msi day 1

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs RNG

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up

“My goal is top two, otherwise I will be disappointed.” Martin “Rekkles” Larsson had high expectations ahead of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. These feelings are understandable coming from the EU Spring Split, as he is surrounded by a team that dominated both the regular season and the playoffs. However, as they faced RNG in the first game of MSI Day 1, Fnatic needed to be ready. In RNG they were up against tougher competition than they faced all year. Most notably, the RNG roster boasts Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao who has been ranked by most (including Rekkles himself) as the best AD Carry in the world.

Early Game

As the teams took their spots on the stage, they showed their strategy in the Pick & Ban stage. Fnatic attempted to limit the impact of Uzi, not by banning his champions, but instead banning Supports and Mid Laners like Karma, Morgana, and Lulu that would make him unstoppable. RNG decided to focus their bans on rookie Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau by taking out Sion, Swain, and Gangplank. Bwipo only recently took the starting spot in Fnatic’s Top Lane due to an injured Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.

RNG started the game by attempting to punish the rookie once again, and Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu (Olaf) Ganked top early. Though Mlxg took him down to very low health, Bwipo (Vladamir) managed to escape without using Flash.  In response, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen (Trundle)  Ganked the Mid Lane shortly after, and managed to force the Flash from Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao (Ryze).

msi day 1

FNC Broxah. Credit: LoL Esports

First Blood

RNG began to assert their dominance early, taking the farm lead in every lane as Fnatic played safe. This patience paid off at 12 minutes when Broxah and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Braum) joined Rasmus “Caps” Winther (Yasuo) in the Mid Lane, giving Broxah First Blood on the Flash-less Xaiohu. Then, just seven minutes later, Caps and Xaioho faced off in the Bottom Lane. Caps flashed under the tower to get the solo kill. Xaioho returned immediately to the bottom lane, and was caught again. After a Pillar from Broxah and Last Breath from Caps, Broxah walked away with another kill and Xaiohu found himself at 0/3/0.

RNG Finally shut down Caps as they caught him near the Baron Pit, but he was able to force out Ultimates from both Mlxg and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming (Tahm Kench). He led them both on a chase that would allow Fnatic to take the Mid Lane turret. Both teams continued through the Mid Game very cautiously, prioritizing vision and Baron pressure without either looking to engage the other.

At 31 minutes, Caps once again forced a fight, and killed the enemy Jungler behind the Baron Pit. With this advantage, Fnatic looked to take the Baron, but were foiled as Caps attempted to prevent RNG from stealing it, and was deleted by Uzi. The Baron Buff went to RNG, and with it, Fnatic’s Bot Lane Inhibitor.

msi day 1 uzi

RNG Uzi. Photo: LoL Esports

End Game

Shortly after, RNG set up a “Death Brush” on the top side of the Mid Lane, but Fnatic was able to turn this ambush against them. A Pillar of Ice from Broxah allowed them to single out and kill Mlxg. Continuing to engage, they followed up with a kill on Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze (Cho’Gath). Fnatic pushed the 5-3 advantage down the Mid Lane to take the enemy Inhibitor. Rather than recalling after this, they decided to make a Death Brush of their own in the RNG Jungle, which proved to be their downfall.

Though RNG had no wards in the area, Uzi was suspicious, and used Living Artillery blindly. Aiming wisely, he managed to hit the tightly grouped Fnatic team. In the resulting fight, Fnatic looked to focus the enemy AD Carry. As Uzi was saved by Ming’s Devour, Fnatic was unable to adjust, and ended up losing four members. RNG easily walked down the Mid Lane and ended the game.

Though Fnatic looked to be a match for RNG throughout much of the game, they could not win out in the end. In truth, the LPL team was able to keep a gold lead and played to their Win Condition more successfully. Through smart Macro play and playing around Uzi, RNG came away with the first victory of the MSI 2018 Group Stage.

 

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MSI

MSI Play-In Round 2 Breakdown

MSI Play-In Round 2

Four teams are still in the running to fill the last two Main Event spots for the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. Gambit Esports, SuperMassive eSports, EVOS Esports, and Flash Wolves will all face one more hurdle in their quest to take on the best team from the top regions in the world. The competition will be intense as they fight to keep their MSI dreams alive.

Series 1 – SuperMassive eSports vs. EVOS Esports

Tuesday, May 8th

SuperMassive eSports

SuperMassive eSports breezed through the initial Play-In Stage as easily as they won the Turkish Champions League (TCL) this Spring Split. Winning their group with a 5-1 record, there was no doubt that they deserved to move on. All members looked exceptional throughout the stage and their teamwork made them stand out against their opponents.

Their only loss came in their last game of the stage after they had already secured first place. The lack of pressure on the outcome resulted in a game that looked more like an ARAM than a competitive match. After SuperMassive locked in a team consisting of three Marksmen and an Irelia Support, their opponents, KaBum! E-sports locked in a Rammus for their Top Lane. The result was a fast-paced match that lasted less than 25 minutes and had an excessive 75 kills.

EVOS Esports

This year, the Vietnam Championship Series is being represented at MSI by EVOS Esports. Founded in 2017, they won the 2018 VCS Spring Promotion, and immediately went on to finish first in the league and take first place in the postseason. With a 12-2 record, the newcomers dominated the VCS.

Though Nguyễn “Slay” Ngọc Hùng and Đoàn “Warzone” Văn Ngọc Sơn have been on the competitive scene for a while now, the team is made up of mostly unknowns. That is unlikely to remain the case for long as they look to make a name for themselves in their first international tournament.

