NA vs. EU Rift Rivals power rankings/predictions

Rift Rivals is around the corner. We will get the chance to see some of the top teams from EU and NA face off in a regional battle for bragging rights. EU and NA has been a long time rivalry in professional League of Legends. They were two of the first big regions to produce pro teams during LoL’s early days.

The history of the NA vs. EU rivalry has been a bit lopsided as of late. EU comes in as heavy favorites with most of the top of NA looking inconsistent for most of the first half of the split. You never really know with international tournaments though. The two regions are used to playing to their own metas so it will be interesting to see how the teams match up. Here are my power rankings for the teams playing at Rift Rivals:

1. Fnatic

Photo via Riot Games

Fnatic come into Rift Rivals with a steady 6-1 record. After struggling last split, they found their groove towards the end. Fnatic have found a style that works for them and continue to show mastery on it. ADC Martin “Rekkles” Larsson has his pocket pick Kennen that teams must watch out for. If it’s not the Kennen, it’s his Tristana that can give teams trouble. Mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther gets his first shot at international competition. This is a great opportunity for him to face off against some of the best in the world in Bjergsen and Jensen at Rift Rivals. With Rekkles usually on more utility carries, Caps is heavily relied on to be the main damage dealer for the team. Caps currently leads the league for all mids in damage percentage and damage per minute.

Young jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen gets his chance to prove himself as one of the best junglers in the West. He’s been dominating the EULCS this split with a monster 11.3 KDA. He’s an aggressive jungler that has had phenomenal performances on early game junglers such as Elise and Kha’zix.

Fnatic are comprised of two veterans in SoaZ and Rekkles who should be able to lead this rising squad to a Rift Rivals victory.

2. Unicorns of Love

Unicorns of Love come into Rift Rivals with a 5-1 record, only dropping a series to Splyce. They are led by star top laner Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás. Rookie of the split Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir will also be a player to watch as he’s come into his own in the EULCS. He has a deep champion pool, willing to pull out unique champion picks such as Warwick and Hecarim. With EU having some of the best junglers in this tournament, NA will need to step up.

Fabian “Exileh” Schubert may have a a rough time. In EU he’s currently dead last in CS difference@10. He’s also near the bottom for many mid lane stats. He will be up against the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen and Ryu. Teams will most likely look to exploit the mid and bot lane. ADC Samuel “Samux” Fernández has looked improved this split, he comes in facing the likes of Arrow, Doublelift and Sneaky. UoL have strong shot calling and have shown consistency to play well together. In just about every matchup against TSM they’ve handily defeated them. We’ll see if that changes this time around.

3. Cloud 9

Photo via Riot Games

Cloud 9 come in off a solid win over TSM, but a very deflating loss at the hands of CLG. Had they beaten CLG they may have been in a higher position. Cloud 9 are led by carries Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Jensen has been having the best split of his career in the NALCS. He sits near the top in most statistical categories among NA mids.

In NA Cloud 9 has had some of the same issues from last split. Their early game play making still lacks a bit, but their laning phase is still pretty solid. They have a versatile roster with their interchangeable top laners of Jeon “Ray” Ji-won and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. Ray has slowly been taking the starting role from Impact showing the ability to be a carry top laner for the team.

In the jungle rookie Juan “Contractz” Garcia has still shown some inconsistencies, but has turned it on as of late. He’ll be facing many good junglers from EU, so he’ll need to step it up if Cloud 9 have a chance. It will be his first international competition so he’ll look to prove himself. Cloud 9’s rivalry with Fnatic will be ignited once again as they get a chance to face off in this tournament. Cloud 9 took the battle of the Atlantic, but Fnatic has gotten the best of them at Worlds.

4. Team SoloMid

TSM are the reigning North American champions and had the chance to eliminate G2 from MSI. They failed to do so and were eliminated themselves. They get another shot in the EU rivalry this time with ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Doublelift vs. Rekkless and Zven will be matchups to watch here at Rift Rivals. Rekkless isn’t really known for his aggressive laning phase so we’ll need to see how he does against one of NA’s best.

Many thought TSM would retake the NA throne easily with the addition of Doublelift back onto the roster. That hasn’t been the case as TSM sit in 2nd place with a 7-3 record. Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen has looked phenomenal on Lee Sin. Anything outside of Lee, he has looked meh at best. He’ll be a huge crutch for TSM if he has a repeat of his performances at MSI.

