north america's prophecy

Worlds 2017: North America’s prophecy

Week Two of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship brought miracle comebacks and rookie hype. While some records were broken, others remained.

North America’s prophecy rang true; The North American representatives combined for a meager 2-9 record in Week Two of groups. With a history of defeat, what can explain NA’s consistently poor showings at Worlds? Do the players and teams suffer from some mental block? Or, is NA doomed to their prophetic losses year and again?

NA Hopes and Memes

north america's prophecy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Each year it sounds like a broken record. “North America looks really good this year. The region is a lot more competitive this time around,” they say.

Yet, NA teams never seem to show up when it counts. At Worlds 2015, all three NA representatives failed to advance beyond group stage. Worlds 2016, only Cloud 9 (C9) moved on to quarters before falling to tournament finalists Samsung Galaxy (SSG). This year, analysts had Immortals (IMT) and Team SoloMid (TSM) as heavy favorites to advance coming into Week Two of groups. Still, the North American representatives crumbled under the pressure. Cloud 9, again, was the only team to survive.

It seems that despite the progress North America seems to make, their teams consistently fail to perform on the international stage. Domestic competition grows, but nothing translates come time for Worlds. This trend carried over the past several years, developing into a widely used meme: NA in Week Two. Week Two of group stages has often been NA’s ‘Achilles heel’. The worst part? The results do not lie.

Last week, Immortals only needed to win one of four games to secure themselves a quarterfinals spot. Instead, they crumbled to Fnatic (FNC) in an unparalleled run for the European squad. Team SoloMid fell to rookie squad Misfits Gaming (MSF) in a tiebreaker match that silenced thousands of NA hopefuls, begging the question: is North America’s prophecy a matter of fact, or has the meme grown so large that NA teams succumb to pressure on social media?

NA’s Kryptonite: Prophecies or adaptation?

north america's prophecy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

One of the greatest benefits of participating in the World Championship is team growth. Many Worlds teams show remarkable improvement after the first week of group stage. Misfits Gaming, for example, had several clear weaknesses in Week One. Their bottom lane was susceptible to early pressure in their loss against Team WE. Transitioning into Week Two, MSF’s AD-carry Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and support Donggeun “Ignar” Lee played with a measured aggression that shined through their tiebreaker victory over TSM.

On the other hand, TSM’s most glaring weakness throughout the tournament was an inability to apply early pressure. Instead, TSM relied on a passive playstyle and scaling focused compositions. In fact, TSM’s affinity to float through the first fifteen minutes of a game led to zero first bloods in all seven of their games. Coming into Week Two, it was time to see if TSM fixed these issues. Team WE drafted an aggressive early-game focused composition meant to push TSM out of their usual scaling, late-game comfort. Team SoloMid failed to adapt as WE crushed them in 24 minutes.

TSM showed no signs of growth coming into their Week Two matches. In their games, jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and mid-laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg played uncharacteristically restrained, unwilling to take risks or pressure aggressively. This lack of proactive early shot-calling proved that TSM made little progress fixing their week one problems. Similarly, with Immortals, their opponents in Fnatic and GIGABYTE Marines (GAM) both made huge strides in improving their gameplay while IMT clung to their week one formula. These two North American teams showed little growth coming into the second week of Worlds 2017.

Can C9 Smash North America’s Prophecy?

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Unlike TSM, Cloud 9 demonstrated a clear ability to adapt to meta changes on the fly. In addition, C9 successfully indexed on early aggressive playstyles carried out primarily by rookie jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia. After seeing Team WE pull out the first “Caitlyn” of the tournament, C9 was quick and unafraid to experiment with the champion in a high-pressure match against ahq eSports Club (AHQ). With C9 AD-carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi looking increasingly in form, and Contractz overperforming at his first Worlds appearance, the momentum looks good for C9.

However, their quarterfinal opponents in Team WE also look to be rallying with the home crowd booming behind them. Both teams boast aggressive, carry-oriented junglers. So far at Worlds, we have seen Contractz and WE’s jungler RenJie “Condi” Xiang on champions like “Ezreal,” “Kha,zix” and “Graves.” These high risk, high damage junglers will define the early game between these two rosters. How will Contractz, a rookie, fair against a more seasoned jungler in Condi?

In a post-game interview, Contractz spoke to confidence as a crucial part of C9’s mindset coming into every match. With no time to worry about North America’s prophecy or endless memes, Cloud 9 is looking to show up big at Worlds 2017. As the most consistent North American team on an international stage, C9 carries the weight of an entire region coming into quarterfinals. Will this iteration of Cloud 9 be the one to break this cursed prophecy?


 

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Gigabyte Marines: Orchestrated chaos

GIGABYTE Marines (GAM) debuted on the international stage at the League of Legends 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. Their blitzkrieg playstyle and unconventional strategies surprised several major-region teams, earning international recognition overnight. After securing a top-six finish, the Marines dominated their region, the Garena Premier League (GPL), and charged toward Worlds.

The Marines drew into Group B at Worlds 2017, along regional powerhouses: Longzhu Gaming (LZ), Immortals (IMT) and Fnatic (FNC). Their notoriety on the international stage meant teams and analysts could not write them off as another ‘wildcard’ team. After week one of the Worlds Group Stage, GAM sit at third place in their group, with a 1-2 match record. How did GIGABYTE find initial success? And can they surge into week two to capture a spot in quarterfinals?

GIGABYTE Marines evoke chaos style

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Heading into their first match at Worlds 2017, questions circled around how GIGABYTE Marines would size up against European powerhouse Fnatic. Determined to make a statement at their Worlds debut, GIGABYTE defied the meta. After locking in an unexpected “Nocturne” for their star jungler, Duy Khanh “Levi” Do, GAM took Fnatic for a spin.

Coming into the game, GAM transitioned their AD-carry and Support topside. Meanwhile, their top-laner Minh Nhut “Archie” Tran sacrificed his early levels to accelerate Levi‘s experience advantage. When Archie showed himself bottom, Fnatic responded appropriately, but fumbled the execution. FNC stacked four members onto Archie‘s Galio in a bottom dive. However, this left GIGABYTE’s duo free to rush the opposing top-outer tower. FNC failed to completely punish the lane-swap. Instead, they returned to their standard lane setup while Levi power-farmed his jungle.

Then, at 5:04, Levi broke a record, being the fastest player in Worlds history to unlock his ultimate. Archie‘s early sacrifice set his jungler up for monumental success. And Levi sprung to action. Not twenty seconds after hitting level six, Levi used his ultimate, “Paranoia” straight down bottom lane. Caught in a massive level mismatch, FNC’s support Jesse “Jesiz” Le dropped while his teammates scrambled to respond. What began as a surprise 2-on-2, became FNC committing four members to the fight. Despite the numbers, Levi secured three kills and GIGABYTE set the pace to ‘chaos’.

