Misfits are trending down in week eight of EU LCS

Trending in the EU LCS: Week eight

The EU LCS stayed fairly consistent from week seven into week eight. Many of the match-ups went as expected. Most of the priority picks stayed the same. The overall meta carried over into this week. However, just like every week, there are some elements of the EU LCS that stand out. 

Trending in the EU LCS is back with your weekly dose of Europe’s ups and downs on the Rift.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week eight of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put the team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

H2K

Odoamne demonstrated the power of Rumble top. His performance shows why Rumble is always making his way into the meta. In game one against Splyce, Odoamne dealt 15.5 thousand damage to champions, almost as much as Wunder’s Camille, Trashy’s Jarvan IV and Kobbe’s Kalista combined (27 minute game time). Odoamne came back with Rumble in game two, and he matched the combined damage of Wunder’s Kled and Sencux’s Galio with 40 thousand (41 minute game time).

Week eight was a strong showing for H2K, especially against a fellow Group B competitor hoping to make Worlds. Few probably notice that H2K currently holds a 16-6 game record, the second fewest game losses in the EU LCS. While Chei has the highest kill participation (76.4 percent) of all bottom lane players, Nuclear sacrifices a large share of H2K’s deaths, relative to other AD carries (19.5 percent). This is an area of improvement for H2K to reach the next level going into playoffs.

H2K are trending up after EU LCS week eight

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Trundle support

When tanks are in the meta, Trundle resurfaces. This champion plays well into heavy tanks due to his ultimate, Subjugate. It drains 40 percent of a target’s armor and magic resistance, then applies it to Trundle. The temporary theft of these stats allow Trundle’s team to melt down a tank, if they execute properly around the ability timing. It allows a low economy support Trundle to gain larger amounts of resistances, turning the tables temporarily.

Trundle was drafted as a support in three out of week eight’s 13 games, and he was banned once by Fnatic. Altogether, the Troll King was present in 30.8 percent of the drafts. As long as Sejuani, Gragas, Cho’Gath, Zac, Maokai and Shen remain attractive, expect Trundle to be on the table.

Alistar support

In a similar vein, the Minotaur of League of Legends has risen in priority for support players. Alistar finished week eight with six picks and three bans, good for 69.2 percent overall presence. On 7.14, Alistar maintained a 60 percent win rate, claiming victory in six of ten games.

Alistar excels at area-of-effect crowd control. His Headbutt-Pulverize combo has engaged team fights in the EU LCS since the champion’s inception. Since his mini-rework, Alistar’s Trample also adds a stun to his kit. His ultimate, Unbreakable Will, heavily reduces how much damage he takes. Put all of these pieces together, and it is obvious why Alistar pairs so well with Kalista, Ashe and Jhin. Like Trundle, Alistar provides a composition with an economic tank that can swing fights heavily when all of his abilities are available.

EU LCS mascots are trending up after week eight

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

EU LCS Mascots

Alongside the Unicorns of Love-Mysterious Monkeys week eight match-up on the Rift, there was a mascot war on-stage. Of course, Romain Bigeard presented his infamous unicorn earflap beanie and UOL staff. But, this week, there was a newer, redder face on the scene. Mysterious Monkeys unveiled their mascot, one with a gorilla suit, the MM logo as a mask and a torch-like scepter. Add in G2’s samurai, played by Lothar, and that brings the EU LCS’ mascot count up from two to three (a 50 percent increase).

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week eight of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

Roccat is trending down in week eight of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Roccat

Roccat continue to make their case for most inconsistent team in the EU LCS. Each week, fans never know whether they are going to get the Fnatic and UOL-beating Roccat, or the losing Roccat. Week eight was the losers. They lost 2-0 to Ninjas in Pyjamas, gifting them their first series win of Summer Split. Roccat was an auto-attack away from winning game one. However, NIP cleanly won game two in 32 minutes. Roccat was only able to secure seven kills to NIP’s 23. This has been an up and down split for the Roccat team, and week eight basically killed any dreams of them making playoffs.

Misfits

Another Group A team that has been struggling, Misfits lost 2-0 in their week eight series versus Fnatic. While this loss is not necessarily surprising, it is not ideal. Misfits had lost eight of their last ten games going into week nine (and continued to lose two more yesterday). This record leaves them with win rates closer to Roccat and Vitality than Splyce, let alone G2 or Unicorns of Love.

The squad had seemed a lot more competitive earlier in the Summer Split, but lately they have been deflated. According to OraclesElixir.com, Misfits’ early game is fourth in the league, but their mid-late game rating is tied with Roccat for seventh. Though they hold 30 championship points from Spring Split, Misfits’ chances of doing well in playoffs, or going to Worlds, are not looking the greatest.

SPY Trashy is trending down after week eight of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

SPY Trashy

Splyce, as a whole, looks like a playoff team. They may not be the best, or the second best, in the EU LCS, but they generally feel competitive against any team in the league. All of Splyce’s carries average a lead in CS in lane, and they are towards the top of the league in KDA, damage per minute and other metrics.

However, Trashy averages behind in CS, XP and gold at 10 minutes. He has the lowest kill participation of all junglers with more than three games played (67 percent). Trashy has the third lowest First Blood rate (24 percent), the second lowest damage per minute (222) and the lowest damage share (11.4 percent) among junglers. This lack of pressure is a huge factor in why Splyce have lost 2-0 in both of their series against H2K this split.


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Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Champion Statistics: GamesofLegends.comOraclesElixir.com

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Is this the year North America goes far at Worlds?