MSI Supermassive

Photo: Leaguepedia

Prediction

SuperMassive eSports 3:1 EVOS Esports

EVOS has had a great season and are a strong team, but they have several things working against them. First, they are still a new team, with no experience on the international stage. Not only does SuperMassive have experience at MSI as an organization, but they boast some seasoned veterans on their roster as well. Midlaner Lee “GBM” Chang-seok has played since 2013 on varioous teams in the LCK, EU LCS, and NA LCS. Their Support, No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong played several seasons in Korea for Afreeca Freecs and Jin Air Green Wings before finding his way to the TCL.

In addition to the experience advantage, SuperMassive also has the upper hand when it comes to momentum. Coming off of a season where both GBM and AD Carry Berkay “Zeitnot” Aşıkuzun were tied for first place with 8 “Player of the Game” awards apiece, they continued to play and improve throughout the first Play-In Stage. While they have of course been practicing, it will be just over a month for EVOS since they were last on stage. Inexperienced and out of practice, they will have a big hill to climb if they want to keep up with the dynamic SuperMassive Gaming.

 

Series 2 – Flash Wolves vs. Gambit Esports

Wednesday, May 9th

Gambit Esports

Gambit Esports followed up a dominant split with an equally impressive run in the first Play-In Stage. The winners of the League of Legends Continental League have a truly impressive amount of experience throughout the team, and it shows. Not only have Jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Edward “Edward” Abgaryan both been playing since early 2012, but they have been teammates for nearly that entire stretch. The game knowledge and synergy that comes from this history compliments the mechanical skill of the rest of the team.

Flash Wolves

As has often been the case, Flash Wolves once again topped the League of Legends Master Series this split. With the legends Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh leading the team from the Mid Lane and Support position respectively, they also boast impressive young talent in the Solo Lanes. Additionally, Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung had an exceptional season and looks to be one of the few that could rise to the challenge of the AD Carries that will be waiting in the Main Event. 

Though they tend to stumble at Worlds, they traditionally do well at the Mid Season Invitational.

Flash Wolves MSI

Photo: Leaguepedia

Prediction

Flash Wolves 3:2 Gambit Esports

This matchup is shaping up to be one of the closest ones of the tournament. The veteran duo of Diamondprox and Edward is one of the few that can rival the experience of  Maple and SwordArt. Both teams rely on top level Macro play to dissect their opponents, and it will be a constant mental battle to see who can get the upper hand.

Wrapping up their season at the end of April, Flash Wolves did not have the long break that EVOS will have to come back from. In the end, the deciding factor may be the AD Carry matchup, and this is one that Flash Wolves will likely win. Though Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk has been playing quite well, he gained the starting role late in the season, and only has 10 games under his belt with the team this year. Facing off against Betty who has been part of the Flash Wolves lineup for a few years and has been in great form, Lodik and Gambit will likely fall just short.

 

 

 

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MSI

What to Watch For at MSI 2018

Mid-Season Invitional (MSI) 2018 is here! Amidst all the excitement, here are a few key things to keep an eye out for as the tournament progresses.

ADC Pool

One thing that is constantly brought up when discussing MSI 2018 is the roster of Attack Damage Carries (ADCs) that will be there – and with good reason. The top four teams boast Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Kim “PraY” Jong-in, and Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao.

Doublelift

Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng joined Team Liquid this season, and was able to turn around a rough start to the split. His exceptional play eventually led his team to 10-1 in the playoffs, taking the trophy. Though not a perfect season by any means, Peng’s impressive mental resilience is something to be admired, as it allowed him to come back from an 8-7 start, going on to win the finals. When he is on form, he can hold his own with the best.

Rekkles

EU LCS Spring Split MVP Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is looking better than ever. Averaging .75 deaths per game, Larsson’s positioning and decision-making are unrivaled in his region this season. Though he was successful on many champions, he earned an insane 65.0 Kill Death Assist Ratio (KDA) over 7 games when allowed to play Tristana. With a Fnatic team around him that looked dominant nearly all season, Larsson is looking to make a big impact at MSI this year.

PraY

Kingzone DragonX are favored by many to win MSI, and that is thanks, in no small part, to Kim “PraY” Jong-in. With a team made up of some of the best players in the world in all positions, Jong-in still finds a way to shine. He has long been considered a top ADC, but will have to break his tradition of coming up just short in international competitions in order to take home the MSI title.

Uzi

Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao is the best ADC in the world, by nearly all accounts. While he has always been top-tier mechanically, it seems that his mental game has recently risen to match. A calmer approach has helped him synergize better with his team, and earned him his first League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Championship. If it comes down to a battle of the ADC’s, Royal Never Give Up (RNG) should be feeling good about their shot at winning MSI.

 

MSI Kaisa

Kai’Sa (Courtesy of Riot)

Kai’Sa

If recent competitions are any indication, Kai’Sa will have a noticeable impact on MSI. Most notably, Afreeca Freecs allowed Kim “PraY” Jong-in to play her in all four of the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) LCK Spring Split Finals. He ended up going 22/4/17 during the series, earning Kingzone DragonX the title. Additionally, Kai’Sa can potentially be played in the Jungle or even other lanes, and this flexibility only adds to her value. The high damage, high mobility Marksman has shined since her competitive release, and will likely be picked or banned in most games.

Although she made her mark in the LCK, many regions have not yet been able to play Kai’Sa competitively. Released on Patch 8.5, she was unavailable for play throughout the end of the Spring Split for most. This creates an aspect of mystery around which teams will prioritize picking her, prioritize banning her, and which teams will stick with what they know. Though if teams have been paying attention at all, they will keep her out of Kim “PraY” Jong-in’s hands.

