Power Rankings: G2, #1 western team

Best in the West: NA vs. EU Power Rankings

Other than the few teams that compete at international events, audiences hardly get to see how North American and European LCS teams match up against one another. Nonetheless, it is a constant source of debate. Fans around the world tout their favorite teams as being “The Best in the West,” comparing the 20 teams from both leagues.

It can be difficult to compare teams from different leagues. Anyone who watches international competitions, such as Mid Season Invitational or the World Championships, knows this. With different playstyles and champion preferences, it is impossible to truly know how things would play out before teams actually compete. However, since it is a fun and controversial topic, here are current power rankings for the top 10 teams between the NA and EU LCS.

  1. FNC
Power Rankings: #10 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic are serving as a litmus test for the EU LCS. Their overall kill-death ratio is 1.08, meaning Fnatic barely gets more kills than deaths. They average only 429 gold ahead at 15 minutes. 50% of the time, Fnatic secures first blood or first Baron, and they only take first turret 43% of the time. The one metric where they skew towards the top of the league is first three turrets rate (79%).

The Fnatic-Splyce match-up this week will either prove or disprove this team’s placement. If Splyce win, then they deserve the tenth slot in these rankings. Fnatic have yet to win a series 2-0, but they also have not lost 2-0. Taking G2 to three games in Week 1 is the main criteria keeping Fnatic ahead at this point. Hopefully they will shore up weaknesses in the jungle with Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen starting. If so, then Fnatic will solidify themselves as a playoff team.

  1. P1
Power Rankings: Phoenix1, #9 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Phoenix1 is tied for fourth place in the NA LCS with a record of 4-4. Prior to Week 4 they would be higher in the power rankings, but losing 0-2 to FlyQuest and 1-2 to CLG has many questioning their consistency. P1 averages 117 gold ahead at 15 minutes and have the highest first Dragon rate (84%). Paired with the second highest Baron control rate, 61%, they show strength playing around neutral objectives.

This squad has exhibited a high skill ceiling in almost every position, but last week showed their low floor. P1 is also the only team in the league who has not faced off against Cloud9. If they can take a game, or the series, then they will solidify themselves in the top of the standings. But, if they lose both games, then they may have a tougher time staying in contention for playoffs. Up to this point they only take first turret and the first three turrets 47% of games. Nonetheless, they seem stronger than any of the bottom six EU LCS teams.

  1. FOX
Power Rankings: Echo Fox, #8 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Echo Fox’s early game is unmatched thus far in the NA LCS. They average 1,530 gold ahead at 15 minutes. Thanks to star rookie jungler, Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, Echo Fox has secured first blood in 75% of games and first Baron in 68%. The third fastest average game time (just under 38 minutes) implies that they close games well. However, they only have an even 50% winrate over 20 games played, which means they lose just as quickly as they win.

The main issue holding FOX back from being A-tier is their overall Baron control rate, 49%. While they generally take the first Baron of the game, there are usually multiple per game and the enemy teams are getting any that spawn subsequently. Echo Fox also only secures Elder Dragon 25% of the time. While FOX has won series against TSM and FlyQuest, they have also lost series to Phoenix1, Team Liquid, and Immortals. Consistency will be the key moving forward.

  1. TSM
Power Rankings: TSM, #7 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Solo Mid sits tied for second place with FlyQuest. However, FLY is the only team they have not matched up against. TSM would be ranked higher were it not for the fact that they have played the most total games in the NA LCS. They have dropped a game to every team ranked beneath them except Envy, and Echo Fox beat them last week 2-0. TSM’s average game time (38:24), gold difference at 15 minutes (-5), and Dragon control rate (52%), are all middle-of-the-pack.

Where this team thrives is in taking turrets. TSM takes first turret in 62% of games (second in the league) and the first three turrets in 71% (first in the league). The primary difference between this squad and C9 and FLY is the K:D ratio. C9 and FLY average 1.45 and 1.49, respectively. TSM averages 1.09. Moving forward, they will need to trade fewer deaths and/or more kills while maintaining proper map pressure. This week’s series with FlyQuest will solidify second place.

