Upset will be a rookie for the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Meet the rookie class of EU LCS Spring 2018

Riot Games recently announced that the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split will begin on January 19. The league will no longer be split into two groups, and matches return to best-of-ones. FC Schalke 04, Misfits Gaming, Team Vitality, Fnatic, Splyce, Team ROCCAT, Unicorns of Love, Giants Gaming, G2 Esports and H2K are the competing teams.

Like past years, the 2017-2018 off-season was filled with roster changes. Only 14 players will be on the same team in Spring 2018 that they were on in Summer 2017. Febiven, PowerOfEvil, Zven and Mithy transferred to teams in North America. With so many players changing teams and leaving the region altogether, new faces will fill the void left behind.

12 rookies have joined teams in the EU LCS for Spring Split. This is about half as many rookies as the 2017 Spring Split (roughly 21), but more than North America’s 2018 crop (roughly eight). The newcomers are distributed across top lane (two), mid lane (three), AD carry (three) and support (four). There are no starting rookie junglers this split.

 

Ruin will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

GIANTS – RUIN

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, Giants Gaming

Summer statistics – 4.0 KDA, 61.8% participation, 22.5% damage

One of the only rookies to remain on his Challenger qualifier team, Ruin is the top laner for Giants. He helped Giants qualify into the LCS through the EU CS Summer Split last year. His best performances were with Gnar, but he also played Jarvan IV, Cho’Gath and Poppy. Jungle-top synergy will be Ruin’s biggest adjustment for 2018. Giants replaced Gilius with Djoko, a much less aggressive jungler with poor 2017 performances.

 

WhiteKnight is a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from Leaguepedia

UNICORNS OF LOVE – WHITEKNIGHT 

Most recent experience – European Challenger Series, Paris Saint-Germain

Summer statistics – 1.2 KDA, 41.4% participation, 16.3% damage

WhiteKnight is the other top lane rookie for Spring 2018. His Challenger team, Paris Saint-Germain, performed much better in the 2017 Spring Split than Summer Split. Nautilus is the only champion that WhiteKnight played more than twice, maintaining a 60 percent win rate. With Unicorns of Love spiraling downward at the end of 2017, and rebuilding in the off-season, WhiteKnight should look to simply learn and grow as much as he can in 2018.

 

Caedrel is a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

H2K – CAEDREL

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, FC Schalke 04

Summer statistics – 6.2 KDA, 71.9% participation, 28.4% damage

With all of their 2017 members released, H2K is rebuilding for 2018. Caedrel joins to replace Febiven as mid laner from S04. He finished the EU CS Summer Split with the most kills and assists of any mid laner. While it will take time for all five new H2K players to gel, Caedrel has potential as a rookie. His best performances were with Corki, Orianna and Leblanc.

 

Blanc will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from Leaguepedia

TEAM ROCCAT – BLANC

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, Paris Saint-Germain

Summer statistics – 2.7 KDA, 73.5% participation, 36.3% damage

The other rookie from Paris Saint-Germain, Blanc joins Team ROCCAT to replace Betsy in the mid lane. He was a standout while in the EU CS, with solid laning statistics and damage. Blanc also has experience as a starter for Jin Air Green Wings in the LCK, and substituted for G2 during their first series of Summer Split 2017. He will be a pivotal figure for a completely rebuilt ROCCAT line-up.

 

Jiizuke will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

TEAM VITALITY – JIIZUKE

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, Giants Gaming

Summer statistics – 6.5 KDA, 72.2% participation, 31% damage

Jiizuke is the only Italian player in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split. He joins as Vitality’s mid laner, along with three other members of Giants’ CS roster. Jiizuke drafted mostly Orianna and Leblanc during Summer Split, but also mixed in five Ekko games. Previous synergy with his teammates is a huge advantage that Jiizuke will have over the other rookie mid laners.

 

Upset will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

FC SCHALKE 04 – UPSET

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, FC Schalke 04

Summer statistics – 8.2 KDA, 14.4% death, 29.4% damage

Upset is the other player remaining with his promoted Challenger organization. S04 rebuilt their entire roster around the rookie AD Carry. Unlike some of the other 2018 newcomers, Upset will be surrounded by veterans at every position, which should allow for an easier transition. He has shown proficiency on a wide range of marksmen, and he is well-rounded at every stage of the game.

 

Sheriff will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from 5mid.com

H2K – SHERIFF

Most recent experience – 2017 Turkish Promotion League, Besiktas Esports Club

Summer statistics – 3.3 KDA, 53.8% participation, 20.9% gold

Sheriff enters the EU LCS after a stint in the TPL this summer where he helped Besiktas finish second place. He joins H2K as their rookie AD Carry, along with Caedrel, Santorin, SmittyJ and Sprattel. The veterans of H2K’s team have been relegated to Challenger leagues for a while now, so they will need Sheriff to execute in order to succeed. Kalista and Ashe were his best champions during Summer Split.

 

Minitroupax will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

TEAM VITALITY – MINITROUPAX

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, Giants Gaming

Summer statistics – 10.7 KDA, 10.1% death, 27% damage

One of the most anticipated rookie additions to the EU LCS for 2018, Minitroupax is the ADC for Vitality. He finished the EU CS Summer Split with stellar statistics and helped Giants qualify for the LCS. Minitroupax mostly played Caitlyn and Kalista, but he also showcased high marks on Xayah, Tristana and Jhin. Ex-Giants support, Jactroll, is also joining Vitality, making them one of two bottom lanes staying together from 2017 into 2018.

 

Targamas will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from Twitter

GIANTS – TARGAMAS

Most recent experience – 2017 Challenge France, GamersOrigin

Summer statistics – Unavailable

Targamas will be the player with the least experience in the EU LCS this spring. He enters the LCS from Challenge France, the French national league, joining Giants as a rookie support. With supports like Jesiz, Chei, Klaj and Noxiak without LCS starter positions, Giants must see something worthwhile in Targamas. He joins Steeelback in the bottom lane.

 

Norskeren will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

TEAM ROCCAT – NORSKEREN

Most recent experience – 2017 European Challenger Series, FC Schalke 04

Summer statistics – 5.9 KDA, 17.8% death, 64.4 participation

Norskeren will duo with HeaQ in ROCCAT’s bottom lane this spring. The Norwegian rookie support played for S04 last split to help qualify into the LCS. A fiendish Tahm Kench player, Norskeren put up solid performances in EU CS last year. Luckily, Schalke’s jungler, Memento, will join ROCCAT, as well. The synergy and utility of these two players will be the main hope of weaving together Profit, Blanc and HeaQ into a winning team.

 

Jactroll will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

TEAM VITALITY – JACTROLL

Most recent experience – European Challenger Series, Giants Gaming

Summer statistics – 5.3 KDA, 21.2% death, 69% participation

Giants’ Summer Split support, Jactroll, joins Vitality for 2018. Playing mostly Braum and Thresh, he prefers play-makers over enchanters. Jactroll enters the LCS with three of his four Challenger teammates, which should make the transition that much easier. With only five of 10 LCS supports carrying over from 2017, this position is ripe for a rookie to take over.

 

Totoro will be a rookie in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from Unicorns of Love App

UNICORNS OF LOVE – TOTORO

Most recent experience – 2017 League Champions Korea, bbq Olivers

Summer statistics – 2.7 KDA, 19.3% death, 65.1 participation

Totoro is a “rookie” out of the LCK, joining Unicorns of Love as a support. His previous team, bbq Olivers, maintained a 28.9 percent win rate, and Totoro played for ESC Ever prior to that. He mostly played Braum and Rakan during Summer Split, but also drafted 11 different champions over 45 games. As a rookie Korean import, Totoro is the polar opposite of Samux’s previous support, Hylissang, which will take time to adjust.

These are the rookies for the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split. All 12 of these individuals will shape the professional League of Legends landscape this year. One of these players may become the next European superstar. One of these players may not handle the pressure. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to watch these rising talents mesh with their respective teams and coaches and grow throughout the Spring Split.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, Leaguepedia, 5mid.com, Twitter, Unicorns of Love App

Player and Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Febiven joins Clutch Gaming for 2018

Reflecting on mid-season EU LCS expectations for Summer Split

On June 1, 2017, the first day of the EU LCS Summer Split, I articulated my expectations heading into the second half of the year. There were a lot of roster changes in between splits, which led to speculation about what shake-ups might occur before Worlds. I called out four of the ten teams that I thought had the best chance to define the landscape of the EU LCS. These would be the variables that shape their groups, depending on how they adapt to their new rosters and build off of Spring Split.

