Unicorns of Love entered the EU LCS in 2015

A brief, heart-breaking history of Unicorns of Love

With the 2017 EU LCS Regional Qualifiers finished, Europe has chosen three teams to represent them at the League of Legends World Championships, and the Unicorns of Love is not one of them. This seems to be their destiny. UOL is always good enough to be a contender, but never good enough to be the champion. They have always had a shot at Worlds, but never reached it. They have made it into the gauntlet thrice, and lost out all three times. Here is a brief look at how the Unicorns got here, and why it is so heart-breaking.

2015

Unicorns of Love qualified for the EU LCS in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unicorns of Love entered the LCS in 2015 by defeating Millenium in the 2015 Spring Promotion tournament. UOL was promoted, while Millenium was relegated. Their roster included Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás top, Berk “Gilius” Demir jungle, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage mid, Pontus “Vardags” Dahlblom AD carry and Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov support. After Millenium took a 2-0 lead, the Unicorns were able to reverse sweep the series, winning 3-2. This was the beginning of the Unicorns’ legacy as wildcards in the EU LCS.

Coming into the 2015 Spring Split, UOL replaced Gilius with a new jungler, Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek. Kikis was known for his pocket picks in the jungle, such as Sion, Gnar or Shaco. In their debut split, UOL finished with a 9-9 record to secure fifth place and qualify for playoffs. PowerOfEvil was the only player in the league to be the weekly MVP more than once (weeks four and eight).

In Spring Playoffs, the Unicorns had to face fourth place, Gambit Gaming. UOL took them down 3-1, moving them into semifinals against number one seed SK Gaming. In a massive upset, UOL won that best-of-five 3-2. This win brought them to their first playoff finals within their first split, facing second seed Fnatic. The Unicorns took it all the way to five games, but fell short to finish in second place and tally 70 championship points.

UOL came into the 2015 Summer Split carrying momentum. They swapped Gilius back into the jungle role, while Kikis went to G2 (then Gamers2). In almost identical fashion, the Unicorns finished the split 9-9, but placed fourth. Gilius left the team going into playoffs, leaving Cho “H0R0” Jae-hwan as their starting jungler.

Summer Playoffs put UOL against Roccat first, who they defeated 3-2. The victory pushed them into an even tougher semifinals match-up versus an undefeated Fnatic. Getting skunked 3-0, UOL was forced into the third place match with H2K. A win here would send UOL to Worlds as Europe’s second seed, assuming Fnatic won in the finals. However, H2K crushed UOL in another 3-0, and Fnatic won the finals, sending UOL to their first EU LCS gauntlet.

Luckily, UOL’s 110 total championship points entitled them to a full bye in the Regional Qualifiers. Giants, Roccat and Origen would have to fight each other before meeting UOL in the final. Origen, a line-up that would go on to finish top four at the 2015 World Championships, made it to the gauntlet finals and took down UOL in a final 3-0. The Unicorns’ 2015 season would end there.

2016

Unicorns of Love replaced three starters for 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coming into 2016, Unicorns of Love decided to replace three of their five starters. Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi signed as their jungler and AD carry, previously of Gambit. Hampus “Fox” Myhre stepped into the mid lane from SK Gaming. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang remained UOL’s top and support.

UOL went through the 2016 Spring Split like past splits. They finished with a 10-8 record, showing strength against teams below them and weakness against teams above them. Most of their problems revolved around the jungle position. Starting in week three, Diamondprox had to leave Europe, due to visa issues. UOL borrowed Millenium’s jungler, Charly “Djoko” Guillard, as a temporary replacement. In week four UOL brought in Rudy “Rudy” Beltran, an unknown player, who was replaced in week seven by ex-H2K Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin. These jungle player rotations hindered UOL’s ability to compete against more stable rosters.

This inconsistency came to a head in the Spring Playoffs when fourth seed Origen defeated the Unicorns 3-0 in the quarterfinals. UOL’s split ended in fifth-sixth, granting only 10 championship points. It was a disappointing placement that demanded change for the Summer Split.

In the mid-season, Unicorns of Love brought in two Korean imports to play jungle and AD carry. Kang “Move” Min-su came into the EU LCS after most recently playing for Gravity in North America. Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min had played for Vortex, a North American Challenger team. UOL also signed Fabian “Exileh” Schubert, a mid laner with history on several European Challenger teams. Riot also changed the EU LCS regular season to a best-of-two format.

These changes did not seem to affect Unicorns’ consistency much. If anything, it hindered their performance. UOL finished the regular season Summer Split in sixth place with a 6-5-7 record. This line-up was clearly better than tenth through seventh places, but also a step below first through fifth. The Unicorns would go into playoffs as underdogs.

Once there, UOL was able to take down third seed Giants 3-1. Moving into semifinals, UOL had to face an undefeated G2. The Unicorns lost 3-1, which sent them into their second third place match against H2K. Winning 3-1, H2K pushed UOL into the Regional Qualifiers for the second year in a row.

With only 50 championship points, Unicorns of Love found themselves in a difficult position. Giants, Fnatic and Splyce stood in their way of going to Worlds. UOL defeated Giants and Fnatic 3-0, propelling them forward into the gauntlet finals again. 2016 looked like UOL’s redemption. Sadly, Splyce took the series 3-2, keeping the Unicorns out of Worlds for another year.