After a 24-minute bloodbath, GIGABYTE emerged victorious. The air was electric as casters and fans roared behind the Marines’ explosive win. Not only did GAM dominate their European opponents, they made a definitive statement on the metagame. Levi, in an interview with Worlds host Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere, promised to bring even more exciting strategies against Longzhu and Immortals.

The Marines hit a brick wall

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Heading into day two of the Worlds group stage, GAM sat across from Longzhu Gaming, tournament favorites and Korea’s prize first seed. What unforeseen strategy did the Marines have planned to challenge the Korean powerhouse? GAM head coach Nguyen Duy Thanh “Tinikun” Doung reached deep into his playbook for the upcoming match.

The draft between GAM and LZ began surprisingly safe, until Tinikun made the call to lock in “Mordekaiser” for Archie. GIGABYTE plunge deeper into the rabbit hole, rotating their AD-carry Vu Long “Noway” Nguyen mid-lane and placing their mid-laner Van Cuong “Optimus” Tran topside. Few knew what to expect out of GAM’s questionable composition, but Longzhu had a definitive game-plan coming into the match.

Longzhu invaded as five into GAM’s blue jungle quadrant, warding all possible paths to bottom lane. This gave Longzhu information on GIGABYTE’s lane assignments and a glimpse into the GAM strategy. By pivoting Archie and support Thien Nhan “Nevan” Phuong to the bottom lane, the Marines delivered the duo to their deaths. Longhzu, spotting this weakness, executed a clean four-man dive to secure first blood. After dropping to the early dive, Archie commits a crucial mistake, using his “Teleport” bottom, only to be dove again. This poor call set the GAM top-laner so far behind, he never truly recovered.

With their bottom duo limping through the early-game, step one of GIGABYTE’s grandiose strategy crumbled. Suddenly, the game became a steamroll for Longzhu. Archie was largely ineffective on the “Mordekaiser” pick and GAM struggled to trade objectives effectively during the mid-game. Without the early minutes of the game going according to plan, GIGABYTE Marines fell apart and could not seem to pick up the pieces.

Do the GIGABYTE Marines abandon ship?

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

After their crushing defeat at the hands of Longzhu Gaming, GAM look onto their third match against North America’s second seed, Immortals. Questions surrounded the Marines as analysts and teams dissected their previous matches. Without precise early execution, GIGABYTE could not seem to regain control of their game. It was clear. Teams that recognized GAM’s early objectives could capitalize on those weaknesses. No doubt Immortals prepared for GAM’s signature lane-swaps, but would the Marines shift to another strategy instead?

GIGABYTE Marines had a particularly weak draft, handing over the “Xayah” and “Rakan” duo to the Immortals bot-lane. Perhaps worse, rather than executing a unique strategy, GAM opted into standard lanes. Aside from an aggressive “Kayn” lock-in for Levi and Nevan running “Heal” and “Ignite” for his summoner spells, the GAM draft was largely underwhelming. Unlike their previous games, GIGABYTE did not have an explosive start. Without securing an early lead, the Marines struggle to play from behind. Once Immortals built up their advantages, IMT pushed those leads into a clean victory.

This third game looked grim for the GIGABYTE Marines. Rather than playing to their unique styles, they revealed glaring weaknesses in their standard compositions and ability to play at a disadvantage. Now, several questions bubble to the surface. Did the defeat from Longzhu shake team morale? Will GIGABYTE have the confidence to execute their unique strategies? Fans can speculate, but it is up to team captain Levi and coach Tinikun to steady their ship. As week two of the Worlds 2017 group stage barrels forward, the GIGABYTE Marines must recollect and march on.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Fnatic qualified for Group Stage from Play-in Stage

Fnatic’s possibilities for the rest of Worlds

The third seed from the EU LCS, Fnatic, has successfully qualified for the Group Stage of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship. By placing first in their play-in group and defeating Hong Kong Attitude in the play-in knockout, Fnatic enters into the main event. They join G2 and Misfits as Europe’s international representatives.

Play-In Stage Recap

Fnatic beat HKA in play-ins knockout

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic’s play-in stage was not perfect. They dropped a best-of-one to Young Generation, second seed from the GPL. Young Generation was also able to build a 2,500 gold lead in their first match-up, although Fnatic did ultimately win.

Against Kaos Latin Gamers, representatives of LAS, Fnatic handily won both games. The European squad was able to accrue near-10,000 gold leads twice in less than 26 minutes. Fnatic fans should be proud of these performances.

Moving on to face Hong Kong Attitude, Fnatic showed a bit of both worlds. In game one, HKA held the advantage for about 29 minutes. Fnatic turned things around by scoring a pick-off of Godkwai and turning it into a Baron. Then, in Fnatic fashion, they continued pressing through the next five minutes to close the game.

Whether due to HKA tilting or Fnatic adaptation, the next two games stayed favorable for Fnatic all the way through. While Broxah and Soaz remained on tanky disruptors throughout the series, Fnatic’s bottom lane showed some variation. Rekkles and Jesiz executed Xayah-Janna, Xayah-Karma, and Sivir-Rakan. Caps excelled over the series on Cassiopeia and Taliyah. This combination, Rekkles and Caps as scaling AD and AP carries, Broxah and Soaz on hefty initiators and Jesiz abusing Ardent Censer supports, seems to be Fnatic’s sweet spot.

Fnatic’s best bet is to continue drafting towards these compositions. Putting Soaz on Cho’Gath or carries, such as Rumble, Jarvan IV, etc. is not ideal. Broxah has historically performed well on Elise, but when Fnatic does not close the game in less than 40 minutes the pick becomes useless. Jesiz is in a similar boat, where he can perform on Braum, Thresh, and even Camille support, but the meta strongly favors enchanter supports who can abuse the strength of Ardent Censer.

Possibility #1: Group A

Group A consists of EDG, SKT, and AHQ

Image from RiftHerald.com

Assuming Cloud9, Fnatic, Fenerbahce, and Team WE qualify for the Group Stage, Fnatic has two widely varying paths. In one scenario, Fnatic is drafted into Group A with EDG, SKT and AHQ. If that happens, then Fnatic might as well consider their 2017 Worlds run over, because the competition in this group is fierce.

AHQ

AHQ is most likely a reasonable opponent for Fnatic, based on their perceived power level over HKA as the LMS’ second seed. The LMS squad has been to the World Championship on multiple occasions, and they have essentially maintained their entire roster from last year. Westdoor is acting as the mid lane substitute, with Chawy on the starting line-up.

The worrying match-up against AHQ would be top lane. This LMS squad is more likely to draft a winning match-up for Ziv, mixed with a high-tempo jungler for Mountain. For example, it would not be surprising to see a Camille-Kha’Zix or Renekton-Elise. The trade-off, though, would be for bottom lane match-ups, which would benefit Fnatic. AN is put on Ashe or Caitlyn more than Tristana, Xayah, or Kog’Maw.