Mid Lane Excitement

With Patch 8.8 came several nerfs to the control mages that have been dominating the meta recently. Champions like Azir, Ryze, Galio, and Taliyah have all taken slight nerfs, which opens the door to the possibility of Assassins showing up in the mid lane. These high risk, high reward picks often add a good amount of excitement in professional matches where mechanics are at the highest level. The potential for surprise assassinations and tricky outplays makes for some of the most gripping moments on the rift.

Diamondprox

MSI Diamondprox

Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov (Courtesy of Gambit)

Gambit Esports has been tearing up the LCL since Summer 2017. However, after a dismal 0-4 performance at Worlds last year, they will be looking for redemption on the international stage. Much of their plans for success will rest on the shoulders of veteran Jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov. The former EU LCS All-Star has been in impressive form recently as he led his team to first place in the 2018 LCL Spring Split.

His most popular champion is the tanky Sejuani. Her kit allows players to provide a safe front line for their team while also getting picks on the enemy with Glacial Prison. With six wins out of seven games played on this champ, as well as a 8.75 KDA, Sejuani is his favored pick. It’s safe to say that Gambit’s opponents will try to keep the Fury of the North out of his hands. If they do manage this, however, Diamondprox should still have an impact. He can always go with Kha’Zix, Olaf, Trundle, Skarner, Jax, or Zac – all of which he has a winning record with in 2018.

A New Fan Favorite

It seems that at nearly every international tournament, a relatively unknown team does surprisingly well. These teams tend to gather a large following of those fans who love the underdog story. In recent years Albus NoX Luna and GIGABYTE Marines have both caught the eye of new fans by making unexpected runs through some of the worlds best teams. Once the Play-In stages are done, there will be a large fanbase pulling for one of the lower ranked teams to beat some of the best organizations in the world.

 

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Fnatic heading to MSI on a new patch

Given the long break between the end of the LCS and MSI, Fnatic will have several adjustments to make in order to continue their streak of success. Though all teams will be affected by these changes, Fnatic may feel it most of all in some of their key roles.

Braum

Fnatic

Courtesy of Riot Games

The first big change that Fnatic is likely to feel are the nerfs to Braum in Patch 8.8. While this may seem insignificant (Armor growth reduced by .5, and Stand Behind Me bonus resistance decreased by 7.5 at level 1 => 1.5 at level 5) every little bit counts for the pros. Braum was the most picked champion by Fnatic this past season, with Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov playing him in 11 of their 25 games. Additionally, an adjustment to Targon’s Brace (passive gold generation per 10 seconds reduced from 4 to 1) in Patch 8.7 has been a nerf to tanky supports overall.

If these changes are enough to keep Fnatic from picking Braum, it will not only affect their Bot Lane, but may force Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen or (likely) Paul “sOAZ” Boyer onto tanks when they would rather play a carry.

Rekkles

Luckily for Fnatic, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson may have received a huge buff in recent weeks. Although it is unlikely that any team will let Kai’sa through, it could be huge for Fnatic if they do.  The powerful scaling mixed with the early play-making potential could be lethal in the hands of the EU LCS MVP. As this may be a must-ban for many teams, it could possibly create an opportunity for a champion like Tristana or Xayah to slip though.

Another possible bonus for the Bot Lane is the buff for Lucian that came through in Patch 8.6. While the champion has been out of the meta for quite some time now, it remains the most-played champion on stage for Rekkles. With damage increases on both Ardent Blaze and The Culling, the mobile marksman could be strong again. Multiple ADC bans could result in him pulling out this pocket pick.

Caps

Rasmus “Caps” Winther has a sizable champion pool, playing 13 different champions on stage so far in 2018. Even so, he is not immune to nerfs. Azir, Taliyah, Galio, Ryze and Swain all took big hits in the last two patches which could be trouble for the Mid Laner. Caps shines on play-making Mages. With so many from his champion pool being taken down a notch, he will be much easier to ban against.

Some of these nerfs may be small enough where Caps can play through them. Also, he could break out the recently reverted LeBlanc or the newly buffed Lissandra. However he decides to deal with so many changes, it will be something that the team as a whole will have to adjust their play style to.

Death Brush

There is one additional change that could benefit teams like Fnatic. In Patch 8.6, the Sweeping Lens trinket was removed completely from the game. It was instead replaced by its former upgrade, Oracle Alteration. While in general, Oracle Alteration is seen as a better version of the Sweeping Lens, there is one major drawback. The sweeping area is centered around the champion rather than a selected point. This lack of range makes it a much more dangerous item to scout brush with.

fnatic

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Against the team that created the phrase “Fnatic Death Brush” this can be a worrisome change. Fnatic has always been famous for predicting where the enemy team will be pathing, and sitting in an un-warded brush to ambush them for a quick kill. While teams can still scout from distance with a Farsight Orb or certain skillshots, removal of a safe way to scout brush that Fnatic may be hiding in is a buff to them, although and obscure one.

While many of the recent changes, both positive and negative, seem to focus on things that are pivotal to Fnatic, the truth is that all teams will need to make adjustments. At MSI, the best teams from each region will be facing off. Victory will likely come to those that adjust the best.

 

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Featured photo courtesy of Fnatic

Fnatic Misfits

Fnatic’s weakness is – Misfits Gaming?

Fnatic had a dominant showing in the EU LCS 2018 Spring Split. After going 2-2 in the first two weeks, they found their footing and defeated every opponent, with one big exception – Misfits Gaming. The team that ended in seventh place was somehow the only team that Fnatic could not beat, and they picked up two of their eight wins over the eventual champions. Whatever Misfits did this season may not have worked against most teams in the EU LCS, but it was the perfect combination to take down Fnatic.

