Frostbite’s HWC 2017 Finals Predictions

We’re finally here. Three months of competition and grinding have brought us to this. Twelve teams will compete in Burbank, California this weekend and only one will walk away with the title of “Halo World Champion.” Here’s how I think it’s all going to play out.

 

9th – 12th: SoaR Gaming

Roster: Irving “Drift” Ramírez, Atzin “Atzo” Pulido, Carlos “Bullet” Marlasca, Gilbert “MuNoZ” Muñoz

MuNoZ, of SoaR Gaming. Courtesy of HaloEsportsWikis.

Qualifying through the Latin America Qualifiers, this squad is looking to improve their region’s standing in the Halo community. Mexico City proved that they are a very competent team that has the endurance to compete with other top tier teams in the region.

However, losing their star player Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez and using MuNoZ as a late substitute could damage this team’s performance. Moreover, these players, with the exception of MuNoZ, don’t have experience competing against North American teams and that will likely work against them. MuNoZ must lead this team perfectly for them to make the top eight.

 

9th – 12th: London Conspiracy

Roster: Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, Andrew “Ramirez” Corrigan, Casey “Lunny” Lunn, Kristopher “Qristola” O’Keefe

Despite having several notable players on the roster, I just don’t think London Conspiracy have the firepower to deal with the other teams attending the Halo World Championship. With Team Liquid and Luminosity Gaming in their group, it’s hard to see them winning it, meaning they’ll likely be seeded into the loser’s bracket. With other teams such as Team Immunity and Supremacy likely joining them there, this squad has a tough route to make it deep into the bracket.

 

9th – 12th: Supremacy

Roster:  Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec, Romain “PuniShR” Leroy, Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland, Simon “SolaR” Racher

This squad has a similar story to London Conspiracy. In the same group as OpTic Gaming and Crowd Pleasers, saying “only a miracle could win this squad their group” would be an understatement. And then dropping to the loser’s bracket, this theme continues. Supremacy isn’t bad, they’re just not going to be able to contend with the other teams here, specifically the North American teams and FabE.

 

9th – 12th: Team Immunity

Roster: Aaron “Benno” Bennett, Teddy “Junior” Joe Jr., Daniel “Seduce” Franken, Matthew “Voltage” Barker

Benno, during his time playing Call of Duty. Courtesy of EGaming Network.

Right off the bat, I’ll say that this squad has already impressed me. The team has come out to Burbank early to get more practice against North American teams and they’ve been doing well for themselves. Scrim results show that they’ve taken three games off of Team EnVyUs, with several other winnable games. They even managed to win a scrim 7-6 against Splyce. However, they’ve also been picked apart by Str8 Rippin, with a 13-0 loss and only two close games.

Immunity does have an advantage in that this is the same squad that represented ANZ at last year’s Halo World Championship. They and OpTic are the only teams to have the same rosters. This built up chemistry could very well swing fortune into Immunity’s favor, but with both Splyce and NV in their group, they’ll need to catch fire quickly.

That said, I place them here reluctantly. Depending on how the bracket plays out as well as which teams come out hot or cold, this squad could very well slip into the top eight, possibly even top six.

 

7th – 8th: Luminosity Gaming

Roster: Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Starting off in the top eight is Luminosity Gaming. With the slaying capabilities of Saiyan and Ninja combined with the support

Saiyan, the newest player on LG. Courtesy of Tommy Wilson.

work of eL TowN and Victory X, this squad is a potent combination. This was shown at HWC Las Vegas, where the squad nearly defeated Str8 Rippin and even managed to send Splyce home. Luminosity has proved that when they’re at their top level, they can contend with the best of the best. But therein lies the problem.

According to HaloDataHive.com, a website that tracks the scrim scores and stats of professional Halo, LG hasn’t had a scrim in over a week. Assuming this is a lack of practice, this could severely hinder the squad’s ability to repeat and improve upon their earlier performance. Scrim results prior to their absence don’t look bad, however, with a 6-6 scrim with Splyce and a 9-4 over Team Liquid. However, there’s also a 0-7 loss to OpTic as well as a 1-12 loss to NV. This squad has the talent to squeak into the top eight, but past that, this lack of practice will keep them from progressing.

 

7th – 8th: FabE Games eSports

Roster: Brandon “Respectful” Stones, James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico

The top European team and arguably top foreign team have proved that they are legitimate contenders for the Halo World Championship title. Despite splitting scrims with other EU teams, when it comes to events, this squad has not faltered to any non-North American team. During the Fall Pro League season, this squad did play NA teams and was defeated by Str8 Rippin 4-1. Despite this, this squad has improved since then and the recent LAN experience against NA teams will play to their advantage. Joining them in Group D is Str8 Rippin and SoaR. With this in mind, they are very capable of winning this group if Str8 comes out flat, putting both them and most likely Str8 in the winner’s bracket. However, despite being a great squad, the next caliber of teams are just a step above.

 

5th – 6th: Crowd Pleasers

Roster: Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Brett “Naded” Leonard, Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Daniel “Danoxide” Terlizzi

Carlos Ayala at MLG Regionals last year. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.

This squad came out strong at Las Vegas, securing fourth. With crazy momentum-based slaying on their side, CP can just about cruise into the top eight before having real struggles. With OpTic and Supremacy in their group, they will likely take second and move into the winner’s bracket as well. The issue I have with this squad is that they are momentum based. All four players have been known to be extremely emotional and while this can play to their advantage, in the long run it is more likely to hurt them. If this squad runs up against a particularly tough match-up early in the bracket, they can tilt themselves all the way out of the tournament. However, if they can move on from losses with relative ease, this squad does have a chance to make top four.

That said, scrim results don’t paint a good picture for CP. Hard losses to NV, Splyce and OpTic shows that this team may not yet be able to stand with that category.

 

5th – 6th: Splyce

Roster: Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Michael “Falcated” Garcia and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-

Bubu during his time on E6. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.

Castro

We’re starting to reach that point where any of these teams can take the title if things go a little in their favor. Splyce,

despite a disappointing performance at Vegas, punched their ticket to HWC through the LCQ. Another squad of young guns, these players all have the potential to go off and absolutely take control of a game on their own. Shotzzy, being the youngest player at the tournament at the age of 15, has shown that age is not a marker of ability. Bubu and Shooter also have something to prove, as they unfairly lost their Pro League spots due to Cratos’ actions. Scrims have been conflicting for Splyce, with 5-8 losses to Str8 but 9-4 wins over CP. However, much like OpTic, Str8 and Liquid, this roster is much stronger at live events, Vegas being the exception. Expect a hot start and continuous momentum deep into the bracket.