SKT

SKT is another second seed team in Group A. The Korean team’s reputation speaks for itself, and Fnatic should fear this opponent. Faker may just be the perfect veteran mid laner to shut down young Caps, and the Bang-Wolf bottom lane duo unquestionably matches Rekkles and Jesiz.

The big deciding factor in this match-up would be top lane. Huni is such a wildcard. It is hard to tell if he will be able to stomp Soaz and solo carry, or become a liability. SKT will also bring two junglers, so if Peanut or Blank fails to stuff Broxah, then they have a back-up. Fnatic’s top and jungle will be put to the test, yet again.

EDG

EDG is at the head of the table for Group A as China’s first seed. This is almost certain to be a jungle-mid contest. Clearlove is one of the most touted junglers appearing on the Worlds stage and Scout throws some serious fast balls. Both of these players enjoy similar champion pools to Caps and Broxah, as well.

Mouse and iBoy could be EDG’s weak points. Mouse was left on a supreme island at last year’s World Championship, and EDG’s opponents punished them for it. Fnatic could try to give Soaz a winning match-up, such as Gnar or Jayce, to hinder that position. While iBoy is a hot rookie, he is untested on such a pivotal stage. He will rely heavily on Meiko’s leadership for success.

If Fnatic is placed in Group A, it may be the greatest challenge they have faced all year. SKT and EDG should be tougher than Misfits and G2, Fnatic’s greatest competition in Europe. Every member of the team will be tested, unlike the Play-In stage. Hopefully they will avoid this scenario.

Scenario #2: Group B

Group B consists of Longzhu, IMT, and GAM

Image from RiftHerald.com

Since G2 is in Group C and Misfits is in Group D, then Fnatic’s only other possibility is Group B. These match-ups would most likely be more favorable for Fnatic making it to the next stage. Immortals, Longzhu and Gigabyte Marines would be their opponents.

Gigabyte Marines

Everyone remembers the Gigabyte Marines from their performance at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational. Their primary weapons are their jungler, Levi, and mid laner, Optimus. Levi generally opts into carrying from the jungle. Lee Sin, Nidalee, Kha’Zix, and Graves are right in his wheelhouse. Do not be surprised to see him draft an Ezreal. Optimus sometimes pairs with an assassin, such as Fizz or Leblanc, but he can also pull out Syndra, Taliyah, etc.

Fnatic should be able to match up against this team, but remember their time with Young Generation, GPL’s second seed. If Fnatic’s players come into this match-up without respect for their opponents, the Marines will gladly stifle Broxah from the jungle. The EU LCS third seed should play around Rekkles and bottom lane to win these matches with ease, but there is a world where GAM blows them out of the water.

Immortals

North America’s second seed showed up this summer, taking TSM to four games in the finals. They rely heavily on the dynamic support staff of Xmithie and Olleh, who love to show up in every lane and enable Flame, Pobelter, and Cody Sun. In the current meta, Cody Sun is Immortals’ highest ceiling damage dealer. Pobelter and Flame are consistent laners who slowly build leads over their opponents, only to use their advantages in teamfights.

It is hard to say which team has the advantage between Fnatic and Immortals. The deciding factor will probably be in the support position, actually. Olleh is exceptional on play-making supports, such as Rakan, Alistar, and Thresh. He is more likely to leave the bottom lane and impact other areas earlier and more frequently. Jesiz needs to strap on his Boots of Mobility to stand a chance.

Longzhu

Korea’s first seed, and the most hyped team coming into Worlds, is Fnatic’s trade-off for facing IMT and GAM in Group B. Longzhu is one of the only teams in the tournament that legitimately outclasses Fnatic in every role. Khan, Bdd and Pray are more apt to dominate lane than Soaz, Caps or Rekkles. Gorilla outclasses Jesiz, and Cuzz is the glue that holds it all together. As they say, jungling is easy when you have all three winning lanes.

Fnatic’s strategy could involve preparing much more for GAM and IMT than Longzhu. All they need to do is finish the Group Stage in second place to move on to the next round. If Fnatic is to beat Longzhu, it would need to be in the hands of veterans Soaz and Rekkles. They would need to draft winning match-ups for Broxah and Caps, then hold their own against some of the top League of Legends players currently in the game.

From there, the rest is too speculative to really analyze. Discussing the quarterfinals and beyond would involve lots of assumptions that would probably be wrong. At this point, we know Fnatic is in the Group Stage, and we know that they will slot in either Group A or Group B. Many already viewed Fnatic as an international contender, but their stumbling in the EU LCS playoffs and the Worlds Play-in leaves some with doubt. If they are able to be in Group B with GAM, IMT, and Longzhu, then they could be set up to make a deep run into the entire tournament.

2017 World Championships groups

Image from LoLesports.com


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, RiftHerald.com, LoLesports.com

Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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Worlds 2017 group B preview

It’s that time of year again for League of Legends fans. The Worlds 2017 group draw has concluded and we can start getting excited to see some of the best teams from around the World face off in some heated matches. The group draw has been vital in just how far a team can go at Worlds. Group B has a nice mix of Worlds veterans and rookies. Let’s take a look:

Longzhu Gaming

Top: Khan

Jungle: Cuzz

Mid: BDD

ADC: Pray

Support: Gorilla

Longzhu Gaming took the summer split title of LCK after defeating SK Telecom T1 3-1 in the finals. The way LCK sets up playoffs, we only got to see them in one best of five which was their finals match. They threw multiple bans at SKT’s mid laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok en route to winning their first LCK finals. Longzhu had the luxury of being able to watch SKT play two best of five series before facing off whereas SKT did not. Nonetheless, winning the LCK final is a major victory for a team that was bottom tier not too long ago. Winning the best region in all of League of Legends definitely pegs you as huge favorites to make it to the World Finals.

Longzhu has a good mix of seasoned veterans and hungry rookies seeing their first World championship. Pray and Gorilla have become household names at the World championship. After qualifying the past two seasons with the Rox Tigers organization, the team split up, but Pray and Gorilla insisted they stay together. They’ve developed an unstoppable bot lane synergy over three seasons together and will look to show up big once again.

One of the more exciting prospects on the team will have to be top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Khan has become known for his huge play making abilities and carry potential from the top lane. His Jayce almost always draws a ban. If left open, he shows why it is such a pocket pick for him. He was vital in their LCK final match in shutting down the top laners of SKT. Him and Cuzz showed a picture perfect strategy on how to shutdown a Cho’gath in the early game.

Mid laner Kwak “BDD” Bo-seong may be the definition of “KDA” player as he finished the LCK summer with an impressive 11.3 KDA. He loves to play assassins, but has shown the ability to play whatever his team needs.

