Players to Watch on Every Overwatch League Team

The era of franchised esports leagues begins with the opening of the Overwatch League at Blizzard’s Arena in Burbank, California. The team-based, first-person shooter, with millions of players and fans worldwide, throws its hat into the competitive arena, but I’m not here to talk the business side anymore.

It’s finally time for the players to suit up and actually find out who the best is on the battlefield. 120 of the top Overwatch players from across the globe are competing for that title at the end of the season. Each team is crammed with firepower, but here are THE players to watch on each Overwatch team.

Shanghai Dragons: Diya, Hitscan main

Lu “Diya” Weida, a Chinese DPS-main, took the preseason by storm. The Dragons, while talented, had a relatively unknown roster for Western Overwatch fans heading into season one. Diya quickly made an impression with incredible precision on McCree. On a Dragons team lacking solid supports, Diya will have to carry the offense. He’s certainly talented enough to do so.

Boston Uprising: Gamsu, Tank

See? It’s not all damage-mains. The bulk of talent actually seems to bleed into the tank line. Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the famous League of Legends player, now headlines on the Uprising as their consistent tank. In the preseason, Gamsu played a major role in the attack. He sets up for the Uprising damage-duo to do work on the backend.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock: Babybay, Hitscan/Flex

The Shock will be getting much-needed reinforcements with Jay “Sinatraa” Won, but in the meantime, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty will be carrying the Shock offense. This is similar to what he had to do in the preseason. A strong force as a hitscan player that can also flex onto tank roles. Babybay’s damage output could decide games.

Florida Mayhem: Manneten, Tank

Throwing out a curveball here. Everyone knows Kevyn “TviQ” Lindstrom can ball, but analyzing this team, Tim “Manneten” Bylund comes away as the most important player on the roster. In a rather lackluster preseason showing from the Mayhem, Manneten was the only player putting up any sort of fight. His hero pool, as a tank main, is more versatile than most.

Houston Outlaws: LiNkzr, Damage

The Outlaws are a team stacked with DPS-depth, but one player looks on the verge of a breakthrough: Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin. Sure, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio might set the tone for this team, but LiNkzr is the player who’s going to separate the Outlaws. If Widowmaker is as popular in the meta as it was in the preseason, LiNkzr could be even more dangerous.

London Spitfire: Fissure, Tank

The most stupidly, ridiculously stacked team in the Overwatch League is the combination of two of the best Korean teams. Every position is filled with 2-3 players that would be possibly the best player on another team. So, who stands above as the essential personnel? Well, that would be arguably the best tank main in Korea, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. He will spearhead the entire Spitfire attack.

New York Excelsior: Saebyeolbe, Hitscan

Possibly the most exciting team to watch in the preseason, a combination of explosiveness and solid team-fighting. Until Hwang “Flow3r” Yeon-oh arrives, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol will have to carry the reigns of this spectacular DPS-duo. His Tracer play is near the top for one of the most talented characters in all of Overwatch.

Dallas Fuel: Taimou, Damage/Flex

It’s simple for the Dallas Fuel, get Timo “Taimou”  Kettunen sightlines or pave the way for this player. Yes, Félix “xQc Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson are a phenomenal tank-line, but Taimou will make or break maps. In terms of aim, Taimou can destroy pushes with Widowmaker. His hero pool allows plenty of versatility as well, I mean did you see that Roadhog?

Los Angeles Gladiators: Shaz, Support

A support main? What?

Yes, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara will be the key to the Gladiators success this season. Only a few other players impressed me more in the preseason than Shaz. He was involved in every situation and worked in tandem with Benjamin “iBigG00se” Isohanni. Shaz finds a way to stay alive and gives the Gladiators DPS-mains the push needed to take points. The support main to watch this season? Shaz.

Los Angeles Valiant: uNKoe, Flex-Support

Benjamin “uNKoe” Chevasson isn’t the most talented player on this team, but a player who can switch off Ana, Zenyatta, and Mercy is invaluable in any meta-game. Valiant have a load of work to do before this team is a real contender, based on the preseason, uNKoe will be one of the few consistencies on this team. The French player has the most experience on this team.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty: Zunba, Flex-Tank

For my money, Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk is going to be the player that pushes this team over the top. The Dynasty have 10 players to keep an eye on, but it feels as if their biggest advantage is in the Flex-Tank spot, and Zunba being a versatile and strong option in that regard.

