MLB trade deadline: What AL contenders must do to stay in first

Baseball is back and the second half push to the playoffs begins. The MLB trade deadline comes in the second half as well and is Christmas in July for baseball fans. Strategy, money and moves galore (hopefully).

This period is a chance for teams to either sell off parts in order to rebuild or make the trades necessary to help their squad make it to the playoffs and an eventual push for the World Series. These are the moves the teams currently in first place for their respective divisions need to make to remain in first by July 31.

Boston Red Sox

If you follow baseball or this team at all, then you know their weakest position currently is at third base. Pablo Sandoval has been anything but useful or even available and has been designated for assignment. Also they traded away Travis Shaw who is having an excellent season for another first place team.

While everyone believes Todd Frazier is the best and only option available for trade, I would like to look at another in Nick Castellanos.

MLB trade deadline

Courtesy of: Bleacherreport.com

The Detroit Tigers are having a very disappointing season and will most likely be sellers during the trade deadline for the first time in a long time. They also have arguably one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Most of their top players are in Double-A ball and below which means they have a long time to wait to see if they develop.

To speed up the process of their inevitable rebuild, they could and should be looking to trade away as many players as possible.

Castellanos is only 25 and is under team control until 2020 which means Detroit could ask a decent return. So why would the Red Sox make this trade?

To start, they would get a solid everyday third baseman that could grow with the young players they are building around now like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and more. Rafael Devers is still at least one or two years away and wont be able to help them win now. It is unlikely they would have to part with him to get Castellanos as well.

Castellanos has been in the league for four full years now. You know what you are going to get out of him, whereas you never truly know with a prospect. He has experience, making playoff runs with the Tigers and still has room to grow.

The Red Sox would most likely only have to give up two of their top 25 prospects, most likely ones in the teens and below. They may also throw in a PTBNL or just an extra pitcher to sweeten the deal.

Nick Castellanos would solidify the Red Sox third base problem not only for now but also for the future. Todd Frazier on the other hand may cost only one top 25 prospect but he would also be a free agent at the end of this year and has seemed to have trouble batting for average ever since he was traded to the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

It took the Indians awhile to catch up to the Twins, but they have taken hold of first and wont let it go for the rest of the season. This team can hit and is being led by its young superstars Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor while getting help from players like Edwin Encarnacion who struggled mightily to start the season but has figured it out.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: Sportsblog.com

Another strength of the World Series runner-ups is their bullpen. Their weakness? Outside of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and surprisingly Mike Clevinger, this team’s starters have struggled. Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin all have ERAs over 5.

There are many attractive options on the market for the Indians. The question will be how much are they willing to give up in order to get the starting pitching help they need?

Last year, they traded away Clint Frazier and a multitude of other prospects in order to get their stalwart setup man, Andrew Miller. That being said the Indians still have some pieces that they could trade. I highly doubt they will trade Bradley Zimmer as he is with the club now and making a solid contribution.

There are a multitude of options for the Indians to help make their second World Series run in as many years. I like Sonny Gray, but I think his asking price will be too high considering how he has pitched in the last two seasons. This leaves two options: Gerrit Cole and Johnny Cueto.

Both the Pirates and Giants respectively have been under-performing and it looks like they will have to be sellers. While Gerrit Cole is better, he and Sonny Gray have a similar problem. They are going to cost more than the Indians are willing to give.

That is why they could trade for Cueto. He has won a World Series and has been in Cy Young contention, but the Indians could get him for a bargain. He has not pitched extremely well this season and the Giants are desperate (or should be) for prospects as they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

The Indians could give up one top 25 prospect not named Zimmer or Mejia and two others right outside their top 25 for Cueto. He would be a great pickup and if he could find his form again, he could be a top of the rotation guy to help the Indians try to make it back to the World Series.

Houston Astros

The Astros were my World Series pick back in January and I am glad that they have yet to let me down. Their lineup can hit from 1 to 8 and Keuchel and McCullers make up an amazing top of the rotation.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: SFgiantsrumors.co

Brad Peacock is finally living up to his potential, whether he is in the bullpen or the rotation. While most are looking at the rotation, and they could improve there, Peacock may actually be a legitimate option that will help them keep their first-place standing. Also, Colin McHugh should be coming off the DL soon and can help to solidify the rotation.

The Astros are missing another reliable bullpen arm. We saw how important they were in last year’s playoffs and right now the Astros have a pretty good bullpen. But if they are going to want to make a real run, they need a great bullpen.

They won’t give up what teams gave up to get pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last season. Instead, they will go for options that are a small step down.

In steps another Giants player and someone who has been a crucial piece in their bullpen for a long time, George Kontos.

Kontos has a career ERA under 3 and he has been in many high-pressure situations, including helping the Giants win multiple World Series. While he is not a flashy pickup, he is a reliable one, and should be relatively cheap, as he’s still under team control until 2020.