Like every split past, some teams performed to expectations, others did not. Some played up to a higher level, while other teams further fell. The big picture of the EU LCS remained fairly similar to spring, with the same top six teams qualifying for playoffs. However, the intra-group dynamics and individual team results are fairly different compared to expectations coming into this split.

G2

G2 played to expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: G2 dominated Spring Split: they only lost one best-of-three series out of thirteen. The Samurai went on to finish second place at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. No other team in Europe looked to be on par with G2 before the tournament, but MSI certainly quieted any dissent. With no roster or staff changes to speak of, G2 looks to remain at the top of the ranks. Their eyes will be on the world stage.

Recency bias will paint G2 as the undoubted best team in Europe. They added another LCS victory to their trophy case. The Samurai will be EU’s first seed representative at Worlds. By the end of playoffs it was clear that no one in the EU LCS could challenge G2 in a best-of-five.

But Summer Split was rocky at the start. G2 was 3-3 after five weeks, beating Roccat, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Mysterious Monkeys, but losing to Fnatic, Misfits and Unicorns of Love. Their game score was 9-7, far from dominant. G2 sat in third place in Group A. It was a trying time for fans who were hoping that the G2 from MSI would be back in Europe.

They did eventually ramp up to finish second in Group A, push through quarter and semifinals and take the finals. Perkz returned closer to his MSI form earlier in the year. Mithy stepped up to become a primary initiator for the team. Trick began to rise towards his past level, as well. While all of these players had low points during summer, the G2 line-up did eventually reinvigorate to pre-split expectations. No one could have predicted their early fumbles after a dominant Spring Split, MSI and no major changes to the roster and staff.

Fnatic and Misfits

FNC played above expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: Fnatic ultimately beat Misfits for third place in playoffs, beating them 3-0 in the best-of-five. Fnatic picked up a new coach, Dylan Falco. Misfits released their jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, and acquired Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian. The effects of these changes do not appear to be drastic on the surface. Fnatic should be able to retain second place within Group A, putting Misfits third.

Both of these teams surprised analysts, but in different ways. Fnatic and Misfits followed slightly different trajectories throughout the Summer Split. Fnatic tore through the European competition, finishing the regular season 11-2, but faltered in the playoff semifinals. They pressed on by winning third place against H2K, and went on to win the EU LCS Regional Qualifier to make it to Worlds.

Misfits had strong showings during the LCS regular season, but never fully convinced the fans that they were a top contender. They finished with a 1-6 record against the top six teams and a 5-1 record against the bottom four teams. However, Misfits shifted gears in playoffs, knocking out Unicorns of Love and Fnatic to make it into the finals. They are the surprise second seed to represent Europe at this year’s World Championship.

Fnatic’s surge is not entirely surprising, but it could not necessarily be predicted. This is the same roster that tied Roccat for third place in Group A just a few months ago. Bringing on Dylan Falco, previously of Team Envy in North America, was the only major change to the roster, which was seen as questionable, at best. The veterans of the team, Soaz, Rekkles and Jesiz, approached their top performance levels. The sophomores, Broxah and Caps, showed their own prowess at various points in the split. Most of all, the synergy among these members was much more apparent than any other team in the league.

Misfits’ growth could be a bit more conceivable coming into the Summer Split. They did make a name for themselves in their inaugural Spring Split by placing fourth. Time in the mid-season should allow this new squad to build synergies and come back to the LCS even stronger. However, by switching out KaKAO for Maxlore, it was unclear how this might affect things. The team did cite communication issues as the primary purpose for the replacement, but Maxlore’s actual skill as a jungler did not appear to be much better or worse than KaKAO. Would Misfits’ communication improve enough to offset the synergy and possible skill loss of trading at all?

In the end, the answer must be “yes.” Ignar and Maxlore did develop a strong jungle-support relationship in the playoffs. Alphari and PowerofEvil were better at using laning advantages to rotate, split-push and teleport around the map. Hans sama proved his worth as an AD carry against Samux and Rekkles, both All-Pro this split. Viewers will have to wait and see how this team holds up against international competition at Worlds. Hopefully, Misfits’ peak is yet to come.

Unicorns of Love

UOL played below expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: Following a similar trajectory to G2, UOL finished the regular season 11-2. They did not drop a series to other members of Group B. UOL went on to finish second in the playoffs. Seeing as the top teams in Group B did not have any major roster updates in the off-season, the Unicorns should easily maintain their top position.

“Should” was the key word above. Just like G2, Unicorns finished at the top of their group and made it to the finals in Spring Split. They did not make any roster changes in the mid-season. Intuitively, UOL would continue to build off of their strengths coming into Summer Split and continue to be a dominant team in Europe.

But that did not necessarily happen. UOL began the season 6-1, including victories over G2, H2K and Misfits. They finished the last four weeks 3-3, including defeats to Roccat, Fnatic and Vitality. This fall-out culminated in UOL’s 3-0 loss to Misfits in the quarterfinals, and their 3-2 loss to H2K in the gauntlet.

Most critics would point to faulty draft strategies, mid lane instability, and failure to adapt to meta changes as UOL’s biggest problems. Exileh fell from third team All-Pro to seventh on Caps’ mid lane tier list. His performance issues, combined with Xerxe’s curve ball jungle picks, caused UOL to have difficulties drafting to be competitive. Exileh’s reliance on Talon and Vladmir shoehorned Vizicsacsi into a lot of AP top laners, instead of Jarvan IV, Gnar or Renekton.

Summer Split is a huge disappointment for the Unicorns. They continue their legacy of missing Worlds by losing in the gauntlet. All of these players have shown excellence on the Rift, but the limited in-game strategies and individual inconsistencies make it hard for this team to reach the next level. It will be interesting to see what changes happen in the off-season for UOL, if any.

H2K

H2K played below expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: Although playoffs were not pleasant for H2K, their regular season went well. They finished 10-3, losing twice to UOL and once to G2. H2K had not lost to any other team until Fnatic beat them 3-0 in the quarterfinals of playoffs. Only earning 10 Championship Points, H2K will need to perform at a much higher level to re-qualify for the World Championships.

H2K played about where most people expected them this season. They did finish at the top of Group B, but that was more due to Unicorns faltering than H2K scaling higher skill-wise. Febiven looked more refined than Spring Split, but the bottom lane, Nuclear in particular, proved less dominant in the new meta. Odoamne and Jankos showed glimpses of their top-tier play, but could not exhibit such talent consistently against other top teams.

Playoffs was almost more heart-breaking this split for H2K. G2 skunked the squad 3-0 in the semifinals, sending H2K into the gauntlet. Once there, they made it all the way to the finals, but lost 2-3 to Fnatic to miss the World Championship. The expectation was for H2K to grow in the mid-season to stand a chance of making it to Worlds. Unfortunately for them, that did not happen.

Mysterious Monkeys

MM played to expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: While EU Challenger teams have historically performed well in their first split of LCS, this roster’s talent is questionable compared to the others. They even lost their starting jungler. The Monkeys come into the split with low expectations, most likely ending the regular season in fifth for Group B.

As expected, Mysterious Monkeys did not have a successful Summer Split. They lost 23 of 28 regular season games, finishing with a 2-11 record. Ninjas in Pyjamas and Roccat were the only two teams they were able to take series from. Even after signing Kikis and Amazing as a top-jungle duo in week four, the Monkeys struggled to make much of an impact on the EU LCS. They did finish last in Group B, which forced them into the promotion tournament.

Although it is unclear how the reported LCS restructuring will affect European teams in 2018, Mysterious Monkeys did get “relegated” in the promotion tournament. They lost 2-3 to Schalke 04 in round one, and 0-3 to Ninjas in Pyjamas in round two. That is the ultimate proof that a team is not ready for the professional league. The Monkeys’ organization will most likely rebuild the roster in the off-season and come back next year with more experience.

Splyce

SPY played below expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: It is unclear what Gevous will add to Splyce. It is possible that a new coaching style may help bring Splyce’s members up to a new level. The players know they can play up to the same level as Unicorns or H2K. The anticipated meta shifts will probably help Splyce, as well. Tankier junglers with fast clears and impactful kits suit ‎Jonas “Trashy” Andersen, and  Martin “Wunder” Hansen generally looks more influential with damage-dealing split-pushers.

