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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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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Season four

Season four changes

Three, two, one, go!

Season four of the Rocket League Championship Series kicks off in just a few short weeks. Registration ends August 8, and open qualifiers begin August 12 and 13 for North America and Europe respectively.

Psyonix announced some important new changes to format and qualification, in regards to season four and five. These changes will make Rocket League, as an esport, more accessible to new and long-time viewers.

If you haven’t seen the changes yet, here’s what is happening with NA and EU and why the changes are important. Psyonix has yet to announce information regarding Oceania.

Rocket League Rival Series

Season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

The Rocket League Rival Series, a second, lower division, makes its debut in season four. This division effectively doubles the number of teams competing. The RLCS and RLRS each feature eight teams per NA and EU regions, raising the total to 32 teams.

Twitch, official partner of the RLCS, will continue to stream RLCS matches on Saturdays and Sundays. RLRS matches will take place on Fridays.

The benefit to fans here should be obvious: more Rocket League for everyone.

Auto-qualification, Promotion/Relegation

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for esports fans to keep up with season to season is rapidly changing team compositions. However, some esports are taking measures to limit or discourage this.

For example, Riot Games is moving away from a promotion/relegation system, opting instead to franchise the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The goal is to have permanent partners in the form of professional gaming organizations.

Season four

Image courtesy of steamcardexchange.net

Psyonix, on the other hand, implemented a promotion relegation system into the season four and five format. Instead of permanent partners, a promotion/relegation system focuses on roster consistency.

Psyonix tested this system in season three, relegating five auto-qualification spots for season four. The top two teams from both NA and EU, after the season three regional championships, auto-qualified for season four. These teams include NRG and Rogue for NA and Flipsid3 Tactics and Mock-It for EU. As the current world champions, Team EnVyUs, formerly Northern Gaming, won the fifth auto-qualification spot.

There are two stipulations for retaining auto-qualification: teams must retain two-thirds of their starting roster and they must abide by league rules. Mock-It lost auto-qualification due to not retaining two-thirds of their starting roster.

In a promotion/relegation format, a team’s organization doesn’t affect their auto-qualification.

The RLCS announced they will be expanding this format in the coming seasons. Here’s how the promotion/relegation system looks moving forward.

RLCS

Twelve season five spots are up for grabs during season four. The six teams that make it to the regional championships in each region auto-qualify for season five.

Four teams in each region will battle for the remaining RLCS slots in a promotion/relegation tournament, set to take place between the regional and world championships. The bottom two teams from the RLCS and the top two teams from the RLRS will compete in a double elimination tournament to determine who qualifies for the remaining RLCS slots in season 5.

RLRS

Four teams in each region will auto-qualify for the RLRS division of season five. The bottom two teams from each region’s promotion/relegation tournament, along with the third and fourth place teams receive auto-qualification.

Benefit

There’s a huge benefit to viewers when it comes to a promotion/relegation format. Teams are encouraged to stick together due to the two-thirds roster requirement for auto-qualification. This allows viewers to truly become fans of teams, knowing that the chance of the team entirely splitting up after the season isn’t as high.

Season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

Along with seeing more stability in top level rosters, we will also have the chance to see the rise of new teams. Four RLRS slots in each region, beginning in season five, go to teams competing in open-qualifiers.

The new format provides some roster stability, while at the same time still offering up and comers an opportunity to break into the professional scene through RLRS open qualifiers.

A franchise system such as the one the NA LCS is working on implementing would be closest to a traditional sport. That being said, the additional stability under the promotion/relegation system should still make Rocket League even more appealing to traditional sports fans than it already is.

We’re one step closer to cementing Rocket League as a top-level esport.

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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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TSM is trending in Rift Rivals

Trending in Rift Rivals: NA v. EU

Rift Rivals is on in full force, as regions around the world battle for bragging rights. This new international event is clashing metas against each other, to surprising effect. The Atlantic rivalry, North America versus Europe, has been particularly exciting.

