Fnatic win quarterfinals over H2K

Fnatic Quarterfinals Highlights and the Road Ahead

Fnatic played a stellar series against H2K last weekend, finishing 3-0. While H2K looked out of sorts, Fnatic played calm, coordinated League of Legends. This was their best series so far in the 2017 EU LCS. Here is a compilation of their best plays from the quarterfinal match-up.

While Fnatic should be proud of this achievement, they have a challenging playoffs road ahead. Their next opponent will be G2, a squad which has suffered only one series loss thus far. Hypothetically, if Fnatic wins that match-up, they will still need to face the winner of Misfits vs. Unicorns of Love in the finals.

G2 does exhibit some playstyle similarities to H2K, but with fewer weaknesses. H2K’s biggest issue seemed to be communication in their quarterfinal loss. Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho were not on the same page with each other or the rest of the team. Many of Fnatic’s advantages came from Nuclear and Chei’s poor positioning. Fnatic should not expect Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez to make the same mistakes.

Fnatic also surprised H2K, and spectators, with lower priority marksmen picks: Twitch, Vayne, and Kennen. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Kennen pick is not surprising, but hardly any other bottom laners look as comfortable on the pick. Twitch and Vayne, though, came out of nowhere. Though these picks most likely threw H2K for a loop, G2 now have the advantage of knowing Fnatic is able to draft and win with such picks. The surprise is no longer a factor.

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer will need to continue to demonstrate high levels of pressure in the jungle and top lane. They will also need to remain coordinated with the rest of the team to properly rotate, pressure objectives, and counter-gank.

Jesse “Jesiz” Le should try to remain on support champions with strong engage potential. He stood out as a highly impactful player throughout the quarterfinals. If Fnatic are able to replicate the strategies they used against H2K, then their series against G2 this weekend should be a treat.

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Reflecting on Pre-Split EU LCS Expectations

On JANUARY 20, 2017, the second day of the EU LCS Spring Split, I wrote a piece with my initial thoughts on four teams. I chose these four teams, because they seemed to have the widest possible range of results. The final standings would be determined by their performance. Check out that article here.

As the EU LCS finishes Week 9, it only makes sense to revisit my preseason thoughts. There has been a smaller gap between groups than expected. Some teams have performed as expected, while others have been surprisingly strong or weak.

G2 and Splyce

Preseason Thought: “G2 and Splyce decided to retain their entire starting rosters. None of the other teams seem prepared to challenge these two for group dominance. Unless the new pick-ban phase exposes unforeseen weaknesses, we expect these two teams to stay at the top.”

G2: EU LCS #1 team

courtesy of Riot esports

G2 has truly secured their spot at the top of the standings. Sitting at 11-0, few teams have even been able to take a game off of this squad, let alone a series. Maintaining the starting lineup from Summer 2017 has allowed G2 to remain dominant within EU. Even through meta shifts from patch changes, G2 has adapted to every opponent they have faced in the LCS. They may even be performing better than analysts expected.

Splyce: EU LCS #5 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Splyce, on the other hand, has seemed much weaker than last year. Early losses to H2K, Unicorns of Love, and Misfits proved that Splyce would need much improvement to reach the top of Group B. Spring has shown them beating teams below them, but losing to teams above them. Splyce currently sit third in their group, with a 7-4 record. They have generally performed below preseason expectations, but fans have seen flashes of Splyce’s former dominance.

Origen

Preseason Thought: “Origen seems to be the only team that did not catch a break in the off-season. After a 9th place finish in the Summer Split last year, the entire squad dissipated. Origen’s pick-ups each appear to be a downgrade from their respective predecessors…The floor is low on this team, and we expect that they will round out the bottom of Group B.”

Origen: EU LCS #10 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Poor Origen. Boasting a series record of 0-12, and a game record of 2-24, they have performed at the lowest possible level. The lineup has been plagued with issues this split. Substituting in the support and jungle roles has not been ideal.  Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez has had to step into another new seat. Unfortunately, Origen will be heading towards the Spring Promotion Tournament to defend their spot in the LCS. They have performed as analysts expected.

Roccat

Preseason Thought: “I am keeping my eyes on this new ROCCAT. They could get a few wins under their belt and avoid the Summer Promotion series this year. They could end up in last yet again, but everyone loves an underdog, right?”

courtesy of Riot esports

ROCCAT began the split 0-7, which had analysts believing they would be destined to return to their third consecutive Promotion Tournament. However, over the past few weeks, ROCCAT has swung back, going 5-0. They currently sit in fourth in Group A, just below Fnatic. Depending on the results of Week 10, ROCCAT can actually slip into the playoffs and boot Fnatic. Being one of the only teams to truly climb through the standings, ROCCAT have performed much better than many preseason expectations. (I kind of called it, though.)

Misfits

Preseason Thought: “If Misfits want to make an impact, they will need their remaining players to continue to play at the top level, while incorporating PowerOfEvil and KaKAO seamlessly. Barney ‘Alphari’ Morris, Steven ‘Hans sama’ Liv, and Lee ‘IgNar’ Dong-geun will need to maintain lane dominance against tougher lanes. This team does have a high ceiling, but these roster changes will need to prove themselves fruitful.”