 

4th: Str8 Rippin

Roster: Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette

Richie Heinz. Courtesy of ESL.

This squad has been on a roller coaster of a ride since the end of HWC 2016. After Ace, APG, and Heinz were dropped from OpTic Gaming, they were acquired by Str8 Rippin, a legendary name in the history of competitive Halo. From there, this squad made a miracle run, going from the bottom of the standing to top four, just barely making it to the Fall Finals. Since then, they’ve picked up Renegade and have only gotten stronger. Despite scrim results being less than ideal across the board, this squad has shown that they are not to be trifled with. They are likely to win their group and proceed into the winner’s bracket, where they’ll likely stay there for another two rounds or so. Vegas showed that this team can contend with OpTic and they are more than capable of winning if Renegade is able to consistently put up huge numbers along with the rest of the team.

 

3rd: Team EnVyUs

Roster: Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

“Hyoooook.” Courtesy of Cuyler Garland.

Despite Str8 being very strong, I do still think that NV are the better team. This squad is the only current squad to ever best OpTic Gaming on LAN. Since Fall Finals, NV has stumbled once the tournament slimmed to the top four. Despite consistently beating Str8 and other squads below them, Team Liquid has had them dialed in this season.

Despite this, scrim scores show a resurgence for this squad. This team has won nine scrims consecutively, with most of them being blowouts. This does also include a 7-6 victory over OpTic, although their last loss was to OpTic and was 9-4. It is completely viable for this team to come out hot and start knocking other teams into the loser’s bracket with sweeps. If this squad can manage to get past Liquid, they can take down OpTic and become World Champions.

 

2nd: Team Liquid

Roster: Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith

StelluR at Vegas. Courtesy of Braedon Boettcher.

That said, any rumors of Liquid’s victories over EnVyUs being flukes have been silenced. Liquid has beaten NV three times at events. Two of those were dominant 4-1 and 4-2 victories. This squad is the strongest new team to come out of the Fall season and has contested OpTic the best so far. At UGC, both of the series that Liquid played against OG went to the final games and were close. At Vegas, Liquid lost 4-1 while Rayne played with a broken controller. If there’s a squad who can take out OpTic, this is the most likely.

 

1st: OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, T.J. “LethuL” Campbell

Beware this man in Blue Cave. Courtesy of Mathew Fiorante.

Back to back, two for two. Consecutive World Champions. This squad is going in already being at the top of the mountain and they have seen absolutely no failure this season. OpTic is the next dynasty of Halo and being the World Champs again will only solidify that. LethuL puts up consistently good numbers every game and does whatever is necessary to win his team the game. Snakebite is a similar story, consistent and overwhelming slaying with an insane clutch factor. Royal2 and Frosty have put up huge numbers repeatedly. Undoubtedly, these four are among the top 10 players in the game and it is likely that OpTic has four out of the five best players. As long as this team is playing their game, they will win and become the 2017 Halo World Champions.

 

 

 

We’re going to see the best Halo 5 competition yet this weekend. While it’s hard for me to picture anyone but OpTic winning, any of the last five teams listed here are more than capable of wrestling the title away from them. Be sure to check out the stream here!

Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know on Twitter or in the stream this weekend.

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These were too good not to include. Courtesy of “overruled” and “Chong” of the Team Beyond forums. Only the dankest of memes.

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Team Liquid: Poised to be Champions?

The Team Liquid that has competed throughout this HWC season has shocked many. After dropping Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaalli, many questioned this team’s ability to remain in the top four. However, Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler have ended those rumors.

 

Liquid From the Ashes

Eco during his previous time with Liquid. Courtesy of Kevin Smith.

After only barely taking third at the HCS Fall Finals, Liquid decided to pick up Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher and Kevin “Eco” Smith. This change was questioned. Commonly and Spartan were both regarded as top players. Eco was picked up after Liquid reverse-swept them at Fall Finals. StelluR wasn’t even at the Finals. Early scrim performances led to many continuing to question the roster change.

The only thing that seemed to be going for Liquid was that they were one of the first teams to form after the Fall Season and had already had previous chemistry as a team. However, most people thought that they would still not be able to contest with OpTic and Envy.

Then UGC happened.

 

UGC St. Louis

Liquid’s first notable matchup at St. Louis was against Splyce, at the time Inconceivable. Liquid narrowly won with a 3-2 victory, with no particularly easy games. Next, they encountered OpTic, and this was when people first saw what this team was capable of. Liquid took OpTic to a Game 5, very nearly becoming the second team to ever defeat the dominant roster on LAN. Unfortunately, Game 5 didn’t go in their favor and they dropped to the loser’s bracket.

Liquid fought through the loser’s bracket, sending Str8 Rippin home with a 3-1 score. Their next opponent, however, was Team EnVyUs. The only squad to ever best OpTic at an event. Again, many thought that surely, Liquid would be sent home and we would have another OpTic vs. NV rematch.

Against all odds, Liquid managed to eliminate NV from the tournament with another slim 3-2 victory. They then met OpTic in the Grand Finals and took the series all the way to Game 7. In Game 7, Coliseum Slayer, they were only defeated by small clutch plays. The game ended with less than a 10 kill difference, but Liquid had fallen. Nevertheless, the fact that they played OpTic so close and managed to eliminate NV was astounding to many. Despite this, some called it a fluke, claiming that NV just had a bad event, much like OpTic had at Fall Finals. This too, did not last.

 

HWC Vegas 2017

At Vegas, Liquid managed to defeat Pnda 4-0, a team that later went on to get top four and punch their ticket to HWC Finals. Next, they once again were met with NV. Much to the disappointment of many, Liquid forced NV down to the loser’s bracket with a 4-1 victory. NV were outright dominated in two games of the series, and their only win was relatively close. Liquid had shown that they were now OpTic’s greatest contender.

Let it be noted that according to Penguin, Rayne’s controller had malfunctioned, rendering him unable to crouch. With Halo 5’s controversial radar inclusion, not being able to crouch and stay off the radar was crippling.

