Ranking the biggest events in esports

In honor of it being the week of the International, I wanted to discuss the events that have helped legitimize esports. From DOTA to League, all the way to fighting games and Counter-Strike, each game has pushed the scene forward with events that not only grab the attention of esports fans, but even more importantly the general public.

The five events mentioned below have all played an important role in building up their respective scenes. They have not only been great for publicity but have also made careers in esports a reality. They have partially changed the communities in which these events take place. Here are the five most essential events today.

5. Call of Duty World Championships

Activision has made serious strides into making Call of Duty a premiere title within the esports landscape. The creation of the Call of Duty Championship, with prize pools over $1 million, along with the creation of Call of Duty World League, is the support this game needed.

It’s not only given fans more to watch each weekend but also gives them a reason to follow along as the season moves closer to the World Championship. In a short time, Call of Duty has become the premier console shooter and it’s thanks to this.

4. ESL CS:GO

Counter-Strike is different than the other esports. The scene doesn’t have one championship event that takes priority over the others. It’s an open landscape with many different events that offer plenty of payouts.

However, there’s one league that consistently puts together the most competitive and prestigious events. ESL has always been a major contributor to Counter-Strike dating back to 1.6, but in Global Offensive they’ve stepped up significantly. The one other event to rival ESL is Turner’s ELEAGUE which brought in a million unique viewers on Twitch alone.

For this reason, I have to mention Counter-Strike in this discussion. While it doesn’t have a keystone tournament like The International or Evo, the largest events in CS surpass any other event in terms of general interest. ESL is a great example of this, but there’s plenty of other tournaments that also take precedent in this argument.

3. League of Legends – Worlds

League of Legends wasn’t the first game to popularize the esports age, but it’s mostly responsible for the boom in popularity since the creation of the League Championship Series. The LCS has been a major success, in terms of growing esports, and has kept players interested in the game since release.

Continually, the League of Legends season culminates into the World Championships, a month long tournament that brings together all the regional champions. League is essentially the only title currently that has a system that funnels into a championship event. 15 days of competition while a litany of the best teams compete for millions in prizes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and other stadiums.

2. Evo

By the same token, no other event comes close to the history of the Evolution series. Dating back to 1996, Evo has been the linchpin for all the growth in the fighting game community. Evo has single handily brought the underground community into the Mandalay Bay Stadium.

It’s hard to say that any other event matches the intensity that Evo cultivates. Once a player gets on that grand stage, it’s almost a guarantee that something amazing will follow. It’s also the one event that doesn’t require any knowledge coming in because of the simplicity of fighting games. Anyone can enjoy it and more importantly, anyone can feel the hype generated from the world’s most prestigious fighting game tournament.

In spite of the fact that Evo has a significantly lower prize pool than these other events, it’s still considered by many to be the most meaningful tournament for the players. Coupled with the history, an Evo trophy means something more than just a check. It’s a chance to cement a legacy as one of the greats.

The International 7. Photo courtesy of GosuGamers

1. The International

Finally, we reach The International. It’s an event responsible for bringing in a new generation of esports fans. It not only has the highest prize pool in esports, but in a short time has become the most sought after trophy in the entire scene.

It’s a life changing event. The rush of playing for millions of dollars amps up the intensity levels. Even as a fan, the adrenaline begins to pump. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and not one event has been a let down in seven years. Valve’s responsible for making it an event in every sense of the word. It’s no longer just a DOTA tournament, it’s a happening in the Seattle area.


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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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Why blue side wins more than red side

If you have played a game of League of Legends on red side recently and lost, it may not entirely be your fault. I wouldn’t go so far as to throw your teammates under the bus, but like the RNG that plays so heavily into pairing you with your DC’d mid laner, the seemingly trivial side of the map you get placed on has a significant factor in whether you win or lose.

The minute flip of the camera brings with it some not so small of advantages and disadvantages that can take effect even before minute one. In solo queue, blue side has a 52.9 percent win rate while red side has a 47.1 percent win rate. This delta in win rates is exacerbated in the North American League Championship Series where blue team has a 54.4 win rate and red team has a 45.6 percent win rate.

League Championship Series: Pick order rules

In the final game of the best of three between Team Liquid and Cloud9, Cloud9 was not allowed any target bans due to not having first pick and thereby needing to ban the “uncounterables”. Courtesy of lolesports

Having first pick is an advantage that is often neglected in solo queue environments despite the tremendous advantage it can give a team. First pick can often mean securing a champion that currently does not have counters. While red side gets the next two picks, there is often just one champion that necessitates being picked or banned regardless of matchups.

