Xmithie Xpeaks Mid/Jungle Xynergy

Jake “Xmithie” Puchero – “I think the safest way people can have more consistency on it is having that mid/jungle synergy”

I talked to Doublelift last weekend and he said you guys have a very high ceiling and that all of you are very talented and understand the game well. He also said you as a team are not even close to your full potential. So I’m very curious what this means, if you’re already this good and you still have a lot of room to grow, how does that play out? And how can you improve to reach that ceiling?

“Individually everyone is very talented. Everyone can handle their own internationally against these players. I think what we need to improve on… well, since the meta is [changing] we have to adapt and find all these new things… We have to be ahead of the meta. We have to be five steps ahead of everyone.”

 

What is something you are personally doing to increase your strength in the jungle and overall presence in the game?

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

“I think it is just making my time spent really efficiently. Just finding the right things to focus on. So watching vods of the LCK or specific LPL games. Or even EU games that are really interesting. But we just don’t have time usually. We scrim 8 hours a day every week. And usually on breaks, I try to make it a break to refresh my mind and stuff like that. So normally during off time [between] scrims, I try to watch a vod and ask people why it’s good.”

 

 

On the new patch, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed from the jungle perspective… But is there something that you are looking forward to going into the next few games as people get more familiar with the patch? Is there something that you think is strong that people haven’t figured out yet?

“I think there will be a lot more champions in the bot lane and people will ban more in the bot lane. Since Ezreal got nerfed [and Targon’s too], that opens up a lot of champions. Like we were just against a Xayah and Rakan and we haven’t seen that in a long time. If people ban a lot of champions in one role, we are going to see a lot of nuance. I haven’t seen a lot of two teams banning 6 junglers yet, but maybe there will be a change back to carries or back to second rate bruisers. But we will see some change.”

 

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

What is the most important lane to be closely connected with for the jungle? In 8.1 it was mostly farm and heal bot lane, so the game was more top/mid centric. But what do you think now, will attention shift back to the bot lane?

“The safest way people can have more consistency on it is having that mid/jungle synergy. Since the game is really adaptable right now where top can either play Maokai or Jayce, it really depends on how people draft the comps around it. But when you have the mid-control set, you can go to top or bottom from there, and you can go to their jungle.”

What would you say your role is on the team outside of the game?

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

“It’s kind of funny, because I think I’m the opposite of what I am in game. Like I think I am the most vocal in game. And then outside, I’m pretty much the least talkative out of everyone. In post game review I pretty much observe. And even when we go out – sometimes I try to troll people, but usually I get in my own circle.”

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for reading! Find Xmithie on Twitter @Xmithie (Liquid really has those handles on lock). Check back here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Impact uses meditation to help top die

Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong on Liquid’s best late game playmaker – “Everyone is really good. But if I only had one choice…”

 

So you keep breaking your own record for fastest game time, but what is going to happen if you get to a 60 or 70 minute game? Will you be able to keep the pressure?

“No, we’ll just do the same thing. I think we end fast because we catch enemy’s mistakes. So we just punish really hard. They tried to engage at a bad time and mid was open, so we just killed the nexus. So we are just better than other teams at catching mistakes I think.”

 

 

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

Oh okay, so you think even in a longer game it’s all about catching them out, and you’ll still be successful in that?

 

“Yeah, we play 50 to 60 minute games in scrims and are still successful there too, so it’s the same thing.”

 

Good to hear! But hopefully we won’t run into that and we keep having shorter games, they’re more fun to watch!

“Yeah, but a lot of teams still run that rune, you know? I don’t know the English name.”

 

Gathering Storm? Do you guys not run that?

“Yeah, Gathering Storm. I think Pobelter has tried it but not me. I just like pressure more.”

 

But what is going to happen if you don’t get ahead early. You oftentimes have good early games – and Doublelift talks a lot about always putting pressure on enemies when you do have a lead – but what happens if other teams do that same thing to you?

“Well I think today we didn’t do as well [but we still won], so I’m not that scared. Mid or late game we can play better. Today, I played Ornn and I was on an island. They were 4v4 with top on an island, it was fine. And I like that because we didn’t throw the game. We didn’t have pressure, but we know we can win. We can catch the enemy’s mistake, and then we win.”

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

 


So I want to talk some about your role on the team. People often talk about you as being a big tank player, but this season we have seen you on Gangplank twice and Gnar and Vladimir (and Ornn twice now as well). But what are we looking at for your main role, or does it only depend on each game?

“Well everyone says I’m a tank player, but they forget about my old Ekko and GP. I just follow the meta, you know? My champion pool is really good I think. Because in solo queue, I always play on another champion, another champion. So that is why I play various carries too. I don’t know. Everyone says I’m a tank player, but it doesn’t matter. I’m just following the meta. I think if it’s a good champion, I’ll play it.”