TSM have been known to choke at international events. We’ll need to see if Rift Rivals will be another one added to that list.

5. G2

Photo via Riot Games

After a great run at MSI where they reached the finals before losing to SKT, G2 was expected to come back and destroy the EULCS scene. That hasn’t been the case as G2 seem to have taken a step back in terms of performance. They may be using the regular season to try out new things, but their old strategy of playing to the late game has not worked well for them. They currently sit at 3-3, third in their conference.

Their early game play making is lacking. While they can still try to play around star ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, teams will look to punish them for their lack of early game play making. Support Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez has been a weak link this split getting caught out uncharacteristically. He will need to step it up or he’ll be punished by some of the better supports at the tournament.

6. Phoenix1

Phoenix1 will be heavy underdogs as the only team coming to rift rivals with a negative W-L. They currently sit in 8th place with a 3-7 record. They struggled heavily out the gates, but after bringing in new jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung and veteran support Alex “Xpecial” Chu the team has looked much more competitive.

MikeYeung brings in a signature Nidalee pick that teams will need to watch out for. Former MVP ADC No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon has not shown the same prowess he did last split. He’s currently last in CS differential@10 and near the bottom in other statistics.

The team has looked improved in recent weeks. Maybe Rift Rivals can be a spring board for turning their season around. Ryu, Arrow and Xpecial are the steady veterans who have played in international competition before. Ryu in particular should know his opponents very well. Phoenix1 could definitely take a game or two under the right circumstances.

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Cover photo by Rift Herald

EU’s Final Showdowns: G2-UOL, FNC-MSF

The last matches of the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split are happening this weekend, April 22nd-23rd. The playoffs have been exciting thus far, and the final two series look to be just as juicy. Fnatic will battle Misfits for third place, while Unicorns of Love attempts to dethrone G2. All four of these teams have rounded out the past few weeks well, but here are some notes going into their last match-ups of Spring.

Misfits

Playoffs: Misfits mid laner, PowerOfEvil

courtesy of Riot esports

Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage has had an excellent playoff run. Among all of Misfits and Fnatic’s players, PowerOfEvil has been averaging the highest damage per minute: 620 (the next highest is Martin “Rekkles” Larsson with 497). He makes up 29.8% of Misfits’ damage. His average during the regular season was 495, or 28.8% of the team’s total. PowerOfEvil will need to maintain this high level of play and shut down Rasmus “Caps” Winthe if Misfits want to stand a chance of winning.

Their jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, will need to adjust. Between all ten Misfits and Fnatic players, KaKAO sits bottom two in KDA, kill participation, first blood rate, and experience difference at 10 minutes. This is not going to cut it if Misfits are to win this weekend’s series and secure third place. Many analysts have criticized his play on Rengar. His win percentage is only 33% on this champion, so he should try to stay away from it in the draft. Unicorns of Love were smart to ban Lee Sin and Elise, for which he holds 78% and 67% win-rates. His next best options are Ivern and Rek’Sai, for which he also holds 67% win-rates.

Overall, Misfits have mainly lost the early game pressure they exhibited during the regular season. So far, they have averaged 384 gold behind their playoff opponents, which is awful compared to their 820 gold ahead during the regular season. The largest discrepancy between Misfits and Fnatic has been their respective abilities to take the first three turrets. Fnatic holds the top spot among playoff contenders, taking their opponents’ first three turrets in 71% of games. Misfits have only achieved this in 44% of their games.

Fnatic

Playoffs: Fnatic's support, Jesiz

courtesy of Riot esports

Fnatic’s most improved player for playoffs has been Jesse “Jesiz” Le. Almost every statistic of his has improved over the past two weeks. His KDA went from 3.4 to 5.2. His kill participation rose from 60.3% to 68.9%. Jesiz has been a primary engage tool for the team on champions such as Camille, Thresh, and Zyra. He is also a big reason why Rekkles has been able to get through laning phase on off-meta marksmen. Hopefully, Jesiz is able to maintain this high-pressure playstyle.

While having a wide champion pool can be good, it is not always necessary. Fnatic’s odd champion choices essentially ended their series against G2 last weekend. Vayne, Tristana, Kayle, Annie: these selections were not necessary. The flexing of Camille and Kennen have generally worked well for Fnatic, but branching out much beyond those picks is a bit much. The surprise factor does not outweigh the execution factor.