Team Liquid’s Rayne. Courtesy of Tim Tinkler.

Nevertheless, Liquid continued on to meet OpTic, but were defeated 4-2. Liquid then dropped to the LB to play NV yet again. NV was playing much better at this point, but it was not enough for them to overcome Liquid. NV was eliminated from the tournament after a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Team Liquid.

In the Grand Finals, Liquid once again faced OpTic. With several close games, Liquid was defeated 4-1, with a larger margin between the two teams than at UGC. All still, with Rayne’s broken controller.

 

Looking to the HWC Finals

This weekend will decide if this squad has what it takes. They have shown that they are no longer third fiddle. They are better than NV, with little room for doubt after three consecutive LAN wins over them. Their chances at taking down OpTic are likely greater than those of any other team. However, they will need to come out very hot, or they too will not be able to break through the Greenwall. Liquid have shown that they are more than capable; but when you’re against a team like OpTic, no mistakes can be made. We won’t see if Liquid can accomplish this until this weekend, but they are surely going to be OpTic’s main contender.

 

Do you think Team Liquid has what it takes to be our 2017 World Champions? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

 

 

 

The Playbook: Rig Slayer

The Rig is one of the most important maps to learn in Halo 5, as it plays host to both Slayer and Strongholds. Having to play the same map twice in a single series can be a double-edged sword. If a team wins the first rendition of the map in a series, they’ll be more comfortable for the second. The opposing team who lost the first time around has the opposite effect. That said, here’s how you can help net yourself a win on Rig Slayer.

 

Rig Slayer Map Layout

Rig is the first asymmetrical map we’ll be covering in the series. The Red team spawns in the Bunker, with the Blues at the Carbine area. In the Nest, you’ll find a sniper rifle, with little cover. If the Red team is not careful about pushing this

Camo spawn.

area, the Blue team can easily toss in grenades. In the opposite corner of the map is the Scattershot, right by Barrels. Either team can choose to bait the Scattershot, by waiting for an enemy to push into the area and then shooting the explosive barrels.

The Camo spawns in the inside area of the map, adjacent to the White Hall. Hitting the white circle underneath the Camo platform will cause it to fall to the Sewers area. This is how nearly every game is started, as it allows both teams to further contest for Camo.

The Tower sits between the Bunker and Barrels and gives a nice overview of the entire inside area of the map. Behind the Tower is the Pipes area, which can be used for plenty of sneaky getaways.

Movement Around Tower and Pipes

Red Team Starting Strategy

Due to the Rig being asymmetrical, the Blue and Red teams have different strategies to use off the break. The Red team spawns inside of the map and has the better positioning. They are also in prime position to get control of the Camo.

Nest, featuring the Sniper.

Have two players rush Engine 2 (E2). One player should push into White Hall in order to watch the Nest and the Sniper. The other should have their eyes on the Camo and Basement Door. A third player should push up to the Tower and watch the Long Hall and Top Mid area as well as keeping an eye on Barrels. They may also be able to cover a part of the Outside Catwalk. Your fourth player should be charging the Camo. If the fourth dies, the player who was in E2 watching the Basement should be the next to attempt to grab it. Once the Camo is secured, the player in Tower should grab the Scattershot if it’s still available.

If a Red player grabs Camo, they should drop to Sewers and push into Basement for an easy flank.

 

Blue Team Starting Strategy

The Blue team has the weaker initial spawn. Have one player push to Barrels to grab the Scattershot, but be mindful of a

Barrels and the Scattershot spawn.

player in Tower. If this player is fast enough, they should be able to grab it without any trouble and double back to help the next player. Have the next player sit in the Basement Door to contest or at least burn the Camo. If a Blue player gets the first Camo, they should still drop to Sewers, but then should push into E2 to get a flank of their own. The remaining two players should push to Nest to secure the Sniper as well as contest White Hall. After getting a couple of kills, the Blue team should immediately swarm to the inside area of the map to get the Bunker spawns.

 

Rig Setup

Due again to being asymmetrical, the Rig has less of a focus on collapsing on spawns and more of a focus on holding

The Bunker area.

areas. After the initial fight, a team ideally should have control of the Bunker spawn, with one player anchoring the team there. The rest of the players should be split between controlling the White Hall and Tower. From there, let enemies push in, and kills rack up. Holding this setup basically guarantees you the Camo while also providing relatively good access to both the Sniper and Scattershot spawns.

When attempting to break a setup, the best way is to wait for a power weapon or Camo to spawn. Once your team has control of it, they can get easy kills and flood back into the superior side of the map. If the other team pushed your outside spawn, use it to your advantage. Have a player sneak back into the Bunker while they are pushing elsewhere and force them into the weaker spawn.

 

These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Make sure that you are conscious of what’s happening around the map and that you’re prepared.

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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: North America

Next weekend, the top Halo teams from around the world will gather in Burbank, California to battle for the Halo World Championship crown and their share of one million dollars. With the inclusion of last weekend’s Last Chance Qualifier Champs, Splyce, the seventh North American spot has been filled. As the final week of preparation approaches, expect each team to be actively scrimmaging and finalizing strategy for one of the biggest Halo tournaments of all time. This preview will highlight some of the most promising teams from North America.

North American Titans

It’s no secret that North America is objectively the best scene for competitive Halo. North American teams have been at the cutting edge of the Halo franchise’s ever-changing meta since the inception of MLG. Most predictions for the HWC Finals will confidently select an all-American top four, and potentially round out the top six with teams hailing from the region. These two teams have been exchanging blows for the entirety of the season, and are top contenders to hoist the championship trophy when all is said and done.

 

The Defending Champs: OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, T.J. “LethuL” Campbell.

OpTic Gaming (formerly Counter Logic Gaming) hoist the HWC 2016 trophy. Courtesy of ESPN.

Fresh off two consecutive major tournament victories, and eager for a chance to defend their title of “Halo World Champions,” OpTic Gaming looks unbeatable. Slaying powerhouses SnakeBite and Royal2 lead the charge, and can single-handedly steal a game from the clutches of defeat. These two players are anchored by the always-consistent Frosty, and strategic mind of Lethul.

OpTic Gaming has only suffered one loss on LAN since X Games Aspen 2016 (then Counter Logic Gaming), and has somehow only improved with time. Expect OpTic Gaming to be the favorites at the HWC Finals, and successfully defend their title.