2017

Unicorns of Love signed Xerxe and Samux for 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This third year has been Unicorns of Love’s third opportunity to go to Worlds. In an off-season full of roster swaps, UOL made some questionable changes. Bringing in European veterans in Spring 2016 did not bring the success they wanted. Korean imports in Summer 2016 was not fruitful, either. For Spring 2017, the Unicorns brought in two low-profile Europeans, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort. Xerxe had played for Dark Passage in the TCL, but could not participate in the International Wildcard Qualifiers, due to his age. Samux had played once in the LCS in 2012, but was quickly relegated. He only played in the Challenger Series after that.

Riot further changed the EU LCS format to have two groups that play best-of-threes each week. This format seemed to suit UOL, as they finished the Spring Split in first place for Group B with an 11-2 record. Topping their group afforded UOL a first round bye in the playoffs. They were met by Group A’s second seed, Misfits, who the Unicorns defeated 3-1 to qualify for the finals. This was their first playoff finals over five EU LCS splits. They met defending champions G2 and lost 3-1. UOL was granted 70 championship points.

For the first time since entering the LCS, Unicorns of Love did not change their roster between splits. The team seemed confident coming into the Summer Split with Vizicsacsi, Xerxe, Exileh, Samux and Hylissang. But the summer regular season was slightly worse than spring, mostly due to problems surrounding Exileh and the mid lane. UOL put up a 9-4 record, placing second in Group B behind H2K, based on game score.

Quarterfinals did not look to be much of a problem, as the Unicorns would face Group A’s third seed, Misfits. Unfortunately, UOL could not take a single game, and lost 0-3, ending their playoff run earlier than expected. UOL’s 90 total championship points put them behind Misfits and Fnatic. Unicorns would go to their third straight regional gauntlet.

The Unicorns sat in the second notch of the Regional Qualifiers, after H2K versus Splyce, but before Fnatic. H2K took the victory over Splyce, which meant they could face UOL in a critical moment, once again. In a nail-biter series, H2K secured the 3-2 win, spoiling the Unicorns’ chances of representing Europe at Worlds this year.

2018

 

What will Unicorns of Love do in 2018?

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

What will Unicorns of Love do between now and the 2018 season? Every member of this roster has shown promise in 2017. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang have been with this team since their induction in 2015. Coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant and manager-mascot Romain Bigeard have been staples, as well. Xerxe and Samux have solidified themselves as LCS talents. Exileh may have had a rough Summer Split, but his high points are unquestionable.

Like splits past, Riot has already announced major changes to the EU LCS format for 2018. The LCS will be split into four domestic leagues with a greater league running parallel. UOL has claimed their slot in Berlin, as reported by ESPN, with Roccat and Schalke 04. The current two-group format has treated the Unicorns well during the regular season. Maybe this update will too.

Regardless, the pink-and-white have made their mark on the EU LCS since joining in 2015. Despite falling short of Worlds year after year, UOL has cemented itself as a top contender in the regular season, playoffs and the gauntlet. European teams fear this organization as a competitor, because they know that UOL is destined for greatness. 2015 may not have been their year. 2016 may have been rocky. 2017 may have been heart-breaking. But who knows what 2018 may bring? Will falling short remain Unicorns of Love’s legacy, or will Love finally conquer?


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Names, dates, etc.: Leaguepedia

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Dignitas

Team Dignitas’ rise to the top

This split has been a roller coaster for Team Dignitas. Initially playing with a top-heavy map DIG came out of the gates strong this summer, but suffered through a mid-season slump. However, after the recent roster swaps the team has begun to surge forward again. Moving into the playoffs they still have to square off against IMT and CLG. Dignitas has proven themselves up to the challenge with a convincing 2-0 win over TSM on Saturday and a close 2-1 loss to C9 yesterday.

As a result, Team Dignitas for the first time since early season three is considered a top team in North America. Long gone are the days of baron tosses and being a middle of the pack team. Instead DIG has the second highest baron control in the LCS and in the last two weeks have been utterly crushing opponents with snowball comps.

The Landscape

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The LCS is in utter upheaval. It feels like EU LCS in season three and four: everyone can beat anyone else. There are only two weeks remaining in season before playoffs begin and seeding for the tournament is still up in the air. A rift has opened between the top six teams and the bottom four teams. The teams that will participate in the playoffs are likely locked in, but the gap isn’t insurmountable though. An undefeated run from any of the bottom four teams has the potential to put them in the playoffs.

Team Dignitas is in prime position to take advantage of this upheaval. They are resting in fourth place and have won three of their last four games. They have a chance to ride this winning run to a bye in the playoffs. Winning out will give them a 12-6 record and, assuming CLG or IMT drop a game, tied for second. DIG winning out means a win against both teams, which would tie up the head to head against each team. This means it would come down to game Win/Loss record for who is seeded higher.

At the very least DIG will make playoffs. Even with a 1-3 record in the last two weeks DIG would sit at sixth place. However, it seems unlikely that DIG will drop more than two sets in the next two weeks. The other teams they face off against, other than the aforementioned CLG and IMT, are Echo Fox and Team Liquid. Each series is DIG favored, despite TL coming off an impressive 2-0 week.