Philadelphia Fusion: Carpe, Damage

The remains of the FaZe clan team of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok, George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano will be the core of the Fusion. The experience from these three will be important, but the dynamic DPS-duo of Carpe and Shadowburn will be what this team will lean on.

With the Overwatch League going on this week you can decide who you think the player to watch on each team will be. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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i-League, Star Ladder, Dota 2, The Aftermath

SL i-League Invitational: The Competition

After a two month lull in competitive DotA 2, the first ranked tournament of the season is now only a week away.  While qualifier games have been plentiful lately, victories there do not translate into TI8 Qualifying Points.  The Star Ladder i-League Invitational will put the first of these points on the board for the competitive season, and set the tone moving forward.  What teams are going to be lucky enough to participate in this tournament you ask?  Well lets take a look.

Invited Teams

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

It comes as no surprise that the previous winners of The International received a direct invite.  Even before they claimed the Aegis this year, Liquid was taking first place at tournaments like EPICENTER and DreamLeague.  Their roster has also maintained impressive stability over the last year, with GH being the latest edition in January of this year.  This stability means these players are well practiced when it comes to playing with each other.

Unfortunately, Liquid’s upcoming direct invites mean that the rest of us have not seen them play since August.  What they have been doing since then is anyone’s guess.  Hopefully they’ve been practicing, because the rest of the competition is bound to be fierce.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

Newbee had a similar run to Liquid leading up to The International this year.  In the span of just a couple of weeks they took first place at ZOTAC Cup Masters and Galaxy Battles.  But there is only room for one at the top, and Liquid forced Newbee to take second place at TI7 after defeating them in a 3-0 sweep.

Since then Newbee has been just as quiet as Liquid themselves.  We’ll have to wait until the opening games to see if this storied team has stayed fresh after a competitive hiatus.

Qualified Teams

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is on a tear that hasn’t been seen since their glory days in 2015.  So far they have taken first place at all three qualifiers they have participated in, guaranteeing themselves a chance at each tournament’s pool of Qualifying Points.  If they can maintain this level of performance through the actual tournament brackets, the points they earn could kick start their competitive season in a big way.

It is possible the performance increase is due to recent roster changes within Secret.  After TI7, Team Secret promptly parted ways with Pyo “MP” No-a and Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann.  Replacing them were Ace and FaTa, and it seems they were the final pieces in a winning combination.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

Na’Vi is in the middle of a resurgence of it’s own this season.  The past few competitive seasons for the first ever TI champions have been rough.  After being eliminated in the first round of both TI5 and TI6, Na’Vi failed to even qualify for the main event at TI7.  A string of disappointing performances and a few roster shuffles later, we have the lineup you see before you.  A lineup that has qualified not only for Star Ladder i-League, but also the PGL Open Bucharest Minor tournament as well.

The Na’Vi brand is legendary in professional DotA 2, and it’s high time their luck turned around for the better.

compLexity

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin

Position 2 – Linus “Limmp” Blomdin

Position 3 – David “Moo” Hull

Position 4 – Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman

Position 5 – Kyle “melonzz” Freedman

2017 was a turbulent year for compLexity.  Numerous roster changes plagued the organization throughout the year, including the departure of Chessie back in January.  Now, for the first time since August of 2016, the brothers Blomdin are playing together again.  The team states in an announcement on their website that these two players helped them achieve some of their best results in 2016.  However, while compLexity placed well at the Frankfurt and Shanghai Majors that year, the rest of their tournaments that season were middling at best.

That being said, the team looked strong in the North American qualifier.  The team looked so strong in fact they beat out teams like Evil Geniuses and OpTic Gaming.  Doing well at this i-League Invitational could give compLexity some much needed momentum this season.  On the other hand, a poor showing could very well do the opposite for the team’s morale.