Victory means a satisfying, and well-deserved result for one of the most dominant Halo teams of all-time.

 

The Young Guns: Team Liquid

Roster: Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith.

Following a disappointing finish at the HCS Fall 2016 finals, Team Liquid parted ways with Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamy “Commonly” Abbaali. Searching for two, Rayne and Penguin acquired StelluR and Eco to round out this roster of young-guns.

Since the pickup, Team Liquid hasn’t skipped a beat, finishing second at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas. Despite a promising effort, the team came just short of victory, falling to a red-hot OpTic Gaming at both events. As the HWC Finals approach, Team Liquid is gearing up for one last shot to overcome the Green Wall and solidify their place in Halo legacy.

If there is a team to take down OpTic, Team Liquid appears to be the most likely contender. At UGC St. Louis, Liquid nearly bested OpTic in a thrilling seven-game series, but the composure of OG ultimately prevailed. Expect each member of Team Liquid to come out guns-blazing next weekend, where they will attempt to take what they believe is rightfully theirs.

 

The Wild Card: Team EnVyUs

Roster: Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

Snip3down of Team EnVyUs. Courtesy of Halo EsportsWikis

EnVyUs is the first and only team to make OpTic Gaming bleed. A win over OG at the HCS Fall Finals showed that NV is a force to be reckoned with. Since then, they’ve been unable to replicate their success, finishing an underwhelming third place at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas.

Led by former MLG Champions Snip3down and iGotUrPistola, EnVyUs seek to prove that their win at the HCS Fall Finals was no fluke. Victory for NV depends on two things: the Huke x-factor, and team mentality. If Huke catches fire, there is no team who can stop him. Additionally, if the team gets in their own heads, a game can quickly spiral out of control. NV are surely aware of their shortcomings, and will seek to make a statement after tasting victory last year. Expect Team EnVyUs to be the dark horse in the HWC Finals.

 

Conclusion

These three teams are the pinnacle of North American Halo competition, making them the teams to beat from the region. OpTic Gaming is a force of nature, and intends to demolish any competition presented at the HWC Finals. Meanwhile, Team Liquid will attempt to reach the mountaintop following consecutive runner-up placings, and Team EnVyUs hopes to recreate the magic that granted them a win at the HCS Fall Finals.

Halo World Championship 2016 Trophy. Courtesy of Xbox Wire

Despite the strong North American competition appearing next weekend, there are some notable exceptions: Evil Geniuses, and Allegiance. Both failed to qualify for worlds in the Last Chance Qualifier, while Splyce cruised to victory, and thus occupy the final North American spot. Look for both EG and Allegiance to rebuild in the offseason, and come back stronger.

Regardless, with both glory and a substantial amount of cash on the line, the Halo World Championship Finals will conclude a dramatic season. The competition is tight, the rosters are locked, and the North American teams are ready to defend their home turf. All of the action will be streamed live at twitch.tv/halo, starting March 24.

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How Does OpTic Keep Winning?

OpTic Gaming have already proved to be one of the greatest rosters in the history of competitive Halo. Comprised of Tony “Lethul” Campbell, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, no squad has shown dominance in Halo 5 like they have. Being the first ever Halo World Champions, to winning the Summer Pro League, to qualifying for 2017 World Championships with ease, this roster has only lost twice on LAN. Aside from those two occasions, one being only days after forming, nobody has consistently come close.

So just what is it that allows these guys to win consistently?

 

Play-Styles and Team Chemistry

OpTic likely has four out of the top five players as it sounds. The best part of it is that all of these players can do everything.

Frosty, OpTic’s in-game leader. Courtesy of Bradley Bergstrom.

When OpTic needs to slay, every player can be a strong slayer. If a player needs to overextend to prevent a flag capture, any player is able to do it. This ability of having extreme flexibility allows OpTic to play extremely fast, and any team that is used to playing a slower, more rigid play-style will struggle. They are completely adaptable and no team is really able to match that.

Royal 2’s slaying power is second to none when he is able to set up with a sniper rifle. OpTic can play around him and be able to run two back-to-back flags because of his prowess with it. That said, Frosty is the cream of the crop when it comes to aggressive sniping. This man has consistently hit shots that are about as close to impossible as you can get. Combine that with Lethul and Snakebite’s consistent slaying power, and with that alone, this team is a top contender.

OpTic is also likely the most calm team competing right now. While listening to their communication during scrims, they never panic and rarely even raise their voices, even after making jaw-dropping plays. This allows very concise call-outs, allowing Chris “Royal 1” Fiorante, OpTic’s coach, to give the best instruction to allow the team to gain map and power control. Alongside the in-game leadership of Frosty and Snakebite, OpTic again dominates this category, being far and away better communicators than any other team.

 

Intangibles: “Glue” and the “Clutch Factor”

Some things that set teams apart can’t be seen on the stat sheet. They are involved with the personality of the players

Snakebite of OpTic Gaming. Courtesy of Halo EsportsWikis.

and the decisions made by players in certain situations. One of these is that players can act as a “glue” for a team. Their personality holds them together and drives them forward. For OpTic, this is Lethul. Since joining, he has often been able to keep the team relaxed and focused. Other examples of “glue” players would be Richie “Heinz” Heinz and Carlos “Cratos” Ayala.

The other intangible is the “clutch factor.” The ability to make a play at a crucial moment that turns the tide of a game or even a series. Snakebite has consistently been called the most clutch player in the game, and it is for good reason. He never makes a bad play, but always does whatever is absolutely necessary to bring home a win. This is what allows OpTic to consistently win, time and time again. They are able to just barely eek out the opposing team in the last moments to win. No team has matched OpTic’s ability to do this, and it may be awhile before any roster can truly match them.

 

 

As it stands now, while the gap between every other team is closing, the gap between OpTic and everyone else is growing. They are in prime position to become back-to-back Halo World Champions.

What are your thoughts on OpTic Gaming? Do you thing any team can match them in these categories? Sound off!

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Loaning Players: Good or Bad for the Scene?

Courtesy: Riot Esports

This split, we’ve gotten the chance to see the first instances of “loaning” players in the NALCS. Phoenix1 with jungler William “Meteos” Hartman, and Team Liquid with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. It sparks the discussion, is “loaning” players good or bad for the scene? If a top tier organization is able to acquire a big name like Doublelift when they’re sinking fast, what does it mean for the newer organizations who may not have those types of connections?