This was recently the case with Zac in patches following his rework. The poor flubber had to be banned by red side every game due to his power, effectively making red side have one less ban. While Zac was incredibly broken during this time, other champions were able to slip through ban phases such as Maokai, whose LCS performance was a treet for whoever’s team he ended up on. Zac has since been gutted and is now sitting at one of the lowest win rates in the game.

Solo Queue Gank Advantage

With only one ward to spare, Impact dies from an Elise gank through tribrush. Courtesy of lolesports

While this advantage applies to all levels of play, the advantage blue side has over red side during ganks on the top lane is enough to make Rumble one of the worst champions in the game when on red side. Rumble, who is most vulnerable due to his limited mobility, illustrates why red side has it worse than any other top laner.

Blue side Rumble is much safer from ganks as he can simply ward river in order to avoid most of them. But red side Rumble requires a ward in tribush and river. In general, blue side is better for top laners and red side is better for bot lanes in terms of safety because of vision.

The view of toplane. It looks even better from Blue side. Courtesy of leagueoflegends

 

Having your botside being more vulnerable to ganks through the need to ward both tribrush and river is not as much of a disadvantage. Because there are two people there, there are more wards to be dropped, both in river near dragon and in tribrush. While enemy junglers are usually spotted earlier botside, ganks are also easier to avoid due to double combat summoners. Heal and exhaust provide for excellent disengage while teleport will not help a toplaner escape a gank, unless of course, that top laner is Soaz.

Another map advantage blue side has is a safer entrance to Baron. While red side has a safer entrance to dragon, Baron fights are often more influential due to the death timers and power of the neutral objective itself.

HUD positioning advantage

Due to the way the HUD is positioned and the screen perspective in League of Legends, it is much easier to dodge skillshots on blue side, especially in the bottom lane. If you are shoved into tower on red side, positioning the camera to easily see everything you need to pay attention to is difficult. The minimap, your champion stats and your item box all cover up small portions of the Rift that appear to be even more annoying when you are playing on red side. 

There are many factors as to why blue side has the advantage on the Rift. Some of these consequences extend onto other maps, such as ARAM’s Howling Abyss. Even in ARAM, blue side has the advantage, and since there is no pick order, this must be because of the perspective of the player’s point of view.


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Feature image courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

Rookie

Who Deserves NA LCS Rookie of the Split?

With the NA LCS summer split drawing to a close, all eyes are looking towards the playoffs and beyond. Many players battle for a position to claim the MVP trophy. However, there’s another award that needs to be given out: Rookie of the Split, and there are some interesting candidates.

This year, around mid-split, the choice seemed obvious. P1’s MikeYeung was tearing up the rift and was snatching victories for the winless team. He has been generating kills, map pressure, and bringing life back into the crestfallen squad. However, after returning from an extremely successful Rift Rivals, P1 has only had a single win as MikeYeung and company look lackluster.

On top of that, other rookies have entered the scene. NV’s midlaner Nisqy, who has shared time on the rift with Pirean looks solid. CLG brought in Omargod from their challenger squad replacing Dardoch. Now with P1 on another disastrous losing streak and two more potentials for the title, Rookie of the Split is again up in the air.

MikeYeung

Rookie

Photo Via Lolesports

One thing that cannot be denied is that winning or losing MikeYeung is fun to watch. His Nidalee is explosive and punishing. He has an 8.25 KDA while playing Nidalee and 7 wins to 1 loss. His jungle control on that champion and his ability to make plays is undeniable. The problem is recently MikeYeung has been put on other champions such as Gragas, Reksai, or Lee Sin. His second highest win rate champion is Elise with %40.

He also has %74 kill participation throughout his time on P1. This shows that he is definitely still generating plays on the map and creating kills for his team. This as well as how the games have turned out shows that P1 as a team struggles to close out games. MikeYeung plays a great early game and has good map play, but P1 struggles in the mid and late game. Though he was a shoe in for Rookie of the Split earlier on, he doesn’t seem as deserving of the title now. He did manage to edge out the win against CLG despite a tragic game 1. However, the long losing streak still stretches out behind him. In order to really make a push for the title he’ll have to really impress in the final week.