Misfits: EU LCS #4 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Misfits have definitely made a splash in their first EU LCS split. Their 7-4 record is nothing to overlook. Misfits sits solidly in second place in Group A, four wins below G2, two wins above Fnatic. The team has looked slightly weaker in recent weeks, but should still be a force in playoffs. Barney “Alphari” Morris, Steven “Hans sama” Liv, and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun have meshed right into the professional scene. Each of them have had standout performances. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon have proven my skepticism wrong. Misfits demonstrated team synergy earlier than expected, and PowerOfEvil looks like an entirely new player compared to last year.

H2K

Preseason Thought: “Will the momentum of last year continue, or did it fizzle in the off-season?…Febiven has proven himself to be a top-tier European Mid laner. He should be able to step in without issue. However, Nuclear and Chei are Korean imports, which could prove to be dangerous.”

H2K: EU LCS #3 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu are as good as ever. The jungler and top laner have maintained dominance while allowing Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten to have a successful split thus far. H2K was obviously disjointed in the beginning of the split, but Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun, and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho have assimilated into the rest of the team relatively well. This team has probably performed slightly higher than many expected, but they are nowhere near the ceiling they experienced at Worlds 2016. H2K is far from the best team in EU.

Fnatic

Preseason Thought: “This roster has a lot of combined experience. But will it be enough?…Most EU LCS fans are probably pulling for Fnatic to do well in 2017. While this line-up’s ceiling is quite high, they could also finish middle-of-the-pack.”

Fnatic: EU LCS #6 team

courtesy of Riot esports

Spring Split has been difficult for Fnatic. Sitting at third in Group A, they hold a 5-6 series record and a 14-16 game record. The same team that took games off of G2, Unicorns of Love, and Splyce also dropped games to Giants and Vitality, even dropping a series to ROCCAT. It seems the combined experience of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, and Jesse “Jesiz” Le has proven insufficient. Substituting at the jungle position has not helped anything. Fnatic’s rookie mid laner, Rasmus “Caps” Winther, has definitely shown strong potential as a solo carry at times. Overall, Fnatic has performed lower than many analysts expected. It has not been entirely surprising, though.

EU LCS teams have one last week to settle the standings leading into playoffs and relegation. This split has had its fair share of exciting match-ups, but much of it has gone according to my preseason expectations. The group format and Best-of-3’s have brought pros and cons, but mostly stagnation within groups. ROCCAT’s recent climb has essentially been the only major action, especially when compared to the NA LCS. Playoffs should be exciting and less predictable, due to the parity between Unicorns of Love, H2K, Misfits, and Splyce. Mid-Season Invitational should be another great test of EU’s relation to the other major regions.

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EU LCS Group Draft format 2017

Thoughts on EU LCS Group Format

For 2017, the EU LCS adopted a new regular season format which involves two groups of five teams. These changes were put in place to resolve fans’ issues with the dual-stream and best-of-2 format. The new grouping would allow viewers to watch one best-of-3 stream at a time. But is it better?

Most LCS fans would agree that the best-of-3 format is vastly better than the best-of-2 last year. The murky nature of ties left many fans feeling unsatisfied. Having definite winners and losers in such a small league is much more appealing. It can also, theoretically, better prepare European teams for international competition by rewarding consistency and adaptation.

Best-of-3 seems to be the perfect balance between viewer satisfaction, player well-being, and proper preparation. In comparison, best-of-1s reward teams that can successfully cheese their opponents for one match, and do not necessarily allow EU to send its most consistent representatives to international competitions. Best-of-2’s and best-of-4’s create too many undesirable ties, and best-of-5’s can result in more fatigue for the players and an extended schedule that would strain the production crews and viewers.

Having a single stream is fairly beneficial, too. It is the most comfortable way to watch every scheduled series live, rather than choosing which to watch in a dual stream. There may be fewer match-ups to watch in a given weekend, but a viewer is able to see all of them without turning to VODs.

EU LCS weekly schedule format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

The sacrifice, it seems, is regular series quality. Of course, the group format should not take the whole blame for this. There are other contributing factors. However, splitting the teams into two groups has resulted in regularly lower quality match-ups.

This split, EU LCS teams were separated into Groups A and B. Teams within Group A play each other twice; teams within Group B play each other twice. But they only play across groups once. This sounds like a small difference in play-rate, but it has huge consequences on viewer experience. For example, G2 and MSF will only face H2K, UOL, and SPY once each, but FNC, ROC, and GIA twice before playoffs. Since the teams were drafted to split their overall abilities evenly, this schedule has created gradients within each group. The gap between the top teams and bottom teams is huge. And just as H2K will only play G2 once, GIA will only play OG once.

Week 9 of the LCS is representative of this unfortunate reality. Previewing the match-ups is not possible because every single one is one-sided. SPY should beat VIT, G2 should stomp GIA, MSF should destroy ROC, and down the list it goes. Most weeks have featured one to three quality match-ups, while the other three to five seem pre-determined.

EU LCS promotion and relegation format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

This group format, however, is sufficient for figuring out which teams should go to playoffs and relegation. The top six and the bottom two are extremely apparent. But week to week series are lower quality. There is less to analyze. There is less guessing or postulating.

If EU mirrored the NA LCS format, it may be a bit better. Sure, audiences would sacrifice the comfort of watching every match-up live, but they would receive much more frequent close match-ups. Teams would need to prepare and adapt against nine opponents, rather than four. And if they really wanted to allow viewers to see every stream live, then they would simply spread the series out over four days instead of three.