For the past few seasons North America has had very little success at Worlds. While other regions have been able to find their way to the finals or even semi finals, NA hasn’t made it past quarterfinals since season one. This year there is a hope with NA showing a dominating performance at rift rivals against EU. Europe has had somewhat more success with teams such as H2k and Fnatic reaching semifinals the past few seasons.

Every year around this time people are slowly getting hyped for the World championships. Teams will begin to qualify in the next month or so and will most likely head to Korea for a boot camp. Bootcamping in Korea has almost become a must for teams wanting to have a shot at the World championship. The same story seems to always come for North America. Korea and other regions hype up their scrim results only to have them flop on stage. One team might make it out of groups, but then be swept handily in the quarterfinals. Here are some reasons NA fans can be hopeful this year:

Improved Competition

Worlds

Photo via Riot Esports

It’s no doubt North America has been improving steadily each year. Some of the best players from around the world have been brought in and overall, the scene seems much improved. More money has allowed teams to invest in better players, coaches, and practice facilities. Many teams such as Immortals and Cloud 9 have shown the effectiveness of bringing in a Korean coach. Immortals literally went from a 7th place team in Spring to a team contending for first with a worse roster under the wings of former ROX coach, Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo.

Not only have imports improved the competition, but new homegrown talent has also begun to flood the scene. Players like Contractz, Akaadian, Mikeyeung, and Cody Sun have begun to show that there is talent to foster here in North America. Despite all the knocks on our solo que, there are talented players out there waiting to be discovered.

The competition throughout NA is much better than it was last year and even last split. Compared to EU, there isn’t really a team like Massive Monkeys or NiP that are free wins for most teams. Every team can take a win under the right circumstances. More importantly, the top six teams look closer than ever. First place has not been held for very long this split, and it almost feels like it’s a good thing. More talented teams, should mean a better showing at Worlds.

Group draws play a huge factor

With Worlds continuing with the same format as previous seasons, group draws will be very important in seeing how far an NA team can actually go. With TSM flailing at MSI, NA comes in as underdogs with no number one seed coming into Worlds. This may not matter much as we saw G2 last year get drawn into a somewhat favorable group at first glance without a number one seed.

While NA hasn’t had the best luck with their group draws, this year could be different. The real jackpot is avoiding drawing a Korean team if possible during the group stages. Korea is undoubtedly always the strongest region.

Teams to Watch out For

Photo via Riot Esports

Due to how important circuit points are in qualifying for Worlds, TSM and Cloud 9 are almost auto locks for Worlds barring a playoff upset. The third spot will most likely be contested for in the gauntlet unless Immortals can win their first NALCS split. While it’s not impossible, Immortals have yet to show up in playoffs after successful regular seasons. This team looks much different than their previous seasons, showing a variety of different strategies to be able to win games. Coach Ssong has had a steady impact for this team. CLG, Dignitas, and Envy have also been steadily improving.

TSM will look to redeem themselves at Worlds this year after a dominating summer last year only to be knocked out of Groups. This year TSM isn’t trying to perfect one sole strategy. Instead, they’re practicing different styles of comps and learning to play off more than one lane carrying. It sounds like a good plan for Worlds success.

Cloud 9 on the other hand have looked inconsistent this split. The team seems to only win through getting star mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen ahead. When Jensen snowballs hard the team’s games become much easier. If he doesn’t get ahead, the team struggles to find a way to win. Jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia has had a phenomenal sophomore split as he has the highest DPM among junglers and is near the top in total KDA. If the top and bot lane of C9 can find more consistency, they can definitely show a good performance at Worlds if they qualify.

 

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

 

 

Can a new team break into Worlds for North America?

Over the past two seasons we’ve seen North America represented by the same three teams at Worlds: Team SoloMid, Cloud 9 and Counter Logic Gaming. These organizations have become fan favorites for most, but some new challengers have risen this split to possibly take their shot on the World stage for North America. The North American scene seems to be looking better and better. TSM has continued their dominance, while CLG and C9 have had their share of inconsistencies. Cloud 9 have almost guaranteed their spot at Worlds as long as they do well enough in playoffs. Second place for Spring granted them a massive amount of circuit points. With 3rd/4th place teams Phoenix1 and Flyquest looking close out of the playoff race, CLG will need to play well to ensure their spot at Worlds.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the teams that could contend for a spot:

Immortals

Due to Immortals finishing 7th place last split, they have zero circuit points to help with contention. This almost guarantees that they’ll need to earn their spot either by winning Summer or qualifying through the gauntlet. The latter will be the most likely scenario.

Immortals have become known for having great regular seasons, aside from last spring. This split came as a bit of a surprise to most. People expected the jungle swap of Dardoch and Xmithie to favor CLG, but both teams have benefited greatly. Not only the jungle swap, but the hiring of former ROX tiger coach, Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo, has given them the knowledge to properly out-macro opponents.

Every lane seems to have come into their own. Young rookie, Li “Cody Sun” Yu Sun has developed into a top tier ADC this split along with support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. Cody Sun is near the top for DPM and DMG percentage among ADC’s. Olleh has shown great performances on playmaking champions such as Thresh.

Immortals is currently tied for first with TSM and CLG. They’ll need to prove that they can finally perform when it matters, not just the regular season if they want to make it to Worlds.

Dignitas

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

Dignitas stormed out the gates this split, contending for first place for a few weeks before going on a losing streak. They still have their inconsistencies at times. Last week against CLG they flashed the potential to be able to dominate some of the best teams in the league. Other times, they play to the level of their inferior opponents and drop matches.