Immortals

Worlds 2017

Photo by: Riot Games

Top: Flame

Jungle: Xmithie

Mid: Pobelter

ADC: Cody Sun

Support: Olleh

Immortals qualified for Worlds as the team with the most circuit points from North America after a second place finish in the summer playoffs. This team came out of nowhere in summer after making the trade for jungle veteran Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. Many thought Xmithie’s career was on a decline and saw him as a downgrade to former jungler, Dardoch. That was not the case as Xmithie revitalized his career on Immortals and showed to be the best jungler in NA for summer. They also brought in former Rox Tigers and Longzhu coach Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo whose coaching effects showed immediately. The team looked much improved and finished the split atop the standings. Despite losing to TSM 3-1 in a close finals, they go into Worlds looking to prove themselves for the first time on the Worlds stage.

Like Longzhu, Immortals have veterans along with some rookies showing up at Worlds. The bot lane duo of Cody Sun and Olleh will be exciting to watch. They struggled in their first split together, but have steadily improved. They have a tall task going up against the likes of Pray and Gorilla.

As a former LCK top lane star and Longzhu sub, Lee “Flame” Ho-Jong will get the chance to face off against one rising star and another veteran of the pro LoL scene in Khan and Archie. In the jungle Xmithie will need to hold down Gigabyte Marines jungler, Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh. Levi showed the ability to carry games at MSI. With the meta shifted to more supportive tank junglers, Xmithie should feel right at home.

Depending on what last team is drawn into their group, Immortals can definitely show some promise. Don’t be surprised if they are able to take a game off of Longzhu and be the second team out of this group.

Gigabyte Marines

Photo by: Riot Games

Top: Archie

Jungle: Levi

Mid: Optimus

ADC: NoWay

Support: Sya

Gigabyte Marines were able to secure a Worlds spot after helping secure a group stage spot for the GPL region after making it to the groups of MSI. They then went on to qualify in dominating fashion going 6-0 in playoffs.

Last we saw of Gigabyte Marines on the international stage they were handily defeating some of the best teams in the World. They almost took a best of five against TSM in which they led 2-0 before being reverse swept. Most of their MSI victories came off the back of phenomenal jungle performances by Levi. They busted the meta open by openly ganking bot early to get them ahead. This isn’t exactly the same team we saw at MSI. Former support, Minh “Archie” Nhựt Trần moved to the top lane as the team took on a new duo of NoWay and Sya who showed good performances in the GPL.

Top laner Archie will have some stiff competition facing off against two great top laners from Korea in Flame and Khan. With the possibility of drawing 957 or Soaz as well, the top lane competition could become even stiffer. Gigabyte Marines will most likely be looked at as huge underdogs coming in, but the same was said for them at MSI. When underestimated in best of ones, Gigabyte Marines have the chance to shock the World once again. They’ll most likely be looking to go on a run similar to Albus Nox Luna last year.

Last Team Possibilities

With a North American team already in this group, Cloud 9 cannot be placed here. That leaves Fnatic, WE and Hong Kong Attitude of LMS. If we expect all the third seeds from the major regions to advance, Fnatic and WE will be teams to watch. While Longzhu is almost certainly 100% favorites to make it out, the second seed can be a toss up depending on who gets placed here. WE and Fnatic are long time veterans of the LoL pro scene and would make this group even more competitive.

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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NA LCS Finals preview

As the NA LCS summer split finishes, we have our final two competitors: Immortals and Team SoloMid. You have Immortals who saw much success during the regular season in their first four seasons, but always failed in playoffs. Then you have the consistent veterans of TSM who are adding another NA LCS finals appearance to their legacy.

Immortals

Photo by: Riot Games

What a story it’s been for Immortals. Most people around the league had written them off as a bottom tier team. Most people saw the trade of star Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and veteran Jake “Xmithie” Puchero as a down grade in terms of skill. Xmithie has been the perfect fit for this team. He’s not afraid to sacrifice for his carries and his stats can often be overlooked.

Meanwhile, in the bot lane Cody Sun and Olleh have developed into arguably the best bot lane in North America. After a rough beginning in their first split together, they seem to have found their synergy.

The signing of head coach, Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo, has possibly been the best move of the off season. In past seasons Immortals was able to win off raw talent and skill. This led to them having tremendous regular season success, yet choking in playoffs. SSONG has come in and been an invaluable asset to the team. They finally look like they know how to translate their early game success into victories. They’re also playing much more proactive this split before making plays instead of being reactive.

Team SoloMid

Photo by: Riot Games

North America’s favorites, TSM, once again make it to another NA LCS finals. Their playoff buff is on once again as they were able to defeat Dignitas 3-1 in the semi-finals. They had some rough beginnings to start off the split, but seemed to be using the regular season to test out new playstyles.

Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is having another MVP-like split leading TSM to another final. Bjergsen will want to continue to add to his legacy with another NA LCS championship. He was constantly building massive leads in lane against Dignitas’ Keane in their semifinal match. Bjergsen finished the series with an average CSdiff@10 of 17.3. He has a much tougher opponent in Immortals’ Pobelter.

TSM have possibly two of the best carries in the west in Bjergsen and Doublelift. Doublelift returned this summer after a much needed break from professional play. The bot lane matchup will definitely be interesting to watch as Doublelift and Biofrost have become known for their strong laning phase.

 

Matchup to watch: Bot lane

Look for the bot lane to be explosive with Doublelift and Biofrost facing off against Cody Sun and Olleh. This is most definitely going to be a battle of the best two bot lanes in North America. Olleh and Biofrost have somewhat similar champion pools. Look for thresh to be a priority pick for both teams. Biofrost and Olleh have shown the ability to carry if thresh is left open.

Doublelift and Cody Sun also match up quite nicely. They’ve both been major carries for their teams. Look for some close skirmishes and 3v3’s with jungler help in the bot lane.

Prediction

Although the results don’t matter much here as both teams have qualified for Worlds as pool two seeds, they will still look to give a good showing for the fans. Prize title money and adding to their org’s legacy will also be on the line.

Based off regular season and semi finals performances, Immortals have honestly looked like the better team. This will be the first time for some of them playing in a finals match on a big stage. I think TSM’s experience gives them the edge they need, taking a close 3-2 finals and earning another NA LCS Summer Split title en route to Worlds.

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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Storylines to watch at DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017

At last year’s DreamHack Masters Malmö, Swedish fans were gifted the title they had longed for. A special performance from the Ninjas in Pyjamas caused a stir in the vibrant Malmö Arena. This time around it looks to be another spectacle, thanks to the roster-mania that took place in the player break. With the tournament kicking off tomorrow, this article will discuss some of the storylines on everyone’s minds heading into DreamHack Masters Malmö.

