in their group. If NP can start hot and catch other teams in their group by surprise, I think that they may have a chance at making it to bracket play. As heavy fan favorites, the Dota 2 community will be willing NP to greatness. Whether they can achieve it or not, is a different question.

Group A Predictions Recap

  1. Virtus Pro
  2. Newbee
  3. NP
  4. Fnatic

Group B

Digital Chaos (DC)

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC recently finished second place at The International 6 (TI6), a few days later and to the surprise of many they made a roster change. They dropped fan favorite David “Moo” Hull and replaced him with David “MoonMeander” Tan. After a good showing at the Boston Major, finishing 3rd/4th, DC will be hoping that they can start the year with a victory at ESL One Genting.

In many people’s eyes DC have a roster with the ability to take the Dota 2 scene by storm, although they have yet to realize this potential. Will ESL One Genting be the start of a great 2017, or another bump in the road to greatness?

Prediction:- 1st in Group B

Being placed in the same group as the TI6 champions could be both a blessing and a curse. DC will be looking to avenge the defeat they suffered in the finals of TI6, and I fully believe that they will be able to at ESL One Genting. I expect them to finish top of their group, although they will be fighting it out with TI6 champions Wings Gaming.

Execration (XctN)

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Nando

Position 2 (Mid) – Gabbi

Position 3 (Offlane) – Dj

Position 4 (Support) – Owa

Position 5 (Support) – Kimo

2016 was a massive year for XctN. They have shown themselves to be one of the best teams in the South East Asian (SEA) region. However, 2017 started with uncertainty, XctN lost two players and were left searching for replacements. With the addition of Fernando “Nando” Mendoza and Joshua “Owa” Dela Serna, they will be hoping that they can continue to improve in 2017.

XctN will be hoping that their Mid player Khim “Gabbi” Villafuerte can make the same stylish plays in 2017 that he made in 2016 (Click here to see Gabbi’s amazing Puck play at MPGL in September).

Prediction:- 3rd in Group B

The difficulty with an eight team tournament is that you are inevitably going to face extremely tough opposition in the group stages. Unfortunately for XctN, this is the predicament that they find themselves in. Being grouped with the first and second place teams from TI6, Wings and DC respectively, means that their chances of making it out of group B are slim. I do, however, hope that they can prove me wrong as they are an exciting team to watch.

Wings Gaming

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

2016 was a rollercoster year for Wings, which saw them achieve six first place finishes. This includes taking home the Aegis of Champions at TI6, and also winning ESL One Manilla in April. Many expected them to challenge for the crown at the Boston Major, however this was not the case. They achieved a disappointing 9 – 16th placing, followed by another disappointing finish at China Top 2016.

With the groundbreaking 7.00 patch still relatively new, Wings will be hoping that they can use their highly unpredictable play style to achieve a good placing at ESL One Genting.

Prediction – 2nd in Group B

Expect Wings to make it through their group relatively easily. In my opinion, it is a straight fight between Wings and DC for top spot in Group B. Wings have the skill and team play to win the entire tournament, however their most recent performances have been lackluster to say the least. I expect Wings to finish 2nd in the Group, but they may prove me and many others wrong.

WarriorsGaming.Unity (WG)

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ahjit

Position 2 (Mid) – NaNa

Position 3 (Offlane) – KaNG

Position 4 (Support) – Ahfu

Position 5 (Support) – Wenn

WG are one of the best teams in SEA, and at the Boston Major they shocked many people by battling to a respectable 5 – 8th placing. WG are somewhat an unknown entity in the international Dota 2 scene. Apart from their performance at the Boston Major, they have mainly played in SEA based tournaments where they have seen great success.

Prediction – 4th in Group B

WG are going to suffer the same issues as I mentioned in relation to XctN. Their group has two of the best teams in the world, who have the potential to win the entire tournament. I expect WG to be fighting it out with XctN for the bottom two places in the group. There is always the chance that WG could potentially catch DC or Wings off guard, but I find this highly unlikely.

Group B Predictions Recap

  1. Digital Chaos
  2. Wings Gaming
  3. Execration
  4. WarriorsGaming.Unity

ESL One Genting Final Thoughts

7.00 has reinvigorated Dota, and I am excited to see some of the best teams in the world play on the new patch. With the ability of teams like Virtus Pro and Wings Gaming to make almost all the heroes work in some way, I expect to see a weekend of world class Dota

In terms of my overall event predictions, I think that Virtus Pro will take the whole event, with Digital Chaos finishing second.

