The Clash of Clowns is trending up in EU LCS week 10

Trending in EU LCS: Week 10

The final week of the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split regular season was one of the most dynamic yet. There were match-ups with pride on the line, and others with no real consequences. Most draft phases looked familiar, as many champion priorities remained the same as week nine. It is difficult to put too much stock into each team’s gameplay this week, because the standings were already locked after week nine. However, there were clear “serious” games and “fun” games between teams in week ten.

Taking all of these elements into account, there are some clear winners and losers coming out of week ten. Trending in the EU LCS is back with your weekly dose of Europe’s ups and downs on the Rift.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week 10 of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put the team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

Underdog upsets are trending up in EU LCS week 10

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Underdog Upsets

Thursday and Friday’s games were full of upsets. Roccat beat G2 2-1; Ninjas in Pyjamas beat Fnatic 2-0; and Team Vitality beat Unicorns of Love 2-0. H2K was the only one to take down their lesser opponent in the first two days. As mentioned above (and outlined in Kelsey Mosers recent article for Slingshot Esports), it is unclear how serious these losses are for the top teams.

Nonetheless, these match-ups did appear to be legitimate wins for the underdogs. G2, Fnatic and UOL did not seem to hold back against Roccat, NiP or Vitality. It was a bit exciting to see some semblance of parity within the EU LCS, since most of the split has felt more stagnant in the standings. Roccat’s bottom lane, NiPs Profit, and Vitality’s solo laners proved why they have received praise at various times throughout the Summer Split.

Another layer of significance pertains to the EU LCS promotion tournament, which began Thursday. NiP will enter their series against Giants with momentum from their victory over the top team in Europe. Meanwhile, Mysterious Monkeys enter the promotion tournament with only five total game wins, finishing week 10 with a 0-2 loss to H2K. The last week of the regular season could be a preliminary indicator of how these teams will defend their LCS slots.

“Clash of the Clowns”

On a less serious note, some series in week 10 amounted to show matches, as the standings were fully locked in after Friday’s match-ups. Roccat and Misfits kicked off these “Clash of Clowns” games by locking in Heimerdinger, Master Yi, Kayle and Draven. The players also role swapped. For example, Wadid tried his hand at Lee Sin in the jungle, and IgNar drafted Kled. Game two included a Malphite-Yasuo combination against a Nasus, Karthus and Vayne.

Splyce and Vitality picked up the torch on Sunday by playing jungle Bard, Fiddlesticks, Garen, Shaco and jungle Twitch in game one. Their second game involved Mikyx’’s mid lane AP Gragas, Steeelback’s AD Thresh and Djoko’s support Pantheon. The casters were quite disappointed with Trashy’s choice of Ardent Censer Lulu, but spirits were high throughout the series.

These types of exhibitions are always immensely fun for the fans. Seeing professional players let loose and go full solo queue style is refreshing when compared to the high stakes of the Summer Split. Since G2 played Fnatic and H2K played UOL in the afternoons, these lighthearted games acted almost like true clown fiestas to preface more serious match-ups.

Janna is trending up in EU LCS week 10

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Janna

Within the serious games of week 10, Janna saw a rise in priority among supports. Rakan, Alistar and Thresh have had the highest priority over the last few weeks, but Janna rose to fourth priority last week. Since the inception of patch 7.15, Janna has maintained a 35 percent draft presence with seven picks and four bans. Out of the 14 “serious” matches in week 10, Janna was picked five times and banned twice.

Janna currently keeps a strong presence in solo queue. According to OP.GG, Janna has a 55 percent win rate with a 22 percent pick rate. This trend is bleeding into the EU LCS, as she has a 57 percent win rate right now. Her uptick in professional play can be attributed to the current strength of Ardent Censer, an item intended for healing and shielding supports.

Ardent Censer has been in the spotlight lately, as analysts have computed the massive power spike for enchanter supports after finishing the item. During one of G2’s games versus Fnatic, the EU LCS broadcast team was cued into the race between Mithy’s Janna and Jesiz’s Karma to finish Ardent Censer. As long as the item remains in its current state, expect Janna to stay towards the top of the support champion tier list.

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week 10 of the EU LCS. 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. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

G2 is trending down in the EU LCS week 10

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G2

Fans and analysts alike expected the top teams of Group A to battle it out as the “Kings of Europe.” However, G2 fell flat in week 10. Not only did they lose 2-0 to Fnatic, but they also lost to Roccat. For a team with hopes for Worlds, G2 did not look convincing at all. In their series against Fnatic, Perkz and Trick simply fell flat. Perkz’s Galio lacked impact, and Fnatic completely punished his Lucian pick.

More important than individual performances, G2’s overall team gameplay seemed off. Soaz, Caps and Rekkles drafted Gnar, Orianna and Ashe in both games, and G2 could not avoid the crowd control in the later stages. Fnatic was sure to answer every lost objective with an objective of their own. However, this loss felt more like a faltering from G2, rather than an out-classing from Fnatic.

Zac

Zac has been the most contested champion in the EU LCS for the entire Summer Split. He has maintained an incredible 93 percent pick or ban rate and a 71 percent win rate. Most teams ban him in the first round just to take him off of the table for the rest of the draft. However, week 10 was a little bit different.

Zac was picked four times out of 14 “serious” games in week 10 (28.6 percent), and he was banned eight times (57.1 percent). Altogether, this amounts to an 85.7 percent draft presence. More importantly, though, teams that drafted Zac only won once out of four matches (25 percent). Jankos showcased one win, but lost two others. Trick was the other jungler to give Zac a shot, but he also fell short.

Riot has hit Zac with changes every single patch since the tank update in patch 7.9, yet he has continued to be a mainstay for professional junglers in Europe. Zac’s unique combination of long distance engage, sustain and clear speed puts him above all other junglers. His weak presence and performances in week 10 raise the question, “Are junglers still practicing Zac?” It is possible that he has become more balanced and teams just have not been able to gauge it. It is also possible that Zac is still strong, but no one is actually playing him in scrims, because he is permanently banned.

H2K is trending down in EU LCS week 10

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H2K

On that note, two of the losses involving Zac came at the hands of H2K. Their win against Mysterious Monkeys was fully expected, but their loss to Unicorns of Love was a tough blow. Game one of the series went extremely well. H2K secured an early couple of kills, which snowballed almost perfectly. UOL ended the game with just six kills, two turrets and one dragon.

Game two was different. By 21 minutes into the match, H2K was over 2,000 gold ahead. They had secured four turrets and a Cloud Drake to UOL’s single turret and Rift Herald. This all came crumbling down when the Unicorns grouped in the mid lane and activated the Rift Herald.

H2K grouped in response, lost their turret and poorly engaged onto Xerxe’s Poppy. Jankos pulled Xerxe into the rest of his team with Zac’s ultimate, which triggered H2K to focus him down, including Syndra’s ultimate. However, Xerxe responded by snap-casting Poppy’s ultimate, knocking up Jankos, Nuclear and Chei. Exileh flashed in, and the rest of UOL moved in, to assassinate Nuclear’s Tristana, kill Odoamne’s Gnar and chunk the other members to a point where they could not contest a Baron attempt.

That is the moment that tilted H2K beyond return. The Unicorns pushed down two turrets, took another Baron, and ended game two. In game three, UOL almost skunked H2K, who only finished with six kills. They did not secure a single turret, dragon, Baron or Herald. Being the last series of the regular season, this is an uninspiring note on which to end. Luckily, H2K earned Group B’s quarterfinals bye, so they will have adequate time to decompress, strategize and adapt for playoffs. They still have a tumultuous road ahead, if they are to qualify for the World Championship.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, League of Legends boards

Video Highlights: TheGameHaus Vibby

Champion Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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UOL Vizicsacsi ranks first among EU LCS top laners

Regular season EU LCS top laner rankings

The European LCS is home to many world-calibur top lane players. Often left on an “island” to themselves, top laners tend to play head-to-head for the longest time compared to other roles. Top lane is also a position whose champion pool changes heavily depending on the meta. If tanks are strong, expect to see tanks. If bruisers are strong, expect to see them instead. Split-pushing is a valid strategy for top laners, as well.

