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Kobolds and Catacombs Day 1 Deck Theorycrafting

The next Hearthstone expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, has finally been released. In the reveal season, we saw many powerful and fun cards that are coming out with the set. But, which of these cards fit into existing decks? What new decks are coming into the meta?

The Meta

Dragon Priest

KnC Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest Decklist

In past expansions, Dragon Priest has been an archetype that many people have toyed around with and played on ladder. In this expansion, we may see the rise of a Dragon-oriented Priest build similar to the Dragon Priest deck that was viable during the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion last year. The iteration I have theory-crafted includes a much more value-orientated game plan by including cards such as Lyra the Sunshard, Drakonid Operative, and the new Priest weapon, Dragon Soul. The deck can also be built to take on a more minion heavy route by taking out cards like Dragon Soul, Lyra the Sunshard, and Shadow Word: Death and replacing them with Cabal Shadow Priest, which synergises with Twilight Acolyte, and Twilight Drake.

 

The inclusion of Duskbreaker in this expansion really helps Dragon Priest’s historically bad matchup versus aggressive decks, which makes the new iteration of Dragon Priest that much scarier. On ladder, this deck seems like a solid choice for climbing at a high pace. In tournaments, players may elect to bring Highlander Priest instead because of its favorable win-rates versus slower decks.

 

 Zoo Warlock

KnC Zoo Warlock

Zoolock Decklist

In the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, we once again saw the rise of an old friend: Zoo Warlock. The early game minion package combined with Prince Keleseth proved to be the kick this deck needed to get back into the meta, and topping off with Bonemare and Bloodreaver Gul’Dan made Zoo Warlock scary in the late-game as well. This time around, Blizzard has given Zoo Warlock even better tools for taking the board early game and keeping it. The addition of Kobold Librarian helps keep your hand full, which is extremely important when having so many low mana cost minions in your deck. The main difference with this Zoo Warlock compared to the previous deck is that it cuts Prince Keleseth for the new 2-drop, Vulgar Homunculus.

 

With this iteration of the deck, I decided to add the Demon synergy package in the form of Demonfire, Bloodfury potion, and Crystalweaver. We have seen quite a lot of play with Bloodfury Potion and Crystalweaver in the past Zoo Warlock decks, but the addition of the Vulgar Homunculus makes these cards coming down on curve extremely threatening. Hooked Reaver also makes an appearance in this deck because of how solid its stats are when the Battlecry goes off, as well as its ability to synergise with the rest of the demon synergy in the deck.

 

The addition of higher-health minions and buff cards will help Zoo Warlock in the next meta mainly because of the predicted prevalence of Duskbreaker on the ranked ladder. In tournament play, this deck will likely be chosen for inclusion in aggressive lineups.

Big Druid

KnC Big Druid

Big Druid Decklist

The ‘Big’ archetype saw large amounts of play during the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion as a whole, especially during the later half of the set’s meta. Kobolds and Catacombs has not given Big Druid many other tools, but the core of the deck is strong enough to still see play. The only change I have made to the current Big Druid list is taking out Innervate and adding Arcane Tyrants. Innervate, once a staple in most Druid decks, took a huge hit from the nerfs that occured in the middle of the last expansion. It was included in Big Druid, but it was arguably one of the weaker cards within the deck. Two different cards were shown from the new expansion that could find a home in Big Druid: Greedy Sprite and Arcane Tyrant. I chose to include Arcane Tyrant instead of the Sprite because it is very similar to Kun the Forgotten King in the way that it makes your power turns even more powerful. A common way Kun has been used during the meta was playing it as a big free body to pair with Ultimate Infestation. Arcane Tyrant acts in a similar way when paired with Nourish, Spreading Plague, and Ultimate Infestation as well. Greedy Sprite could be included instead of the Tyrant, but the ramp effect is rather slow and your opponent can choose to ignore it. Although this is the case, ramp is powerful enough that Greedy Sprite might see play over Arcane Tyrant.

 

Big Druid seems to be the new go-to Druid deck. In the past, Jade Druid has held this spot, but Big Druid is able to make bigger minions faster and still keep aggression at bay, which may see the ‘Big’ archetype overtaking the Jade mechanic this expansion. Because of this, it is a solid choice for both ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Tempo Rogue

KnC Tempo Rogue

Tempo Rogue Decklist

Tempo Rogue swept the meta in dominant fashion when it was first discovered to be a powerhouse of a deck. With Kobolds and Catacombs, this deck gets even stronger with the inclusion of some slower yet highly valuable cards. One of these cards is the Rogue Legendary of the set, Sonya Shadowdancer. Sonya replaces the rather weak card of Shaku, the Collector as a card generation engine. Most of the minions in Tempo Rogue have such good effects or Battlecries that Shadowcaster saw a decent amount of experimentation and success during the expansion. Sonya is much cheaper than Shadowcaster, which makes its effect easier to pull off. The second card I have added to the deck is Fal’dorei Strider. Admittingly, a 4 mana 4/4 is rather weak as a tempo play. But, the potential for that minion to pull one, two, or even three additional 4/4 bodies is so powerful that it is worth the initial tempo loss. Even if only 1 additional body is pulled, paying 4 mana for 8/8 worth of stats is crazy powerful. There is also the potential to high-roll by creating a 4/4 on turn 7 to be able to play Bonemare onto after your opponent cleared your board the previous turn.

 

Fal’dorei Strider takes the place of Saronite Chain Gang, mainly because of Chain Gang’s vulnerability to an on-curve Duskbreaker. Overall, Tempo Rogue looks to still be a powerhouse deck next expansion, and I expect to see it played both on the ranked ladder and in tournaments.

 

Highlander Priest

KnC Highlander Priest

Highlander Priest Decklist

Highlander Priest has been at the top of the meta throughout Knights of the Frozen Throne, and it seems to still remain at the top during Kobolds and Catacombs. The Priest list I have selected to showcase only adds one card: Psychic Scream. In order to include the new Priest board clear, I chose to cut Mass Dispel from the deck. Mass Dispel is often times weak, so it made sense to take it out for one of the best cards of the upcoming expansion. This decision shows how good of a deck Highlander Priest already is. Another take on Highlander Priest is to go for a more minion-focused route by including a Dragon package with Duskbreaker. While this seems like a good idea, I feel the current version of the deck is much better. In the past, more value-oriented decks were tested. These decks included cards such as Elise the Trailblazer and Free from Amber. It was ultimately found that the faster and more burst-oriented Priest build was better. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to stick with the tried-and-true burst style.

