MSI Semifinals 2017: Team WE v. G2 Esports

MSI: Team WE vs. G2 Esports Preview

Saturday May 20, 2017, the second semifinals match of MSI will be underway. Team WE will face off against G2 Esports for a spot in the finals. Both teams have exhibited their fair share of stellar and underwhelming performances throughout the tournament. They will be doing their best to shore up the weak spots and study their opponents in order to reach peak performance. This best-of-five series will be all or nothing.

Team WE

The LPL representatives have made it through MSI with a 7-3 record, just below SKT. They dropped games to TSM, SKT, and GAM. Every player has had standout performances throughout the tournament. Team WE will be favored to win in this match-up, since they defeated G2 in both of their Group Stage bouts.

How They Win

WE outclasses G2 in almost every statistic. Gold difference at 15 minutes (+1,047/-342), first three turrets (80 percent/10 percent), dragon control (47 percent/30 percent) and baron control (54 percent/38 percent) all heavily favor the Chinese team.

In both of their victories against G2, WE drafted Ashe for Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Malzahar for Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. WE’s jungler, Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie, massacred Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun in the early game. Su “Xiye” Han-Wei played AP diver-assassins LeBlanc and Kassadin. And Ke “957” Changyu has been most impactful on tanky disruptors, particularly Kled.

All of these pieces come together to form a bursty pick composition. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was most often caught out by Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Nether Grasp, Explosive Cask, or Chaaaaaaaarge!!! and deleted before he was able to output enough damage. Team WE should maintain this draft strategy and playstyle, because G2 does not seem to have an answer at the moment.

Both wins were secured between 28 and 31 minutes. Team WE took first turret in both matches, which led to the first three turrets in just under 20 minutes. They then proceeded to take baron between 21 and 25 minutes, which allowed WE to break G2’s base and win. In their first game, G2 secured one tower and one dragon. In the follow-up match, WE did not allow them to take any towers or dragons.

How They Lose

Karma and Nami are champion picks that stick out in Team WE’s losses. Xiye lost both games when taking Karma to the mid lane, and Ben lost both games when playing Nami support. 957 looked weak on top lane Jayce, as well. The individuals cannot be fully to blame, but it seems like a good idea to keep these picks on the bench for now.

All of WE’s losses came off the back of sub-30-minute barons secured by their opponent. Against TSM, the gold difference never rose to more than 2,000 until they took a baron. From there, TSM closed out the game, taking a second baron and only ceding 4 kills. Team WE was leading SKT by 2,100 gold at 22 minutes, but Han “Peanut” Wang-ho landed a baron steal. SKT broke their base, took a second baron and won. Team WE’s loss to GAM was mostly due to Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh’s Kha’Zix getting fed a triple kill around 10 minutes.

If WE gives over baron, their chances of losing are high. When viewing statistics for the four semifinal teams, their win rates align with their first baron rates. This objective is pivotal to their playstyle. Properly pressuring around baron was a main catalyst for drawing in G2 and picking off key carries. However, if WE is sloppy in clearing vision or shot-calling around Smite, then it could spell disaster.

Player To Watch

Team WE’s top laner, 957

Team WE’s victory will rely heavily on 957 in the top lane. They have won every game that he has drafted Kled, and he has maintained a 27.0 KDA with the champion. On the other hand, his single Jayce game fed TSM their first 5 kills. G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-Han is not necessarily the same carry threat that SKT or TSM have. WE will rely on 957 to repeat the masterful disruption he exhibited against G2 in their prior match-ups.

G2 Esports

Making it into semifinals by the skin of its teeth is G2 Esports. The EU LCS representatives finished the Group Stage with a 4-6 record, only picking up wins against Flash Wolves (2), GIGABYTE Marines (1), and TSM (1). Seeing as they lost both matches against Team WE, they are the underdog in this best-of-five series.

How They Win

G2’s victories varied drastically from each other. Three of the four wins were secured 42 minutes or later, and allowed the enemy team to secure at least one baron. Two of those three late-game wins involved G2 falling behind 8,000-9,000 gold at some point. The only champions drafted in multiple wins were Caitlyn, Nunu, and Orianna.