The 2017 Summer Split regular season is over, and the standings are set. Playoffs will be underway soon, as well as the promotion tournament. Votes will be cast for MVP, rookie, coach and all-team awards. Therefore, before any of those biases are incorporated into thinking about who is the best, it is time to rank these players while the play time is as even as possible between teams.

These types of rankings can be controversial. It is difficult to parse apart an individual player’s contribution to their team. Is this a strong player being held down by his team? Or is the team carrying him? Is he only able to play one style, and then falters on another? Does he only play well against teams below his own? Here is an attempt to answer such questions for every starting EU LCS top laner.

10. ROC Phaxi

ROC Phaxi is tenth among EU LCS top laners

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Roccat average the second highest deficit in the EU LCS at 15 minutes. Out of their 628 gold deficit, Phaxi contributes 237 behind. Of course, some of this comes from losing turrets or neutral objectives to enemy teams, which is not entirely his fault. However, part of it has to do with his having the second lowest CS difference at 10 minutes among top laners, -4.2. This amounts to 109 XP behind at 10 minutes, second lowest among top laners, as well.

This wouldn’t be as problematic, but Phaxi’s champion pool has been mostly carries this summer. Out of 33 total games, Phaxi only played tanks in seven (21.2 percent), Galio, Poppy and Shen. His most played champs have been Jarvan IV, Gnar and Renekton. Phaxi also has the lowest First Blood rate (six percent), KDA (1.6) and kill participation (56.6 percent). His damage numbers are lowest among top laners. Even in Riot’s new adjusted damage rating, Phaxi finishes last.

9. MM Kikis

MM Kikis ranks ninth among EU LCS top laners

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Kikis has fewer games than other top laners on this list, because he got picked up by Mysterious Monkeys after the first few weeks of the Summer Split. That being said, his impact on the team was not heavily felt. To be fair, he has the lowest death share of all top laners (17 percent), and he has a 40 percent First Blood rate. Kikis averages close to even in lane at 10 minutes, +73 gold, -3 XP and -3.7 CS. His damage share for the Monkeys is actually pretty good (23.4 percent).

The issue for Kikis, though, is his actual damage and presence on the map. It is hard to imagine replacing other EU top laners with Kikis and seeing improvements throughout the team. His most played champions have been Camille and Renekton, yet neither seems memorable. Kikis is an obvious upgrade from Jisu, Mysterious Monkeys’ previous top laner, but mostly in salvaging deaths, rather than securing kills or objectives. His surprise picks, such as Akali and Aatrox, were welcome from an entertainment standpoint, but they do not help his case as a quality top laner in the EU LCS this split.

8. MSF Alphari

MSF Alphari ranks eighth among EU LCS top laners

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The main element that separates Alphari from the bottom two top laners on this list is his split pushing. Alphari’s statistics are awful. He owns the second lowest damage per minute (375), the lowest CS and XP differences at 10 minutes (-5, -209) and the second lowest gold difference at 10 minutes (-124). However, his KDA is fourth among top laners (3.4).

Although it failed both times, Misfits drafted Kennen in the top lane twice. Alphari plays mostly Jarvan IV, Rumble and Renekton, and he tends to pressure the map away from the rest of the team for as long as possible before flanking with teleport to join fights. While Maxlore and IgNar roam in tandem to pressure mid and bottom lanes, Alphari is left alone in top. He generally sacrifices an early lane advantage for his teammates. However, it is rare to see him actually carry a game, which separates him from the top laners higher in these rankings.

7. VIT Cabochard

VIT Cabochard ranks seventh among EU LCS top laners

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Cabochard contributes 24.6 percent of Team Vitality’s damage. That is the highest damage share among top laners. However, Cabochard also receives 23.1 percent of the team’s gold, which is second highest among EU LCS top laners. Vitality invests a lot into Cabochard’s success. He generally starts the game well, averaging the most gold ahead (152), second most XP ahead (180) and second most CS ahead (3.8) at 10 minutes.

This is to be expected, considering Cabochard played over a third of his games on Rumble (10 out of 29). Rumble is a champion that always gets to bully his lane with Flamespitter and easily farm. The reason Cabochard is not higher on the rankings is that his lead never seemed to propel Vitality’s games. Vitality, as a team, averaged behind in gold at 15 minutes, and their early objective rates are all low. Cabochard’s leads stay with him. They do not get spread across the map for turrets or dragons or Heralds or Barons.

6. nip profit

NIP Profit ranks fifth among EU LCS top laners

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Although Ninjas in Pyjamas finished this split in last place of Group A, Profit seemed to adapt well to the EU LCS. He averaged middle-of-the-pack for gold, CS and XP differences at 10 minutes as well as kill participation (63.5 percent). His damage numbers are decent, a 24.4 percent share for his team, second highest among top laners. However, he also receives a 23.2 percent share of the gold.

Profit may very well be the strongest split-pusher in the EU LCS this split. On champion picks like Rumble, Jarvan IV, Gnar and Renekton, Profit is extremely calculated in the side lane. He only sacrifices 19.9 percent of NiP’s deaths (second lowest among top laners), despite his isolation. This split-push style is Profit’s only real demonstration this split, though. NiP got worse as the games got later. The coordinated teamfighting aspects of the game were lost on the Ninjas, and Profit’s obsession with side lanes did not seem to help.

5. g2 expect

G2 Expect ranks fifth among EU LCS top laners

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G2 have had lower lows this summer than in previous splits, but Expect has done well for himself. He has flown under the radar with third-fourth place laning statistics, such as +2.1 CS, +30 XP and +84 gold at 10 minutes.

Expect also has good teamfighting numbers, such as 458 damage per minute (third highest among top laners) and 69.6 percent kill participation (highest among top laners). And, somewhat surprisingly, Expect ranked second highest among top laners for adjusted damage.

Expect’s ranking on this list represents the first multi-faceted top laner in the EU LCS. Those below him had narrow windows of power in the game, which, if missed, would not result in much. However, Expect has exhibited an ability to play Gnar and Renekton, as well as Galio and Cho’Gath. His flexibility allows G2’s strategies to adapt to their opponent’s. Expect can hold his own in lane, essentially denying enemies the opportunity to get ahead on the top side. He then transitions into strong teamfighting, split-pushing and objective control. He has fulfilled G2’s needs well. But where he falls short is in acting as an individual carry for the team.

4. FNC Soaz

FNC Soaz ranks fourth among EU LCS top laners

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Soaz is difficult to peg against other EU LCS top laners. Fnatic have had an incredibly successful split, and when a team is performing so well together, it can be difficult to pull them apart and compare as individuals. While Soaz looks refreshed compared to his recent history with Origen, he still is not the primary catalyst for Fnatic. Of course, he is ahead in gold and XP at 10 minutes (+117, +118), but not from CS (averages zero at 10 minutes). His teammates create plenty of pressure and take First Blood in 74 percent of games, 52 percent of the time involving him.

Soaz’s adjusted damage rates him third. He performs well 1-v-1 on picks like Gnar and Jarvan IV, but on tankier picks, such as Shen, Gragas and Galio, Soaz truly shines. Fnatic looks best when Soaz is able to enable Caps and Rekkles to dish damage. These resistant, high crowd-control champions are perfect for Soaz’s role on the team, but the players ranked above him have exhibited more diverse playstyles with less stellar teammates.