There was so much speculation coming into the event, regarding which teams would be strongest, which player match-ups would be most intense and which pocket picks might be locked in. Some of this guess-work has followed through on stage, but much of it has been turned on its head. Today, we will be looking at what is trending at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing since playing at Rift Rivals. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

C9 Jensen is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen

Even though Cloud9 has had a 50 percent win rate after three days at Rift Rivals, their mid laner has been putting up quite a performance. Jensen has the second highest overall KDA (10.4), the second lowest overall death share (7 percent), and the highest overall gold and CS leads at 10 minutes (427, 11.3). Critics in the NA LCS suggested Jensen’s performance may be inflated due to the wide mid lane talent pool within North America. Rift Rivals just may convince them otherwise, having withstood Rasmus “Caps” Winther, Luka “Perkz” Perković and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert.

Phoenix1

Heralded by many to be the weakest team coming into the event, P1 has been rocking the house in Berlin. The orange-and-black hold a 4-2 record after three days of competition, higher than Cloud9, Unicorns of Love, Fnatic and G2. P1 has been the dominant early game by far, averaging 1,272 gold ahead at 15 minutes. Maintaining the highest kill:death ratio, 1.87, P1 is also the team going for blood. Their matches have been invigorating for NA LCS fans hoping for a strong showing.

TSM

Analysts are beginning to shed more and more of their doubts about TSM. The defending champions of North America are on a tear, currently sitting 5-1 with the best record at Rift Rivals. The decisive, coordinated playstyle that allowed TSM to dominate the NA LCS in Spring 2016 has re-surged. They are averaging 1,438 gold ahead at 15 minutes against some of Europe’s strongest contenders. The biggest difference between TSM and other teams in the tournament, however, has been their neutral objective control. At 75 percent dragon control and 80 percent Baron control, they are among the highest of all teams.

Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung

Phoenix1’s jungler is making quite a name for himself in his first international performance. MikeYeung has become a playmaker that is not afraid to aggressively invade the enemy’s jungle or contest neutral objectives. His Lee Sin is very slippery, sporting a 9.8 KDA and 100 percent win rate over three games. Rift Rivals is furthering his claim for “Rookie of the Split” in the NA LCS (even if he is the only one currently eligible).

Top lane Gnar is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Top lane Gnar

Gnar has seen plenty of professional gameplay around the world since his release. However, his pick-ban rate has been low for most of 2017: 2.3 percent in spring and 5.9 percent so far this summer. Rift Rivals is seeing a resurgence of the Missing Link in the top lane. Gnar has been picked in seven games, banned in five, equaling 66.6 percent of total games. Teams have won 71.4 percent of games with the champion. This probably signals an increased priority for Gnar for the foreseeable future in NA and EU LCS.

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past.

Fnatic is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic

Following an upward trend last week in the EU LCS, Fnatic have slipped up so far at Rift Rivals. Over two days, the number one European team is only 2-4 against TSM, C9 and P1. Doing a complete 180 from the EU LCS Summer Split so far, Fnatic are averaging 2,378 gold behind at 15 minutes, and they have only secured 10 percent of dragons. No one player can take the blame, though.

Jeon “Ray” Ji-won

Cloud9’s top laner is on the decline since competing at Rift Rivals. While Ray has not necessarily put up star performances in the NA LCS, his shortcomings are on full display at this tournament. The third lowest overall KDA (1.6), third lowest overall kill participation (50 percent), second highest overall death share (29.8 percent) and ninth overall lowest damage per minute (261). These all belong to Ray. 

Rek'Sai jungle is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Rek’Sai jungle

Rek’Sai saw a sharp up-tick in gameplay last week in NA and EU LCS, since receiving a gameplay update. However, the Void Burrower has not been impactful so far at Rift Rivals. RekSai has only been picked or banned in four games, and only won one game. Zac, Elise, Gragas and Lee Sin have had significantly higher priority in drafts and performance in game.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports FlickrSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Rek'Sai, the Void Burrower

Rek’Sai void rushes back into LCS

Rek’Sai, the Void Burrower, has returned to the meta within the NA and EU LCS. Junglers have begun to pick her up as an AD bruiser, following Riot’s small-scope rework. Until recently, Rek’Sai has had a firm presence in professional League of Legends over the last two and a half years.

Following Rek’Sai’s release in December 2014, teams around the world picked or banned her in over 70 percent of all games. Her overall presence dropped to around 25 percent in Spring 2016, only to bounce back up to 77 percent that summer. In Spring 2017, Rek’Sai’s pick-ban rate dropped to her lowest ever, just under 15 percent. But since Riot decided to alter her kit and balance her power, professionals have played her in 30 total games.