Firstly, Splyce let Gevous go around two months ago, with two weeks of the regular season, playoffs and the gauntlet remaining. He has yet to be replaced. That being said, it is difficult as a viewer to understand how much of an effect a coach has on a team. How much of Splyce’s shortcomings can be blamed on a lack of chemistry between the coach and the players? It is hard to parse apart.

It should be safe to say that Splyce will be disappointed when reflecting on this split. The organization’s power level in the LCS has effectively plateaued this year. Of course, Splyce has not had the same falling off as Origen. Splyce is still a playoff team, and they are clearly a step above Roccat and Vitality. They took G2 to an edgy five games in quarterfinals of playoffs. However, it has felt like a long time since fans and analysts held Splyce to the same esteem as their LCS debut.

Nothing about Splyce’s gameplay is horrible. Each lane is able to hold its own in the laning phase. They are able to contest objectives and commit to rotations. They are able to team-fight in the mid and late game. Splyce just is not the best at any of these gameplay elements. H2K and Fnatic will almost always get larger early game leads and close the game before Splyce can team-fight them. Unicorns of Love and G2 will almost always beat Splyce in a beefy brawl. The Serpents are the undoing of bottom four teams, just like Misfits, but they have been unable to break through the upper echelon of Europe.

Like Unicorns of Love, it will be interesting to see what happens to this roster in the off-season. Trashy seemed to be the most up-and-down player on the roster, thriving on Gragas and Ivern, but struggling on Elise and Rek’Sai. Mikyx was overshadowed by more proactive support players, but Wunder, Sencux and Kobbe have proven they can carry when needed. Each of Splyce’s players are capable of playing up to the best of Europe, and this roster has played together for two years. The coaching position will obviously need to be filled with someone who can unlock the potential of this squad, or who can make needed adjustments for the future.

Team Vitality

VIT played below expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: This is another team that looks to benefit from the upcoming metagame. Top laner, Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet, looked best as a split-pusher when Vitality finished the regular season in third place in Spring 2016. A more anchored bottom lane and pressured top lane could open Charly “Djoko” Guillard up to have more options in the jungle. Vitality could look to move up in Group B if they mesh properly and other teams show weakness.

Bringing on Vander was supposed to shore up Vitality’s glaring weaknesses in the support position in Spring Split. It did not. Vitality looked roughly the same as last split. Nukeduck put the team on his back almost every game. Cabochard did look a bit more like his former self while laning, but Vitality’s bottom lane and jungler could not hold up against the rest of the LCS. To make matters worse, H2K, Unicorns of Love and Splyce all showed serious weaknesses this split, which Vitality was unable to punish. It is no coincidence that three members of Group A are attending Worlds as Europe’s representatives.

Vitality finished with a 12-17 game score. They only took one point off of a top six team (UOL), but won all series against MM, NiP and Roccat. Vitality will need to make serious changes coming into the LCS in 2018. They are simply not an exciting team. Replacing one player in one role does not seem to be sufficient. Looking at jungle and bottom lane is a start, but even top lane is not out of the question. A roster overhaul will be necessary before Vitality lives up to the expectations of European fans.

Roccat

ROC played below expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: Roccat will come into summer an underdog, yet again. But if they can build off of their gameplay, synergy, and growth from spring, then they can definitely take games off of other Group A teams. Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren, in particular, should be able to continue drafting lane bullies such as Gnar, Fizz, and Renekton, which he played well in the final weeks of last split.

Roccat’s spring momentum did not carry over much into Summer Split. This team continues its arc as the most inconsistent performer in the EU LCS. Roccat finished the Summer Split with 1-1 records against every team in Group A, the only one to do so. The Cats also lost every cross-group match-up, except Unicorns of Love. It is strange that the same team that is taking series off of Fnatic, G2 and UOL is also dropping series to NiP, MM and Vitality.

Pridestalker actually pressed himself into the EU LCS in his debut split. Generally starting ahead in CS and gold at 15 minutes, Roccat’s jungler was one of the only players happy to draft Warwick and Kha’Zix over tank junglers throughout the split. Pridestalker also participated in First Blood in 27.3 percent of games.

Phaxi and Betsy were highly inconsistent this summer. The solo laners could never seem to hold pressure in their lanes against other European teams. Meanwhile, Roccat’s bottom lane was solidly top five in the LCS (in my opinion, Wadid deserved recognition as an All-Pro support). Like Vitality, a roster overhaul will be necessary if Roccat wants to reach the next level of competition. While no one would necessarily expect Roccat to suddenly become a title contender, many analysts were probably hoping for more from them after their end-of-split streak in spring.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

NIP played above expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Presplit thoughts: While this team will most likely be the Spring 2017 Origen of Summer Split, it could also come together as an unexpected surprise. If Shook can manage to find synergy with Profit and Nagne, and HeaQ and Sprattel can grow together, then they could find upsets in Group A. This could also be Coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård’s shot at redemption, as well. If they can all put aside their past failures, then they just may find success.

It’s safe to say Ninjas in Pyjamas was better this summer than Origen was in spring. They had a stiff early game, often gaining large gold leads by 15 minutes. NiP showed some signs of strength, such as their win over Fnatic in week 10. As expected, the Ninjas finished last in Group A with a 2-11 record. The team never seemed to synergize in the mid-late game, often missing opportunities to pressure turrets or neutral objectives. Sprattel and Shook were unable to engage or peel effectively for Nagne and HeaQ to carry, which made Profit’s split-push strategies fall flat.

At the end of the day, NiP was not ready for the LCS. This team did get relegated in the promotion tournament by losing to Giants and Schalke 04, but reported 2018 changes may make that insignificant. Like Mysterious Monkeys, NiP may return to the domestic leagues of the EU LCS. If so, they will need to take a hard look in the mirror and make adjustments. NicoThePico did not add much to his resume on this one, but, again, it is hard to tell how many of NiP’s issues were from the roster or the staff. 

Overall

MSF played above expectations in summer split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

While hardly any of the teams in the EU LCS played to pre-split expectations, the on-paper breakdown of the split was fairly usual. Splyce, Misfits, H2K, UOL, Fnatic and G2 qualified for playoffs. Mysterious Monkeys and NiP fought, and lost, in the promotion tournament. Vitality and Roccat were somewhere in the middle. G2 took home another domestic victory. Fnatic is attending Worlds. Rekkles was voted Europe’s MVP.

This Summer Split will be remembered as the last one with two groups and one professional-level league. If the reported changes for the EU LCS come through in 2018, then we will be looking at an entirely different ecosystem. It will be home to 24 total teams with 24 rosters and 24 different dynamics to keep up with. The lines between S tier, A tier, and so on will become more blurred, and placements between organizations should become more nuanced.

Expectations going into Spring Split next year will be so up in the air it may not even be worth writing about. So as we move into the 2017 World Championships, take some time to reflect on your experience with the EU LCS. As you cheer for G2, Misfits and Fnatic through the event, preserve these Summer Split memories so we can talk more in 2018 about the future of League of Legends in Europe.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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UOL Xerxe will jungle against H2K Jankos in Week 2

Unicorns Will Grapple with H2K for Group B Dominance

This Sunday, June 11, Unicorns of Love will take on H2K to establish the top of the standings in Group B of the EU LCS. It will be a crucial series, as these two teams seek the top spot within the group. While audiences were able to see UOL and H2K debut in Week One, their opponents looked significantly weaker. Week Two will be the true test for Group B dominance.

At the end of the Spring Split, UOL narrowly edged out H2K for first seed going into playoffs. H2K had a 10-3 record, while UOL finished 11-2. H2K lost both head-to-head match-ups against UOL over the course of the split, so they will look for redemption in the series this week.

Spring Split Series

Week Two

UOL and H2K first faced off in Week Two of the Spring Split this year. The Unicorns won games one and three, while H2K took the second game. In all three games, H2K secured a gold lead of 3,000 or more. They took the first kill, the first dragon, and the first turret in all three games. This usually involved UOL initiating a fight or turret dive, and H2K properly absorbing the pressure and punishing the failed attempts.