  1. MSF
Power Rankings: Misfits, #6 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Misfits average the highest kill-death ratio in the EU LCS and the lowest combined kills per minute. They average 860 gold ahead at 15 minutes, secure the first dragon 67% of the time, and kill 70% of all dragons. This means Misfits plays a clean game, gaining early gold leads from creeps and neutral monsters. A major factor separating this squad from others ranked above them is their first turret rate (50%) and first Baron rate (58%).

If Misfits want to move up in these power rankings, they will need to translate their early game leads into taking down the first three turrets and securing Baron. They took G2 to three games and beat both Fnatic and Splyce 2-0, but the Week 6 match-up with Unicorns of Love will be key. If Misfits take the series, it will establish Group A, and Misfits as a team as much stronger than Group B.

  1. H2K
Power Rankings: H2K, #5 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Staying true to Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski’s moniker as “First Blood King,” H2K secure the first kill in 73% of their games. They also average the highest first turret, first three turrets, and first dragon rates. All of this combines for the highest 15-minute gold difference in the EU LCS (1,160). However, H2K’s average game time is middling (just over 37 minutes). Even though they match up well with Unicorns of Love’s early game statistics, H2K has a harder time actually closing games.

Taking G2 to three games in Week 4 is a good sign for this squad. H2K’s Korean bot lane has appeared more comfortable communicating with the rest of the team. The key for this team to climb to the top of the league is fewer deaths. H2K average 12.4 per game. Unicorns of Love, G2, and Misfits average 11.5, 8.8, and 8.1, respectively. Week 5 should provide an easy win, but H2K will need to secure convincing wins against Fnatic and Misfits before their Week 8 rematch against UOL.

  1. UOL
Power Rankings: UOL, #4 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Many spectators have been surprised by Unicorns’ dominance in the first four weeks. Sporting the highest combined kills per minute (team kills plus enemy team kills) and the shortest average game time, Unicorns of Love play bloody games. They average 1,072 gold ahead of their opponents after 15 minutes. This translates into the highest first Baron rate, 91%, and highest overall Baron control rate of 88%.

Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás is among the most consistent top laners. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort have stepped into their roles cleanly as rookies. This team thrives on chaotic teamfights, often pursuing several skirmishes across the map at the same time. Teams ranked below Unicorns are unable to dissect this playstyle and effectively punish it. Teams ranked above them theoretically could. While they have not suffered a series loss up to this point, Unicorns of Love will face G2 in Week 5, their toughest test yet.

  1. FLY
Power Rankings: #3 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Week 4 saw FlyQuest put in their place just below Cloud9. Although it was a back-and-forth series, C9 came out on top. The only other team to beat FlyQuest so far is Echo Fox. Nonetheless, FLY have looked monstrous so far this split. They top the NA LCS in K:D ratio, first turret rate, Dragon control, Elder Dragon control, first Baron, and Baron control. They also hold second for gold difference at 15, first Dragon, first three turrets, and First Blood. There are very few weaknesses on this roster.

However, they have lost two series. Three of those losses had An “Balls” Le on Poppy. Maybe that is an uncomfortable champion for him? In Game 3 against Cloud9, Hai “Hai” Du Lam locked in a blind pick Zed. That may have been a bit arrogant. Nonetheless, FlyQuest should be able to match almost any team in the West, starting with TSM this week.

  1. C9
Power Rankings: C9, #2 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

The last undefeated team in North America is Cloud9. They have only dropped four out of 20 games so far, and two of those were lost while starting substitute top laner, Jeon “Ray” Ji-won. Other than their high K:D ratio and Elder Dragon control rates, C9 do not appear that impressive on paper. They have the lowest first turret rate in the league, average 7 gold behind their opponents at 15 minutes, and only take first Baron or Dragon in 47% of games.

Cloud9’s roster is strong in all positions. Whether it is Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen securing solo kills in the mid lane, or Juan “Contractz” Garcia sacrificing early farm to gank lanes, each player contributes in meaningful ways to the team’s overall goal: winning series. Coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu should be given credit for generally superior drafting, as well. There is no doubt this Cloud9 squad could go toe-to-toe with any team in NA or EU.