The Players

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

The reason Dignitas finds themselves in this fortuitous position is because of the recent roster swap. The team was slumping because the only threat was coming from Ssumday in the top lane. He was able to carry them through the first few weeks, but teams eventually realized that they just needed to shut him down in order to win.

Now though with Altec and Adrian coming in for Lod and Big, the bot lane has become a threat. This has opened up the map for DIG in the sense that they can play through any lane. If a team focuses too much on shutting down Ssumday, DIG can channel resources to their bot lane and win from there. If a team doesn’t focus on Ssumday he’s able to snowball and carry the game.

A threat in the bottom lane has also unlocked Keane. Keane has been a solid, consistent midlaner this split. He isn’t one to carry his team to a win, but certainly never gets stomped. Now that the pressure is more focused on Dignitas’ top and bottom lanes Keane can play for the teamfights and late game damage, something he has shown to be his forte.

Last, but certainly not least, is Shrimp. Shrimp has been suffocating his opponents in the jungle on his Nunu and Graves these last couple weeks. He’s taking away the jungle pressure from other teams by counter jungling, counter ganking and making them have to focus on neutral objectives instead of lanes. Shrimp understands his role very well and plays to that role. He knows he must get his lanes ahead and they will carry the game.

The Future

Dignitas

Photo Via Lol esports Flickr

DIG came out to three great weeks, slumped in the next two and have now had two great weeks. They are looking to break the trend of peaks and valleys and ride out this victory train into the playoffs. They’ve proven that they can take down the top teams in decisive fashion and certainly have a chance at the NA LCS title. Despite their loss to C9 the series was close and game one was a stomp in DIG’s favor. They can certainly hold their own against top teams, and have a good chance to take down both CLG and IMT. If they can perform in the playoffs to the degree they have shown in weeks six and seven they have the ability to make it deep.

Overall Dignitas looks strong. At this point anything less than fourth in NA LCS should be considered a failure. They put themselves in a position to succeed and are the masters of their own fate. DIG doesn’t need any other teams to have key losses to make the playoffs. They just need to keep winning. As for their playoff run, if they take away some good wins and keep up the level of performance they will take some momentum into the playoffs. They may still be able to secure a bye round, or at the very least a higher seed for side selection and an easier first round.

 

Cover Photo Via lolesports

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NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

The Summer Split just ended with Team Dignitas taking the DreamHack Valencia final. The fall split won’t start until September, but to kill time we have the NRG Invitational.

This is a tournament sponsored by NRG Esports, where the captains of the top four teams at the 2017 Smite World Championship draft a team from the rest of the pro players. Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG, Nathaniel “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance, John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter of Luminosity, and Maxwell “Aror” Jackson of AI (given team control when Zapman left) will serve as captains.

This is a mock draft of how I believe the players will be selected based on their performances during the Spring and Summer splits. This mock draft will reflect the players most deserving of the spots, instead of players being drafted because they’re friends with the captains. Assuming this will be a snake draft based on placement at SWC, the draft order would be as follows:

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Round 1

Aror

With the first pick in the draft, it’s safe to assume the best player in the world would go first. There’s been a lot of argument as to who that may be as of late, but Kennet “Adapting” Ros has long held the title of King and will likely go here, to the surprise of nobody.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Following suit, typically the next best player available would go here, as nobody is trying to fill any holes in their team at this point. It’s hard to say that Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo isn’t the next best player available. In fact, if he were to go ahead of Adapting, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Ataraxia

The first two picks being junglers may force the hand of Ataraxia here. With the talent pool of junglers dwindling, it may be too much for him to pass up on his teammate Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, but that would fill his team up of players from Obey, meaning he couldn’t pick any more of his teammates.

iRaffer

With nobody else needing a jungle player, Raffer is free to wait until his last pick to select one. He’s now allowed to start picking from any role he likes. With the way he performed at DreamHack, Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko solidified himself as one of the best players in not just his role, but in the world.

Round 2

iRaffer

Having back to back picks in a snake draft is really good. Raffer can end up with both players he was looking at selecting now, and not have to worry about them being sniped. Raffer’s squad needs a hard carry, and who better than his long time lane partner Emil “Emilitoo” Starnman. Both of Raffer’s next picks would need to be North American players.

Ataraxia

With the way the rules are, Ataraxia would need to pick a player from NRG, and with three already off the board, that leaves just Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall and Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov. They play for NRG, and they’re both really good players. Ataraxia is going with Yammyn here because nobody wants to face Yammyn. Just like Raffer, Ataraxia will need to fill the rest of his team with players from North America.

BaRRaCCuDDa

With the previous pick, Barra now would only have mid lane and support open. It would be pretty difficult to pass on a player like Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom in this situation. This would make it so Barra’s support had to be from North America.

Aror

With Aror having the turn picks with two in a row here, he should take the best player available. That would likely be Harry “Variety” Cumming from Team Dignitas, who is one of the top two solo laners in the world, so it’s best to take him before someone else can.