However, H2K never got these early accomplishments for free. UOL generally secured kills of their own just after first blood. The Unicorns also did not slow down the tempo of the game. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert were almost always more proactive than H2K’s mid-jungle duo, and most teamfights went in UOL’s favor. In H2K’s losses, they allowed UOL to swing the gold back in their favor twice, dragging the game time beyond 36 minutes. In H2K’s win, they finished before 33 minutes.

These mid-game teamfights transitioned into Baron posturing. Unicorns’ wins came off the back of successful Baron takes post-30 minutes. In H2K’s victory, they did successfully push UOL off of a Baron call, punished the rush, and ended the game.

Week Eight

The other UOL-H2K match-up occurred in Week Eight of the Spring Split. While the Unicorns did win the series 2-0, the games were still competitive. Game one saw H2K with over 7,000 gold over UOL. Game two took UOL three Baron takes to close out the game. The strengths and weaknesses of the two teams carried over into this series, as well. In both games, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski secured first blood and one of H2K’s solo laners received the second kill.

But, again, UOL excels at securing counter-kills and keeping up the tempo. When playing from behind, they absorb the pressure of H2K’s Baron buff and make sure to take the Infernal Drakes. When playing ahead, UOL pressures the map, takes Baron themselves, and pushes the pace. The aggression does occasionally get them into trouble, though.

Last split, UOL was the only squad with higher first Baron (80 percent) and Baron control (78 percent) rates than H2K. Fighting around the pit is UOL’s biggest strength. Meanwhile, H2K’s early game is key to their success. They maintained the highest average gold lead at 15 minutes (1,056) and the highest first blood rate (63 percent).

It is between these moments where the match-up will be decided. H2K needs to snowball their early leads efficiently and close out the game before UOL gets the opportunity to snag a Baron. Unicorns of Love will need to match H2K’s aggression throughout the first 30 minutes, then pressure Baron and out-fight in the late game.

Summer Split Series

H2K v. Splyce

H2K’s first series of the Summer Split was against Splyce. The series ended 2-0 in H2K’s favor, but the first game did not go as smoothly as the second. Splyce built up a 3,600 gold lead pre-20 minutes. However, H2K’s mid-game teamfighting was too much, particularly out of Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten. H2K took Baron around 22 minutes, swinging the gold lead back in their favor and ending the game. In Game Two, Jankos got three kills on Graves in the first four minutes, and H2K snowballed completely from that point. It was over in 24 minutes.

H2K v. Mysterious Monkeys

Mysterious Monkeys did not put up much of a fight versus H2K in Week One. While MM was able to get a few early kills in the first game, H2K turned it around at the dragon pit. After taking the Infernal Drake, H2K built a lead over 10,000 gold and closed it out. Game Two was a complete stomp. H2K secured six kills before MM could get one, then they took the Baron and ended.

Unicorns v. Team Vitality

Unicorns’ wins against VIT followed a similar trajectory. Although VIT secured first blood, first turret, first dragon, and Rift Herald in Game One, UOL only allowed them to take one more turret after 10 minutes–no more kills or neutral objectives. They secured Baron around 22 minutes, and closed the game. In Game Two, UOL only lost five deaths and two turrets, while securing 18 kills and a 20-minute Baron.

H2K v. UOL This Week

These two teams seem to be utilizing similar strategies to win this summer as they did in spring. H2K is averaging the highest gold difference at 15 minutes among all EU LCS teams. Unicorns averages about half as much. H2K has secured first blood in two out of four games, while UOL did not in either of their games. H2K also has a higher first turret rate, first dragon rate, and Rift Herald rate.

However, UOL took the first three turrets in both games. Their kill-death ratio as a team is over twice that of H2K, which means Unicorns will be looking to win fights. Both teams have a 100 percent first Baron and Baron control rate, but UOL has historically bested H2K around the pit. H2K should stick to their playstyle of getting far ahead early and out-rotating their opponent. UOL needs to absorb that early pressure, punish missed opportunities, push the pace whether ahead or behind, and posture around Baron to force H2K’s hand. This series should be explosive, and the top of Group B is on the line.


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Teams participating in 2017 EU LCS Summer Split

Summer Watchlist 2017: Splyce, Vitality, Roccat, and Ninjas in Pyjamas

Since reflecting on the Spring Split, there have been several changes to the contenders within EU LCS. New organizations have entered the fray, and familiar faces are donning unfamiliar jerseys. Multiple teams have rearranged coaches. All this change is an effort to get ahead of the pack and win Summer Split.

G2 finished MSI in second place

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 dominated Spring Split: they only lost one best-of-three series out of thirteen. The Samurai went on to finish second place at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. No other team in Europe looked to be on par with G2 before the tournament, but MSI certainly quieted any dissent. With no roster or staff changes to speak of, G2 looks to remain at the top of the ranks. Their eyes will be on the world stage.

Fnatic and Misfits are between G2 and the rest of Group A. Misfits finished the regular season second in their group, while Fnatic tied Roccat for third. However, Fnatic ultimately beat Misfits for third place in playoffs, beating them 3-0 in the best-of-five. Fnatic picked up a new coach, Dylan Falco. Misfits released their jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, and acquired Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian. The effects of these changes do not appear to be drastic on the surface. Fnatic should be able to retain second place within Group A, putting Misfits third.

Unicorns of Love look to top Group B

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unicorns of Love sit at the top of Group B. Following a similar trajectory to G2, UOL finished the regular season 11-2. They did not drop a series to other members of Group B. UOL went on to finish second in the playoffs. Seeing as the top teams in Group B did not have any major roster updates in the off-season, the Unicorns should easily maintain their top position.

Although playoffs were not pleasant for H2K, their regular season went well. They finished 10-3, losing twice to UOL and once to G2. H2K had not lost to any other team until Fnatic beat them 3-0 in the quarterfinals of playoffs. Only earning 10 Championship Points, H2K will need to perform at a much higher level to re-qualify for the World Championships.

Mysterious Monkeys sit at the bottom of Group B after purchasing Misfits Academy’s LCS-qualified slot. While EU Challenger teams have historically performed well in their first split of LCS, this roster’s talent is questionable compared to the others. They even lost their starting jungler. The Monkeys come into the split with low expectations, most likely ending the regular season in fifth for Group B.

The other four teams should be less predictable. These rosters have all incorporated new players or coaches. These teams’ performances over the split will shape the standings within their respective groups. With huge strides, these squads can climb the ranks. But if they falter, then they will decline. There are major questions surrounding Splyce, Vitality, Roccat, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Is a new coach enough for Splyce to qualify for the World Championship?

Splyce finished Spring Split in 5th-6th

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

It is hard to believe this is the same roster that qualified for Worlds 2016. Coming into 2017 as one of two European teams to keep every member of their 2016 team, Splyce was supposed to top Group B in spring. Instead, they squeaked by with a 7-6 record and lost 3-2 to Misfits in the quarterfinals of playoffs. They only earned 10 Championship Points.

But this time last year, Splyce came into the Summer Split with zero Championship Points. It did not stop them from finishing Summer Split in second place, earning 90 Championship Points, and winning the Regional Qualifiers to represent EU as third seed at Worlds. Theoretically, it could happen again this summer.

Splyce only updated the coach position in the mid-season. Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi parted ways with the team, and they brought in Fayan “Gevous” Pertjis to take his place. Gevous previously coached Red Canids in Brazil’s CBLoL. This spring, they finished first place overall and qualified for Mid-Season Invitational.

It is unclear what Gevous will add to Splyce. It is possible that a new coaching style may help bring Splyce’s members up to a new level. The players know they can play up to the same level as Unicorns or H2K. The anticipated meta shifts will probably help Splyce, as well. Tankier junglers with fast clears and impactful kits suit ‎Jonas “Trashy” Andersen, and  Martin “Wunder” Hansen generally looks more influential with damage-dealing split-pushers.

Is VandeR the answer to Team Vitality’s shortcomings?

VandeR joins Team Vitality for Summer Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This is a match made in heaven. Vitality had a rough Spring Split, and the support role was a major reason. Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan (now “Comeback”) finished with a 1.7 KDA and 27.9% kill share before he was benched. Schalke 04, on the other hand, had an excellent spring, and Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan was a major reason. As support, VandeR finished spring split with a 14.4 KDA and 11.4% kill share.

While support is an oft-overlooked role, this is a huge pick-up for Vitality. VandeR is a proven veteran with international experience. He will be joining Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi in the bottom lane, one of the more consistent members of Vitality last split.