3. SPY Wunder

SPY Wunder ranks third among EU LCS top laners

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Wunder plays the best Kled in the EU LCS. His other top played champions include Rumble, Camille, Gnar and Cho’Gath. Kled is suitable to Wunder’s playstyle, because he enjoys aggressive dueling in side lanes while split-pushing, but he also acts as an engage tool in most of Splyce’s games. This has been a weakness for Wunder in the past: playing overly aggressive without the support of his team and sacrificing deaths. This split has looked much more polished.

Wunder’s laning statistics are not great by any means: fourth lowest gold difference (+2), third lowest XP difference (-106) and third highest CS difference (+2.2) at 10 minutes. This paints a picture of Wunder on an island in the top lane receiving pressure from the enemy jungler, denying XP, but still managing to secure CS to go even in lane. Wunder has one of the lowest First Blood rates among top laners (15 percent). And although he has sacrificed the fourth most deaths in the league (75), he is tied for the most kills (84). Wunder is also sure to put out the second highest damage per minute (459). He has the opposite problem of Soaz. Splyce jungler is not as active, especially on the top side of the map, yet Wunder manages to make it through laning phase and contribute in engaging, damaging and split-pushing.

2. H2K Odoamne

H2K Odoamne ranks second among EU LCS top laners

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H2K’s top laner has been towards the top of top laners for several splits now. As a veteran, Odoamne has been consistently good through several different metas, including lane swaps. What makes him so good is his ability to bring pressure to the game with any champion he drafts, whether it be Shen, Gragas and Maokai, or Rumble, Gnar and Camille. Odoamne has the highest KDA among top laners (4.7) and is tied with Wunder for most kills (84) even though he has only played 26 games. He also has the fourth highest adjusted damage rating.

Many of the statistics do not do Odoamne justice. Just watching him play the game, you can tell that he is on another level compared to most top laners. When he trades in lane, when he synergizes with Jankos, when he teleports or flanks into a teamfight, he just brings a presence that is not felt with many of Europe’s top laners. The only reason he is not ranked number one is because there is one other top laner that brings the same presence described here, except his laning is even better.

1. UOL Vizicsacsi

UOL Vizicsacsi ranks first among EU LCS top laners

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Vizicsacsi has been named MVP, first team all-LCS, and many others. His role on Unicorns of Love cannot be understated.

Vizicsacsi starts the game by averaging the highest XP and CS differences at 10 minutes of any top laner (+243, +9.6). This sets him up to have the items and advantage to enter skirmishes and fights around the map, particularly bottom lane, and spread his lead into other teammates. For this reason, Vizicsacsi is the best Shen player in the EU LCS, and he looks best on tankier champions, such as Cho’Gath, Galio and Gragas.

Vizicsacsi’s split-pushing is some of the best in the league. When he plays Gnar, Fiora or Rumble, he generally draws a lot of attention. The Unicorns’ top laner is even known to turn on his opponent and secure counter-kills when he is caught out. It can be incredible. Vizicsacsi has the highest damage per minute of all top laners (472), and the highest adjusted damage rating according to Riot. His main flaw is sacrificing deaths. He has the second most deaths among top laners (110), granted he has played the most games (32). However, his 2.4 KDA is fourth lowest among top laners, which is not good for being on a top team.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Champion Statistics: GamesofLegends.com, OraclesElixir.com

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Inferno: The hallmark of grand finals

PGL Major Kraków was a topsy turvy tournament, to say the least. A Gambit side led by Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko took the victory in a thrilling final map on the historic Inferno. We saw an incredible clutch from Abay ‘HObbit’ Khasenov and consistent fragging from Dauren ‘AdreN’ Kystaubayev whilst the AWPing of Vito ‘kNg’ Giuseppe and the leadership of Lucas ‘steel’ Lopes tried to keep them in the game.

The map in question, Inferno, has hosted a number of grand final deciders. Despite only being reintroduced into the map pool this year, it has remained a popular choice among top teams. It is favored as a neutral playing field because most teams know all the basic strategies but the tempo can be changed between fast and slow. Its design also allows for clutch plays whether that be as a CT from pit defending the A bomb or as a terrorist running down banana.

For these reasons, we’ve been gifted many memorable finals thanks to Inferno. This article will pick out some of the best that you may be interested in re-watching.

SL-iLeague Starseries Season 3 Finals

FaZe Clan had been on the rise since picking up Bosnian superstar Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač. They had recently formed a rivalry with the Danes of Astralis, who bested them in the final of Counter-Strikes famed ESL One Katowice.

However, there was more than just the rivalry at stake for FaZe. The team was out to prove what international teams can achieve. Not only that, Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen craved revenge against his former team while Fabien ‘kioShiMa’ Fiey wanted to prove he wasn’t ‘The Problem’. With the grand final one a piece, was there a better way to end than in overtime on Inferno?

ESL One Cologne 2014

Over three years ago now, back when it was still a major, the grand final of ESL One Cologne 2014 was decided by Inferno. The perfect stage for the still ripe El Classico between Fnatic and NiP. The aforementioned beat the Ninjas in CSGO’s first ever major championship while the legendary team was still missing one from their trophy cabinet.

Facing one of the most dominant Inferno teams in Fnatic, it seemed as if all the odds were pitched against them. After going down early, an unforgettable ace from Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg instilled confidence in the Ninjas who would go on to win their only major in CSGO.

ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals

For this match, we head over to London to witness an intense best of five final. Luminosity, now known as SK Gaming, was fresh off the back of a major win at ESL One Cologne 2016. While challengers G2 Esports had struggled with consistency. It was on the astounding duo of Richard ‘shox’ Papillon and Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom to prove French CS was still at large.

The first four maps were nail-biting with every map ending with both teams in double figures. The last map Inferno did the entire series justice. The game went into overtime boasting incredible plays from Shox and Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David. If you are a newer viewer it’s one I’d definitely recommend watching.

ESL One Katowice 2015

After looking into Cologne 2014, you’ll probably get a sense of Déjà vu here. We’re back, map three, Inferno, NiP versus Fnatic. This time Fnatic demonstrated that dominance through utterly crushing the Ninjas on their CT side. In spite of that, NiP would make the game entertaining through a second half resurgence.

This game is a great example of how to play the CT side of Inferno. NiP making great use of crossfires on the A bombsite, meanwhile, Fnatic perfected the art of banana control. If learning some new tricks is your thing, many of these can still be used in the newest iteration of the map.

 

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Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Prediction: Fnatic, G2 and H2K will represent the EU LCS at Worlds

While four weeks of Summer Split, playoffs and the regional gauntlet remain for the EU LCS, Worlds is just around the corner. The window for qualifying is quickly closing, and every match counts. The teams have four to six series left to prove themselves and solidify their spot in the World Championships to represent Europe.

Keeping that in mind, I believe Fnatic (FNC), G2 and H2K will be the qualifying teams. Below, I outline the various different circumstances of these three teams. There are spectrums of results that these squads can fall into. There is enough parity within the league that any of these teams could miss out on Worlds, but they can also win the split and be Europe’s top seed. Here are the ways in which FNC, G2 and H2K can finish out their split.

fnatic

How they miss Worlds: Let’s say Fnatic loses its upcoming series against Unicorns of Love (UOL), Misfits (MSF) and G2. They would end the split with a 9-4 record. MSF or G2 would need to win five out of six of their remaining games to overtake FNC for first place in Group A. Therefore, they are most likely going to end first in their group.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

First place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. If they lose in the semifinals, FNC would end the split in third or fourth place. Third gives them 70 championship points; fourth gives 40 points. Since they finished Spring Split with 50 points, FNC’s total championship points would come to 120 or 90.