Game 1

Blue Side: Fnatic

Bans: Caitlyn, Ryze, Kalista, Jayce, Camille

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer – Ornn

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen – Nunu

Rasmus “Caps” Winther – Azir

Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – Xayah

Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov – Rakan

 

Red Side: Misfits Gaming

Bans: Tristana, Galio, Tahm Kench, Jarvan IV, Zac

Barney “Alphari” Morris – Gangplank

Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian – Sejuani

Chres “Sencux” Laursen – Zoe

Steven “Hans Sama” Liv – Kog’maw

Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle – Braum

At their first meeting of the split, the 3-1 Misfits were not yet the underdogs to the 2-2 Fnatic. In champion select, Fnatic chose to ban away carries such as Camille, Jayce and Ryze while picking a mid-game team fighting comp. Their opponents, in turn, tried to keep Rekkles from running away with the game. Not only did they ban Tristana, but also Tahm Kench and Galio – two champions that excel at keeping their carries alive.

An important win condition for Fnatic was to prevent Misfits from scaling into late game, where Gangplank, Kog’maw, and Zoe would all do excessive damage. They used their mid-game power spike to punish Misfits as much as possible. They developed a 4.4k Gold lead by 26:00 and broke the enemy base by 30:00 minutes. At this point, things started to swing back towards Misfits.

Knowing that they needed to close things out or risk losing their lead, Fnatic overextended multiple times, getting caught in bad positions. This led to Misfits getting kills, and as a result, objectives. Though they came close several times, Fnatic failed to end the game before Misfits reached their full potential, and ended up paying the price. At 37:00, Misfits took back the gold lead, and kept building it. When all was said and done, the game had gone on for over an hour. Misfits had taken 4 Barons, amassed a 13k Gold lead, and defeated Fnatic in their first meeting of the season.

Fnatic Misfits

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Game 2

Blue Side: Misfits Gaming

Bans: Tristana, Azir, Galio, Kassadin, Taliyah

Alphari – Shen

Maxlore – Jarvan IV

Sencux – Anivia

Hans Sama – Xayah

Mikyx – Rakan

 

Red Side: Fnatic

Bans: Camille, Ryze, Skarner, Zac, Trundle

sOAZ – Sion

Broxah – Sejuani

Caps – Corki

Rekkles – Sivir

Hylissang – Alistar

By their second game of the season, the situation for both teams had completely changed. Misfits had gone 2-5 since they last met, while Fnatic had won their last seven straight. The latter looked unstoppable, but the former had struggled, especially in the Jungle and Mid Lane. Fnatic once again banned carries like Camille and Ryze, but also took three Champions away from Maxlore. Misfits chose to focus on Caps, banning out four Mid Lane Champions along with Tristana.

Realizing that Rekkles was likely to be strong no matter what, they focused on shutting down the top side of the map, and it worked for them. Though Rekkles went 5/1/5, it was not enough to carry the rest of Fnatic to victory.

Like their game in Week 3, this was another long match, going to almost an hour. However, this time it was much more one-sided. Misfits earned a solid gold lead by the 16 minute mark and kept it for the remainder of the game, stretching it to over 6k by the time they destroyed the nexus. They doubled Fnatic’s kills, controlled the jungle and most of the objectives, and once again shut down the best team in Europe.

How did they do it?

Defeating Fnatic twice in the regular season is an impressive feat, and the middle-of-the-pack Misfits were the only ones to do it. While many factors contributed, there seem to be three that were vital, and consistent through both games.

Bans

Rekkles was undoubtedly one of the main factors of Fnatic’s success throughout the split. Misfits realized that this was not because of the champions he played, but rather how he performed as a player. Because of this, they avoided the trap of banning multiple ADC’s that many others fell into. While they made a good decision to take away his Tristana, they used the rest of their bans to focus on the rest of the team, where they were much more effective. Other teams wasted two, three, and once, even five bans on Marksmen, to little effect.

Fnatic Misfits

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Broxah

Another thing that Misfits did that few others were able to was shut down Broxah. The young Jungler had an impressive season, and while he was not one of the main carries, he was essential to many victories. By essentially keeping him out of the game (KDAs of 0/6/7, 0/5/8), Misfits eliminated one of the main factors that would enable Caps and Rekkles to run away with the game. Additionally, this helped Maxlore to control objectives and have two of his best games of the season.

Control

Fnatic beat many of their opponents by controlling the tempo and flow of the game. Misfits took that away from them. By extending the games past the 40 minute mark, they allowed themselves time to catch up to Fnatic. Denying them this early victory evened the playing field, and got Misfits to a point where they could play to their strengths with a late game lead.

Misfits had an underwhelming split, but being the only team to remain undefeated against the EU LCS champions is something to be proud of.

 

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Featured photo courtesy of LoL Esports

Origen

Origen returns to the stage

In just a few short weeks, Origen announced their return to the League of Legends Pro scene, revealed a legendary lineup consisting of some of the most well known names in the games history and raised expectations of their fans to great heights. While their debut at European Masters 2018 didn’t go exactly as planned, they redeemed themselves, if only slightly, the next day. They may not be a dream team, cruising past all comers to glory. In fact, they may still struggle to make it far in the current tournament. Regardless, the fans are excited to see these players on the competitive stage once again, and they’re here to prove they’re not too old to make some plays.

Origen

Origen Roster (Courtesy of Origen)

Game 1 – Kliktech

“Froggen face-checks, Stefan capitalizes, first blood over to Kliktech!” This sentence by Shoutcaster Excoundrel set the tone that lasted for the rest of the match. Origen played like what they were – a team of legends that have only been playing together for a few weeks.  They put up a decent fight, and at moments looked like their experience was going to be enough to take over the game. In the end though, the better team won out, and that team was Kliktech.