SG e-sports

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Guilherme “FuckinEh” Costábile

Position 2 – Adriano “4dr” Machado

Position 3 – Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos

Position 4 – Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro

Position 5 – Lucas “Bardo” Bardosa

SG e-sports hails from Brazil in South America, which is arguably one of the most underrepresented regions in DotA 2.  Even so, this fledgling team’s recent results speak for themselves.  In the past few weeks, SG e-sports has qualified for three Minors and ESL One Hamburg, the first Dota 2 Major of the year.

One could of course argue that the players are simply big fish in their small pond of a region.  Can their apparent dominance over their fellow South American teams translate into winning tournament performances?  Right now it is difficult to say with any certainty, as this roster is barely even a month old.  Regardless, this new squad is hungry to prove themselves, and they could be the underdogs to root for at i-League.

Vici Gaming

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun

Position 2 – Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang

Position 3 – Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei

Position 4 – Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng

Position 5 – Lu “Fenrir” Chao

Vici Gaming’s roster is completely different from the team we grew accustomed to last year.  However, that doesn’t mean you haven’t seen these players before.  eLeVeN, LaNm, and Fenrir are seasoned vets that once played together on EHOME’s roster in 2016.  At the time they went from the Wild Card team to placing 5-6th at TI6.

During the Chinese Qualifier they got off to a shaky start by losing to LGD Gaming 0-2.  Despite being immediately pushed to the losers bracket, they fought on, eventually winning their runback against LGD 2-0.  The talent on this team can’t be disputed, but will it be enough to overcome the rest of the competition?

Mineski

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng

Position 2 – Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung

Position 3 – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang

Position 4 – Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong

Position 5 – Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

Personally, I was excited back in March of this year when Mineski announced they would be building a brand new team with Mushi as the centerpiece.  As a player Mushi has played in five of the seven Internationals, and has placed in the top four in three of them.  Before making his move to Mineski, Mushi captained Fnatic for nearly two years, and had some success.  The announcement that iceiceice would be joining the team in the offlane was just icing on the cake.

Mineski proved that they are a force to be reckoned with by going undefeated in their qualifier for SL i-League.  We’ll see if they accidentally used up all their luck before the true battles begin.

Star Ladder i-League Invitational Season 3 will be held in Kiev, Ukraine from October 12th – October 15th.


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OWL Contenders Week 5: Finals preview

The finality of finals finally. We made it. Back to the bracket (no more group stages!), eyes on the prize, $25,000 to first place plus an invitation to Season One of Contenders, $10,000 to second and so on. But we don’t know who’s going to be featured on the weekend streams and there are only three matches to be shown nightly. The catch? They’ll be the best teams in those games so it’ll be a good series regardless. Capping it off, every match is a best of five which gives teams a lot more time to feel each other out.

Who’s ready?!

Europe Predictions

Eight teams are ready to annihilate one another for the top spot. Forged in the fire of groups, these eight are eUnited, Movistar Riders, Singulairty, Laser Kittenz, 123, Rest in Pyjamas (NiP), Misfits and Bazooka Puppiez.

eUnited vs Movistar Riders and 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas would be my two must see matches. eUnited has been a force of nature within the European portion of the tournament but Movistar Riders has been resilient, to say the least. Their records combined are nearly identical in groups with only Movistars sporting a loss. Add in that they supplemented their team with Destro and replaced Finnsi, and this would be a show match for sure. At the same time, eUnited losing seems farfetched but they had a rather easy group stage.

eUnited beats Movistar but it will go the distance. Five matches played out to the tune a jumping Winston slamming carts, points, backlines, jams, hoops. Counting out Logix, Cwoosh and Destro for Movistar is harsh but seeing Vallutaja’s Tracer chew up teams match after match begs to temper such enthusiasm.