Mainly looking at Doublelift’s loan for the rest of the split. It feels like team owners who have been there since the beginning may be willing to help each other more than most. I doubt TSM’s owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, would loan Doublelift to Envy or Immortals had they asked. The owners of Team Liquid, CLG, TSM, and C9 seem to have a special connection, having been there in the early birth of NALCS.

The Good

The real winners in each deal here are the players. Doublelift has stated that his break made him realize that competitive play was where he wanted to be. Getting the chance to get back into the swing of things in a few weeks with Team Liquid allows him to ready himself to be in prime form for a summer return with TSM. Doublelift made it clear that he would only be with Liquid until the end of the split.

Team Liquid gets a great deal in this as well. Doublelift is the best non-import slot that you could attain. If their only goal at this point is to avoid relegations, Doublelift gives them the chance to do so.

TSM are also winners in this deal. Unless Team Liquid has a miracle run and some luck, it’s unlikely they’d meet in playoffs down the road. TSM earns big bucks for loaning out a sub who is in need of LCS time before returning.

The Bad

Courtesy:Riot Esports

It becomes an interesting discussion of whether this is fair to the rest of the league. Team Liquid could even bail TSM out of a bad situation in the future through offering a sub. It can only really benefit the two teams involved.

It becomes a problem when the rest of the bottom tier teams may not have that same luxury. In all honesty, it’s not an even playing field if a move like this can occur whenever one of the top organizations is having a rough split. This may be temporary though as most organizations are desperate to stay in LCS with the rumors of franchising the NALCS.

Moves like this ensure the original LCS teams don’t go away anytime soon. Team Curse was one of the first LCS teams in its young career, and it’s unlikely we’ll see them be relegated anytime soon. Should Riot continue to allow teams to loan their subs?

Team Liquid’s case may be extremely rare, but could be totally possible in the future. With more veteran players, it may become intriguing to rest star players in the Spring. Burnout is a serious issue among pros, and if more stars decide to take breaks in the Spring, a situation like this could occur in the future.

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The Playbook: Empire Strongholds

Empire Strongholds is one of the most disliked game-modes in Halo 5. Many cite it as a map that invites the use of unbalanced automatic weapons and grenade spam. While this is true, Empire SH is very winnable, and here’s an outline of how to do it.

 

Strongholds Basics

Let’s talk about Strongholds in general first. In a sense, the cue for making a play is similar to that of CTF. Wait until you have a few members of the enemy team down. Then push for a Stronghold capture. If possible, never attempt to capture a zone alone. It takes too long and Strongholds are typically very easy to collapse on and clear out.

Remember that while a triple-cap (holding all three zones simultaneously) is fastest, it’s not worth losing map control. Holding two will ensure that you are still earning points. Never push to capture a third Stronghold when you have little to no map presence or have teammates waiting to spawn. That said, if you are about to lose control of the map and of Strongholds, then it is preferable to hop into another zone as it will lead to you trading Strongholds with the other team. This buys your team time to make a counter-attack, while also allowing you to keep scoring for a little bit longer.

 

Empire Map Layout

Empire has less power-weapons and power-ups than other maps, but they are still very important. The Overshield (OS)

The OS spawn.

spawns at the outside area of the map. The Active Camouflage (Camo) spawns inside of the Tower. Both are on two minute static timers, meaning they will spawn two minutes after they are picked up. The Plasma Pistol spawns in front of the Tower. Use it to melt the OS off of players if the enemy team is able to grab it.

The Turbine sits between the Pit Stronghold and the outside area. Along with the Tower, both areas are key to maintaining control of the Pit.

 

Strategy: Airstrikes and Gunfire

Empire is more slay-heavy and rotation-focused than any other Strongholds map. Due to this, it suits teams that are able to play very fast. Controlling both power-ups or at least being mindful of their times is very important, more so than most other maps.

The Camo spawn.

At the start of the match, two players should immediately run to get control of the OS. It is more valuable than the Camo in most situations. A third player should rush to the Tower for the Camo, but be ready to burn it if necessary because they may not have help immediately available. The fourth player should be floating between their base and the Pit. This player needs to be sure to grab the Plasma Pistol in case the opposing team is able to grab the OS. This same player should always fall back to capture the home base, and the players who pushed outside should capture the Pit if they win the initial fights. Be mindful of the times of both power-ups.

After gaining control of the Pit, keep players in Tower and Turbine in order to lock down the Pit as well as gain influence over other areas of the map. Players in Tower should be watching the opposing team’s Platform (Plat) in order to catch spawners who are pushing out of their base. Turbine players can help control the opposing team’s outside Bend area.

Turbine.

Here’s where having high aggression is helpful for Empire; As soon as you get a player or two dead, push their base to get a triple-cap. Once captured, immediately rotate back around to your home base to clear out the players who are now spawning there, and maintain the triple-cap for as long as you can.

This is a hard map to break out of when you’re on the back-foot. In most cases, keep yourself out of a triple-cap. Wait until OS spawns, then push for slays, then push Strongholds. The key to this map is to always know how and when to rotate. If you see your teammate clear out the opposing base and start capturing the Stronghold, double-back to your base to maintain control.

These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Be sure that you are conscious of what’s happening around the map and that you’re prepared.

 

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Looking at Team Liquid’s Future

When Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng announced his “break” to focus on streaming, many were hopeful for his return to TSM in Summer. In a surprising turn of events, he has returned in the middle of the Spring Split on Team Liquid. On a sort of “loan” for the rest of the split, Team Liquid attains one of the best players in NALCS history at his position.

Former ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin role swapped to mid in an attempt to be more of a carry for the team. He had a very good showing last week in their victory against Immortals. His replacement ADC, Young-bin “Youngbin” Jung, struggled to have much of an impact on the team. Youngbin looks to be staying on as an in-house sub, learning from Doublelift as the split comes to a close.

This appears to be a win-win for Team Liquid as they have the ability to allow a young ADC to learn from one of the best.

Team Liquid is looking at the big picture in attempting to stay in the LCS. They are currently tied for last place with Envy, with a 3-8 record. They’re attempting to save their season with some drastic roster changes.