  1. G2
Power Rankings: G2, #1 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

Finishing four weeks 6-0, G2 have the best record in Europe. Even in a stronger group, G2 have appeared a tier above the rest. They have won 12 of 15 games played. Even though G2 have the longest average game time (just over 39 minutes), they secure first turret 67% of games and first Baron 79% of games. G2 is ranked first overall because they have demonstrated the early game proactivity of FlyQuest, Unicorns of Love, and H2K, as well as the mid/late game teamfighting of Cloud9 and Misfits.

All of G2’s individual players are a force to reckon with. Every single one has demonstrated a high ceiling. Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez has made a habit of over-extending recently, but the rest of the team makes up for it. G2 averages ahead 742 gold at 15 minutes, which sets them up to comfortably make plays across the map. A win in their series against Unicorns of Love this week will solidify their claim to the throne; a loss might reveal a chink in the armor.

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 4: Individual Match-Ups

Week 4 marks the beginning of cross-group series. Teams from Group A will face teams from Group B. Since we have only watched LCS squads play within their groups, it is a bit more difficult to compare skill between A teams and B teams. However, the following individual match-ups should be spicy, regardless of how the rest of their teams do.

Week 4 G2 esports

Luka “PerkZ” Perković

KDA: 4.7

CSD10: +1.1

KP: 68.4%

DPM: 536

Week 4 H2K

Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten

KDA: 5.0

CSD10: +7.9

KP: 60.6%

DPM: 602

While G2 versus H2K in Week 4 should make for an exciting match overall, keep an eye on the mid lane. Perkz and Febiven bring similar mechanical skill to the table, but their playstyles are slightly different. Febiven has proven himself to be most dominant in lane in Group B, while Perkz tends to bring more to roaming and teamfights.

As for champion pool, these two do overlap a bit. Perkz and Febiven have played Syndra more than once with middling success. They have both also played one game on Cassiopeia. Febiven has played Corki once and lost, while Febiven has won three times on the champion. The most noticeable difference in played champions is Perkz’s Ryze and Leblanc. He has played Ryze twice, Leblanc twice, and was a menace to other mid laners on those champions. Febiven has not played either so far. However, Febiven’s most dominant performance was on Jayce, finishing 9-0-10 against Splyce.

Group A’s pool of mid laners seems stronger overall than Group B, so expect these two to match up pretty closely. H2K should try their best to give Febiven the favorable wave-clear match-up to prevent Perkz’s ability to roam. On the other hand, Febiven has shown a lackluster performance on Viktor. If it comes down to it, he should pick up the safe Corki, which he has demonstrated in wins against Unicorns of Love and Team Vitality.

Week 4 Splyce

Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup

KDA: 5.7

CSD10: +1.3

KP: 73.4%

DPM: 557

Week 4 Misfits

Steven “Hans sama” Liv

KDA: 6.4

CSD10: -1.5

KP: 72%

DPM: 476

Misfits should have the overall advantage in Week 4. They sit second in Group A, while Splyce are third in Group B. Nonetheless, the AD Carry match-up will be a fun one. Kobbe and Hans sama have relatively similar statistics. The main splitting point is in KDA and damage per minute. Hans sama’s numbers paint him as playing more safely: giving fewer deaths with lower damage. Kobbe dies more, but does more damage to enemies in the process.

The meta marksmen pool is relatively small at the moment. Most games include the utility carries, Varus, Jhin, or Ashe, so it is not surprising to see a large overlap in Kobbe and Hans sama’s played champions. But their success is drastically different, depending on which champion they draft. Hans sama has won four out of five Varus games, two out of three Ashe games, and one out of two Jhin games. Meanwhile, Kobbe won three out of five games on Jhin, his one game on Ashe, and neither of his games on Varus. Kobbe has also successfully utilized Caitlyn in a game against Origen.

Misfits could leave Varus up during the draft, knowing that Hans sama has shown comfort on the champion and Kobbe has not. Splyce could try to target out marksmen and see how deep Hans sama’s champion pool goes. However, most of the draft phases have been revolving around other roles, so the bot lane will most likely be a matter of execution, rather than a favorable champion selection.

