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.

This Weekend on LAN: ESL Pro League Finals

Last year’s ESL ESEA Pro League Finals saw the emergence of a globally competitive NA team, Cloud 9, which narrowly lost a Best of 5 against fnatic, the best team in the world.

This year’s ESL Pro League finals might have seen the emergence of a globally competitive French team, G2, which narrowly lost a Best of 5 against Luminosity, probably the best team in the world.

Coincidence? 

The One-Tap Master, Scream. Photo courtesy ESL.

The One-Tap Master, Scream. Photo courtesy ESL.

In full fairness, I will give my thoughts on every team’s performance in Leicester, but my final focus will be on the grand finalists. 

Cloud 9

I mean, what can I say to you? “Write it off, man, this just wasn’t your tournament”? “Stewie2k bottom-fragged, I’m sure that won’t happen again”? Naw, now I’m starting to write off their apparent decency last tournament. I’m starting to write off NA CS:GO in general, actually. 

Astralis

Brothers, brothers, brothers…I just don’t know what to say anymore. Seven rounds against OpTic? OpTic? This team appears unable to make basic adjustments during the course of a map…maybe karrigan truly has lost the ear of his players. Redeeming glimmer: device looks great right now, including a 34-18 on train versus LG. Damning fact: Xyp9x has been bottom-fragging, including an 11-19 on train versus LG. 

OpTic

My compliments: ya done good, boys, all things considered. Spanking Astralis and taking 25 rounds off Luminosity is big-boy stuff. I love your work-ethic and teamwork. I’m even gonna write more about your Spanish talent mixwell and what I think he’s done for you. But my pessimism: this lineup can become an upset team at best, unless it becomes the seeds of another, greater lineup.

Liquid 

Food for thought: shoxie once compared s1mple to his younger self. He was brash and full of talent like simple then, shoxie said (I’m paraphrasing, b/c I can’t find the interview at this moment). And shox just led yet another lineup to yet another big international result. You bombed out. Chew slowly. The sauce: koosta, your rookie AWPer, was your best player this event.

Semifinalists: fnatic

CS:GO math lesson: fnatic minus olofmeister does not equal fnatic. You just changed your team around to accommodate wenton’s lesser talent, and only flusha was able to provide a superstar performance versus a non-European team. It was the comeback versus G2 on inferno—a 28-3 CT half as the Frenchmen floundered in mid again and again. While I await olof the Magnificent’s return, you, flusha, will have to do that more often for fnatic to remain elite. 

Semifinalists: NiP

News flash: this is the best active Swedish lineup in the world right now. In my opinion, the Ninjas are superseding Astralis as the gatekeeper to the elite of global CS. They are everything you want in a gatekeeper. They’ve won a big tournament recently. They consistently get deep. They take maps off of big teams. They are as solid as a dam. There’s no shame in losing 2-1 to Luminosity in the semifinals, including a hard-fought final map. And I just don’t see lesser teams upsetting them like OpTic just upset Astralis. Consider yourselves hired.

FINALISTS: G2

shox, 3rd in line, and Scream, 4th in line, played like the superstars they always were meant to be. Photo courtesy hltv.org.

shox, 3rd in line, and Scream, 4th in line, played like the superstars they always were meant to be. Photo courtesy hltv.org.

RpK was strong on a couple maps in certain positions,but was the worst statistically for G2 overall; bodyy had his moments, but a number of them were bad (were those fatal shoulder peeks on banana accidental?!); Smithzz was…okay, Smithzz was Smithzz, along for the ride; and shox and Scream were undergoing headshot deification, almost game in and game out. 

What a surprise duo—a duo that should have never been a surprise! Scream, the “king of the one-tap,” too early crowned, was only a prince before this tournament; his aim could dominate a round, but he would never rule a match. Now he’s become the throne instead; his consistent fragging was the seat of G2’s power.