Round 3

Aror

Aror’s squad is now missing the top damage dealing roles, ADC and mid. He’ll need to take at least one North American player with his last two picks, so best to do it here and take the best available. Andrew “andinster” Woodward was the best performing mid laner in North America this split, so it makes sense for Aror to take him here.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is forced to take an NA support here, or take Dimi. He might as well grab a support so Ataraxia doesn’t take him away. The likely pick would be Connor “Jigz” Echols. Sorry sextank fans.

Ataraxia

Ataraxia needs an NA support, and an NA solo. Alec “fineokay” Fonzo is a top performing rookie in the SPL, and would be well deserving of this selection

iRaffer

Raffer now gets to finish his team first. It doesn’t matter which role he decides to take here, so best available North American player for jungle goes to Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza. His performance during the Summer Split showed he was deserving of this spot.

Round 4

iRaffer

Raffer would then close it out with the best available North American mid laner. At this point, it’s kind of a toss up, but Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney had a good Summer Split and made it to DreamHack. He would fit well here.

Ataraxia

The best available NA support would likely go to Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi with Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe leaving the scene.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is “forced” to take Dimi with this pick. Best forced pick ever.

Aror

Aror rounds things out needing an ADC. Kenny “Arkkyl” Kuska is the best available hunter remaining and would round out Aror’s team nicely.

 

This is a mock draft. I could have every team completely wrong, but if I were doing the picks, this is how I’d do it. The draft is Wednesday, July 26th so tune in!


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Takeaways from day one of DreamHack

Europe is better than North America

Ok yes, we already knew European teams dominate, but they’re all pro players. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt coming into the LAN that they’ll at least be able to compete. Well, maybe from now on we won’t be doing that. Apart from Trifecta, who lost a heartbreaking game two versus NRG (I think. RIP stream) none of the other two North American squads even put up a fight.

Games one and two between Trifecta and NRG were exactly what fans of the SPL were hoping for. Trifecta put on a show in the first game and was able to take it from the defending world champs. Then NRG showed why they’re so good, and climbed back from a 15k gold deficit to win game two and force a third game. This is where Europe began to steamroll the North American squads.

In seven total games played between the regions, NA won one time. Spacestation Gaming, the team that most people pegged as the saviors for NA, dropped their first two games relatively easily against the 7th seeded Team Rival. Not exactly what you would expect out of the top NA team. Then Luminosity gaming followed up with a disappointing performance of their own, although they were playing Obey, so any team could lose 2-0 here and we wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Takeaways

Photo by www.smitefire.com

Resurgence of Odin

Odin hasn’t been a top pick in current meta. Osiris, one of the most popular gods, has a passive that completely counters Odin’s ult. That didn’t stop Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from locking in the Odin directly against the Osiris. And then he proceeded to be the biggest pain in the neck to the squad of NRG. Kiki was on the Odin in both games one and two, where he posted a slash line of 5/0/16 and 5/2/14 respectively. This led to NRG banning the Odin away in game three.

Team Rival then banned Odin away from Spacestation Gaming in game one of their set before their jungler, Aleksandar “IceIceBaby” Zahariev, pulled it out in game two. He completely controlled the jungle, dominating on the warrior for a 7/2/4 slash line, leading his team to a round one victory. The next we saw of the Odin jungle was the very next game, where Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, of Obey Alliance, showed his prowess on the God, putting up a 5/1/13 score, prompting Luminosity to ban it away in the second game.

Odin brings a lot of early game aggression to the table, and that momentum can be carried late into the game in this meta. That coupled with his ultimate, which forces the enemy team to get the Phantom Veil Relic in place of something else, really shows why Odin can be a force. We also saw his ultimate used as a disengage both offensively and defensively, both for escapes and protecting objectives on the map.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

 

DreamHack preview: Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming has long been among the North American favorites. Here are a few reasons why they have a shot to return to glory at DreamHack.

Experience

Luminosity is a team that is very familiar to the setting of a LAN. Each player on the squad has an abundance of experience over the course of the last year, including a trip to the Smite World Championship. This may not seem like much, but it’s a big deal when it comes to nerves and being able to perform under pressure.

John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter and Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi both have a SWC title under their belt and have played together for years. This type of experience isn’t rivaled by many players throughout the league, and can’t be replaced. Throw in their mid lane player Woonyoung “Baskin” Kim, long time solo laner and former Cloud9 teammate, and you’ve got easy chemistry. This is a squad that led the entire SPL in kills with 228, an average of 16.29 per game.

Objective Control

In recent splits, the European teams have become known for their objective control, especially when playing against the North American squads. Perhaps recognizing this, Luminosity Gaming has taken strides at improving their objective control, finishing the Summer Split with 32 Gold Fury kills. That number is good for second in the SPL. They also secured the Gold Fury first 11 different times, for a 78.57% rate, good for first in the SPL. As we saw this split, teams securing the first Gold Fury were winning at an absurd rate.

They also had the lead when it came to the big objective, the Fire Giant. The secured the second highest FG total in the SPL at 15, and finished first with 12 first Fire Giants at a rate of 85.71%. Being able to secure the first Fire Giant in the current meta is enormous. It’s enough for a team to go for the jugular on a team far behind, or it can be a big enough boon to even the score up after a slow start to a set.