The Astros would not have to part with any of their major prospects. They could easily throw the Giants one of their lower top 25 prospects and some cash or another lower level prospect with high potential.

Kontos would solidify the bullpen as the Astros head into October. His experience would help the younger Astros team and again he would cost a lot less than someone like Sonny Gray or David Robertson.

Conclusion

The trade deadline is an unpredictable time and has a major affect on the way the rest of the season and future seasons will play out. Look out for what first place NL teams needs to do in order to stay in first place.

 

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Draftmas: Round 2

This is the last day of TGH Draftmas before the actual NFL draft tomorrow! As you could probably see our first round had some major technical issues and we do apologize for that. So we decided to do the 2nd round in a piece for you all to read!

Here we go! Round 2!

Pick #33- Browns: Tarkkarist McKinley OLB, UCLA

Pick #34- 49ers: Deshone Kizer QB, Notre Dame

Pick #35- Jags: Tre’Davious White CB, LSU

Pick #36- Bears: Malik McDowell DT, Michigan State

Pick #37- Rams: Carl Lawson EDGE, Auburn

Pick #38- Chargers: Teez Tarbor CB, Florida

Pick #39- Jets: Marcus Williams FS, Utah

Pick #40- Panthers: Josh Jones SS, NC State

Pick #41- Bengals: Jarrad Davis ILB, Florida

Pick #42- Saints: Curtis Samuel RB/WR, OSU

Pick #43- Eagles: Quincy Wilson CB, Florida

Pick #44- Jags: Pat Elfein C, OSU

Pick #45- Cardinals: TJ Watt LB, Wisconsin

Pick #46- Colts: Dan Feeny OG, Indiana

Pick #47- Ravens: Tyus Bowser Edge, Houston

Pick #48- Vikings: Taylor Moton OL, Western Michigan

Pick #49- Redskins: Jordan Willis DE, Kansas State

Pick #50- Buccaneers: Cordrea Tankersley CB, Clemson

Pick #51- Broncos: Evan Engram TE, Ole Miss

Pick #52- Browns: Adam Shaheen TE, Ashland

Pick #53- Lions: Chris Wormley DT, Michigan

Pick #54- Dolphins: Zach Cunningham LB, Vanderbilt

Pick #55- Giants: Raekwon McMillian MLB, Ohio State

Pick #56- Raiders: Carlos Watkins DT, Clemson

Pick #57- Texans: Tim Williams LB, Bama

Pick #58- Seahawks: Sidney Jones CB, Washington

Pick #59- Chiefs: Fabian Moreau CB, UCLA

Pick #60- Browns: Marcus Maye FS, Florida

Pick #61- Packers:Joe Mixon RB, Oklahoma

Pick #62- Steelers: Duke Riley LB, LSU

Pick #63- Falcons: Jabrill Peppers SS/LB, Michigan

Pick #64- Panthers: Zay Jones WR, ECTC

 

There are our 2nd round Mock Draft picks. We appreciate all of you who have read those and our other Draftmas articles! Make sure to watch the 1st Round starting tonight at 8pm EST! Good luck to everyone’s teams!

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

Mascots in the LCS

As the world of esports grows, analysts, fans, and sponsors will be looking towards examples from traditional sports for inspiration. They will draw comparisons between the two to figure out where exactly esports are heading. Franchising in the LCS, for example, is one such move towards traditional sports, away from the relegation model League of Legends has become accustomed to.

A somewhat less important, yet interesting topic, is that of mascots. Do teams need mascots? Do mascots belong in the LCS? Will this be part of the scene in the near future? What would their purpose be?

Mascots in Traditional Sports

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Mascots are generally symbolic representations of the teams they tout. From the Phillie Phanatic to Benny the Bull to Big Red, most sports teams have a mascot. These mascots are a physical representation of the team’s name or logo. They are responsible for hyping up the crowd throughout a competition, during slow times, scores, or wins.

It is commonplace for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and hockey teams to have mascots. They are out in the crowd. Part of the live audience experience usually includes getting a hug from or pictures with the team mascot. They sign autographs, and they provide immense brand recognition.

Merchandising around mascots is prominent. Slapping the mascot’s picture or logo onto items makes them collectibles. For example, many NBA fans can recognize Boston Celtics merchandise if it features “Boston” in green letters, shamrocks, Lucky the Leprechaun, or some combination of the three.

Mascots in LCS

The closest example of a mascot in the LCS is Unicorns of Love’s manager, Romain Bigeard. He generally wears a unicorn costume and dyes his hair and beard bright pink to support the team as they compete. Romain is an iconic member of the Unicorns’ team and brand, instantly recognizable.

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

courtesy of Riot esports

There are plenty of opportunities for other teams to create mascots. Between North America and Europe, there are Phoenixes (Phoenix1), Immortals, Foxes, Aliens (Dignitas), Horses (Team Liquid), Ninjas (G2), Rabbits, Cats (Roccat), Giants, and Snakes (Splyce). The other teams’ mascots would be less straightforward, but something like “TSM Titans,” or “Fnatic Falcons” could be a cool way to expand their brand. The mascot can also be incorporated into creating new logos, jerseys, champion skins, and collectible merchandise.