Week 4 Fnatic

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer

KDA: 3.0

CSD10: 0

KP: 59.1%

DPM: 381

Week 4 Team Vitality

Lucas “Cabochard ” Simon-Meslet

KDA: 3.6

CSD10: 3.1

KP: 64.5%

DPM: 383

Fnatic versus Team Vitality should be fairly one-sided in Week 4. One area of the map that could get tilted the most is top lane. While Cabochard has not been as dominant as expected during the laning phase, he does generally come out ahead. SOAZ has had a few flashy plays here or there, but most of the time he is simply getting by until he can group with his team.

These two players’ champion pools look much different. Cabochard has played Camille, Jayce, Trundle, and Fiora, none of which sOAZ have played. SOAZ has locked in Gnar and Illaoi, both of which Cabochard has not. They have both lost a game on Poppy, yet both have shown convincing games on Shen. SOAZ looks much more comfortable on Nautilus. But the largest difference is their Maokai play rate. SOAZ has won three out of four games on Maokai. Cabochard has not played the champion yet this split.

Team Vitality should leverage this top-side imbalance to their benefit. Cabochard needs to play a lane dominant champion, and they need to try to force sOAZ onto Poppy, Nautilus, or a carry. If he can gain a large advantage in the early game, then Team Vitality have a chance. But, if sOAZ is allowed to play Shen or Maokai, Fnatic will have a much higher chance of winning.

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 3 Predictions

Week 3 will be the week that settles the standings in Group A and B before heading into cross-group play. Fnatic and Splyce sit in the middle of their respective groups. Both teams will play twice this weekend, and the results of those four matches should give us a better picture of the LCS as a whole. Are Splyce and Fnatic closer in skill to H2K and Misfits, or Giants and Vitality? We should have an answer at the end of this week.

Week 3: Splyce versus Unicorns of Love

courtesy of lolesports.com

Top lane will be heavily in favor of Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás in Week 3. Jonas “Trashy” Andersen has not seemed to have the same jungle presence as last split. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir has been fantastic thus far. Chres “Sencux” Laursen will need to punish Fabian “Exileh” Schubert’s aggression or else he will be steamrolled.

If Splyce will get an advantage anywhere it is bot lane. Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov has given several free kills over the first two weeks. Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort has not been punished for playing 1v2 for extended periods of time. Splyce will need to capitalize. Unicorns will win the series, but Splyce will take it to three games. 

Week 3: Fnatic versus Misfits

courtesy of lolesports.com

This is the marquee match-up of Week 3. Rasmus “Caps” Winther will need to maintain dominance against Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and transition into other lanes. Maurice “Amazingx” Stückenschneider and Jesse “Jesiz” Le will need to contain Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun from roaming as much as possible. Barney “Alphari” Morris has advantage in top lane. Misfits should play him on a carry champion versus Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.

This will be a battle between veterans and rookies; the old organization and the new. Misfits should win 2-1, but it will be close.

Week 3: Vitality versus H2K

courtesy of lolesports.com

Not much to talk about here. H2K have been performing higher than expected since bringing on an imported bot-side. Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski should be able to surpass Charly “Djoko” Guillard, which is Vitality’s best performer so far. Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu should be dominant against Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet’s current form. Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten will continue to crush the mid lane in Week 3.

Vitality could attempt to snowball bot lane, but Djoko ganking has been their main tool for that. H2K will take the 2-0 win convincingly.

Week 3: Giants v G2

courtesy of lolesports.com

Giants have high first dragon and first baron rates. However, they also have the lowest first-three-turrets rate. That is where G2 should focus in Week 3. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez should be able to easily subdue Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa and Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg, secure first turret, and open up the map. Luka “Perkz” Perković may be surprised by Na “Night” Gun-woo’s over-aggression. Ki “Expect” Dae-Han and Olof “Flaxxish” Medin should match up fine in laning phase, but Expect’s use of Teleport has been on point.

Finally, Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun should continue to play utility champions to protect Perkz and Zven, allowing them to shell out damage continuously. There is the off-chance that Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi steals a Baron and Giants win a game off of that, but this should be an easy 2-0 for G2.