Luminosity Gaming

Photo by www.shazoo.ru

The “Sextank”

BaRRaCCuDDa and Jeff Hindla. Those names alone give Luminosity a shot at winning in Valencia. Jeff Hindla is one of, if not the most selfless support in the SPL right now. He’ll walk into DreamHack with the fewest kills among North American supports, but the second most assists, and third in the entire SPL, at 146. On top of that, Jeff in known to ditch his old friend Barra in the duo lane early, so Barra can farm up and be prepared for the late game.

You’ll hear it from time to time that BaRRaCCuDDa has plot armor. He always seems to come out ok, no matter the situation. That’s all well and good, but it’s been a while since Luminosity has actually won anything. That’s where this guy comes in. He doesn’t have the best stats in the league, averaging just over 3 kills per game and 6.5 assists. That means nothing when it comes to Barra however, he’s the type of player that can turn it on when his team needs him. The level of consistency that he plays with is unparalleled in the SPL, and no matter the lead, no matter what part of the game, teams better be on the lookout for BaRRaCCuDDa.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Best Performers this Split: The EU All Star Roster

ADC

Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska has to be the stand out ADC for EU this Split. This must be incredibly pleasing for the French ADC, mainly because he was the one player people were questioning when Dignitas, the new ‘super-team’, was formed. This Split though he definitely put in an all star performance.

It was not the mechanical skill of Arkkyl that was being questioned though. As in his relatively short time in the SPL he had put in some great performances. Rather it was consistency and how he would manage on a top end team, as there is little doubt that his current roster was a big step up. When on a weaker team, it is often a lot easier to show glimpses of your quality rather than prove it every week. This is down to your team being more likely to be behind and if you are known as one of the best players on a weaker roster you are likely to get a lot more focus.

Arkkyl has more than proved himself to be up to the challenge. Last Split he showed he could be consistent and had some performances which hinted at his potential. However, this Split he has been consistently excellent. He has a KDA of 5.91, 3rd highest in the league. The statistics back up how great his play has been even more, he also has 61 kills the 5th highest in the league. This shows that it is not by being passive that he has such a high KDA but through pro-active aggressive plays.

Jungle

Nobody is going to be surprised at the who MVP in the Jungle for the Summer Split is, it is Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, the King is back. He is not just the MVP for the Jungle though he is probably the MVP for the whole of Europe. This guy would make it onto any all star roster, he is probably the best player Smite has ever had.

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Adapting’s stats this split are eye-watering. He tops KDA at 7.85, which is 1.78 higher than his closest competitor, who just so happens to be his mid-laner. He also has the most kills in the entirety of the SPL with 84. This is 16 higher than anyone else’s and over 23 higher than EU’s closest contender Arkkyl. If you think I have run out of ridiculous stats for Adapting, think again. He also has the highest kill participation in the league at 85.12 percent. All this while managing to come in second in deaths per game at 1.21, only slightly losing out to once again his mid laner!

What else is there to say about Adapting? He has just been tearing up the SPL since he joined. He is so good, he was getting called the best player in the world while this team were still in the Challenger Cup. Last Split it was very much a debate about who the best player in the world was, this split not so much. I’ll end how I started, the king is back!

Solo

It was hard to pick a solo for this all star roster, as the top three in EU have all had excellent performances from their solo-laners. They are all very close in overall performance, so when stuck lets the stats decide!

Harry ‘Varitey’ Cumming just beats out the other two to take his spot in this all star roster. Varitey is someone who has not always been rated as highly as he is now. However, in recent memory he has been lauded as one of the best solo-laners the SPL has to offer, and rightly so.

It is rather simplistic but I see my Solo-Laners in two categories, the Ryan ‘Omega’ Johnson kind who are looking to destroy you in lane. They are forcing you to base at every opportunity, taking your buffs and essentially trying to ground you into the dirt. These Solo laners are bullies in every sense of the word, doing everything short of taking your lunch money and sticking your head down the toilet.

The second kind are in the Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov role who are more willing to take losing match ups to help a draft and are more macro focused. (this is not to say Dimi will not stick your head down the toilet and take your lunch money Smite-wise but it is not all he does) Variety is definitely in the first mold of Solo laners, being especially dominant on Osiris, undoubtedly one of the best in the league on that god.

This is shown by him having the highest kills in Europe for a solo laner on 47. Variety also has the highest KDA for any solo-laner across both regions at 4.59. Showing he is not just aggressive but incredibly successful at it. Another hallmark of a great solo laner is their farm generation or GPM and again Variety tops Europe at 509, putting him 2nd across the entire SPL. An all star set of stats from an all star player.

Support

Step forward you unsung heroes, ye valiant few who die for others sins. Who among these brave and undervalued players of the SPL stands a top the pile? Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone has just edged out all the others this Split.

Stats are a strange thing to examine when it comes to supports, as their deaths can often come from others mistakes or be the best play to make. Kills are also not something that most supports are going for, often being much happier to give it to a carry on the team.

All Star

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However, there are some more reliable stats. GPM is one of them, finding farm on a map when none of it’s yours has always been an art form of the support. Admittedly with the power of Travellers Shoes and Watcher’s gift this has become easier in recent times. In this stat iRaffer came second in the league at 474. What supports really pride themselves on though is assists. Here iRaffer outshone the rest of the league with 152 assists at a rate of 10.86 a game.