Mascots could also help solidify a team’s fanbase. Many LCS fans get attached to players, rather than the organizations they play for. And since so many players switch teams in between splits and in between seasons, organizations have a hard time keeping a consistent base. For example, Immortals probably gained some fans when they signed their most recent jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and probably lost some fans when Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin left. Introducing a mascot onto the scene may be a small way to retain a fanbase by providing a consistent symbol to rally behind, rather than just a simple logo.

What Could Go Wrong?

Individuals who do not closely follow specific sports or teams may find mascots to be cheesy. It may seem immature to grow an attachment to some guy in a costume who peps people up at sporting events, like a Disney World character. Does esports really want to go there?

G2 esports fan with ninja logo mask

courtesy of Riot esports

Another consideration is the fact that League of Legends is a game packed with fantasy characters anyway. Would it make sense to introduce a G2 Samurai mascot onto the scene when similar characters already exist in the game? This could create some awkwardness or show that it is unnecessary for the LCS scene.

Cosplay, where fans dress in elaborate costumes of their favorite characters, is already a huge part of the competitive League of Legends experience. Bringing in mascots could be confusing or over-doing it. Cosplayers already act as League of Legends mascots, in a way.

cosplayers at EU LCS

courtesy of Riot esports

These mascots could also need to span over several esports. For example, Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, and a few others. How can they create a mascot that makes sense in all of those venues? What if the organization has competitions for different games at the same time? Traditional sports do not run into this issue. Los Angeles is home to several sports teams, but they all have different mascots.

Conclusion

Mascots may not help a team win, and introducing them to the LCS scene may present some complications. But, overall, it could be an interesting experiment. Romain and the Unicorns of Love have proven that it can be done. Other LCS teams have straightforward opportunities to bring on their respective hype men.

A mascot could greatly help organizations solidify their brands by opening up new merchandising opportunities and retaining fans that may otherwise leave the team with a traded or lost player. Possibly the greatest gain from a mascot, though, is pure fun. Imagine the broadcast cutting to a video of a fox mascot hyping up the Echo Fox fans after Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham secures a First Blood. That could be pretty cool.


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EU LCS Week 10: FNC Rekkles

EU LCS Week 10: ROC or FNC?

The final week of the EU LCS Spring Split is here. While Giants, Origen, and Vitality have no chance at making it into playoffs, they will still have a say in how the standings end after week 10. The top three teams in Group B could swap positions, depending on how their match-ups go. Group A is all but settled except for third place, which will go to Fnatic or Roccat. Fnatic currently holds third with a 5-6 record, while Roccat sits just below at 5-7.

This week, Fnatic will face G2 and Misfits. Roccat only plays G2. And since G2 has been undefeated thus far, it is highly unlikely that either squad will take a series off of them. There are three possibilities for these two teams at the end of week 10:

Fnatic Wins Both Series

EU LCS Week 10: FNC Rekkles and Caps

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic’s best case scenario is to win both week 10 series. They will need to muster their focus and execute properly to beat G2 and Misfits. Any viewer will tell you this possibility is highly unlikely, though. It would truly be shocking if Fnatic beats G2 in their current form.

If Fnatic does pull out two wins this week, then Roccat’s match-up with G2 is null, as their record would finish at 6-7, while Fnatic’s would finish 7-6. Fnatic would automatically seed into playoffs.

Fnatic Wins One Series

EU LCS Week 10: FNC sOAZ and team

courtesy of Riot esports

Misfits has looked shaky lately. They have not had a series win since week 6, including a 2-0 loss to Roccat last week. Fnatic should focus on that match-up, as it is their most likely chance of retaining third place after week 10. If Fnatic wins this best-of-3, and Roccat loses to G2, then their games against G2 will not matter. Fnatic would end with one additional win over Roccat.

However, if Roccat does win against G2, but Fnatic only wins one series, then things gets interesting. Fnatic’s record would end at 6-7 and Roccat’s would also be 6-7.

The tiebreaker rules state “if two teams have the same record, ties will be broken by Head to Head record.”

Fnatic beat Roccat in week 3. Roccat beat Fnatic in week 8. So, their Head to Head record is 1-1.

The next set of tiebreaker rules state “if Head to Head records are identical, total games won will be used.”

Roccat’s game record is 12-16. Fnatic’s is 14-16, so they have the edge. At this point, it is impossible for Roccat’s game record to match Fnatic’s if they both win a series. Therefore, Fnatic would still qualify for playoffs.

Fnatic Loses Both Series

EU LCS Week 10: ROC Hjarnan and team

courtesy of Riot esports

The last possibility is that both teams lose out. Roccat has been on a surprising tear over the last three weeks, but G2 is the toughest possible opponent they could hope for in week 10.