If playoffs played out in this way, then G2 and UOL would both most likely finish with more championship points, pushing FNC into the regional qualifiers. If we are assuming MSF beat FNC in week eight, then they may very well beat them in the gauntlet to qualify. This would be FNC’s lowest probable outcome, in my opinion.

Realistic expectations: FNC should reasonably win three of their last five series. Their record would end at 10-3, meaning MSF or G2 would need to win all of their remaining series (including those against FNC) to overtake first place in Group A.

Again, first place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. Realistically, FNC will end up playing against UOL or H2K in the semifinals. They can beat either of those opponents to make it into the finals and auto-qualify via first place in Summer Split or highest total championship points.

H2K or UOL winning playoffs to auto-qualify would be the only possibilities that would rule out these qualifications. FNC would then be competing with G2 and UOL for highest championship points. For example, if UOL finishes first, FNC second and G2 third, then G2 would total 160 points. FNC would have 140, forced into the gauntlet. If G2 instead finishes fourth, then they would total 130 points.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Finally, if the playoff standings end with H2K-FNC-UOL-G2 in first through fourth, then FNC and UOL will tie with 140 total championship points. According to lolesports.com, FNC would qualify for Worlds, because they accrued more points in the Summer Split.

Best case scenario: FNC can realistically win the entire Summer Split. They currently sit at 7-1, and it is likely they will finish first in Group A. Therefore, they are likely to have a bye in the first round of playoffs. H2K or UOL are FNC’s most likely semi-finals opponent. FNC could definitely beat them to qualify for the finals.

Once there, FNC will most likely face H2K, UOL or G2. Again, they can conceivably beat any of these opponents in a best-of-five series to win the Summer Split and auto-qualify for Worlds as Europe’s first seed.

G2

How they miss Worlds: G2 are second in Group A with a 5-3 record. They have five series left to solidify their spot in the standings. Assuming G2 beats all teams below them and loses to FNC and MSF, they would end the regular season with an 8-5 record. This may put them at third in their group.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

They would likely face UOL or H2K in the quarterfinals. Either of those teams could eliminate G2 from playoffs immediately. They would finish in fifth-sixth, gaining only 20 championship points. G2’s total would be 110 points. If UOL finishes second, third or fourth, FNC finishes second or third, or MSF finishes second, then G2 would be forced into the regional qualifiers.

Within the gauntlet, G2 would most likely auto-qualify for the semifinals or finals. They could reasonably win into Worlds, but they could also fall flat. It would be hard to imagine the 2017 World Championships without G2 in attendance, but that is not out of the realm of possibility.

Realistic expectations: Suppose G2 beats Vitality (VIT), Ninjas in Pyjamas, MSF and Roccat (ROC) in their last four weeks of the Summer Split. G2 would finish the split with a 9-4 record, second in Group A. This could completely change their likelihood for qualifying into Worlds. Splyce (SPY) would be the most likely opponent from Group B.

If G2 were to win that quarterfinals match, then they would automatically finish in the top four in the EU LCS. Fourth place would give G2 130 championship points. UOL would have to get second or third, or FNC would need to get second, to push G2 into the gauntlet. Under those circumstances, G2 would most likely bye into the finals of the Regional Qualifiers, putting them one best-of-five away from Worlds.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If G2 finish in third, that would put them at 160 points. UOL would have to get second place to knock G2 into the gauntlet. Any other circumstance would allow G2 to qualify for Worlds as Europe’s second seed.

Best case scenario: Most EU LCS fans know that G2 are completely capable of making it into the playoff finals. Even if they lose, G2 would finish the year with 180 championship points. It would be impossible for another team to surpass.

It is not inconceivable for G2 to win the entire Summer Split. They have won three splits in a row, and performed highly at Mid-Season Invitational. G2 would love to go to Worlds as Europe’s top seed to set themselves up for international success.

H2K

How they miss Worlds: H2K do not have an easy road to Worlds this year. Spring Split really set them back compared to other top teams. They currently sit towards the top of Group B with a 6-3 record. They are battling UOL for the first place spot. SPY is two wins behind H2K with four weeks to go.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If H2K drops series to SPY and UOL, and SPY is able to overtake them for second place in Group B, then H2K will most likely face G2 or MSF in the quarterfinals. MSF will be a decent match-up, but losing to G2 would mean ending fifth-sixth again. H2K would finish the year with 30 championship points and be forced into the gauntlet, where they would likely lose.

Even if H2K makes it into semifinals from quarterfinals, they would have to then face FNC or G2. Either of these teams could knock H2K into the third place match. If H2K finish fourth, they would have accumulated 50 total points, and most likely need several Regional Qualifier wins to get to Worlds. If they finish third, they would have 80 points, and still most likely need to win two series for Worlds.

At H2K’s lowest, they will not make Worlds. Their Spring Split playoffs performance has set them back so far that every single series win could be the difference for them to qualify. Losses now mean a lower playoff seed. Losing early in playoffs means a longer gauntlet run. A loss in the gauntlet means another team is representing Europe at Worlds.

Realistic expectations: H2K is fully capable of beating every single opponent in the league. It is just a matter of which team is playing well that day. They can beat UOL. SPY, VIT and Mysterious Monkeys should be easier wins. UOL faltering against ROC this week proves that H2K can finish first in Group B.

A first round bye for playoffs would be a boon for H2K. It would solidify a top four finish in the Summer Split, essentially guaranteeing they are included in the Regional Qualifiers. If they finish third in playoffs, then H2K most likely has to beat SPY or MSF and face UOL to qualify for Worlds. In this hypothetical, H2K finished at the top of their group by beating UOL, so they could then beat them in the gauntlet and qualify as Europe’s third seed team.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Best case scenario: At H2K’s peak, they win the whole Summer Split. FNC, G2 and UOL had troubles at Rift Rivals, but it is not necessarily going to be easy. H2K could finish the split in first place for Group B. They could go on to beat MSF or G2 in the semifinals, then win the finals against UOL or FNC.

This is H2K’s best scenario. Of course, winning Summer Split is everyone’s best scenario, but this is especially true of H2K when compared to FNC, G2 and UOL. Points-wise, those three teams are contenders for Europe’s second seed if they don’t win playoffs. Because of H2K’s fifth-sixth finish in the Spring Split, they do not have this luxury. If H2K finish first in Group B, then they only need to win two best-of-five series to go to Worlds. If they do not finish first in their group, then H2K will have to win four to six series to qualify.

Prediction

My actual predictions are a hodge podge of the hypotheticals described above. I expect Group A will see FNC in first, G2 in second and MSF third. Group B will have H2K finish first, UOL second and SPY third. FNC and H2K will go into playoffs with a bye.

In that scenario, UOL would face MSF in the quarterfinals. G2 would match with SPY. Both of the second place teams would win those best-of-fives. UOL will go on to face FNC, while G2 goes up against H2K.

The “Kings of Europe” really should reign supreme at this point. FNC and G2 have impressive histories of winning European best-of-fives. UOL and H2K, on the other hand, have faltered on many occasions when it truly mattered. FNC and G2 should meet in the finals.

It may end up being a close series, but it is hard to bet against G2 at this point in the EU LCS. Sure, they looked rough at Rift Rivals against the NA LCS teams, but this is not Rift Rivals. This is the EU LCS. G2 has won the last three splits in a row, and they seem to always do better in longer series. I expect them to take Europe’s first seed spot for Worlds this year.

FNC would finish the year with 140 championship points, taking Europe’s second seed qualifier. UOL would have 110, H2K would have 80, MSF would have 50 and SPY would have 30. It is hard to imagine this gauntlet final facing off anyone besides H2K and UOL. These Group B rivals will be exciting to watch. Following their week 10 match-up, I expect H2K to follow through and qualify as Europe’s third seed to Worlds.