 

Once again, Highlander Priest seems to be at the top of the meta. Expect to see a large amount on ladder and as a staple deck in many tournament lineups.

 

The Non-Meta

Combo Hunter

KnC Combo Hunter

Combo Hunter Decklist

For the past few expansions, Hunter has been struggling as a class. Blizzard keeps pushing control tools and weird cards for the Hunter arsenal, which leaves the class in an awkward position in terms of deck building because of how weak each of the archetypes are. With the new Hunter legendary minion, Kathrena Winterwisp, I thought it would be really interesting to build a combo-oriented deck using Kathrena, Charged Devilsaur, and King Krush. It is often not a combo that will instantly kill your opponent, but the amount of stats that the combo provides are truly ridiculous. This deck runs the Secret package to help fend off aggro, the Candleshot and Hunter’s Mark combo to deal with large threats, and Deathstalker Rexxar to create even more value in a late game scenario.

 

While the deck might not be top-tier, it seems extremely fun to play. Personally, I will be testing this deck in tournament play in a lineup that is attempting to target control decks. On ranked ladder, Combo hunter still seems weak to aggro decks and Highlander Priest, which makes it not extremely viable in the upcoming meta.

Conclusion

Overall, Kobolds and Catacombs sees both powerful and fun cards added to the game. While it may not be the best expansion of the year in terms of player attitude and hype, it will likely lead to a diverse and healthy meta both in terms of ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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toggwaggle

Are you ready to get Togwaggled?

Hearthstone’s Kobolds and Catacombs will bring perhaps the craziest card concepts yet. But between double turns, treasure chests and duplicating gibberers, one stands above all. By far the wildest of them is the mighty King Togwaggle. His ability to temporarily swap decks opens up all sorts of new win conditions and crazy combos. How hard will these strategies be to pull off? And are there any that could become genuinely competitive?

Let’s dive into the possibilities. Who knows, some may even turn out viable!

togwaggle

The King of meme decks, but could he actually work? (source: Hearthstone Youtube)

No backsies!

One of the most straightforward ways to use Togwaggle is to simply deny the opponent the ability to swap back. Normally, Togwaggle grants the opponent a five mana “King’s Ransom” spell to reverse his original effect. But if you can fill the opponent’s hand, there’s no room for the spell and no way to reverse the same effect. This could be tricky to put off. It’s hard to fill up your opponent’s hand while playing an eight mana card. But, some classes could pull it off.

Druid has perhaps the best chance. The new Legendary weapon, Twig of the World Tree, allows 10 extra mana crystals. That means you have 12 mana for Coldlights, Naturalizes and similar. If you succeed in getting your opponent to 10 cards, they will be stuck with your wanna be Mill Druid, while you’ll have all their win conditions.

Other classes could have some strategies. Rogue could also have a shot, with either pre-shadowstepped Coldlights or Counterfeit Coining out a Prepped Vanish. Mage’s Counterspell would work, but could be hard to set up and is easily played around.

Worth the setup?

togwaggle

Clog their hand and the deck swap could be permanent

Unfortunately, this plan has a number of flaws. It’ll be hard to fill the hand of anyone but the greediest of control decks. What’s more, swapping decks might not be that effective; you need to survive long enough to reach turn 10 in the first place, and if your deck can do that, it may not be that much of a liability. And you could easily be stuck as an out-of-steam tempo deck if you do steal the opponent’s deck.

This could rely on a fatigue style win-condition; if you dig through your deck enough before swapping, then the opponent will be far enough ahead in fatigue that victory will be guaranteed. But if you get to this point in the game, you have likely already stabilised against midrange or aggro. Meanwhile combo decks may have already assembled enough damage to kill you shortly after.

The burn strategy

You don’t need to permanently steal your opponent’s deck to ruin their strategy. Another plan could simply be to steal or burn vital cards from their deck. The simplest way to do this would simply be to draw lots of cards. Many classes have cheap card draws that could combo with it. Warlock can tap, or Bloodbloom into Doom to completely eviscerate the opponent’s deck. Hunters can Tracking to steal multiple cards while discarding additional ones. Warriors can set up a large Battle Rage, or precision-steal weapons with Forge of Souls. Rogues can Coin, Prep then Sprint to steal four or more cards.

Of course, this could be of limited utility. Simply taking random cards isn’t especially devastating in most cases; at least, not enough to warrant playing an eight mana 5/5. Unless you’re up against a combo or control deck, they often rely more on generic draws than specific cards. Even in the case of combo decks, stealing their cards can often bring them closer to their win conditions.

Exploring the possibilities

togwaggle

Explore Un’Goro could nuke your opponent’s deck

The most interesting and potentially potent combo comes with Explore Un’Goro. At two mana, it is perfect to combo with Togwaggle. The ability to essentially destroy the opponent’s deck could become genuinely competitive in the right meta. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as that. You need to be able to deal with the possibility of your opponent using their new one mana discover cards to win; or to use your own deck against you.

There are a number of ways to set up the combo. The simplest would be just Togwaggle and Explore Un’Goro. This essentially gives the option to your opponent to have your deck or an Explore Un’Goro deck. Both could be troublesome to deal with, as many classes can have powerful discover options that could lose you the game, and your own deck might be more effective when used against you. To make matters worse, a Skulking Geist could leave you with no deck at all!

To counteract this, it may be necessary to run Dead Man’s Hand, Skulking Geist and an additional Explore Un’Goro. The plan would be simple. First, you Explore Un’Goro your own deck. Then, you Togwaggle to swap decks, and Explore Un’Goro again to convert your newly acquired deck. After that, you can Skulking Geist to destroy both decks and begin shuffling Dead Man’s Hand to avoid fatigue.

This sounds like a difficult combo to counter. But it may be hard to pull off. Geist, two Explore Un’Goros, Togwaggle and Dead Man’s Hand are a lot of clunky cards to have in a class that’s already struggling. What’s more, assembling them would be extremely difficult. And after all that, you need to make sure you shuffle things like removal or lifegain to deal with your opponent’s remaining threats.

togwaggle

Togwaggle could fit into Dead Man’s Hand Warrior, but the archetype is hardly top-tier

Constructed or Tavern Brawl?