One area where Fnatic has excelled during playoffs is Baron control. Fnatic has taken the first Baron in 86% of their playoff games (compared to 38% during the regular season). They have also maintained a 71% Baron control rate (compared to 33% during the regular season). This focus is much better than Misfits, and will more than likely be the biggest factor in Fnatic’s favor. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and crew will need to continue to prioritize this objective.

Unicorns of Love

Playoffs: Unicorns of Love's top laner, Vizicsacsi

courtesy of Riot esports

Unicorns of Love have strong players at every position except, arguably, their AD carry. During playoffs, Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert have averaged 605 and 600 damage per minute, respectively (third and fourth highest of all players). Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir tops the competition in KDA (10.5) and has the second-lowest death share of all player in playoffs (8.9%). While Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort generally averages behind in CS at ten minutes, he stays ahead in gold and experience, and he maintains the third lowest percentage of UOL’s deaths (13.3%).

One of the Unicorns’ biggest strengths is their champion pool. Xerxe has 75-100% win-rates on four champions with three or more games (Warwick, Ivern, Rengar, Rumble). Vizicsacsi has 75-100% win-rates on four champions with three or more games (Renekton, Rumble, Nautlius, Shen). And Exileh has won games on 11 different champions this spring. Pinching their pools will be virtually impossible for G2.

As a team, Unicorns of Love has secured first blood and first dragon in every game of playoffs so far. UOL has also secured the first Baron in in 75% of games with a 71% Baron control rate. If they are going to beat G2, it will most likely be off the back of a Baron trade. G2 have averaged a poor 25% first Baron rate during playoffs, and a 50% Baron control rate. During the regular season, G2 secured first Baron 72% of the time and maintained a 74% Baron control rate.

G2

Playoffs: G2's mid laner, Perkz

courtesy of Riot esports

G2 will be a formidable foe for Unicorns of Love. They offer similar strong players in virtually every role. Luka “Perkz” Perković has really shined throughout playoffs so far. He has the highest damage per minute (635) and percent of his team’s damage (33%). He has the lowest death share of all players in playoffs (8.5%), and he has the third highest KDA (7.0). UOL’s Exileh showed a bit of weakness against PowerOfEvil during laning phase last weekend. Perkz will be even more difficult for him to overcome.

G2’s other primary carry has been Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. Although he was not quite as dominant in the Fnatic series last weekend, his match-up with Unicorns’ bottom lane should be much easier. Zven has averaged 6.5 CS and 164 gold ahead at ten minutes. If there is a player who needs to step up in this series, though, it is Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun. Trick’s regular season KDA was 4.7. So far in playoffs, it is 1.8. He averaged significantly ahead in gold, experience, and CS at ten minutes. In the playoffs, he has averaged 7 CS and 108 experience behind.

G2’s early game was phenomenal against Fnatic last weekend. The squad averaged 877 gold ahead at 15 minutes. That was the case during the regular season, as well. What looks like a weak spot is taking early towers. During the regular season, G2 took first turret in 64% of games and the first three turrets in 73% of games. In their series last weekend, they only did 50% and 25%, respectively. Unicorns of Love take the first turret less often, but the first three turrets more often. G2 will have to transition their early game leads into early objectives if they want to stand a chance against UOL. Teamfighting may not be the correct strategy. Smart rotations and perfect execution will be their only chance at victory.

predictions

Fnatic has looked much stronger in the past few weeks than Misfits have. I do not think it impossible for Misfits to take this, but it is highly unlikely. Just as Misfits took one game off of Unicorns of Love, they should get one from Fnatic, but Fnatic should win 3-1.

The finals series will be much more exciting. G2 have looked a bit weaker, while Unicorns seem hungry. Either way, it should be a five game series. If UOL wins it will be from snowballing the top side of the map, while G2 should look to snowball the bottom side. While both will likely happen, Vizicsacsi’s gameplay lately is seemingly unstoppable. This should be Unicorns’ spring split playoff victory.