While this split’s scheduling and grouping format has been an upgrade over 2016’s, there are still issues that need to be addressed. The EU LCS could possibly allow for more teams in the league, such as 12 or 14 total teams (6-7 per group). This, again, leads to longer schedules over more days, but it may create more frequent close match-ups. As professional League of Legends becomes more and more popular, overall viewing experiences will need to be closely managed. Hopefully, moving forward, EU LCS tournament formatting will be able to strike the right balance between audience gratification, production value, player well-being, and quality competition.

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EU LCS Week 7: Misfits with coach

EU LCS Week 7: Misfits or H2K?

Most of the EU LCS match-ups this week will pit low-standing teams against one another. However, there is a spicy match-up to tune in for: Misfits v. H2K. Both of these two teams hold second place in their respective groups. They are also coming off of solid wins in Week 6. Week 7 will be their first clash.

There are a number of factors that set up this particular series to be explosive. Firstly, they have similar game records. Misfits has 15 wins, four losses. H2K has 14 wins, five losses. Secondly, they sit in the top two positions for Gold Difference at 15 minutes. Misfits average 1,771 ahead. H2K average 1,351 ahead. Thirdly, according to OraclesElixir.com, they also average first and second in their Early Game Ratings among the EU LCS (Misfits 71.4, H2K 65.4). Expect both squads to do their best to win leads in the laning phase and snowball as hard as they can.

The areas of gameplay where H2K and Misfits diverge are objective control and kills per minute. H2K take the first turret, first three turrets, and first dragon more often than anyone in the LCS. Misfits stand in third, third, and fourth in those respective categories. Misfits only takes the first baron in 58% of games, while H2K secures it in 82%.

However, Misfits is extremely efficient in securing kills without giving deaths. They have the highest team Kill-Death ratio in the LCS: 1.90. H2K average 1.45. Even though H2K has secured 321 kills over 19 games, they have also conceded 222 deaths. Compared to Misfits 287 kills and 151 deaths, H2K’s overall trades are not always the best. Misfits also have the lowest Combined Kills per Minute statistic in the LCS (0.6), which implies that their games rarely become clown fiestas.

Top Lane

Week 7: Misfits top laner, Alphari

courtesy of Riot esports

Barney “Alphari” Morris and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu will most likely be the center of attention in Week 7. Neither of these players are afraid of making big plays. Alphari averages a higher CS difference at 10 minutes (+8.9), and he maintains a higher KDA (4.3). Odoamne has the edge when it comes to doing a higher percentage of damage for his team (24.9%), and he has higher kill participation (59.8%). However, both top laners trend towards the top of the league in most categories.

A major difference between these two is their champions played lately. Alphari showed up huge on Rumble last week, while also putting in two games on Renekton, and even brought out Fiora. Odoamne’s last three champions have been tanks: Nautilus, Maokai, and Poppy. Misfits and H2K have shown flexibility in drafting, but Misfits generally prioritize bully laners for Alphari.

Jungle

Week 7: H2K jungler, Jankos

courtesy of Riot esports

Despite being titled “First Blood King,” Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski has only secured First Blood in 26% of his games this split. On the other hand, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon has the second highest rating in the league (53%). KaKAO has also beat out Jankos in KDA (7.1), kill participation (71.8%), and CS difference at 10 minutes (+3.5). Surely, he will have the upper hand in this match-up, unless Jankos can return to his dominant form. There is no doubt that both Misfits and H2K rely on their junglers to create significant early game leads.

As far as champions go, Jankos’s most recent performances were on Graves and Kha’Zix. He excels at cleaning up fights and isolating the enemy jungler. Elise and Lee Sin were KaKAO’s choices last week. He used their early game gank pressure to enable his lanes and spread vision across the map. In the mid game, he transitioned into tankier items for survivability and utility. Much of the series will be decided by these two players.

Mid Lane

Week 7: Misfits mid laner, PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

Anchoring Misfits and H2K for Week 7 are their mid laners, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten. While both have proved more formidable this split, their playstyles diverge a bit. Febiven tends to farm much more in the early game, sticking to the lane. He averages 6.1 CS ahead at 10 minutes. PowerOfEvil averages behind 2.2 CS, but ahead by 244 gold, indicating that he either gets kills or assists to get ahead in the early game. This is shown by his high First Blood rate (32%) and overall kill participation (74.6%). PowerOfEvil’s KDA is a stellar 7.9, while Febiven maintains 4.6.

Last week, Febiven played Syndra twice. He finished 5-2-5 and 2-1-2 against Fnatic. Meanwhile, PowerOfEvil showcased incredible skill on Orianna and Ahri. Both players have deep champion pools. Other than overpowered meta picks, do not expect many bans to target mid lane.

Bot Lane

Week 7: H2K AD Carry, Nuclear

courtesy of Riot esports

The bottom lanes for these squads are strong, as well. Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun match-up rather well. Hans sama averages a 7.7 KDA. Nuclear maintains 6.6. Nuclear averages behind 0.1 CS at 10 minutes, while Hans sama averages -2.7 CS. Kill participation and team damage numbers give Hans sama a slight advantage.