With jungler Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon taking the reigns as the full time starter now, Dignitas can maybe gain some consistency for a Worlds run. Shrimp has the second highest kill participation percentage among junglers. In the bot lane, they’ve added two veterans of the LCS in Altec and Adrian. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes the full time bot lane for the team moving forward.

What’s worrisome is how average of a mid laner Lae-Young “Keane” Jang can be. Keane has middle of the pack stats in comparison to the rest of the NA mids. If he can play up to the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen, Pobelter and Huhi, then maybe Dignitas can make it.

Dignitas has 10 championship points from last split which likely means they’ll be battling in the gauntlet for a Worlds spot. If the team can find some consistency, don’t be surprised to see them as real contenders for a Worlds spot.

Phoenix1

Despite Phoenix1 not being far from the playoff race at the moment, and tied for last place, they still have a ton of circuit points that can help them qualify. A third place finish from Spring granted them 50 circuit points, more than a lot of the teams outside of C9/TSM. Even if they don’t qualify for playoffs they still have a shot in the gauntlet based on circuit points.

Rift Rivals was seen as a stepping stone for the team after a rough start to summer split. They had a good performance and were looking to carry that momentum into the second half of the split. That hasn’t been the case as they’ve stumbled coming back. Star rookie jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung hasn’t looked as dominant since he’s returned. The tank jungler meta hasn’t allowed him to show the same carry performances we saw at Rift Rivals.

Mid laner, Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook, stepping down certainly doesn’t help their cause either. Ryu was an integral part of the team, and it’s hard to say that Pirean can come in and perform up to veteran Ryu standards. If Ryu does return after a needed break, Phoenix1 can definitely make a C9 Cinderella run in the gauntlet.

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

With only two and a half weeks left in the split, any team can make a late run for Worlds. Will it be CLG, Cloud 9 and TSM at Worlds once again for North America? Or will a new team emerge from the ashes?

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Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Prediction: Fnatic, G2 and H2K will represent the EU LCS at Worlds

While four weeks of Summer Split, playoffs and the regional gauntlet remain for the EU LCS, Worlds is just around the corner. The window for qualifying is quickly closing, and every match counts. The teams have four to six series left to prove themselves and solidify their spot in the World Championships to represent Europe.

Keeping that in mind, I believe Fnatic (FNC), G2 and H2K will be the qualifying teams. Below, I outline the various different circumstances of these three teams. There are spectrums of results that these squads can fall into. There is enough parity within the league that any of these teams could miss out on Worlds, but they can also win the split and be Europe’s top seed. Here are the ways in which FNC, G2 and H2K can finish out their split.

fnatic

How they miss Worlds: Let’s say Fnatic loses its upcoming series against Unicorns of Love (UOL), Misfits (MSF) and G2. They would end the split with a 9-4 record. MSF or G2 would need to win five out of six of their remaining games to overtake FNC for first place in Group A. Therefore, they are most likely going to end first in their group.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

First place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. If they lose in the semifinals, FNC would end the split in third or fourth place. Third gives them 70 championship points; fourth gives 40 points. Since they finished Spring Split with 50 points, FNC’s total championship points would come to 120 or 90.

If playoffs played out in this way, then G2 and UOL would both most likely finish with more championship points, pushing FNC into the regional qualifiers. If we are assuming MSF beat FNC in week eight, then they may very well beat them in the gauntlet to qualify. This would be FNC’s lowest probable outcome, in my opinion.

Realistic expectations: FNC should reasonably win three of their last five series. Their record would end at 10-3, meaning MSF or G2 would need to win all of their remaining series (including those against FNC) to overtake first place in Group A.

Again, first place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. Realistically, FNC will end up playing against UOL or H2K in the semifinals. They can beat either of those opponents to make it into the finals and auto-qualify via first place in Summer Split or highest total championship points.

H2K or UOL winning playoffs to auto-qualify would be the only possibilities that would rule out these qualifications. FNC would then be competing with G2 and UOL for highest championship points. For example, if UOL finishes first, FNC second and G2 third, then G2 would total 160 points. FNC would have 140, forced into the gauntlet. If G2 instead finishes fourth, then they would total 130 points.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Finally, if the playoff standings end with H2K-FNC-UOL-G2 in first through fourth, then FNC and UOL will tie with 140 total championship points. According to lolesports.com, FNC would qualify for Worlds, because they accrued more points in the Summer Split.

Best case scenario: FNC can realistically win the entire Summer Split. They currently sit at 7-1, and it is likely they will finish first in Group A. Therefore, they are likely to have a bye in the first round of playoffs. H2K or UOL are FNC’s most likely semi-finals opponent. FNC could definitely beat them to qualify for the finals.

Once there, FNC will most likely face H2K, UOL or G2. Again, they can conceivably beat any of these opponents in a best-of-five series to win the Summer Split and auto-qualify for Worlds as Europe’s first seed.

G2

How they miss Worlds: G2 are second in Group A with a 5-3 record. They have five series left to solidify their spot in the standings. Assuming G2 beats all teams below them and loses to FNC and MSF, they would end the regular season with an 8-5 record. This may put them at third in their group.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

They would likely face UOL or H2K in the quarterfinals. Either of those teams could eliminate G2 from playoffs immediately. They would finish in fifth-sixth, gaining only 20 championship points. G2’s total would be 110 points. If UOL finishes second, third or fourth, FNC finishes second or third, or MSF finishes second, then G2 would be forced into the regional qualifiers.

Within the gauntlet, G2 would most likely auto-qualify for the semifinals or finals. They could reasonably win into Worlds, but they could also fall flat. It would be hard to imagine the 2017 World Championships without G2 in attendance, but that is not out of the realm of possibility.