Finally, the best possible use may be to enforce your opponent into a Tavern Brawl style match. By simply Exploring Un’Goro both decks, you can force your opponent to discover their way to victory. It might not be the most viable of strategies, but if you want to hover at a rank floor, it might just be a fun way to remind your netdecking opponents of the kind of wacky fun Hearthstone and King Togwaggle can bring.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

League play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series came to an end last weekend for North America and Europe. With that, it’s time to look at predictions for the upcoming promotion/relegation tournament as well as playoff predictions. Here are the RLCS standings for NA and EU after league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 6-1
  2. G2 Esports 6-1
  3. Ghost 5-2
  4. NRG Esports 4-3
  5. Rogue 3-4
  6. FlyQuest 2-5
  7. Allegiance 1-6
  8. Renegades 1-6

 EU

  1. Method 6-1
  2. PSG eSports 6-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 5-2
  4. Mockit eSports 4-3
  5. exceL 3-4
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 2-5
  7. Team Envy 2-5
  8. Team Secret 0-7
playoff predictions

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Seeds seven and eight for both NA and EU are no longer competing in season four. They are currently in the midst of fighting for the last two seeds moving into season five. The round-robin promotion/relegation tournament is underway. The top two teams from the RLRS in both regions are also competing in said tournament. Those teams include Fibeon and Out of Style for NA, along with Fnatic and The Juicy Kids for EU.

I’ll give you my predictions for the promotion/relegation tournament results before we move onto the rest of season four. In the end, for NA, I’m expecting to see Fibeon and Renegades in season five of the RLCS, with Out of Style remaining in the RLRS and Allegiance moving down to join them. As for EU, I expect to see Fnatic promoted to the RLCS alongside Team Envy retaining their spot, while The Juicy Kids remain where they are and Team Secret is relegated back.

These are certainly the safer predictions when it comes to the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, they’re safe for a reason. I’ll throw all of you Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin fans a bone and say Out of Style has the potential to come out on top over Renegades, relegating them back to the RLRS.

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

The fight for top four in NA was a close one all season. With top two still up for grabs at the start of week five, each of the top four teams had a viable shot at clinching one of those spots. As we now know, Cloud9 and G2 are the teams that managed to pull it off. Cloud9 was no surprise, considering the incredible season they had. I admit, I wasn’t expecting G2 to clinch that other spot.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

We’re guaranteed to see Cloud9 and G2 at the world finals this year, but who will the other two NA teams be? Here’s what we’ll see in round one of the NA playoffs: NRG versus Rogue and Ghost versus FlyQuest.

These are certain to be close matches. That being said, my NA playoff predictions are NRG over Rogue and Ghost over FlyQuest. I’m picking NRG over Rogue simply because of the team chemistry here. NRG won the last three NA regional championships and I’m looking to see them pick up number four.

As for Ghost over FlyQuest, the decision is a bit more difficult. FlyQuest looked strong all season, despite ending with a 2-5 record. And let’s not forget Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri made it to every LAN from previous seasons. But, as analyst Michael “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi said on RLCS Overtime, there’s a first time for everything. And this might be the first time Sadjunior doesn’t make it to the world championships. I say that because Ghost has looked phenomenal in season four. Despite going in with the number three seed, they could have easily been a top two team.

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

As we’ve seen all season long, EU is a bit more of an emotional roller coaster for Rocket League fans. Team Envy, formerly Northern Gaming when they won the season three world championships, now sit in the seventh seed. Meaning their season is done. They’re currently fighting for their season five RLCS spot in the promotion/relegation tournament. Gale Force eSports and Flipsid3 Tactics, two other highly anticipated teams at the beginning of season four, are sitting in the number three and six seeds respectively. Needless to say, EU’s had an unexpected season.

That being said, there’s still time for Gale Force and Flipsid3 Tactics, as they look forward to playoffs. Here’s round one of the EU playoffs: Mockit eSports versus exceL and Flipsid3 Tactics versus Gale Force esports.

Now just because Flipsid3 and Gale Force are both looking to keep the dream alive doesn’t mean they’ll both get to. There’s only four EU spots at the world finals, meaning only two up for grabs. One of these two teams’ seasons will come to an end after this weekend.

Here are my EU playoff predictions. ExceL over Mockit eSports and Gale Force over Flipsid3 Tactics, and here’s why.

ExceL had a rough season three, under the name Cow Nose. However, in the off season, the squad dropped Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol and replaced him with Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen. They came into season four by securing a spot in qualifiers, and they’ve looked strong ever since.

GFE versus F.3

As for Flipsid3 Tactics and Gale Force eSports, it promises to be nail biter. All six of the players that make up these two starting rosters are veterans of not only the RLCS, but the world championship stage. They’ll all surely be eager to make it back to that stage as well. Flipsid3 Tactics, time and time again, have come up through one loser’s bracket or another to turn their position in a tournament around. They are essentially in that same position now, securing the sixth and final playoff seed. However, I have to give this one to Gale Force.

This Gale Force eSports squad formed after season two. Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre left Mockit eSports after winning the season three regional championships. Had he stayed with Mockit and one other member of that roster from season three, he would have been guaranteed a spot in this season of the RLCS. Despite that, he left to join Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs on Gale Force. Their third, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, has a similar story.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

Since then, they’ve been a force to reckon with. Although they had somewhat of a second place curse during the off season, until the NBC Universal Open, they were still coming in at least second consistently. Now they’re looking for yet another first place win in a LAN environment.

So, there you have it, here are the eight NA and EU teams I expect to see in the world championships:

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



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top two

RLCS: Fighting for top two

This weekend we move into the fifth and final week of North American and European league play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. As we look ahead, the fight to secure a top two spot is a tight one, especially in North America.

The top six teams in NA and EU RLCS, at the end of league play, qualify for playoffs. Not only that, the top six secure their spot in season five of the RLCS. More importantly, they avoid the stress of facing off in the promotion/relegation tournament to try to remain in the upper division. Most teams are looking to secure a top six spot at this point, but there are a select few still aiming for a higher goal: clinching a top two spot.

As always, before we take a look at what we might see, here’s where the standings are now.

Standings

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. Ghost 4-1
  3. G2 Esports 4-1
  4. NRG Esports 4-2
  5. Rogue 3-3
  6. FlyQuest 2-4
  7. Renegades 1-5
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. PSG eSports 6-0
  2. Method 5-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 4-2
  4. exceL 3-2
  5. Mockit eSports 2-3
  6. Team Envy 1-4
  7. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-5
  8. Team Secret 0-5

Top two

top two

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

While it’s not an achievable goal for some teams at this point, teams at the top of their leaderboards are still aiming for a top two spot. While top six guarantees your spot in playoffs and season five of the RLCS, top two guarantees a trip to the season four world championships.

PSG eSports currently holds the record for the most wins during league play of the RLCS. If they win their match in week five, against Team Envy, they will be the only team to go undefeated in RLCS league play history. Not only that, PSG eSports is the only team to already clinch a top two league play spot.