Both of these players show true mastery of the meta marksmen: Jhin and Varus. Last week, Hans sama played three straight games on Jhin. Nuclear played two on Varus. Misfits or H2K may attempt to pinch the AD Carry picks and force these guys on Ezreal, Sivir, etc. Regardless, they both seem to play more aggressive than other EU LCS marksmen.

Week 7: Misfits support, IgNar

courtesy of Riot esports

The support players, Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho, are just as formidable. IgNar is more of a roaming playmaker, pairing with KaKAO to spread pressure throughout the map. Warding against Misfits will be important for H2K’s success. IgNar’s KDA is 6.4, and his kill participation is 71.1%. Chei’s are 3.8 and 62%, respectively. However, Chei averages around 80 extra damage per minute. Chei also matches IgNar in total assists over 19 games, 190 and 191. Chei has died 52 times in that period, while IgNar has only conceded 32.

Overall, IgNar seems more flexible champion-wise. He has played nine unique champions, such as Alistar last week. Chei has only shown six unique champions. Just like mid lane, do not anticipate too many support bans outside meta overpowered picks. Misfits or H2K may try to secure a ranged support advantage, but picks such as Tahm Kench and Braum have been cropping up internationally with variable success.

Conclusion

All in all, Misfits seem to have the advantage in this one. Their jungler and support have been extremely proactive throughout Summoner’s Rift to gain advantages in vision and rotations. PowerOfEvil has been having his best split yet. Alphari and Hans sama fill their roles on the team well, while playing as cleanly as possible. H2K will need to hold it together through the early game and do their best to secure leads through taking turrets, dragons, and barons. If they draft compositions with Odoamne on a sturdy tank, and force Misfits onto a non-tank composition, then they may be able to demonstrate their superior late game.

This match-up will be one to watch in Week 7 amidst several low-tier matches. Tune in on Saturday, March 11 to catch the action.

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Power Rankings: G2, #1 western team

Best in the West: NA vs. EU Power Rankings

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

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

  1. FNC
Power Rankings: #10 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

  1. FLY
Power Rankings: #3 western team

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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

courtesy of Riot esports

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

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

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 4: Individual Match-Ups

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

Week 4 G2 esports

Luka “PerkZ” Perković

KDA: 4.7

CSD10: +1.1

KP: 68.4%

DPM: 536

Week 4 H2K

Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten

KDA: 5.0

CSD10: +7.9

KP: 60.6%

DPM: 602

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

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

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

Week 4 Splyce

Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup

KDA: 5.7

CSD10: +1.3

KP: 73.4%

DPM: 557

Week 4 Misfits

Steven “Hans sama” Liv

KDA: 6.4

CSD10: -1.5

KP: 72%

DPM: 476

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

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

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

Week 4 Fnatic

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer

KDA: 3.0

CSD10: 0

KP: 59.1%

DPM: 381

Week 4 Team Vitality

Lucas “Cabochard ” Simon-Meslet

KDA: 3.6

CSD10: 3.1

KP: 64.5%

DPM: 383

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

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

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

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 3 Predictions

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

Week 3: Splyce versus Unicorns of Love

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Fnatic versus Misfits

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Vitality versus H2K

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Giants v G2

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Origen versus Splyce

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

Week 3: Roccat versus Fnatic

courtesy of lolesports.com

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

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

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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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What EDG’s Loss Means for Group C

So, unless you were living under a rock during day one of Worlds, you probably heard that Brazil’s INTZ pulled off potentially the biggest upset in World’s history by knocking off China’s number one seed, EDward Gaming.

And this wasn’t just a fluke win on a miracle Baron steal. This was INTZ dismantling a team that didn’t drop a series for the entirety of the Summer Split in China. The Brazilian wildcard won through the same strategy they employed throughout most of the year, through jungler Revolta providing pressure for top laner Yang, ensuring that he had a sizable advantage coming out of the lane phase.

Yang played like an absolute monster with the lead Revolta set up for him; he finished the game 3.9 thousand gold ahead of EDG’s top laner, Mouse. He used that lead to deal the most damage to champions of any player in the game, finishing with 29.5 thousand damage dealt in a 6/2/7 performance on Gnar.

EDG threatened to make comebacks throughout, winning multiple fights due to mid-laner PawN’s sneaky flanks on Vladimir while the INTZ team was spread out.  However, following a key three-for-one fight around the 33-minute mark, resulting from a pick onto EDG’s Clearlove, the Brazilian team ended up getting their second baron of the game; this allowed them to take an inhibitor, which led to an Elder Dragon, which finally ended up being the nail in the coffin for EDG.

With this being just the first day of Worlds, there are still plenty of games left for teams to overcome a first game mishap. But EDG was seen as a team that would run through their group without a problem, maybe dropping a game to H2k or AHQ if they had a bad showing. However, a loss to INTZ was something that nobody in the league scene expected, even the analysts (and thus the EDG sandbagging memes have been reborn).

So here’s what EDG’s loss and INTZ’s victory means for Group C…

What it means for EDG Themselves…

It shows that they can’t afford to sleep on any team, and can’t expect the same strategies that got them to Worlds to work on the international stage. EDG’s bottom lane, Deft and Meiko, are considered by many as the best bottom lane in the world, and they showed that throughout the regular season. Honestly, Deft, Meiko, and PawN were the only ones holding together that game against INTZ. Jungler Clearlove, who analysts also consider one of the best in the world, spent much of his time in the bottom lane to give Deft and Meiko all of the resources they’d need to carry the game. This often leaves Mouse to fend for himself in the top lane. INTZ showed that this can be exploited by a talented and aggressive top-jungle combo.