And what better man to wage war from that throne in England than the fallen French seraphim, shoxieJESUS? His individuals play in the grand finals was euphoric, revelatory, delicious in every way—full of improbable moments of strength, winning rounds that shouldn’t be won. And he was calling the shots for G2, at least in part! He hasn’t put up main-carry performances like that since the golden dawn of competitive CS:GO—or, at the very least, since leaving EnVyUs, where he could show flashes of his previous self.

One more round on inferno—the map we must now sadly part with—and this duo would have completed the coronation and become ESL champions. As it stands, they must settle for being the dauphin and the best team in the French scene. Strange days when I can call Scream a hard carry with a straight face.

Reality checks must be given, though. G2 had a fairly easy run to the final, as their semi-final opponent, fnatic, is simply not the same team without superstar olofmeister. Beyond their star duo, their individualistic style of play was spotty. Encouraging signs: the team confidence to attack Luminosity’s setups and winning both of Luminosity’s map picks. Discouraging signs: losing both their own map picks, and Scream becoming quiet in the final stages of the final two maps.

WINNERS: Luminosity

FalleN had one incredible performance on dust2, but otherwise relied on his team and coldzera. Photo courtesy hltv.org.

FalleN had one incredible performance on dust2, but otherwise relied on his team and coldzera. Photo courtesy hltv.org.

And yes, these guys are winners. They drop maps that they shouldn’t drop sometimes, but they always seem to find a way to win. Such a contrast from the beginning of this lineup, when the close matches seemed to just slip away from them! Now all the nail-biters seem to fall into their back pocket.

That being said, we must now recognize that LG’s two recent global championships (DH Austin was an NA LAN, and doesn’t quite count) were indeed nail-biters. In both runs, LG was a round away from losing the trophy, only to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. They are winners, but they are not crushingly dominant. 

I think LG has come to rely on their talent a little more than they initially did, and while coldzera and FalleN are superstars, the team does not have a crushing talent advantage in comparison to other top teams. Their play seems looser, and I’m shocked to see them give up the percentage of man-advantage post-plants they did to G2. (Or at least let them go close.) Some credit must go to shox, but I’m afraid being flush with success has made the team relax their dedication to maximum value decision-making at all times. I just saw too many silly positions or peeks that I’m not used to seeing from the likes of FalleN and company.

The loss of their two map choices in the finals worries me, too. But LG’s victory on G2’s two map choices—especially on dust2, G2’s home map and LG’s worst map—was pure class. And coldzera proved this tournament that he is a top 5, superstar, do-anything player. Kill differential in the finals for cold? +41, almost matching shox’s +22 and Scream’s +23 combined. 

An ode to de_inferno

Au revouir, bon inferno. We knew thee well, thy virtues and vagaries alike. We grew close to thee, thy foremost of early maps, thou our steadfast companion through many a meta; each tourney, thou surprised us anew. That the dying shots of ESL should grace thy streets and apts…it all befits thee. Rest, recover, and resisteth the corruptive hands of Valve—until we see thee again.

Predications for ELeague: Adam Stevens (guest writer)

Courtesy of Eleague Twitter account.

Courtesy of Eleague Twitter account.

The $1.2million ELeague tournament hosted by Turner is set to kick off May 24th with a plethora of teams attending.

 

In this article I will break down who is attending the event, where I think they will place and who could potentially upset the pack.

 

Since Turner announced the ELeague there was an air of uncertainty around the teams with a small group of teams being announced initially which didn’t include any of the top tier names. After lengthy talks the full list of teams attending was announced, and didn’t disappoint.

 

 

Teams attending:

Astralis

Cloud9

CLG

compLexity

dignitas

Echo Fox

EnVyUs

FaZe

FlipSid3

fnatic

Gambit

G2

Liquid

Luminosity

mousesports

Natus Vincere

NiP

NRG

OpTic

Renegades

SK

TSM

Virtus.pro

TyLoo

 

For those of the more visual bent, or who just like pretty logos. Courtesy of liquidpedia.