As for the 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas match, it may be upset city. Pyjamas have been on the major stage a long time. High-risk games where mistakes cost matches, they’ve shown their composure. Remember they were a pro-team until a week ago. They gutted out their matches and fought through groups despite the possible blow to their confidence. The problem is that 123 makes matches look as easy as their name. They play aggressive but have their hand on the shifter, knowing when to reverse when necessary. In the matches that were streamed they showed incredible poise in group fights, a mastery of good dive mechanics. The match may go in 123’s favor but Pyjamas likely wins out in a best of five. For 123 to win out over Pyjamas it will hinge on if Pyjamas runs out of steam. They went the distance getting into the final bracket but maintaining such a push? That’ll be harder than getting there. Sprinting is difficult but there’s a reason tournaments can be called marathons. Well managed tempo for Pyjamas and stifling 123’s Snillo and Mistakes will be the keys to the match.

Laser Kittenz takes out Singularity in a roll because they want to rematch with Misfits. Destiny and magnets are the two strongest forces in the universe and that will win out eventually. Singularity is an amazing team and their matches deserve a real look into.

Misfits handles Bazooka Puppiez and this one is not going to be close by any means. Puppiez is staring down the barrel of Misfits who only want to fight Laser Kittens to the death. Puppiez tied eUnited but ultimately had to make a tiebreaker to win out over Team expert.

That leaves us with eUnited vs Laser Kittens and 123 vs Misfits. That’ll be a hell of a lot of good matches till the end of the evening for the Euro crowd. Everyone gets to see eUnited (with Boombox playing out of his mind hopefully) going ham against the rest of the bracket. 123 surprising the world with their out of the woodwork storyline. I’m sure deep down a rematch between Misfits vs Laser Kittens would arguably be the best possible outcome for their fanbases.

North America Predictions

(Quietly hopes the matches don’t go late. Yep, WOOO!)

Half the teams are breathing a silent relieving sigh. Immortals aren’t in their bracket. FaZe will likely fall to Immortals in a rout but discounting ShaDowBurn, the best Genji in the tournament, seems cruel. FaZe clutched out wins in a ridiculous stacked group. The thing is that meta feels a bit tilted after the Reaper buff and Sombra has been rearing her head in the matches, especially on defensive holds. If FaZe play smart they may take a match off Immortals but their chances are slim.

In the meantime, LG Evil with (Big) Jake who’s Soldier is the stuff of true fear, is matched against Kungarna. You’ll remember Kungarna for robbing every one of their good night’s rest and flipping the table against Cloud9 in the wee hours of a Monday morning street fight. Are upsets on the horizon for Kungarna? LG Evil is an amazing team and deserves their credit but Kungarna showed they talk smack and back it up, which means they deserve the respect as well.

I’d take FNRGFE over Renegades simply over the fact that they survived a group of death for two weeks. They lost three games in a group with Immortals who were nearly perfect. They beat Arc 6 (Yikes) so handily Twitch might have to submit the VOD to the police for abuse. Renegades post a similar record as Immortals but lack the same fatalistic feeling. This would be the match of the day for sure with upsets as a high serving.

Team Liquid vs Envision may not look like much on paper and to be fair, it may be the best match. These two teams will take it to overtime in a battle but I feel Liquid got a pass. They’re not as great as their record and Envision’s isn’t much better in the scope of things. Their group performances look eerily the same, winning close to the same number of maps. The difference is that Envision dealt with LG Evil and Liquid dealt with FaZe who’s not in the same bracket as far as teams go. Liquid wins but it’ll be a coin flip.

That leaves the winners with Immortals, LG Evil (despite Kungarna putting up a hell of a fight), FNRGFE and Liquid. Immortals for LG Evil becomes a ridiculous topic of discussion which deserves an article better written than this author can produce. FNRGFE may well cruise into the finals and get routed but it falls essentially on their ability to beat Renegades and maintain momentum in the win.

Conclusion

This should make for a great weekend of European and North American Overwatch. The tournament thus far faced criticism for some of the wild things that have occurred but has shown tremendous potential to highlight the non-Korean scene. This may be in part to Alex “Gillfrost” Gill and the Carbon series he ran months prior that featured many of these teams. All the same, it’s about the games and the players more than anything. A tournament is just a marquee hanging over a bunch of people doing their best to be the best


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“From our Haus to yours”

Applying Team Sports To The Real World

I’ve said it before: Sports are a metaphor for how the real world functions. More specifically, team sports. The amount of applicable lessons you take away from playing sports is extraordinary. Now, if players on a sports team can love each other and reach victorious fulfillment, why can’t the whole human race do the same?