Some people may say this is skewed with just how high the amount of kills NRG as a whole was getting but with a participation rate of 74.42 percent which is towards the higher end of the league. Personally I think it is even more impressive. This is because it shows how iRaffer was such a big part of getting these kills and why he is on my all star roster.

Mid

NRG feature again in this all star roster with their mid laner André ‘Yammyn’ Brännvall. He has been consistently one of the best mid laners in the world for the last two years. This Split has been no different, he has been exceptional.

There are a lot of things on which we can judge a mid laner. Is it their damage output? This is an important factor, as mid laners are the aoe damage dealers for a team. Is it kills? Another important factor but counter-intuitively mages are not the ones to finish off kills a lot of the time with their burst ults. Instead they weaken a team while the more mobile characters sweep in and mop them up. Is it GPM? Well seeming as a mid laner shares most of their farm it seems a hard thing to put at the top, being so dependent on whether or not your jungle and support are taking it. In all these stats though Yammyn is near the top of Europe showing how good is play is.

The stats we are left with and which Yammyn does top the league seem to show a lot more to me. These are KDA and and deaths. Mages are probably the squishiest class in Smite. Incredibly low protection and health scaling, combined normally with a lack of mobility. They are also put into the most contested area of the map meaning there is the constant threat of death. So for Yammyn to only have 15 deaths is an impressive feat. When you combine that with the fact that he has the highest KDA in the league for a mid at 6.07 far above the 4.53 of Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom (the man who would replace him in this list) and joint 2nd highest kills, it gets all the more impressive.

 

Honorable Mentions

ADC – Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark

Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight

Solo Dimi

Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker

Mid PrettyPrime

If you would like to know what an NA version of this would look like, look no further my colleague Brendon has you covered! http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/30/spl-summer-split-north-american-star-team/

A quick shout out to @BluesVult who’s spreadsheet was the source for a lot of these stats.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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DreamHack preview: Spacestation Gaming

North America’s best hope, the newly named Spacestation Gaming aims to take Valencia by storm. Here are some reasons they have a shot to make something happen.

Consistency

Spacestation started off this split extremely strong, tied with Luminosity and Team Allegiance at the top of the standings. Following a 2-0 loss to Luminosity, fans and analysts started saying that SSG was in the middle of the pack, and would be fighting for a spot in DreamHack. That was wrong, and SSG remained at the top of the standings for the rest of the split, continually putting down teams when they were playing “must win” games.

This consistency carried into the matches themselves. They were never too high and never too low throughout their sets. This can be seen in their set during Week 4 against ALG. This set had serious implications for DreamHack, and both teams desperately wanted the 2-0 victory.

Game 1 began with SSG in the lead, but ALG brought the game back. Often times in this situation you’ll see teams fold under the pressure, and collapse. SSG were able to stay focused and retake control of the game and pull it out. In game 2 ALG began by dominating Spacestation. Slowly but surely however, SSG clawed their way back into it, and thanks to  Andrew “andinster” Woodward, were able to snatch game 2 and get the 2-0 victory.

Statistics

Spacestation put up stats this split. Each player on the roster finished in the top two in North America in KDA in their respective roles. This includes Connor “Jigz” Echols, andinster and Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza, who finished first in their roles. They also had the highest team KDA in North America.

This trend continued when it came to deaths per game. Each player finished in the top five in the league, with Homiefe, Alec “fineokay” Fonzo and Conor “Vetium” Roberts tied for 5th. Jigz led the way with only 1.2 deaths per game, which is incredible in a role that is expected to protect its team, even at the expense of their own life.

Spacestation gaming

Photo by www.smitecentral.com

Homiefe

For anyone who watched this split, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Homiefe was the best jungler in North America this split without any competition. He finished with a KDA of 5.02, second only to his Mid Lane andinster. That KDA was good for the best in the Jungle role by more than two, as he topped Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey’s 3.01.

Homi also finished second in kills per game at 4.5, as well as 5th in deaths per game with a measly 1.6. He also participated in a total of 78.2% of his teams kills, which was good for 4th in the league. Homi also had an insane first blood rate, at 42.86%, good for six total first bloods.

It wasn’t just about stats for Homi however. His play this split is what helped put Spacestation over the edge. Again, looking back to the all important game against ALG, Homi was incredibly disruptive on the back line. His pressure not only prevented ALG from fighting as a team, but it allowed his team to win team fights before ALG could react. DreamHack is just over a week away, and Spacestation is looking prime to make a deep run on the back of Homiefe.


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Top gods in each role heading into DreamHack

Solo Lane

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This split has been all about Osiris and Bellona in the Solo Lane, but when it comes down to it, Bell is the way to go. Her clear is insanity from the get go. Bludgeon allows her to clear the wave quickly at level 1, and deal a ton of damage to any god caught by the hammer. It works especially well when being ganked by multiple gods, and puts in work against them. Scourge, her 3, gives her a crazy amount of sustain when paired up with Death’s Toll, which keeps her in lane longer than most Solo laners. It also has a disarm that works well in this meta against gods like Osirs, Cernunnos, Sol, and Rama. These gods have been played a lot, and the 2.25 second disarm at max level from Scourge can create a hole for a team to attack.