Although PSG eSports is guaranteed a shot at the world championships, they’re still looking to secure that number one seed moving into the world championships. So, don’t expect this squad to slow down during playoffs.

EU top two teams

Since we already know that PSG eSports has nailed down their top two spot, let’s take a look at the other contenders for EU top two, beginning, of course, with Method.

Method is the most likely team in EU to snag up the other top two position. Sitting at 5-1, their only loss currently is to PSG eSports.

top two

Image courtesy of @Methodgg Twitter account

Heading into week four, Method and PSG eSports were both 4-0. Method won their first match of week four against Mockit eSports, putting them at 5-0 before their match against PSG eSports. They set the record for most wins in league play of the RLCS. However, it was short lived, as the very same day PSG beat Method and exceL to go 6-0 and take that record away.

While Method has been on fire all season, there are two other contenders: Gale Force eSports and exceL.

Gale Force sat at number five in the EU standings heading into week four. They took down Flipsid3 Tactics and Mockit eSports, both in five games, bumping them up to number three in the standings. Gale Force eSports is looking to beat Team Envy, as well as for exceL to beat Method and lose to Mockit eSports, in order to clinch a number two spot.

ExceL, on the other hand, is looking to beat Method and Mockit eSports, with Gale Force eSports losing to Team Envy, in order to clinch the number two spot for themselves.

NA top two teams

top two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

The race for top two in NA is much closer than in EU, particularly because no team has clinched one of those spots yet. Right now, Cloud9, Ghost and G2 Esports sit in the top three, respectively. They all have four wins and one loss. Their positioning in the top three, since they are tied in matches, is determined by game win percentage. Along with these three, NRG sits at number four with four wins and two losses.

There are a number of different scenarios for how the fight for top two will play out in week five. Mostly because Ghost faces off against G2 Esports and Cloud9 faces off against NRG. That being said, don’t be surprised when the top two spots come down to a tie breaker, determined by each teams win percentage.

Predictions

Below are my predictions for who will clinch the remaining three top two spots after league play this weekend.

top two

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

For EU, I have to give this one to Method. As mentioned above, they’ve been on fire all season. With only one loss to the currently undefeated PSG eSports, they have what it takes to come out on top over exceL this weekend.

NA is a bit trickier. Here’s what I’d like to see happen: Rogue beats Ghost, G2 beats Allegiance, Ghost beats G2, Cloud9 beats Renegades and NRG beats Cloud9. If I’m doing my math right, this scenario puts the current top four teams all at 5-2, leaving top two entirely up to the game-win percentage.

Now, here’s what the realistic side of me predicts for NA top two: Cloud9 and Ghost.

We will have our answers this weekend in the final week of league play for season four of the RLCS.


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Lessons of the Princes

When it comes to the royalty of Knights of the Frozen Throne, the King gets all the attention. But whilst the Lich King was the headline act, the Princes have had a surprisingly forceful impact on the meta. Despite the initial panning they received, some of the Princes have come to support or even define decks. What can we learn from their impact, and what can this teach us about buildaround cards?

Taldaram, the predictably useless

Hardly an effect worth 3 mana, let alone building around

Of course, not all of the Princes made it into the meta. Taldaram is rare for a build-around, in that his effect is both terribly difficult to activate and just plain terrible.

Having no 3 drops in your deck is a crippling downside for almost any deck. It would be conceivably worth it if the accompanying upside was in line with the ruinous deckbuilding cost. However, the effect is arguably not worth even 3 mana. Taldaram’s ability to copy a minion’s text and effects is extremely situational.

The only possible consistent application for it is in a combo deck to get two Malygos or two Prophet Velen. But spell-damage combo decks are weaker than ever and most require 3 drops. The most likely candidate, Priest, also has Mirage Caller as an option that means you can still run Acolyte.

Keleseth, the meta breaker

Keleseth can decide games on turn 2

Who knew that forsaking 2 drops would be so effective? Keleseth has helped propel Tempo Rogue to the dizzying heights of tier one. The 2 mana Prince is reminiscent of Reno Jackson in that it comes with a crippling penalty and a suitably powerful upside.

The ability to give every minion in your deck +1/+1 is potentially gamewinning on turn 2. Especially if followed up with a Southsea Captain pulling a 3/3 charging Patches. While not worth it in classes with consistent 2 drop options or spell reliance, it can prop up classes with weak 2 drop options in aggressive or midrange decks.

The downside of course, is the dependence on draw RNG. Keleseth on turn 2 is gamewinningly powerful. Tempo Rogue has a 72% winrate when he is kept in the mulligan according to HSReplay.net. But later on, he’s often a dead draw. The added penalty of not running 2 cost cards adds a further gulf of power between a Keleseth draw and a non-Keleseth draw. And unlike Reno, there’s almost no time to increase your odds of drawing it by cycling.

Valanar, the quiet workhorse

Not especially exciting, but a solid inclusion in certain decks and metas

Valanar wasn’t the most impactful, but his implementation was arguably the most effective. Cutting 4 drops is far less detrimental than giving up 2s or 3s. His bonus of gaining Taunt and Lifesteal isn’t crushingly strong, but still extremely potent in the right deck.

Unlike Keleseth, he’s also a defensive option, with far more utility in the late game. Drawing him later on can even be more useful than on turn 4, as the Lifesteal and Taunt can save your skin. Their synergy can often result in 8+ in effective heal; not bad for a 4 mana 4/4.

What’s more, a less crushing deckbuilding requirements opens up interesting choices without making your game dependent on drawing the build-arounds. He also pushes midrange and control decks, unlike Keleseth’s stat-pushing aggressive tempo.

Lessons for Team 5

There are a number of insights to take from the impact and play of the Princes. Buildarounds can make or break a healthy meta, so determining the most interesting and fun ways to implement them is a worthy enterprise.

Taldaram’s message is simple: a crippling restriction requires a powerful standalone effect. Taldaram is simply too weak and situational to ever see consistent play.

Keleseth shows the other side of a coin; when an effect is too aggressive, too swingy, and too early. While the effect and restriction could be interesting, the fact it’s so important to draw it early on makes the decks built around it feel extremely high-rolly.

Valanar might be the sweet spot. With a consistent impact in any deck that runs healing, the downside is occasionally but not always worth it. As a defensive card but not one you will depend upon, draw RNG affects it less. Overall, Team 5 could do well to introduce more buildarounds with a similar philosophy of consistency, balanced impact, and non-crippling condition.