Realistic expectations: Suppose G2 beats Vitality (VIT), Ninjas in Pyjamas, MSF and Roccat (ROC) in their last four weeks of the Summer Split. G2 would finish the split with a 9-4 record, second in Group A. This could completely change their likelihood for qualifying into Worlds. Splyce (SPY) would be the most likely opponent from Group B.

If G2 were to win that quarterfinals match, then they would automatically finish in the top four in the EU LCS. Fourth place would give G2 130 championship points. UOL would have to get second or third, or FNC would need to get second, to push G2 into the gauntlet. Under those circumstances, G2 would most likely bye into the finals of the Regional Qualifiers, putting them one best-of-five away from Worlds.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If G2 finish in third, that would put them at 160 points. UOL would have to get second place to knock G2 into the gauntlet. Any other circumstance would allow G2 to qualify for Worlds as Europe’s second seed.

Best case scenario: Most EU LCS fans know that G2 are completely capable of making it into the playoff finals. Even if they lose, G2 would finish the year with 180 championship points. It would be impossible for another team to surpass.

It is not inconceivable for G2 to win the entire Summer Split. They have won three splits in a row, and performed highly at Mid-Season Invitational. G2 would love to go to Worlds as Europe’s top seed to set themselves up for international success.

H2K

How they miss Worlds: H2K do not have an easy road to Worlds this year. Spring Split really set them back compared to other top teams. They currently sit towards the top of Group B with a 6-3 record. They are battling UOL for the first place spot. SPY is two wins behind H2K with four weeks to go.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If H2K drops series to SPY and UOL, and SPY is able to overtake them for second place in Group B, then H2K will most likely face G2 or MSF in the quarterfinals. MSF will be a decent match-up, but losing to G2 would mean ending fifth-sixth again. H2K would finish the year with 30 championship points and be forced into the gauntlet, where they would likely lose.

Even if H2K makes it into semifinals from quarterfinals, they would have to then face FNC or G2. Either of these teams could knock H2K into the third place match. If H2K finish fourth, they would have accumulated 50 total points, and most likely need several Regional Qualifier wins to get to Worlds. If they finish third, they would have 80 points, and still most likely need to win two series for Worlds.

At H2K’s lowest, they will not make Worlds. Their Spring Split playoffs performance has set them back so far that every single series win could be the difference for them to qualify. Losses now mean a lower playoff seed. Losing early in playoffs means a longer gauntlet run. A loss in the gauntlet means another team is representing Europe at Worlds.

Realistic expectations: H2K is fully capable of beating every single opponent in the league. It is just a matter of which team is playing well that day. They can beat UOL. SPY, VIT and Mysterious Monkeys should be easier wins. UOL faltering against ROC this week proves that H2K can finish first in Group B.

A first round bye for playoffs would be a boon for H2K. It would solidify a top four finish in the Summer Split, essentially guaranteeing they are included in the Regional Qualifiers. If they finish third in playoffs, then H2K most likely has to beat SPY or MSF and face UOL to qualify for Worlds. In this hypothetical, H2K finished at the top of their group by beating UOL, so they could then beat them in the gauntlet and qualify as Europe’s third seed team.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Best case scenario: At H2K’s peak, they win the whole Summer Split. FNC, G2 and UOL had troubles at Rift Rivals, but it is not necessarily going to be easy. H2K could finish the split in first place for Group B. They could go on to beat MSF or G2 in the semifinals, then win the finals against UOL or FNC.

This is H2K’s best scenario. Of course, winning Summer Split is everyone’s best scenario, but this is especially true of H2K when compared to FNC, G2 and UOL. Points-wise, those three teams are contenders for Europe’s second seed if they don’t win playoffs. Because of H2K’s fifth-sixth finish in the Spring Split, they do not have this luxury. If H2K finish first in Group B, then they only need to win two best-of-five series to go to Worlds. If they do not finish first in their group, then H2K will have to win four to six series to qualify.

Prediction

My actual predictions are a hodge podge of the hypotheticals described above. I expect Group A will see FNC in first, G2 in second and MSF third. Group B will have H2K finish first, UOL second and SPY third. FNC and H2K will go into playoffs with a bye.

In that scenario, UOL would face MSF in the quarterfinals. G2 would match with SPY. Both of the second place teams would win those best-of-fives. UOL will go on to face FNC, while G2 goes up against H2K.

The “Kings of Europe” really should reign supreme at this point. FNC and G2 have impressive histories of winning European best-of-fives. UOL and H2K, on the other hand, have faltered on many occasions when it truly mattered. FNC and G2 should meet in the finals.

It may end up being a close series, but it is hard to bet against G2 at this point in the EU LCS. Sure, they looked rough at Rift Rivals against the NA LCS teams, but this is not Rift Rivals. This is the EU LCS. G2 has won the last three splits in a row, and they seem to always do better in longer series. I expect them to take Europe’s first seed spot for Worlds this year.

FNC would finish the year with 140 championship points, taking Europe’s second seed qualifier. UOL would have 110, H2K would have 80, MSF would have 50 and SPY would have 30. It is hard to imagine this gauntlet final facing off anyone besides H2K and UOL. These Group B rivals will be exciting to watch. Following their week 10 match-up, I expect H2K to follow through and qualify as Europe’s third seed to Worlds.

Regardless of what happens over the last few weeks of the EU LCS, it is going to be riveting. The standings are much closer than many expected coming into the split. The parity within Groups A and B is shaping up to come down to the wire. Series losses now can have Worlds-qualifying consequences. Every match counts.