 

So when are you most comfortable? How do you prepare for games and work to get better?

“I think just focus. Sometimes I miss my focus. Sometimes I just can’t see the minimap; I just panic sometimes. My vision is weird because I can’t see my champion, I can’t see the minimap. Sometimes. But last two weeks I didn’t, [I was fine]. I did that two weeks ago versus 100 Thieves, I did it. I cured it now. I changed things. I just drink coffee, because I don’t drink Coke anymore. I love Coke so much, but I gave it up because I think I am losing my brain. Because Coke is bad. I didn’t know it, but someone told me. So just coffee and meditation. I think meditation really helps you focus more. Because for me I’m usually more focused and thinking about how I can increase vision. I do it quickly sometimes too; just one second, two seconds.”

 

 

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

Oh that’s interesting, short meditations in the middle of the games, I like that. Do you ever do it before the games?

 

“Not every game, but sometimes. Almost always. Because, in Cloud 9, they taught me some meditation too.”

 

You have a really good team with a lot of very talented individuals, but who would you put on the pedestal to carry the team in difficult situations? Who is the strongest player in clutch moments when the game is on the line? In late game teamfights or last second split decisions, which player is the most talented in that moment?

“I think me maybe? Because I’m talking so much and controlling waves, though Doublelift is really good too. I’m not sure – everyone is good, everyone is really good. But if I only had one choice… Me.” *laughs*.

 


 

Image provided by LoL Esports Flickr

How is playing on Liquid compared to Cloud 9?

 

“It’s not too similar, Cloud 9 is more family, it’s friends. And I’m close to my teammates, but it’s more doing the job. It’s a more professional thing. I like that because… well SKT does that.”

 

So you like that it is more of a business then. And does that help you stay focused?

“Yeah and just doing my job. If I’m not bored… well, if I’m not feeling professional, I’m not as focused. I lose focus. It then becomes a boring game, you know? And then I play solo queue and it’s boring and I can’t keep playing. But now [that competitive gaming is more of a professional thing] I play solo queue so much, and I like that.”

 


Thanks for reading! Find Impact on Twitter @Impact for updates on his fancy dinners. Check back here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Huhi – Scrims, team development and TSM

Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun on opposing mid-laners – “I’m not really that scared of any mid-laner right now.”


Congrats on the recent wins and turning it around. How do you feel about the team?

“It feels good that we are starting to prove it on stage. In scrims, we are always really confident and it was always really weird that it didn’t transfer to the real games. And now it feels like we are getting there.”

 

Obviously stage play is a lot different, but what was the issue in the transition? Lack of confidence? Or just the change in environment?

Image provided by Riot Games

“I wasn’t sure, and I’m still not actually. First of all, people are figuring out their normal daily routine on stage too. We were doing a lot of different things that the team asked us and I think that was too much at once. We slowly adapted finally and now we are there… We just had to get used to the different process.”

 

What are your plans on preparing next week for TSM? It’s an old rivalry, both teams were off to slow starts but are really ramping up now and are at 3-3, with a similar story this split and in the past. So are you looking forward to it? Is it still the same big match like it usually is?

“I think for sure. This time we have an ex-TSM member. We’ve never had that, that’s a new thing for us. But we kind of want to make sure that all of us treat the TSM match the same as other matches so that we can stay focused on our games. I don’t think we will do anything different to prepare versus them.”

 

Do you think they have any big weaknesses that you are going to try and exploit?

“Well, I think MikeYeung was having a pretty hard time in the early split just trying to get used to his team too. So I guess the mid-jung synergy could be a potential place to punish since me and Reignover are pretty comfortable with each other.”

 

There have been a lot of big mid lane plays, with our first pentakill on Febiven last week and others picking up steam, like Pobelter. But people have also been talking about you as well and how you lead the team differently this split than before. So where do you personally put yourself in this group of mid laners, and who is the strongest/scariest to go against in lane?

Image provided by Riot Games

“It’s pretty hard to say one, because I haven’t thought about it yet. I would say the first and second split that I played, I had those tier lists in my heart, though I never really said it. But this time I’m not really paying attention that much on it because I’m just really confident with my team and I know that it doesn’t matter. We will beat every team as long as we play our game and we focus on ourselves. So I’m not really that scared of any mid-laner right now.”

 

So when are you most comfortable then? When do you go into a game feeling really confident? Is there a specific team comp or champ that you like more than others?

“I’d say when we play the champions that we practice in scrims, for sure. We have that muscle memory where we know what we are capable of and the power spikes and what we have to do to win the game and that makes the game much easier. Also, right now, I’m pretty comfortable in almost every game because my team helps me feel comfortable. Like yesterday, I felt like I was playing really bad, and even though I was, my team was making sure I was okay and helping me to stay in the game. They got my back and we won the game easily.”