Week 3: Origen versus Splyce

courtesy of lolesports.com

This match will be a deciding factor on how fans feel about these two teams. Splyce looked flat Week 1 against H2K. Week 2 against Vitality was more convincing, but mostly off the back of a Mordekaiser counterpick that snowballed immediately. Origen have had decent laning phases, but a lack of synergy through the mid-game has been the primary weakness.

If Origen win this series, then there is hope for them moving forward, and fans will seriously question Splyce’s gameplay. If Splyce put up an easy win, then they will solidify themselves, and Origen will finish 0-4 after Week 3. Realistically, Splyce should win 2-0.

Week 3: Roccat versus Fnatic

courtesy of lolesports.com

This is Group A’s mirror match-up to the Origen vs. Splyce series. While Fnatic looked stronger than expected in Week 1 against G2, they dropped a game to Giants in Week 2. Meanwhile, Roccat took a game off of Giants. Fnatic will need to put up a decisive 2-0 against this team to feel good about themselves. Roccat have not looked competitive in any of their games so far.

If they take a game or series from Fnatic in Week 3, then it would be extremely impressive. Felix “Betsy” Edling needs to figure out his role on the team since it was re-built around him in the off-season. I have a feeling Caps will keep him busy in the mid lane, though. Fnatic wins 2-0.

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DAC Logo

Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017 Regional Qualifiers Preview

Most fans will remember Dota 2 Asian Championships 2015 (DAC) as the breakout event for superstar mid laner Syed “Sumail” Hassan. After taking a break throughout 2016, it was announced that DAC would be returning to our screens in March 2017.

The qualifiers for the event are scheduled from February 3rd-13th and are being split into four different regions (the China qualifiers have already been completed):

AmericasAmericas DAC (one qualification spot)

SEA DAC

SEA (one qualification spot)

EU DAC

Europe (one qualification spot)

CIS DACCIS (one qualification spot)

DAC Format

Teams will be split into two groups of four teams, playing a double elimination format with all games being best-of-three. The top two of each group will then advance to a double-elimination bracket with the winning team booking themselves a spot in the LAN finals in March/April.

Americas DAC Qualifiers

Eight of the best teams based in North and South America will take part in the online qualifiers for a spot at DAC. The teams will be fighting it out for one spot, and with such a stacked field the competition will be of the highest level.

Having finished second at TI, third/fourth at Boston, and first at ESL One Genting, many would have expected DC to be given a direct invite to the event. This was not the case however. They have instead been thrown to the wolves that is the Americas regional qualifiers. Joining DC fans can look forward to seeing the following teams:

Group A

  1. DC
  2. Wanted (PPD’s team)
  3. Complexity Gaming
  4. Team Freedom

Group B

  1. Team NP
  2. SG e-sports
  3. Infamous
  4. Team Onyx

What to expect

With the StarLadder qualifiers wrapping up, it’s straight from the frying pan and in to the fire for most of these teams. Of the eight teams competing, six of them competed in the StarLadder qualifiers. Team NP, DC, Complexity, Team Onyx, Infamous, and Team Freedom will be hoping that they build on the events of StarLadder.

Ones to watch

Heading into the qualifiers, Team NP and DC look like they will be competing for the top spot, as they have done for the majority of the StarLadder qualifiers. If you are looking for an underdog, both Team Onyx and WanteD have the ability to give the more established teams a run for their money.

With Abed finally joining up with Team Onyx, they hope to take advantage of the easy group and progress to the playoffs where they stand a good chance of qualifying. WanteD are an unknown quantity, but with a roster captained by PPD, good things can be expected. WanteD are unfortunately in a group with DC, Complexity, and Team Freedom so progression will be difficult. Fans will be hoping that PPD can prove he is still one of the most formidable drafters in the world and draft his team to victory.

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

Prediction – Team NP

Dark Horse – Team Onyx

SEA DAC Qualifiers

The teams in SEA are beginning to rise in power. With TNC winning WESG and Faceless finishing third at Dota Pit, the future looks bright for the region. With five of the competing teams possessing the ability to finish in the top spot, there will be some stiff competition. The only sour note hanging over the qualifiers is that they are missing Fnatic who pulled out of the qualifiers due to team issues. Fnatic have been placed by Next Generation, who will be hoping to seize the opportunity.