Eternum Rek'Sai skin splash

Image from LeagueSplash.com

Rek’Sai gameplay changes

The most extreme changes to Rek’Sai are her ultimate, Void Rush and her W, Un-burrow. Void Rush switched from a glorified teleport ability to an execute of sorts. The R now allows Rek’Sai to go unstoppable roughly one second, lunging at an enemy which she has recently attacked. This ability does attack damage based on the target’s missing health.

Rek’Sai’s Un-burrow ability no longer knocks up multiple opponents. The targeted prey is knocked up, while all surrounding enemies are slightly knocked back. These changes shift Rek’Sai’s overall gameplay from a tanky area-of-effect knock-up-bot into a single-target damage threat with execution potential. While this does not change her out-of-combat playstyle too much, it does change her impact in teamfights. Tremor Sense and Tunnels are still powerful abilities that allow Rek’Sai to see enemies effectively and exhibit pressure around the map. However, once she finds a target, she is able to output more damage than ever before.

For example, here are Rek’Sai gameplay highlights from Week 4 of the NA and EU LCS:

rek’sai’s lcs performance

Even though Rek’Sai’s pick and ban rates have increased, her win rates are still low. In NA LCS, she currently holds a 21.4 percent win rate, while in EU LCS she holds 25 percent. This puts the Void Burrower below eight to nine junglers in terms of success (with more than one game played in LCS). Players may still be learning how to effectively play her in a competitive environment.

Although most Rek’Sai players prioritize Mercury Treads for movement speed and tenacity, the rest of her build path varies between North America and Europe. In NA LCS, it has been just as common to build Skirmisher’s Sabre as building Tracker’s Knife. In EU LCS, Tracker’s Knife is almost universal. Europe also commonly builds Spirit Visage or Locket of the Iron Solari, while North America leans towards Black Cleaver and Deadman’s Plate. Tiamat into Titanic Hydra is essential on Rek’Sai in both regions.

Professional League of Legends will most likely continue to see Rek’Sai on the Rift. Despite her low win rates, junglers show a fondness for this champion. LCS players will need to continue practicing Rek’Sai in the current meta to fully develop her best strategies. Currently, her play rates and win rates do not align. Junglers should look to make her more worthwhile, or simply de-prioritize Rek’Sai in the draft.


Featured Image: Leaguepedia

Other Image: LeagueSplash

Video Highlights: Game Haus Vibby

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Phoenix One’s wild ride: A look at the past, present and Rift Rivals

Phoenix One has definitely seen better days. The summer split has not been kind to them. More specifically, the first half of the summer split. With Rift Rivals on the horizon, P1 and NA fans alike are disheartened with their performance. Phoenix One doesn’t have the most storied history, but it does have an exciting one. The organization has had a lot of ups and downs, but thus far has managed to overcome them.

Summer 2016

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

When Phoenix One entered the LCS the expectations were not very high. There weren’t any big names on the roster. Most preseason speculation put the team at the bottom of the table. Deservedly so, there was very little chance that Phoenix One was going to break into the top half of the league. Making it to the playoffs would be considered a major achievement for the young org. However, P1 came out of the gate much slower than many had anticipated.

It took P1 until week five to win a series, starting the season 0-9 having lost to every other team. The second half of the season marked a change, and P1 almost looked like a different team. They beat Team Apex in their first game of the second half of the split and then Echo Fox in week six to pick up their first and second series wins. Week seven gave P1 their third series win, this time against NRG. This established P1 as the best of the worst, having toppled the three other teams in the bottom of the rankings.

Week eight is when the magic happened. TSM’s record at the time was an unprecedented 14-0. Talks of an undefeated season had started to arise. TSM’s match ups for week eight were Phoenix one and Team Envyus. Many had written off P1 as an automatic win, since they had only beaten teams that looked slated for relegations. The series started with an easy win for TSM and looked as if it would be entirely one sided. Up against the ropes, P1 drafted Rengar for their jungler Inori. Inori went 12-2-7 in the second game and completely controlled the rift. Inori locked in Rek’Sai in the third game and proceeded to have a deathless game, going 6-0-11. This isn’t to say that he was the sole reason for their win. The two solo laners, Pirean and Zig, played really well.

This seemed to ignite the team, and the org. Though they still finished 8th at the end of the split, they had managed to defeat the top team in the league and crush their way out of the relegation tournament. The squad transformed entirely from the team they had started out as.