It’ll be interesting to see if the other teams in Group C, H2k and AHQ, will try to implement a similar strategy against the Chinese powerhouse, or if EDG will take steps to counter this strategy in future games. The junglers for both AHQ and H2k, Mountain and Jankos, are also known for their early aggression on the map, with Jankos participating in over 81% of his team’s kills during the Summer Split, and Mountain’s performance being the primary reason for AHQ’s success at the LMS regional qualifiers. With that said, H2k looked very lost in its macro play against AHQ, slowly hemorrhaging an early-game lead through a series of picks in the mid-game.

What it means for INTZ…

Teams will no longer be sleeping on them as a wildcard team. With the success of past wildcard seeds, especially from Brazil, INTZ should not have been slept on. But I think most people were considering this mainly from the perspective of H2k and AHQ, who were seen as the teams competing for second place in the group (with EDG being the number one). INTZ looked stronger than H2k did against better competition with the gold lead they acquired early. INTZ did a better job of getting deep vision within EDG’s jungle and using it to determine whether Revolta and Yang could generate another pick onto Mouse, and turn that into an objective.

What it means for H2k…

In contrast to INTZ, H2k didn’t get any wards into AHQ’s jungle with their early tower lead. This allowed AHQ to generate some key picks on Forgiven and Ryu, allowing them to break down H2k’s outer ring of turrets and begin their comeback. In their game against INTZ tomorrow, they will have to ensure that Jankos and Odoamne can compete against Yang and Revolta in the laning phase. As we saw back in H2k’s playoff series against Splyce, Odoamne can be incredibly dominant when given the chance to succeed, but can also be pushed around when being consistently camped by the enemy jungler. On paper, H2k should still have the advantage here, and they should do well to remember that and keep their confidence up. It comes down primarily to their macro-level execution during the mid game, which proved to be their downfall against AHQ.

What it means for AHQ…

They need to continue to look to improve on their early game play. EDG, and even INTZ (if their first game was any indication), will not make the same macro mistakes in the mid-game that allowed AHQ to claw their way back into game one vs. H2k. Mountain should look to employ the same strategy that INTZ executed against EDG, get top lane ahead, and have that success flow into the bottom lane to disrupt Deft and Meiko. An and Albis were at a sizeable deficit in the laning phase against Forgiven and Vander, whereas Deft and Meiko straight up killed micaO and Jockster in a 2v2. Deft would certainly have run away with the game if Revolta didn’t initiate a 3v2 dive in the bottom lane a little after six minutes. Mountain has been the key to this team’s success since the regional matches, and he’ll have to continue to step up big if he wants to lead his team out of the now very interesting Group C. It should give Mountain confidence, however, that Clearlove appeared to be off his game against INTZ, not ever being in a position to help out his top lane or snowball his bottom lane in the early game.

I still think EDG will recover and win the group, but it now leaves a lot of questions open concerning the second place spot in the group. But it now begs the question of how strong they are in the spectrum of Worlds in its entirety? While ROX also exhibited some early game miscues, they quickly recovered and steamrolled their wildcard seed, Albus Nox Luna. Many people see EDG as one of the favorites to play the tournament favorite ROX Tigers in the Finals. We’ll see if this game causes analysts to change their tunes after week one of groups concludes.

Image result for intz

Brazil’s INTZ threw a major wrench in the Group C dynamic, upsetting the clear favorite EDward Gaming on the first day of games. Photo courtesy of intz.com

CoD World League: Week Six, Day Two

CoD World League had another exciting night. Tomorrow we see the epic matchup of FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming. (Photo Courtesy: CWL YouTube)

CoD World League had another exciting night. Tomorrow we see the epic matchup of FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming. (Photo Courtesy: CWL YouTube)

After last night’s action, we move into another important date for several teams. It’s important for the teams at the bottom to start immediately gaining momentum. The teams in the middle work to separate the contenders from the pretenders. And the teams at the top work to secure the top seeds for the Stage Two Finals.

Luminosity Gaming (3-6) 9th v.s. Cloud9 (4-5) 8th

This game was one that would pit the new roster of LG against C9. Could LG find a way to close the gap on the 3-6 record? A win for LG would move them into the sought after top eight.

It all started with a huge HardPoint matchup. LG cemented their dominance early with a blowout, 250-121. Nameless paced the action by finishing 35-22, adding 1:14 in the hardpoint. The ultimate difference came in the slaying department. Not a single LG player dropped below 1.0; the team finished with a 1.24 Kill/Death ratio. For C9 it was the complete opposite; only one player (Assault, 1.19) finished above the 1.0 mark. The team finished with a 0.80 K/D.

In the Search and Destroy, LG would play a man down. Studyy had connection issues, and it was a 3-v.s.-4 for LG. It wouldn’t matter. A 6-2 win was over almost before it started. Nameless,11-4 K/D, and Spacely, 12-5, carried LG to an easy victory, despite being outnumbered. Again, the 1.93 K/D for LG compared to the 0.56 K/D for C9 would be the decisive stat.

Finally finding the slaying they were searching for, Cloud9 out slayed the opposition in the Uplink matchup. It wasn’t a wide margin, 1.06-C9 and 0.95-LG, but it was enough to gain an 11-5 win. Three carries and a throw for Silly would give him a superstar performance in the match.