The high profile transfers

During the off season, FaZe Clan made two huge signings in Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson. Meanwhile, overseas Cloud9 were making waves of their own pinching Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Tarik “Tarik” Celik from OpTic Gaming. The two widely supported organizations have a lot of fans brimming with excitement heading into their first big test.

Olofmeister will don a FaZe jersey for the first time this week. [Source: HLTV]

There has been much deliberation on how FaZe Clan is going to bring this superstar team together. I believe that initially, they’ll struggle more than Cloud9. It is presumed that Håvard “rain” Nygaard will be taking on the support role. That leaves Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, Olofmeister and GuardiaN. This is where the Red Militia will struggle most. Allocating resources to all three of these players will be hard, I anticipate that NiKo will play similarly to Rain in order to give Olofmeister the space he needs to settle into the new style of calling.

Another question mark is how Finn “karrigan” Andersen will make use of GuardiaN. The Dane hasn’t played with an out and out AWPer for some time, since Aleksi “allu” Jalli was a more passive AWP, while he could leave Nicolai “device” Reedtz to his own devices before that.

Cloud9 should have an easier time making adjustments. They’ve essentially swapped firepower for more firepower. Rush is going to be the biggest difference maker. With him entry-fragging it allows Jake “Stewie2K” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta to go in second and third, rather than first. This is better for C9 since the aforementioned duo can easily win lost rounds if they are left last alive.

Rush and Tarik won ELEAGUE Season 2 together. [Source: OpTic Gaming]

In spite of that, FaZe has a stronger case for getting out of groups. They are in group C with Gambit and mousesports who’ve also made changes and the ever inconsistent Ninjas in Pyjamas. Meanwhile, NA’s hope is in group A with the unchanged SK Gaming, Valde’s North and unknown entity B.O.O.T-d[S] of Singapore. The game paramount to Cloud9’s chance will be the one versus North. If they win that they should get out of groups.

How will the major finalists fare?

Even with the PGL Major still fresh in our minds the two rosters that made the final seem far removed from what they were then. Gambit lost their prestigious leader while Immortals is reportedly suffering from internal conflict. It seems both rosters are aware their major run was a fluke.

Zeus left his major winning team to return to Na’Vi. [Source: Gfinity]

Replacing Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko on Gambit is Kazakhstani Bektiyar “Fitch” Bahytov. The player’s only notable appearance was at the Major qualifier with Tengri where they lost with an abysmal 0-3 record. It will be hard to match the presence Zeus brought to the team and with the Gambit coach also leaving for Natus Vincere it’s unlikely he’ll be able to rally the troops this early on. It seems the head of the snake has been cut off with this one.

The Brazilians on Immortals have actually kept the same squad but their reported internal struggles alongside a difficult group might result in an early exit. They are placed in a group with G2 Esports, EnVyUs and Fnatic. G2 have the potential to come alive at any time while EnVy is enjoying a hot streak, winning qualifier after qualifier. Here in Malmö, I believe there’s a huge chance they qualify for their first major playoffs in some time. Unfortunately, this will leave Immortals watching from the stands.

The other big swaps

Following on from the previous storyline, Zeus left Gambit to reunite with Natus Vincere. In one of my previous articles, I discussed in depth how I believe his return will ignite Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. DreamHack Masters will be the first chance we get to see this in action on LAN and hopefully, it lives up to the hype.

Valde stood in with the North bunch at the ECS Season 2 finals. [Source: Cybersport]

Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså replacing Emil “Magisk” Reif on North was also a huge talking point. The former is regarded as one of the hottest topics in Counter-Strike. Fellow Dane Casper “cadiaN” Møller recently likened Valde to Stewie2k citing his perfect timing and using enemy grenades against them as hallmarks of his play. Maybe he can be the consistent star Magisk never could?

The final change to discuss is Fnatic bringing on Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson and Maikil “Golden” Selim. This move has already been reviewed by fellow Haus mate Joe Sitavanc. However, to sum up his thoughts it’s probably going to take some time before these Swedes make it back to the top.

Could the Ninjas hold the crown?

I’m sure most fans are expecting a win out of either SK Gaming or Astralis but is it possible NiP defends their title? The last time we saw this team out on LAN they won DreamHack Valencia. Admittedly, that tournament didn’t have anywhere near the caliber of teams Malmö has but it has to be a confidence boost if nothing else.

Their recent Pro League results have been lackluster but we all know how unreliable they are. I hope the Ninjas come into the tournament fully prepared and give the home crowd something to cheer about. The new coaching rule from DreamHack should benefit them massively. With Björn “THREAT” Pers being able to have more input again it should relieve some pressure off of Richard “Xizt” Landström who still has fragging potential in his own right.

NiP have become synonymous with being inconsistent from tournament to tournament. So who knows, maybe this could be one of their hot weeks. To get you in the mood for tomorrow’s action watch this video of the Malmö Arena.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of DreamHack. Huge credit to the Ninjas in Pyjamas YouTube for the footage.

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Who should be NALCS MVP?

With the regular season over, we can begin to evaluate how teams/players lived up to expectations. Teams like Immortals shocked the NALCS by contending with the best this split. With the split concluding, we soon find out who will win the heralded NALCS MVP of summer.

An MVP, aka Most Valuable Player, is someone who has shown great importance to their team’s success in and outside of the rift. An MVP is someone that, if taken off the roster, would greatly impact their team’s performance greatly.

Looking at the split, we have a few candidates who really separated themselves from the rest. Let’s take a look:

Cloud9 Jensen (Mid laner)

Photo via Riot Esports

Cloud9’s Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen been critiqued as a “KDA player” who some believe cares more about his own stats than the good of his team. Jensen struggled with consistency during his first few splits in the NALCS but has slowly come into his own, contending with Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg for the best mid laner in North America.

He put up monstrous stats towards the end of the split. More specifically, his Orianna play was some of the best play we’ve seen out of him. He finished the season with the best KDA of any player at 8.7. Cloud9 often played through the mid lane enabling Jensen to get huge leads to snowball the game. Jensen rarely fell behind in lane, leading the league in CS diff@10 with a whopping 8.9.

Just based off regular season performance though, Jensen has put up a good argument for NALCS MVP. He has played phenomenally well individually and has the stats to back that up. One could argue how much Cloud9’s playstyle benefits his KDA. They often heavily relied on him to get ahead in lane and snowball for his team. He’s also been critiqued for not roaming as much as he could or for being selfish for resources.

One knock on Jensen has been his inability to step up in crucial moments. Last spring in a close game five against TSM, a costly mistake lead to Jensen dying with ult and Zhonya’s still up on Ekko. His death lead to TSM eventually finishing the series and taking the Spring Split championship. Could this finally be the playoffs we see Jensen step up for his team?

