Edward Gaming: Pressure on China’s hometown heroes

Edward Gaming (EDG) struggles to find success at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, rounding week one of the group stage with an 0-3 match record. Despite coming in as heavy favorites to advance to quarterfinals alongside defending champions SK telecom T1, China’s first seed cannot seem to find their footing. Let’s dive into EDG’s games and look at what they must do to claw out of Group A.

Game 1: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs ahq e-Sports Club (AHQ)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Edward Gaming controlled the tempo for the majority of a 54-minute brawl, ultimately crumbling to AHQ’s superior teamfighting. To start the game, EDG locked star mid-laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan on a comfort pick in Lucian. EDG looked to dominate mid-lane and that advantage across the map. Scout executed, earning a staggering +30 CS differential at 15 minutes.

Despite this aggressive lead in the mid-lane, AHQ found multiple advantageous teamfight opportunities in the mid-game. An extended five on five fight at 20-minutes resulted in a quadra-kill for AHQ’s AD-carry Chun-An “AN” Chou. Taking these small victories, AHQ dragged the game into a plus fifty minute slug fest, ultimately overpowering the Chinese representatives.

What internal factors led to EDG’s loss in their first match of Worlds 2017? Crucially, EDG failed to capitalize on their Shen counter-pick for top-laner Yuhao “Mouse” Chen. As a team, EDG should have prioritized mid-game skirmishes and early Drake control using their Teleport advantage with Shen’s “Stand United” to out-rotate AHQ. Naturally, Cho’Gath stood to outscale Mouse‘s Shen in both teamfight effectiveness, objective control and raw tank stats. EDG had to recognize this weakness in their composition and close out the game early. However, because of Mouse‘s weak lane performance against the enemy Cho’Gath and EDG’s lack of proactive rotations, AHQ secured early objectives that paid dividends in the late-game.

Game 2: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs SK telecom t1 (SKT)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

EDG had no time to lick their wounds before facing off against long-time rivals, the defending world champions, SK Telecom T1. With the force of an entire arena in Wuhan cheering on their hometown favorites, Edward Gaming stormed into game two with blood in their eyes. Led by Wuhan native, Kai “Clearlove7” Ming, EDG coordinated plays to shut down living legend, Sanghyeok “Faker” Lee. Unlike the day before, EDG did not relent. The Chinese squad continued to wreak havoc on multiple SKT members, ballooning their lead to over 9.1k gold at 25-minutes.

Then, at 29-minutes, SKT finds a single teamfight that swings the entire momentum of the game. In rapid succession, SKT’s support, Jaewan “Wolf” Lee and jungler Wangho “Peanut” Han layer double knock-ups onto EDG’s carries. Faker lands a picture-perfect “Command Shockwave” on four members of Edward Gaming, decimating the opposition and turning the game on its head. EDG are never able to regain control of the game.

One fight. One crystal initiation by SKT’s play-makers leveled Edward Gaming’s seemingly insurmountable lead. It is difficult to find many faults with EDG’s play in this particular game. After successfully neutralizing Faker‘s Orianna, EDG exposed several mid-game vulnerabilities in SKT’s playstyle. However, a single positioning mistake at the height of their gold lead cost EDG their second game. Still, we can find many positives for Edward Gaming. They successfully shut down Faker, whose ability to absorb and outplay enemy pressure is perhaps the best in the world. EDG then took that mid-lane pressure and earned leads across the board, securing three Mountain Drakes, Rift Herald and a Baron.

Game 3: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs Cloud 9 (C9)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Coming into Game 3, Edward Gaming looked like they had a chip on their shoulder. C9’s rookie jungler, Juan “Contractz” Garcia invaded Clearlove7‘s side of the jungle, stifling EDG’s ability to gain vision control and snowball lanes. Meanwhile, EDG’s top laner Mouse found himself suffocating under early pressure from C9’s top-laner Eonyoung “Impact” Jeong.

Feeling the need to pull his team from the trenches, Scout tried to pressure Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s Syndra pick. However, without his team to back him up, Scout found himself on the receiving end of multiple three-man ganks. Edward Gaming cracked under the pressure to perform on their home turf as the North American representatives led them into their third consecutive loss at Worlds 2017.

Taking a look at this game, it is clear EDG is off-center. In an attempt to slow down Contractz‘s aggressive playstyle, EDG banned Ezreal. However, after Contractz locked in Graves, EDG failed to adapt their strategy. The result: Cloud 9 methodically dismantled Edward Gaming, executing clean initiations and trades to put the game away.

Looking at Week Two

edward gaming

Credit: LoL Esports Photos

Despite the odds, an 0-3 match record does not mean Edward Gaming is out of the running. In games one and two, EDG earned sizable leads and control through mid and jungle control. Their crutch was a failure to close out these games. In the days leading up to week two, EDG must work on fixing issues with their macro-play and teamfighting.

The road to quarterfinals will be exceedingly difficult, but EDG is no stranger to being behind. This roster secured China’s first seed by reverse-sweeping regional rivals Royal Never Give Up (RNG) 3-2 at the LPL Summer Finals. Most of EDG’s members are repeat Worlds competitors, veterans even. In times like these, leadership and composure on the world stage will define EDG’s legacy. Team captain, Clearlove7 will look to lead his team surging into week two.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Longzhu finished week one of worlds top of Group B

Worlds’ OP five after week one

The first week of League of Legends’ 2017 World Championship has concluded, and this year’s event is already off to an exciting start. Between Gigabyte Marines’ mysterious “never before seen” strategy, Longzhu’s sub-25 minute average game time, and North America’s teams all being top two in their groups, fans and analysts have been gifted excellent performances thus far. Now the teams will have a few days to regroup and begin adapting for week two.