 


Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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playoffs

RLCS: looking ahead to playoffs

The Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series are past the half-way mark for season four league play. It’s time for a peek at what playoffs may hold in store, as we move into the last two weeks of North American and European league play.

Standings

First and foremost, here are the current standings after week three of league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. NRG Esports 3-1
  3. G2 Esports 2-1 (7-5 games)
  4. Ghost 2-1 (6-6 games)
  5. FlyQuest 2-2 (8-8 games)
  6. Rogue 2-2 (8-8 games)
  7. Renegades 1-3
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. Method 4-0 (12-5 games)
  2. PSG eSports 4-0 (12-5 games)
  3. exceL 2-1 (7-3 games)
  4. Mockit eSports 2-1 (8-5 games)
  5. Gale Force eSports 2-2
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-3
  7. Team Envy 1-4
  8. Team Secret 0-5

As I predicted at the beginning of the season, Allegiance and Team Secret, then Emotion and Aeriality, have all but solidified their spots in the bottom two of the RLCS. Both sit at 0-5 with two matches remaining. These teams have their bye weeks coming up in week four and will return for their final matches of league play in week five.

While there is a chance each of these teams can clinch number six and move on to playoffs instead of their promotion/relegation tournaments, it’s not looking promising.

Playoffs Clinched

Three teams, across NA and EU, have already clinched their top six spot, guaranteeing a shot at playoffs as well as auto-qualification for season five of the RLCS. These teams are Cloud9, Method and PSG eSports.

Cloud9

playoffs

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net.

Cloud9 was perhaps the most highly anticipated newcomers to the RLCS this season. The Cloud9 roster consists of Jesus “Gimmick” Parra, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda and Kyle “Torment” Storer, and of these three players, Torment is the only one to compete in a previous season of the RLCS.

Despite a lack of prior RLCS experience, Gimmick and, especially, Squishy, came riding into season four on a hype train. Squishy’s been prominent in the community for quite some time through streaming, known for his next-level mechanical skill. That being said, it was at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 that this roster really made a name for themselves.

Playing under the name The Muffin Men, these three showed up to DreamHack Atlanta to take on some of NA and EU’s biggest name teams. They took first place and were quickly picked up by Cloud9. At DreamHack Atlanta and since, Gimmick continues to build the hype around his name, showing the world that he’s ready to take on the top Rocket League players just as much, if not more, than Squishy and Torment.

Method and PSG eSports

Both Method and PSG eSports sit undefeated at the top of the EU leaderboard. With only three games left to play, these two tames have already guaranteed their top six position.

playoffs

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Many expected both Method and PSG to do relatively well, even considering the stiff competition in EU. They’ve managed to continue to perform above expectations.

Method is the only EU squad from season three of the RLCS to retain their entire starting roster. They’re showing everyone just how deadly that long-term team chemistry can be. PSG, on the other hand, is showing everyone just how deadly an untried roster can be.

Despite their 4-0 standings right now, these teams will finally meet up in week four, guaranteeing an end to at least one of their undefeated seasons. All things considered though, it’s looking more and more promising that these two teams will come out of league play with the number one and two seeds. It’s tough to predict, but I’m expecting to see PSG come out in the number one seed.

Promotion/Relegation

When Psyonix announced the Rocket League Rival Series, they also announced a Promotion/Relegation tournament which will take place the weekend after league play finish. The bottom two teams from each region of the RLCS will play a round-robin style tournament with the top two teams from the RLRS in their respective regions.

To no surprise, as mentioned above, the current bottom teams in NA and EU are Allegiance and Team Secret respectively. Both sitting at 0-5, it’s difficult to imagine either clinching a top six spot at this point. However, the real interest is around who will wind up in seventh for each region. Right now, that’s Renegades for NA and Team EnVy for EU.

Renegades

Although it’s somewhat surprising to see Renegades out of the top six currently, they were never expected to be a top two, or perhaps even top four, team. That being said, they aren’t in deep water just yet.

Renegades, 1-3, sit just behind Rogue, 2-2, on the NA leaderboard. These two teams will come together for a match in week four. On top of playing each other, Renegades are set to play Ghost and Rogue are set to play G2 Esports. If Renegades are able to secure a win against Rogue and Ghost, and Rogue falls to G2, then Renegades could easily move up to that number six spot. This isn’t an unlikely scenario, but Rogue certainly has other plans.

The current number seven seed across the pond faces some tougher odds than the Renegades.

Team EnVy

Team EnVy is the reigning world champion from season three, the roster playing then for Northern Gaming. One of their starters, Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, was unable to attend the world championships and was then on vacation for much of the off season. As a result, Team EnVy dropped Maestro and picked up Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, whom they’d spent much of the off season playing with.

playoffs

Image courtesy of @TeamEnVyUs Twitter account.

There were certainly doubts when the iconic Maestro and Remco “Remkoe” den Boer duo split up. That being said, there was also a lot of anticipation for the addition of gReazymeister, as Remkoe, Maestro and gReazy made up the starting Northern Gaming squad in season one of the RLCS.

However, those doubts and concerns are winning out over the anticipation. Team EnVy sits at 1-4. Although they aren’t currently too far behind Flipsid3 Tactics, who sit at 1-3, Team Envy is the one win that Flipsid3 has so far.

Considering Remkoe’s Twitter responses to their losses after week two, I imagine this squad won’t stick together if they’re relegated to the RLRS. Even they do come out on top of Relegation/Promotion tournament, I still expect to see a roster change, since teams are only required to maintain two-thirds of their starting roster to retain auto-qualification.

Be sure to keep checking back for more info on playoffs and the world championships as season four of the RLCS and RLRS draws closer to the end of league play.


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week two

RLCS/RLRS week two recap: North America

It’s time to take a look back at week two of season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. From standings and upsets to the drama surrounding the rookie squad Naventic, let’s dive in and find out what’s been happening.

Standings

 

 RLCS

  • Cloud9 3-0
  • NRG Esports 3-1
  • Rogue 2-2
  • G2 Esports 1-0
  • Ghost Gaming 1-0
  • FlyQuest 0-2
  • Renegades 0-2
  • Allegiance 0-3

 RLRS

  • Fibeon 3-0
  • Naventic 2-0
  • Premature Superhero Cops 2-2
  • Radiance 1-0
  • Ambition Esports 0-1
  • Out Of Style 0-1
  • Incognito 0-1
  • Kinematics 0-3

There are some clear leaders in both the RLCS and RLRS at the moment. There’s still plenty of time for some of the lower ranked teams to make their way back, though. G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming, in the RLCS, have only played one series so far. The same goes for Radiance, Ambition Esports, Out Of Style and Incognito in the RLRS.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming

week two

Image courtesy of @G2esports Twitter account.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming are looking for a strong presence in the coming weeks of the RLCS. Since they’ve each only played one series, their opportunities to rise in the standings are still in front of them. However, they have some major hurdles ahead.