Group A

  1. Team Faceless
  2. Signature.Trust
  3. WarriorsGaming.Unity
  4. Next Generation

Group B

  1. TNC Pro Team
  2. Rex Regum
  3. Mineski.GGNetwork
  4. Execration

What to expect

The recent StarLadder qualifiers saw TNC finish one point above Team Faceless. Having seen the top spot be decided by a point will give fans a taste of what to expect. Faceless will be hoping to avenge the disappointment of narrowly missing out in the StarLadder qualifiers.

Ones to watch

TNC have had a very good start to the year, winning WESG and also qualifying for StarLadder, so they will be coming into the qualifiers in form. Being one of the more consistent teams in the region, they will inevitably mount a strong challenge for the number one spot at DAC. Trying to stop them will be Team Faceless. Faceless have been hit or miss in their time together and fans are hoping they can continue their strong start to 2017.

On the flip side, Execration recently showed cracks in the StarLadder qualifiers, finishing a disappointing sixth out of eight possible places. Possessing some of the more talented players in the region, they should kick into gear for the DAC qualifiers and be a serious challenge.

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Prediction – Team Faceless

Dark Horse – Execration

European DAC Qualifiers

The teams competing in the European qualifiers all posses the ability to gain qualification, and challenge at the main event. This must be the most hotly contested qualifying groups in recent history. Teams in EU have a right to feel hard done by. These qualifiers will also be the first time that B)ears has played together.

Group A

  1. Ad Finem
  2. B)ears (FATA’s Team)
  3. Natus Vincere
  4. Team Secret

Group B

  1. Team Liquid
  2. Ninjas in Pyjamas (Formely January 25th)
  3. Alliance
  4. Cloud9

What to expect

Group A is the group of death. Any of the four teams that are in the group have the ability to qualify for the main event. This will be the first showing of FATA’s team B)ears who seem to be the weakest team in the group.

Group B contains the 35k God Squad, Team Liquid. Liquid secured a spot at StarLadder with a dominant qualifying run. Liquid hopes to dominate StarLadder and rise to prominence once again on the world stage.

Ones to watch

Any of the teams in this qualifier could easily qualify for the main event. Team Liquid look to be the favorites based on recent results, but the new Navi roster looks to be gelling well. Navi v Secret in round one of the groups is an ode to a team gone by, but may shape the rest of Group A.

Having been picked up by NiP, Synderen’s team hopes to take advantage of a slightly weaker group to make it into the playoffs and cause some trouble. It is just unfortunate that there is only one qualification spot available, as a handful of top tier teams will fail to qualify.

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Prediction – Team Liquid

Dark Horse – Ninjas in Pyjamas

CIS DAC Qualifiers

Virtus Pro will be celebrating DAC’s decision to host CIS based regional qualifiers. Containing only a handful of challenges, and several tier three teams, VP will be looking to take advantage. Standing in their way is Vega Squadron and Team Empire, who can both cause trouble.

Group A

  1. Virtus.Pro
  2. Effect
  3. Team Spirit
  4. LQ

Group B

  1. Vega Squadron
  2. Comanche
  3. Team Empire
  4. F.R.I.E.N.D.S

What to expect

If you are hard pressed for time, missing the CIS qualifiers might not be the worst idea. A region that has a huge difference between the top and bottom teams will often provide uninteresting games.

VP should capitalize in the qualifiers if they perform to their potential, something that is easier said than done.

Ones to watch

Virtus Pro are the favorites and should dominate the qualifiers. The main challenge will be from Vega and Empire. VP struggled at Dota Pit, so Vega and Empire may be able to capitalize on some of the cracks. However, VP should kick back into gear and steam roll the qualifiers.

Vega and Empire have unluckily been grouped together in Group B. Should both of them make it out, they will be hoping to cause an upset over strong favorites VP.

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Prediction – Virtus Pro

Dark Horse – Team Empire

Final Thoughts

Whilst the qualifiers are set to showcase some of the best Dota in the world, the lack of qualification spots may eventually limit the main event. Europe especially will be feeling the strain with eight of the best teams in the world competing for one qualification spot. For the teams that do not qualify, it will be a good opportunity for teams to prepare for the Kiev Qualifiers which are fast approaching.