The theme carried over to Capture the Flag, C9 outslaying LG 1.03-0.97. However, the result wasn’t the same. Saints and Spacely went a combined 40-26 with two flag captures. It allowed LG to hold on to a victory. For LG, it means a 2-0 week and now puts them in the hunt for the finals. So far, so good. Cloud9 shouldn’t go into panic mode yet; a good week of scrims and they should be okay.

Rise Nation (6-3) 3rd v.s. H2K (6-3) 4th

Rise Nation fell from its first place slot and went into the match looking to avoid its first 0-2 week of the stage. H2K was looking to push itself above Rise and get directly in line for the top of the standings.

The first map, HardPoint on Stronghold, would be an absolute slugfest between two of the top teams. It was back and forth all the way through the first rotation of hills; Rise held a narrow 114-96 lead. Starting the next set of hills, it would change for just a moment. Rise would dominate the middle hill and take an 114-107 lead, pushing that to 185-109 on the Bottom Mansion Hill. Rise set that up by a well-timed push to gain spawns, they forced the spawn up to the top mansion and gained a significant lead. Rise would start to make things close in Rock Alley; they narrowed it to 185-159. Continuing to push momentum, H2K had a good set of kills in the Bunker Hill. The 80 point lead was narrowed to a 221-211 lead. However, another great rotation from Rise enabled them to close the map out at the Middle Hill, winning 250-211.

The biggest difference early was Rise stepping up in the slay category. Loony and Slacked on the first and fourth hills had big moments. It was Loony extending a streak to nine from Rocks to Bunker. That gave Rise Nation valuable score. Loony ended up on top for Rise; he finished 38-27 with 1:19 in the hill.

SnD has been a good mode for both teams this year, but more so for H2K. Despite the apparent advantage for H2K, it appeared as if the Casters were split to begin it. Mr. X was expecting a 2-0 Rise lead and Maven predicting a 1-1.

Starting out, Fears led the flank all the way to A-Bomb, picking up an insane snap kill on Loony and following it up with a nice kill on Loony. He’d get the defuse, and it was 1-0 H2K. From there Phizzurp

Phizzurp played a huge role for H2K when they were slaying. It was too little too late, however. (Photo Courtesy H2K)

Phizzurp played a huge role for H2K when they were slaying. It was too little too late, however. (Photo Courtesy H2K)

would put his backpack on and jump to an eight kill streak. It was 4-0 before things had even started. He would get full streaks in the process, and that would enable them to only lose one round. Rise looked uncomfortable the entire time. It would end with Lacefield picking up two final round P0-6 kills and Legal getting a two piece to finish off a good team win.

H2K would outslay Rise by a few more kills. However, they couldn’t score in the first half of Uplink. Rise did most of the scoring. Utilization of their specialists was key, scoring four points thanks to camo and overdrive. They added another point thanks to a nice cross map, from trains to front barn, pass from Loony. It allowed Rise to lead 5-0 at half.

H2K was able to drop three of Rise’s players and get an easy camo dunk to narrow the lead to only three; the slaying was finally playing out. Slacked countered with his nice play, using his kinetic armor and getting a nice throw. Rise would rebound it back to a dunk and gain an 8-2 lead with two minutes remaining. Phizzurp and Legal hit their throws. It was 9-4 with a minute left. Loony’s final overdrive dunk put them up 11-4, and that would be it. Rise was up 2-1 heading into CTF.

The CTF would be a total annihilation by Rise. They outslay H2K 67-56, giving them the K/D advantage 1.20 to 0.82. That enabled them to retain total control of the map and finish H2K off, 3-1. Seven flag returns marked the death nail for H2K. Rise avoided the two-loss week.

FaZe Clan (6-2) 1st v.s. Team SoloMid (1-8) 12th

This match was expected to be all FaZe all the time. However, the opening HardPoint was not exactly as predicted. FaZe got all they could handle and TSM nearly pulled off an unprecedented upset.

FaZe would eventually outslay TSM 120-98. Looking purely at that stat, you’d expect a dominate performance. But it was much more back and forth. FaZe would dominate in off-hill kills, but some timely plays and anchoring from TSM allowed them to keep the match within 20. The final score would end up, 250-238. Enable led the way for FaZe; he finished it up on top with kills 38-24, adding 1:40 in the hill. For TSM, it’ll be a wasted opportunity. FaZe, as per the usual, will be upset that they were on top slaying but allowed the opponent stay close enough to do damage; that strategy won’t work tomorrow night against OpTic Gaming.

TSM may have gained some momentum. They would take a 2-1 lead, winning both defensive rounds, and they shut down FaZe’s pushes both times. FaZe would win both of its defensive rounds, and early on, it was 2-2. Both teams were trying to find that first offensive win. Whea7s and Attach led both teams at 5-3 through four rounds.

Clayster made a nice finish to the fifth round and FaZe took its first offensive round. Back-to-back wins by FaZe, they had control 4-2. In a 2-v-1, Attach had the chance to give FaZe a huge lead. However, after tagging up one player top glass, he would drop on the rush. Ivy would get two kills and take home the tying round for TSM. Just as FaZe had the chance to run away, they let TSM back in it. Zooma gave FaZe Nation a sigh of relief as he shut down Ivy’s chance to clutch a 1-v-2. Ivy was last left again, this time, he finished things off and to Round 11 the map went. Ivy left with a 1-v-3 to win it, would take one out. However, with two still up, they defused the bomb, and Ivy was seconds late from securing a TSM upset. Two maps slipped through, and FaZe was in control 2-0.