Almost every team had high points in week one. At some point, almost every player has had a high point, as well. But there is a reason the standings are as they are. Some teams have risen to the challenge of the international stage. Some players have executed a step above the pack. With three games in the books it is difficult to write off any team or player for the remainder of the contest. However, it is easy to recognize the following challengers for their stand-out performances.

Top: LZ Khan

Khan is the most OP top laner after Worlds week one

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Khan has definitely lived up to the hype carried over from LCK Summer Split. This guy has been an absolute monster in all three games so far. He has played a bruiser Jarvan IV against Immortals, a lethality Jarvan against Gigabyte Marines and Nasus against Fnatic. Khan is averaging 437 gold, 17 CS and 721 XP ahead at 15 minutes.

In the mid-game, Khan has been best at split-pushing, but his teamfighting is also incredibly strong. Khan has contributed 24.8 percent of Longzhu’s damage, which is exceptional when taking into account how strong his carries are. His 12.0 KDA is among the highest in the tournament so far.

TSM’s Hauntzer is the only other player currently close to Khan’s level. Some may even see Hauntzer as the better of the two so far, seeing as he has better laning and damage stats. But pressure is Khan’s key elevating factor. While Hauntzer teleports or roams to bring pressure to his teammates, Khan more frequently brings the enemy’s pressure to him. He pushes lanes, damages turrets, chunks out his enemy and forces the opposing team to respond to him.

As we get deeper into Worlds, it will be interesting to see how other teams adapt to Khan. Now that he has crushed a game on Nasus, who knows what else he may have up his sleeve? Few top laners in the entire tournament look up to the task of going toe to toe with Khan. If Longzhu take it all the way it will be hard not to attribute their success to the top lane.

Jungle: C9 Contractz

Contractz is the most OP jungler after week one Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

One of the only junglers who has not drafted a tank, Contractz has been acting as a third carry for Cloud9. He has pulled out an AD Rek’Sai, Ezreal and Graves, topping the jungler damage charts with 24.8 percent. C9’s tempo has totally relied on Contractz’s ability to clear the jungle as fast as possible and pressure the enemy jungler. So far, he has been able to do it successfully.

Contractz is averaging 266 XP, three CS and 146 gold ahead at 15 minutes. He has also helped secure First Blood in two of their three games. C9’s loss to SKT severely skewed Contractz’s KDA down to 3.3, but he is averaging 6.3 assists, fourth highest at Worlds. Contractz is also partially responsible for C9’s 66.7 percent Baron control rate, which has been a huge objective for winning games.

If Gigabyte Marines’ game against Longzhu had gone a bit better, then Levi would most likely be here. His surprise Nocturne pick in game one truly kick-started the energy at Worlds. Highlights from that game will be replayed over and over anytime fans reference back to 2017 Worlds. But when GAM’s Mordekaiser pick got destroyed from level one, all of GAM’s hype deflated. Levi may be able to take this spot with more consistent gameplay next week.

Mid: LZ Bdd

Bdd is the most OP mid laner after week one Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Bdd is the only non-support player to go deathless in week one of Worlds. Despite drafting champions with strong roaming potential, Bdd averages ahead 11.7 CS, 488 gold and 910 XP at 15 minutes. These are all top two among mid laners. His 23.0 KDA is nothing to frown at either.

Longzhu does not look for Bdd to do huge shares of damage for them. Instead, they have drafted Taliyah, Ryze and Galio which each have powerful roaming ultimate abilities. These types of champions allow Bdd to zoom into top or bottom lane and outplay the enemy team by chaining crowd control and damaging abilities. Bdd is the central key that enables Khan’s aggressive playstyle, and he has been crucial for Longzhu’s success in Group B.

TSM’s Bjergsen, C9’s Jensen and RNG’s Xiaohu have also shown strong performances in week one, but none of them felt justified as the most valuable. In TSM and C9’s defeats, their mid laners looked much weaker in teamfights, and Xiaohu has not had the greatest laning phases. Bdd has performed solidly in both phases of the game.

ADC: RNG Uzi

Uzi is the most OP AD carry after week one Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Royal Never Give Up has been on a tear, averaging the highest kills per game (12.3) and the lowest deaths (2.7). Their AD carry, Uzi, has been central to this first week of success. He is carrying a 28.0 KDA, scoring wins on Twitch, Tristana and Kog’Maw. Uzi has gone even or behind in lane with these champions, but truly terrorizes in teamfights.

At 722, Uzi averages fifth highest damage per minute of all players at Worlds. This amounts to a whopping 39.3 percent of RNG’s total damage. Uzi has been expertly navigating late game teamfights to maximize his damage and stay at a safe range. He has only died once so far.

SKT’s Bang is a close second in the bottom lane so far. He carries similar statistics, and has played similar champions. SKT and RNG are both 3-0 at the top of their groups. However, SKT’s wins have not come off the back of any one player. Their style is much more about how cohesive they are as the game gets later. The best players on the Worlds stage not only do not make mistakes, but also pinpoint the mistakes of the enemy and punish them. Uzi has successfully done this, while Bang has not been at that same level.

Support: SKT Wolf

Wolf is the most OP support after week one Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Bang also has the best-performing support at Worlds: Wolf. Although the support meta is fairly stale at the moment, Wolf was able to have a fantastically flashy Rakan performance against EDG. He single-handedly reeled in a game that was out of control by landing a huge Quickness-Grand Entrance and charming the entire enemy team.