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Can Mastermind Weldon solve G2’s International Woes?

Weldon’s Own Success

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

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

Current State of G2

Courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

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

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

Building off Regular Season Success

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

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

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

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Link’s Return to LCS

Welcome “Back” To Summoner’s Rift

In an unexpected move, Team Liquid has signed CLG’s former Mid laner, Austin “Link” Shin, as a substitute. They announced that they intend to play both Link and starter, Goldenglue, throughout the split.

The last time we saw Link it was with CLG Spring Split 2015, coming off a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Team Liquid in the first round of the playoffs.

Shortly after Link announced his retirement with the “donezo manifesto”, in which he brought out CLG’s team environment to light. Most infamously, he called out star AD Carry Doublelift, for being a selfish and poor teammate and mainly blaming him for the failure of CLG.

Link, himself, received a lot of hate from the community when Machinima’s video series, “Chasing the Cup” seemed to show his inability to mesh as a teammate. In the series you witness everyone’s tempers flare, as the team seemed to be regressing from its hot start.

Link refused to duo que with his own Jungler, Dexter. This seemed to translate to a lack of team chemistry on the LCS stage. His own work ethic was questioned even by the community. It seemed like Link was playing more Hearthstone than League of Legends outside of scrims.

During his time in the NALCS, most people would have rated Link as a subpar LCS Mid Laner. He was never known as a flashy playmaker or a main carry, but he was a consistent performer. He played what his team needed and was the main shot caller for CLG.

When C9’s Hai went down with a collapsed lung, they called upon Link to sub for them in the All Stars tournament. He held his own against legendary Mid laners like Faker and xPeke. For the most part, he played the role of shot caller well. Thanks in part to him, C9 was able to take games off of OMG, Fnatic, and TPA. This allowed them to get to the semifinals of the tournament. He praised C9’s team environment in his donezo manifesto, in compasrison to CLG’s.

Second Chances

Link gets a second chance with a fresh roster and under a new organization. Team Liquid has been around for awhile but just hasn’t found the right formula for success just yet. Obviously, he’s still been playing the game at a high enough level to be picked up by a new team.

Others on social media have noted that he had been playing Dota 2 at high level as well. It does raise the question of if being away from the professional scene for such a long time will be more beneficial or hinder his play starting out.

Photo courtesy of Gamurs.com

It seems Team Liquid is emphasizing a better team environment this split, parting ways with Dardoche. They also let go of head coach Locodoco and every player on the team seems hungry to improve off of last split.

They look to be modeling CLG in having five players that are all friends outside of game. Will they truly utilize the six man roster or will it be more like C9’s support situation last season?

If Link is able to play better with the other four members than Goldenglue, I don’t see why they wouldn’t eventually make him the starter. It will be up to Link to prove he belongs in LCS once again.  

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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

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5 Rookies to Watch This Split

The North American and European LCS start in a few weeks, and I’ve decided to highlight some up-and-coming rookies who will be playing in their first seasons professionally in LCS. Last season was an exciting one as we got to see a lot of talented rookies come from both regions. These are some names to look out for as we head into Season 7:

Cody Sun  (Immortals ADC)

Formerly known as Massacre, Yi Lu “Cody Sun” Sun is a Chinese American player who has been playing ADC in challenger series since Spring 2015 when he played for Imagine in NACS. Most recently, he played in the NACS with Dream Team who was swept by C9 Challenger in the Summer playoffs. He sported a 9.33 KDA in the NACS Summer Split and was a huge part in many of their victories.  On a day and a half of full team practice before IEM Gyeonggi, Cody Sun was able to showcase an amazing 8-0 Ezreal game vs Korea’s Kongdoo Monster.  Outside of that game, he looked rather inconsistent, which is fair for a rookie playing against some tough international competition for the first time.  It will be thrilling to see what this ADC can show with more practice on the NALCS stage.