Nisqy

Rookie

Photo Via Lolesports

Nisqy has played a quiet season. Coming in around the midseason mark and splitting time in the midlane with Pirean. That said he has a 6.09 KDA on Syndra with 5 wins to 2 losses and an astounding 12.49 KDA on Tailyah with 3 wins to 3 losses. He plays a solid game, no outstanding plays, but also certainly not holding his team back.

As for highlights Nisqy lead NV alongside Lira to 2-0 win against Cloud 9, and NV look to play in the playoffs. Nisqy hasn’t quite made the impact on NV that MikeYueng made on P1, but he also hasn’t dropped off either. NV is still definitely the Lira show, but Nisqy knows his roll and plays it well. He has taken over the Mid position full time, but hasn’t elevated NV to the next level of play. He played well yesterday against Bjergsen, but still felt overshadowed by Lira.

If NV want to make a playoff run Nisqy is going to have to take it to another level. If he can show that in the last week of play, you better watch out.

Omargod

Rookie

Photo Via Lolesports

Omargod has stepped onto the NALCS stage late. His bid for Rookie of the Split was immediately considered after he came out with a perfect KDA in his first match against Flyquest. Though he struggled in his second game on stage he had a good showing against IMT. However, he looked lost against P1 in games two and three despite and outstanding performance in the first game.

Omargod shows a lot of promise and now a lot of pressure rests on his shoulders. He is the only jungler for CLG, who is in position to be first in the league. He has meshed well with the rest of the team and has already shown proficiency on both tank junglers and damage junglers.

The real test will be how he can perform against DIG and TSM in the final week. He’ll have to learn to play on stage and with the team in a very short period of time. If he can learn to be successful when the pressure is on, especially in a rivalry like CLG vs TSM with the bye seed on the line, he is more than qualified for Rookie of the Split.

Rookie of the Split

Rookie

Photo Via Lolesports

As of now it doesn’t feel like anyone deserves the title. In years past the rookie of the split has been incredibly impactful and has really made a positive difference on their team. For example last split C9 Contractz won Rookie of the Split. He was an incredibly aggressive and playmaking jungler that lead C9 to a lot of wins. Before him TSM Biofrost won Rookie of the Split. He had an incredible split, winning NALCS and going to worlds in his first split. Before him was Dardoch who had great mechanics and playmaking ability in the jungle.

Now it feels like none of the current rookies have nearly the same impact as any of the previous winners did. There may be an argument that none of the players deserve the title of Rookie of the Split.

Nisqy really needs to elevate his level of play to become more impactful for his team if he is to be considered worthy of Rookie of the Split. He is solid, but doesn’t show the level of initiative and ability to control the game as some other players have in the past. His stats are great, but NV wins and losses by Lira, and I think to take the Rookie of the Split a player should be more effective on the rift.

As for MikeYeung he looked true to form against CLG after game one, and even picked up his first win on Gragas. If he wants to reclaim his status of Mike “Rookie of the Split” Yeung then he will have to have impressive performances against TSM and Flyquest and continue to find success on champions other than Nidalee.

Omargod looked good before the final two games against P1. His Maokai was the key to CLG’s early game and he choked out MikeYeung. However, losing the set to his direct competitor definitely hurt his chances. He’s going to have to really impress against DIG and TSM next week if he wants a chance to claim the title. Omargod has high highs and low lows. If he can find some semblance of consistency in this last week there is a possibility he can take the title of Rookie of the Split.

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Dignitas

Team Dignitas’ rise to the top

This split has been a roller coaster for Team Dignitas. Initially playing with a top-heavy map DIG came out of the gates strong this summer, but suffered through a mid-season slump. However, after the recent roster swaps the team has begun to surge forward again. Moving into the playoffs they still have to square off against IMT and CLG. Dignitas has proven themselves up to the challenge with a convincing 2-0 win over TSM on Saturday and a close 2-1 loss to C9 yesterday.

As a result, Team Dignitas for the first time since early season three is considered a top team in North America. Long gone are the days of baron tosses and being a middle of the pack team. Instead DIG has the second highest baron control in the LCS and in the last two weeks have been utterly crushing opponents with snowball comps.

The Landscape

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The LCS is in utter upheaval. It feels like EU LCS in season three and four: everyone can beat anyone else. There are only two weeks remaining in season before playoffs begin and seeding for the tournament is still up in the air. A rift has opened between the top six teams and the bottom four teams. The teams that will participate in the playoffs are likely locked in, but the gap isn’t insurmountable though. An undefeated run from any of the bottom four teams has the potential to put them in the playoffs.