It will continue to be difficult to parse apart AD carry and support success, due to the current Ardent Censer priority. It is a shame that audiences are not going to be able to see Gorilla, Olleh, Mithy, Swordart and all of the other fantastic support players on play-makers. Instead, Janna, Lulu and Karma will continue to rein supreme in the bottom lane. Plays such as Wolf’s Rakan will be so much more emphasized than heals, shields and peeling.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Team and Player Statistics: Game of Legends

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KT Rolster could be Korea's fourth seed at Worlds

The LCK should send four teams to Worlds

For the last few years, fans and analysts have looked to the League of Legends World Championship to select the world’s greatest team. Organizations from all over the world descend on a location to duke it out and shoot for the top. Representatives from North America, Europe, China, Taiwan, Korea and more get drafted into four groups based on their year-long performance within their regions, and from there they scrap for two of the four slots into quarterfinals.

This system seems fair enough, but there has been an interesting trend since 2013. The LCK representatives continue to push towards the top of the tournament. In Season Three, Korean teams finished first, third-fourth, and ninth-tenth. Season Four was first, third-fourth, and fifth-eighth. They nabbed first, second, and fifth-eighth in 2015, and then first, second, third-fourth last year. In 2017 they will be looking to continue this trend.

Such consistently high placings begs the question: when will LCK get a fourth competitor at Worlds? Looking at the competition this year, Longzhu Gaming, SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy should theoretically remain a cut above. The LCK has been touted as a much more competitive league than other regions in the world, yet they get allotted the same number of Worlds seeds as China, Europe and North America. It is worth questioning the reasoning of this choice.

strength of korea’s fourth seed

KOO Tigers knocked out KT Rolster at 2015 Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Hypothetically, KT Rolster would be Korea’s fourth seed representative. No one would argue that they are unfit for the world stage. KT is made up of Smeb, Score, Pawn, Deft and Mata–world-class players by all measures. This is the squad that tied Longzhu for first place in the Summer Split regular season. KT only lost 2-3 to SKT in the playoffs to miss finals, then lost 0-3 to Samsung to miss Worlds.

What is the justification for KT to stay at home, while wildcard teams and other regions’ third seeds get to the Group Stage through play-ins? Sure, some fans may be upset about equal representation, or how Worlds would become LCK playoffs 2.0, but what about competitive integrity? KT Rolster would most likely make a deep run in the World Championship, but they are denied that opportunity because they play in a region that has too much talent.

Of course, there will be someone to point out the obvious slippery slope. Why stop at four? Why not five or six or seven Korean teams? Next, there will be four different play-in-type stages to Worlds, and it will last eight weeks, and people are not going to tune in for an eight-week-long tournament. This is a valid point.

Fairness of the Group Stage

2017 World Championships groups

Image from LoLesports.com

Four Korean teams feels right because there are four groups in the main event of Worlds. Each year teams from other regions cross their fingers and hope they are drawn into the group without an LCK seed. That gives them the highest probability to make it out of their group, which means a higher chance to win the entire tournament. Introducing a fourth LCK team would remove that hope.

Picture a World tournament where Longzhu heads Group A, SKT in Group B, Samsung in Group C and KT in Group D. Every other team in the tournament would be guaranteed to face one from Korea. There may still be “groups of death,” but there would no longer be a safe haven-type group.

Bringing in a fourth team would also be a proper test for other regions at Worlds. If a TSM or G2 or Flash Wolves truly wants to feel accomplished making it out of their group, then they should be facing a Longzhu, an SKT or a Samsung. Just look at H2K last year. Many would argue that they only made into the semifinals because they topped the only group without a Korean roster, then faced the wildcard team in quarterfinals, and when they faced Samsung in semifinals they lost 3-0.

Competitive Integrity

H2K did not face an LCK team until semifinals last year

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

On that same note, if TSM tops this year’s Group D, they would face the second place from another group. For example, they could have to play Fnatic, Immortals or Gigabyte Marines in the quarterfinals. If TSM then made it to semifinals and lost to SKT or Longzhu, would they feel like they earned their way, knowing that other teams were knocked out earlier by Korean teams? It is not surprising that analysts were worried for North America’s chances going into the group draw but quickly became optimistic once TSM was placed in a group without an LCK seed.

The logistics of bringing in a fourth team from Korea would be relatively straight-forward. Each group is headed by the top four teams from LCK: Summer Split champion in Group A, second-most championship points in Group B, third most in Group C and a regional qualifier for Group D. From there, the first seeds of Europe, China, North America, and Taiwan would divide into the four groups. The second seeds would follow, and then there would be a play-in for the final four spots. Riot would need to revoke the wildcard slot promised from the Mid-Season Invitational, and include them in the play-in for their chance to the Group Stage.

Fleshing out this hypothetical, we could have groups that look like this:

A–Longzhu, Flash Wolves, RNG, Cloud9

B–SKT T1, TSM, Misfits, Team WE

C–Samsung, G2, Immortals, Gigabyte Marines

D–KT Rolster, Edward Gaming, AHQ, Fnatic

These seem a lot more balanced than the current groups. There are still ways to make them less fair, such as grouping KT, Flash Wolves, Misfits and Gigabyte Marines, while Longzhu, G2, RNG and Cloud9 faced off. However, no team would be able to make it into the semifinals of Worlds without beating a member of the LCK. This setup would also present Korea with the opportunity to truly prove its prowess, because if they could potentially secure all top four spots in the World.