Coming up in week three, both G2 and Ghost are playing the only other undefeated team in NA RLCS, Cloud9. This means at least two of these three teams will no longer be undefeated after week three.

Both teams have a tough week ahead, playing the favorite, for many, to win the NA regional championships. On the other hand, they are also both playing teams that have yet to secure a win this season. All things considered though, I would say G2 has the tougher week three.

The other teams G2 and the Ghost are playing in week three are FlyQuest and Allegiance, respectively.

Flyquest

FlyQuest, despite sitting at 0-2, is a strong team consisting of some of the world’s best players. The lineup consists of Robert “Chrome” Gomez, Gabriel “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri, all of which are RLCS veterans. FlyQuest lost their first series of the season by reverse sweep, in week two, to Rogue. They lost their second series, 3-0, to Cloud9. Although they were reverse swept and then swept in their first two match-ups of the season, they were playing two of the top rated teams North America. Allegiance, on the other hand, is not quite as star-studded as the FlyQuest squad.

Allegiance

Allegiance’s roster, formerly Emotion at the beginning of the season, consists of Braxton “Allushin,” Sebastian “Sea-Bass” Becerra and Ty “TyNotTyler” Helewa. Although Allegiance came barreling through the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins, they weren’t expected to make it to the RLCS.

week two

Image courtesy of halo.esportswikis.com

 

They upset Fibeon, a team expected to make it to the RLCS, during Play-Ins, relegating them to the RLRS and securing their own spot in the RLCS. They’ve yet to prove they belong in the RLCS, sitting at 0-3 so far. On top of this, they’ve only found themselves winning two total games throughout these three series.

So, it’s FlyQuest’s experience, coupled with Allegiance’s inexperience and inability to prove themselves so far that leaves G2 with a more difficult week three, in terms of climbing the leaderboard. Although FlyQuest has yet to prove themselves this season as well, each of the FlyQuest squad members proved they belong in the RLCS during previous seasons.

Upsets

As always, the RLCS is full of upsets so far, just take a look back at this article discussing Play-Ins and the beginning of season four. While Europe has been and continues to be the region of upsets, NA saw it’s first huge upset of season four League Play during week two.

In the second series of the day, NRG Esports faced off against Ghost Gaming. NRG won the previous three NA regional championships and continue to remain one of the top teams in the world, let alone in NA. Ghost Gaming took these goliaths down in a four-game series, however. NRG took the first game in the series but found themselves unable to secure any other wins against the Ghost squad.

Although this is Ghost’s only series so far, and NRG’s only loss so far, Ghost is certainly a team to keep an eye on during the rest of the season and potentially the future. This is no surprise, considering this squad formed for season four is full of RLCS veterans.

Naventic

A matter which is currently still in the process of unfolding…

After week two, Naventic sits just behind Fibeon in the standings at 2-0. Fibeon is currently 3-0. That being said, it’s likely viewers won’t be seeing this Naventic squad anymore during season four, or perhaps ever.

The team consists of Tanner “Dooble” Toupin, Adam “Kerupt” Stankovic and Jay “King Wizard” Kidston. As of Wednesday, Psyonix and the official esports coordinators for the RLCS have not made any official statements, but  here’s what we do know from Kerupt and Naventic’s Twitter accounts.

week two

Image courtesy of @Naventic Twitter account.

Naventic announced Tuesday, via Twitter, that “Kerupt, Dooble and KingWizard will no longer be representing #NaventicRL in the #RLRS Season 4 – more information will be released soon.”

With only this information, it may appear that the esports organization is simply dropping the squad. There’s a bit more, however.

Kerupt offered a bit more information on the topic in a tweet on Tuesday. He stated the team “had to either forfeit ro128 or risk using a sub not on the roster… chose the latter and played with atomic.”

Kerupt has since replied to Twitter users saying that a statement should be out soon regarding the situation.

Since the team used an illegal substitute during the Play-Ins, it’s likely they’ll be banned, for at least the rest of the season, for breaking the rules.

This could create an interesting rest of season for the teams in the RLRS. The Naventic squad was sitting undefeated in the number two spot of the standings. The top two teams from NA RLRS will play the bottom two teams from NA RLCS at the end of League Play in a promotion/relegation tournament. Not only that, the teams in third and fourth keep their spot in the RLRS for season five. Naventic potentially getting banned would, essentially, move everyone up a spot in the standings.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for week two recap of EU.


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season four

Season four begins

We’re just days away from season four of the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) and inaugural Rocket League Rival Series (RLRS). It’s finally time to take a look at this season’s competitors, with Play-Ins taking place last weekend.

season four

Image courtesy of steamcardexchange.net

Despite upsets already happening, Friday marks the beginning of a long road to the world finals for these players.

Season four will take place over the next six weeks, with Oceania’s league play offset from North America and Europe by a week. Meaning OCE’s fifth week of league play will take place on week six, while NA and EU are in regional championships. Two weeks after this, OCE’s regional championship will take place alongside NA and EU’s promotion/relegation tournament.

Teams

With the addition of the RLRS, there are 40 teams competing in season four. 16 from NA, 16 from EU and eight from OCE. Here’s a look at the season four teams, with substitute players in parenthesis.