Image provided by Riot Games

Do you have any big weaknesses that you’re working on?

“I think because of our strengths – playing as a team – I feel like our weakness is, if you die, everyone will try to save that guy and die together. So those are the points we want to improve on. Like when we have to do that and when we don’t and try to not bleed. And that’s a challenge we have to try to figure out.”

 


Thanks for reading! Find Huhi on Twitter @Huhi to send him your energy. Check back here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Thanksgiving Free Agents: League of Legends Edition

League of Legends is having their first major free agency period since the start of franchising in North America. As with traditional sports, free agency is going to be a major time for teams to build their rosters for LCS’ new start. Instead of just giving you who some of the free agents are and where they might go, a holiday theme has been added for your enjoyment. (Note: As of the time this was written none of these players have signed officially)

Corn “Froggen”

Froggen has been consistent since the day he entered the LCS. Never overly flashy but a major part and sometimes the best part of his team. Corn like Froggen is never flashy but it is reliable and can be the best part of a bad meal.

Last year on Echo Fox, Froggen was the unchallenged leader of the team. Echo Fox finished in eighth, just outside of the playoffs the last two splits. This was due to many things, but rarely ever Froggen. There are plenty of new openings for Froggen. As an in-game and out of game leader, Froggen will be someone who is going to be brought on to do just that. His play is consistent but his leadership skills are what gets him his next position.

For this reason, Froggen will be going to a completely new squad in NA as some of the newer teams will be looking for a leader to help guide them through their first season. He did this with Echo Fox and maybe with a better and more consistent roster around him, Froggen will finally make NA playoffs this year.  With sources saying Akaadian has been bought out by OpTic Gaming it would make sense that they add arguably the two best players from Echo Fox.

Prediction: OpTic

Cranberry Sauce “PowerOfEvil”

Like cranberry sauce you either love PowerOfEvil or you strongly dislike him. He can be an absolute legend on the rift or look like he is lost. That being said PowerOfEvil is testing the waters of free agency hoping to be picked up by a NA squad.

Misfits made a surprising run in world this last year making it out of group stages. While the team played well as a whole, in most games until the end, PowerOfEvil had looked solid. He can make the flashy plays and keep up with many of the games top mid-laners when he is on his game. If he can find consistency there is no doubt that he can challenge just about anyone while in lane. For that reason I think PowerOfEvil will be a hot commodity for NA this free agency.

A great squad for PowerOfEvil would be Flyquest. With Flame reportedly signing there and a solid bot-lane of WildTurtle and Stunt, bringing on PowerOfEvil would make a nice splash for FlyQuest. For PowerOfEvil he would be able to play with teammates who can help guide him in his first year in NA and allow for him to learn from his mistakes he will probably make early on. If they get the PowerOfEvil we saw during group stages and during Mistfits’ run in EU championships, then FlyQuest could have a very strong squad next season.

Prediction: FlyQuest

Sweet Potatoes “LemonNation”

Sweet Potatoes are classic when talking about Thanksgiving dinner. They are sweet and almost like desert before actual desert. Lemonnation is a classic NA support who can surprise people by quietly being solid throughout the game. (Also both are orange/red) Lemonnation has been a consistent and overall solid support since he came into the professional league scene. He does his work and helps lead teams to being better than many people would have thought.

Last year on FlyQuest, many people felt that they would be a joke because it was made up of players who had not played in the pro-scene in awhile. They came out and surprised everyone by making playoffs their first split and barely missing playoffs their second split. Lemonnation came back with a vengeance and showed that older players in the scene can still play and has maybe changed everyone’s opinions about what a “old” player really is.

While Ignar and Aphromoo are higher on teams’ lists, there are still openings for supports especially on new teams. You could reasonably argue that once the other two have signed, whoever else has an opening would sign Lemonnation. With that in mind 100 Thieves looks like a good place for Lemonnation to end up. Ssumday and Meteos (both of whom are on this list) are rumored to be signed with 100 Thieves and Ryu has been confirmed. With Pr0lly as their coach this group could add Lemonnation and have a very reliable team.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Green Bean Casserole “Meteos”

Some years it’s there, some it’s not. Sometimes you dislike it, sometimes you love it. Like “Dark” Meteos green bean casserole comes back after missing some time at family events and you’re afraid of what is coming next. It is put on your plate against your will and you are told to try it. This time you like it and oddly want more.

Meteos was a mainstay with Cloud9 for many splits. He has a solid following and thus every time he’s filled in for a team people have been very excited. After spending different parts of the year with Phoenix1, who went from playoffs to last between Spring and Summer split, Meteos is ready to be a starter again. With the many opportunities it is likely that he will get a chance to show he is a top level jungler at the professional level.