Spring 2017

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

During the off-season Phoenix One made some high profile roster swaps. They picked up a top NA support in Adrian as well as the South Korean midlaner, Ryu, formerly of H2k and KT Rolster. More notably they picked up Arrow, the South Korean ADC also formerly of KT Rolster. The team started off the season with a show of strength, destroying Echo Fox in a 2-0 win. They then struggled slightly, losing to DIG, TSM and Flyquest. By the end of the season however, they had established themselves as the clear third place team. P1 was not quite able to defeat the top tier teams like Cloud 9 and TSM, but there was a clear disparity between them and the teams below them such as CLG and Flyquest.

The Spring 2017 playoff demonstrated this disparity. Phoenix One played a dominant series against DIG taking the series 3-0. Their series against Cloud 9 the next week showed the other half of the disparity. P1 lost the series in a swift 3-0. They managed to win the 3rd place series against Flyquest 3-2. Flyquest’s Arrow won MVP for the split, and the team seemed to have established themselves as a top NA team.

They had achieved all this amid roster issues, having played with two different supports during their last few weeks and in the playoffs, as well as two different junglers. Meteos had subbed in for Inori due to Inori being unable to play. Adrian had left the team and they were trying out both Stunt and Shady. Arrow and Ryu were both rocks for the team to stand on, and Zig played consistently well. Meteos ended up being a big boon for the team, and Stunt seemed to find some synergy with Arrow.

Summer 2017

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

Now though, the team is at the bottom of the standings heading into week five. The team shares 9th place and a record of 1-7 with Flyquest. The team started out the split with Inori in the jungle and Shady as support, but has since made roster swaps. Phoenix One brought in the rookie sensation MikeYeung and long standing LCS support Xpecial. The swaps lead them to their first and only victory.

This is the last week before the Rift Rivals tournament. Phoenix One isn’t up to the level of play from the previous split, but they are showing some improvement. Arrow doesn’t seem nearly as consistent, and the team is much worse off without his ability to crank out the constant damage. Their slow season is not all on his shoulders however, Ryu hasn’t had the same impact as he did last split, and the team’s synergy and shot calling has suffered from the roster swaps.

The new players have seemed to breathe life into the beleaguered squad. MikeYeung is proving to be every bit the prodigy that he has been touted as, but clearly needs some time to hone his abilities.

As for Rift Rivals, many expect the team to be a flop, and by current domestic performances, that expectation isn’t unwarranted. However, the history shows that P1 has the ability to outperform their expectations when they are down, and make mid split turnarounds. Hopefully the phoenix can truly rise from the ashes and the team can come together to find some wins at an international tournament.

Photos via Lolesports Flickr

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Who’s That Champéon? It’s Galio!

Here we break down the competitive and solo queue uses of a popular meta champion, Galio. Yes, I know how to spell champion, but isn’t everything so much better when you can cash in on some sweet 90’s nostalgia?

Galio – The Colossus

Galio is a supportive tank that excels in the top and middle lane, while also being somewhat viable as a support. With a kit loaded with CC and wave clear, Galio is a must learn champion for pros across the lanes.

Why is Galio Meta

Gallium has always been a metal, but Galio has almost never been meta. His recent rework and high mastery level have allowed him to excel in professional play more than solo queue environments, in part due to his team-play dependent ultimate and safe wave-clear.

Galio’s Q, Winds of War, also known as, “kill the caster minions”, can allow him to safely defend turrets even against 2v1 scenarios. His passive, Colossal Smash, resets based upon the frequent usage of his abilities. In competitive, you are more than likely to see his passive used in tandem with Iceborn Gauntlet procs, to clear waves faster than all other tanks.

Shield of Duran, Galio’s W, provides both a passive magic shield and an active AOE taunt that also reduces damage dealt to Galio. Shield of Duran makes clean dives incredibly hard to pull off on Galio. This adds to his ability to deal with 2v1 scenarios that often arise after the first tower has fallen in pro play.

Galio’s W (top left), Passive (bottom left), ultimate (middle), Q (top right), and E (bottom right). Courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

 

Galio’s gap closing knock up, his E, Justice Punch, allows for some sweet instant knock ups when cast backwards near an enemy. It is also a substantial gap closer when cast normally. Justice Punch allows Galio to set up his bread and butter laning combo for harass in the Top and Middle Lane. Casting E, into Winds of War, followed by a taunt to keep the enemy in the Winds of War AOE is devastating on its own; but with allies around, the CC duration can often be fatal.