Immortals Xmithie (Jungler)

Jake “Xmithie” Puchero came to Immortals in a trade with CLG in exchange for star jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. Many thought Xmithie had peaked on CLG and was nearing the end of his professional career. Nobody even expected Immortals to finish this high in the standings and deserving of a Worlds spot.

It has gone to show how much team chemistry and coaching can impact a player. Xmithie has look revitalized after coming to Immortals. He’s been arguably the best jungler this split and is a huge reason why people believe Immortals can qualify for Worlds. Dardoch and Xmithie’s jungle playstyles are almost night and day, but Immortals got the right jungler they needed – someone who was going to be willing to sacrifice for the carries and mesh well with the team. Xmithie has been just that and more.

He lead all junglers in assists for the summer. While none of his stats really pop out, it’s no secret how much of an impact he’s had for the team. Since Xmithie’s arrival, Immortals went from a 7th place team to a 2nd place team. Others on the team have also been able to shine much more with Xmithie for whatever reason. Cody Sun and Pobelter look like different players from their spring split forms.

It’s a huge example of how much coach Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo has done working with the team. When a team has this big of a turnaround you can’t expect it all to be from one player.

Photo via Riot Esports

TSM Bjergsen (Mid Laner)

Ah, just about every year, TSM’s Bjergsen has to be considered to be in the MVP race. He’s undoubtedly always one of the most impactful players on TSM for many reasons. Aside from always putting up monstrous stats, he’s a main shotcaller for the team and has developed into one the main leaders. Bjergsen can add another great regular season to his legacy as he finished second in KDA among mids and damage per minute.

This split, Bjergsen showed off his ability to play different styles such as the Galio in the mid lane. It adds to the versatility we’ve come to know from the Danish mid laner. In terms of how much value Bjergsen brings to TSM, it’s without a doubt that they’d be much worse without him. He just brings so much to the table for a mid laner and plays well without needing too many resources.

Many will argue that Bjergsen plays with some very talented teammates. This may be the same thing that kept Hauntzer from winning MVP in spring. Having other talented individuals on a team can sometimes mask the impact a player actually has on a team.

These are my top three picks for MVP in no particular order. MVP will be a tight race. It will be interesting to see if Bjergsen adds another MVP trophy to his career or if someone new can take it from him.


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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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North America Overwatch Contenders preview

These are exciting, albeit uncertain, times in the Overwatch esports scene. Overwatch League has been announced, the World Cup is underway and Contenders Season 1 is kicking off in a week. This upcoming weekend will have the OWWC take place in Santa Monica and then on the 14th of August Overwatch Contenders will begin. The teams were decided through Contenders Season 0, and two teams were invited.

In a strange turn of events, Team Liquid dropped their roster due to three of their players moving onto (or going back) to other games. This is an interesting wrinkle in the upcoming tournament as the spot needs to be filled within a week. But how does Blizzard resolve this issue? Do they sell the slot to another team or do they give it to a runner-up?

There is no confirmed news regarding what Blizzard chooses to do with this free slot. However, it would be consistent with Blizzard if they were to sell it to the highest bidder. Realistically, there are only three teams that could afford that slot: Cloud9, NRG and CLG. NRG doesn’t even have a full roster so it is unlikely that they would be able to take the spot. Cloud9 is only missing one tank since Kaiser went back to RunAway due to “visa issues”. CLG has a six man roster that they could compete with. Technically, Cloud9 also has a six man roster but Mendo is not a tank player so they wouldn’t be able to play with tanks.

Speculation about that slot aside, this promises to be a highly competitive Contenders Season. Two months ago, there were a couple of teams that dominated the rest, but the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams has been closing rapidly.

Let’s have a look Contenders Season 1 North America and make some predictions.

The teams

EnVyUs (invite)
Faze Clan
FNRGFE
Immortals
Kungarna
Renegades
Rogue (invite)
Replacement for Team Liquid

Overwatch Contenders

EnVyUs

  • Taimou
  • Mickie
  • Chipshajen
  • HarryHook
  • Cocco
  • Effect

One of the teams that got invited to compete in Season 1. EnVyUs and Rogue were both in Korea for Apex Season 3 where EnVyUs lost to KongDoo Panthera. This isn’t a bash on nV. The fact that they made it so far is a testament to how strong this team is.

However, I do have one reservation. How good are they against Western teams? There is a difference in play style between the West and East. And while the best in the East are unequivocally better than the best in the West, the different play style could hurt nV.

However, they are still a top team and considered one of the favorites for winning the whole event. They have one of the best Ana’s in the world in Chips and one of the best DPS in the world in Taimou. On top of this, they have Effect who tore up in Apex, carrying the team at some points. It will be exciting watching Effect use his Tracer in the West. Here’s hoping for a Soon vs Effect matchup.

Sadly, we can’t do proper predictions because the groups haven’t been made and we don’t know who they will be playing against. But, I would be shocked if they didn’t get a top three finish.

FaZe Clan

  • ShaDowBurn
  • Lui
  • FCTFCTN
  • SPREE
  • Rawkus
  • Joemeister

FaZe Clan is one of the more interesting teams in this competition. They have the parts in place to have a stunning DPS but lack a core backline and tanks. You can have as many star DPS as you want, but if they don’t have space to work with then you will lose. Always.

This happened with Cloud9 a while ago. They had Mendo, Gods, and Surefour. Three players who play DPS but they weren’t able to perform. Gods wasn’t actually a bad tank, but he preferred playing DPS and so he had to learn Winston.

This is sort of the same situation faced by Faze. The Clan lacks a strong supporting unit. But if ShaDowBurn can pop off and deliver insane Genji play on low ping, like he did at the World Cup, then Faze could make it out of groups.

Overwatch Contenders

FNRGFE

The All American Rejects. Except for one Canadian, this is an All American team that was formed from the pieces of other teams. This is true of a lot of teams, but these guys decided to make it a part of their personality. Their name FNRGFE is an acronym of the teams that they came from including NRG and FaZe.

  • buds
  • clockwork
  • Muma
  • coolmatt69
  • Boink
  • Bani

If this team takes the tournament seriously then they may make it out of groups, but even that would be a surprise.

Overwatch Contenders

Immortals

  • GrimReality
  • Agilities
  • Fate
  • hyped
  • envy
  • KariV
  • Verbo

This is one of the strongest teams in the West right now. Anything less than top two will be a disappointment. Immortals has two of the best DPS combined with a solid support and tank line. Their kryptonite may turn out to be communication as they have three Koreans and four North Americans. If the Koreans have put in more effort to learn better English than this team could take first.

Agilities is one of the best Genji’s in the world, he went toe to toe with ShaDowBurn at World Cup. During the match against the Netherlands, he had one of the most insane Genji plays that I have ever seen. Back this up with KariV who is a great support and some solid tanking who can give Grim and Agilities the space that they need and you have a scary team. At the BEAT Invitational last month they took Rogue to within two fights. The score was 3:1 but it doesn’t reflect how close that match actually was.