This is another team that looks to benefit from the upcoming metagame. Top laner, Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet, looked best as a split-pusher when Vitality finished the regular season in third place in Spring 2016. A more anchored bottom lane and pressured top lane could open Charly “Djoko” Guillard up to have more options in the jungle. Vitality could look to move up in Group B if they mesh properly and other teams show weakness.

Will Roccat carry over the momentum from the end of Spring Split?

Roccat come into Summer Split with some momentum

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Roccat avoided the relegation tournament for the first time in three splits. This spring they narrowly missed making it into the playoffs, surging in the last few weeks of the split to finish 6-7 after starting 0-7. The storyline was so exciting to witness.

That momentum needs to carry into the Summer Split. Although Group A is daunting, every team has shown significant weaknesses. Roccat had 1-1 records against every other team in their group, including G2. The mostly new roster was able to click after several weeks of play.

The jungle position is the only one that changed in the mid-season. Maxlore left for Misfits, and Roccat picked up Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes from Misfits Academy as his replacement. Both of these players draft carry junglers such as Graves, Lee Sin, Kha’Zix, and Rengar, so Roccat’s playstyle should not drastically change. Pridestalker is a rookie, though, so incorporating him may take some time.

Roccat will come into summer an underdog, yet again. But if they can build off of their gameplay, synergy, and growth from spring, then they can definitely take games off of other Group A teams. Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren, in particular, should be able to continue drafting lane bullies such as Gnar, Fizz, and Renekton, which he played well in the final weeks of last split.

Are Ninjas in Pyjamas as bad as everyone anticipates?

HeaQ joins Ninjas in Pyjamas for Summer Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Ninjas in Pyjamas have caught a lot of flak for their player choices since they purchased Fnatic Academy’s LCS slot and replaced the entire roster. On paper, the team looks like a hodge-podge of Korean import solo laners, washed-up legacy jungler and support, and an LCS rookie.

Kim “Profit” Joon-hyung, in the top lane, comes from the LCK’s SK Telecom T1. He played nine games this spring as a substitute: five games on Nautilus, three games on Rumble, and one game on Shen. They won all but one of them. Beyond this small sample, Profit is virtually untested. If he was on SKT, then he is most likely the real deal, but until he hits the Rift this summer, it is hard to gauge him against other top laners in Group A.

Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon is the other Korean import for NiP. He is a mid laner most recently from Wan Yoo Dream, a Korean Challenger team, but previously from KT Rolster when they world contenders. During that time Nagne excelled on assassins, such as Zed, Diana, and Ahri. He also frequently played control mages, such as Lissandra and Azir. Nagne will be facing some of the top western mid laners in Group A.

Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema and Hampus “Sprattel” Abrahamsson are both alumni of Elements before Schalke 04 purchased. Shook most recently played for Vitality in 2016, but was replaced in November. Sprattel most recently played for Paris Saint-Germain in the Challenger Series. Neither player has been viewed as incredibly talented within the last two years.

And Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa will round out the bottom lane for NiP. He played for Giants Gaming last split, and has decent statistics for being on a relegated team. This will be HeaQ’s second split in the EU LCS.

Each of these players is an outcast in their own right. While this team will most likely be the Spring 2017 Origen of Summer Split, it could also come together as an unexpected surprise. If Shook can manage to find synergy with Profit and Nagne, and HeaQ and Sprattel can grow together, then they could find upsets in Group A. This could also be Coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård’s shot at redemption, as well. If they can all put aside their past failures, then they just may find success.


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Pridestalker moves from Misfits Academy to ROCCAT

EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates

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

NEW ORGANIZATIONS

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Ninjas in Pyjamas purchased Fnatic Academy's LCS slot

Image from NiP.gl

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

2017 Spring Split

Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek

Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneide

Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer

Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm

Johan “Klaj” Olsson

Kublai “Kubz” Barlas

2017 Summer Split

Kim “Profit” Jun-hyung

Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema

Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon

Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa

Hampus “sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson

Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgaard

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

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

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

Mysterious Monkeys

Mysterious Monkeys purchased Misfits Academy's LCS slot

Image from Mysterious-Monkeys.de

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

2017 Spring Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

2017 Summer Split

Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol

Leon “Lamabear” Krüger

Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad

Florent “Yuuki60” Soler

Han “Dreams” Min-kook

Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev

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

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

LCS ACQUISITIONS

Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian

Maxlore acquired by Misfits

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes

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

Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan

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

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

Dylan Falco   

Dylan Falco acquired by Fnatic as coach

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi  

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

LEAVING LCS

Olof “Flaxxish” Medin

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

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

Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi

Memento acquired by Schalke 04

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

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

Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan

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

STATUS UNKNOWN

Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon

KaKAO is currently a free agent

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

Origen

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

Giants Gaming

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


MSI Team and Player Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

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France – The Forgotten Fighters

The Infinite Warfare season has slowly seen the rise of Europeans as a contender for international championships.

At the two most recent tournaments, CWL Dallas and ESWC Paris, we have seen Splyce, Epsilon, and Fnatic place inside the top eight. When you look at the rosters of these teams, you see that all the players are from the United Kingdom. Looking deeper, I realized no players outside the UK have even vaguely touched a top placing at a premier tournament this year.

This was surprising. I remembered back to the days of Black Ops 2 and Ghosts where there was always a battle between the French and the British to see who could steal the higher placings at the limited international events Europeans could afford to attend. It was even more saddening realizing that at CWL London, a tournament only open to European teams, no players from France made it into the top eight. The same thing happened again at ESWC Paris, their very own country’s trademark event. So where has all of France’s top tier talent gone?

The Fallen

Many of France’s most storied professionals such as Clément “RiskiN” Hattée, Jordy “Krnage” Mercier and most notably Corentin “Gotaga” Houssein have now hung up their controllers. These players, despite having inconsistent results, have built up wealthy banks of experience by competing across the globe at the likes of the Call of Duty Championship and the renowned MLG Anaheim. This is experience that would be best shared with some of France’s rising stars. However, these players exited the scene early into Activision’s World League era.

I think that particularly, Gotaga had a huge opportunity to nurture the youngsters. An unwillingness to split from the pack may be an explanation as to why he decided to quit, partnered with the little success he and his longstanding teammates had. Gotaga always had either Kevin “BroKeN” Georges, RiskiN or Krnage on his team at all times in his career and perhaps he felt uncomfortable playing without them when they ultimately made the decision to leave Call of Duty behind.

The core of Team Vitality were inconsistent throughout their years. (Source teamvitality.fr)

The Problem

Gotaga tried to play with local talent such as Wailers “Wailers” Locart and the French Monster’s own brother Ronan “Carbon” Houssein. Again, with little success. He just couldn’t perform without Krnage, RiskiN, or Broken by his side.

Throughout his career, Gotaga was hailed as a phenomenal slayer and a fantastically skilled sniper. Fans could definitely see this from his streams and YouTube content. This is why he always played with one of the aforementioned trio as they would play around him, rather than play for themselves. I have an inkling that Gotaga was unwilling to leave the slaying days to take on a more supportive team role.

Due to his experience, Gotaga could have taken on a mentor role and brought up young players to success. There is no doubt three youngsters would have listened to Gotaga, he was the figurehead of their scene.

Gotaga didn’t compete in Call of Duty for the money because he didn’t need to. His YouTube channel provided a stable enough income. He played purely because of his competitive drive, something which he could satisfy from a coaching role, from where he could carry on the development of the scene he has been part of from the beginning.

Admittedly, there are very few examples of success with coaches in Call of Duty. However, there is no harm in trying and maybe he could have changed that coaching stigma. Instead, we are left with only a handful of players that could restore French pride.

Source - Redbull.com

Gotaga was one of Europe’s longest standing professional players. (Source redbull.com)

The Brother

Stumped by the age restriction on the Call of Duty World League, we have missed out on the rise of Gotaga’s brother Carbon. The youngster, alongside fellow underage competitor Ryan “ZeeK” Lapierre, made waves in the open circuit last year. The pair achieved first and second place finishes at notable local LAN’s across France during Black Ops 3. Both now play for an organization known as ArmaTeam with Maxime “mAxxie” Ebran as captain. This veteran has competed since Modern Warfare 3, finishing 8th at the first CoD XP and attending the World Championship in 2015.

mAxxie is in a similar situation to where Gotaga could be, theoretically: mAxxie, the old guard, using fiery young players who have been unable to compete in order to make a rise back to the top. There are still question marks as to whether or not players such as Carbon and Zeek can be controlled or even reach Europe’s peak, but they are definitely ones to watch out for.