Team Dignitas is in prime position to take advantage of this upheaval. They are resting in fourth place and have won three of their last four games. They have a chance to ride this winning run to a bye in the playoffs. Winning out will give them a 12-6 record and, assuming CLG or IMT drop a game, tied for second. DIG winning out means a win against both teams, which would tie up the head to head against each team. This means it would come down to game Win/Loss record for who is seeded higher.

At the very least DIG will make playoffs. Even with a 1-3 record in the last two weeks DIG would sit at sixth place. However, it seems unlikely that DIG will drop more than two sets in the next two weeks. The other teams they face off against, other than the aforementioned CLG and IMT, are Echo Fox and Team Liquid. Each series is DIG favored, despite TL coming off an impressive 2-0 week.

The Players

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The reason Dignitas finds themselves in this fortuitous position is because of the recent roster swap. The team was slumping because the only threat was coming from Ssumday in the top lane. He was able to carry them through the first few weeks, but teams eventually realized that they just needed to shut him down in order to win.

Now though with Altec and Adrian coming in for Lod and Big, the bot lane has become a threat. This has opened up the map for DIG in the sense that they can play through any lane. If a team focuses too much on shutting down Ssumday, DIG can channel resources to their bot lane and win from there. If a team doesn’t focus on Ssumday he’s able to snowball and carry the game.

A threat in the bottom lane has also unlocked Keane. Keane has been a solid, consistent midlaner this split. He isn’t one to carry his team to a win, but certainly never gets stomped. Now that the pressure is more focused on Dignitas’ top and bottom lanes Keane can play for the teamfights and late game damage, something he has shown to be his forte.

Last, but certainly not least, is Shrimp. Shrimp has been suffocating his opponents in the jungle on his Nunu and Graves these last couple weeks. He’s taking away the jungle pressure from other teams by counter jungling, counter ganking and making them have to focus on neutral objectives instead of lanes. Shrimp understands his role very well and plays to that role. He knows he must get his lanes ahead and they will carry the game.

The Future

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

DIG came out to three great weeks, slumped in the next two and have now had two great weeks. They are looking to break the trend of peaks and valleys and ride out this victory train into the playoffs. They’ve proven that they can take down the top teams in decisive fashion and certainly have a chance at the NA LCS title. Despite their loss to C9 the series was close and game one was a stomp in DIG’s favor. They can certainly hold their own against top teams, and have a good chance to take down both CLG and IMT. If they can perform in the playoffs to the degree they have shown in weeks six and seven they have the ability to make it deep.

Overall Dignitas looks strong. At this point anything less than fourth in NA LCS should be considered a failure. They put themselves in a position to succeed and are the masters of their own fate. DIG doesn’t need any other teams to have key losses to make the playoffs. They just need to keep winning. As for their playoff run, if they take away some good wins and keep up the level of performance they will take some momentum into the playoffs. They may still be able to secure a bye round, or at the very least a higher seed for side selection and an easier first round.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Should psychologists be required for LCS teams?

With the tweets of top laner Jeon “Ray” Ji-won coming to light recently, the discussion of the mental health of professional players returns. Many fans on social media can be harsh to their favorite players when they perform poorly. The criticism pro players can face added with the stress of performing well on stage can take a toll on these young minds.

You also have to factor in that many of the players are experiencing their first times being away from home in a brand new team environment. Not to mention a brand new country/culture for imported players. If players don’t perform up to their own standards, their own mental health can take a toll.

History of Mental Health Issues in LCS

Psychologists

Photo by Riot Games

It’s no secret that some players have seen the need to retire due to the stress of being a pro player. Legendary players such as Dyrus and Voyboy noted the mental stress during their time in LCS. Sport psychologists have slowly been making their way onto professional teams, but not all.

The most well known psychologist in pro League of Legends would have to be Weldon Green who made a name for himself on TSM last year, and now G2. Both teams saw significant upgrades to their team’s play after bringing Weldon in. Most of the teams have bought into hiring sports psychologists for their teams. The early days of LCS of eating whatever and only playing the games are gone.

Teams are training players to be physically and mentally fit in all aspects of life. CLG opted to train in a top sports facility during the offseason as opposed to bootcamping in Korea like some teams. The result has been a first place spot so far after five and a half weeks of LCS.