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NFL Week 1 Predictions ATS

Football season is back! These are my week 1 predictions against the spread. I went 100-89-3 last year and look to get off to a hot start. I’m not here to tell you what to do, just a simple guide. Lets go…

 

Carolina Panthers (-3) over Denver Broncos – A Super Bowl re-match and obviously the best game of the week. Peyton Manning didn’t do a whole lot against the Panthers to get a W in the championship game so I’m not sure if Trevor Siemian being the Broncos QB is that big of a deal. However, Panthers want revenge and they have their number 1 wide receiver back in Kelvin Benjamin. 23-16 Panthers.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over Atlanta Falcons – I’m very bullish on Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs this year. I kind of hope Tampa is losing at halftime so Winston can give the team a motivation speech. For what it’s worth: the Falcons are 0-5 SU in their last five games as a favorite.

 

Minnesota Vikings (-2) over Tennessee Titans – Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact ACL tear in practice and will be out the remainder of the season. The Vikes went out and traded for Sam Bradford whom I think is competent enough to beat the Titans. Right?

 

Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over Cleveland Browns – As much as I hate betting on rookie quarterbacks I can’t bet on the Browns. Cleveland is 0-5 SU in their last 5 road games and 2-9 ATS in week 1 games. 17-6 Eagles.

 

New York Jets (+3) over Cincinnati Bengals – The Jets might have the hardest first seven games in the NFL. I’m sure they know that and they’ll be playing with an extra sense of urgency. Jets by a field goal in a low scoring game.

 

New Orleans Saints (-1.5) over Oakland Raiders – This game has the potential to be a shootout because of the weak pass coverage by both teams. I think this comes down to whoever has the ball last. Quarterback Drew Brees is in a contract year, which means he’ll be on his A game in the home opener. I also like over 50.5 points.

 

San Diego Chargers (+7) over Kansas City Chiefs – Out of the 12 losses last year for the Chargers, nine were decided by one possession. I don’t think the Chargers win, but will do enough to cover the spread. Chargers are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games. Chiefs 31-27.

 

Buffalo Bills (+3.5) over Baltimore Ravens – Tyrod Taylor + LeSean McCoy + Sammy Watkins = Enough to beat the Baltimore Ravens.

 

Houston Texans (-6.5) over Chicago Bears – The Texans won the AFC South with playing Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. With the addition of Brock Osweiler you’d have to think they’ll be two or three wins better. Texans defense will be too much for Jay Cutler. Bears are 0-4 SU in their last 4 games in September. 23-10 Texans.

 

Green Bay Packers (-4) over Jacksonville Jaguars – This is the scariest line of the week. 85% of the public is betting heavy on the Packers and is the number one bet in Vegas. I think it could be close in the 3rd quarter, but Rodgers will find a way. 27-20 Packers.

 

New York Giants (PK) over Dallas Cowboys – There’s no way the Giants can lose to Dak Prescott. Just no wayyyy…

 

Seattle Seahawks (-10) over Miami Dolphins – Russell Wilson had the best season of his career in 2015, throwing for 4,024 yards and 34 touchdowns. I think Russ has an MVP type season and gets off on the right foot against a Dolphins team that still needs work defensively.

 

Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) over Detroit Lions – The line started off at 5 and dropped to 3.5. I don’t know what that means, but I think Andrew Luck is in for a great year. He will be able to connect with TY Hilton for multiple scores against a shaky Lions secondary. Colts by a touchdown.

 

Arizona Cardinals (-6) over New England Patriots – No Brady, No Ninkovich, No Vollmer, No Dion Lewis. No win for the Patriots. 30-21 Cards.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) over Washington Redskins – If the Redskins didn’t win the NFC East this line would be at 6.5. I think they’re overrated even with the Josh Norman signing. No Bell, no problem for a tough Steelers team.

 

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) over San Francisco 49ers – I’m taking a stand by not betting on the 49ers.

 

Last week: 0-0

Overall ATS: 0-0

Teaser Pick of the Week Overall: 0-0

Teaser Pick of the Week (10 points): New York Giants +10

Seattle Seahawks PK

Pittsburgh Steelers +7

 

 

 

Predications for ELeague: Adam Stevens (guest writer)

Courtesy of Eleague Twitter account.

Courtesy of Eleague Twitter account.

The $1.2million ELeague tournament hosted by Turner is set to kick off May 24th with a plethora of teams attending.

 

In this article I will break down who is attending the event, where I think they will place and who could potentially upset the pack.