She passes Osiris here because of her mobility. Shield Bash blocks incoming damage, as well as gives her a small escape, which can be enough to allow a player to turn a fight. Her Ultimate is another big factor. Eagle’s Rally can be used as an escape multiple different ways, and it’s incredible the amount of plays that can be made off of it. A leap that gives a boost in protections, as well as a stun and physical power can be absolutely lethal in late game team fights.

Jungle

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After seeing some time off, Susano has made his climb back to the top of the Jungle meta and for good reason. His mobility is the best in the game, with a possible exception to Serquet. His Storm Kata is a great way for noobs to be annoying. But when in the hands of a pro, can be used in many different ways. Allowing free poke, and then an escape from the one ability, and being able to chain it together with his other abilities and auto attacks make for a good start.

Wind Siphon has the ability to create displacement in team fights. One perfectly executed Wind Siphon could end a team fight as it begins by separating a team, especially the squishies. Pair those two abilities with Jet Stream, and not only is Susano tough to lock down, but he’s tough to get away from. And just when you think you’re out, in comes Typhoon to knock you up preventing what you thought was an escape.

Mid Lane

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

The Mid Lane doesn’t really have a pick that just screams at you to ban it like Bellona, Osiris, and Susano. Not right now at least. With that being said, Thoth is the god most likely going to be cherished in the Mid Lane come DreamHack. Due to his third ability, Glyph of Pain, Thoth has insane clear potential from afar. It may take him a bit to get online, but once he does, he can start clearing the wave and poking the enemy team without being able to hit him back. He’s also very safe with Evade and Punish, which is a solid escape dash though the Glyph of Pain but then can be used as a stun.

What Thoth is really known for is Final Judgement. It is an ult not unlike others, packed with a high amount of damage for things like objective secure. What Final Judgement brings differently, however, is the charge up, and ability to cancel mid charge. It can be used as a fake out or distraction, opening a window, or creating separation from the enemy team. It can also be fired fairly quickly to do things like steal objectives or pick off an enemy god trying to escape.

Support

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

The support role has turned into a place for hybrid gods. Guardians who can play both offensively and defensively. No god is better at that then Fafnir. He has great early wave clear that can also punish an enemy god standing too close to a wave with Cursed Strength. His stun can be used to both set up kills and prevent them. He also has one of the strongest abilities in the game with Coerce. This ability buffs the damage and attack speed of the player it’s used on, allowing hunters to shred towers late game.

This is enhanced with his Ultimate, Dragonic Corruption. When used, it can separate an enemy team in the middle of a team fight, and allow your team to lock down players caught in the wrong position. It adds a stun to his leap, Underhanded Tactics, as well as making his Coerce into an AoE ability, allowing him to buff the whole team. He’s also one of the few support gods that can secure kills on its own.

ADC Role

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

Most hunters can be played currently and are considered viable. Rama, however, stands out from the pack. His damage late game is disgusting, and is boosted by his two steroid abilities, Astral Strike and Pick Me Up. He has insane tower shred and an annoying escape in Rolling Assault, that can be turned into an offensive opportunity if played correctly.

What Rama is truly known for is his Ultimate, Astral Barrage. Rama gains complete immunity while being allowed to snipe players from a good distance away dealing a large amount of damage. SPL players don’t typically struggle with these shots and can play it perfectly as either a finishing move, objective stealer, or even initiator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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SPL Summer Split: North American All Star team

With DreamHack around the corner, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the Summer Split, and the players who deserve to be part of an All Star team.

Solo Lane All Star

This one is tough to choose. We saw strong play out of the Solo lane this split, but the All Star selection comes down to two players. The Short Lane veteran Jarod “CycloneSpin” Nguyen, and the newcomer Alec “fineokay” Fonzo.

Cyclone returned to form this split, posting the highest KDA out of the Solo lane at 3.88, as well as posting the 4th fewest deaths per game out of every player at 1.5. He was a rock for Team Allegiance, and always looked good, even in their losses. If Cyclone can continue this play, ALG will have a good shot at making Worlds.

Even with how well Cyclone played, the rookie fineokay deserves the All Star nod. Joining Spacestation Gaming (SoaR at the time) in the middle of the Spring Split, fineokay has shown he’s not to be treated like a rookie. He finished second in KDA behind Cyclone in the Solo Lane, and just behind him at 1.6 deaths per game. Yes, Cyclone had the better stats, but what doesn’t lie is the record. fineokay helped to propel his new team to a first place finish in North America.

Jungle All Star

The Jungler of choice for the SPL All Star squad is much easier than the Solo Lane. Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza of Spacestation Gaming was an absolute monster this split. There were discussions whether Suharab “Mask” Askarzada or Homiefe were the top Jungler in the world. That was answered this split, and it’s Homiefe.

Homi boasted a KDA of 5.2, which was a whole 2 points higher than Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey of Trifecta. On top of that, Homiefe finished 2nd in NA with 4.5 kills per game, and 5th with just 1.6 deaths per game. He also participated in 78.2% of Spacestation Gaming’s kills, good for 4th highest in North America.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Mid Lane All Star

Just one split off of his first pro split spent in a new role, who would have thought the best player out of the Mid Lane would have been Andrew “andinster” Woodward? We saw flashes out of the Spring Split whenever Andi would play Ra, but he turned it up during the Summer Split, and showed why he was once considered the best player in the world.