Source - Dexerto.com

Gotaga and his younger brother Carbon at ESWC Zénith 2016 (Source dexerto.com)

The Prodigy

If I had to pick a player to be France’s next star it would be Wailers. Bursting onto the scene in Black Ops 3, Wailers proved to be a consistently solid assault rifle player. Even alongside the Vitality team that had the diminishing core three of Broken, Gotaga, and Riskin, he was one of few Europeans who truly embraced the “Man-o-War” meta when it first came to fruition.

Wailers has retained his spot on Vitality, although amongst new teammates. The Frenchman has joined forces with three Brits Shane “ShAnE” McKerral, Deleo “Zerg” Devitt, and Adam “Defrag” Matthews. ShAnE, much like Gotaga is another storied European player who has competed since Modern Warfare 3 and has a top eight finish at the World Championship in 2013. Alongside him are two other breakout players, Defrag and Zerg. The latter has attended two UK events and placed 1st and 3rd. With support from veteran Shane, maybe Britain will actually be the ones to restore French hope and help Wailers bring home a trophy.

Watch Vitality and ArmaTeam in action throughout this weekend at the Call of Duty: World League in Birmingham.

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EU LCS 2017 logos

EU LCS Week 4: Individual Match-Ups

Week 4 marks the beginning of cross-group series. Teams from Group A will face teams from Group B. Since we have only watched LCS squads play within their groups, it is a bit more difficult to compare skill between A teams and B teams. However, the following individual match-ups should be spicy, regardless of how the rest of their teams do.

Week 4 G2 esports

Luka “PerkZ” Perković

KDA: 4.7

CSD10: +1.1

KP: 68.4%

DPM: 536

Week 4 H2K

Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten

KDA: 5.0

CSD10: +7.9

KP: 60.6%

DPM: 602

While G2 versus H2K in Week 4 should make for an exciting match overall, keep an eye on the mid lane. Perkz and Febiven bring similar mechanical skill to the table, but their playstyles are slightly different. Febiven has proven himself to be most dominant in lane in Group B, while Perkz tends to bring more to roaming and teamfights.

As for champion pool, these two do overlap a bit. Perkz and Febiven have played Syndra more than once with middling success. They have both also played one game on Cassiopeia. Febiven has played Corki once and lost, while Febiven has won three times on the champion. The most noticeable difference in played champions is Perkz’s Ryze and Leblanc. He has played Ryze twice, Leblanc twice, and was a menace to other mid laners on those champions. Febiven has not played either so far. However, Febiven’s most dominant performance was on Jayce, finishing 9-0-10 against Splyce.

Group A’s pool of mid laners seems stronger overall than Group B, so expect these two to match up pretty closely. H2K should try their best to give Febiven the favorable wave-clear match-up to prevent Perkz’s ability to roam. On the other hand, Febiven has shown a lackluster performance on Viktor. If it comes down to it, he should pick up the safe Corki, which he has demonstrated in wins against Unicorns of Love and Team Vitality.

Week 4 Splyce

Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup

KDA: 5.7

CSD10: +1.3

KP: 73.4%

DPM: 557

Week 4 Misfits

Steven “Hans sama” Liv

KDA: 6.4

CSD10: -1.5

KP: 72%

DPM: 476

Misfits should have the overall advantage in Week 4. They sit second in Group A, while Splyce are third in Group B. Nonetheless, the AD Carry match-up will be a fun one. Kobbe and Hans sama have relatively similar statistics. The main splitting point is in KDA and damage per minute. Hans sama’s numbers paint him as playing more safely: giving fewer deaths with lower damage. Kobbe dies more, but does more damage to enemies in the process.

The meta marksmen pool is relatively small at the moment. Most games include the utility carries, Varus, Jhin, or Ashe, so it is not surprising to see a large overlap in Kobbe and Hans sama’s played champions. But their success is drastically different, depending on which champion they draft. Hans sama has won four out of five Varus games, two out of three Ashe games, and one out of two Jhin games. Meanwhile, Kobbe won three out of five games on Jhin, his one game on Ashe, and neither of his games on Varus. Kobbe has also successfully utilized Caitlyn in a game against Origen.

Misfits could leave Varus up during the draft, knowing that Hans sama has shown comfort on the champion and Kobbe has not. Splyce could try to target out marksmen and see how deep Hans sama’s champion pool goes. However, most of the draft phases have been revolving around other roles, so the bot lane will most likely be a matter of execution, rather than a favorable champion selection.

Week 4 Fnatic

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer

KDA: 3.0

CSD10: 0

KP: 59.1%

DPM: 381

Week 4 Team Vitality

Lucas “Cabochard ” Simon-Meslet

KDA: 3.6

CSD10: 3.1

KP: 64.5%

DPM: 383

Fnatic versus Team Vitality should be fairly one-sided in Week 4. One area of the map that could get tilted the most is top lane. While Cabochard has not been as dominant as expected during the laning phase, he does generally come out ahead. SOAZ has had a few flashy plays here or there, but most of the time he is simply getting by until he can group with his team.

These two players’ champion pools look much different. Cabochard has played Camille, Jayce, Trundle, and Fiora, none of which sOAZ have played. SOAZ has locked in Gnar and Illaoi, both of which Cabochard has not. They have both lost a game on Poppy, yet both have shown convincing games on Shen. SOAZ looks much more comfortable on Nautilus. But the largest difference is their Maokai play rate. SOAZ has won three out of four games on Maokai. Cabochard has not played the champion yet this split.

Team Vitality should leverage this top-side imbalance to their benefit. Cabochard needs to play a lane dominant champion, and they need to try to force sOAZ onto Poppy, Nautilus, or a carry. If he can gain a large advantage in the early game, then Team Vitality have a chance. But, if sOAZ is allowed to play Shen or Maokai, Fnatic will have a much higher chance of winning.

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Counter Logic Gaming support, Aphromoo

Over/Under (Part 2): LCS Players Below Expectations

Last week, I highlighted NA and EU LCS players who have been performing above preseason expectations. This week, I am highlighting the other end of the spectrum: athletes playing below expectations. These are players who came into the Spring Split with a reputation that they have failed to live up to in the first three weeks. These members will play a key role in the improvement of their respective teams; if they fail to do so, they may not make the playoffs.

Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet

 KDA: 3.6 (Tied 4th Top)

Team Vitality top laner, Cabochard

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Vitality, Top Laner

DPM: 383 (8th Top)

Some of Cabochard’s numbers seem decent, but his damage is below expectations. Taking into account Cabochard has played five out of nine games on skirmish-oriented split-pushers (and a sixth on Poppy), 383 damage per minute is too low. He averages ahead in CS at 10 minutes, has an okay KDA, and middling Kill Participation. He receives the largest share of his team’s gold out of any top laner (23.9%), but only contributes 21.1% of his team’s damage (tied 8th Top). Cabochard will need to transition his lane leads into successful teamfights if Vitality are to make it to playoffs.

Jonas “Trashy” Andersen

KDA: 2.6 (7th Jungle)

Splyce jungle, Trashy

courtesy of Riot esports

Splyce, Jungle

KP: 60.5% (Lowest Jungle)

After three weeks, Trashy is averaging the lowest Kill Participation of all EU junglers. He also occupies a high share of his team’s deaths–25.2% (6th highest of all players). This is below expectations for Trashy. Splyce depends on him to work the jungle efficiently and enable their superior macro-play. Thus far, Splyce has a 56% win-rate in Group B. They only secure first dragon in 33% of games (2nd lowest of all teams), and first baron in 22% of games (lowest of all teams). Trashy will need to pull this team together to stand a chance in the long run.

Eugene “Pobelter” Park

 KDA: 1.4 (Lowest Overall)

Immortals mid lane, Pobelter

courtesy of Riot esports

Immortals, Mid Laner

D%: 27.2% (Highest Overall)

Immortals replaced every player except Pobelter in the offseason. He is supposed to be the solid foundation for bringing on imported players and rookies. So far his performances have been below expectations. Pobelter has the most deaths in the NA LCS, averaging 4.6 per game. He also averages 6.1 CS behind his opponents at 10 minutes. In a league with strong mid laners, Pobelter will need to step up if Immortals want to make playoffs. 

Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin

 KDA: 2.6 (8th ADC)

Team Liquid AD carry, Piglet

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Liquid, AD Carry

D%: 23.4% (8th Overall)

The utility marksman meta has not been kind to Piglet. The world champion has looked below expectations. Unlike years past, he has only averaged 0.3 CS ahead at 10 minutes. Piglet is also averaging only 2.3 kills per game. While there are others on Team Liquid who are underperforming, Piglet has no excuse. He was benched last Split and needs to prove himself worthy of the starting slot. For Team Liquid to get wins and make it into playoffs, Piglet will need to reinvigorate himself. 

Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black

 KDA: 2.6 (5th Support)

CLG support, Aphromoo

courtesy of Riot esports

Counter Logic Gaming, Support

D%: 22.4% (14th Highest Overall)

He has the highest death share on CLG, averaging 3.8 per game. Aphromoo may still be adjusting to playing squishier, damage-oriented support champions, but, as a veteran, it is below expectations. CLG retained their entire roster coming into 2017, but they currently sit in a four-way tie for fifth place. Since Aphromoo is their shot-caller team captain, he deserves most of the blame. To be fair, three of their losses came from the top teams of the league. If CLG want to make it into playoffs though, Aphromoo will need to play more safe and coordinated.

(DIS)Honorable Mention

Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan

 KDA: 1.4 (Tied 2nd lowest)

Team Vitality's support, Hachani

courtesy of Riot esports

Team Vitality, Support

D%: 34.1% (Lowest Overall)

Although Hachani did not have exceptionally high expectations coming onto Vitality this Split, his performance has been unacceptable. His death rate is a joke in the league (4.8 deaths per game). Hachani’s aggression and over-extensions are a liability for this team. Vitality will not be able to move up the standings until his leash is shortened. These free kills have to stop.

Each of these players will need to reflect on these first few weeks and improve. We are only three weeks in, and a lot can change before playoffs. Most LCS teams thrive on momentum. A single win can turn into a won series or a winstreak. On the other hand, a loss can tilt teams into giving away a series. All of the players mentioned are veterans who need to re-center themselves for the sake of their teams. Their next few matches will most likely define the rest of the Split.

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Vitality vs. Fnatic Preview

These two teams haven’t really ever meet in a best of five, mostly because both teams are relatively new. Sure, Fnatic is a long time staple in the EU LCS, but this roster is relatively new, outside of Febiven and Rekkles. Vitality, too, have familiar faces in their roles, but they’re a new team all said as a group. But more important than all of this is the clashing of styles that’s emerged not only in EU LCS but also across the pond in NA LCS: between Macro oriented play, where teams concentrate on objectives and out maneuvering their opponents on the map, and a more brawly, team fighting direction that wins by just beating the living crap outta the other team. I think that Vitality and Fnatic, respectively, represent those two styles, and they’ll come to blows in a real test not only of the teams but also of which is the current stronger style. It’ll also be an insane day historically: if Fnatic lose now, it’ll be the first time in their history they’ve ever not been top four (and only the second time they’ve not been Kings in Europe by taking first.)

 

Vitality: CLG of the EU

Can Vitality top their explosive entry into the EU LCS with a convincing victory over Fnatic? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Can Vitality top their explosive entry into the EU LCS with a convincing victory over Fnatic? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Team Vitality is a completely different beast than Fnatic in a lot of ways. If you’ve read my prior articles, I’ve dubbed (as many others have) Vitality to be a kind of CLG.eu of the split, that is, they play a lot of like the current iteration of CLG but in Europe. They have a bunch of strong talent, sure, in such familiar faces as Cabochard, Nukeduck, Kasing, as these are all arguably the best players at what they do. But the team is new, and they seem focused much more on a heavy map-oriented playstyle rather than a brawly, team fighting team. The biggest story line is the obvious clashing of style here. Vitality will try to outmaneuver Fnatic, while Fnatic will try to outfight Vitality. The real question is whether Fnatic can even do that. Vitality’s no stranger to fighting, and their team isn’t filled with a bunch of rookies with weak mechanics under pressure. Even at Fnatic’s own style of team fighting I am still hard pressed to see them coming out victors more than six outta every ten times.

Vitality also bring something completely alien to the Fnatic side: consistency. The team has consistently looked good, consistently done their play style, and drafted consistently well. Sure, there have been misplays, they’ve lost games, but for a team (largely) unfamiliar with each other, they’re looking good. So much so that I highly doubt a roster change in the off season will happen to the squad. Each player seems to know their role and they do it well, they make the proper calls at the right time, and fight when it’s necessary to their overall gameplay. It’s that kind of consistency mixed with depth that is vital to a squad going into the best of formats. Five games requires, it could be argued, five different strats, and further adjustments to those strats on the spot to counter apparent weaknesses or strengths of the opponents. Shaunz will be fully tested here, but I have a lot of confidence in him, and where he lacks the team can pick up those pieces. This is not simply just a clash of styles in Europe, but very well might be telling of the road ahead for Europe: Will the old Kings finally fall and usher in an era of teams attempting to fill the void, or will they, against all odds, manage to climb back up to claim their throne?

Will the newcomers in Vitality be able to best the reigning champions in the quarter finals? Courtesy of leaguepedia.

Will the newcomers in Vitality be able to best the reigning champions in the quarter finals? Courtesy of leaguepedia.

Fnatic: Never count a good team down

 

Fnatic come into the tournament with, possibly, the residue high of their IEM Katowice powering them forward. The regular split was a bit shakey for the returning champions, with the loss of three key members in Huni, Reignover and Yellowstar, and, more importantly, attempting to rebuild the team (again) without star captain in Yellowstar. It took a while, even though the team was still reasonably talented (particularly the two Korean imports,) before the Fnatic side saw consistent victories, eventually finding Klaj for support, who seems to have brought the team under a little more thoughtful guidance.

A lot of weight rests on newcomer Klaj to bring what Fnatic has been missing to the table. Courtesy of Fnatic.com

A lot of weight rests on newcomer Klaj to bring what Fnatic has been missing to the table. Courtesy of Fnatic.com

For Fnatic to come out on top, they’ll need to relie on their old guard members in Febiven and Rekkles. The two have shown carry potential before, and are no shrugs in either of their roles. But with an awkward jungler as of late in Spirit, and Gamsu not quite bringing much to the carry part of the table, the two senior members need to be in the right place at the right time. I can see them both being on equal footing against Vitality’s side, so there is a chance that, so long as other lanes don’t get out of hand, Fnatic can snowball either (or both) lane(s) to a victory. Still, that’s asking a lot against a very macro-oriented Vitality. The real storyline for Fnatic is not only their possibility of not being the Kings in Europe again, something they’ve only missed once, but not even being the Top Four in Europe. And they’re up against arguably the hardest opponent to make that run against.

 

 

 

 

Predictions: Vitality win over Fnatic 3-1

Courtesy of lolesports.

Courtesy of lolesports.

Yea, I don’t think Fnatic will climb to claim their throne. I have a lot of respect for the team, and think that this is not the end for Fnatic’s dominance in Europe. But I just don’t see them managing much against the solidity that is Vitality. I believe that Vitality just bests Fnatic in almost all regardless: they have stratigc depth, great macro-plays, they understand the game and each other very well, hell I’d even give it to them that in their respective positions I think they have more talented players (wait, you mean Korean imports aren’t always the strongest…?!) I think a loss here reflects more poorly on Vitality than it does in a positive light for Fnatic. Still, I think Fnatic will pull out a single victory against the Vitality side, they may even take two and I still wouldn’t be too surprised. But ultimately I have to give it to the Vitality side. They just seem to understand League of Legends, all of its facets and not just individual mechanics, better than the Fnatic side. And that wins games boys.

Four Story Lines to follow going into the EU LCS Week 4

Who will remain the King of Europe?

I will not let this meme die. Courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IWojm7QngI

I will not let this meme die. Courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IWojm7QngI

I don’t think any analyst or predictor could have imagined the current standings in the EU LCS. For one thing, most fans will note the distinct lack of Origen there. But on top of that, G2 and H2K are currently locking horns for top of the heap. That H2K is a contender for the top isn’t much of a surprise: they retained their star top laner in Odoamne and got the legendary Greek ADC in Forgiven. Vander and Jankos were good pick ups too, of course, but it’s more in those two players that H2K looked to be a strong team. While H2K was uninspiring at World’s, particularly in contrast to their European brothers in Fnatic and Origen, they still managed make it to World’s.