It is being reported that Meteos will be signing with 100 Thieves. If this stands, with Ryu and Ssumday, it looks as though 100 Thieves could have a very interesting roster to start of League of Legends franchising.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Biscuit/Corn Bread/Rolls “Febiven”

Any type of bread is needed with any Thanksgiving meal. They help to fill you up and are a go to if you’re not ready to try something new. Febiven in NA would be that. He is a solid mid-laner who brings consistency to any team. He may not be the mvp on his team but he is needed and a safe pickup for any team.

Febiven brings that feeling of a stalwart in the middle of the rift for any team. For H2k this past year Febiven brought composure to an already winning team. He got his start with Cloud9 Eclipse and many speculate he is testing free agency in order to go back to NA. Febiven can bring a lot to one of these new franchising teams and it is likely that he would have a nice payday doing so.

According to sources Golden Guardians only have their coach so far, Locodoco. It is also rumored that Shiphtur might be signing with them. While Shiphtur is a good mid-laner, the Golden Guardians would be making a big time acquisition by signing Febiven. He would not only attract fans but also players. If they know they have someone like him holding down the middle of the Rift then players will feel more comfortable around him. Also wouldn’t it be fun to see Bjerg, Jensen, Pobelter, Huhi, Ryu and Febiven battling it out in mid next season?

Prediction: Golden Guardians

Stuffing “Ignar”

On the outside, if you have never had stuffing before you might think, “I dont know what to think about this”. Then you try it and realize it’s solid and brings the meal together. In many ways this is Ignar. The All-Pro support had some questions coming over to Misfits and showed this year that he is the stuffing to any Thanksgiving meal.

After a quick stay with KT Rolster Ignar found a home with Misfits. He was exactly what you would want in a support. He is able to speak Korean and getting better at English, and he is able to help get bot-lane ahead. His aggresion mixed well with his lanemate, Hans Sama, as he played champions like Rakan, Blitzcrank and Thresh. He is a playmaker and with that will come many offers from teams for a support who can do more than just keep their ADC alive.

There are rumors that Ignar is looking to head back to the LCK, possibly even with SKT. If this doesn’t happen and he heads to NA, there is no doubt that he will land a starting roll. OpTic would be a good match with Ignar. Sources say that Arrow has already signed and thus Ignar would have another Korean ADC. This would eliminate a language barrier and give OpTic another nice pickup.

Prediction: OpTic Gaming

Gravy “Aphromoo”

If you don’t like gravy, what are you doing with your life? If you don’t like Aphromoo the same question should be asked. The man is one of the best supports in NA and, like gravy, he is liked by mostly everyone. Gravy is also what you put on everything in order to help it taste better. No matter what team Aphromoo joins, he will make them that much better.

The Moo has been one of the best, if not the best, supports in NA since he arrived on the scene. His ability to get his ADC ahead by whatever means necessary has made him a lanemate that any ADC would want. While he still can go back to CLG if he wants to, it is interesting that he is testing free agency. It may help drive up the money for his contract wherever he signs, including CLG.

While it would be interesting to see another team pick up Aphromoo, it is likely he stays with CLG. They will give into giving him a large contract and that should bring him back. He is already familiar with the team as most of his teammates, Darshan, Huhi and Stixxay have all already signed with CLG.

Prediction: CLG

Mashed Potatoes “Ssumday”

Mashed potatoes are one of the best parts of the entire Thanksgiving meal. Is it really Thanksgiving without them? Nearly everyone loves them and sometimes if the other parts of the meal aren’t good you can always turn to mashed potatoes to be the best part. Ssumday will be this for which ever team he signs with. Everyone is going to want to bring him on and when others may not be as good around him, you can turn to him and know he will show why he is one of the best top-laners in the world.

Ssumday did not live up to the hype during his first full year in NA, but was still very good. Coming over from KT Rolster everyone believed Ssumday was easily a top 3 top-laner in the world. Dignitas fans were ecstatic when he signed on. Dig went to the playoffs both splits in their first full season back, but unfortunately were not chosen to go forward with franchising. Now Ssumday is again looking for his next home to show he is a top tier top-laner again.

Originally it was thought that Ssumday would be looking to go back to the LCK this season. Then sources came out claiming that 100 Thieves is looking to sign him. While the team has not confirmed it yet, if he were to sign there 100 Thieves, it would have a very nice start for their team.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Pumpkin Pie “MikeYeung”

Pumpkin pie is what everyone wants even though they are already full, it is that good. It can be the only part some people care about. MikeYeung is the new, young jungler that everyone is going to be going after. He is the pumpkin pie at this Thanksgiving dinner, every team will be giving him a look.

MikeYueng made a splash in NA during his first split with Pheonix1 by winning Rookie of the Split. He showed that he can be an impact player at every phase of the game, especially when he got ahead. The problem was when he didn’t get ahead or his team struggled, he lacked the experience to bring them back. Now that he has played a full split he will be looking to show anyone who signs him that he is the real deal.