Conclusion

The LCK has proven itself over several years of international and domestic competition. This year Riot allowed them instant access to the Group Stage without a play-in, but that is not enough. The World Championship should feature four teams from the LCK. Critics may point to the slippery slope “why stop at four Korean teams? Why not five, six, or seven?” but settling on four seems natural, given there are four groups in the Group Stage.

Each of the four groups would be assigned one Korean team, ensuring more fairness in the draw. It would also strengthen the competitive integrity of Worlds. KT Rolster would be a prime candidate to compete in this year’s World Championship when compared to other competitors.

It would be impossible for a team to reach the semifinals of the tournament without winning against an LCK representative. Any true professional League team should want to leave a competition knowing that it did the best it could. They would not want to think it was the luck of the draw. Adding in a fourth Korean seed would make that a reality.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, LoLesports.com

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Pridestalker moves from Misfits Academy to ROCCAT

EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates

Roster updates have filled the space between the EU LCS Spring and Summer Splits. Teams swapped players. New organizations purchased academy teams. Challenger players were promoted to LCS, and LCS players dropped to CS. Here is a summary of what is known so far.

NEW ORGANIZATIONS

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Ninjas in Pyjamas purchased Fnatic Academy's LCS slot

Image from NiP.gl

Fnatic Academy qualified for the Summer Split by beating Giants Gaming in the Summer Promotion tournament. Since an organization is not allowed to field more than one roster in the LCS, Fnatic was required to sell their slot. Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) has purchased the slot, but the entire roster has been overhauled:

2017 Spring Split

Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek

Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneide

Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer

Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm

Johan “Klaj” Olsson

Kublai “Kubz” Barlas

2017 Summer Split

Kim “Profit” Jun-hyung

Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema

Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon

Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa

Hampus “sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson

Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgaard

Profit comes to the EU LCS from LCK’s SK Telecom T1 (SKT), and Nagne comes from WYDream in the LSPL. Shook last played for Team Vitality in the 2016 Summer Split. HeaQ was acquired from Giants Gaming, and Sprattel from Paris Saint-Germain in the CS. NiP’s coach, NicoThePico, was most recently the head coach for Fnatic’s LCS team before stepping down in March.

While Team Envy (NV) in North America signed Nisqy as their mid laner, it is unclear whether or not Fnatic will maintain the rest of the roster as substitutes. Several of the players have expressed dissatisfaction towards the situation. It is also unclear if Kubz will remain the assistant coach for the organization.

Profit, NiP’s top laner, is arguably their highest profile acquisition. Although he only played nine regular season matches, Profit maintained the highest KDA among all LCK top laners, 8.7. SKT utilized him more frequently as a tank player, mostly drafting Nautilus. Profit joins G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-han and Mysterious Monkey’s Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol as the third imported Korean top laner in the EU LCS Summer Split.

Mysterious Monkeys

Mysterious Monkeys purchased Misfits Academy's LCS slot

Image from Mysterious-Monkeys.de

The other Challenger team to qualify for the EU LCS Summer Split was Misfits Academy. They defeated Fnatic Academy in the Summer Promotion tournament. Since they also already have an LCS team, Misfits was forced to sell their slot, which has been purchased by Mysterious Monkeys.  They have maintained almost the entire roster:

2017 Spring Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

2017 Summer Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Leon “Lamabear” Krüger

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

With the departure of Pridestalker, Lamabear returns as Mysterious Monkey’s jungler. Lamabear was the starting jungler for Misfits Academy coming into 2017. However, he was suspended for four months due to unacceptable in-game behavior. Prior to his suspension, Lamabear played for Misfits in the 2017 Spring Promotion tournament to qualify into the EU LCS. The organization ultimately replaced him and Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan with Lee “KaKAO” Byung- kwon for the Spring Split.

All of the members of Mysterious Monkeys will be rookies in their respective positions, including the coach. The MFA roster averaged 1,291 gold behind at 15 minutes during the regular season of the CS Spring Split and had a 40 percent win rate. However, they had the second highest mid-late game rating, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Yuuki60 averaged the highest damage per minute and lowest death share of all CS players.

LCS ACQUISITIONS

Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian

Maxlore acquired by Misfits

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Misfits acquired Maxlore to fill the void left by KaKAO in the jungler position. This spring he played for Roccat (ROC). Although ROC had a poor early start to the split, Maxlore was a major factor in their late-split run for playoffs. He maintained an 83 percent win rate on Graves, and a 71 percent win rate on Rengar. Despite ROC’s 45 percent overall win rate, Maxlore had mid-high statistics for total assists, first blood rate, CS difference at 10 minutes, damage per minute, and wards cleared per minute. Giants Gaming seemed to utilize him better in 2016, so it will be interesting to see how Misfits incorporate him.

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

Replacing Maxlore on ROC is Pridestalker. This spring, Pridestalker was the starting jungler for Misfits Academy. He played a major role in qualifying them for the EU LCS. During CS Spring Playoffs, Pridestalker maintained the highest KDA of all players, and during the Summer Promotion tournament, he had the second highest overall. Pridestalker also secured first blood in 50 percent of his games throughout playoffs and promotion. Only time will tell if he will be an upgrade over Maxlore.

Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan

A perennial EU support player, VandeR returns to the LCS after a short time on FC Schalke 04 (S04) in Challenger. He joins Team Vitality (VIT) to replace Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan and Baltat “AoD” Alin-Ciprian. VIT had horrible issues in the support position throughout the Spring Split, so this should be a huge pick-up for them.