Stop.Giving.This.Man.Corki.Already. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Stop.Giving.This.Man.Corki.Already. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

But G2 eSports came in as a kind of questionable team, with a relatively unknown (but now has definitely made his mark) midlaner in Perkz and having lost some of their more ‘well known’ players. But the team just seems to work: PerkZ himself kidded that the secret is just picking up two Koreans and playing well enough and let them carry (what I would lovingly chide as being the “Fnatic Style.”) But other teams have done that and failed miserably. G2 eSports, even when behind, manage to scrap a win, and those lucky enough to have drafted PerkZ in their Fantasy leagues know already this is a team to beat in Europe, if not the team.

But both teams can’t rest on their laurels. It’s still early in the split, and a 0-2 week followed by another teams 2-0 week can unseat these top teams. UOL and Vitality are nipping at their heels, only one loss behind. H2K looks to have the easier week, facing the surprisingly good at times and abysmal at others, Elements, and the Danish side of Splyce who have yet to really make much of an impact this split. G2 also face Splyce, but must also take down the European titans (or slated to have been…) Origen.

 

Will the real middle of the pack teams please stand up?

 

Right now, as is usual, the middle of the pack are all easily within a good/bad week of each other. Given how early we are into the split this isn’t much of a surprise to anyone, with the rare exception of NA where Immortals looks to be dominating entirely, or even Cloud 9 in their first split, the middle of a split usually is the ‘make it or fail,’ kind of mentality. This is where 2-0 and 0-2 weeks can crush or make playoff dreams for teams, so teams will be buckling down from here on out.

Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

We’ll look at Vitality and UOL first, given they are 1 win over the ‘middle’ middle of the pack. Both teams are coming off a 1-1 week, but with UOL losing their star jungler in Diamondprox, I have to think that Vitality will have the bigger chance to distinguish themselves this week. Vitality should, emphasis on should, take down Elements and look poised to go 2-0 against their current tied rival in UOL. UOL is in another similar position, where they should be able to pick off a crumbling Roccat, but their face to face with Vitality will be telling of how their recovery is fairing.

If you had said to me last split that Origen and Fnatic would be tied for a position, I’d have believed you. Of course, that position would’ve been first place and not 3rd. What was turning out to be the next El Claissco has seemed to have largely fizzled out. Both teams are struggling to find themselves a footing, but this week might be the one for them to turn it all around. Fnatic has an easy week, facing the bottom two teams, so anything less than a 2-0 week will be a bad omen really. Origen should at least go 1-1, being placed against the dominating G2 eSports. Still, having these two teams be in the dead middle of the group just doesn’t feel right, and it’d be concerning if they were to fall any lower going into the rest of the split.

The last middle of the pack team is probably the only one who can seriously say that it’s an achievement. Elements were largely considered to be the TiP of the EU LCS, after a failed selling off of the team’s spot lead to a rushed and scrappily thrown together team. In truth, this seemed like more of a hope of securing a spot in the LCS to sell for the Summer split than to go anywhere serious, but the team managed to turn some heads where they went 3-1 in the first two weeks. Now they’ve had a 0-2 week that’s solidly brought the squad back down to earth, but the question is whether Elements will bounce back or continue to plummet. There have been countless teams that blaze through the first bit of a split only to crash and burn in the latter bit. It doesn’t help too that Elements is facing a super hard week: up against Team Vitality and H2K. But if Elements can manage to topple these opponents they have a chance to make a really big statement. If they fall flat though it’ll leave many questioning whether Elements has gotten this far on skill or from teams just not giving them the respect they are due.

 

Is Origen back?

Origen's gameplay is increasingly becoming a concern. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Origen’s gameplay is increasingly becoming a concern. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

When I first took in the full effects of the European exodus, particularly in the losses that Fnatic felt, I had a clear image in my head: the era of Origen dominance. I mean, they were quarter finalists at Worlds. They only swapped out xPeke for Power of Evil, arguably not that big of a deal. But oh man have they seemed not themselves. Even the team members themselves have been harsh on their performance. So what happened?

Well, last week was a bright spot for Origen, as they went 2-0 finally. This puts them right in the increasingly bloated middle of the pack, and, given 0-2 weeks by the two top teams in Europe and a 2-0 performance again, balance could be restored to the universe. This is unlikely, however. But what will be probably the game to catch this week is the one between Origen and arguably the strongest team in Europe right now, G2 eSports. A win here for Origen will do more than just pad their worrisome record this split, but also assert themselves as one of the strongest teams by taking down one of the strongest teams.

Origen shouldn’t go any less than 1-1 this week though, up against a stumbling Giants that just looks like a fish out of water this split. Origen really needs to look within themselves, lest they become a case of Cloud 9 where dropping their midlaner for arguably a mechanical upgrade results in a horrible disaster of a split. The difference is that Hai has been well cemented now as probably the most charismatic and ‘leader-like’ player in LCS history. xPeke didn’t seem like such a vital role to the team, no slight against him, it just seemed like they had cohesion outside of him. But if Origen’s record is a trajectory, having started off 0-2, then 1-1, then 2-0, maybe Origen can still turn this split around and reassert themselves as the King’s of Europe. Until then, this is a storyline we’ll have to watch closely.

 

Snakes, Cats and Giants Oh My!: Do or die for the bottom of the pack?

Splyce still has plenty of time to prove to EU that they deserve to be here. But they need to start winning games to do that. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Splyce still has plenty of time to prove to EU that they deserve to be here. But they need to start winning games to do that. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Three teams find themselves at the bottom of the European dogpile, in descending order: Splyce, Roccat and Giants. We’ll discuss them in that order. Splyce had a shining moment in an otherwise lackluster split with an insane play from Sencux, but still look slightly shaky in a lot of ways. Although there is a lot of potential in this team, it’s these next two weeks that will really determine how much of this potential can be actualized. Coming in from the Challenger Series, making it into playoffs would be a victory for this team and point to a possible bright future. Given how early it is in the split a 2-4 record isn’t the end of the world. But Splyce needs to find more wins if they want to remain relevant. This week doesn’t look like their week either, being put up against arguably the two strongest teams in Europe right now: H2K and G2 eSports. If the Danes manage to take a single game off of either of those opponents that’ll be huge, but this is probably a pipe dream. It’ll be a question of how much of a resistance they can put up.

Team Rocket-- I mean, Roccat, just can't seem to catch a break. But they'll need to if they wish to retain their LCS status. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Team Rocket– I mean, Roccat, just can’t seem to catch a break. But they’ll need to if they wish to retain their LCS status. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Poor Roccat. This is a team that’s probably been slated to do great things since its inception and multiple iterations, but just never seems to deliver. I don’t think anyone can feel anything but bad for them too, having lost their star support player in Edward due to VISA issues. The team is arguably similar to Elements in a way, a mix of leftover pro players banded together to have one last go at remaining relevant. Besides a strong, if not surprising, early win against Vitality in Week 1, Roccat just hasn’t seemed to manage anything else. Roccat are up against VISA struck UOL though, which might be a chance for this team to get a win, as well as facing a Fnatic lineup that is a shadow of its former perfect split self. But I just don’t even think that’s likely.

I'd make a David and Goliath joke or a pun about the bigger they are the harder they fall if Giants ever were actually a scary team. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

I’d make a David and Goliath joke or a pun about the bigger they are the harder they fall if Giants ever were actually a scary team. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Lastly, we have Giants. I… I don’t really know what to say about them outside the fact that they’ve just seemed off this whole split. 0-6 stands as a case in point. This is very concerning, and the team, in all truth, should be shooting for a ‘not-relegated’ position in the rankings and consider themselves good if they manage that. But I just don’t think they will. There are hungry, strong teams in the EU CS this year too, so Giants needs to be mindful of this fact. If this was last split, the two games Giants are playing would be too easy to predict: Fnatic and Origen looked like the only two teams that ever gave each other hassle, while Fnatic’s perfect season and Origen’s run from CS to World’s made them Europe’s strongest teams. But these are not the same teams, and if Giants can sneak even a single win, they might end up in a much better position than I’ve slated them to be. I just don’t know if that’s even a reasonable dream for them. It’s going to come down to whether Giants can manage to do anything this split, because if they lose this week, they’ll have lost for half of the entire split… and that’s not good.