Sources are saying that TSM is likely going to sign MikeYeung. After a disappointing year with Svenskeren, it is not a huge surprise that TSM would be looking at someone with the potential of MikeYeung. With Bjerg and Hauntzer most likely staying, they will be able to help bring Mike along and help him to reach his full potential. Also, with sources saying that Zven and Mithy have come over to TSM, this squad could have an incredible 2018.

Prediction: TSM

Turkey “Peanut”

The main course, the bird that represents all of Thanksgiving is the turkey. Turkey is what people spend days prepping to make sure it looks and tastes amazing. Shows and movies constantly show people fighting over the last available turkey. Thanksgiving dinner is not Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. Peanut is someone people can build a team around. He is the turkey of this Thanksgiving meal.

Many people were surprised when Peanut announced that he was a free agent. He instantly shot up to the top of teams wishlists, as he is considered by many to be the best jungler in the world. Every team that has a jungle opening should be looking to sign someone of his talent level. He made his name on ROX Tigers and then signed with SKT this last season. While they didn’t win Worlds he was still a major part, along with Faker, of getting this team to Finals.

Peanut is the prize in this free agency and if he heads to NA, every team will want him. If it wasn’t likely that TSM was signing MikeYeung, it is probable that they would be in the mix. Counting them out, there are three teams who will likely be vying for his service: FlyQuest, Golden Guardians and CLG. CLG has a very good squad especially if they bring back Aphromoo. OmarGod had a solid first split after Dardoch left but, if CLG want to be a contender for Worlds, they need to sign Peanut. With him on their team CLG could easily be vying for a top spot in NA and could make a huge run at Worlds.

Prediction: CLG

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Can Team Liquid finally break the “forever fourth” curse?

With the off-season underway, many roster moves have been rumored in the past few weeks. Most notably, Team Liquid has been rumored to be stockpiling North American talent. We already know owner Steve Arhancet isn’t afraid to pay with big dollars for players. With Team Liquid being accepted into franchising, even more money will be available for the team to spend on big name players.

becoming immortal

This may be a meme, but Team Liquid have been one of the most active teams this off-season. With Immortals being rejected from the NA LCS, many of their players were up for grabs. Team Liquid was quick to pull the trigger in acquiring 3/5 starting members from their roster.

Jacob Wolf first reported that they acquired the contracts of former Immortals players Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Andy “AnDa” Hoang, Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. Xmithie, Pobelter and Cody Sun have built up synergy having qualified for Worlds last year and placing second with Immortals. AnDa is seen more as a project player who was a sub on the Immortals team.

Xmithie was regarded as the best jungler in NA during the Summer Split. His improvement was a major reason why Immortals qualified for their first World Championship after narrowly losing to TSM. The meta became extremely favorable towards his style and he flourished because of it.

Pobelter has often been regarded as the best mid lane talent actually from North America. He’s been in the scene from a young age and actually started out on team Curse. He is valuable as a talented player who doesn’t take an import slot.

Cody Sun may have struggled at Worlds, but during the regular split him and Olleh were one of the better bot lane duos. He’ll look to build off a solid rookie season in which we saw him improve vastly from spring to summer.

Adding more star power

Photo by: Riot Esports

We may have thought Team Liquid was done after acquiring most of the Immortals roster, but there was more. News broke  from ESPN’s Jacob Wolf that Team Liquid would be acquiring Cloud 9 top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. This is huge if it’s true. Impact has shown to be one of the best top laners in the world when he’s at his best. Having to sub out last year showed inconsistencies in his play, but if he’s a full time starter he can prove that he’s one of the best again.

Impact has been praised for his improved communication and mechanics. He also has one year left before he can become an “NA resident” player which could be valuable moving forward.

Lastly, Team Liquid have been rumored by The ScoreEsports to have acquired star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Doubelift has been a star domestically. Arguably one of the strongest ADC’s in the west, acquiring Doublelift would be a huge addition. During his time at TSM, Doublelift has been heavily criticized for his international performances. Domestically, he’s a monster, but we’ll need to see that he’s not burning out as being one of the first pros of the LoL scene.

What Will the Lineup Be?

While Team Liquid have been in many rumors of adding loads of talent, nobody knows what their actual lineup will be. Does the addition of Xmithie mean the end for former star Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin? Team Liquid also acquired Korean mid laner Son “Mickey” Young-min towards the end of last split.

They’re also rumored to have two new ADC’s with Cody Sun and Doublelift. Does this spell the retirement of Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin? Will they stick to their “10 man” roster with the Academy team? No team has been able to successfully make six man rosters work outside of Korea. Team Liquid’s owner, Steve Arhancet, seems to be serious about winning. With these additions they might be able to finally break their “forever fourth” curse and find their way to Worlds.