S04 tore through the competition in CS regular season, maintaining a 10-0 perfect record. VandeR was a huge cog in that machine, averaging a 14.4 KDA and 11 assists per game. However, S04 dropped the ball in the CS Spring Playoffs, losing 3-1 to Misfits Academy. Several players and the coach have left the team. The most likely cause is disappointment.

Dylan Falco   

Dylan Falco acquired by Fnatic as coach

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Most recently acting as coach for NV in the NA LCS, Dylan Falco has been appointed the new head coach of Fnatic. Dylan has worked with several other organizations previously, including TSM, Immortals, and H2K. Former coach NicoThePico had stepped down mid-split, and Finlay “Quaye” Stewart acted as coach temporarily. It is difficult to judge coach Falco’s impact on NV’s gameplay. Fnatic’s roster has more collective veteran LCS experience and does not contain any Korean imports. These differences may be beneficial for him.

Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi  

One of the most shocking reveals this mid-season was the departure of YamatoCannon from Splyce. It has since been announced that he will be the head coach of Team Vitality this summer. Both Splyce and Team Vitality seemed disappointed by their performances this spring. According to YamatoCannon’s announcement video, his leaving Splyce was a mutual decision. While his persona as a coach and analyst will be hard to separate from Splyce’s organization, hopefully this switch will elevate Vitality’s performance.

LEAVING LCS

Olof “Flaxxish” Medin

Team Kinguin acquired Flaxxish from Giants Gaming after Giants’ relegation from the EU LCS. Kinguin is currently participating in the 2017 CS Summer Qualifiers tournament, which will decide if they play in the CS Summer Split. Flaxxish had a terrible Spring Split with Giants, starting with IEM Gyeonggi.

Flaxxish finished the regular season tied for fifth lowest overall KDA. He also averaged the most CS behind, third most gold behind, and ninth most experience behind at 10 minutes. Flaxxish only contributed 302 damage per minute and 18.7 percent of his team’s damage, both lowest among top laners. The pool of top laners in EU LCS is stronger with him in Challenger.

Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi

Memento acquired by Schalke 04

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Memento is another Giants Gaming player to be acquired by a Challenger team for the summer. S04 adds him to their roster to replace Jean-Victor “loulex” Burgevin. Despite Giants’ rough Spring Split, Memento had the second highest kill participation of all EU LCS players, and contributed 18.2 percent of Giants’ damage (highest among junglers). He also secured first blood in 50 percent of regular season games. Giants was able to take first dragon in 50 percent of games, due in large part to Memento.

On the other hand, Memento generally fell behind in gold, experience, and CS at 10 minutes. Almost all of his metrics got worse during the Summer Promotion tournament, which should theoretically be an easier pool of players. S04 had an excellent regular CS split, so Memento will need to play up to his potential if they are to maintain dominance this summer.

Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan

Team Vitality has rid itself of Hachani as support. Arguably one of the worst performers of the Spring Split, Hachani has been acquired by Ever8 Winners in Challengers Korea. During his time on Vitality, Hachani was among the bottom six players in KDA, kill participation, and death share. He also averaged four deaths per game, second lowest among supports. Vitality should be ecstatic to have him gone.

STATUS UNKNOWN

Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon

KaKAO is currently a free agent

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

With the announcement that Maxlore would come onto Misfits’ roster, KaKAO’s status for Summer Split remain unknown. As a free agent, he may be fielding offers from other organizations. He may be returning to Korea. He may be changing to another region, such as China or North America. Maybe he has decided to retire once and for all. Regardless, KaKAO’s spring performance exceeded expectations, and did not seem to be problematic for Misfits’ team. It will be surprising if a team does not sign him.

Origen

Since Origen’s relegation from the EU LCS, they have not discussed the status of the team. The organization did announce on Facebook that their entire roster (except Enrique Cedeño “xPeke” Martínez), including the coach, has been released as free agents. However, that has been the only talk for almost a month. It is unclear who will replace these players, but Origen has implied that they will be participating in the Challenger Series.

Giants Gaming

The other roster mystery lies with Giants Gaming. They, too, were relegated from the LCS and have yet to make any announcements about a new roster. Their AD carry, jungler, and top laner have all been signed elsewhere. There have been no updates regarding Na “NighT” Gun-woo or Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg.


MSI Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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MSI: SK Telecom T1 vs. Flash Wolves Preview

In the first round of the knockout stage of MSI, SK Telecom T1 is poised to take revenge upon the only team that has taken a win from them during groups. What may be the most competitive game in this tournament, SKT vs. Flash Wolves will be the game to tune into on May 19th at 11 am PST.

SK Telecom T1

 

Peanut and Huni share a moment while leaving the stage. Courtesy of Riot flickr

Coming into MSI as the most highly favored team in the history of League of Legends is SKT, three-time League of Legends World Champions.

 

SKT’s six-man roster starts with their top laner, Seung-Hoon  “Huni” Heo, a player who currently holds the highest CS per minute in the MSI.

Jumping out of the jungle, Wangho “Peanut” Han holds the most kills at 52 in groups. Known most for his Lee Sin, Peanut is known to be the most aggressive jungler in Korea, with the ability to get 15 kills in a single game.

No introduction is needed for Sanghyeok “Faker” Lee. Faker is simply the best.  

SKT’s bot lane, Junsik “Bang” Bae and Jaewan “Wolf” Lee, are looking better than ever. The two are typically found taking laners that complement each other with  Wolf picking champions that can bail out the immobile carries that Bang has frequently utilized to great success. Wolf has the second most assists throughout Groups, trailing Shou-Chieh “SwordArT” Hu, who also used one more game to have Wolf beat 93 to 90.