Regardless of what happens over the last few weeks of the EU LCS, it is going to be riveting. The standings are much closer than many expected coming into the split. The parity within Groups A and B is shaping up to come down to the wire. Series losses now can have Worlds-qualifying consequences. Every match counts.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Dreamhack Valencia: Reflections

Dreamhack Valencia took place last week; although, it flew a bit under the radar, as bigger tournaments, specifically the Major and ESL One Cologne, overshadowed it. While it was no Cologne, this tournament was another tournament to use an idea for group stage formatting that could be massive for the scene. Before I get into implications in terms of tournament formatting, I’ll give my thoughts on the tournament results.

The New NiP

via https://www.hltv.org/

NiP with Fredrik ‘REZ’ Sterner at ESL One Cologne looked pretty decent, and at Dreamhack Valencia, they further cemented themselves back into the top 15 in the world. While they didn’t face the ‘best’ team there in terms of rankings, they laid the hammer down against the lesser ones. They may not have a very deep map pool, but their map pool is very tricky to play against. They are once again the best team in the world on Cache. You cannot play Cache against them, or you will go down 0-1. Their next best map is up for debate. For my money, it’s Nuke; however, they have looked pretty decent on Train as well. What makes their map pool tricky, is that no team in the top 10 besides Natus Vincere permaban Cache. This gives them a ‘free’ map in almost any series, and right now they look like they can play almost every map in the pool; admittedly they aren’t very good on most of the maps, but it is still an improvement for this squad.

The key for the Ninjas here is if REZ can prove to be a superstar player. The kind of player NiP has lacked since Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund was in good form. He doesn’t need to be the next GeT_RiGhtT, but he does have to be their superstar. If he proves that he is, NiP could again be contenders for the world number one spot, as the supporting cast on NiP is among the best in Counter-Strike, with GeT_RiGhT’s recent resurgence.

The Rise of Red Reserve

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

The young Swedish team, that acquired Mikiel ‘Maikelele’ Bill a little over a month ago, managed to make the finals of Dreamhack Valencia. To do so, they upset Heroic, a favorite to make the final, in the semifinals in narrow fashion. This upset doesn’t really mean much in my opinion. To me, it just seemed like the new Swedish roster was just on a hot run this tournament, and will not pose a threat to any of the top 15 teams in the near future. Their play style is erratic, and they rely too much on the skill of their players. This style will not get them very far in the current era; however, one particular player that impressed me was Hampus ‘hampus’ Poser. He could be someone to watch out for as an up and coming star player.

Heroic Fall Short

Dreamhack Valencia

via https://www.hltv.org/

I know I’ve already said it, but Red Reserve did upset this Danish Squad in narrow fashion. All in all, a bad showing from Heroic. Heroic with Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen is a pretty decent team; however, for my money, they could really make great use of a player like Philip ‘aizy’ Aistrup. As we know, aizy’s time in North is coming to a close. Es3tag has not been awful, but aizy is more skilled and would better fit this team. Not to mention, Marco ‘Snappi’ Pfeiffer, has shown us throughout his entire time with Heroic, he knows how to get players involved, and use them correctly. This is exactly what aizy needs to help get his career back on track.

GSL Bo3

Dreamhack Valencia

via https://allevents.in

The real headliner for Dreamhack Valencia, for me anyway, is the use of GSL format in groups; however, not the GSL Bo1 groups we are used to. Instead, the elimination matches were both best of three. I think this sort of group stage is a great idea and would love to see more of it; although, if I could have it all my way, I would make the first match a best of one, the winner’s, loser’s and decider matches would all be best of three. I think this would be the ultimate format for a tournament group stage, and would not even necessarily warrant an extra day for the tournament to run. Smaller tournaments can just invite fewer teams, and bigger tournaments would be able to fit the extra maps in.

The major for example has one day per group stage anyway, meaning this format would fit just fine. Not to mention, not every tournament organizer has to use this format; however, for a tournament that is seen as the end all for the discussion of who the best team in the world is, I think only the best format should be used, and the legend system simply must go, but that topic is for another article.

Dreamhack Valencia may not have had a huge prize pot, or all the best teams, but it did have some great formatting, that with some tinkering and patience, could well be the future of our game.


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A fan’s journal of ESL One Cologne – Part Two

Link to part one in case you missed it.

Day 3 – Saturday – Semifinals

A chilled morning

Damn I miss their pizza and doughnuts. [Source: backwerk.de]

Since the semifinals didn’t start until four o clock local time we slept in till our hearts were content. We left to go out for breakfast at about ten – we’d had enough of cereal bars and waffles already – and went to a place called Back Werk which for you Brits is pretty much identical to Greggs except here they have more on offer.

For the remainder of the afternoon, we went back into town to return a t-shirt Lewis bought that was too small and got Subway, which while the menu was in English is quite an awkward thing to order in a foreign country because of the number of questions you get asked.

Game of the tournament

The first semifinal was Natus Vincere vs Cloud9 which was undoubtedly the best series for us, particularly the second map on Overpass. The last five rounds or so were hectic and it felt as if the entire arena was just waiting for Cloud9 to win it. The fact that it went right down to the wire made the ending even better. I’m a sucker for the underdog story so it was thrilling to see C9 make it to the finals.

After the SK/FaZe series, we headed back to the hotel to chill out and have a few drinks. When we reached the lobby of the hotel we saw s1mple lounging in the reception area and with some newly built confidence, I decided to approach him. I’m a big fan of s1mple simply because of his outrageous playstyle and his outlandish attitude which kind of reminds me of myself sometimes. However, because of this reason I was anxious to ask as I thought he might be contentious, but surprisingly he was willing to. I would even go as far as saying that he seemed happy to but we’ll never know, after all, it is s1mple.

Not much else to say about semi-final day as we spent most of our time at the arena. I did forget to mention that I got a picture with MrTweeday which I was particularly pleased about since his old NiP frag movies were one of the reasons that I became really passionate about the esports side of CSGO and NiP as well.

Day 4 – Sunday – Grand Final

I’m not avoiding you Tweeday, the sun was just blinding.

Sunday started out much the same shower, waffles and head out. If you’re interested in another awkward lift story, this time we got cozy with the Brazilians Lucas, kNg and their coach Zakk from Immortals. We exchanged greetings whilst waiting for the lift, but the whole way down to the lobby they were joking around in Brazilian with us having no idea what they were saying. The two of us were more interested in the black and brown Yeezys Lucas had on. We felt like we were hanging since we had our Ultraboosts on. Again the grand final didn’t start till later on in the day so we had a walk around Cologne to try and get some nice pictures.

On our walk around we found the signing area, where fans can obviously meet the players and take pictures or have things signed. You’ve probably been wondering why we had never been before but we didn’t feel the need to since anything like that we could have done at our hotel. The queues were quite long, we were in the area an hour before FaZe Clan were due in and the line was already a hundred people thick. If you have the time I don’t think an hour is too long to wait, I’ve waited longer to see concerts so if having your mouse pad signed or getting a picture with your idol would make your trip I would definitely say it’s worth your time.

A short time later was the grand final. We had our nachos and our cheeseburgers and we were ready to go. The series was opened with a performance of the theme for the event Fly Away by TheFatRat on stage. It was expected but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. A prop I have for ESL is that they put on a good show all weekend long whether it was entertaining us with fan interviews or the opening ceremony or the various booths around the venue. They certainly made it a lot more enjoyable than just watching CS on a huge screen. Regardless of whether you are a fan of electronic music you have to appreciate the lights show that was put on, mesmerizing was the only way I can describe it.