 

Since Turner announced the ELeague there was an air of uncertainty around the teams with a small group of teams being announced initially which didn’t include any of the top tier names. After lengthy talks the full list of teams attending was announced, and didn’t disappoint.

 

 

Teams attending:

Astralis

Cloud9

CLG

compLexity

dignitas

Echo Fox

EnVyUs

FaZe

FlipSid3

fnatic

Gambit

G2

Liquid

Luminosity

mousesports

Natus Vincere

NiP

NRG

OpTic

Renegades

SK

TSM

Virtus.pro

TyLoo

 

For those of the more visual bent, or who just like pretty logos. Courtesy of liquidpedia.

For those of the more visual bent, or who just like pretty logos. Courtesy of liquidpedia.

 

The current CSGO competitive landscape is incredibly interesting, we’ve got Luminosity, the most recent Major champions, Na’Vi who consistently challenge for the top spot, and multiple teams that have recently made a roster swap which could potentially see them rocket to the top.

 

My top five looks like this:

Luminosity

Na’Vi

Astralis

Fnatic

NiP

 

Luminosity have shown that they’re an incredibly strong and tactical team that have so much to offer in the top tier CSGO scene. The big question about this line-up is if they can constantly stay at the top and make sure they don’t get figured out and completely antistratted by the other top tier teams.

 

 

Na`Vi have the issue of whether or not GuardiaN will be able to consistently play at the top of his game with the injury he has picked up in the past few months. He’s had to change his ingame sensitivity and has since not been the absolute dominant force he is known for. If Na`Vi can overcome this they will be consistently hitting top two.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

 

Astralis have shown they’re a top tier team time and time again, but have never been able to close it out and win tournaments they play well at, they’re the team that keeps on choking. I have no doubt Astralis will be in the top 7 teams in this league, they have the potential to upset and break the top one and two places but it’s more likely they will finish in third to seventh in my opinion.

 

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Fnatic have been constantly changing their roster to try and stay on top after Olofmeisters injury means that he will be unable to play for the coming months. They have tried Plessen, but recently cut him from the roster citing the team’s poor results as the reason for this. Now Fnatic have brought in Wenton, who hasn’t had the best start with Fnatic losing to Astralis but it’s still early days so we can’t read too much in to that. Fnatic have been dominant in the past but without their star player Olofmeister, the question is, can they continue to be dominant?

This last place in my top five could really be a mix of three teams, NiP, Virtus.Pro or EnVyUs. I have chosen NiP since they have been looking like they have transformed their playstyle from a puggy style to a more structured strategic play which worked really well for them at Dreamhack Malmo. I am really impressed with the work Threat has done with this team and I do believe that if they play like they did at Dreamhack Malmo they will be able to challenge the top three spot.

 

 

 

 

The upsetters, the teams I think could potentially bring in some great results against the top tier teams in this league.

 

My first pick in the upsetters category is Tyloo. They’ve shown they’re incredibly dedicated to the game and improving, and they’re bringing a whole new level of CSGO to the West. The top tier teams don’t have much experience against this team and they don’t have many demos to watch back to work out how they play. If they come in to the tournament strong they could bring some upsets. This team is also great to see if the Asian scene can compete with the Western scene, how they match up and how they will improve will be really interesting to watch.

 

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

Courtesy of liquidpedia.

 

A team that seems like it has a lot of potential is NRG, I would really like them to make a roster change to bring in one fragger in replacement of maybe Legija or gob b and move one of the Europeans to coach. They have the brain, I’m just not sure they have the aim.

 

My third and final team included in this upset category is mousesports, they’ve had some really good results lately and have been knocking on the door of the top tier teams constantly. They beat Luminosity and Liquid at Dreamhack Malmo and multiple top tier teams online since.

 

My final ranking prediction is this:

 

Luminosity

Na’Vi

Astralis

Fnatic

NiP

EnVyUs

Virtus.pro

mousesports

TyLoo

G2

CLG

FaZe

Gambit

dignitas

SK

FlipSid3

Cloud9

Liquid

NRG

compLexity

Echo Fox

Renegades

TSM

OpTic

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

 

Adam has been playing Counter Strike for a little over 10 years now and has set up http://bc-gb.com a CSGO news and opinion website and https://www.customesports.com a custom esports jersey and apparel supplier. You’ll normally find Adam on his websites, Reddit or https://www.twitter.com/admstevens.