With the announcement of the transfer of Phoenix1 support Adrian “Adrian” Ma to Team Liquid, it begins to make Liquid look like a strong contender on paper. Current support Matt “Matt” Elento has struggled, to say the least. He currently sits at dead last in KDA among NALCS supports. Adrian has been a solid support on every team he’s played on. He may not make a ton of flashy plays, but he’s consistent.

Best Case Scenario

Courtesy:Riot Esports

Looking ahead, Team Liquid still have a shot at playoffs. It may be extremely slim, but there’s a chance.

No one can deny Doublelift’s individual talent. Being able to bring in a player of his stature to this roster gives them a high chance of avoiding relegation. The only concern could be how well the team is able to synergize.

On paper, this roster looks like they could be top 4-5. No one can deny that jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin was once the best jungler in the region a year ago. He has shown glimpses of his old self this split, but maybe with a stronger roster around him he can start to succeed once again.

Samson “Lourlo” Jackson has had games where he looked phenomenal. He’s also had games where he looked tilted off the earth. With Doublelift and Adrian joining the team, this may be the most talent he’s ever played with. There will be no excuses for not playing up to his full potential.

Allowing Adrian to play over Matt would be the best for both parties. It’s extremely demotivating feeling like your job is just waiting to be taken from you with time. Think back to G2’s top lane situation last split.

In a perfect world, Doublelift can become a vocal leader on TL and lead them into being one of the strongest teams in NALCS. Although their 3-8 record is quite a hole to dig out of, it’s not impossible. At best they can avoid relegation and earn the 7th spot. In summer, Youngbin can step in after being a protege under Doublelift for a few weeks and be a formidable ADC. Team Liquid takes off and finishes atop of summer, finally breaking the curse of forever fourth. Once again, this is a best case scenario, right?  Let’s take a look at the other side.

Worst Case Scenario

Courtesy: Riot Esports

We’ve seen it before. A dream roster on paper, but synergy lacks. Doublelift and Piglet have been known to have egocentric personalities. If these personalities begin to clash, this team could fail harder than they were before.

Adrian literally is coming from Phoenix1 due to refusing to play with his starting jungler. Adrian may have a somewhat different lane style than Doublelift. He has often favored supports like Nami and Soraka, as opposed to more aggressive supports. If things go sour quick, we could see a clash of personalities on the team.

Team Liquid has become infamous with player management after their debacle last Summer. Their documentary “Rebirth” allowed fans into the world of toxicity that was TL’s team environment a season ago. Could we see a repeat with this roster?

If these five talented individuals do not mesh well, we could see things go downhill very quickly.

Team Liquid have noting to lose, but have garnered some heavy talent to save their season. It’ll be a huge question if they can come together in a short amount of time. If they make a Cinderella run through the split, owner Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet will be hailed for making the needed changes to accomplish it.

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Top 10 Best Dota 2 Teams in the World

The Best of the Best – Top 10 Dota 2 Teams in the World

Within competitive Dota 2, there is always one question that is repeated over and over again. Who are the top 10 teams in the world? The fluidity of Dota means that a team can be the best for a tournament, but then struggle to replicate that success at the next event.

With the Kiev Major on the horizon, it seems like a perfect time to take a look at who the current top 10 Dota 2 teams in the world are. The criteria for this list is that they have to have an active five man roster. This list is not based solely on a team’s performances on LAN and will focus more on events since the 7.00 update.

Number 10 – VIRTUS PRO

VP Top 10

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

Rewind back to Boston and VP would have been in the top two best teams in the world. However, times have changed, and a new patch and several issues have hit the VP team hard. Having recently forfeited the DAC CIS Qualifiers due to connection issues, VP look to be struggling. All this aside, they still have an immensely talented roster that is capable of winning any tournament they enter.

VP are a true CIS team. Known for their ability to overwhelm teams through sheer aggression, they are able to control games from start to finish. They have also been pioneers of unorthodox strategies such as the position four Phantom Assassin or Weaver in the past. They also have arguably one of the best Carry players in the world. Roman “RAMZES666” Hushnarev may only be 17, but has been playing competitively since 2015. VP have built a team around him, which has allowed them to compete at the very top level.

Kiev will be make or break for VP. Failure to qualify will likely result in a team change. A good performance at the event may reinvigorate the side. VP can rise back to the upper echelons of competitive Dota. Whether they do or not is a separate discussion.

Number 9 – Team Secret

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

Team Secret have been through a period of transition. After the EE blog was released, Team Secret looked to be dead in the water. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov had other ideas, however. He made the interesting decision to take some of the best talents from SEA in Pyo “MP” No-a and Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng. He also added promising offlaner Maurice “Khezu” Gutmann, formally of Escape Gaming (Now NiP), to the squad. Secret has all the pieces of a top tier squad. Getting them to fit together, however, is difficult. Secret has been showing promise in recent months but continuously fall short.

With his current team, Puppey has what he has always wanted, four players who will listen to him unconditionally. Secret has shown that they can pull off strong performances against the top sides, and this is why they have made the Top 10. In Johan “PieLieDie” Astrom, you have arguably the most selfless position five in the game. Referred to as DieDieDie by fans, Pie has no issues with sacrificing himself for the greater good. It is his selfless nature that allows Secret to run greedy line-ups that will see Puppey receive the same farm as Khezu.

Secret are currently setting up a solid foundation before making their main assault on the top teams of competitive Dota. With one spot available in the EU qualifiers for Kiev, this is a make or break time for Puppey and the rest of Team Secret.

Number 8 – Team Faceless

DAC Faceless

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

Faceless are the Kings of SEA. What does that get them? According to valve, not that much. Faceless missed out on an invite to Kiev in favor of teams from EU, NA, and China. SEA is a region that is struggling, having recently lost top talent to EU and NA based teams. Faceless, however, are the bastion of hope for SEA.

The team is currently dominating SEA, as shown by their recent results in the Mr. Cat Invitational. In the seven games they have played so far, they won six, 2-0, and tied one, 1-1. Faceless are a big fish in a small pond. The current issue Faceless are experiencing is translating their regional success to an international level.

Daryl Koh “Iceiceice” Pei Xiang has flourished as the team’s captain and has nurtured Jabz, xy-, and NutZ. Faceless have been shown to understand the meta very well, abusing the different pulls available on the Radiant side. This innovation makes Faceless a team to fear.