The Croatian team has been tearing up the Esports Balkan League, going 14-0 this past season and winning their last 26 games straight before facing Origen on Sunday. Understandably, they were confident coming into the tournament, and it’s easy to see why. They used their experience together to out-rotate and out-team fight Origen, keeping them on their heels.

Kliktech out for blood

Not only did they show great teamwork throughout the game, but impressive individual skill as well. By the seven minute mark, Top Laner Toni “Sacre” Sabalić (Kled) solo killed Ki “Expect” Dae-han (Cho’gath). Seconds later, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen (Taliyah) was dead at the hands of Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić (Sion). Kliktech entered the tournament relatively unknown outside their region, but defeating the Origen roster on an international stage surely caught the eye of many.

While it was definitely not the start they were looking for, Game 1 wasn’t all bad for Origen. Jesse “Jesiz” Le (Alistar) and Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou (Tristana) looked solid in the early game despite a tough matchup against the enemy Caitlyn and Morgana. Jezis found engages throughout the game, landing Knock-Ups on multiple enemies. These plays were rarely followed up on though, and it seemed like the team was rarely on the same page.

Origen was able to keep the game going for nearly 40 minutes. Eventually though, the teamwork of Kliktech won out. They defeated Origen, delaying the OG resurrection and extending their own winning streak to 27-0.

Game 2 – exceL eSports

Origen

Origen Victory (Courtesy of Origen)

In Game 2, Origen put on the show so many were waiting for. They still looked slightly rusty in the early game, getting caught by several exceL engages. Unlike the previous day however, they continuously took the safe option, disengaging and staying alive. Trading objectives and focusing on farming, Origen waited for the right opportunity.

At just over 10 minutes into the game, exceL attempted to take the Rift Herald. Expect (Sion) walked up, seemingly alone, to interrupt. exceL turned to take the bait, and Origen was ready. As Expect turned and landed a three man knock-up, inSec (Skarner) entered the river and hit Ángel “DuaLL” Fernández (Alistar) with another stun. A second later, Froggen (Orianna) shielded Expect before landing a Shockwave on three opponents. exceL were helpless against the layered crowd control, and Origen came away with three kills.

Origen on a roll

Once they tasted blood, Origen didn’t slow down. They pressured every lane, every objective, using their lead to full effect. Froggen looked like his old self on Orianna, and put out high levels of damage and crowd control to dominate team fights. While exceL did their best to defend, Origen was relentless, and finished the game at just over 26 minutes, making it the fastest game of the group stage so far.

Admittedly, Origen faced an easier opponent on the second game than the first. However that was not the only factor that influenced the different outcome. Though Origen may not have been at the near-perfect level of play that will be needed for them to really extend their success, they made big strides in the right direction. They played a team composition that better fit their style. They played safely until they found the right time to fight. Origen actually looked like a team, rather than just a group of high-level Solo Queue players, and that is something that they will need to continue if they want their resurrection to be a success.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured photo courtesy of Leaguepedia

Finals

EU LCS – The deciding moments

The EU Spring Split came to a close this weekend with G2 Esports facing Fnatic in the finals. Though the final score was 3-0, the series was much closer than the scoreline suggests. As is often the case with such closely matched games, the outcome can be traced back to a single factor that tipped the scales.

Game 1 – Team fight at Baron.

Blue Side: Fnatic

Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau – Sion

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen – Sejuani

Rasmus “Caps” Winther – Karma

Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – Tristana

Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov – Braum

 

Red Side: G2 Esports

Martin “Wunder” Hansen – Cho’Gath

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski  – Zac

Luka “Perkz” Perković – Ryze

Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss – Jinx

Kim “Wadid” Bae-in – Tahm Kench

The first game of the series started out in G2’s favor. Just after 4 minutes in, Jankos Ganked the rookie Bwipo who had pushed his Top Lane wave just a bit too far. Jankos walked in from the river, and was able to initiate with Stretching Strikes, saving Elastic Slingshot to prevent Bwipo’s escape. With Wunder’s help, he was able to secure First Blood and a small gold lead for G2.

Ten minutes later, G2 stretched this small lead into a considerable one. In a Bot Lane team fight that was originally initiated by Fnatic, G2 found themselves in a position to turn and overwhelm their opponents. Hjarnan took down Hylissang and Broxah, and Perkz was able to kill Bwipo as he tried to escape. Using this advantage, G2 executed the impressive macro play they are known for, and in the following 10 minutes extended their gold lead to nearly 6k as they took three towers, their second dragon, the Rift Herald and Baron Nashor.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

The decisive fight

Unfortunately for G2, it was this Baron call that allowed Fnatic back into the game. After using Perkz’s Realm Warp to make Bwipo use Unstoppable Onslaught defensively on the bottom half of the map, G2 cleared a wave in the Mid Lane and made their way to the Baron. Despite a Fnatic Teleport coming in behind the pit, G2 decided to stay and finish the objective.  As Broxah cast Glacial Prison and jumped into the enemy team, Caps and Rekkles put down significant damage on Wadid and Wunder. Bwipo landed a knockup from behind the wall, before flashing in and chunking Perkz, Hjarnan, and Jankos down with Soul Furnace. As G2 attempted to escape the Baron Pit, Rekkles melted their health bars one by one, using the resets on his Rocket Jump to follow their Flashes. Jankos was the only survivor for G2, and in the next few minutes Fnatic was able to secure several more objectives.