If Roccat somehow wins, then it will force Fnatic to win at least one of their series this week. Hypothetically, if Roccat beats G2, and Fnatic loses both best-of-3’s, then Roccat will surpass Fnatic’s series record and take third place in Group A. Roccat would end the regular season with a 6-7 record, while Fnatic would finish at 5-7.

If neither Roccat nor Fnatic secures a win in week 10, then the standings will remain the same. Giants are unable to climb more than one win.

There is a possibility that Fnatic could take second place from Misfits, but that would involve Misfits losing to Giants and Fnatic, and Fnatic would also have to beat G2. The Head to Head between Misfits and Fnatic would be 1-1, which would elevate whichever team had more game wins. In that case, Misfits would need at least two game wins to trigger the tiebreaker match with Fnatic for second place. If Fnatic wins both series, and Misfits are unable to acquire two game wins, then Fnatic will automatically secure second place.

However, the realistic expectation is that Fnatic and Roccat will both lose all of their series in week 10. G2 should easily be able to dispel these two teams in a best-of-3, and Misfits should also be able to handily beat Fnatic. Fnatic and Roccat will need to play at their highest possible level and hope that G2 and Misfits do not.

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Week 8: Team Vitality on stage

EU LCS Players Who Need to Bounce Back in Week 8

The EU LCS had a few shake-ups in Week 7. There was a tilting remake in the Giants-Vitality series. Origen took their first match win of 2017. Splyce had a convincing win against G2 in Game 1, then completely dropped the ball. Roccat finished the week 2-0. H2K beat Misfits much harder than many expected.

Coming into Week 8, several teams will be looking to bounce back. There were some brutal losses last week. There were some who underperformed, and others who surprised the audience. There are only three more weeks until Playoffs begin. Teams at the top are vying for first place in their groups. Teams at the bottom are clawing out of the relegation tournament. Teams in the middle are doing their best to maintain their Playoff spots.

Here are five players who will need to come back this week off of heavy losses to boost their teams into higher positions.

Origen’s Jungler

Week 8: Origen Wisdom

courtesy of Riot esports

While Origen must have been excited to win their first game of Spring Split, they still finished the week with another 0-2. They currently sit at the bottom of Group B at 0-9. They are a full two wins behind the next lowest three teams.

Origen announced that Kim “Wisdom” Tae-Wan will be leaving the team, and they have brought on Jacob “Cinkrof” Rokicki as a replacement. Cinkrof has been playing in the Spanish professional league, LVP. While Wisdom has shown certain bright moments, he stands out as a particularly weak piece of Origen’s roster. He tends to play over-aggressively, especially in the mid-late game, getting picked off or caught out of position regularly.

Cinkrof, if he does start in Week 8, will have his first tests against Team Vitality and Splyce. Neither of these teams should blow Origen out of the water, but they will be challenging. Many fans have written off Origen as already being solidified into the relegation tournament. Cinkrof will be their last hope for rising through the ranks of Group B, and possibly defending Origen’s slot in the LCS.

VIT Djoko

Week 8: Team Vitality Djoko

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Vitality had a rough Week 7, despite their victory against Giants. Vitality gave away Game 1, and Giants were far ahead in Game 2 before the Orianna bug was detected and the game was remade. Giants did lose the next two games, but gameplay-wise, Vitality looked outclassed prior to the bug. Later in the weekend, Roccat beat Vitality 2-0.

Charly “Djoko” Guillard looked particularly weak in these two series. During the first 20 minutes of Game 2 against Giants (prior to the remake), Djoko was killed three times. While he had decent showings on Gragas and Graves, he also had some unconvincing games on Gragas and a sub-par performance on Elise.

In Week 8, Djoko will be battling Origen’s new jungler. This could be a complete wildcard, but it will be up to Djoko to ensure that Vitality maintain control of the game. It should be an easy 2-0 victory, but, then again, same goes for Roccat last week. A loss here could spell devastation for Team Vitality’s chances at escaping the relegation tournament.

SPY Trashy

Week 8: Splyce Trashy

courtesy of Riot esports

Splyce showed us their ceiling in Week 7, Game 1 against G2. They played a clean, fast-paced game, took a decisive Baron, and won. But after that, it all came crumbling down, especially for Jonas “Trashy” Andersen. He finished Game 2 almost 5,000 gold behind G2’s Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun. Game 3 was around 3,500. Since Jungle is such an impactful role in the current meta, these deficits can be difficult to salvage.

Luckily, Splyce play against Origen in Week 8. This series should be a walk in the park for Splyce’s roster; but if Origen’s new jungler, Cinkrof, can hold back Trashy, it may be more difficult than expected. Splyce need to prove to fans that they will be stronger moving forward. Expectations have been high for this squad since the preaseason. If they want to solidify their spot for playoffs and beyond, wins against teams below them have to be convincing.