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Worlds

Possibilities for NALCS Worlds teams

There are only three weeks of the regular season remaining in the LCS. Teams are jostling for playoff spots and each game could decide whether a team gets a spot in the top six. With playoff contention on the line, each match is all that more exciting.

Playoffs are the route to the big stage, the only competition that really matters in the end: Worlds. Rift Rivals gave us a small taste, a brief glimpse, a cracked window into the competition that we will see at Worlds. However, the real story is here in the trenches of each league. No team at Rift Rivals is guaranteed a spot at Worlds.

NA LCS has a few favorites. Before the beginning of Rift Rivals, there seemed to be a top four, those being C9, CLG, TSM and IMT. However, with C9 suffering a loss to NV and CLG taking a loss to DIG, those standings have been shaken up a bit. The teams that seem middle of the pack have now proven they can take wins against top tier teams.

Most likely to make Worlds

Worlds

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

No Worlds spot is safe. TSM has a good chance to go, being the team with the most points from their Spring Split victory. They are also the favorites to win Summer Split and have two very likely avenues back to Worlds. They would have to throw a lot of games away the last few weeks and have an abysmal playoff run to not make Worlds.

Cloud9 seems to have the Worlds spot in their grasp too. Though they didn’t have the best record going into Rift Rivals, they have a fairly easy schedule the final few weeks of LCS, only facing one top four team. However, they suffered a loss to NV their first game back. Cloud9 does have the second place Spring finish to work with, and will likely still make playoffs. They have the chance to go to Worlds on points, if TSM wins the playoffs, but will likely have to have at least a third place finish.

IMT and CLG are in the same basket. Neither has enough points to bank on that route. They will either have to win the split out right or battle their way through the gauntlet. Either team will have a challenge in the gauntlet because the mid-tier teams are making a surge for the top spots. CLG does have the 10 points from the previous split. A second place finish from them and a fifth or sixth place finish from C9 will give CLG the championship points needed to go to Worlds.

Dark horses

Worlds

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

NV picked up a win against Cloud9 in a 2-0 series on Saturday. The team looked good all around but more importantly proved they can win against top tier teams. They will have to make playoffs, and likely at least win in the first round, in order to have enough points to qualify for the gauntlet. At this point in the season, with the performance they had in week 5, it is definitely possible.

If NV does pick up some championship points they have the skill and ability to make a run at the Worlds stage through the gauntlet. A dominant win over C9 shows that.

DIG has something that NV does not, and that is 10 championship points. They will still have to make playoffs in order to qualify for the gauntlet, but have the advantage of doing so over NV. DIG started out the split strong, but have slumped in these middle weeks. They have just taken a win over CLG, however, and like NV have proven they game take series wins off of top tier teams.

P1 has a whopping 50 championship points from their third place finish in the spring, but they are sitting towards the bottom of the standings as of right now.  Rift Rivals has shown us that they aren’t a team to be trifled with and they are definitely on the upswing. They did eat a 2-0 loss to TSM, but P1 does have the potential to take some wins away from other top tier teams and climb the rankings. Depending on who makes the playoffs and finishes where, P1 might not even need to make the playoffs to make the gauntlet, but it would certainly help.

Nearly impossible

Worlds

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

FLY, TL and FOX are all very unlikely to see playoffs, and by extension Worlds. These teams have had lackluster splits so far and have little to no redeeming qualities. Flyquest does have the benefit of having 30 championship points. P1 is playing so well that it wouldn’t come as a surprise if FLY end up in the relegation tournament.

The close standings of this NALCS split have opened the door for a lot of teams to see the Worlds stage. It’s far from the usual Cloud9, TSM, CLG. Instead, there’s a significant chance that only one of those teams will be attending the World Championships.


Cover Photo Via lolesports

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Bleeding Gods: The Inevitable Fall of SKT

SKT has always been the team to beat. Even in season four, one of the biggest upsets in competitive League up to that point was SKT’s loss to Najin White Shield. This prevented SKT from returning to Worlds. Beyond that SKT, dominated season five and six, and continues to dominate in season seven. They are the first team to win multiple, and the first to win consecutive, Worlds Championships. During this time, they also took second in the first MSI and won the past two. Ask anyone, SKT’s reign is unprecedented and will likely never be repeated in any similar likeness.

That said, their reign will surely end. Their fall is inevitable; no team in the history of any sport has dominated for forever. Teams rise and fall, and suffer defeats as well as achieve victory. SKT, while having been dominant for some considerable amount of time, will eventually lose.

Roster Swap

Photo Via Lolesports

A likely cause of this will be the result of a roster change. Despite roster changes throughout their reign, the team’s center remains Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The original line-up of SKT T1 K was built around the god himself. Even when the team combined with their sister team, Faker was still looked to as the star.

Faker, ADC Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, and support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan make up the core of the current iteration of the team. They have all been on the team since season three. They bring skill, stability, and experience to SKT and are irreplaceable.

What will happen when that stability and experience decide to take an offer in China or retire? It’s unlikely that any of the three, especially Faker who has been lauded as the greatest of all time, will have any adequate replacement to continue to propel the team to the height they currently enjoy. The likely outcome of a roster swap in the bot or mid lane will be a dip in performance from the team. But SKT has more than great players – they also have great coaches. These coaches could help to overcome the loss of any skill, stability, or experience that would come with a roster swap.