The next two team fights also went the way of Fnatic, and they nearly ended the game at 33 minutes before Hjarnan respawned and kept the G2 Nexus alive. Fnatic was finally able to end the game at 42 minutes following a clash in the Mid Lane that led to an unofficial Pentakill for Rekkles. Though this is the play captured in most highlight reels, Fnatic may not have made it this far without their victory at the Baron Pit.

 

Game 2 – The double carry

Blue Side: G2 Esports

Wunder –  Gangplank

Jankos – Olaf

Perkz – Karma

Hjarnan – Varus

Wadid – Tahm Kench

 

Red Side: Fnatic

Bwipo – Sion

Broxah – Skarner

Caps – Zoe

Rekkles – Sivir

Hylissang – Braum

In Game 1, Fnatic built their comp around Rekkles being the lone carry.  With three tanks to be the front line, and Caps playing Karma, Rekkles was able to stay alive while putting out 57.9k damage. Their success with this caused G2 to shift their focus going into Game 2. While for their first match, G2 banned three potential Mid Lane champions, they allocated only one ban for Mid Lane in the second. Instead, they focused Rekkles with 3 ADC bans, taking only Ryze away from Caps.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

The second carry

This suited Fnatic just fine, as they were planning a new strategy for Game 2. They once again went with three tanks, but instead of a secondary support, Caps locked in the high-damage Zoe. Perkz was the aggressor early, and came close to killing Caps around the 5th minute. From there, they continued to farm, staying fairly close in CS. Caps was biding his time. By 10:45, he had enough to purchase Luden’s Echo, and by 11:51, Perkz was dead.

Not only did this solo kill establish a lead for Caps in the mid lane that he kept throughout the game. It also showed that Fnatic could rely on more than just Rekkles to carry them. This additional threat proved too much for G2, and they failed to shut down either one. Despite 6 Magic Resist items on the enemy team, Caps did the most damage in the game by nearly 10k. This focus on MR and Fnatic’s expert team fighting enabled Rekkles to record his second Pentakill of the series. Shorty after this, Fnatic closed out the game to go up 2-0 in the series.

 

Game 3 – Panic

Blue Side: Fnatic

Bwipo – Sion

Broxah – Skarner

Caps – Ryze

Rekkles – Tristana

Hylissang – Janna

 

Red Side: G2 Esports

Wunder – Ornn

Jankos – Zac

Perkz – Cassiopeia

Hjarnan – Sivir

Wadid – Karma

By the time Game 3 came around, it was do or die for G2. Not only had they lost two games in a row to Fnatic, but they had lost both of their head to head matches during the split as well. G2 had been so successful for so long by having superior discipline, macro strategy, and team fighting, but they had found a team that surpassed them in all of those categories.

Only one loss away from being swept in the finals, G2 was desperate, and they played like it. Adjusting their style, they started the game by invading Fnatics jungle. Though they come close to killing Hylissang, he survives, and it puts G2 a bit behind in laning. The early game also saw G2 playing a different game than they were used to. They chased into the river, hoping to catch Broxah, but failed to come close, and lost out on experience and gold in lane. They attempted tower dives and overextended for fights that were not in their favor, forcing them to retreat almost immediately.  Though they got kills and took towers, something was off for G2. They were, understandably, shaken.

Panic sets in

Around the 22nd minute, G2 attempted to take Baron. They seemed indecisive, and were interrupted twice, ultimately wasting nearly two minutes dancing around the objective as Caps pushed the bottom lane into the base. Roughly four minutes later, they attempt Baron again, once again peeling off to fight the 4v5 as Caps split pushed. They managed to kill Hylissang, but then seemed to panic. As Caps chipped down the inhibitor turrets, G2 tried to back. Three members chose to do this inside the Baron Pit, including the flashless Hjarnan. As Fnatic looked to delay their return to base, they discovered the enemy ADC, trapped behind the Epic Monster. Allowing Nashor to do most of the work, Fnatic only had to wait as Hjarnan took giant chunks of damage.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

With the enemy Carry out of the way, Fnatic was able to put G2 in an impossible position. Caps was nearly on the Nexus, and Bwipo, Broxah, and Rekkles started to take the Baron. Knowing that it would be nearly impossible to defend if Fnatic got Baron, Jankos waited, attempting a heroic Baron steal. Fnatic read the situation perfectly, and stalled. Unable to wait any longer, Jankos dove in, and Fnatic killed both the Baron and the enemy Jungler. Though they did their best, G2 could do nothing to hold off Fnatic at this point, and the series was over.

Looking forward

The finals were a hard fought battle between the former and reigning champions of Europe. Though both had their chances, the superior coaching, strategy, and skill of Fnatic won out in the end. If both teams learn from this intense series, their Summer Split games will be for the history books.

 

I want to extend a special thank you to fellow Hausmate Benjamin Schwartz for his input on this article!

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured photo courtesy of LoL Esports

 

 

MVP Rekkles

Aphromoo and Rekkles – What it takes to be MVP

What does it take to be an LCS Spring Split MVP? While a winning record, excellent KDA and flashy plays certainly help, it involves much more than that. The individuals that were voted as the Most Valuable Players in their regions, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black for North America and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson for Europe play different positions and have completely different styles. What they have in common though, is what it takes to be the 2018 Spring Split MVP.

Rekkles

The numbers

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Rekkles taking the title in Europe this year. It seemed that the voters agreed, with 86% of the first place votes going his way. The veteran ADC looked unstoppable throughout the season, and largely because of that, his team did as well. Over the course of the split, his average KDA was 13.5. His closest competition, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir,  had an average KDA of 7.1. Rekkles also led the league with the most kills (88), highest CS (8,670) and least deaths (13).  