You hear it a lot from teammates – no matter the sport – that they love each other as brothers. More often than not, this type of bond is essential for a team’s success. However, to understand the significance of love in sports, we must understand the root of love in sports. In other words, why does loving your teammates as brothers precipitate success?

Image result for sports brotherly love

Photo from www.thescore.com

I’ll take a stab at answering this. First off, there needs to be a mutual goal that all members are trying to achieve. In the context of team sports, the ultimate goal is usually to win as many games as possible, or something along those lines. You can’t just group together a bunch of people and expect that everyone is going to get along immediately; there needs to be something that everyone is working towards. This way, teammates become dependent on one another.

If teammates are dependent, they rely on each other and value the efforts of each other. This leads to trust, trust leads to team cohesion, and team cohesion leads to team success (aka wins). With all this beneficial time spent with each other, love for your teammates should come easily. A win/loss for one player is a win/loss for the entire team, and vise versa.

It’s almost as if the end goal is distracting us from all of our preconceived notions and judgmental tendencies. There’s no time to judge others when there’s a potential win in your sight.

We’re able to apply what we know about team sports to the much larger conflict in the real world.  I say “real world” to make the point that a sporting event is a stripped down version of the rest of our lives; there are laws (rules), punishments (penalties), and rewards (points). I say “conflict” because people don’t always get along – with our families, with our co-workers or with other countries.

Sports are also a terrific gateway to discipline, a trait that can rarely hurt an individual.

Team sports, by nature, call for us to empathize with each other. Learn from your teammates. What are their thoughts on how to defend the blitz, or how to hit a line drive, or shoot a penalty shot? An empathetic approach, as opposed to a judgmental, stubborn, or self-centered approach, is the only way to find out what others think.

Image result for sports empathy

Photo from www.dailymail.co.uk

One more final thought. A lot of people think that competition is what builds a team and molds players into the best they can be. While competition does cause you to strive to be the best player you can be, cooperation is equally, if not more so, important to a team’s success. If players are getting to the point where they are yelling at each other and getting into fights at practice, that negative energy can rub off into a team’s performance on game day. That is competition at it’s worst – destructive, not helpful.

Cooperation on the other hand tells us that working with each other is more constructive.

Human behaviorist, Alfie Kohn, explains that it is “not at all true that competition is more successful because it relies on the tendency to “look out for number one,” while cooperation assumes that we primarily want to help each other…(cooperation) sets things up so that by helping you I am helping myself at the same time.” Despite initial motives to compete, Kohn claims that after time, “our fates are now linked. We sink and swim together.”

Furthermore, psychological research has shown that cooperation is highly conducive to our health, not just in sports, but at work and other settings as well.

Sports have always demonstrated that our differences are irrelevant if we are to love one another. Your race, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other background groups are thrown out the window when you play on the same team. Maybe world leaders will realize this someday and try a new approach to conflict resolution, one that involves teamwork and communication like in sports. It might take something like global warming to unite the planet, since it affects everyone, but that’s for another article.

 