A 3-14 start from Ivy and ColeChan allowed FaZe to jump to 4-0 at the outset. On the flipside, Zooma and Attach started 21-7, both double positive. FaZe typically slays with the best of them, and in Uplink, it allowed them to keep the push going. TSM cut into the momentum with a one point throw. However, kinetic armor would benefit FaZe near the end as they drove in and finished with another dunk. 6-1 at the half.

ColeChan got a sneaky move around Back Grandmas to get an opening dunk for TSM it allowed them to cut into the momentum and attempt a rally. Another throw would make it 6-4. It was Ivy flipping his K/D to positive. He slayed and led TSM into a close game. But they couldn’t continue the push. Another FaZe dunk coupled with map control made it 8-4, a two-possession game again. A throw and good overextension made it a three-point game for TSM. After TSM had dropped four, Whea7s was forced to hold spawns. He was effective for a second, killing three. But a nice kinetic coupled with a three streak from FaZe made it 10-5. A late dunk made it 10-7, yet it was too little too late, and FaZe pulled out a 3-0 victory.

For the match, FaZe won the slay, 246-197. It was a big game by FaZe in that category, but they still have work to do.

Dream Team (6-3) 5th v.s. OpTic Gaming (6-2) 2nd

With FaZe winning, OpTic needs a win to remain atop CWL. Dream Team could boost itself above OG and several others with a win; that’d put them in the running for a top-two seed. A big week for OpTic started with this match against Dream Team.

OG would start things in traditional fashion. They trailed early, 31-26 through two hills. That could be credited to Crimsix’s 1-7 start. After that, he’d go on a tear. A 12-3 run would give OG the 96-40 lead. They continued to push and through the first rotation, it was 133-51. Scump was 19-10 and Crim rebounded to 16-13. From there, OG never slowed. They’d win it on the final hill of the second rotation, 250-122 in a total blowout. Scump’s 41-24 performance echoed his 50-bomb two weeks ago on the same map.

In SnD, OpTic came to play. Jumping to a 5-0 lead thanks to Formal’s snipes and Scump’s VMP damage. They were electric up and down the board. Scump finished 10-3 and Formal finished 7-5. Near the end, two rounds were salvaged by DT. It was all for not and OG would close out the win, 6-2.

A quick opening salvo was fired by OG. Formal started 4-0 and OG had a throw just as the game started. DT countered by quickly slaying all four OG players and moving into top barn. It took them 15 seconds to get the throw, but they were able to equalize the map. Despite the quick start and overwhelmingly dominant map control OG displayed, they could only scrape across a last second throw. A half that looked offensive to start, turned into a defensive round. It was 2-1 at half.

Crimsix, Scump, and Formal’s Scythe enabled OG to get another quick throw. Having nice map control, it again looked like it could be another set piece for OpTic. However, good defensive kills by DT allowed them to stop the charge down 3-1. A tempest and map control by DT allowed them to skirt a pair of dunks in. The only way to beat it was to try and push an overextension. They pushed it and slayed their base out. That allowed Formal to get another barn throw and cooled the DT aggression down. An amazing camo play by Crimsix gave him a dunk in the face of two DT defenders. In a flurry of scoring, OG took the 6-5 lead.

For the next two minutes it was back and forth battles at bricks. A missed throw from OG turned into a counter push from Sender and DT. Chino picked the ball up deep in the base and took it all the way to tin, giving it to Killa. Killa used his camo perfectly and took it to top grandmas. He juked out OpTic and, despite being one shot, got the dunk for the 7-6 lead. With 20 seconds remaining, DT threw the ball on top of bricks for a 15 second reset and it gave them an incredible win in Uplink.

Crimsix was key in the pivotal first map. Hardpoint was close until a huge turnaround from Crim allowed them to take the win. (Photo Courtesy: CWL OG)

Crimsix was key in the pivotal first map. Hardpoint was close until a huge turnaround from Crim allowed them to take the win. (Photo Courtesy: CWL OG)

Crimsix and Scump started out 8-3 and 7-3 respectively giving OG the map control needed to secure the maps first capture. The 1-0 lead would quickly extend to 2-0 after OG fought a couple of kills and won the spawn battle to comfortable the flag through the middle of the map. At half, OG led 2-0 and felt comfortable. It looked like a 3-1 series win was in order. Sender was able to slay near cages to give DT its first capture. Another capture came from DT when they pushed through Greenhouse. OpTic tried the overextension but was just seconds late. Scump dropped to 14-15 at one point after the game drew even. With both flags out, Karma had to get to the DT side of the map. A nice jumping kill and return would give OG a 3-2 lead. Coupling on that they’d get one more capture and take a 4-2 lead with 40 seconds left, that was all she wrote for DT.

OpTic and FaZe will now play for sole possession of first place tomorrow night in the match of the week at 9:00 P.M.