For those of the more visual bent, or who just like pretty logos. Courtesy of liquidpedia.

 

The current CSGO competitive landscape is incredibly interesting, we’ve got Luminosity, the most recent Major champions, Na’Vi who consistently challenge for the top spot, and multiple teams that have recently made a roster swap which could potentially see them rocket to the top.

 

My top five looks like this:

Luminosity

Na’Vi

Astralis

Fnatic

NiP

 

Luminosity have shown that they’re an incredibly strong and tactical team that have so much to offer in the top tier CSGO scene. The big question about this line-up is if they can constantly stay at the top and make sure they don’t get figured out and completely antistratted by the other top tier teams.

 

 

Na`Vi have the issue of whether or not GuardiaN will be able to consistently play at the top of his game with the injury he has picked up in the past few months. He’s had to change his ingame sensitivity and has since not been the absolute dominant force he is known for. If Na`Vi can overcome this they will be consistently hitting top two.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

 

Astralis have shown they’re a top tier team time and time again, but have never been able to close it out and win tournaments they play well at, they’re the team that keeps on choking. I have no doubt Astralis will be in the top 7 teams in this league, they have the potential to upset and break the top one and two places but it’s more likely they will finish in third to seventh in my opinion.

 

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Fnatic have been constantly changing their roster to try and stay on top after Olofmeisters injury means that he will be unable to play for the coming months. They have tried Plessen, but recently cut him from the roster citing the team’s poor results as the reason for this. Now Fnatic have brought in Wenton, who hasn’t had the best start with Fnatic losing to Astralis but it’s still early days so we can’t read too much in to that. Fnatic have been dominant in the past but without their star player Olofmeister, the question is, can they continue to be dominant?

This last place in my top five could really be a mix of three teams, NiP, Virtus.Pro or EnVyUs. I have chosen NiP since they have been looking like they have transformed their playstyle from a puggy style to a more structured strategic play which worked really well for them at Dreamhack Malmo. I am really impressed with the work Threat has done with this team and I do believe that if they play like they did at Dreamhack Malmo they will be able to challenge the top three spot.

 

 

 

 

The upsetters, the teams I think could potentially bring in some great results against the top tier teams in this league.

 

My first pick in the upsetters category is Tyloo. They’ve shown they’re incredibly dedicated to the game and improving, and they’re bringing a whole new level of CSGO to the West. The top tier teams don’t have much experience against this team and they don’t have many demos to watch back to work out how they play. If they come in to the tournament strong they could bring some upsets. This team is also great to see if the Asian scene can compete with the Western scene, how they match up and how they will improve will be really interesting to watch.

 

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

 

A team that seems like it has a lot of potential is NRG, I would really like them to make a roster change to bring in one fragger in replacement of maybe Legija or gob b and move one of the Europeans to coach. They have the brain, I’m just not sure they have the aim.

 

My third and final team included in this upset category is mousesports, they’ve had some really good results lately and have been knocking on the door of the top tier teams constantly. They beat Luminosity and Liquid at Dreamhack Malmo and multiple top tier teams online since.

 

My final ranking prediction is this:

 

Luminosity

Na’Vi

Astralis

Fnatic

NiP

EnVyUs

Virtus.pro

mousesports

TyLoo

G2

CLG

FaZe

Gambit

dignitas

SK

FlipSid3

Cloud9

Liquid

NRG

compLexity

Echo Fox

Renegades

TSM

OpTic

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

 

Adam has been playing Counter Strike for a little over 10 years now and has set up http://bc-gb.com a CSGO news and opinion website and https://www.customesports.com a custom esports jersey and apparel supplier. You’ll normally find Adam on his websites, Reddit or https://www.twitter.com/admstevens.

Yell0wSTaR is coming home!

So I’m not the EU LCS beat writer anymore, but I couldn’t resist snagging this topic.