In all of their wins, Zven had two or fewer deaths and had a gold lead on the enemy AD Carry. It is obvious that he is their primary carry threat. G2 lost both games that he drafted Ashe. Zven only has wins on Caitlyn, Twitch, and Kog’Maw thus, G2’s draft will need to revolve around these champions. Ivern, Lulu, Karma, and Orianna have at least 50 percent win rates for G2 thus far. Combining multiple enchanters into the draft may allow Zven to break even through the early game and fully carry in the mid-late game.

Luka “Perkz” Perković has also been a consistent source of damage throughout MSI. Mid lane is arguably the most stacked position at the tournament, and Perkz has been going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world. He has been averaging 28.8 percent of G2’s damage, the highest among all mid laners (second highest overall behind Zven). Putting Perkz on a champion that can control side waves, particularly Fizz, could be a good back-up if Orianna is banned.

How They Lose

There are several situations that G2 should avoid. Keep Trick off of Lee Sin, he failed horribly twice on the champion. Also, they should not draft Ashe for Zven or Zyra for Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Zven needs to be able to output immense damage, and Mithy plays much better on protective champions. Even Tahm Kench or Braum are preferable to Zyra if Lulu or Karma are unavailable.

If Trick continues to have poor early games, then this will most surely be G2’s defeat. Trick has the second lowest KDA and the second highest death share of all players at the tournament. He also has the lowest average damage of all junglers at the event.

While their best strategy generally results in early deficits, G2 will need to play intelligently between 15 and 30 minutes. Team WE’s average game time is over 5 minutes shorter than G2’s, which means if they cede 4,000-6,000 gold leads, then it will be highly unlikely for G2 to win.

Player To Watch

G2 Esport’s top laner, Expect

Expect has been putting up some big games this tournament. He has maintained a 3.7 KDA while only contributing 11.9 percent of G2’s deaths. The top laner has secured wins on Jayce, Gragas, Shen, and Nautilus. G2 also released a video of the final shot-calling from their win over TSM, showing the team’s faith in Expect.

The flip side is that Expect has some of the lowest damage of the top laners at the tournament, and his kill participation is low compared to 957. G2 will need him to be more involved as a proactive member of the team, matching 957’s map movements. Perkz and Zven can pump out the damage. Mithy can shield and provide vision. And Trick is under-performing. Expect may be the biggest factor that could turn this match-up on its head.

Prediction

Unless the stars align, and G2 are able to draft a true “protect the ADC” composition, then Team WE will skunk them 3-0. Trick got steamrolled by Condi in both of their Group Stage games. Mystic and Ben have been performing well enough to keep up with Zven and Mithy. Expect and 957 will most likely be trying to execute similar strategies, but 957 has proven to be more successful up to this point. Perkz matches up against Xiye pretty well, but the synergy among the entire team is heavily in WE’s favor.


Player/Champion Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

All Images: LoL Esports Photos

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Why MSI should transition to a gauntlet tournament

The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) is a League of Legends tournament attended by 13 teams from 13 various regions. This year’s MSI consisted of three stages ultimately ending in a grand final between the best two teams. Taking place in Rio de Janeiro, this event took seeding based upon the past two years of Worlds and MSI performances to have a few teams automatically place into group stage (South Korea, China, and Europe) while the rest of the 10 teams battled it out through the play-in stage.

Group stage consists of a double round robin via best of one matches. The top four teams from this double round robin move on to the knockout stage which consists of best of five games with single elimination. It is this knockout stage that does not make the most sense for this international tournament.

The Gauntlet

SKT T1 Huni leaves the stage with team. Courtesy of Riot Flickr

The LCK currently runs a gauntlet-styled tournament that MSI should adopt. The first place team does not play until the final round, receiving a bye for their performance throughout the normal split. The playoffs consist of the third place team playing against the fourth place team, then the winner of that team plays the second place team, ultimately leaving one team to play against the first place team. This style of competition puts much more weight upon the group stages of the tournament, making each and every group stage game bring with it more impactful consequences.