 

How SKT Wins

Peanut shares a lot in common with his opponent Karsa. Courtesy of Riot Flickr

SKT wins by having Peanut play Lee Sin and picking their bot lane comfort picks before the Flash Wolves take them out in the draft. With Bang’s adept performance on Twitch, aided greatly by the peeling supports Wolf is often seen on, expect the bot lane picks to come through in the first round of the draft phase. SKT is greatly favored in this matchup. Their chances of failure are minimal as long as they do not lose too much ground early game. SKT can win late game team fights with great ease given their opponents are not too far ahead.

Flash Wolves

The Flash Wolves have proven to be a mixed bag this tournament, showing that they have the skill to beat SKT while simultaneously dropping games to almost every team in the tournament. As the underdog team in the fourth versus first place match, their performance in this best of five will likely decide who takes first place at this year’s MSI. If they can beat SKT, they can beat anyone. Right? Maybe, but this is not guaranteed with the Flash Wolves. However, they are the strongest contender for taking down SKT alongside Team WE.

Playing top lane for the Wolves is Li-Hong “MMD” Yu, a player known for his aggression and carry style, but also able to play supportive tanks by the likes of Nautilus and Shen.

Tearing through the jungle for the Wolves, Hao-Xuan “Karsa” Hong, has the same champion pool and play style as Peanut. He also has 41 kills to his name during groups. He may have what it takes to deny Peanut through a well-executed draft.

Laning against God himself, Yi-Tang “Maple” Huang ties Peanut for the highest KDA throughout groups at 6.1.

Perhaps the Flash Wolves greatest strength lies in their bot lane, where Yu-Huang “Betty” Lu and SwordArT dominate the bottom half of the map. SwordArt is a veteran shot caller, playing supports that can influence more than just the bottom lane. Expect to see Lulu and Tahm Kench as high priority champions for both teams. Meanwhile, Betty has the most kills to his name out of all the ADCs at MSI, and he’s looking to continue this streak. Betty plays many ADC’s, but his Ashe is a staple for the Flash Wolves. Betty may have to branch into other ADC’s in order to take away Bang’s Twitch and secure a victory for the Wolves.

How Flash Wolves Win

They have done it once before, but can they do it again? To win, Flash Wolves need to stifle Huni in the draft much like they did in their only victory over SKT. Because banning out Faker is impossible, their bans must be directed to the top lane carries that Huni plays, and the Marksmen that Bang feels most comfortable on. The optimal top lane draft will have MMD on his signature Kled and Huni on a tank, allowing Flash Wolves to take the game from the top lane.

As for the Jungle, it goes without saying that Peanut’s Lee Sin must be denied in order for the Wolves to have a fighting chance. Taking Lee Sin on the side of the Flash Wolves will also

SwordArT is not the cool, calm, and collected shot caller you may be used to. Courtesy of Riot Flickr

greatly aid Karsa, as he is adept on the champion. In the middle lane, Maple’s utility orientated champion pool must be able to survive the likes of Faker’s assassins. If Maple can avoid giving a lead to Faker, he may be able to turn some mid game team fights into a victory for the Wolves with his excellent Weaver’s Walls and Realm Warps.

 

Taking a lead in the bottom lane is most important for the Flash Wolves. Giving SwordArT the opportunity to roam and snowball his team’s lead alongside Karsa, will be the win condition the Wolves need. However, the lanes go, if the Wolves do not start with leads, it is unlikely they will ever bounce back to take a lead.


Featured image courtesy of Riot Flickr

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Top Ten Players at MSI

The Mid Season Invitational opening ceremony is a day away, and I’ll be looking at the top players from every region playing this week. Many of these players have been around the pro scene for a while and have made a name for themselves as being some of the best in the world at their positions. Let’s take a look:

10. Swordart (Flashwolves Support)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Jie has been in the pro scene since season three. He’s been an integral part of Flash Wolves’ success, often roaming with their jungler, Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan in the early game. This season has been no different. SwordArt has shown excellent performances on meta picks, such as Karma. He ended the LMS spring split atop his position with a massive 11.5 KDA, well above any other support in the region.

In their series against Supermassive, he finished with a KDA of 43, only dying once in the entire series. SwordArt is one of the best supports at setting up plays for his team in the early game. He’ll be vital in Flash Wolves’ success in this tournament.

9. Zven (G2 esports ADC)

Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen has slowly developed into one of the best ADC’s in the world. With the ADC meta shifting back to more traditional style carries, Zven will have a chance to prove why he’s one of the best at his position. Despite his support, Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez dipping in performance a bit this season, Zven has still been able to dish out damage in mid game team fights. Most of G2’s success comes in the mid game, often waiting for power spikes to hit before breaking the game wide open with a mid game team fight. Zven’s positioning in team fights is excellent, knowing where he can dish out the most damage from a safe distance.

Zven also has some of the strongest laning of all ADC’s at the tournament. He leads EU in CSdiff@10 with a massive 8.0. Him and Mithy can still compete with the best, and will be up against some World class bot lanes.

8. Hauntzer (TSM Top Laner)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell had one of his best splits on TSM in Spring 2017. With star Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng taking a break for the split, Hauntzer stepped up from the top lane to help be the decisive voice for his team. Despite taking on shot calling responsibilities, Hauntzer’s play did not hinder, it actually got better. With all the talent imported into NA for top laners, Hauntzer held his own and took the title of NA’s best top laner. Hauntzer topped NALCS top laners in DMG% and KDA. He showed excellent performances on a variety of champions as well.