(courtesy of DeoNade)

Since I started watching professional League of Legends, my favorite player has always been Bora Kim. To be honest, I had never really enjoyed watching eSports until Yell0wSTaR, xPeke, sOAZ, Cyanide, and Rekkles came together on the Rift. Then it truly felt like the end of Fnatic when 4 out of the 5 announced they were leaving, but I had faith in Bora… and season 5 started with an entirely new squad (and coach). I’m not sure the exact moment, but at some point in that Spring Split I realized that Bora Kim was easily the best team captain in Europe, and more than likely one of the best in the world. Season 5 was probably the single most entertaining season in Fnatic history, they had found a team that worked perfectly together, and was so good that they spent the latter half of the Summer Split trolling. (I can’t confirm that this is true… but Yell0wSTaR played Trundle support and that was definitely not a standard meta pick).

Imagine my sadness when after taking SKT T1 to 5 games at MSI, an 18/0 Split, and being the only Western team to break into the top 5 Power Ranking for worlds, Bora announced he would be leaving Fnatic to pursue a new adventure in North America. To me, Huni and Reignover leaving wasn’t surprising or particularly upsetting, as much as I respect both of them and their abilities, Huni’s arrogance on the rift was a consistent issue for Fnatic. Huni had the best TP ganks in Europe, but I will never un-see him feeding the bajeezus out of Smeb in Game 3 of the Worlds Semi-Finals. The second he locked in Riven I knew the game, series, and worlds run was over (though for a brief moment I hoped they were going to pull some tom-foolery and have Febiven play top Riven that game). Anyway- Bora announced he was leaving Fnatic, and I was blown away. He had been the rock that Fnatic rebuilt their franchise upon, and now he was leaving for a new adventure.

 

yello1

(courtesy of hoangbody.wordpress.com)

If there was ever any doubt how important Bora’s roll was with Fnatic, this split should negate that. Even with Febiven (who is probably tied for best Mid in Europe), Rekkles (who isn’t a hard carry ADC, but is insanely good regardless), and Spirit (who is individually a far better jungler than Reignover), Fnatic was stagnant and unimpressive. In 6 months Fnatic went from a well oiled machine to one of the least synergized teams in Europe, and I believe that with the return of Yell0wSTaR, we will see Fnatic return to a far more impressive state.

 

Now, I recognize that Fnatic/Yell0wSTaR have not officially announced Bora’s return to the team… but the evidence seems pretty compelling. The facts boil down to:

  1. Yell0wSTaR has left TSM to return to Europe.
  2. Fnatic has announced that Klaj will be moving to their challenger team.
  3. Before leaving for TSM, Fnatic offered Yell0wSTaR a massive salary (I can’t confirm a number, but I have seen transcripts of interviews where Bora states Fnatic offered him more money than TSM)
  4. To my knowledge, no other European teams have made or implied any changes to their Supports

To me this supports two potential theories:

  1. Yell0wSTaR will make a triumphant return home and will return to Fnatic
  2. YellowSTaR will take a leaf from XPeke and build a challenger team

Due to points 2 and 3 from above, I’m more inclined to believe he will be returning to Fnatic. The team and its fans love him, and frankly they need his guidance if Fnatic wants to get back on track and put this Spring behind them.

 

I’m expecting to hear the announcement before the end of this week, so to all you FNC fans out there lets cross our fingers and hope that our Glorious Leader is returning to his rightful throne.

#FNCWin

NA LCS semifinals analysis

vegas

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

TSM advanced to the semifinals in the most TSM fashion possible, losing the first game, adapting, and changing their strategy, won them the next three games and their ticket to Vegas.
TL managed to beat a NRG team that did not look like a playoff team. Piglet and Matt dominated the series as if Trick2g was playing normal games versus viewers. Dardoch put a clinic on how to jungle and demonstrated that his Rookie season award was no mistake.