In competitive play, Galio’s ultimate, Hero’s Entrance, allows for the largest AOE knock up in the game. Used alongside divers such as Rakan and Jarvan IV, Hero’s Entrance can decide team fights. Used independent of divers and initiators, Galio’s ultimate can provide disengage and pick denial due to the damage reduction it gives its target. If you see a comp with heavy dive, you better expect the Galio pick and vice versa as Galio meta is more than just an LCK craze.

Who Uses it in Competitive

Galio top lane has been a popular pick in solo queue environments. However, the ability to flex this champion in two and sometimes even three roles makes him one of the highest priority picks. In the LCK, Galio has a 90.7 percent pick/ban rate. This is just slightly higher than his NA LCS pick/ban rate which stands at 86.5 percent. The difference in the win rates Galio has in the two regions is illustrative of how comfortable each region is with the popular protect the carry meta. With a 62.5 win rate in the LCK, Galio is a powerful pick that alongside dive champions can be enough to snowball mid game team fights into a victory. In NA, Galio’s  43.8 percent win rate is something to be questioned. Perhaps, NA teams find better success with him in scrims, or maybe they are just trying to replicate the LCK picks without adopting the entire team strategy to go with it.

Who Plays it Best?

In the current meta, hard crowd control based initiation is just as valuable as peeling for carries, making Galio one of the best picks. That being said, who plays it best? And more importantly, what makes them play the best?

Kt Rolster’s mid laner, Heo “Pawn” Won-seok, is the Galio player to watch. With three games and three wins, Pawn boasts a 11.33 KDA on Galio, proving that if he can get his hands on the pick, he will utilize Galio’s kit to the max. Kt Rolster as a team play Galio better than any other team, picking the champion alongside dive champions such as Jarvan IV, Rakan and Renekton.

“Oh, you want to play Galio mid? Well too bad.” Courtesy of Lol Esports flickr

Picking Galio first allows Kt Rolster to flex the pick between mid and top, as both Pawn and Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho are adept Galio players. The flex allows for the shuffling of Galio across lanes based upon the matchup, as Galio has much better match ups into magic damage lanes. Austin “Gate” Yu, support player of Echo Fox, took the ability to flex pick Galio one step further by using him as a support into a Zyra/Varus lane matchup. This pick worked against CLG due to the magic damage in the bottom lane allowing Gate to build a very cost efficient Locket of the Iron Solari.

With his base damage, professional players only pick up a couple of Doran’s Rings as offensive items. While the passive on the Rings’ mana regen has been made Unique, don’t expect Galio to fall off anytime soon. Pawn has shown Galio’s base damages to be more than enough through his purely defensive builds, typically rushing Adaptive Helm into Ninja Tabi and Warmog’s. Pawn’s use of Galio’s ultimate ability during laning phase is something you would expect out of a Shen player on steroids. With Heroic Entrance bringing CC in itself and an easier to hit taunt than Shen, Galio is the champion to beat in competitive League of Legends.

Bringing Galio into Solo Queue

Due to the nature of his kit, Galio is a much better champion in a coordinated team composition. That being said, he is still a powerful solo queue menace given the proper conditions. First, make sure your team has dive. While Galio is great at peeling, solo queue is often about killing the enemy carry over protecting your own. This is because protect the carry comps are a lot more difficult to pull off without proper coordination and trust. So only pick Galio if you have a dive buddy, maybe a duo partner, to go ham with. Second, Galio has a lot of bad matchups. What makes this worse is the fact that popular solo queue champions, such as Riven, Tryndamere, Talon, and Yasuo all do really well into Galio’s core itemization. Try not to blindly pick Galio as he greatly benefits from stacking magic resist. Finally, to play Galio correctly in solo queue you need to have exceedingly good map awareness. Utilizing Galio’s best ability, his ultimate, to bail out your teammates and counter ganks during laning phase is why Galio gets picked for mid lane. Hit level six and counter gank the enemy jungler before the opposing laner can react.

If you can manage to do those three things, then cash in on the colossal amount of LP Galio can grant you.

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Featured Image courtesy of Jesse Baron

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