As for the actual grand final itself, it depends on entirely what you define as entertaining Counter-Strike as to whether you enjoyed it or not. SK Gaming put on a clinic and you could see some of the adaptations they’d made to catch the Americans off guard. It was a shame C9 couldn’t pick one map up for the crowd. The stadium was a beautiful sea of blue and white with a few fishes of other jerseys swimming around. At least they gave us a couple of amazing plays to cheer for, the Autimatic deagle round on Train, in particular, had me jumping out of my seat. At the end of the day, SK deserved to win and the crowd recognized that and cheered many congratulations as they picked the trophy up.

Day 5 – Monday

Time to Leave

The realization that I no longer had to plan my days around watching the best Counter-Strike on one of the most alluring stages was depressing. I actually felt as if there was a piece of my heart missing. It might only have been five days but it was some of the best five of my life. Walking around Cologne for the final time, you could tell that the event was all said and done. The streets were desolate once again, you could tell because you could actually step foot in the Subway near the Lanxess. There were next to no people walking around in mousesports or Cloud9 jerseys or people with ESL lanyards. I wanted to hear the crowd roar. Just one last time.

The trek home was tiresome. Our flight was delayed, meaning that we missed our train. It took us seven hours to get from Manchester to Hull which would usually take two hours. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world though. I discovered esports when it had just started to walk, now I’m watching it run and I believe that it’s only going to get stronger. All I ask is that you give it a chance, be part of it.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Credit to Affen mit Waffen’s YouTube for allowing the use of his recording of FatRat’s performance.

 

VIT wants to qualify for playoffs

How Roccat, NiP, Vitality and Monkeys make it into EU LCS playoffs

Each EU LCS team has five to seven series left to get into position for playoffs. Over the next five weeks, teams will jockey for a spot in the top three of their groups. If playoffs were to begin today, Fnatic, Misfits and G2 would represent Group A, and Unicorns of Love, H2K and Splyce would represent Group B. It would essentially be a repeat of the Spring Split.

But playoffs does not start today, lucky for Roccat, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Vitality and Mysterious Monkeys. These squads still have a chance to muscle themselves into playoffs. The road ahead will be difficult, but not impossible. Here is the outlook for the rest of the split for these four EU LCS teams.


GROUP A

ROC

Record: 2-5 Schedule: MM, UOL, NIP, FNC, G2, MSF

ROC want to qualify for EU LCS playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This is one of the most unpredictable teams. ROC served FNC their only loss in week three, but also lost a crucial 2-0 to VIT in week five. Their game record is 7-11 (38.9 percent win rate), but their series record is 2-5 (28.6 percent win rate).

On paper, ROC does not have much going for them. The team averages 1,059 gold behind at 15 minutes. They have the lowest First Blood rate in the LCS. ROC also sits in bottom two of the league for first turret rate, first three turrets rate, Rift Herald control and Elemental Drake control. According to OraclesElixir.com, ROCs early game and mid-late game ratings are ninth and eighth, respectively.

The only areas ROC relatively exceeds in are Elder Drake control and Baron control. They take 67 percent of Elder Drakes and 44 percent of Barons. Pridestalker has been instrumental in ROC’s objective control. The jungle, especially late game, has been ROC’s biggest strength.

For ROC to qualify for playoffs, the solo laners will need to improve. Betsy only looks comfortable with his pocket pick Vladimir. Although he puts out decent damage (445 dpm, 29.1 percent share), Betsy only participates in 60.9 percent of ROC’s kills, second lowest among mid laners. He is also one of three mid laners to be at a deficit in gold, XP and CS at 10 minutes.

Phaxi is in a similar, yet opposite position. He averages some of the lowest damage statistics of all top laners (313 dpm, 20.8 percent share), but does not start as far behind at 10 minutes. Phaxi is only involved in 57.6 percent of ROC’s kills, second lowest among top laners. He and Betsy will need to be more involved if ROC are to pick up wins against other EU LCS teams.

NIP and MM should not be too hard for ROC to overcome in weeks six and eight. Their series against G2 in week 10 will be critical. If G2 and ROC go 2-4 in all other match-ups, then this will be the edge ROC needs to force a tiebreaker based on game wins. Since ROC has proven they can even sneak series wins against FNC, they can reasonably take games off of any team. And if teams from Group B continue to beat Group A teams above them, then that benefits ROC.


NIP

Record: 0-8 Schedule: SPY, G2, ROC, MSF, FNC

NIP want to qualify for EU LCS playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

NIP is at the largest series deficit in the EU LCS, but it is not too late for them to turn it around. The squad lost to MM at the beginning of week five, but then they came back to take UOL to three games on Sunday. NIP’s early game is their strength. They average 232 gold ahead at 15 minutes, fifth highest in the league. They have a 78 percent First Blood rate, which is second highest in the EU LCS, and a 50 percent first turret rate, fifth in the league.

All three of NIP’s carries average ahead at 10 minutes. Shook is the only one behind in CS and XP, but his 61 percent First Blood rate (fourth overall) more than makes up for it. NIP secures Rift Herald in 72 percent of games, second in the league. This early aggression is a great place to start building winning strategies.

NIP’s issues surround mid-late game. Despite taking first turret in half of their games, NIP are middle-of-the-pack for taking the first three turrets (44 percent), first dragon (44 percent), and overall dragon control (49 percent). Worse yet, they are last in the league for first Baron rate (17 percent) and overall Baron control (21 percent). This is a glaring issue that will inhibit NIP’s ability to win unless it is addressed. EU LCS matches are so often won and lost around a Baron call.

Vision control is another area where NIP needs to improve. While they have high wards per minute (3.76), they have an abysmal wards cleared rate (1.11 per minute). NIP clears the lowest percentage of enemy visible wards in the league (52.1 percent), and only clears 10.4 percent of non-visible wards. This gameplay aspect is crucial to mid-late game, especially strategy surrounding neutral objectives.

Luckily, NIP is in Group A with other struggling teams. In week eight, they face a G2 squad that is heavily underperforming. ROC is the other opponent that week, who has one of the worst early games in the EU LCS. In week 10, NIP will battle FNC, who also disappointed at Rift Rivals. Unfortunately, NIP lost this week’s less intimidating VIT match-up 2-1, losing any momentum from week five. If ROC, G2 and FNC falter, then it may just be NIP’s opportunity to climb into third place within their group and qualify for playoffs.


GROUP B

VIT

Record: 3-4 Schedule: FNC, G2, MM, H2K, UOL, SPY

VIT want to qualify for EU LCS playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

VIT are a team that came out of week five trending upwards. They put up a decisive 2-0 victory over ROC by utilizing mid lane Corki and Kog’Maw. VIT mid laner, Nukeduck, has been a topic of conversation since Caps shared his EU LCS mid laner rankings and put him at number two.

The VIT solo laners generally hold things together for this team. Nukeduck and Cabochard average ahead of opponents in gold, XP, and CS at 10 minutes. Together they make up 54.7 percent of VIT’s total damage, the second highest top-mid duo in the league. There is a reason these two players have been on the team the longest.

The jungle is problematic, though. This is Djoko’s second split in the EU LCS, and he has not been able to make a name for himself just yet. While he contributes a decent first blood rate (44 percent), gold differential at 10 minutes (+123) and XP differential at 10 minutes (+59), Djoko’s kill participation is very low for a jungler (66.7 percent) and his death share is high (24.9 percent). On top of that, VIT’s worst metrics surround jungle control (46.2 percent), Baron control (42 percent) and dragon control (37 percent).