They did better against Rogue than EnVyUs did.

Overwatch Contenders

Kungarna

  • mYkL
  • babybay
  • iReMix
  • Bischu
  • Dogman
  • Pookz

Kungarna barely qualified for Contenders, beating out Cloud9 with an Overtime BO3 on Oasis. I don’t think that they have the firepower to make it out groups. They don’t have any superstars and their basic gameplay isn’t that strong.

If they have taken their time off to practice and grind then they could surprise some teams, but I don’t think that they will be able to go deep into the tournament.

Overwatch Contenders

5-Hour Energy Detroit Renegades

  • Mangachu
  • J3sus
  • PrimoDulce
  • ZachaREEE
  • Sherlockey
  • Jer

Renegades managed to surprise a lot of teams during season 0 of Contenders. Tying Kungarna and beating Cloud9 3-1 was a huge surprise to many people, including me. They qualified first in their group and looked solid doing it. Then seeing Mangachu represent Canada at the OWWC gave me some hope that they may make it out of groups if they got lucky. He is a solid player and a great Pharah. But I don’t think that they have enough players with a good enough base level to qualify out of groups.

Look at them to get a win or a tie but not quite make it out of groups.

Overwatch Contenders

Rogue

  • soOn
  • uNKOE
  • aKm
  • KnoxXx
  • winz
  • NiCOgdh

The French all star team, their World Cup team and one of the best, if not the best, teams in the West. They have dominated during the dive meta and looked unstoppable. Until Korea. Then they didn’t make it out of groups as the Koreans managed to out think them.

However, it doesn’t look like there are any teams in the West except for maybe nV and Immortals that can beat them. Look to them to take first place.

SoOn is a Tracer god and aKm is top three Soldier in the world. Back both of these up with a Korea level Winston in KnoxXx and a top three Zenyatta in uNKOE and you get an unstoppable force.

But they aren’t unbeatable. As I said in another article, they have a weakness. A glaring weakness, in fact. They lack depth. If you can find a way to neutralise dive, you neutralise a lot of Rogues threat. Rogue will always compete for a top five finish, but if you can shut down dive, then you can shut down the biggest reason Rogue is dangerous.

Easier said than done.

Formerly Team Liquid

Team Liquid qualified for Contenders Season 1 but AZK has decided to go back to CS:GO and two of their other players are switching to Quake which means that they will not be able to compete in Season 1. I can’t make any predictions on where they will end up because we don’t know who is going to replace them.

I hope Cloud9, but we will see. They do seem to be the most logical choice, or ARC6, which would also be a lot of fun.

Conclusion

I think Rogue will take first place in a close match against Immortals with nV coming fourth and FaZe coming third. But FaZe and Renegades could easily switch.

The way Blizzard has done this has been really good. Most of the teams are very closely matched in skill and it is hard to pick the best. Except for the top three which are Immortals, nV, and Rogue. Without a doubt.

That doesn’t matter Overwatch Contenders will be a lot of fun to watch and I am glad that we now have Apex and Contenders at the same time.


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Playoffs

NA LCS Playoffs team breakdown

It’s time for that special time of the year. Where every team puts it all on the line for the championship. Teams have finally finished the battle of the summer split and have either qualified or fallen short of a playoff berth. The teams that have qualified each have a chance to take home the trophy as this playoff tournament shapes up to be the most competitive in recent history. This year a team that has never won may claim the title of NA LCS champion.

 

I’ll speak to each team’s recent results and the matchup they’ll have, then I’ll highlight both one key strength and one key weakness for each team.

 

Team NV

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

Team NV has qualified for the NA LCS playoffs as the sixth seed. They will be facing CLG in the quarter finals on the 19th. Though Team NV is the lowest seed, and coming off of an 0-4 run they shouldn’t be discounted. Team NV earlier in the season have proven they can take a series win off of top tier teams such as C9, DIG, and IMT.

 

Strength

Team NV’s clear strength comes from the jungle. Lira has been a dominant force for team NV since he joined the team last split. Despite finishing as a 10th place team Lira was voted as All NA LCS first team jungler. This year he has proved his dominance with 71% KP and strong performances on Elise, Lee Sin, and Nidalee. A great recent example being game 2 versus TSM in week 8.

 

Weakness

NV’s biggest weakness is their top laner Seraph. With a combined score in week 9 of 2-25-10 Seraph is clearly the weak link on NV. With a solid mid and bot lane, it seems as if Lira needs to babysit Seraph in order to prevent the opponent from snowballing. He is sitting on an abysmal 2.31 KDA across the season and has the highest deaths of any top laner in the league.

 

Team Dignitas

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

DIG has qualified for the NA LCS playoffs as the fifth seed. They will be facing C9 in the quarter finals on the 20th. They are coming off a 3-1 last two weeks with only a close loss to CLG dampening their final few games. With plenty of momentum and thoughts of the mid-season slump long behind them DIG looks good going into the quarters.

 

Strengths

Team DIG’s strength is certainly their top laner Ssumday.  His wide champion pool featured 16 unique champions this split featuring tanks, fighters, and even the occasional marksman. Ssumday is the backbone of DIG and has carried more than his fair share of games for DIG

 

Weakness

In that strength, there is a weakness. Ssumday is easily targeted for frequent ganks and roams, because DIG love to play through him. When that’s the case, and the other laners aren’t able to generate leads despite DIG losses. This was the issue in the mid-season, DIG’s bot lane wasn’t able to hold their own without constant jungle pressure, but with the addition of Altec and Adrian, the team has found much more success.

 

Cloud 9

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

C9 has qualified for the NA LCS playoffs as the fourth seed. They will be facing DIG in the quarter finals on the 20th. They are coming off an easy last two weeks going 4-0, playing only one other playoff team, NV. This will have only built their confidence and given them opportunity to work on their team play. C9 has a long history of deep playoff runs and there is lots of experience on the roster of high pressure games.

 

Strength

Jensen’s midlane play has been next level since week two. Despite struggling in the beginning and middle of the season as a team Cloud 9’s midlaner has been putting up some incredible numbers. He broke the split record for kills, a record he already held. He has a disgusting 8.70 KDA across the split and has five champions with KDA averages 6+.

 

Weakness

Despite Jensen’s strong performance, Cloud 9 has, at times, seemed lost. Cloud 9’s macro play has not matched their micro. Some games the communication just isn’t there. Either Contractz will gank late or early and they will trade one for one when it could have been a clean gank, or they will lose a fight and surrender an objective while they’re 2k gold up in the mid game.