Coaching Staff

Photo Via Lolesports

That being said, another likely cause for SKT’s reign to end would be SKT’s coaching staff to undergo a major change. Choi “cCarter” Byeong-hoon, Kim “KkOma” Jeong-gyun, and Jung “RapidStar” Min-sung make up the current coaching staff of SKT with KkOma and cCarter having been around since 2013. The coaches have the ability to lead, scout, and create an atmosphere of hard work and dedication. The team’s results speak to their abilities as coaches as well as their ability to continue dominance, despite roster swaps in the top lane and jungle. The most recent example being the acquisition of Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who looks even better now than he did in his Fnatic days. It also doesn’t hurt that KkOma’s pick and ban is one of the best in the world.

Thus, it would be no small thing to lose any of the coaches, especially cCarter or KkOma. Losing either one would change the entire dynamic of the team and likely result in a less qualified replacement, leading to losses.  A change in that staff could signal the end of the SKT dominance, and it could also cause some players to leave the org. Considering Faker has never played for anyone but Kkoma, if he leaves Faker might also consider leaving.

All this goes to show the precarious place that SKT finds themselves in. So many of the organization’s members are irreplaceable. If any of them leave, the delicate balance of SKT could falter and the team will start suffering some meaningful defeats.

Challengers

Photo Via Lolesports

A third and perhaps the most likely reason for SKT’s reign to end is that another team will rise to the challenge and dethrone the current kings of League. This has already happened before; SKT didn’t even make it to season four Worlds. Faker even suffered his first ever professional Leblanc loss to EDG in the 2015 MSI finals. Eventually, SKT will just lose. In fact, what makes SKT’s reign so unprecedented is that they did lose, but they came back swiftly and with more force than was thought possible. However, it’s quite unlikely that they can continue to comeback from sustained defeats without a roster swap of some kind.

There is no doubt that SKT will eventually fall. Though it doesn’t seem likely that they will lose anytime soon, it’s inevitable that eventually, something will shake up the roster or some team will rise to the occasion and defeat the gods.


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Flaws With Rift Rivals

Riot Games is finally introducing more chances for international play with their announcement of Rift Rivals yesterday. Rift Rivals will pit regional rivals against each other in a battle between the top three teams of their respective regions. Fans and teams have been begging for more international competitions and Riot looks to have been listening. Things aren’t perfect though and there are some flaws with how the tournament format is set up. Let’s take a look:

Photo via Gamespot

Bo1’s

Has Riot not learned anything from the past few seasons about best-of-one formats? One can see how it can be exciting for fans due to the unpredictability. With B01’s, you can have upsets, such as Albus Nox Luna at last Worlds and Wildcards upsetting highly ranked teams.

In any case, B01’s don’t allow much flexibility in drafts/strategies and can limit how creative a team can get. Most teams will want to just draft standard in a B01 because they only have one game to prove themselves. Having a best-of-three format would allow for more creative drafts, where teams can get risky in game one knowing that if things don’t work out they can go back to standard for game two.

It doesn’t feel like the winner of B01’s is definitively better than the other team. They were only better than them for one game. One mistake can cost a team a game.

Teams are locked in from standings based ON half a split ago

For those who don’t know, teams are already locked in based on the spring split standings for Rift Rivals. Announcing a type of tournament like this should open up more motivation for teams to do well to represent their region at this tournament.

Many things can change in half a split. A team can go from being a top three team to possibly a 4-6th place team. If that’s the case, fans get a lower quality play and may not be represented well. Hypothetically speaking, TSM, Cloud 9, and Phoenix1 could all be bottom tier teams next split and will still be able to play in this tournament. If you’re going to have an international event in July, teams should need to qualify for it as close to the date as possible for the best results.

Relay Format

The relay format basically starts with the 3rd place team of each region pitted against each other in a B01. Whatever team loses is eliminated and the winner stays on to face the next highest ranked team of that region.

The major issue with this is you could potentially never see the first place team of a region play. It’s all based on how well the third place team does. If the third place team were to win all three matches, you wouldn’t even see the other two teams play in this type of format.

Double elimination B03 matches would make the most sense to actually see how the teams stack up against each other. Limiting it to B01’s and this really weird relay format limits the chances of actually seeing who is a better region. Having a gauntlet style tournament would at least give every team a chance to play in a best-of series.

Future tournaments

It seems that with Riot introducing this new tournament, they’ll be looking at doing more in the future. With only four days in between the split to plan this out, time is quite limited for them, which may explain the B01 format. Nonetheless, it’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully, with more time, Riot can put on a better format for an international event.

Cover image via Riot Esports

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Can Mastermind Weldon solve G2’s International Woes?

Weldon’s Own Success

G2 Esports made an amazing addition to their League of Legends team with the official announcement of TSM’s former assistant coach, Weldon Green, joining their coaching staff. Weldon has been working vigorously within the Pro League of Legends scene with high-profile teams such as TSM, CLG, and Fnatic as a team psychologist. With his recent success with TSM, other teams have picked up on this trend and decided to hire their own team psychologists. They are meant to help deal with the mental grind that pros endure throughout the season, along with helping players deal with the jitters that may be related to playing on stage.

Weldon began on TSM in small sessions during the 2016 Spring Split, eventually landing a full-time position for the Summer. TSM finished the Summer Split with a phenomenal 17-1 record while also finishing first place in the NALCS, before failing to get out of their group at Worlds. Weldon was credited with playing a major role in their success last season. TSM decided that they wanted to part ways with Weldon for the upcoming season, noting that having his assistance may be better in sessions as opposed to full time.