FNC sOAZ

Week 8: FNC sOAZ

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic had a rough time against Unicorns of Love last week. They did get a late-game win in Game 1, but Games 2 and 3 were not as lucky. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer seemed outclassed overall by UOL’s Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás. Even in the win, sOAZ finished almost 3,000 gold behind his counterpart. The losses were less pretty.

Throughout the season, sOAZ has been floating under the radar as a mediocre top laner. There have been few especially bright moments, even when the team had his partner jungler, Maurice “Amazingx” Stückenschneider, starting. His tank plays are generally decent, but his carry plays have looked sub-par.

In Week 8, Fnatic will face Roccat. Similar to the Splyce-Origen match-up, this series needs to be a solid 2-0 from Fnatic to reinstill confidence in fans. Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren has not looked like a huge barrier for opposing teams, so sOAZ should look excellent against him. The veteran should be quicker on Teleports and create more pressure overall. Fnatic seems stuck in the middle of Group A, but Roccat are coming off of a big 2-0 week, and they would love to leapfrog Giants with a win this week.

MSF PowerOfEvil

Week 8: Misfits PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Misfits went wrong in Week 7. Many speculated that their match-up versus H2K would be a battle of titans, with either winning 2-1. However, once the cookie crumbled, Misfits seemed out of sorts. One individual that needs to bounce back in Week 8, though, is Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. He has been such a rock in the mid lane, and looked weak against Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten.

Top players who have bad games look worse than mediocre players having bad games. All of the members of Misfits share the blame for last week, but PowerOfEvil has been the anchor for them all Split. He will also be particularly important in Week 8, because they will face the number one team in Group A: G2. With G2 comes Luka “Perkz” Perković. Perkz is in the same tier as Febiven, so PowerOfEvil will need to shake off last week and hold steady with him. Otherwise, Misfits will risk another hefty loss. Misfits’ jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, will be in a similar position, but mid lane should be the biggest factor in Misfits’ success this week.

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 3 Predictions

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

Week 3: Splyce versus Unicorns of Love

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Fnatic versus Misfits

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Vitality versus H2K

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Giants v G2

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Origen versus Splyce

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Roccat versus Fnatic

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

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Misfits on stage for EU LCS

EU LCS Week 2 Preview

Boy, is it great to be back! Week 1 of EU LCS was action-packed. There were plenty of surprises: champions, builds, and stand-out performances. The standings should not surprise anyone, though. G2 and H2K are at the top of their respective groups. Misfits and Unicorns of Love each got a win under their belts. Everyone else lost a game to one of those four teams. There is not much we can decipher from just one week. It will take a couple more to really know how these teams match up. Nonetheless, you should keep an eye out for these four head-to-heads in Week 2.

Week 2: Vitality versus Splyce

courtesy of lolesport.com

These teams are on different ends of the spectrum for me. Vitality looked better than I expected during their match against Unicorns of Love last week. Splyce looked pretty weak against H2K. This Week 2 match-up should be a good gauge of Group B as a whole. Based on pre-season predictions, Splyce should win, sticking to the top of the standings. But if Vitality win, then it shakes up the momentum for the rest of the season. Most analysts assumed Splyce would maintain the same level of macro-play they demonstrated last Split. This synergized team would theoretically have an advantage over other Group B teams that were pieced together in the off-season. Sadly, it did not seem to be there in Week 1.

None of the Splyce members stood out to me against H2K. They all seemed to be stifled under pressure, particularly Mid, Jungle, and Top. The kill scores for their games were 24-6 and 22-10 over 27 to 29 minutes. H2K were playing fast and hard. The individual match-ups should be less intimidating against Vitality, but Splyce’s solo play has never been considered a great strength. They will need to showcase the smart group play that got them to Worlds last year to re-instill confidence in the squad.

Vitality looked weaker in Game 1 last week against Unicorns, but Game 2 was back and forth. Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi and Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan were able to get a lead in bot lane with the help of Jungler, Charly “Djoko” Guillard. The point of weakness was in the top-side match-up between Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet’s Fiora and Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás’ Camille. After two games, Cabochard’s KDA was 1.8. He finished last among Top laners in Gold Difference at 10 minutes (-475) and Kill Participation (39.1%). Meanwhile, Djoko topped the entire league in Kill Participation at 82.6%. Vitality may need Djoko to shift more focus to the top side of the map. Cabochard will also need to utilize his Teleport earlier to join his team.

Splyce failed to outweigh their individual shortcomings with strong macro-play against H2K. Hopefully, they can try again against Vitality. If Vitality can try to match H2K’s calculated aggression, then they may be able to take down Splyce as well. Cabochard should not be as neutralized against Martin “Wunder” Hansen. Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm should match Chres “Sencux” Laursen much easier than Fabian “Exileh” Schubert. On the other hand, Jonas “Trashy” Andersen will need to make sure Djoko is not free to influence the map as he pleases. It should be much easier than facing Jankos.