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When I Met Bjergsen

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

In the summer of 2015, my sister and I traveled to Europe to visit our cousin. We stayed in Paris for a few days knowing we also wanted to explore other places in Europe. Interestingly enough, one night we had a conversation about whether we would wait in a line to get a picture with someone. We unanimously agreed, that no one came to our minds for whom we would wait in a line to ask for their autograph, or to take a picture with them. Later that summer, we decided to go to Los Angeles to visit the NA LCS studio.
I had been a follower of Bjergsen ever since he arrived in NA. I thought he was the best Western player, funny, confident and humble. Since the moment we booked those tickets to Los Angeles, I had my eyes on Bjergsen. I jokingly repeated to my sister if she was ready to meet “Senpai”, obviously referring to Bjergsen.
Weeks of anticipation finally arrived on that Saturday morning. I woke up at 8 AM, which is pretty unusual for me, but with all the excitement, I ran downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, the studio did not open until twelve, and those were the three longest hours of my life. My sister finally woke up and I accompanied her for breakfast. I talked all the way through and my excitement was probably felt miles away until we got to the studio at 12:30.
As a Sports fan, I have been to many sports events. I have been to the largest sports stadiums around the world, but visiting the LCS was different. I was in the place where the broadcast of a show that I had watched religiously for a few years took place. To be in a place so special to me was completely surreal.  It was the realization how far I have come along into accepting Esports. It was the convergence of a lot of people I looked up to, with the realization that they are very down to Earth.
At the end of every match the winning team would step outside and take pictures with audience members. We took pictures with all the teams that showed up, but one stood out. As we waited until the line got shorter, the members of TSM looked annoyed by the fact that they had the longest line. When the line got short enough that we did not have to stand under the Sun, I whispered to my sister, “are you ready to meet Senpai?”
There were only two groups of people before it was our turn when we realized that Santorin and Bjergsen did not have their jackets on. At that point, we jokingly proposed each other to ask them if we could put them on for the picture, which we quickly dismissed thinking it was “too much” to ask. As the last group stepped out and it was our turn, I immediately asked them if we could use their jackets, to which Bjergsen replied, “as long as you do not steal them” in his usual sarcastic tone. I tried saying a few other things, but quite honestly, words did not come out of my mouth and I do not remember what else I said. I have never been in love, but I assume that the way that minute played out with Bjergsen is pretty similar. Time stopped, words did not come out of my mouth as I made several attempts, and he seemed like the funniest person on Earth. We put the jackets on, took the picture, and in a moment, they were gone.
Going to the NA LCS taught me a few things. Never think that you have complete control over your body. The best memories we will have are ones that initiated by stepping out of our comfort zone. Finally, League of Legends is the best video-game in the world.

Team SoloMid Spring Split Predictions

(Courtesy of brainjunkfood.com)

(Courtesy of brainjunkfood.com)

TSM is coming off as one of the most disappointing teams at Worlds. Despite being known as the “Group of Death,” I believe TSM’s could have managed more than 1 win in their group (KT, OG, LGD)  LGD severely under-performed at Worlds, but still managed to absolutely crush TSM in their second game. TSM not only lost 5 of their games, but were absolutely mauled in every single one of them. However, the team going into this split is almost an entirely different squad. Bjergsen is now joined by a superstar team made up of Gravity Gaming’s Hauntzer, SK’s Svenskeren, CLG’s Doublelift, and perhaps most notable player, FNC YellOwSTaR.

So at this point the roster has two players widely considered NA’s best Mid and best ADC, a top laner who has a similar champion pool and playstyle as Dyrus, a jungler who is at least as good as Santorin, and probably one of the top 5 supports/shotcallers in the world.

(Courtesy of Twitter)

(Courtesy of Twitter)

Hauntzer came from a fairly average team, Hauntzer is a fairly above average Top laner. His KDA during the 2015 Summer Split was a decent 3.94. More impressively is his 72% kill participation. Hauntzer is most proficient on heavy front line champs like Maokai and Hecarim, and has shown himself to have a lot of potential to get better. With some positions, individual skill can easily be determined, but Top and Supports are the most likely to have their skills hidden behind an average team, and I’m truly interested to see how Hauntzer can play this season.

 

(Courtesy of thescoreesports.com)

(Courtesy of thescoreesports.com)

Svenskeren is one of the most experienced junglers in professional League of Legends, He was one of the first EU stand outs in his role. Sven also seems to prefer heavier champions. During last spring split, he played Rek’Sai in a third of his games, with Jarvan IV as his second choice. Interestingly enough, He only played three other champions last spring (Rengar, Lee Sin, and Nidalee) and had a 100% win rate with each of them. During the summer, he played a lot of Gragas, and added Ekko to his pool. His Summer performance was remarkably lackluster, but this could be marginally attributed to SK Gaming, and FORG1VEN’s suspension from LCS.