Part of the poor dragon control starts with VIT’s bottom lane duo. Steeelback has been criticized for “playing for KDA” in the past, and that argument could be made currently. He has a 3.5 KDA, which is highest on the team, but he falls behind by 10 minutes, offers the third lowest damage of AD carries in the league (434) and the second lowest share of damage (24.2 percent). As for support, Vander has the second lowest kill participation (64.8 percent) and low wards placed and cleared per minute (1.42, 0.27).

VIT has potential if they can resolve their jungle-bottom issues. As North America taught Europe at Rift Rivals, early dragon control can hugely benefit a team. Nukeduck and Cabochard are reliable in holding their lanes against other talented top-mid duos, but they cannot carry games alone. Steelback will need to contribute more damage, even if it results in more deaths. Vander and Djoko need to improve in the vision game.

The series against NIP and MM should be expected wins. SPY and G2 are certainly beatable opponents. FNC, H2K, and UOL will probably be the most difficult for VIT, but they only need to overtake SPY in the standings to make playoffs. It may just come down to their week 10 match-up.


MM

Record: 1-6 Schedule: ROC, MSF, VIT, UOL, SPY, H2K

MM wants to qualify for EU LCS playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MM secured their first series win in week five in a 2-0 victory over NIP. The addition of Kikis and Amazing has certainly improved MM’s overall performance. However, they still lost 2-0 to FNC and G2 since their arrival. This team has plenty to improve while working towards third place within Group B.

Kikis is the best individual performer during laning phase, coming out ahead 51 gold and one XP at 10 minutes, but two CS behind. Every other member falls behind in the early game. The bottom lane is the biggest offender, averaging a deficit of 230 gold, 232 XP and five CS by 10 minutes, lowest in the EU LCS. Altogether, MM’s early game amounts to 1,360 gold behind at 15 minutes, a 36 percent first turret rate and 21 percent first three turrets rate (all lowest overall).

MM is also in the strange position of having the fourth highest combined kills per minute (0.77), yet the lowest kill:death ratio (0.52). These numbers indicate that they like to fight, but often lose. CozQ sacrifices the third highest death share among mid laners at 22.3 percent. At the same time, he only participates in 58.6 percent of MM’s kills, fourth lowest overall. This lack of positive contribution in the mid lane will continue to hurt MM’s chances of winning unless it is addressed.

If MM are to rise through the ranks, they will need to focus less on skirmishing and team-fighting. Being overly proactive can be just as harmful as being overly passive. ROC and VIT are not out of this team’s reach. More of MM’s placement in Group B will depend on how teams above them play against each other. If H2K, SPY, and UOL can beat VIT, then MM have a better shot of moving up to third place. It may be the longest stretch of the bottom four teams.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir, Games of Legends

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CS:GO Rivalries

The greatest CS:GO rivalries

Just as in traditional sports, esports have big rivalries as well. From incredible matches, rivalries are born. A few key elements to keeping our game exciting to watch are the storylines and rivalries between teams. Teams battling it out to stake their claim as the greatest of all time. Here are a few such CS:GO rivalries that transcended the rest.

NiP vs VeryGames

CS:GO Rivalries

via https://dotesports.com

Quite the rivalry this was; although, due to NiP’s dominance, it took a while for VG to be able to win against them. Despite it being lopsided in terms of results, it was an incredible David vs. Goliath storyline anytime they matched up, despite that VeryGames was actually the second best team in the world. VG made a lot of roster changes just trying to best NiP; when VG finally managed to knock NiP off their throne at ESL Major Series in fall of 2013, it was one of the most memorable moments in Counter-Strike history. This was the first of the many CS:GO rivalries, and both teams helped define the meta for years to come.

Fnatic vs NiP

Fnatic vs NiP is arguably the greatest CS:GO rivalry in history. When the two Swedish teams matchup, it’s nearly always a bloodbath. The rivalry took a very interesting start when Fnatic robbed NiP of Dreamhack Winter 2013, where NiP was the heavy favorite to win. NiP, now had a chip on their shoulder and were thirsty for revenge. The next time they would meet on a grand stage was following Fnatic’s additions of Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer, and Freddy ‘KRiMZ’ Johansson, at ESL One Cologne 2014. While a much improved lineup, NiP was not afraid. NiP was hungry for a major title, after falling short twice following the loss to Virtus.Pro at EMS One Katowice 2014. NiP managed to edge Fnatic in one of the most exciting runs through a tournament bracket I have ever witnessed. A great final, which saw NiP on top, finally.

CS:GO Rivalries

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net/

The next time these two would clash on a big stage was at MLG X Games Aspen Invitational. This match is one of, if not the most exciting and closely contested best of threes in CS:GO history. A must watch match for any new viewers, and another one of the great matches these two would produce. The last notable time that these two would meet, was in the grand final of ESL One Katowice 2015. The first two maps were absolute thrillers, but the third map was a bit of a letdown. The only real reason it was very close was that NiP mounted a monstrous comeback but fell short in the end. If it were a bit more back and forth, I think this very well could have been the best matchup between these two.

Fnatic vs LDLC/EnVyUs

This rivalry has a storyline similar to that of ‘Rocky’ as LDLC, in their first major matchup came but three rounds away from winning it on the third map. Then we had the most notorious boost in CS:GO history, that led Fnatic to come back from a 13-3 deficit. LDLC was gifted the semifinal spot; however, as Fnatic just surrendered the win to them, due to the massive controversy that had spewed from the boost. This led the LDLC core to win its first major. They would meet many more times, but the next most notable meeting was at ESL One Cologne 2015 in the grand final, following a French shuffle that saw Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schaub and Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire now on EnVy. This roster fell short of Fnatic that time; however, it would be the last time this team would lose to Fnatic during the era of their rivalry. They last notably met at Dreamhack Winter 2015, in the quarterfinals, where EnVyUs bested Fnatic with no massive controversy. This meeting would mark the end of one of the greatest CS:GO rivalries we have ever seen.

Luminosity vs Na’Vi

CS:GO Rivalries

via https://esports.yahoo.com

Two highly tactical teams meeting to create incredible games? Yes, please. This rivalry was a bit short lived; unfortunately, we never got to see the true end all on the grand final stage of MLG Colombus due to Ladislav ‘Guardian’ Kovács’s wrist injury. It still produced one of my all-time favorite best of three matches to date, in the semifinals of Katowice 2016. This match was the climax of their rivalry, where Luminosity trumped Guardian and Na’Vi. No other CS:GO rivalries had quite the same shock and awe factor as this one did, specifically pertaining to the tactical genius both squads brought, not to mention the amazing AWP matchup in GuardiaN vs Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo.

SK vs Virtus.Pro

Another one of the best CS:GO rivalries was born at ESL One Cologne 2016, a matchup that admittedly could have been better if Virtus.Pro did not make the joker pick of Nuke for the second map, but Cobble and Mirage were still thrillers. In the end, SK emerged victorious on this one, but Virtus.Pro would strike back at ESL One New York in exciting fashion. VP would win out at the ELEAGUE Major as well, but SK was a bit handicapped by stand-in Ricardo ‘fox’ Pacheco; however, that didn’t stop them from making it one of the closest 2-0 best of three matches of all time. The rivalry would come to a bit of an abrupt end after VP would best SK one last time in the grand final of Dreamhack Las Vegas. The end of this rivalry was based on Virtus.Pro’s break from the scene for a while, when they came back, they were nowhere near the level they were at before they left.