 

Counter Logic Gaming

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

CLG has qualified for the NA LCS playoffs as the third seed. They will be facing NV in the quarter finals on the 19th. They are coming off of a 2-2 last two weeks, with an upset from P1 in week 8 and a rough loss to rivals TSM to wrap up their split. They’ll be looking to seek vengeance on their longtime rivals and seek retribution for being upset in last split’s quarter final’s series against Flyquest.

 

Strength

The CLG bottom lane has been a rock for them this split. Both Stixxay and Aphromoo have had great splits. Stixxay has showed competence on a wide range of ADCs, pulling out nine unique champions this split with an impressive 4.33 KDA. Aphromoo, while maybe not in peak performance, is still having a great split. CLG is able to rely on their bot lane duo to either play well and stay even as a weak side, or focus resources to them and have them carry games.

 

Weakness

They’ve elected in their final weeks to replace their jungler with a rookie. While it may help in the long run, there has been signs of a lack of communication from the rookie. Their loss to P1 is an example of this. In game 2 Omargod looked lost on Elise, unable to engage or gank successfully at any point in the game and the team just fell apart in the mid game. This isn’t to say that Omargod is a bad player, only that he lacks the experience on stage to be consistent and that will hurt CLG’s chances in playoffs.

 

 

Immortals

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

Immortals rounded out the split with a 3-1 record in the final two weeks. The loss they did suffer was to DIG. This doesn’t bode well headed into the playoffs, but with a bye they won’t have to face anyone until the semis. Immortals has a lot to prove in this season’s playoffs, having had a rough history in the post season and look to make their first worlds appearance.

 

Strength

Immortal’s strength lies with two players, both in contention for MVP this season. Xmithie in the jungle and Olleh their support. Each player has found a way to control their part of the map, both with vision and pressure. Olleh has really stepped up this year and improved. His laning phase is much better, providing both pressure for Cody Sun and roaming mid for Pobelter. Xmithie has found his stride on IMT after leaving CLG. He plays with a lot of confidence and often chokes out the enemy junglers with invades and frequent ganks.

 

Weakness

Immortals main weakness is their inability to hold onto early game leads against top teams. For example against DIG in game 1 week 8 IMT had an early lead, yet were unable to push that lead to a victory. Same thing happened against TSM in week five. In game one IMT came out to an early lead, yet were unable to stop giving up objectives and going even or less one kill in team fights until eventually they lost their lead and the game.

 

Team Solo Mid

Playoffs

Photo Via Lolesports

TSM has qualified for the NA LCS playoffs as the first seed and have a bye into the semifinals. They have taken a clean 4-0 in the final two weeks with a big win over CLG. TSM has a lot of experience with this roster, and a lot of experience in high pressure games. They’ve yet to miss an NA LCS finals match, and expect to find themselves in the finals this year.

 

Strength

Their strength is certainly their individual play. Each player as an individual has great play. Bjergsen is always arguably, if not definitively, the best midlaner in NA and this split has been no different. The same can be said for Doublelift in the ADC role. Hauntzer has played a great split as well as Sven and Biofrost. Each player as an individual has made great plays.

 

Weakness

When TSM losses, it’s because of team play. When TSM’s team play is on point, domestically they are unbeatable. Take their series in week seven against DIG for an example. A botched team fight in game one at around the ten minute mark lost them their gold lead and led to DIG getting first tower and a cloud drake. If they are all focused together they are unstoppable, but have shown that their team play and macro isn’t as consistent as their individual play.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Seed

NA LCS playoff seed possibilities

The summer split for NA LCS has been tumultuous. Every week has been a fierce battle for a top spot. At no point has there been a clearly defined best team. Throughout the season we’ve seen bottom of the standings teams upset teams at the top, even as recently as Sunday when P1 pulled out a win over CLG. Now, with only a week left to play, teams fight for a playoff seed.

The teams making playoffs are locked in, but seeds are not. Playoff contenders are as follows: IMT, TSM, CLG, DIG, C9 and NV. IMT and TSM share first, CLG has sole possession of third, DIG and C9 share fourth and NV rounds us out in sixth. It comes down to the final three days of the summer split to determine who will be seeded where in the playoffs.

First Seed

Seed

Photo Via Lol esports

TSM and IMT are the two teams that seem most likely to grab the top seed. They are both sitting at a 12-4 record heading into the final week. IMT has the best chance of going 2-0 this weekend, squaring off against sixth place NV and seventh place Echo Fox. TSM faces P1, who is tied for eighth and last place, but they also face off against CLG. The rivalry matches between TSM and CLG have always been volatile and could easily go either way. A TSM loss would put IMT in the top spot.

To make things interesting, the head to head between IMT and TSM is even, each team having taken a series win against the other. This means if both TSM and IMT go 2-0 this week, the tie will go to game wins and losses. TSM is currently winning in terms of game wins and losses, sitting at 26-11 compared to IMT’s 26-15. If both teams go 2-0 then TSM will take the first seed.

Being first and second in the NA LCS is extremely advantageous. Teams get a bye into the semifinals and as a result, the lowest possible placement in fourth place. In terms of Championship Points the value of a playoff bye is unrivaled. However, teams aren’t going into the post season aiming for fourth place.

 

Second Seed

Seed

Photo Via Lol esports

The difference between a first place seed and a second place seed is bigger than it may appear. The first place team will face the lowest ranked team in the semis while the second place will face the higher. This means that whoever gets first place cannot face the third place team. With the third place team likely being CLG, IMT and TSM will be scrambling to secure the first place spot to avoid playing CLG in the semis and play either C9, DIG or NV.

In the event that TSM loses to CLG then the series will be tied in a head to head. The difference will again go to game win/loss. If TSM wins 2-1 over P1, and CLG 2-0s both DIG and TSM, then TSM will be 28-14 and CLG will be 29-16. The win loss ratio being barely in TSM’s favor. In order to place second CLG will have to win out against DIG and TSM and hope that TSM or IMT loses out.

Third Seed

Seed

Photo Via Lol esports

Short of that CLG will be placed third and have to face off against NV. That is unless NV wins out and either DIG or C9 loses out. Either way CLG wants to secure the third place spot to avoid playing a higher ranked team. Unfortunately they’re only one game up on C9 and DIG and face DIG in a head to head tomorrow. If they lose, DIG will be 2-0 in the head to head and secure the third place spot with a win over TL on Sunday. CLG could end up anywhere between first and fifth, because if both IMT and TSM lose out CLG would be first if they win out.

The rest of the teams will fall where they may. C9 and DIG could each end up as high as third, but cannot qualify for a bye spot. NV can only finish as high as fourth. The parity of the NA LCS has been exciting all split, but now it is culminating in the final week to determine the seeding. The playoffs should be exciting as well with how close the teams are.

 

Week nine has a lot of possible outcomes and a lot of story-lines to follow, and every game counts. The NA LCS is delivering in an exciting way.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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