NUMBER 7 – VG.J

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Agressif

Position 2 (Mid) – Freeze

Position 3 (Offlane) – rOtk

Position 4 (Support) – fy

Position 5 (Support) – Fenrir

Team VG.J are the new kids on the block, but they have evidenced that they are one of the best teams in the world. A strong second place finish at StarLadder showed that the team has promise. Valve agreed as they were given a direct invite to Kiev.

Having three legends of Chinese Dota in rOtK, fy, and Fenrir in the squad means that they are instant fan favorites. Combine this with the solid play of Carry player Agressif, and the unpredictability on pub-star Mid player Freeze. That makes a strong roster. The main issue the team faces is the unpredictability of Freeze.

In a few games at StarLadder, Freeze made some questionable plays which often put VG.J on the back foot. StarLadder, however, was the team’s first international LAN event and was an excellent learning experience for the new squad. With DAC and Kiev coming up, VG.J have a chance to prove themselves as a top squad.

NUMBER 6 – Digital Chaos

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC went from 100 to 0 real quick in 2017. Having had an amazing 2016 with a second place finish at TI6 and a top four finish at The Boston Major, things were looking good for DC. 2017 started in the best possible way as the team won ESL One Genting. Since then, however, things have been in a downward decline. Bottom two finishes at Dota Pit and StarLadder have left DC looking vulnerable. To top it off, they also failed to qualify for DAC.

The team got some excellent news when they were given a direct invite to Kiev, saving them from the difficult NA qualifiers. They hope that Kiev can reignite the fire under the team as they look to achieve a strong placing at the event.

Many consider Aliwi “w33” Omar one of the best Midlaners in the world, and with good reason. During their victory at ESL One Genting, he demonstrated immense skill, often dominating his lane. The rest of the team are solid, and the addition of David “MoonMeander” Tan following TI has added a flashy playmaker to the squad. DC will have to perform at Kiev or all that they have built in the past six months may be under threat.

NUMBER 5 – Wings Gaming

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

Having won TI6, Wings were on top of the world. Nowadays, not so much. After a disappointing placing at Boston, Wings have struggled to reproduce the form of 2016. In both ESL One Genting and StarLadder, they have been knocked out by two Chinese teams, Newbee and VG.J respectively.

Often called the innovators of Dota, Wings are famed for the unpredictable drafts and their consistent playstyle. Recently, however, they seem to be unsure of the direction they are heading in. StarLadder was a perfect example, as they did not draft the same hero more than two times. They were eventually knocked out in the second round.

They still, however, make the top five best teams in the world based on what they can achieve. They have shown sparks of brilliance at both ESL and Dota Pit. In some respects, receiving consistent direct invites may be a curse rather than a blessing. The lack of play time has shown them to be rusty, and in some cases, behind the meta. Having only played two tournaments so far in 2017, Wings need to find their mojo again.

NUMBER 4 – Newbee

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Uuu9

Position 2 (Mid) – Sccc

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kpii

Position 4 (Support) – Faith

Position 5 (Support) – Kaka

Newbee are one of the best teams in China currently. It’s a toss up between them and VG.J. Newbee suffers from a similar problem to Wings, a lack of game time. The difference, however, is that when Newbee shows up at a tournament, they always stand a chance of winning.

Dota is a game of fine margins, and ESL One Genting evidenced this. An epic back and forth series that ended with them losing 2-3 in the Grand Finals, highlights how strong this team is. They could have very easily won the series, but seemed to run out of steam mentally. Having received a direct invite to Kiev, they will again not have to worry about the qualifiers. This means they may have some rust heading into the tournament.

Any side possessing arguably the best mid player in China Song “Sccc” Chun, should be a challenger in any tournament. Combine this with the solidity of the rest of the roster, Newbee are a team to be feared. DAC and Kiev will offer Newbee the chance to prove this to fans that may still have doubts.

NUMBER 3 – Team Liquid

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

If this list was being compiled after Kiev, Liquid would most likely be number one. The new and improved Liquid have set the scene. They have won both the LAN’s they have attended in dominating fashion. At the recent StarLadder LAN, they only dropped two maps the whole event. Liquid is showing dominance on a level that Secret 1.0 showed in 2015, before TI5.

Possessing three players with over 9k MMR shows that the team has potential. In addition, they have one of the two best captains in the world, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi. Liquid has been able to live up to expectations in recent months, dominating every event they have attended.

For Liquid to take the next step, they need to achieve consistency and stay at the top for longer than two events. The best teams don’t just win one event, they consistently win or place well. Liquid look in form and hope to carry that momentum into DAC and Kiev.

NUMBER 2 – Evil Geniuses

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

Coming in at number two is Evil Geniuses. They miss out narrowly on the top spot, very narrowly. Since establishing their new roster, EG has not finished below fourth in any event they have participated in. On the new patch, EG has shown dominance, winning both events they have entered.

EG have managed to assemble a God-Squad like no other. Not only do they have some of the best players in the world, they are playing well together. They showed at Dota Pit that they are a force to be reckoned with. The only issue they have is a lack of tournament participation. After winning Dota Pit in January, EG have only played one competitive series, a show match against Complexity in March. That’s six weeks of no competitive Dota. This is the main reason they miss out on the top spot.

NUMBER 1 – OG

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

OG takes the top spot as the best team in the world. Choosing between OG and EG was tremendously difficult as there are strong arguments for both teams being number one.

OG take the top spot due to consistency. They have placed either first or second in six of the last seven tournaments they have attended. Having that level of consistency at the top level of Dota is amazing. There were questions surrounding the squad when it was formed. Many people believed that Gustav “s4” Magnusson would not be able to transition to offlane. In fact, he has been one of the stand-out performers on this squad. His partnership with Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka was a pivotal part of the win at Boston.

Tal “Fly” Aizik is the best Captain in the world, and he marshalls his team with a ruthless efficiency. Fly and the boys play with a killer instinct, waiting until the opposition makes a mistake and then pouncing on them. OG have shown that having the biggest names doesn’t make you the best team. Instead, they have focused on building a consistent squad that knows how to win.

Agree or Disagree with my rankings? Let us know in the comments below.