The semifinals match-ups put Immortals against TSM, and CLG versus Team Liquid. It could have been better if TSM and CLG would have faced each other only to attempt to defeat the final boss of Immortals. Unfortunately that is not the case and puts TSM in the toughest position to make the finals of an LCS split ever.
TSM has made all six finals of the six NA LCS splits, the toughest one was in the summer of 2014 when they had to beat LMQ. If one goes back and remembers that LMQ had dominated the season but started to fall towards the end, one remembers how big of an underdog TSM was coming into that semifinal. The first four games of the semifinal were won by blue side, and it was extremely likely that LMQ would win the fifth game on that side, and against all odds TSM managed to advance to the final of that season.
Season 6 has unprecedented challenges for TSM, one of their worst regular season splits against the best regular season split of any NA LCS team, a 17-1 Immortals. TSM is not used to being heavy underdogs in the NA region, but if they managed to advance one more time to the finals it would prove have invaluable of an asset Reginald really is.

On the other side of the equation CLG has remained a top team in NA since the start of the competitive scene. CLG has struggled in the last couple of years to fight for a split title. At one point they almost got relegated. They finally won a title in the last summer split, but as things looked to have gotten better, star ADC Doublelift left the team. In a renewal of the team’s pieces it seemed unlikely that the team would compete for the title this season. Nonetheless, they finished second in the regular season and were the only team to beat Immortals. The oldest rivalry in League of Legends does not face each other this time, but if they do in the finals, it would put into perspective how superior their management is in terms of experience and organization.

(Courtesy of pentakill.tv)

(Courtesy of pentakill.tv)

TSM vs Immortals

Immortals come in as the heavy favorites, there is no doubt about it. An extremely dominant season ending with an almost undefeated record should be enough reasons to explain why they will win the match-up. However, there is one disadvantage that history has shown to teams that are so superior to others. When teams have been extremely dominant because of mechanical skill and raw talent like LMQ and LGD, once other teams catch-up in raw talent, and they manage to make it out the laning face with minimal losses, history has shown that these teams become vulnerable to transition small leads into winning games. Teams that in the past have relied heavily on outplaying opponents have not shown to be invulnerable. The only exception could be Samsung White in season 4 that almost always won games in the early games. However, they also proved to be an incredible advanced strategic team.

Why TSM Will win?
Immortals has been unchallenged so far. When Fnatic went undefeated last summer they displayed their strategic prowess by not winning games in the early game. In fact in multiple occasions they came back from incredible gold deficits. Immortals has not shown that their macro-level strategies are polished because they have not been able to. If TSM can make it out of the early game, they can exploit the fact that Immortals likes to use Wildturtle as front-line because in previous instances it has not made a difference. Immortals is a great team, but they have not shown what they are capable of and that is scary.

Why Immortals will win?
Not much needs to be said here.

(Courtesy of pentakill.tv)

(Courtesy of pentakill.tv)

CLG VS TL

Had this been the quarterfinals match-up and CLG would have undoubtedly been the favorites. However, TL made NRG looked like a Challenger series team. Not only did they 3-0 NRG, they did so in an extremely convincing fashion.

Why CLG will win?
They have looked strong the entire season. They do not have the best individual players, but in an era where macro-level gameplay is more important, CLG performed better in the regular season and should look to advance to the finals. CLG can lane swap against TL’s strong laners and can reduce the impact that Dardoch can have on the game by doing so. TL strength lies in the early game, and a team with solid macro-level game play like CLG should take the series by lane swapping when advantageous or picking stronger lanes.

Why TL will win?
They put on a clinic against NRG and their early level strategy and mechanical talent secured games from the early stage of the games. If they manage to get standard lanes or standard 2v1  lane swaps, it should be to TL advantage. However, if they get lane swaps were turrets are traded and both teams safely make it out of the early game, it should play to CLG’s advantage.

 

 

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