Should Psychologists be Required for LCS teams?

Not too long ago, Riot made coaches a requirement for LCS teams. Should psychologists become the next thing to join that list of required staff? It definitely could be if more players were to speak out about some of their mental issues. It’s almost certain that Ray isn’t the only player facing these types of mental hurdles.

Even a few sessions a week could help players with managing their stress. Every team could use the benefit of a psychologist. Not only for struggling players, but for team life in general. Many teams that have taken on Psychologists can see the effect it has had on team environments. Roccat last Spring struggled before a late surge almost netted them a playoff spot. They credited this to bringing on a sports psychologist to help with the team atmosphere.

What we can do as fans

As fans, it’s easy to criticize our favorite pros when they fail to meet our expectations. We also need to remember that they’re people just like us who are performing on some of the world’s biggest stages of professional LoL. Most of them haven’t been groomed to receive the hate that some of the community is bound to expel when they have a poor game.

We must not be quick to make remarks based off emotions. Everyone isn’t going to play perfectly, but flaming them over social media most certainly won’t help them play any better. Pro players for the most part, know when they’ve messed up. They know if they cost their team a match. There’s no need for fans to tag them in tweets raging or making angry posts on Reddit. Let them learn from their mistakes and prove themselves next time.

 

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Cover photo by Riot Games

Jensen

C9 Jensen for NALCS MVP

Since joining Cloud9 and the NALCS in Spring 2015, Jensen has sat in the shadow cast by Bjergsen. Jensen has fallen short of the MVP trophy time and again, often at the hands of the touted mid laner from TSM. It hard to imagine a split where Jensen isn’t a front runner for the title, or at least in the conversation. Despite being a major contender Jensen has yet to achieve the illustrious title of Most Valuable Player.

This year may be his year though. Jensen has put up some amazing numbers this split and had some incredible performances. He is far from the clear choice for the award but has a good shot at it. He still must prove himself better than Xmithie or Bjergsen.

Stats

Jensen

Via Lolesports Flickr

 

It’s hard not to discuss stats when discussing performance. If the MVP of the league is who has had the best performance throughout the split, then talking stats is almost unavoidable. Stats aren’t everything, but they are a big indicator.

KDA has always been a major indicator of overall performance. Not only do kills generate gold, but they generate map pressure, so being able to net kills and assists while not dying yourself is a major key. Jensen currently has the highest KDA in the NALCS with an impressive 6.6. For context, Bjergsen has a 5.7, and Xmithie has a 2.8. It also helps that he has the highest kills in the league at a staggering 134. That’s 18 kills higher than Stixxay and Huhi, who are tied for second at 116.

Kill participation is also an important stat. It lets us know how much of the kills are generated around and through the player. Jensen is tied for fourth in the league with Biofrost and Bjergsen at 75.4%. The highest is Matt who has 77.8% KP. That’s only 2.4% higher than Jensen and Bjergsen. MikeYeung isn’t far behind with a 74.8%. Xmithie only has 66.6% KP, despite having a great showing so far this split.

The final stat that factors into this is CS/M. On top of Jensen’s incredible KDA and KP he also holds the highest CS/M at 9.4, which is .8 CS/M over Bjergsen. This is where it is next level. Having the highest KDA, and a high KP is one thing, but still being able to have the best farm on top of that is truly incredible.

Intangibles

Via Lolesports Flickr

Numbers, however indicative of good performance, can only tell us so much. There are certain intangibles an MVP must demonstrate. This includes playmaking ability, consistency, and carry potential.

Jensen has demonstrated some amazing mechanical ability this split already. While he doesn’t have any huge teamfight turning plays this season, he does have a few solo kills like this. Jensen’s playmaking comes more in the vein of his consistency.

Jensen is the face of consistency. He performs well during most losses, and sports a 41% kill share throughout the regular season.  He isn’t getting quadrakills and pentakills, rather he is pumping out consistent damage in team fights and dominating the laning phase. In fact, Jensen has no quadrakills or pentakills this season, despite having three games with double digit kill scores.

As for his carry potential, Jensen brings that in spades. The man crushes lane opponents and snowballs from the midlane. His roams often net kills for himself and his other laners. From this lead, he is able to relieve pressure from elsewhere on the map by either taking it onto himself in the mid lane, or moving himself to where the pressure is. Take for example his Leblanc game against IMT.