Current State of G2

Courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

Weldon enters a G2 team that has found much success, almost breezing through the EULCS competition last season. They have a talented roster that has failed to show up in international events since they’ve begun their LCS journey. Last season, G2 failed to make it out of groups at Riot’s Mid Seasonal Invitational, struggling against most of the teams there. They received a lot of hate and criticism from the community when they stated they decided to give their players a break coming into a very serious international tournament that would affect seeding for Worlds.

G2 hoped to redeem themselves at Worlds after being put into a group most agreed they would be able to get out of. That did not prove the case as Albus Nox Luna shocked the World, as they became the first Wildcard to make it out of groups. They beat out CLG and G2 for the second spot out of their group. G2 finished Worlds with a 1-5 record, only taking one game off of Albus Nox Luna. G2 as a whole received a lot of hate from the EU community for representing their region so poorly, coming in as the “best team” from Europe.

Building off Regular Season Success

Weldon comes in looking to improve off an overall successful regular season from G2, and improving on the international problems that have plagued them. In EU, Trick and Perkz have looked like two players with amazing synergy and individual talent. As we know, that hasn’t translated into international play just yet.  Meanwhile, Zven and Mithy, have proven to be one of the best bot lanes in the West, but even they didn’t look as good as most people expected at Worlds. Their top laner, Expect, for the most part, was a consistent performer, doing what his team needed. His miscommunication on Teleport, however, cost his team at times.

What is it about performing at international tournaments that hinder G2 so much?  In a twitlonger posted by Perkz after Worlds, he stated, “I was mostly sad that I disappointed myself because I had a lot higher expectations of myself after the whole Korean bootcamp where I felt like I had reached very high level and consistent performance in scrims and not being able to translate that on stage hit me really hard”. The bootcamp in Korea resulted in many rumors that G2 was one of the stronger teams at Worlds. When it came time to play week one, their showing was miserable. They went 0-3, while not looking competitive for basically every game, besides a strong early game vs. ROX in which some poor teamfighting led them to another hard loss.

Weldon has a tough task ahead of him. With a lot of new, young, revamped LCS teams coming into Europe, G2 will not have as easy of a path to Worlds as they did last season. Will he be able to show off the same success as TSM, or will G2’s nerves get the best of them?

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Why Imports Might not be the Solution to Competing at Worlds

After Samsung White shredded through the competition on their way to winning the World Championship in Season 4 of League of Legends, there was a “Korean Exodus” in the offseason. Multiple talented Korean LoL players were offered huge salaries to come over to China to play in the LPL. Analysts and fans thought this would mean the end of Korea’s reign on pro League of Legends, when their top talents decided to go elsewhere to chase the money. Multiple super teams formed in China, looking to contend for the World Championship. It’s now safe to say that the exodus was a failure for both sides. Korean players hoping to contend for a World Championship met the same defeat losing to newly bred Korean talent. A lot of Chinese players got lost in the shuffle and never looked quite as good as they had in the past.   

Courtesy of lolgamepedia

Once known as top tier players in the World, many of their careers dissipated in China. Former SSW jungler, Dandy, hailed as a jungle god when he won the World Championship. He then faded on Vici Gaming, even attempting to play top lane for a bit. He just never looked like the same jungler who dominated in Korea and at Worlds. Dade was another huge name who was once considered a top tier mid-laner in the World. He was soon forgotten as his play diminished in China. Even Chinese players, such as Gogoing and Cool, never looked the same after the imports came in and weren’t able to qualify for Worlds again. Some of them were eventually benched, and retired.

Less than Expected Results

It seems that for the most part, since importing became popular in the off season of seasons 4-5, the super teams formed have not been able to meet their expectations of contending for a World Championship. Edward Gaming hailing out of China’s LPL region has always looked dominant in their region. With new star Korean carries, Deft and Pawn, EDG always looked like strong favorites coming into Worlds. Just this previous season, many analysts hailed them as being the second best team competing at Worlds. Clearlove looked like an unstoppable jungler and Deft looked as good as he always had.  They were thoroughly disappointed to lose to Brazilian wildcard INTZ Gaming. They placed second in their group to Europe’s H2K, before being swept at the hands of Korean team ROX Tigers.  

Looking to the bottom of the LCS, a lot of low tier teams have given players from the Korean solo queue ladder a shot at playing just based on their ranked and team ladder performances. Teams like Coast and Roccat specifically, have been guilty of doing this, seeing less than stellar results. Coast decided to bring in two Korean players right before promotion series in an attempt to qualify. They were swept easily, and had looked worse than before they brought in the imports. Roccat failed to make playoffs when they imported Korean top laner, Parang, and support Raise, and eventually had to play through relegation to keep their spot in LCS. Before joining NA’s Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), Seraph was a top lane sub for Najin White Shield and had held a high spot on the Korean solo queue ladder for awhile. CLG found success for a time with Seraph, but eventually fell apart when communication and underlying internal issues became a major issue with the team. Teams also need to understand that rookies coming straight from solo queue don’t always translate to success in professional play.

Should teams try to grow players within their region?

Courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

It sparks an interesting discussion of whether or not Western and Chinese teams should be importing as much as they do.  It has almost become a necessity, rather than an option.  With the promotion of Goldenglue to Team Liquid’s starting mid laner, he joins Pobelter as the only North American mid laner playing in the region.  On the other hand, you have many North American teams importing Korean top lane talent, negating the growth for talent in that role for the region.  Since Cloud 9 entered the scene, there hasn’t been a team grown from Challenger Series to find success in the LCS. Teams just aren’t grown from Challenger the way they should anymore.  Challenger teams are importing veterans of Pro League, such as Madlife recently, to Gold Coin United, in an attempt to revive their careers and qualify for LCS.