1st Place – Virtus Pro

2nd Place – Digital Chaos

3rd / 4th Place – Newbee / Wings Gaming

5th / 6th Place – Team NP / Execration

7th / 8th Place – Fnatic / WarriorsGaming.Unity

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 Joe!

Road to the Halo World Championship 2017

On December 11th, 2016, Team EnvyUs dethroned the reigning kings of the Halo Championship Series (HCS), OpTic Gaming, in a thrilling double best-of-seven series. This was the first time the OpTic Gaming (formerly Counter Logic Gaming) Halo team lost a series on LAN since X-Games Aspen at the end of January 2016.

The first North American qualifier for the Halo World Championship (HWC) is fast approaching, and many players are putting their nose to the grindstone in order to get their piece of the $1,000,000 prize pool.

Team EnvyUs won the Falls Season of the Halo Championship Series

Team EnvyUs hoist the HCS Fall Season Finals trophy. (PC: ESL)

North America

For North American teams, the grind to make it to HWC 2017 begins on January 20th, 2017 at UGC St. Louis. The top eight teams from the open bracket will move on to the Championship Bracket, where the pro teams, seeded by the HCS Fall Season, wait for their chance to advance. The top three teams from the Champ Bracket will automatically qualify for the HWC. On March 3rd, HWC Vegas by Millennial Esports begins, with the same format as UGC St. Louis, and will send another three teams to the HWC. OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs are bound to face each other yet again, and the Greenwall will be looking for revenge.

Following both of the open LANs, the online qualifiers throughout the months will lead to a last chance online qualifier on March 11th, sending the final North American team to the HWC.

Europe:

Two European teams will also have their shot at $1,000,000. HWC London by Gfinity is an open-bracket event that will send the top two teams to HWC on February 17th-19th. Following this, the Europeans will have their own last chance qualifier to send the third and final European team to the HWC on February 26th.

At last year’s HWC, Epsilon eSports was the first European team to break into the top eight in Halo history. FAB eSports looks to best this record, and are poised to do so after winning both the EU Summer and Fall Season Finals. How far they are capable of going is in question after a disappointing 7th / 8th place finish at HCS Las Vegas however.

The Grand Finals of the EU Fall Finals saw FAB dismantling Team Infused with a 4-0 win. (PC: ESL)

The Grand Finals of the EU Fall Finals saw FAB dismantling Team Infused with a 4-0 win. (PC: ESL)

Latin / South America and Australia / New Zealand:

Gfinity will be sending only one team from the South / Latin America area to the HWC. The team to hold this coveted spot will be determined at HWC Mexico City on February 24th-26th.

ESL Australia will also be hosting an online qualifier on February 26th to send the 12th and final team to the HWC.

The race to the $1,000,000 game starts in January. The OpTic vs. EnvyUs rivalry will continue, as both battle for the glory of being the best Halo team in the world. However, many other teams are also looking to take home the title of Halo World Champion.

I hope everyone enjoyed the read! To find more top-notch articles about sports and eSports, like and follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter! Check out the Team Beyond forums to participate in the discussion of Halo eSports. Get in touch with me personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following me on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

The International 6 Teams

 

courtesy of dota2.com

The Qualifier matches have concluded, and we have a clear image about who will be competed in the esports tournament with the by far largest prize pool.

Only 6 teams received a direct invite this time around, namely OG, Liquid, Newbee, LGD, MVP and Na’vi. Secret and EG also had to earn their spot, and they had some tough games at doing so too.

We also have four more teams that will claim the two remaining wild card spots. Namely:

 (Execration, SEA)

 (Escape Gaming, Europe)

 (Complexity, America)

 (Ehome, China)

Judging from the qualifier games, this International may make a very interesting tournament, at least gameplay-wise. This patch seems to be quite viewer friendly, to put it this way. Matches seem a lot more interesting than they used to be, probably due to the fact that in-game mistakes get punished a lot more, making for slightly easier comebacks. Also, the playable Hero pool has increased quite a bit.

All that remains is wait a few more short weeks to see whether this year’s International will be, as a lot of people believe, the best one yet.

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.