Opponents

Jensen

Via Lolesports Flickr

 

As for the major contenders for the award. Xmithie has plays like this one. His mechanical prowess isn’t the only reason he’s a top three choice for MVP however. His stats are likely so low because of what he has been able to do for his laners. Xmithie has often controlled the jungle of the opponents and thus allowed himself to create large leads for his laners. He often snowballs the game by getting all of his laners ahead in the early game and having a stranglehold on neutral objectives in the mid game.

Bjergsen, on the other hand, spearheads the charge of TSM. He plays much like Bjergsen does, dominating the laning phase and snowballing the side lanes. However, he hasn’t been as nearly as dominant as Jensen has this season. What Bjergsen does have going for him, however, is a better win/loss. I think that speaks more to Bjergsen’s team as opposed to his own individual play, but may be a little bit of both.

In short, Jensen has been an animal this split. When he gets rolling, he’s nearly impossible to stop. He has performed very consistently this split and if he continues this level of play, I’m confident that he will finally take home the NALCS MVP award.


Stats via Best.gg and Lolesports.com

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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TSM

TSM takes the throne at Rift Rivals

TSM had a great performance at Rift Rivals. In the group stage they had a record of five wins and one loss. They lost to UOL who, coincidentally, faced them in the finals. But the finals showcased a dominating 3-0 from TSM. Rift Rivals had one purpose and one purpose only: to settle the debate of who is better between NA or EU. At least for a year. TSM winning the tournament, and especially in such a dominant fashion, demonstrates that they are the best team in the west.

The reason they are the best team in the west goes beyond their victory at Rift Rivals. They demonstrated their potential as a team and their ability to adapt to the meta.

Individual Level

TSM Rift Rivals

Photo via LoLesports Flickr

On an individual level, TSM looked strong throughout Rift Rivals. Their jungler, Svenskeren, was dominant. Having struggled during MSI, Svenskeren played with purpose and direction during this event. His Lee Sin looked great as always, stealing Baron against UOL in game two of the finals.

 

Hauntzer struggled during the laning phase in a few games, but his mid and late game teamfighting was solid. His Gnar looked impressive, hitting multi-man ultimates and dishing out loads of damage.

The bottom lane was consistent. Doublelift’s positioning has improved since his return to TSM. His Ashe arrows found their target time and again. His Caitlyn dominated the laning phase and dealt massive damage late.

Bjergsen has made the return to peak form. His Syndra was on another level, and he put on a clinic with his Leblanc play in the finals.

Map Play

 

TSM Rift Rivals

Photo via Lolesports Flickr

They did more than play well individually. TSM’s team play was outstanding. In the finals against UOL, TSM played an extraordinary map game.  In game two of the finals, TSM got two kills by bringing Svenskeren down to blue side krugs, while Doublelift and Biofrost pushed in the lane. Hauntzer was also pushing in the lane up top, while Bjergsen played safe. Doublelift sent a decoy Hawkshot over the krugs Sven was on, faking that they didn’t know what was there. This prompted Samux and Hyllisang to try and farm out a few more minions instead of backing, believing they were still in a 2v2. Just as the wave comes under tower, Hauntzer teleports in and Svenskeren shows up in bot lane.

 

Viziscasci couldn’t follow teleport immediately because he was pushed in so hard, thus TSM was in a 2v4 scenario for about four seconds. This gave them enough time to get a double kill onto Hauntzer’s Gragas and begin to snowball the game. All this was possible because of the wards that TSM had laid down earlier, one in the raptor camp and the other by the blue buff. They spotted Xerxe on the topside of the map so they knew he wouldn’t be able to counter gank.

It was also prompted by the lane prowess of Doublelift and Biofrost. They were able to win a great trade against the botlane of UOL, bringing Samux low, and burning his heal.

Team Fights

In game three against UOL, TSM was down 2.5k in gold at the 25-minute mark. Despite that, they still won a team fight. UOL got a little greedy, overstepped and TSM was in a position to punish them for it. Viziscasci had pushed Hauntzer out of the bottom lane, and gained an advantage in that lane. Thus, Hauntzer recalled. This is the moment that UOL decided to initiate. They were in 4v4 in the midlane, with a gold advantage, but Exileh had just lost out on a trade to Bjergsen, and TSM was able to kite their initiation.