With many new teams entering the scene, Team Liquid at least have the advantage of having been in the LCS for so long. They should know by now how to win and build a successful team. With the money available now more than ever, they’ll need to show that they can rise above the rest.

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

 

 

NA LCS Finals preview

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

Immortals

Photo by: Riot Games

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

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

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

Team SoloMid

Photo by: Riot Games

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

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

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

 

Matchup to watch: Bot lane

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

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

Prediction

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

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

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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Why Dardoch and Xmithie are perfect fits for their teams

It’s only been one week into the Summer Split of the NALCS, but Immortals and CLG look impressive. During the off-season, the two teams agreed to swap junglers Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero.

Most people only saw CLG as the clear winners of this trade. With Xmithie looking to have peaked as a jungler, few expected Immortals to have much success after the transfer. Immortals had different plans, though, as they were able to take a commanding 2-0 week after sweeping last split’s champions, TSM. Both junglers seem to be perfect fits on their new rosters.

Photo via Riot Esports

Mid/Jungle Synergy

Before the split, mid laners Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and Eugene “Pobelter” Park were heading in opposite directions. Huhi was often criticized at the weak link of CLG in his first split, but looked much improved in the spring. Meanwhile, Pobelter was known as being one of the only NA mid talents, had one of his worst splits in spring. Statistically, he was near the bottom when comparing stats among other mids.

Xmithie and Pobelter had previous experience playing together on CLG back when they took the 2015 NALCS finals. The support of Xmithie has helped him and Immortals as a team. Pobelter finished the week with a massive 10 KDA and looked like his former star self.

Huhi benefited from having a more aggressive jungler as he was able to help with roams and pressure his lane more with Dardoch behind him. Huhi did work this week doing 33 percent of his team’s damage while also having the third highest KDA among mids.

Jungle Styles

Stylistically, Dardoch and Xmithie are night and day in comparison. Dardoch is extremely aggressive and loves to make big plays. Xmithie is an efficient pather and likes to play more supportive in tracking the enemy jungler while helping his laners.

On Immortals, Dardoch was a huge voice on the team. On a team of very passive personalities, his ego took over and he basically did whatever he wanted. Immortals staff even acknowledged this in their offseason video where they highlighted some of the team’s issues. On CLG, Dardoch plays with the presence of other strong vocal players such as Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. With veteran leadership already in place on CLG, Dardoch isn’t required to do as much of the heavy lifting as he was on Immortals.

With Immortals, Xmithie is willing to sacrifice resources to allow his team to gain leads. Immortals players have rather passive personalities that could easily be run over by someone like Dardoch. But with Xmithie, they have someone willing to help the team by all means necessary. As the meta shifted back to carry tops and tank/support jungles, Xmithie fits perfectly. Xmithie does not try to make flashy plays that will make himself good, rather he tries to allow his carries to do what they need to do.

Team Environments

Photo via Riot Esports

It almost feels that this is the strongest roster and management staff Dardoch has ever played on. With strong veteran presence leading the way on CLG, he can worry about his own play rather than his teammates. CLG has experience dealing with egocentric players having dealt with star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Dardoch also isn’t relied upon to be the sole shot caller. It’s been known that Darshan and Aphromoo are very vocal in game and help a ton with the macro play.

The Immortals roster felt like it needed a fresh start after playing with Dardoch for a split. In the video going over Spring Split, the roster members felt that because of Dardoch a lot of the relationships amongst team members felt very “artificial”. With that type of team environment, you can’t expect young players to be at their best. Xmithie comes from an environment where team bonding and friendship were a strong vocal point in success. Xmithie doesn’t have near the ego of Dardoch, so you can expect Immortals are riding this honeymoon phase all the way into Week Two.


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Cover Photo by Riot Games

Can Dardoch finally find success on CLG?

Star jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett will be transferred to Counter Logic Gaming. Counter Logic Gaming has stressed how important friendship is amongst their successes, but failing to get out of the first round of playoffs last split was the last straw.

Photo by: CLG

 

Risk vs. Reward

It’s no doubt Dardoch is one of the most talented junglers in North America. He’s always been one of the more consistent carries of every roster he’s been on. For CLG, his aggressive jungle style is a complete 360-degree change from Xmithie’s jungle style.

Since his time on Team Liquid, Dardoch became known around the community as an extremely talented player with a poor attitude. When Team Liquid released their documentary Breaking Point, Dardoch was at the forefront of a lot of team issues. He’s a player who’s not afraid to speak his mind and can be extremely blunt with his criticism of his teammates in-game. He was also quick to clash with head coaches, most notably TL’s former coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub.