NA

RLCS

  • Cloud9: Torment / SquishyMuffinz / Gimmick / (Napp)
  • Emotion: Allushin / Sea-bass / TyNotTyler / (Blaze)
  • Flyquest: CorruptedG / Chrome / Sadjunior / (Pepiope)
  • G2 Esports: Kronovi / Rizzo / Jknaps / (Turtle)
  • Ghost: Klassux / Lethamyr / Zanejackey / (blueze)
  • NRG: Fireburner / Jacob / GarretG / (DudeWithTheNose)
  • Renegades: Dappur / Moses / Timi / (Mijo)
  • Rogue: Matt / Sizz / Insolences / (Red)

 RLRS

  • Ambition Esports: PrimeThunder / Wonder / Air / (sQuillis)
  • Cypher: Dooble / Kerupt / King Wizard / (Akenro)
  • Fibeon: Chicago / Zolhay / Hato / (Raze)
  • Incognito: GoRocksGo / Tuster / JWismont / (Nickymac18)
  • Out of Style: Lachinio / JSTN / EPICJonny
  • Premature Superhero Cops: Gambit / Prem / Genocop / (Donnie)
  • SetToDestroyX: Lemonpuppy / Halcyon / Memory / (Loomin)
  • Wildcard Gaming: Laz / Nomad / Pepper / (Astroh)

EU

 RLCS

  • Aeriality: Continuum / Tylacto / FlamE / (Ertunc)
  • EnVyUs: Remkoe / Deevo / gReazymeister / (Mout)
  • exceL: Nielskoek / Pwndx / Zensuz / (Masterio)
  • Flipsid3 Tactics: Markydooda / Kuxir97 / Miztik / (JHZER)
  • frontline: Ferra / Bluey / Chausette45 / (Yukeo)
  • Gale Force eSports: ViolentPanda / Turbopolsa / Kaydop / (Dogu)
  • Method: al0t / Metsanauris / Mognus / (Sniper)
  • Mockit eSports: paschy90 / Fairy Peak! / FreaKii / (PetricK)

 RLRS

  • BoonkGang: Skyline / Mummisnow / EyeIgnite / (Tizz)
  • eHawkerz: Kontrol / GCR710 / dani_ana
  • Endpoint: Tinny / Cheerio / Shakahron / (Pulsar)
  • Inspiration: Oscillon / Sebadam / Lauty / (Flakes)
  • Soul Gaming: Dadooh / SkieS / ghostfire / (Wolfsonthemoon)
  • Supersonic Avengers: PauliepaulNL / ELMP / Shikuni / (kilEak)
  • The Juicy Kids: Killerno7 / stocki / Frag / (coKaaa)
  • The Leftovers: Snaski / Maestro / Sikii / (Danzhizzle)

OCE

  • Avant Gaming: Cyrix / Ellusive / Siki / (Requiem)
    season four

    Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

  • Chiefs ESC: Torsos / Drippay / Jake / (Enigma)
  • Conspiracy Esports: Hectic / Slurpee / Walcott
  • JAM Gaming: Montyconnor / Express / Shadey / (Bango)
  • Legacy Esports: Soma / Zen / Plitz
  • Noizee Isn’t Toxic: Noizee / Outlast / Zest / (Reggles)
  • Pale Horse Esports: CJCJ / Kamii / Kia
  • Scylla Esports: Dumbo / SnarfSnarf / Addzey

Ultimately, all of these teams are aiming for a chance to take the stage at the world championships. However, the road to the world championships is longer for some of these teams than others. Any team in the RLRS hoping to make it into the world championships will have to wait until season five.

Future seasons

In order for any of the teams in the RLRS to have a shot at the world championships in season five, they’ll have to come in the top two for their region in season four. Even then, they aren’t guaranteed a spot in the RLCS. At the end of season four, the top two teams in each region of the RLRS will take part in a double-elimination, best-of-seven tournament along with the bottom two teams in region of the RLCS. This tournament will determine whether a team drops into the lower RLRS division, rises up into the higher RLCS division, or simply stays in their current division.

The introduction of this promotion/relegation system raises the stakes for these players. They can no longer simply regroup or try a new team after a cold season and make into the RLCS next time around. Any new team hoping to compete in the RLCS must first fight their way to the top of the RLRS.

Upsets

season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

Despite league play not beginning until Friday, season four has already seen several upsets. Many expected to see Fibeon Esports get a shot at the RLCS in season four. However, they were relegated to the RLRS after losing 3-0 to Emotion in the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins.

Perhaps the biggest upset so far, though, is the relegation of The Leftovers to the RLRS. After season three, The Leftovers gave Victor “Ferra” Francal the boot, opting to replace him with veteran Nicolai “Maestro” Bang. Ferra created his own team and knocked The Leftovers into the loser’s bracket with a clean sweep.

In the loser’s bracket, The Leftovers were relegated to the RLRS after losing by another clean sweep. This time to Aeriality. Aeriality was, perhaps, expected to make it into the RLRS. However, the clean sweep over the veterans in The Leftovers sent them into RLCS, causing perhaps the biggest upset of season four so far.

What next?

With teams relegated and league play about to begin, the real question is whether or not these upset teams can hold their own against the veteran teams they’ll be up against in the RLCS. Will the upsets continue, or will they find themselves being relegated down to the RLRS for season five?

Team captain of The Leftovers, Nicolai “Snaski” Vistesen Andersen believes his team will be promoted to the RLCS for season five, as he tweeted “Guess we gotta go through RLRS to show everyone that we definitely don’t belong there.” There’s a strong possibility that this veteran team will do just that, coming in the top two of the RLRS and winning their way into the RLCS during the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, in order for The Leftovers to be promoted, someone has to be relegated down.

With these upset teams already shattering expectations, it’s surely possible they will continue to do so during league play. Hence the term upset. Yet, I fully expect to see Emotion from NA and Aeriality from EU at least competing in their respective promotion/relegation tournaments, if not being relegated down to the RLRS for season five.


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North America Overwatch Contenders preview

These are exciting, albeit uncertain, times in the Overwatch esports scene. Overwatch League has been announced, the World Cup is underway and Contenders Season 1 is kicking off in a week. This upcoming weekend will have the OWWC take place in Santa Monica and then on the 14th of August Overwatch Contenders will begin. The teams were decided through Contenders Season 0, and two teams were invited.

In a strange turn of events, Team Liquid dropped their roster due to three of their players moving onto (or going back) to other games. This is an interesting wrinkle in the upcoming tournament as the spot needs to be filled within a week. But how does Blizzard resolve this issue? Do they sell the slot to another team or do they give it to a runner-up?

There is no confirmed news regarding what Blizzard chooses to do with this free slot. However, it would be consistent with Blizzard if they were to sell it to the highest bidder. Realistically, there are only three teams that could afford that slot: Cloud9, NRG and CLG. NRG doesn’t even have a full roster so it is unlikely that they would be able to take the spot. Cloud9 is only missing one tank since Kaiser went back to RunAway due to “visa issues”. CLG has a six man roster that they could compete with. Technically, Cloud9 also has a six man roster but Mendo is not a tank player so they wouldn’t be able to play with tanks.

Speculation about that slot aside, this promises to be a highly competitive Contenders Season. Two months ago, there were a couple of teams that dominated the rest, but the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams has been closing rapidly.

Let’s have a look Contenders Season 1 North America and make some predictions.