Andi was a Jungler when he was known for being the best, but he has shown that it was more about his skill at Smite then his ability in the Jungle. Andi had the highest KDA in the North American SPL this split at a whopping 5.36 as he carried Spacestation to the top. He also finished second in the league in deaths per game at just 1.3.

Support All Star

The closest race when it comes to All Star in a specific role has to be out of the Supports. Between Connor “Jigz” Echols and Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe, we had some impressive guardian play.

Jigz captained his newly named Spacestation gaming to first place in North America while posting the highest KDA in his role at 4.62. He led his team by example when it came to deaths per game by leading the league with 1.2. Everyone on Spacestation gaming finished top 5 in that category, and everyone died fewer than 1.7 times per game.

Eonic led the resurgent Trifecta to a strong 10-4 record, good enough for second in North America. He was right behind Jigz in KDA posting a 4.28 stat line. He finished first in the SPL in assists per game with an insane 10.5, as well as third in deaths per game at 1.4. Eonic also participated in 77.2% of his teams kills, good for 6th in the SPL.

ADC All Star

This split saw Steven “Zapman” Zapas step away from the Smite scene. The stage was set for someone to fill his shoes, and Evan “Snoopy” Jones stepped up in a big way. For reference, he played Vulcan ADC and dominated with it, so there’s that.

Snoopy posted a solid 4.76 KDA in the Carry role, as well as leading the league in kills per game at 4.9. He also fell into the group of players that died just 1.6 times per game. Snoopy stepped up for SPL fans in the absence of Zapman, and now he’s got a shot to step up for North America come DreamHack.


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SPL Summer Split: Last shot at DreamHack for NA

We’re finally here! There are three enormous games this weekend, each with DreamHack ramifications. Which teams are going to be heading to Spain?

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Team Allegiance vs Trifecta

The first game of the day could lead to a complicated breakdown in the standings. Trifecta currently sits tied for second with Luminosity Gaming. Because of that, losing doesn’t immediately eliminate them. They will need a lot of help if that were to happen though, so the simple way out would be for them to just win 2-0, and end the discussion there.

Should Trifecta lose 2-0, then they will end up tied with ALG, who would win the head to head, and tied with Luminosity, if Luminosity lose 2-0, who they split against. Because of this, there would be a three-way tie for one or two spots, depending on how the Spacestation Gaming versus eUnited set plays out. Either way, there would be a tiebreaker between the teams and three best of one’s would be played to determine who gets the remaining spot(s).

For Allegiance, however, this will be much more difficult. ALG needs to take a 2-0 victory over Trifecta if they want to have a shot at DreamHack. Anything less and they’re eliminated. ALG also needs eUnited to lose. Should eUnited win 2-0, and Luminosity gets a split, then anything ALG does wouldn’t matter. A split with SSG would give eUnited 11 points, tied with Trifecta, possibly Luminosity if they get 2-0’d, and ALG. Or Luminosity and Spacestation gaming could just win, and ALG would qualify simply with a 2-0, but they still need help.

At the end of the day, this one is a complete toss up. Both teams desperately need a 2-0 to see the rest of the day play out and feel comfortable. I’m going to call a split, I don’t see it being any different.

Spacestation Gaming vs eUnited

The previous set will have some implications here based on the final results. However, if Spacestation wins this one 2-0, then it’s simple. SSG will qualify first place in North America for Dreamhack, and eUnited will be done for the Summer Split. It gets a little more complicated if they split, but not for Spacestation, as they qualify with just 1 more point.

Although SSG is closest to qualifying, they still could end up in a bad spot should they drop this set 2-0. eUnited would be tied with them, and have the head to head. And should Trifecta and Luminosity earn the 2-0 in this scenario, then that would be it for SSG. Again, a lot needs to happen, but it’s still a possibility.

We’ve already covered the four-way tie possibility for eUnited should they split. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, where ALG would have the head to head with both teams, and presumably move on based on that. They could also end up tied with Luminosity, should LG lose 2-0, Trifecta do anything but lose, and eUnited split. eUnited would then have the head to head with LG, having beat them 2-0 in Week 4.

Having covered every scenario here, I’m going to call another split. With the way these teams are playing right now, it’s still way too close to call.

Luminosity Gaming vs AI

Only one team here needs to be covered, and that’s Luminosity. LG has the final set of the day, and they have the luxury of qualifying before they even play. Should Trifecta at least split, and SSG win 2-0, then LG is going to DreamHack. Should SSG split, however, Luminosity will need to take one game off of AI.

Luminosity is the only team that isn’t playing a squad with a shot at DreamHack this week, but there’s still a possibility they can get beat 2-0. As previously mentioned, that could still result in them heading to DreamHack, however there’s a much more entertaining scenario. They could end up in the aforementioned four-way tie between LG, Trifecta, ALG, and eUnited, which would be crazy as an SPL fan. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, which would again be entertaining as a fan.

Unfortunately, we shouldn’t expect any of that to happen. Luminosity is filled with veteran talent, and they’re going to take the 2-0 and qualify for DreamHack. It’s going to be as simple as that.


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