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Notable Role Swaps in NALCS History

With the recent announcement of Team Liquid moving their star AD carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin to the mid lane, I thought I’d highlight some notable role swaps to come out of the NALCS.  Some were worked out and some were down right atrocious. Most would believe that role swapping mid-split would be one of the worst times to make such a move. Team Liquid has made it clear that they have nothing to lose. Role swaps aren’t very common, as learning a new role brings many different responsibilities. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds. Without further ado, here are some of the most notable role swaps in NALCS history:

CLG’s Role Swaps (Seasons 2-3)

One of North America’s longtime organizations, Counter Logic Gaming, basically made a name for themselves early on role swapping. It almost became a meme how many times they attempted to just out right role swap once talented players into new roles on the team. It basically birthed the meme “truly counter logic” to attempt to move around struggling talented players in an attempt to see if things could work.

One of the most iconic players in LCS history, Steve “Chauster” Chau became known for role swapping, having played every role during his competitive career. Chauster also became infamous for molding star AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift Peng” into the player he is today. Chauster was praised for being one of the most intelligent players in the pro scene. For the most part, Chauster succeeded in just about every role he played, with support maybe being his peak, playing alongside Doublelift.

CLG’s owner, George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, made a name for himself as one of the best early LoL streamers at the time. He was also considered one of the best professional players during early LoL. Internal issues with former jungler Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco led to HotshotGG taking over in the jungle. The team suffered as HotshottGG’s jungle style didn’t fit the team, as they fought to not place last in the season 2 World Championship. Once Chauster was moved to the jungle, HotshotGG returned to the top lane, but was never the same star he once was. He was forced into supporting Doublelift and never really having the carry impact he once had.

CLG once again tried to role swap Chauster back into the support role by bringing in former mid, Michael “bigfatlp” Tang, to jungle for summer of season 3. He would become the third member role swapped into jungle after Saintvicious’ departure. He was quite underwhelming compared to those before him. CLG would fail in the first round of playoffs, and bigfatlp would be replaced by EU jungler Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp.

Possibly one of the best role swaps was bringing in a former ADC Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black to the starting support role. Aphromoo did not see success right away. He struggled with what seemed like stage jitters to begin with. Eventually Aphro and Doublelift would become the best bot lane in NA, known as “Rush Hour”.  His aggressiveness in lane matched perfectly with Doublelift’s, and having mained ADC before, he credited his success to knowing what an AD wants from the support role.

Xmithie and Zuna Roleswap (XDG Spring season 4)

XDG (formerly Vulcan) had just qualified for Worlds in season 3 and had a decent showing. Despite not getting out of groups, they took a game off Fnatic and looked to be a team on the rise in NALCS. In a puzzling move, they role swapped their ADC, Christopher “Zuna” Buechter, and jungler, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero upon returning from the World Championship for season 4. The team would fail to find the same success with this new roster change, and they eventually switched back.

It was too late, as Xmithie didn’t look like the same jungler who was heralded as “Dandy lite” at the last World Championship. XDG would eventually be relegated by LMQ and Xmithie would eventually be picked up by CLG to find much success.

Altec to Support (Winterfox Spring Season 5)

Johnny “Altec” Ru was once heralded as a rising NA talent. He had just been picked up by Evil Geniuses (rebranded to Winterfox) and looked to be on the rise. Halfway through the split, Winterfox was struggling mightily. Altec was one of the few English speakers on the roster, and thought going to the support role may help him have a bigger impact.

In a bizarre move, their head coach at the time, Choi “Paragon” Hyun-il stepped in to start as the new ADC, while Altec moved to support. This team had many other issues outside of bot lane, and after going 0-2, they reverted the move.

Winterfox went on to get relegated that summer, and Altec would find success on Gravity (formerly Curse Academy). He now plays for Flyquest, where he holds the 2nd highest KDA.

Voyboy from Top to Mid (Team Curse)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Voyboy was an iconic top laner in early pro LoL. He was an innovator for the most part who had a great mind for the game. He made picks like Akali, tank Katarina, and AP Tryndamere popular during his time.

Season 4 came, and Curse announced the move of Voyboy over to the mid lane. With this decision, many people questioned how innovative he could really be.  In the spring split, Curse would finish the regular season 11-17, and finish in their memed “forever fourth place”.

His mid lane never really matched what we saw from him in top lane. He was decent at best, but he never really became “World Class”. Team Curse would come close to qualifying for Worlds in season 4 before being reverse swept by LMQ. Shortly after Voyboy announced his retirement, he became a big streamer.

Saintvicious Jungle to Support (Team Curse)

Saintvicious was one of the best junglers in early League of Legends. Having spent time on CLG and Curse, he’d decided he wanted to step away to pursue coaching. During the first few weeks, Curse went 3-5. The team decided to insert Saintvicious into the starting support role.

He was heralded as a shotcaller during his time in the jungle, and dealt with many of their strategies as a coach. What could go wrong? The team didn’t find much success, going 2-6 while still sitting at the bottom of the standings.

Saintvicious would eventually move to Curses Academy team, where he’d lead a young roster back into LCS. He eventually retired after an okay season with the rebranded Gravity, and is now an analyst for Team Liquid.

KiWiKiD Top Lane to Support (Team Dignitas Season 4)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen started off in the top lane to begin his pro career during season 3. KiWiKiD had shown some ability to carry games, but as the meta shifted he struggled to stay afloat. He eventually took the title for most deaths in NALCS history.

The next season he joined Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana, to support him in the bot lane. Their previous support, Jordan “Patoy” Blackburn, was a mechanically gifted support. Patoy and Imaqtpie were not known to be good friends outside of the game. The opposite was the case for KiWiKiD and Imaqtpie. They were great friends inside and out of the game.

KiWiKiD would never be able to become a top tier support. Dignitas would look like serious contenders for Worlds mid way through season 4 summer before eventually losing to TSM in the first round of playoffs.

Dignitas eventually got relegated from NALCS the following season. KiWiKiD spent a disastrous season on NRG before they got relegated as well. His work ethic has been questioned by former teammates on NRG. Mostly his Korean teammates for playing Overwatch in between scrims.

Hopes for Team Liquid

Numbers have shown role swaps are extremely risky and usually don’t grant much reward. Having a player compete against players who have mastered their roles since they started their careers is a daunting task for anyone. Role swaps during the middle of the split may be considered even riskier. Piglet showcased yesterday just how good of a player he is. We may need to wait longer to see how well he does against the likes of C9 and TSM. If his Immortals series is a sneak peak of what to expect, then this may be one of the best role swaps in history.

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