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

Bjergsen is a remarkable mid. I’ve heard him referred to as the Faker of the west, and I definitely feel comfortable placing him in my top 10 mids in the world. Bjerg is most impressive on his hard assassin champs like Zed and LeBlanc, and is considered a top tier NA shotcaller. His summer performance was as golden as ever, but something just wasn’t clicking. TSM made sloppy plays, and whether that is an error of Bjerg or his team is something known only by a select few. Regardless, Bjerg has spent the past year being held back by something and not playing to his full pontential.

(Courtesy of Gamespot.com)

(Courtesy of Gamespot.com)

Doublelift is almost certainly the best ADC in North America. He’s coming off of a fantastic season with CLG, and will now have the opportunity to play with one of the best supports in the world. He favored Tristana the past season and consistently was the primary carry for his team. I feel confident that he will excel on TSM even further than he did on CLG.

(Courtesy of hbhud.com)

(Courtesy of hbhud.com)

Yell0wSTaR is my favorite player in the LCS so I’m a little biased, but I would argue he is the best support in the west. The only player I put on his level was his predecessor Lustboy. (Some may question Lustboy’s abilities [especially after an incredibly average last season] but there was a time when he was the top ranked solo queue player in Korea… as a support… So I think that more than speaks to his abilties). Yell0wSTaR is a brilliant shotcaller and is incredibly talented on a variety of champs. I feel very little needs to be said in regards to this man as a player, so I’ll leave it at this: Yell0WSTaR is probably the best player on this team.

 

Strengths: Incredibly talented double threat from Bjerg and DL, Expert Shotcalling from Bjerg and YellOwSTaR

 

Weaknesses: None of these players have played together competitively and there may be some growing pains, 2 expert shotcallers could potentially cause butting heads and bad communication

 

Expected Spring Split Record- 16W 2L.

I expect TSM to go into the spring playoffs with the 1st seed. I think they might lose a few games in the first 3 weeks, but will lock down a playstyle and become a well-oiled machine as the split goes on. If Bjerg is willing to allow YellOwSTaR to take primary shotcalling duties, then he may be able to focus more on his own individual play. With Bjerg playing at full potential and the powerhouse bot lane of DL and YS, I don’t see a single NA team with the ability to stop this train.

 

 

Four Things to Look for in the First Week of the NA LCS Spring Split

(Courtesy of loll games YouTube)

(Courtesy of loll games YouTube)

1)Drama. Lots of it.
Last year’s NA LCS ended with the oldest rivalry clashing in Madison Square Garden. The conclusion of the NA LCS season could not have been more dramatic. The biggest rivalry in League of Legends left a sour taste to TSM fans as CLG made its way to an easy 3-0 victory. North American teams focused on the World Championship in the remainder of the 2015 season, regional rivalries went unnoticed, but not for long.
In what would become the most controversial transfer in League of Legends history, “Doublelift”, former star player and AD carry of Counter Logic Gaming was fired from the organization. In less than forty-eight hours, he had signed a contract with CLG’S biggest rival, TSM. What followed was an offseason overshadowed by the “Doublelift transfer”. A video was later published by the TSM organization where Doublelift throws the CLG jersey into a trashcan infuriating “Hotshotgg”, owner of CLG. Insults, public statements, relationship endings and lots of drama dominated this last off-season, and as if that was not enough, the two teams will inaugurate the 2016 season.
No matter what the outcome of the first game, the two teams will leave everything on the Rift. We can surely expect both teams to have studied each other, we can expect both teams to want to beat each other more than any time before. The post game interviews should make clear that these two teams do not like each other. League of Legends’ oldest rivalry escalated into a war-zone, and Saturday the 16th will be the first battle of the season.