Unicorns of Love versus H2K Week 2

courtesy of lolesports.com

H2K tops Group B with two wins, zero losses. Unicorns are second with one win and zero losses. Week 2 will decide who finishes 2-1. If H2K win, then they stay in first. Assuming Unicorns of Love beat Origen this week, they will need to win against H2K to move up. This should be an exciting game to watch, since both teams looked explosive in Week 1 with a heavy focus top-side.

Unicorns of Love have historically done well in chaotic games. If Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski gets recklessly aggressive, and Unicorns are able to exploit it, then it could be H2K’s demise. With immobile ADCs and Supports in meta, I imagine Exileh will continue to pull out his pocket pick Kassadin and wreak havoc. Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten joins him at the top of Mid lane KDAs, both averaging just above 10. Febiven will need to maintain lane control in this match-up to keep Exileh from roaming.

The Top lane will be an epic duel if Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu and/or Vizicsacsi get on carry champions. Similar to the Mid lane match-up, these Top laners are above all others, averaging 5.4-5.5 KDAs. Vizicsacsi had higher Kill Participation, lower Death Share, and higher CS Difference at 10 minutes, but Odoamne will have more Jungle pressure to back him up. Vizicsacsi will need to exploit all Teleport advantages.

The Bot lane will most likely decide this match. Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort averaged 9.5 CS ahead at 10 minutes, while Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun averaged 10.3 behind. This bodes well for Unicorns of Love. However, Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov over-extended and got caught out repeatedly, resulting in a 39.1% Death Share, highest in the league. Hylissang needs to play more passively to prevent excess deaths. The other issue that Unicorns’ Bot lane could run into is champion pool. Samux and Hylissang played Caitlyn-Lulu in both games, while Nuclear and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho showcased Jhin-Zyra and Ashe-Tahm Kench. Of course, the bans will most likely be directed towards Top, Jungle, and Mid, but if H2K decide to pinch Unicorn’s AD Carry and Support picks, then I hope they have an answer.

Misfits versus G2 Week 2

courtesy of lolesports.com

This will be Group A’s premier match-up. Similar to H2K v. Unicorns of Love, Week 2 will decide which of these two teams will remain at the top of the group. Assuming Misfits beat ROCCAT, one of these teams will end the week 3-0. Both teams came into the season with high expectations, and enjoyed a strong first week. Dropping one game each, some weaknesses appeared in G2 and Misfits, which makes this week even juicier.

G2’s series against Fnatic last week was full of highlights. All three games went 42 minutes or longer. The game that Fnatic won involved a couple of solo kills on Luka “PerkZ” Perković and strong macro-play around Baron, Dragon, and manipulating minion waves. Fnatic also picked off Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen to end. The games they looked strongest involved PerkZ drafting Leblanc and amassing 4,000 Gold leads on his opponent. G2 will need to make sure PerkZ’s play becomes consistent. While his KDA is higher than Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, his Kill Participation is almost 10% lower. Both Mid laners have a high Death Share for their teams.

Misfits dropped their game to Giants due to a surprise Illaoi pick in the Top lane from Olof “Flaxxish” Medin. After leading for 23 minutes, and by 3,000 gold, Misfits botched two teamfights around Baron. However, the following two games were rather one-sided. Barney “Alphari” Morris is a solid Top laner. He was able to average 10 CS over his opponent at 10 minutes, despite playing two games on Maokai against Illaoi and Nautilus, and one game on Rumble against an AD Kennen. Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun boasts the highest KDA of all players in the league, thanks to his 26 assists over three games and only 7.7% Death Share (third lowest in the league). Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez will need to try his best to match this playstyle, since he has the lowest Kill Participation of all Supports, and a high Death Share. 

The real uneven match-up between these teams is in the AD Carry position. Zven more than doubles Steven “Hans sama” Liv’s KDA. He also has half his Death Share. And even though Hans sama averages high Gold, XP, and CS at 10 minutes, he was facing Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa. Zven faced Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss. Misfits will need to make sure that they do not come into this series with any arrogance. Each player will need to execute properly around objectives. If Misfits can take G2 in a best-of-three, then they will solidify themselves as king of the hill. G2 are going to do their best to knock them down a peg.

Giants versus Roccat Week 2

courtesy of lolesports.com

While neither of these teams had a stellar Week 1, they will have a chance to redeem themselves. Giants took a game off of Misfits. ROCCAT was decidedly beaten by G2. These series exposed clear weaknesses in both squads. They will need to watch those games to see where they can leverage their opponents’ weaknesses, and where they can improve their own.

Giants win against Misfits came off the back of a Top lane Illaoi for Flaxxish. He laned well and Misfits fell into the trap of fighting in the Baron and Dragon pits. Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi stole the Baron multiple times in the series. Na “Night” Gun-woo also made several pro-active roaming plays on the map. However, he was completely shut down on Ekko. The biggest pain point was the Bot lane. HeaQ averaged 11 CS behind at 10 minutes–lowest of all EU ADCs. He and Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg will need to exert more lane pressure.