While all of his numbers are impressive, it is perhaps this last one that really set him apart. He was the only player to average less than one death per game. The impact that this had on the success of his team was evident. While the value of staying alive to gain CS and experience in the laning phase is immense, it was his late game play that earned Fnatic the championship trophy. His ability to survive team fights allowed him to put out consistent damage and close out games, even if the enemy team was ahead.

The presence

Another effect that Rekkles had that made him so valuable to his team was how much the enemy needed to allocate to trying to stop him. Though important, it was more than just pressure in the games to try to get him behind. Opponents also often focused on him before the game, attempting to ban away several of his champions. Rekkles, though, didn’t let this attention affect him. He played five different champions over the course of the Split, and ended with at least a 50% win rate on all of them. When pressured in laning phase, he was happy to farm safely and wait until the late game to do his damage.

Along with superior mechanical skill and statistics, Rekkles also brings an incredible amount of experience to his team. This is his third MVP honor, and his second in a row. With well over 400 professional games under his belt, he is one of the most veteran LCS players. The knowledge and cool head under pressure that comes with this kind of history can make all the difference in pivotal moments of tight games.

Aphromoo

The quiet leader

A somewhat less obvious choice for MVP, at least on paper, was Aphromoo. Along with being the first American born player selected to NA LCS MVP, he is also the first Support to make the list. Additionally, he was statistically not a standout performer in any main category. He ended the season 5th in assists, 6th in KDA and 8th in Kill Participation among NA Supports.

To anyone who watched him play this season however, this honor comes as no surprise. He was able to lead 100 Thieves to the finals in their first ever split. Having been with Counter Logic Gaming since 2012, other than a brief stint in 2013, seeing Aphromoo on a new team was a shock to many. However, if there was any doubt whether he could succeed somewhere other than CLG, it was quickly put to rest. 100 Thieves took down CLG in Week 1 of the Spring Split, and did so again in Week 5 to break a losing streak. Though they struggled a bit in the first half of the split, they found their stride halfway through. Finishing the regular season with a win over Echo Fox to tie them for first place, and then turning around to beat them again in the tiebreaker, they jumped to the top spot.

MVP Aphromoo

Aphromoo (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

The play-maker

Throughout the split as 100 Thieves continued to rise, they often did so on the back of Aphromoo. Long known for being a playmaker, he used champions like Braum, Alistar and Rakan to great effect, making critical engages to help 100 Thieves win team fights and games. He also proved vital in the early game, assisting the young Cody Sun on his path to be one of the top ADC’s in the league with an NA LCS high 79 kills.

His strategic, team oriented play style caught the eye of many in the league. With an impressive 80 points, he beat out Seung-hoon “Huni” Heo (63) and the four time MVP winner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg (52).

Rekkles and Aphromoo both showed impressive play throughout the Split to take their respective teams to the finals. While Rekkles did so by killing everyone without being killed, Aphromoo lead with poise and strategy. In a year that saw lots of impressive young players, these two veterans proved that the LCS still belongs to them, and they’re not handing it over any time soon.

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

SKT

SKT T1 falls short in playoffs, misses MSI

SK Telecom T1

SK Telecom T1 has been the most dominant League of Legends team in the world for as long as many fans can remember.  For much of the past five years, they have been the top team in the toughest region in the world. They have racked up 13 first place titles between splits, playoffs, and international competitions. With their recent playoff loss however, they will be missing MSI for the first time, and people are beginning to question whether the stumble that started last season is turning into a true fall for the masters of the Rift.

Although having Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who many regard as the best League of Legends player ever, has been a big part of this success, it is far from the only factor. They have consistently had some of the best talent in all positions. This versatility allowed them to rely on their other lanes to carry if the enemy devoted too much of their time to shutting Faker down. Along with long-time Head Coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, former SKT T1 players Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon and Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong are also part of the coaching team. For years, they had the talent and discipline to take down any opponent, and they looked unstoppable.

Troubles arise

Then came the 2017 Summer Split. The same team that easily won the Spring Split, Spring Playoffs and MSI was suddenly losing games. They went 13-5 and finished 4th, their lowest ever, before going on to lose to Longzhu Gaming in the LCK Finals. Though surprising, second place is a respectable finish, and SKT T1 was still headed to Worlds.

SKT T1 and their supporters were hoping to put the Summer Split and talk of their recent struggles behind them. Unfortunately, they faced stiff competition on their way to the finals, beating both Misfits Gaming and Royal Never Give Up 3-2 in the elimination rounds. In the Championship matchup, Samsung Galaxy defeated SKT T1 3-0, and the esports world was stunned.

SKT

Courtesy of Dailycal.org

Shorty after the loss at Worlds, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho left SKT T1. Throughout the Spring Split, they shuffled their roster for both health reasons as well as in an effort to regain their winning style. Only Faker and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik remained as starters throughout the split. Despite a dismal early season, SKT T1 were able to rally and secure 4th place once again. To the surprise of many, they found a way to make it to the playoffs.

2018 Spring Playoffs

Their first opponent was 5th place KSV eSports, the team that purchased the LCK spot from reigning world champions Samsung Galaxy. Along with their place in the league, KSV kept the same roster. Throughout the Spring Split they fielded the same lineup that won the Summoners Cup only months ago. Despite a strong start, KSV struggled down the stretch, losing both of their match ups against SKT T1 during the regular season. In the first stage of playoffs, SKT T1 completed the sweep, defeating KSV 2-1.

Up next for SKT T1 was KT Rolster, a team that defeated them twice during the split. With names like Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu on the roster, it’s no surprise that KT Rolster was one of the top teams in the LCK.