2) Froggen’s struggle continues
Arguably the best Western player of all-time, new Mid Laner of Echo Fox “Froggen” has a lot to prove this season. It has been a long time since Froggen has been able to carry his team into victory. After finishing 7th in both splits of the EU LCS in season 5, and being eliminated in the group stage in season 4 of the world championships, Froggen’s inability to carry has become the norm. In light of his unsuccessful attempts at creating a world-class team, the community does not doubt that Froggen’s talent is still there. The consensus seems to suggest that lack of talent on his team is the cause of the lack of success as a professional player in his later years.
Froggen has landed in America and is ready to play, but the norm continues. The European superstar will be around players that few of us have heard of before. Echo Fox should win its first game against TIP, if they do not, it would be catastrophic. If they do, they will have beaten the team with the lowest talent in the region. The true test will come on Sunday when they match against C9. With Rush coming into the jungle and a successful finish in last year’s regional qualifiers C9 should be the favorite. Froggen will do everything he can in the mid-lane until the screen says defeat.

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

3)A lot of downtime
Games have been a lot quicker in solo queue. The game has shifted into an extremely fast-paced meta. There are more ways than ever before to extend a lead. It seems unlikely that we will see a lot of comebacks. Therefore, we will either watch more of the analyst desk, or the broadcasts will end quicker. Maybe this is just Riot getting ready for the Summer format of Bo3’s.

4)Chaotic game-play
Extremely large patch change during the off-season, almost every team has switched at least one player(some of them changing a lot more), and a snowbally meta-game is the recipe for a chaotic style of play. Teams have not figured out what is the best way to play on this patch. Players have not figured out what the best champions are. As the season progresses, and the meta-game is established, we should expect to watch a more standard way of playing. In the mean time, fasten your seat belts because games should be very entertaining unless they are too snowbally.
Cheese picks, cheese strategies should be seen like when “Hai” opened the season with a mid Teemo in the spring of 2014 against TSM. Even though teams will bring out their best during the first week of competition, it will not be a defining moment as to whom will attend worlds. With that in mind, it should be the most exciting first week of any NA LCS so far.

Spring Split Incoming, My Predictions

In just about 2 weeks, the 2016 Spring Split will be upon us. This seemed as good a time as any to put in my predictions and expectations for the split, and maybe offer a bit of analysis into my picks. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be releasing a series of articles giving my analysis of where each team is and how I think they will fare in the coming season. Now, as of today, not every team’s full roster has been announced, so these are subject to changes (which I’ll post in the forum if necessary) but, without further ado, I present to you my 2016 Spring Split NA and EU Predictions!

(Courtesy of zam.com)

(Courtesy of zam.com)

NA Regular Season:

  1. TSM
  2. C9
  3. Immortals
  4. Team Dignitas
  5. Team Liquid
  6. NRG
  7. CLG
  8. Renegades
  9. Echo Fox

 

In every version of this I came up with, I had TSM and C9 at the top. Immortals is a shot in the dark, but they have an incredibly strong roster and I have high expectations. Personally I think this is going to be a great season for Dig. Depending on who replaces Quas, Liquid could move up or down a few spaces. I don’t expect much from NRG, despite having a pretty decent roster, I just don’t see them as a powerhouse. CLG is going to struggle, if they sweep the first weekend I’ll be willing to bump them up, but I predict a mediocre split. Renegades is probably my personal favorite team, but I don’t see them being particularly competitive. Lastly Echo Fox doesn’t even have a roster yet, so until I see some names I’m placing them at 9.

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

EU Regular Season:

  1. Origen
  2. Fnatic
  3. Team Vitality
  4. Unicorns of Love
  5. Giants Gaming
  6. H2K
  7. G2 Esports
  8. Elements
  9. Splyce
  10. Roccat

 

I think Origen is a pretty safe pick at 1, and despite 3 new members Fnatic is never far from the top. Vitality is an intriguing team with a great roster. I love UoL’s new roster and I think they have lots of potential, I also think they’ll be my favorite this season. Giant’s spot depends on who they pick up, but I have high hopes. H2K looks okay, but I’m always apprehensive about FORG1VEN. G2 looks weak. Froggen is probably the best mid in EU, but I don’t think he can carry Elements. Splyce looks kinda meh, they did well in Challenger, but I don’t think it will translate. Roccat has no roster, so they are at the bottom.

Am I crazy? Am I a genius? I want to hear your thoughts, head on over to the forum and post your own predictions! And keep an eye out for my individual team analysis the next two weeks, I’ll be starting with TSM!