There was nothing notable about ROCCAT’s performance against G2. They were purely outclassed in every position and in macro-play. Since the team rebuilt around Mid laner, Felix “Betsy” Edling, I was expecting him to stand up a bit more to PerkZ’s pressure. Betsy looked particularly lost in Game 1 on Taliyah. I cannot recall a single well-placed Weaver’s Wall. PerkZ was able to roam on Leblanc, rather than have his lane pushed in. I do not want to see Betsy on that champion until ROCCAT can synergize. And even though Hjärnan averaged 11 CS ahead at 10 minutes, he only participated in 37.5% of his team’s kills (second lowest of all players). He needs to transition any advantage in the laning phase to helping teamfights around neutral objectives.

I imagine Giants will win this somewhat easily. If they can play around neutral objectives like they did against Misfits, then ROCCAT will not stand a chance. However, if Hjärnan and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in can exploit Giants’ Bot lane, then this may be closer than it looks on paper. NighT did not enjoy facing Syndra in the Mid lane, so maybe Betsy should draft her. Assuming Misfits beats ROCCAT and Fnatic beats Giants, this match-up will decide who finishes Week 2 at the bottom of Group A.

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Top 5 Worst Super Bowls

A good Super Bowl should be close, a game that goes back and forth and raises and lowers your hope constantly.  It should be the best versus the best.  But sometimes, one team just seems to take control and run away without ever feeling questioned.  This is the top 5 worst Super Bowls based on that criteria.

#5 Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8

In what was supposed to be a tight game with a high-powered, explosive Peyton Manning-lead offense against a stingy, hard-hitting Seattle defense, this Super Bowl proved that defenses really do win championships, and by a lot.

Peyton Manning would bounce back two years after a disastrous loss to the Seahawks in this Super Bowl.  But his record-setting 55 touchdown passes in 2013 had everyone thinking that this was could be more of an even shootout than a cream.  Things got ugly for Denver right from the start when running back Knowshon Moreno was tackled in the end zone for a safety.  Then, in the blink of an eye, Denver trailed 22-0 at halftime.  The Broncos’ running game was pitiful, mustering just 27 rushing yards against the league’s best defense.  Down 36-0 at the end of the third quarter, Manning finally found payday connecting with Demaryius Thomas for a 14 yard touchdown.  But it was much too late for Denver.  The Seattle defense picked off Manning twice, once for a touchdown, and Russell Wilson threw for two more scores in this 43-8 thrashing.  I was watching this game with some friends in my dorm and we got bored in the third quarter.

#4 Super Bowl XX: Bears 46, Patriots 10

With the exception of William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s one yard touchdown run, this game offered little excitement.  It’s hard to believe this game was actually tied 3-3 seeing as the Patriots accumulated just 123 yards of total offense.  Chicago was lead by the steady, but shifty Jim McMahon, who threw for 256 yards and ran for two touchdowns.  It was the Bears’ defense that stole the show during the Super Bowl.  Widely considered one of the best defenses to play the game, the 1985 Bears surrendered just 198 points all season and shutout the Giants and Rams in the post-season.  Their dominant streak of flashy defensive plays continued on this day, registering seven sacks and six turnovers.  Linebackers Wilbur Marshall, Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson all made plays in this game, whether it be pressuring the quarterback or recovering fumbles.  Neither Steve Grogan, nor Tony Eason, of the Patriots could rally their team on offense while the New England defense gave up 39 points.

#3 Super Bowl XXVII: Cowboys 52, Bills 17

The score was only 14-10 in the second quarter, but eventually Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith torched the Buffalo defense in this romp.  Buffalo actually managed to rush for over 100 yards and Andre Reed had over 100 yards of receiving.  17 points in the Super Bowl isn’t totally pathetic, unless you’re playing the 1992 Dallas Cowboys.  Jim Kelly had to come out of the game for Buffalo and Frank Reich didn’t do much offensively.  Meanwhile, Aikman passed for four scores, two to his favorite target, Michael Irvin.

#2 Super Bowl XXXV: Ravens 34, Giants 7

If not for a 97 yard kickoff return, the Giants would probably have remained scoreless in this Super Bowl.  Kerry Collins passed for just 112 yards and four interceptions against the 2000 Ravens defense, one of the most talented of all time.  Baltimore relied on the arm of Trent Dilfer, a game manager type of quarterback who was never too flashy.  Jamal Lewis ran for over 100 yards and a score while the defense recorded five turnovers.