Skating By Groups

Examining the current four teams in groups can lead one to believe that some teams have just “skated by” while other teams have just had a poor performance in the group stage.

After the Flash Wolves controlled performance in play-ins, most fans and even Faker, believed that they were going to be the biggest threat to SKT T1’s empire. The Flash Wolves then managed to beat SKT in a decisive manner during the group stages, further showing their skill and prowess. However, the Flash Wolves later received a few too many losses in groups, ultimately leaving what should be the second best team in the tournament in fourth place during the knockout stages. This being said, expect the most heated competition and the highest skill caliber League of Legends has ever known not in the grand finals, but instead in the first match of the knockout stage.

With the second best team playing against SKT on Friday, May 19th, what should be a game for third and fourth place will be between G2 Esports and Team WE. Potentially, any of the teams that made it into groups has what it takes to make the match that will occur this Saturday, May 20th, a fiercely close competition. That being said, the match between G2 Esports and Team WE will still be one of close competition. However, it is unlikely that either of these two teams will stand a chance against the winner of SKT versus Flash Wolves.

A Better Tournament Style Means Better Games

A gauntlet-style competition not only makes each game of groups much more intense, as each team mus

TSM and Flash Wolves shake hands after their game. Courtesy of Riot Flickr

t compete for standings during the gauntlet-style knockout stages, but it also provides a more accurate way for each team to garner the appropriate rewards from the prize pool. With third and fourth place getting significantly less money than second place, a gauntlet-style competition would more accurately reassign this prize pool based upon how close one can get to taking down SKT T1, a team that has proven to be well and above the rest of the competition. Until then, variables such as TSM taking down Flash Wolves will prevent the most accurate portrayal of skill and will doom each team that enters the knockout stages in fourth place, regardless of their skill, relative to the second and third place teams.

 

Featured image courtesy of Riot Flickr

Who will win Dreamhack Tours?

Despite SK’s win at IEM Sydney stealing the headlines, this weekend Dreamhack hosted one of their many open events in Tours, France. The tournament has provided some of the most entertaining Counter-Strike we’ve seen in some time. Na’Vi embarrassed themselves, Robin “ropz” Kool made his LAN debut, while Misfits have given North America some hope. There were eight teams in attendance with only four now remaining. Although we might have lost some big names, today’s semi-finals will be a real treat.

HellRaisers vs Misfits

Misfits caused one of the biggest upsets we’ve seen by defeating Na’Vi in a best of three in their decider game. The North American team lost the opener in a crushing defeat on Cobblestone before reverse sweeping their opposition in dominating fashion. The win largely came through primary AWPer Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, who outplayed his Na’Vi counterpart Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács all series long. ShahZaM averaged more than a kill a round and was responsible for multiple clutch plays.

HellRaisers advanced straight to the semi-finals after two best of one wins in the group stage. The first was a crushing victory over home team EnVyUs. Their second game was against Danish squad Tricked, who they narrowly beat 16-13 on Train. HellRaisers’ two Slovakian players Patrik “Zero” Žúdel and Martin “STYKO” Styk were the defining players closing out rounds with an array of multi kills across both maps.

This semi-final is hard to predict for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is unknown whether ShahZaM will turn up in the same way for today’s games. The AWPer has shown flickers of this potential in the past although, it has never stuck, leading him to lose his spot on both Cloud9 and OpTic Gaming. In spite of that, Misfits’ usual star player Hunter “SicK” Mims was absent for the majority of the series, meaning he can bring firepower if he can find his footing.

However, HellRaisers will be a more formidable opponent than Na’Vi since they have a more structured style. Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow stated that he has been working hard with his former In-Game Leader, now the HellRaisers coach, to further develop a tactical approach. Both Zero and STYKO have been consistently on point these past months, so it’s likely to continue into the semi-final. The key player for the CIS team will be their own AWPer Bence “DeadFox” Böröcz, who has been on the decline for some time now. If ShahZaM turns up in-form he will have a hard task trying to do what GuardiaN couldn’t.