Team EnVyUs (6-3) 4th v.s. compLexity Gaming (2-7) 11th

coL came into the series as the overwhelming underdogs. They’d shed that title in the first map. Many of the casters expected them to come alive in SnD, if at all. But they’d have none of it.

coL led the entire way, never trailing at the end of a hill. Early on it was slaying from outside of the hill that allowed them to wrack up a big 83-48 lead. Jkap started 3-9, and the lack of slaying would continue for EnVy throughout the map. Ricky starting 13-7 and Parasite starting 16-6 pushed the lead to 114-55. In the first Bunker Hill, Ricky would get five Purifier kills and allow the team to lead 139-82. Rotating through, coL continued the push. On the Middle Hill, Slasher and EnVy would try and start the comeback.

On the Middle Hill, Slasher and EnVy would try and start the recovery. An aggressive Scythe would allow him to get four kills and make it 146-119. But just as they got in it, Ricky turned it on again. At 27-15 with 1:26 in the hill through seven HardPoints, he was clearly dominating. It would get as close as 187-161 on Bunker Hill. But once again, a 232-186 lead was pushed via the purifier. Goonjar finished things up with three tempest kills and in the 11th hill, the game ended 250-217.

coL won the first round to start the SnD. However, they did it differently than most; they won on offense. Parasite’s quick 4-0 start and Goonjar getting a round ending kill allowed them to jump out 2-0. With that, coL smelled blood. They came alive and looked like a renewed team. Parasite getting another round winning kill, coupled with Slasher’s 0-3 start made it a quick 3-0 deficit for EnVy. Parasite and Goon combined to start 10-2 for coL.

A 3-v-1 against Parasite would enable EnVy to get an easy win and stop the bleeding momentarily. EnVy got a nice boost from Jkap, and they cut the lead to 3-2, but a dropped sixth round gave Parasite and coL the 4-2 lead.

Slasher’s wall run to water allowed him to take the first two out for EnVy. Goonjar was quickly in a 1-v-3; he’d cut one down and nearly get a second, but it wasn’t to happen. EnVy worked on staying close, just trying to find an offensive strike. A 4-4 tie would follow, and it was a best of three between the two teams. The three-round winning streak for EnVy put them up 5-4; all of a sudden, coL was in danger of choking the 2-0 series lead.

A first-blood nade from Parasite made round 10 interesting, but coL would unsuccessfully rotate after Parasite was gunned down near A. An HC-XD kill on Goonjar would allow EnVy to take the 3-2 advantage and close it out. MirX 1-9 SnD will certainly make coL fans scratch their head.

A quick smoke out and dunk from coL was huge for the momentum for the team. If they could get Uplink going, that would be a giant swing for the rest of the season. Parasite continued the push, and MirX won his gun fight out of tin, it allowed coL to put EnVy on its heels. Looking lost, a heave over barn missed keeping EnVy on the backside of the momentum. But Apathy wouldn’t stop after the missed throw, 20 seconds later he pushed through for a dunk and it was 3-2, the lead was all but evaporated. One of the most important plays of the season was Parasite camoing and dunking the ball; it was the first time coL had been able to push through the lines since the first push. It was a little resiliency that has been absent all season from the team.

As EnVy continued the push, Goonjar jumped for an interception but was quickly slain by John. It ended up hurting coL as EnVy got the two-point dunk over the one-point throw. Parasite held the ball under the Uplink for three seconds to allow his team to position itself; he would finish with a dunk. He didn’t hold it long enough, and JKap would get a camo dunk with only three seconds remaining. It was 8-7 at the half.

Using Scythe, Heatwave, and Tempest, EnVy pushed up the map to get a dunk. It burned all of the EnVy specialists, but they did convert successfully. Parasite’s ring-around-the-Rosie in trains and throw to back rocks allowed his team to spawn in and thwart the EnVy counter-push. MirX and Parasite pushed to mid-map control and threw the long one-pointer up, but missed. It was back to even, as both teams fought for map control. coL would gain control and pass to Top Barn for Parasite. He used his camo as he jumped out, but an EMP killed his camo, and he was killed before scoring, it was a pivotal play. coL, showing more resiliency, pushed forward again for another throw. Game tied at nine with 1:30 left. Continuing the push, CoL dunked it, and a three-point swing gave them the 11-9 lead. With 17 seconds left, Goonjar sealed the win with a throw. Just before the end, a camo dunk from parasite made it a 14-9 win.

Without the SnD loss, it would’ve been a 3-0 coL win.

It was a story of Goonjar in the first round of CTF. Goon’s six kill streak and a capture would allow him to gain his tempest and full streaks. Continuing the streak in the second round, Goon would get an eight streak rolling as he added another capture to take the lead 3-1. John would get back to the coL base and end the streak at nine for Goon. However, that wouldn’t allow EnVy to capture. coL was complacent with turtling and protecting its flag. Parasite got a capture and flag carrier kill; Goonjar would pick up the flag and kill after Parasite went down. He’d get his third capture of the map, and it was 4-1, advantage coL.

Of EnVyUs’ losses, they’ve lost to the worst teams TSM and coL now. The other two came against the top two, FaZe and OpTic. EnVy’s hot streak came to a disappointing end, 3-1.

Tomorrow night, 100 Thieves (2-7) will play against Team eLevate (5-4) at 5 P.M. EST.

The match of the week is for first place. OpTic Gaming (7-2) will battle FaZe Clan (7-2)at 9 P.M. EST on Twitch.Tv.

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