It’s rare to find North American talent that finds instant success playing in the LCS. Most of the time, they aren’t given a shot on a big time LCS team like Biofrost was with TSM.  They’re usually forced to fill one of the three Region slots on a sub-par, low tier LCS or Challenger team, and given two imports who may or may not be great on the professional stage. It’s not the greatest environment to say the least, as communication may not be stellar, and coaching structure is not built for success. This is because most of the Challenger teams are new organizations trying to enter the scene with no prior knowledge of how to run a Pro League of Legends team. There are also many rumors of shady organizations not playing players/coaches, which would definitely hinder a player’s desire to continue pursuing a career like this.  

Should teams focus more towards growing talent in their own region?  Should the most talented NA players look to flood themselves into various NA super teams similar to Flash Wolves and AHQ in LMS?  Import slots, although useful, can be a double edged sword in making or breaking a team.  What if the language barrier is too much or they discover being out of the comforts of their home country isn’t what they had hoped for?  This NALCS season will be a huge measuring stick in looking at the effectiveness of imports, as every roster looks more dangerous than ever, bringing in players from every region to compete.

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LCK Autumn – Explaining the Regional Gap

A few things happen every October. The World Series, Columbus day, and the disappointment of western League of Legends fans everywhere. The World Championships begin in October, and it brings about several things. North American fans absurdly…Optimistic about at least one of their teams chances to do well at Worlds. European fans are generally very worried, because their regions top teams look unpolished when playing against one another. Weeks later, North American fans are crushed by the heavy handed reality of Korean dominance, European fans are cautiously optimistic that one of their teams can make it far enough to boast about, and Korea looks on, sort of bored by the affair. This happens so often, that many spectators are dubbing worlds LCK Autumn, a mere expansion of League Champions Korea, and the only time the eastern overlords choose to allow western teams to train against the metaphorical Super Saiyans of the League of Legends Universe.

 

Don't let his small hands fool you, this guy would probably be Goku.

Don’t let his small hands fool you, this guy would probably be Goku.

 

The realization that this has almost always been true, save for Season 1 when E-Sports was a more underground thing, and Season 2 when meta and macro were only just starting to become defined, always leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of western fans and understandably so. It is hard to watch year after year when the same region takes him the Summoners Cup, of course some will raise the argument that people should only care for the quality of game, not the nation that the Cup goes to. This does hold true, to an extent but after a time, it is important to many people in anything that they win, or if not them, their region. This is a feeling expressed in many games and is the spirit behind Smash Bros. crew battles, and, for many people, the Olympics.

 

These guys are looking for a third World Championship

These guys are looking for a third World Championship

 

Now that we covered that continued losses make western fans feel pretty bad, we can take a look at why it happens. For one, the stakes are far higher in the Korean League scene. Don’t believe me? Ask 3/5’s of 2013’s SK Telecom what happened when they stopped playing well. They were replaced, contrast that with another North American giant, Counter Logic Gaming, whose mid laner is almost a certified one trick, and whose top laner has been getting outplayed far too much, for as much hype is drummed up about him. Did this CLG win North America? For sure, but they haven’t put up any sort of results at Worlds, going so far as to cheese their way through champion select in a semi-deciding game.

 

“2013’s SK Telecom didn’t put up regional results in that next year either!!”

 

Ah, I do hear you back there and clearly you are correct, however the difference here is that 2013 SKT had a bunch of young players, in North America, they’d be seen as investments, it would be though that they could improve, that they’re worth keeping, even without domestic results following them, kind of like Dignitas. In Korea they were dropped the moment they were seen to be too weak. For Piglet, he was dropped the year right after his rookie year, he for sure still had some play left in him, especially if you use another Korean returning AD like PraY as an example.

 

More than just the players, it’s the training. You can sit there and claim that we don’t know what goes on during scrimmages, and you’d be right, but from the games, you can tell the difference in the training regimens. Practice shows in play, if it’s effective, if it doesn’t show, then something is going wrong. The Korean teams look so crisp and confident in their play, immediately reacting to one another, until someone is out of moves to make. It’s like a high level fighting game, where both players are playing the mental game just as much as the game on screen. Teams from the West don’t have that skill accompanying their play. There are always lulls in their cohesive action, and sometimes their entire game is on the back of one player (Shoutout to Jankos) keeping them above water. Koreans are just people, like the rest of us so there’s no reason that their game should look as clean as it does all the time, except for practice. They practice more seriously, they practice better, you don’t have to sit in on scrims to know, because it shows in their game.

 

Probably the hardest practicing team in LoL Today

Probably the hardest practicing team in LoL today

 

Probably the worst part of the situation is the effect the League system has on it. The League system ensures that encounters with these best teams in the world are few and far between, and as a result, so are scrims and any other practice opportunity with these teams. Team Solo Mid can only get so strong from playing IMT, CLG and C9 day in and day out, and when they sit on top of NA, there really isn’t anywhere left for them to go from there, not until they get a chance to boot camp or go to an international tournament. The level of domestic play won’t increase until either new habits are formed from the inside, or picked up from the outside.

 

So what do you think? Why are the Korean teams always so far ahead of the western ones? Do you believe it’ll stay the same as it always has, or do you think the nickname LCK Autumn is a short lived one? It’s always good to make your own guesses and assumptions, and I’ll always be around to hear them! You can come tell me how ignorant I am on twitter @TirasCarr. And with that self promotion out of the way, enjoy the finals!

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