Caps (Fnatic Mid)

Picture Courtesy of CLICKon Esports

Rasmus “Caps” Winther is a 17 year old, hungry, Danish kid out to prove himself as Fnatic’s new mid laner. He will have huge shoes to fill, playing alongside a core of veteran LCS players in Soaz, Rekkles, and Amazing.  Caps made Reddit headlines a week after being introduced as Fnatic’s new mid laner, when a thread was made about him threatening a player in Challenger saying, “You have no idea how much impact I have on rosters. You can troll me all you want, but I will make sure you never get to join a CS nor LCS team.” This was a rather bold statement coming from someone who just got introduced as a starter on an LCS roster. Fnatic and Caps later released an apology statement for this event. In 6 games with Challenger team NRV, he showed off a subpar 1.9 KDA with a 76 kill participation, which was highest among EUCS Mids.  EU, and specifically Denmark, have been known to produce fantastic Mid laners such as Bjergsen, Froggen, and Jensen.  Caps will get a chance to add his name to this elite list of Mid laners as he enters his first EULCS season.

 

Contractz (C9 Jungler)

Replacing longtime C9 Jungler, Meteos, will be none other than the young and hungry C9 Challenger Team Jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia. Contractz’ competitive career started in 2015 with Zenith esports, where his team placed 5-6th in the HTC Ascension Challenger invitational. He then played for team Ember in the 2016 NACS Spring season at only 17 years old, before being replaced by Santorin for playoffs. The following summer NACS season, he replaced Rush on the C9 Challenger squad after Riot implemented a new rule regarding residency. He was able to gain veteran mentor-ship playing along LCS veterans, Hai, Balls, LemonNation, and Altec. Contractz sported a 3.92 KDA in the NACS summer season with a 67% kill participation, mostly playing Graves and Reksai. He has been heralded as being a similar player to Dardoche as a young and talented NA Jungler, but with a much better attitude. He joins a very talented C9 roster looking to stay atop the standings and compete for their fifth straight appearance at Worlds.

Goldenglue (Team Liquid Mid)

Picture courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

Greysen “Goldenglue” Gilmer is a well known name around the Pro League of Legends scene. He has made multiple appearances on the NALCS stage, subbing for teams such as Dignitas and T8. One could say he is a veteran of the Challenger series, playing professionally since 2013. He’s never held a starting position at the beginning of a season on an LCS roster, but will be given his first shot with Team Liquid this season. He replaces Fenix after a debacle of a season from Team Liquid as a whole. They had a team meltdown towards the end of the season, ultimately leading to a pathetic showing in the gauntlet in which they played with two challenger players as last minute subs. For the upcoming season, Team Liquid decided to bring back Piglet, while keeping former members Lourlo and Matt. They promoted Golenglue from Challenger Series and brought in All Star Jungler, Reignover to round out the roster. A lot of hate was brought upon social media when Team Liquid announced Goldenglue as their Mid laner, so he will be looking to prove himself coming into this season.

Xerxe (Unicorns of Love Jungler)

Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir is a 17 year old Romanian Jungler, who most recently played for Dark Passage in the Turkish Champions League(TCL). He showed off a phenomenal 7.98 KDA in 36 games, with a 70 percent kill participation in the Summer Split of TCL.  He showed an ability to perform well on a multitude of champions, pulling out seven different champions last season. The Jungler he will be replacing is Move. Unicorns of Love pulled off a stunning win at IEM Oakland, defeating TSM 2-1 in the semifinals en route to a 3-2 victory over LMS’ Flash Wolves. UOL was a win away from qualifying for Worlds last season, and return with their consistent duo, top laner Vizicsacsi, and support Hylissang. They look to be hitting their stride after being so close to attending Worlds and performing well at IEM.  Exileh, their Mid laner, looks like a strong EU talent, and seemed to get better as the Summer Split went on.  Xerxe is plugged into a team that looks to be on the rise. It will be up to him to make sure he plays up to his potential, helping UOL push for Worlds.

Let me know what you think of this list in the comments below, and as always, 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 Christian!

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.

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

Courtesy of LoLesports.

Courtesy of LoLesports.

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

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

 

1: Bo2 Format

 

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

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

Courtesy of lolesports.

Courtesy of lolesports.

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

 

The New El Claissco

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Return of the King

 

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

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

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

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

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

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