Astralis vs FaZe

CS:GO Rivalries

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net/

The most recent matchup that I’ve had my eye on, Astralis vs FaZe could still have a few more thrilling matches to come. The grand final of IEM Katowice 2017 was an incredible first battle, and the follow-up meeting at StarLadder was not a disappointment in the slightest. They would meet a third time in the semifinals of IEM Sydney, where FaZe Clan would again take it in another great match. While the matchup has been dormant for a while, due to Astralis’ taking a break from the tournament circuit, upon the return of Astralis, I’m sure this will still be a great rivalry. This rivalry has only just begun it seems, and I cannot wait for all the incredible matches we should get between these two titans.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has created many great rivalries throughout the years; while these are not all of the great rivalries, but some of the most notable ones.


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VIT Nukeduck is trending in the EU LCS week five

Trending in the EU LCS: Week 5

Keeping up with the EU LCS can be difficult at times. There is a ton of information to balance within one’s head. Some people prefer power rankings, others look at tier lists. Today, however, we will be looking at what is trending in the EU LCS. Which teams are rising through the ranks? Which player’s stock should you sell now? What champions and playstyles are making their way on and off the Rift?

Trending Up

These are the teams, players, and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week five of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on his back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine. These are upward trending in the EU LCS.

Fnatic are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic

Already at the top of the league, Fnatic boosted their stock by taking down Splyce in a dominant 2-0. Fnatic now sits at the top of Group A with two full wins over the rest of the group. Splyce dropped down to third in Group B. No other team in the West is currently exhibiting such dominance, which is why Fnatic should have a great showing at upcoming Rift Rivals.

H2K

Similar to Fnatic, H2K are on the rise after taking down Group A’s Misfits. Coming off of a week four loss to Fnatic, H2K beat Misfits 2-0 and bring their game score to 11-4. H2K had not won a series against a top team since their week one victory over Splyce. While they fell behind early in both games, H2K was able to hold it together, regain control and play intelligently around late-game Barons to win.

NiP are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Although they sit at the bottom of the EU LCS as the only team without a series win, NiP are on the upswing. The nascent squad took Unicorns of Love to a three-game series and averaged 3,500 gold ahead at 15 minutes. They ended up losing both series in week five, but their performance on Saturday should leave NiP fans wanting more.

Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm

Following Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s EU LCS mid lane power rankings, Nukeduck has been the center of attention. In week five Team Vitality won 2-0 over Roccat, and Nukeduck is much to blame. In game one Vitality drafted a mid lane Kog’Maw that finished 5-1-4. Game two they gave Nukeduck Corki, which finished 8-0-6. Granted, Felix “Betsy” Edling has been underperforming.

Mid lane Corki

While Corki was sprinkled into week four, his presence has shot up in week five. There were only three games in 12 where the Daring Bombardier was not picked or banned. Corki is tied with Orianna for the highest mid lane win rate this split at 67 percent (with more than four games played). He also has the highest average damage per minute of all mid laners at 650 (with more than four games played).

Trending Down

These are the teams, players, and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week five of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against to an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These are downward trending in the EU LCS.

ROC are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Roccat

Team Vitality beat Roccat 2-0 in week five. No one player stands out as the underperformer. Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in did not put up numbers that they are used to. Betsy has been down all split. Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes and Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren played over-aggressive and sacrificed several avoidable deaths. With G2 and NiP looking better in week five, Roccat may be in trouble.

Unicorns of Love

UOL nearly lost their series 2-0 to NiP. While it was exciting to watch as a fan, this was dire for the Unicorns. Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort looked somewhat consistent throughout each game, but every other player showed points of weakness. Fabian “Exileh” Schubert is slumping. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir looked out of sorts and Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás got camped in game one. They both got better as the series went on. Finally, Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov picked Blitzcrank support in two of the three games, but had little impact with the champion.

Top lane Rumble is trending in EU LCS week five

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Top lane Rumble

Although Rumble has the 10th highest champion presence (63 percent) in EU LCS this split, he only has a 31 percent win rate–fifth lowest among all champions with four or more games played. Rumble’s high pick and ban rates do not match the low impact that EU top laners are bringing with him. For example, Shen also has a 63 percent presence, but sports a 74 percent win rate.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports FlickrSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Ex6TenZ: A mastermind’s fall from grace

Kévin ‘Ex6TenZ’ Droolans helped define the early metagame of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He is a legend of the game and a tactical genius. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him; however, in recent days he has found himself in a position where his dream of winning a major looks impossible. Today I’ll reflect on his illustrious career, and look forward to where he could be going.

The Source Days

via http://blightgaming.com

Many people may not know this, but Ex6TenZ was considered by many to be the best Source AWP player of all time. He was not an in-game leader during most of his time in CS:S. He played for VeryGames for the majority of his CS:S career, easily the best Source team of all time, that included Source legends like Richard ‘shox’ Papillon, and Cédric ‘RpK’ Guipouy. This team dominated all of the competition for the major part of Counter-Strike: Source – from 2008-2012 the team amassed a total of 25 finals appearances, with 22 tournament wins. They were a model of consistency and showed why they deserved to be talked about today as the greatest of all time.

A few months after the official release of CS:GO, Source was completely defunded, as most organizers from the scene were more interested in the new game. Source players were forced to adapt to the new game, while most 1.6 players rode the game to its bitter end.

The Rivalry

via https://www.gfinity.net

VeryGames was the second best team in the world for the first year – only Ninjas in Pyjamas was better. Any tournament where the Swedes and the Frenchmen were on opposite sides of the bracket, they met in the final. They surpassed every other team by far. The Ninjas came out victorious nearly every time, until around the time the first CS:GO major rolled around. The Frenchmen would finally surpass their Swedish counterparts to take the number one spot in the world rankings; however, it was not all smooth sailing from there.

The Upset

VeryGames was poised to win Dreamhack Winter 2013. Fnatic awaited them in the final, which would have been an easy win for them. All they had to do was beat their rivals from Sweden one more time. The Ninjas were too much for them, however. VeryGames took their exit in the semifinals, and while Ex6TenZ couldn’t have known it, that would be the closest he would get to winning that elusive major title.

The Titan Era

via https://www.hltv.org/

The organization VeryGames dissolved, and Titan was there to steal the loot. After ESL One Cologne, where Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire and Hovik ‘KQLY’ Tovmassian put on an incredible showing, a French shuffle. Vincent ‘Happy’ Cervantes’ LDLC, who had more success at the major acquired Nathan ‘NBK’ Schmitt, and  ‘SmtihZz’  from Titan. They also sniped shox and Fabien ‘kioshima’ Fey, from Epsilon. Titan acquired apEX and KQLY from LDLC. A team that would’ve most likely been the best in France, and possibly even outshone Fnatic during their era. This was cut excruciatingly short by the infamous VAC ban of KQLY.

Titan until about July of 2015 was hovering around the 5-8th spot in the world. On July 15, 2015, apEX and Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schraub, left Titan for Team EnVyUs. This was the start of a slide that would take Ex6TenZ to his lowest point.

The new Titan roster was shox, RpK, Mathieu ‘Maniac’ Quiquerez, Ex6TenZ, and SmithZz. Titan the organization made a massive buyout of Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom to replace Maniac. This roster was for a long time considered to be the ‘guardian’ of the top 10 in the world rankings. If you could beat Titan, you were most likely a top 10 team.

The G2 Mishap

Gamers2, after selling their old roster to FaZe Clan, picked up the ex-Titan team that was left without an organization after Titan folded for economic reasons. After two months, Ex6TenZ was oddly removed for the up and coming Alexandre ‘bodyy’ Pianaro. It was likely due to inner-team turmoil with shoxie, but there was never any official reason given.

The mastermind was left with a tier three team, in shambles. LDLC lost both of their best players, bodyy and Timothée ‘DEVIL’ Démolon. Ex6TenZ was left out to dry, on a team of lower tier players. Things are on the uptrend; however, as Ex6TenZ just received some help in the form of DEVIL. Who knows, maybe Ex6TenZ will take his revenge one day.


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