In my opinion, HellRaisers will win the series, most likely in three maps. I think their tactical presence will feel completely different to Misfits’ previous game. The Americans will at least win one map if their players step up again, it’s also not completely out of reach that they take the series themselves. HellRaisers are the logical pick because they have consistently shown they are capable of beating the lower opposition.

G2 Esports vs mousesports

Hometown heroes G2 Esports easily has the most hyped roster we’ve seen in CSGO, however, they are yet to live up to that potential. A win at this event will put some of the critics on the backburner for a short time.

G2 stumbled early by losing 16-7 to Tricked on Inferno, one of their better maps, forcing them to play against fellow countrymen in Team EnVyUs. In that series, they were always in front thanks to Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro, who finished the series +20 in kills.

Following the victory, G2 were to play Tricked again in a best of three. This time, all of the team performed to the level it should with Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt topping the board. It was refreshing to see the likes of Bodyy and NBK dishing out the damage and is a promising sign for G2’s title hopes since then they would only need one of their stars firing on all cylinders to win against just about anyone.

G2’s support player Bodyy contributed highly against Team EnVyUs. [Source: Dreamhack]

G2’s opponents are international team mousesports, who recently picked up Faceit Pro League star Ropz. They advanced straight to the semi-final after two wins over Heroic and the faltering Natus Vincere. It’s hard to gauge how strong the roster really is after these wins since both opponents underperformed at the event. One thing that is clear however is that there is more to come from this lineup and particularly from Ropz himself. However, even though mousesports has some dangerous players, G2 simply has too much individual firepower. That, combined with mousesports lack of time with Ropz, means I find it extremely unlikely that they drop the series.

Highly sought after, Ropz rose through the ranks by playing FPL. [Source: HLTV]

Grand Final

The safe and logical pick for the winner of Dreamhack Tours is, of course, G2 Esports. The Frenchmen have shown a willingness to improve from game to game and their individual prowess should be in full effect by the time the grand final comes around. HellRaisers have a small chance to take a map if they build some momentum following a pistol round win, but otherwise, I see G2 and the sixth man – the crowd – overwhelming the CIS team with raw skill.


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Mid Season Invitational Power Rankings

MSI will officially begin Wednesday as TSM, Flash Wolves, and Gigabyte Marines have earned their spots through the play-in stage. TSM looked shaky, needing a reverse sweep to take down Gigabyte Marines. It will definitely be interesting to see how the teams come out. Will G2 finally play well on the international stage? Can TSM bounce back from their poor performance? Can Gigabyte Marines make a Cinderella Run? Here are my power rankings of the teams heading into the Midseason Inviational.

1.SK Telecom T1 (Korea)

This should come to no surprise to fans and analysts. Korea as a region and SKT as a team have dominated the LoL scene for quite some time now. They’ll be looking to assert their dominance even more if they can go through MSI undefeated. SKT holds some of the best players in the world at each of their position.

Their most infamous has to be their mid laner, the GOAT, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. As long as Faker is on this team, you can bet on them being World contenders for awhile. Alongside Faker, has been his head coach since the beginning Kim kkOma Jung-gyun. Kkoma has been praised for being the best coach in League of Legends, having led SKT to all their World Championships. He’ll look to add a back to back MSI title to that list.

2. Flash Wolves (Taiwan)

Photo by: Riot Games

Flash Wolves may play in a top heavy region, but despite this, they’ve showed consistently time and time again that they cannot be underestimated. Coming off a successful IEM win at Katowice, Flash Wolves will look to surprise spectators and continue their reign as the “Korean Slayers”.

Flash Wolves play an aggressive style, often making plays in the early game with jungler  Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan and support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Jie looking to make plays. Not only can they build big gold leads in the early game, they know how to properly finish games as well.