TSM then began to turn as they saw both top laners TP in. They knew that UOL had a Mega Gnar on the way, but they had a full heath Gragas.  When the fight started in earnest, TSM was able to win out because of better positioning by the carries, and a great ultimate from Gragas. This is despite a decent Gnar ult by Viziscasci and UOL being ahead 2.5k.

TSM then went on to take Baron and win the game.

The Rest of the West

TSM Rift Rivals

Photo vai LoLesports Flickr

TSM has one team left to prove themselves against. That team is CLG. They crushed IMT before Rift Rivals, and despite losing to C9 in the LCS they certainly out preformed them at the event. CLG is the only team TSM has left to beat before they are truly the undisputed best in the west.

 

I think that they will have little trouble in besting them in a best of three and certainly no trouble in a best of five. TSM and CLG don’t square off until week nine. A lot could change from now until then, but TSM seems to have hit their stride.

As for EU, they sent their best teams and they got beaten. Maybe the new patch didn’t help, or the best of ones, but that just demonstrated TSM’s ability to adapt to a new meta and play within that new meta.


Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Phoenix One

Phoenix One’s rise from the ashes

I love following Phoenix One. Their story-line really piqued my interest from the beginning, but they’ve especially caught my eye this split. Watching them at the start of this split was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I wanted to turn away and look at something else, but couldn’t tear my eyes away. It was tragic to watch the third-place team from NA fall to a win-less last place for three weeks. Then the magic began. P1 picked up rookie sensation MikeYeung and LCS mainstay Xpecial and started picking up wins.

They are coming off of a two-win weekend in the NALCS with one win against the now tied for second Immortals. They’ve also had a fairly successful first day at Rift Rivals. P1 came out strong against FNC, even though they ultimately lost the game. They then picked up a convincing win against UOL. P1 is definitely on the come up.

Source of Success

Phoenix One

Photo Via Lolesports

So where does the success stem from? The immediate answer is the roster swaps. Xpecial has provided an anchor for the team. The bot lane has stabilized a lot since he joined the squad. A stable bot lane for Arrow is just what Phoenix One needed. Arrow was the last split MVP and star player of the team. Being able to funnel him more resources and keep him safe during laning phase has helped propel him in mid and late game.

Rookie jungler MikeYeung’s play making ability and skill shadows the stabilization that Xpecial has provided. This guy came out of the gates hot and has already impressed on his Nidalee and Lee Sin. Not only is he a good player, but he is fun to watch. His play against IMT around the Baron Pit was hype, and catapulted them to victory.

He also takes a lot of pressure off of Ryu and gives Ryu a lot of priority. Ryu showed consistency as a player last split and throughout his time on H2K. Though caught out in the side lanes a little too often, he plays team fights well and is an aggressive laner. Ryu having a jungler that provides pressure has allowed him to play that aggressive style that he favors and be relevant in mid and late game.

Chances for Playoffs and Beyond

Phoenix One

Photo Via Lolesports

With Phoenix One’s new-found success it’s hard not to get excited about their post season prospects. Though they are 3-7 right now they are only two games down from fifth place. Their remaining schedule is rather difficult though. They still must face TSM twice, as well as C9 and CLG once more. P1 took down IMT, and looked strong doing it, but will have their work cut out for them against the other top teams.

They can definitely pick up some wins against those top of the table teams and if they do they will inevitably find themselves in the top six and in the playoffs.

The interesting thing about Phoenix One in the Playoffs will be where they finish in terms of circuit points. Phoenix One can make a legitimate run to make it to worlds. It’s likely that it will have to be a gauntlet run. TSM won spring split, and have a good chance to win this split, so will either be sent on circuit points or as Summer Split champions. C9 has a good chance at both of those tickets as well. CLG will likely have to win the split or the Gauntlet to go to worlds.

If P1 does better than C9 in the playoffs, and TSM wins, P1 can go to worlds on circuit points. If not they have a chance to win the gauntlet.

Concerns

Phoenix One

Photo Via Lolesports

The only issue is that Phoenix One has yet to prove if they are consistent with this roster. Sure, they’re on an upswing right now, but will they stay on this level? Sometimes MikeYeung plays as if he’s been in the league since season five. Sometimes he still occasionally shows his level of experience making overly aggressive plays.

I personally want to see Phoenix One make a run to the playoffs. Everyone likes to see a good underdog story, and P1 is definitely an underdog.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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