The teams

EnVyUs (invite)
Faze Clan
FNRGFE
Immortals
Kungarna
Renegades
Rogue (invite)
Replacement for Team Liquid

Overwatch Contenders

EnVyUs

  • Taimou
  • Mickie
  • Chipshajen
  • HarryHook
  • Cocco
  • Effect

One of the teams that got invited to compete in Season 1. EnVyUs and Rogue were both in Korea for Apex Season 3 where EnVyUs lost to KongDoo Panthera. This isn’t a bash on nV. The fact that they made it so far is a testament to how strong this team is.

However, I do have one reservation. How good are they against Western teams? There is a difference in play style between the West and East. And while the best in the East are unequivocally better than the best in the West, the different play style could hurt nV.

However, they are still a top team and considered one of the favorites for winning the whole event. They have one of the best Ana’s in the world in Chips and one of the best DPS in the world in Taimou. On top of this, they have Effect who tore up in Apex, carrying the team at some points. It will be exciting watching Effect use his Tracer in the West. Here’s hoping for a Soon vs Effect matchup.

Sadly, we can’t do proper predictions because the groups haven’t been made and we don’t know who they will be playing against. But, I would be shocked if they didn’t get a top three finish.

FaZe Clan

  • ShaDowBurn
  • Lui
  • FCTFCTN
  • SPREE
  • Rawkus
  • Joemeister

FaZe Clan is one of the more interesting teams in this competition. They have the parts in place to have a stunning DPS but lack a core backline and tanks. You can have as many star DPS as you want, but if they don’t have space to work with then you will lose. Always.

This happened with Cloud9 a while ago. They had Mendo, Gods, and Surefour. Three players who play DPS but they weren’t able to perform. Gods wasn’t actually a bad tank, but he preferred playing DPS and so he had to learn Winston.

This is sort of the same situation faced by Faze. The Clan lacks a strong supporting unit. But if ShaDowBurn can pop off and deliver insane Genji play on low ping, like he did at the World Cup, then Faze could make it out of groups.

Overwatch Contenders

FNRGFE

The All American Rejects. Except for one Canadian, this is an All American team that was formed from the pieces of other teams. This is true of a lot of teams, but these guys decided to make it a part of their personality. Their name FNRGFE is an acronym of the teams that they came from including NRG and FaZe.

  • buds
  • clockwork
  • Muma
  • coolmatt69
  • Boink
  • Bani

If this team takes the tournament seriously then they may make it out of groups, but even that would be a surprise.

Overwatch Contenders

Immortals

  • GrimReality
  • Agilities
  • Fate
  • hyped
  • envy
  • KariV
  • Verbo

This is one of the strongest teams in the West right now. Anything less than top two will be a disappointment. Immortals has two of the best DPS combined with a solid support and tank line. Their kryptonite may turn out to be communication as they have three Koreans and four North Americans. If the Koreans have put in more effort to learn better English than this team could take first.

Agilities is one of the best Genji’s in the world, he went toe to toe with ShaDowBurn at World Cup. During the match against the Netherlands, he had one of the most insane Genji plays that I have ever seen. Back this up with KariV who is a great support and some solid tanking who can give Grim and Agilities the space that they need and you have a scary team. At the BEAT Invitational last month they took Rogue to within two fights. The score was 3:1 but it doesn’t reflect how close that match actually was.

They did better against Rogue than EnVyUs did.

Overwatch Contenders

Kungarna

  • mYkL
  • babybay
  • iReMix
  • Bischu
  • Dogman
  • Pookz

Kungarna barely qualified for Contenders, beating out Cloud9 with an Overtime BO3 on Oasis. I don’t think that they have the firepower to make it out groups. They don’t have any superstars and their basic gameplay isn’t that strong.

If they have taken their time off to practice and grind then they could surprise some teams, but I don’t think that they will be able to go deep into the tournament.

Overwatch Contenders

5-Hour Energy Detroit Renegades

  • Mangachu
  • J3sus
  • PrimoDulce
  • ZachaREEE
  • Sherlockey
  • Jer

Renegades managed to surprise a lot of teams during season 0 of Contenders. Tying Kungarna and beating Cloud9 3-1 was a huge surprise to many people, including me. They qualified first in their group and looked solid doing it. Then seeing Mangachu represent Canada at the OWWC gave me some hope that they may make it out of groups if they got lucky. He is a solid player and a great Pharah. But I don’t think that they have enough players with a good enough base level to qualify out of groups.

Look at them to get a win or a tie but not quite make it out of groups.

Overwatch Contenders

Rogue

  • soOn
  • uNKOE
  • aKm
  • KnoxXx
  • winz
  • NiCOgdh

The French all star team, their World Cup team and one of the best, if not the best, teams in the West. They have dominated during the dive meta and looked unstoppable. Until Korea. Then they didn’t make it out of groups as the Koreans managed to out think them.

However, it doesn’t look like there are any teams in the West except for maybe nV and Immortals that can beat them. Look to them to take first place.

SoOn is a Tracer god and aKm is top three Soldier in the world. Back both of these up with a Korea level Winston in KnoxXx and a top three Zenyatta in uNKOE and you get an unstoppable force.

But they aren’t unbeatable. As I said in another article, they have a weakness. A glaring weakness, in fact. They lack depth. If you can find a way to neutralise dive, you neutralise a lot of Rogues threat. Rogue will always compete for a top five finish, but if you can shut down dive, then you can shut down the biggest reason Rogue is dangerous.

Easier said than done.

Formerly Team Liquid

Team Liquid qualified for Contenders Season 1 but AZK has decided to go back to CS:GO and two of their other players are switching to Quake which means that they will not be able to compete in Season 1. I can’t make any predictions on where they will end up because we don’t know who is going to replace them.

I hope Cloud9, but we will see. They do seem to be the most logical choice, or ARC6, which would also be a lot of fun.

Conclusion

I think Rogue will take first place in a close match against Immortals with nV coming fourth and FaZe coming third. But FaZe and Renegades could easily switch.

The way Blizzard has done this has been really good. Most of the teams are very closely matched in skill and it is hard to pick the best. Except for the top three which are Immortals, nV, and Rogue. Without a doubt.

That doesn’t matter Overwatch Contenders will be a lot of fun to watch and I am glad that we now have Apex and Contenders at the same time.


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Season four

Season four changes

Three, two, one, go!

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

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

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

Rocket League Rival Series

Season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

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

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

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

Auto-qualification, Promotion/Relegation

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

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

Season four

Image courtesy of steamcardexchange.net

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

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

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

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

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

RLCS

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

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

RLRS

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

Benefit

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

Season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

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

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

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

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

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