Flash Wolves came into the season sporting a new ADC in Lu “Betty” Yuhung who looks to get better and better every time we see him. Betty finished their series against SuperMassive with a monstrous KDA of 36, only dying once the whole series. Their longtime jungle/mid duo of Karsa and Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang have not shown any signs of slowing down. They had a phenomenal performance against SuperMassive, dominating their opponents. Flash Wolves have the best shot at upsetting SKT here at MSI.

3. G2 Esports (Europe)

Despite G2 having not played a game at MSI yet, they definitely showed a dominant run in playoffs en route to their third European championship. Everyone from G2 are ready to finally prove that they can perform well on the international stage. Maybe with the help of sports psychologist, Weldon Green, they can finally get that monkey off their back of choking internationally.

Mid laner Luka “PerkZ” Perković in particular will have lots of pressure as he’s become known for not playing well in international competitions. If he plays well, G2 can definitely make a decent MSI run. G2’s bot lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez will be one of G2’s power positions. With the meta shifting back to “carry style” ADC’s, G2’s bot lane can definitely have a major impact in games.

What’s worrying is how long their games tend to go. Against some of the best teams in the world G2 will need to have the ability to close out games or risk failing in international play once again

4. Team we (China)

Team WE is a name that’s been around professional LoL for some time now. Once a powerhouse in their region, they’ve returned to take the throne as the number one team in China. After years of mixing rosters, they finally found success dropping only a single game en route to their 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up in the LPL finals. They don’t play the stereotypical play style of all aggressive early game teams we’ve seen in the past from China.

WE plays much more controlled and teamfight well in the mid/late game. Jungler Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie is an absolute monster and will be essential in WE’s success. In the mid lane, Hanwei “xiye” Su, has a deep champion pool and has shown good performances on both control mages and assassins. He had the 2nd best KDA in the LPL for at 4.7.

China has since fallen off from being the heralded “2nd best region”, but WE will look to prove that they are still one of the best.

5. Team SoloMid (North America)

Photo By: Riot Games

TSM looked shaky in their play-in series vs. Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines. It felt like they were heavily disrespecting their opponents going for questionable invades and teamfights almost expecting the other team not to be prepared. This caused them to go down 2-0 in the series, before reverse sweeping their way to victory.

That series had many North American fans breathing sighs of relief. TSM will be heavy underdogs now at this point of the tournament if they struggled that heavily against a wild card region.

Even in the reverse sweep, their last two wins were not clean by any means. Gigabyte Marines showed the capability to gain early leads off some poor play out of TSM. Gigabyte Marines nearly had the series in game four, before overstaying in TSM’s base which ultimately led to TSM’s victory.

In particular TSM’s adc, Jason “Wildturtle” Tran had an awful series, dying in a winning 2v2 and often getting caught out of position while only having a 52.9 kill participation percentage. He’ll need to step up big time if TSM wants to finish in the top four of the group stage.

6. Gigabyte Marines (Vietnam)

Although they are the wildcard representative of MSI, their play-in stage performance was amazing in terms of Wildcard performances in international tournaments. Gigabyte Marines gave North America’s TSM a run for their money, nearly taking the series. Maybe some nerves and lack of experience, forced a bad call to try to end the game that resulted in a throw, but nonetheless this team has impressed.

Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh has been an absolute monster this whole tournament. He’s currently 2nd in KDA and first in DMG% among junglers who have played at MSI so far. Gigabyte Marines rely heavily on him to setup plays in the early game to snowball leads. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against the likes of SKT’s Peanut or Flash Wolves’ Karsa.

One of their weak points will definitely be in top laner Phan “Stark” Công Minh. Stark showed some great performances on Gragas during their series against TSM, but was non existent if not on that particular champion. In game three, he was constantly solo killed by Hauntzer’s Gragas and never seemed to comeback from it throughout the series.

Despite losing a close series to TSM, the group stage will be best of 1. Don’t be surprised to find Gigabyte Marines apart of the top four once the group stages conclude at MSI.