When Immortals took on Dardoch, they sought an extremely talented jungler who could replace the void left by former jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin. Dardoch was a star on the Immortals roster, but his teammates around him struggled to match his talent level. When the losses started to pile on, Dardoch’s toxic attitude came back again. In Immortals most recent video, you can see that Dardoch’s attitude had not changed since his time on Team Liquid. Immortals players noted how they really never felt like friends and that their relationship was “artificial”.

Dardoch, individually, is one of the most talented players in the region. He literally felt like he had Immortals on his back in some of their games during the regular season.

Moving Forward

Without a doubt, CLG’s roster will be the best one Dardoch’s every played on. If he can continue his stellar play, I don’t see why CLG can’t contend for an NALCS title.

The weakest points of the roster will most likely be in the solo lanes. Top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha and mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun have been extremely inconsistent on CLG. HuHi did look much improved last split, so there is hope. Darshan can show phenomenal performances one game and then get over aggressive split pushing the next. He’ll need to become more consistent and return to the form he had when he was a contender for best top laner in the region.

With Dardoch coming in as the new jungler, stylistically this will be the first time CLG has had an aggressive early game jungler. Xmithie was more known for tracking the enemy jungler and counter ganking. Dardoch looks to make aggressive plays in the early game.

CLG has been known to start splits very slow, usually not adjusting well to the meta. If CLG struggles early, we could see internal issues arise among players. CLG, in particular, is quite experienced in handling egocentric players having star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on the roster for several years. Aphromoo should be able to handle any tension that arises amongst the team, but even Doublelift wasn’t at the same level of Dardoch in terms of toxicity. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

CLG has stressed friendship among players over the past few years. If Dardoch can come in and mesh well early, they can contend with the best. If they struggle to adapt to the meta once again, internal team issues could arise.


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Cover photo by: Riot Games

 

NALCS: Grading this Split’s Rookies

In my last piece I took a look at some of newest imports of the North American LCS. This week I’ll take a look at the rookies and how they’ve made an impact to their team this split. There are only four this split, but nonetheless every rookie has come onto their team and made an impact. Grading will be based on expectations heading in and how they’ve met them. Lets take a look:

Phoenix1 Stunt (Support)

 

Courtesy: Riot Esports

William “Stunt” Chen began this split as a sub on Dignitas. He also spent some time last summer on Team Liquid Academy playing alongside Piglet.  Little was known about Stunt heading in, as most didn’t even know he was a sub on Dignitas untill he subbed for a series against Envy.

He finally got his shot at LCS as a starter when Phoenix1 acquired him before the trade deadline. Their former support Adrian “Adrian” Ma was transferred to Team Liquid in wake of internal issues with jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh. Stunt came in as a brand new support who had never really had a starting role on an LCS team. Phoenix1 has not been phased by this at all, if anything, they’ve looked to have grown even stronger.

In the 8 games he’s played, Phoenix1 is undefeated and look to be catching up to Cloud 9 as the second best team in North America. Stunt himself has been performing quite well in this support meta. His champion pool is diverse, having played seven champions already in his short time on P1. Stunt currently has the highest KDA of supports at 5.5 and a spectacular 80 percent kill participation.

Phoenix1 seemed to have done a great job integrating Stunt into the team. Phoenix1 look like top contenders heading into playoffs.

Grade: A-

Cloud 9 Contractz (Jungle)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Juan “Contractz” Garcia came in as the next hyped upcoming challenger talent. He spent time on Cloud 9 Challenger and helped them qualify for the LCS. Many praised him as a solo que star being bred to take the NA LCS by storm. After a phenomenal week 1 performance many thought Contractz would pop off and propel Cloud 9 to the top team once again. That hasn’t really been the case as Cloud 9 have regressed as other teams around them have improved.

Contractz in particular has had his fair share of rookie mistakes that have cost his team. Sometimes getting caught out before big objectives or invading without the aid of his team behind him. Even a minor accidental slip up in champion select may have cost his team a close series against CLG.

Nonetheless, Contractz has played pretty well for a rookie Jungler in his first split. Expectations may have hindered how well he’s actually played this split. Contractz came in molded to be a somewhat supportive style Jungler helping his talented laners get ahead. He gets deep vision for the team and tracks the enemy Jungler.  He currently has the 2nd highest KDA among Junglers.

What’s worrisome is how much Cloud 9 struggles to make plays in the early game.  With so many talented players, their early game is still one of their biggest weaknesses. Contractz has the worst First Blood percentages among Junglers which speaks to the lack of C9’s play making in the early game. Often times their wins come off mid game fights.

 

Grade: B

Echo Fox Akaadian (Jungle)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham came into the LCS with little to no expectations of him. Most expected him to be average at best and not make much of an impact. That was not the case as he stormed onto the scene in the first weeks as an extremely talented and aggressive Jungler.