Game 1 went well for SKT T1, with Faker, Bang and Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk each doing impressive damage, and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu dominating the Jungle. Despite being down early, they were able to win an important team fight which led to them taking back the gold lead, several objectives, and soon, the game.

Things turned against SKT T1 in Game 2. Instead of playing Azir, Faker had to face him. Newcomer  Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon more than held his own, going 5/2/3 and dominating the Mid Lane.  His Double Kill at 12 minutes helped give KT Rolster a significant lead. Other than for a brief stretch in Game 4, they kept this lead for the rest of the series.

KT Rolster took Games 2, 3, and 4 in a decisive fashion, outplaying their opponents in nearly every way. The disappointment of SKT T1 was clear as they packed up after the game. Falling short of the full comeback that many secretly expected. From 9th place to a playoff run, most teams would be proud of such a turnaround. For SKT T1, though, anything short of a championship title tastes bitter.

Greatest no longer?

For the first time since the tournament’s start in 2015, SK Telecom T1 will not be in the finals of the Mid Season Invitational. In a sport that is seeing so many of its dynasties fall worldwide, this is perhaps the most shocking. Along with his team falling in the rankings, many have been speculating that Faker is no longer the greatest player in the world. While the results of recent competitions may seem to prove this, to watch him is a different matter. He is still Faker. However, the gap is narrowing. Other players are closing in on his skill, opponents are learning how to limit his influence, and he can no longer carry games alone against such strong teams. Times are changing, and new things are coming.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of PCgamesn.com

The rebirth of Origen

Birth

In December of 2014, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez left Fnatic to form his own Esports organization and League of Legends team. Origen entered the 2015 Challenger Ladder with an impressive lineup. Joining him was former Fnatic teammate Paul “sOAZ” Boyer in the Top Lane, and Jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider from Team SoloMid. xPeke also recruited Support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez who had recently come off suspension, and the rookie ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, then known as Niels. This world class talent and experience mixed with the skill and synergy in the bot lane produced fast success for Origen, and after one split as a Challenger team they were promoted to the EU LCS.

Rise

2015

The 2015 Summer Split was the first in the LCS for Origen, and they proved that they belonged there. Finishing second behind an undefeated Fnatic, they breezed past H2K before taking Fnatic to Game 5 in the finals. Though they lost, their second place finish was enough to put them through to the European Regional Finals.

Defeating both ROCCAT and the Unicorns of Love without much trouble, Origen qualified for Worlds in their first split as an LCS team. In a group with Team SoloMid, LGD Gaming, and KT Rolster, they went 4-2 and advance to the knockout stage. Impressively, they knocked out the Taiwanese team Flash Wolves before finally falling to the eventual champions, SKT T1.

2016

Though things went nearly as well as they could have for the new team in 2015, Origen decided to make some changes before the 2016 Season. Hoping to focus more on the management side of the team, xPeke brought in Mid Laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. He started off strong, helping the team to win IEM San Jose by sweeping both Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming.

Origen continued their success in the 2016 Spring Split with PowerOfEvil starting nearly every game in the Mid Lane. Although the road was a bit rougher than the previous split, they went 11-5 and earned a spot in the playoffs. Origen once again made it to the finals, where they lost to G2 Esports.

Fall

2016

Big changes came for Origen before the Summer Split in 2016. Reigning EU LCS champions G2 Esports acquired the nearly unstoppable Bot Lane duo of Zven and mithy. Origen filled the positions by picking up veteran ADC Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou and Support Glenn “Hybrid” Doornenbal who was recently released by none other than G2.

This lineup didn’t last long, and after the team struggled for the first couple of weeks, FORG1VEN left. Although they picked up a new rookie ADC, Augustas “Toaster” Ruplys, it was xPeke that filled in for most of the remainder of the season. All of this proved too much for the team to overcome, and Origen found themselves fighting to remain in the LCS. They beat Misfits in a tough 3-2 series, and were able to retain their spot, but things were bleak.

2017

By the start of the 2017 Season, xPeke was the only player remaining from the previous split. He signed experienced ADC Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert who had been playing competitively since Season 1. To round out the roster, Origen added Jungler Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan, Support Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen, Top Laner Max “Satorius” Günther, and Mid Laner Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun, which allowed xPeke to move back to a substitute position.

Origen failed to win a series in the 2017 Spring Split, and went 0-3 in the Summer Promotions to be officially relegated from the EU LCS. They continued their fall through the Summer Split in the Challenger Series, with their new 8-man roster finishing in the bottom two.

Along with this extreme under-performance competitively, there were many indications that the management and infrastructure of the organization left much to be desired as well. Whether these were independent issues, or one led to the other, the result was the same. Origen had gone from one of the top teams in the world to no longer a team at all in just two years, and many fans thought that was the end.

Rebirth

Then, on March 29th, 2018, Origen posted a tweet for the first time in months. It read “We want to give back everything you did for us. The show begins. What’s next? #OGresurrection.”

Origen

Courtesy of Origen Twitter

Such a mysterious and unexpected announcement caught the eye of many. Over the next few days, Origen revealed that they plan to field a team to participate in the European Masters in April, and that Jungle legend Choi “inSec” In-seok will be joining the team.

So far, that is all we officially know, but there are plenty of rumors and predictions floating around. Will this be a one time thing, or is Origen looking to try to rejoin the EU LCS with the recent news of franchising? Is xPeke going to be playing again? Will they sign Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, FORG1VEN, and other veterans? All that can be said for sure is that the next few weeks will be an exciting time for any remaining fans of Origen and xPeke.

 

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 3rd, Origen announced that former G2 Esports Top Laner Ki “Expect” Dae-han will be joining the team.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of Origen Twitter