Cover photo by: Riot Games

Tune in Wednesday for the opening ceremonies of MSI on May 10

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Support Players: The Unsung Heroes of Counter-Strike

A huge problem among top level teams is that they find themselves with too many players who want to be bigshots. The difficulty lies in the fact that there are only five players on a team, and only so many kills to go around. Naturally, not all players on the team will perform equally. When five different player’s egos come into play, it makes it very difficult to find balance and that’s where the frustration begins. So, the support role is the solution to this problem.

The support is someone who steps up and supports the team with flashbangs and smoke grenades. They usually work to get trade kills with their teammates and stay back to keep the number advantages on their side. Supports won’t typically make risky plays and will stick near other players to help wherever they can. Their contributions won’t show up on the scoreboard, but they make all the difference in high-level matches.

The Angry Fans

The dynamics here are much more subtle from a spectators perspective. When you see players under-preforming on the scoreboard, it becomes easy to point them out as the problem for their team. A lot of support players catch a lot of heat for their performances, but they are essential to the team.

C9 Shroud, Courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

One of North America’s finest, Cloud9’s Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, has been catching a huge amount of criticism in the community in the last 6 months for his transition to more of a support role. When Shroud originally came to Cloud9, he was supposed to be a rifler. He has some of the best aim and game sense in North America, and so many are questioning why his scoreboard tallies have been so low.

Shroud began his transition after the addition of Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta as rifler mains. Shroud said himself on his stream that he is “no longer the all-star” and that “his job now is to make [Stewie2k and autimatic] look good… I’ll die for them, I’ll flash for them, I’ll do anything for those guys”.

Some of the Best

 

Xyp9x

Courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Astralis’ Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth

The current support player for Astralis, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, is world renowned for his skill. Xyp9x has been outstanding for Astralis in 2017 and was essential in their completion of their quest for a major trophy. Back in January, when Astralis took their victory over Virtus Pro, he was able to step up and get key kills on the second and third map which massively helped them secure the series.

NBK

Courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

G2’s Nathan “NBK” Schmitt

Nathan “NBK” Schmitt is a strong rifler and support player for G2 E-sports. Having spent the entirety of his career on French CS:GO teams, he has been able to master the support role for his team. He just recently switched to G2 back in February, but his support skill was on a strong display for the two years he spent on Team EnVyUs.

C9 Shroud

Courtesy of Shroud’s youtube channel

Cloud 9’s Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek

Some might find this pick questionable. Shroud is still widely regarded as an aggressive fragger and not so much a support player. But be assured, Shroud is the real deal for supports. He has already proven that he is an amazing rifler and one of the best in North America. He will definitely take some more time to fully adjust to his role, but even he himself said it’s time for this change.

Why Supports Deserve More Respect

A lot of people will look at Xyp9x’s, NBK’s and Shroud’s scores and become disappointed with their results. However, all the hard work they are putting in to help the team is going unrecognized. It’s the contributions outside of the scoreboard that really make the difference in the top tier teams. It’s not so much the number of kills a player has, but when and where they got the kills as well as what they mean for the game. Support players put their egos aside and play with confidence for their team, which deserves more recognition.


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

Courtesy of LoLesports.

Courtesy of LoLesports.

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

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

 

1: Bo2 Format

 

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

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

Courtesy of lolesports.

Courtesy of lolesports.

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

 

The New El Claissco

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

A new El Clasico is born. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Return of the King

 

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

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

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

The King Returns to his People. Courtesy of leaguepedia.

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

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

MSI Power Rankings

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The IEM Katowice homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

GIANTS make giant Roster changes

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

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

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

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

 

The god remains: FORG1VEN stays

 

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

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

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

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

 

The fight for 7th

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Team Vitality vs. G2 eSports

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

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

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

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

 

Fnatic vs. Team Vitality

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Looking for slip ups from the top

Courtesy of LoLeSports.

Courtesy of LoLeSports.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Games to Watch

 

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

Courtesy of LoLeSports

Courtesy of LoLeSports

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

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

 

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

Courtesy of LoLeSports

Courtesy of LoLeSports

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

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

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