As the split has gone on, some teams may have figured out his style. With teams around them getting better, Echo Fox has struggled to stay afloat. Akaadian went from having one of the best KDA’s in the league, to having one of the worst at 2.7.  Nonetheless, Akaadian has been one of, if not the best player on his team this split. His early game play making has often netted his team huge gold leads. It’s more of the team as a whole not being able to transition those leads into victories.

It will be interesting if he garners interest from other teams during the off-season. Any North American talent is crucial as it allows for imports in other parts of the roster.

Grade: A

Immortals Cody Sun (ADC)

Li “Cody” Yu Sun was an up and coming ADC fresh out of the challenger scene. He spent time on Dream Team last split where he stood out as a top performer. As a rookie, not much was expected from him and his lane partner Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. People expected Immortals to play mostly through their talented solo laners and Jungle.

It took awhile, but Cody Sun and Olleh are quietly becoming a bot lane force. Their first few weeks were a bit rough. As a rookie ADC being thrown into a meta where ADC’s were basically ult bots was a tall task.

As the ADC meta is slowly shifting back to meta carries Cody Sun has shown some great performances on Ezreal and Cait. He’s one of the underrated pickups during the off season as a North American talent who doesn’t take up an import slot. Moving forward, he’ll need to continue his growth for Immortals to perform at their highest level.

Grade: B-

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NALCS: Players to Watch as We Near the End of the Split

There are only two weeks left in the split, and each game will be important in playoff positioning. TSM and Cloud 9 are the obvious top two teams, but Phoenix1 has been on a tear recently. The middle of the pack has been a toss up every week. It seems that every week a different team decides to show up or collapse. In this piece, we’ll take a look at key players to watch who will be vital in their team’s success as we near the end of the split.

Dardoch (IMT Jungler)

 

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett  has been the MVP of Immortals up to this point. He is often the decider in whether or not his team comes out on top. There are times where we see Dardoch play like the jungle God we’ve come to know from his time on Liquid. Other times he’ll make questionable aggressive plays that make us shake our head. In their series last week against TSM, he showed up with a phenomenal Rengar in Game 1, but failed to make enough of an impact in the next two games of the series.

Immortals are currently tied with Dignitas for 6th place at 6-8. In order for Immortals to solidify their playoff position, they’ll need Dardoch at his best.

Hai and Moon (Flyquest Mid and Jungler)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

This one could go out to Flyquest as a whole honestly. Their drafting seems to have focused heavily on cheesing opponents. While it brings out unique champions for fans, their in game success has fallen off since the mid way point. It may be a mix of other teams around them getting better, but Flyquest will need Hai “Hai” Lam and Galen “Moon” Holgate to get back to where they were at the start of the split. During their first three weeks, Flyquest were winning off the backs of their strategic drafts and Hai’s shotcalling. Moon was also putting up phenomenal stats, but has struggled as of late.

Flyquest have fallen from being a top three team to tied for fourth with CLG. Their playoff spot isn’t even guaranteed anymore. They may need to go back to playing more standard picks and what worked for them. Morde and Shaco were fine for a game or two, but the rest of the LCS continues to get better, and cheesing opponents just isn’t enough anymore.

Stixxay (CLG ADC)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

ADC’s have quietly shifted from being ult-bots to now being able to carry a game. We saw evidence of this from CLG’s last series with Cloud 9. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes showed the ability to be able to carry with his Ezreal and Caitlyn play. With the changes to Botrk going live this week, Ezreal may become a top tier ADC pick. This is good news for CLG as they’re used to playing around their star bot lane duo.

CLG seems to always pick it up during this time of the season. Their win against Cloud 9 was much needed, and they’ll need to take that momentum with them into playoffs.

Keith and gate(Echo Fox ADC and support)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

It’s no doubt Echo Fox’s bot lane has been their weak spot. ADC Yuri “Keith” Jew and Austin “Gate” Yu are often the X factor in many of their games. If they don’t get caught and play with confidence, it’s a team that can clean sweep TSM. When they’re constantly getting caught out of position though, the rest of the team struggles to find consistency. Gate and Keith are both near the bottom in KDA at their positions.

Echo Fox are currently 8th place, sitting a game behind Immortals and Dignitas. With the bot lane shifting away from just being ult-bots, Echo Fox’s bot lane will need to step up immensely. They’ve shown the ability to hand TSM one of their only two losses of the split, so we know they’re capable.

Contractz (Cloud 9 Jungler)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Some may have been quick to praise Cloud 9 jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia, the next best jungler of North America. Contractz debuted with some phenomenal performances to begin his young LCS career. As teams around him have gotten better, we haven’t seen the same progression from him. His Rengar against CLG was unimpressive as he struggled to find effective ults onto anyone. His mis-click onto Jayce in Game 3 gave C9 an awkward team comp to say the least. Small rookie mistakes cost his team at times where he is caught out before big objectives. Contractz will play a huge part in whether Cloud 9 can dethrone TSM as king of NALCS.

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