#1 Super Bowl XXIV: 49ers 55, Broncos 10

This one ranks as the worst Super Bowl because of the 45 point differential and sheer perfection displayed by Joe Montana.  The game was never close at all as Montana passed for a whopping five touchdowns, while Denver quarterback John Elway completed just 10 for 26, 108 yards, and two costly interceptions.  Besides a 34 yard run by Bobby Humphry, the Broncos didn’t have any significant plays.  Meanwhile, San Francisco racked in six sacks and four turnovers.  This game got out of hand due to Montana’s God-like ability.  Weapons like Jerry Rice, Roger Craig and John Taylor made the game miserable for the Denver community.  At least Elway would win the big one under Mike Shanahan years later.

Summing up what makes the Promotion Tournament stand out

The Promotion portion of the LCS season is something special. The 8th, 9th, and 10th place team in the league have to fight for their spot in the next split against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd team from Challenger.

Changes this split to the Promotion tournament have eliminated the tenth place team being automatically demoted, and has given them a chance to stay. The Promotion tournament takes place over three days. The format for the matches is best of five. Round one is a best of five between the ninth place LCS team and the second place Challenger team. The loser of this series is eliminated from contention. The second day, we see the eighth place LCS team play the winner of the first round match, and the first place team from Challenger play the 7th place LCS team with the winners of these series earning a spot in the LCS. The final round takes place between the two teams from day two who didn’t win. The winner of that series makes it to the LCS, with the losing team playing in Challenger.

Renegades, a team who went 6-11 in the LCS this season, played last summer in Challenger. (Image http://lol.esportspedia.com/wiki/File:LA_Renegades.png)

Renegades, a team who went 6-11 in the LCS this season, played last summer in Challenger. (Courtesy of esportspedia.com)

This Spring split, Renegades, Team Impulse and Team Dignitas will have to fight to stay in the LCS against the top two challenger teams, Team Dragon Knights and Apex Gaming. Before the rework, Team Dignitas would have been automatically demoted with Apex Gaming automatically advancing. Now, Dignitas has a chance to defend their spot while Apex Gaming has to fight their way in.

In Europe, the Promotion tournaments already happened and all of the LCS teams remained. Giants! Gaming cut it the closest, playing in 3 best of five series. The tenth place team, they played on day one and won, eliminating the second place Copenhagen Wolves. They then lost to Splyce on the second day, giving Splyce a spot in the Summer split. Then, the third day they faced Team Huma, who lost to ROCCAT the day before. Winning 3-1, Giants! reclaimed their spot in the EU LCS.

The promotion tournament as it played out. The LCS teams remained. (Image http://lol.gamepedia.com/2016_EU_LCS/Summer_Promotion)

The promotion tournament as it played out. The LCS teams remained. (Courtesy of gamepedia.com)

The new Promotion tournament is designed to do this. It even says it on the page on lolesports.com where it was announced. It was created to help “stabilize the LCS.” It is designed to keep the 10 LCS teams in, and the Challenger teams out.

Some of the reaction of this was negative, but I don’t see it that way. The LCS teams should have the advantage when it comes to staying in, after all they already worked to get that spot. They should be given the edge to keep it. If the Challenger teams want to get in with the big boys then they can win a few games.

Think about how unique of a concept the Relegation/Promotion is. This is really the only setting where something like this could work. Think about the rosters. There are ten teams of five, plus they’ll carry one or two substitutes. That means that the whole LCS is somewhere around 60 players. That is less than one football team, and it’s around 5 NBA teams.

There are great players out there who aren’t in the LCS. There is no possible way that the gap between the stars of the LCS and the stars of Challenger is that big. Not when the LCS has so few players. Plus, the players are all split up into defined roles. You’re telling me that the top ten jungle players on the North America server are the ten junglers in the LCS right now? That could not possibly be true, one of them is Crumbz. It is not unreasonable to think that the best player on the server in a certain role is in Challenger. This gives that player the fast track to the LCS.

Sorry Crumbz (Image taken from Worlds Season 5 VOD on lolesports.com)

Sorry Crumbz (Image taken from Worlds Season 5 VOD on lolesports.com)

Also, they are not geographically based, as much as I would love a world where the Cleveland Browns are in the minor leagues where they belong, robbing Cleveland of an NFL franchise would have too much of an impact on the city as a whole. However, the only thing an LCS team being demoted affects is that team. They all play in the same building, they all play on the same days. There are no home or away teams. This is truly the only sporting league in the United States where this could happen.

It’s amazing. I love every second of it. It is my favorite part of the LCS. Plus, once a team is 0-5 or 1-7, this will be the hardest game they play all split. Once they throw in the towel for the regular season, they’ll start scouting the top Challenger teams and begin preparing for this event. Will they have another chance in the LCS? Or will they have to go down to Challenger and climb back up? The revisions to the Promotion tournament have proven to keep the LCS teams in the LCS in Europe, we will have to wait and see what effect this has on the North American server.

Storylines going into the EU Promotion Tournament

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

 

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

 

Diagrams are fun kids! Courtesy of lolesports.

Diagrams are fun kids! Courtesy of lolesports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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