Many believed he deserved the MVP award for the split, but he barely lost out to Phoenix1’s Arrow. He’ll be looking to prove himself on the World stage once again, after struggling to make an impact during their Worlds run last season.

 7. Peanut (SKT Jungler)

Han “Peanut” Wang-ho made a name for himself last season as the starter for ROX tigers. After barely losing to SKT in the semifinals of Worlds last season, Peanut decided to join his rivals this season. Peanut has struggled a bit this season, sometimes getting caught and subbed out for Blank, but he’s still a force in the jungle.

His Lee Sin play has been heralded as some of the best in the world. He has also shown great play on other meta picks, such as Rengar, Graves, and Elise. Along with this, Peanut has had some of the best Dragon/Baron steals anyone has ever seen in pro League of Legends. It’s insane the plays he’s able to pull off.

Peanut will have a chance to win his first international event. With SKT coming in as heavy favorites, anything outside of first will be a failure.

6. Huni (SKT Top laner)

Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo has been a fan favorite for his loving personality and his high play making ability. After spending two seasons playing in Europe and North America, Huni got the chance to play with the best team in the world. He was formerly known for playing hard carry top laners, such as Riven, Fiora, and Gnar, often being criticized for not playing into tank metas.

Many wondered how he’d do under the Korean structure of coaching. On past teams, coaches allowed him to play carry champions, even pulling out Lucian in the top lane in playoffs. He has shown the ability to play tanks, while also still being able to pull out the carry tops when needed for his team. Even when on tanks, Huni has a very strong impact on the game with his teleports and team fighting. He lead the LCK in DMG% for top laners and total KDA.

Playing for SKT has helped Huni become elevated to a World class top laner. He’s more versatile in his champion picks and a huge reason why SKT are favorites to go undefeated here at MSI.

5. Maple (Flash Wolves Mid Laner)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang has been a long time mid laner in the LMS region. He’s shown phenomenal performances in previous international events, such as Flash Wolves’ IEM Katowice victory. In their victory over SKT at Worlds last year, his Aurelion Sol was vital in setting Flash Wolves up with an early lead to snowball. Maple has a deep champion pool, being able to play control mages such as Syndra, or assassins like Zed or Leblanc.

Maple had another great season in the LMS region, posting a 7.1 KDA to top the league. Him and jungler, Karsa, have excellent mid/jung synergy that can often net Flash Wolves huge early game leads. They are also excellent at knowing exactly how to finish games with these heavy leads.

Flash Wolves will be looking to Maple once again, as they are heavy favorites to be the ones to slay Korea once again.

4. Karsa (Flash Wolves Jungler)

Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan is one of many talented junglers at this tournament. His early game play making is huge in Flash Wolves’ success. He loves playing high skill early game champions such as Lee Sin, and Elise. He finished the LMS season top in DMG% and KDA for junglers.

In their series against SuperMassive, Karsa jungled circles around Stomaged, gaining huge CS leads and tracking him quite well. Him and SwordArt have excellent jung/supp synergy, usually setting up vision to do aggressive invades or tower dives. Karsa will be vital in his team’s success, with jungle being one of the most talented positions in the whole tournament.

 3. Bjergsen (TSM Mid Laner)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg has been the star mid laner for Team SoloMid since taking over for owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh in season four. Bjergsen has been a vital part of TSM’s organization, being the only stable member in the past seasons. TSM has literally built the team around him, as he’s slowly just become the best player in the West. His spring season started off a bit slow, as TSM was adjusting not playing with Doublelift, but since then he’s regained his MVP form. He finished the NALCS spring split as leader in total KDA and CSdiff@10.

Bjergsen has slowly taken the title of the Western GOAT for pro League of Legends. He’s become the face for esports talent in North America, and continues to play the game at an extremely high level. The only knock on him is international success. TSM as a whole have one IEM Katowice title in terms of international success. MSI gives them the chance to prove that North America is a region to be on the lookout for.

2. Bang (SKt ADC)

Bae “Bang” Jun-sik has been the starting ADC for their past two Worlds titles. It sometimes feels Bang is underappreciated on a roster full of stars and goofy personalities. Bang has been a consistent carry for SKT, always dishing out damage from a safe distance while also being one of the best laning ADC’s.

He lead the LCK in total KDA for ADC’s while also averaging the highest CSdiff@10 with 8.2. Bang also dished out the highest damage per min among ADC’s. He has shown phenomenal performances on high skill carries such as Ezreal, and even pulled out some amazing Twitch performances in the LCK finals. Bang will look to add another MSI title to his belt as he looks to dominate the bot lane once again.

1. Faker (SKT Mid laner)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok will forever be known as one of the best League of Legends players of all time. He has become known as the best mechanically skilled pro player, while also having the awards and team achievements to back them up. Three world titles, multiple MVPs, along with many Korean esports awards to boast. Since season three, Faker has consistently been the star player of SKT. When they decided to roster change, only him and Bengi were left from the original championship roster. Faker often draws a ton of jungle pressure due to people just knowing how good he is. It opens up a lot of options for the rest of this talented roster.

His impact on the game is unmatched. Faker has become the face of professional esports. When others ask who’s the best player in League of Legends, people will say Faker. His legacy is continually growing, as SKT dominated KT in the LCK finals. He’ll look to add another MSI title to his legacy.

Cover photo by: Riot Esports

MSI kicks off Wednesday!

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Mid Season Invitational Power Rankings

MSI will officially begin Wednesday as TSM, Flash Wolves, and Gigabyte Marines have earned their spots through the play-in stage. TSM looked shaky, needing a reverse sweep to take down Gigabyte Marines. It will definitely be interesting to see how the teams come out. Will G2 finally play well on the international stage? Can TSM bounce back from their poor performance? Can Gigabyte Marines make a Cinderella Run? Here are my power rankings of the teams heading into the Midseason Inviational.

1.SK Telecom T1 (Korea)

This should come to no surprise to fans and analysts. Korea as a region and SKT as a team have dominated the LoL scene for quite some time now. They’ll be looking to assert their dominance even more if they can go through MSI undefeated. SKT holds some of the best players in the world at each of their position.

Their most infamous has to be their mid laner, the GOAT, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. As long as Faker is on this team, you can bet on them being World contenders for awhile. Alongside Faker, has been his head coach since the beginning Kim kkOma Jung-gyun. Kkoma has been praised for being the best coach in League of Legends, having led SKT to all their World Championships. He’ll look to add a back to back MSI title to that list.

2. Flash Wolves (Taiwan)

Photo by: Riot Games

Flash Wolves may play in a top heavy region, but despite this, they’ve showed consistently time and time again that they cannot be underestimated. Coming off a successful IEM win at Katowice, Flash Wolves will look to surprise spectators and continue their reign as the “Korean Slayers”.

Flash Wolves play an aggressive style, often making plays in the early game with jungler  Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan and support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Jie looking to make plays. Not only can they build big gold leads in the early game, they know how to properly finish games as well.

Flash Wolves came into the season sporting a new ADC in Lu “Betty” Yuhung who looks to get better and better every time we see him. Betty finished their series against SuperMassive with a monstrous KDA of 36, only dying once the whole series. Their longtime jungle/mid duo of Karsa and Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang have not shown any signs of slowing down. They had a phenomenal performance against SuperMassive, dominating their opponents. Flash Wolves have the best shot at upsetting SKT here at MSI.

3. G2 Esports (Europe)

Despite G2 having not played a game at MSI yet, they definitely showed a dominant run in playoffs en route to their third European championship. Everyone from G2 are ready to finally prove that they can perform well on the international stage. Maybe with the help of sports psychologist, Weldon Green, they can finally get that monkey off their back of choking internationally.

Mid laner Luka “PerkZ” Perković in particular will have lots of pressure as he’s become known for not playing well in international competitions. If he plays well, G2 can definitely make a decent MSI run. G2’s bot lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez will be one of G2’s power positions. With the meta shifting back to “carry style” ADC’s, G2’s bot lane can definitely have a major impact in games.

What’s worrying is how long their games tend to go. Against some of the best teams in the world G2 will need to have the ability to close out games or risk failing in international play once again

4. Team we (China)

Team WE is a name that’s been around professional LoL for some time now. Once a powerhouse in their region, they’ve returned to take the throne as the number one team in China. After years of mixing rosters, they finally found success dropping only a single game en route to their 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up in the LPL finals. They don’t play the stereotypical play style of all aggressive early game teams we’ve seen in the past from China.

WE plays much more controlled and teamfight well in the mid/late game. Jungler Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie is an absolute monster and will be essential in WE’s success. In the mid lane, Hanwei “xiye” Su, has a deep champion pool and has shown good performances on both control mages and assassins. He had the 2nd best KDA in the LPL for at 4.7.

China has since fallen off from being the heralded “2nd best region”, but WE will look to prove that they are still one of the best.

5. Team SoloMid (North America)

Photo By: Riot Games

TSM looked shaky in their play-in series vs. Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines. It felt like they were heavily disrespecting their opponents going for questionable invades and teamfights almost expecting the other team not to be prepared. This caused them to go down 2-0 in the series, before reverse sweeping their way to victory.

That series had many North American fans breathing sighs of relief. TSM will be heavy underdogs now at this point of the tournament if they struggled that heavily against a wild card region.

Even in the reverse sweep, their last two wins were not clean by any means. Gigabyte Marines showed the capability to gain early leads off some poor play out of TSM. Gigabyte Marines nearly had the series in game four, before overstaying in TSM’s base which ultimately led to TSM’s victory.

In particular TSM’s adc, Jason “Wildturtle” Tran had an awful series, dying in a winning 2v2 and often getting caught out of position while only having a 52.9 kill participation percentage. He’ll need to step up big time if TSM wants to finish in the top four of the group stage.

6. Gigabyte Marines (Vietnam)

Although they are the wildcard representative of MSI, their play-in stage performance was amazing in terms of Wildcard performances in international tournaments. Gigabyte Marines gave North America’s TSM a run for their money, nearly taking the series. Maybe some nerves and lack of experience, forced a bad call to try to end the game that resulted in a throw, but nonetheless this team has impressed.

Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh has been an absolute monster this whole tournament. He’s currently 2nd in KDA and first in DMG% among junglers who have played at MSI so far. Gigabyte Marines rely heavily on him to setup plays in the early game to snowball leads. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against the likes of SKT’s Peanut or Flash Wolves’ Karsa.

One of their weak points will definitely be in top laner Phan “Stark” Công Minh. Stark showed some great performances on Gragas during their series against TSM, but was non existent if not on that particular champion. In game three, he was constantly solo killed by Hauntzer’s Gragas and never seemed to comeback from it throughout the series.

Despite losing a close series to TSM, the group stage will be best of 1. Don’t be surprised to find Gigabyte Marines apart of the top four once the group stages conclude at MSI.

Cover photo by: Riot Games

Tune in Wednesday for the opening ceremonies of MSI on May 10

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