Uzi placed second in the 2013 World Championships with Royal Club

Uzi’s professional history from 2013 to now – Part One – A Taste of Glory

Among the most-mentioned individuals on the “all-time best League of Legends players” list, Uzi has had a glaring issue. He has not really won anything since 2013. That year with Royal Club, Uzi won China’s Regional Finals to qualify for Worlds, where the team finished in second place. From then to now, Uzi has been involved in a five-year string of second place or lower finishes.

LPL Spring and Summer 2014

In 2014, Royal Club rebranded to Star Horn Royal Club for LPL Summer Split

Image from Wikipedia

Going into the 2014 LPL Spring Split, Royal Club had a tumultuous roster. Uzi was the only remaining member of the second-in-the-world group from 2013. GodLike, Lucky, Wh1t3zZ, and Tabe left, while Nct, Kmi, Ley and Rui joined. Uzi role-swapped to mid, as well. This amalgamation only lasted one game, with XJJ subbing in for Rui for weeks two through five.

Starting in week five, Royal Club switched the entire roster again. Uzi moved back to ADC, Nct moved to mid, and Bao and Yao joined as support and top. This updated roster was not able to gain more wins, though. Royal Club ended the regular season in sixth out of eight with a 3-3-8 record (32 percent game win rate).

Moving into summer, Royal Club revitalized. They re-branded to Star Horn Royal Club, bringing in a new suite of players around Uzi: Cola, inSec, corn and Zero. This roster finished the regular season third out of eight in a high-parity league, then went on to place third in playoffs. Star Horn Royal Club was a favorite to represent China at Worlds alongside Oh My God, the squad that beat SHRC in the summer semifinals.

Since Edward Gaming won the Spring and Summer Split playoffs, they automatically qualified for Worlds, while SHRC needed to defeat OMG, Invictus Gaming, and LGD in the Regional Qualifiers. And they did just that. Royal Club beat LGD once and OMG twice to reach EDG for a fight for the first seed. EDG took them down 2-1, but Uzi put on impressive performances to qualify to Worlds as the second seed from China.

Worlds 2014

Uzi and Star Horn Royal Club finished second at the 2014 World Championship

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

SHRC entered the 2014 World Championship rated as a top 10 team, with Uzi ranking fifth on Riot’s pre-Worlds top 20 players list. Crucially placed in Group B, alongside Team SoloMid, SK Gaming, and Taipei Assassins, Star Horn Royal Club breezed through the competition. While Korean teams topped groups A, C and D, Star Horn Royal finished the group stage with a 5-1 record. Uzi put on several carry performances using Tristana, Caitlyn, and his signature Lucian.

Moving into the bracket stage, SHRC was paired with Chinese rivals Edward Gaming for quarterfinals. Two of the most touted AD carries faced off in a five-game series, with Star Horn Royal coming out on top. Uzi and crew moved into semifinals to match up with the other remaining LPL team, OMG, where another legendary series ensued. Royal Club’s late-game fighting held out over OMG’s early game dominance, as they won in a back-and-forth 3-2. Uzi would move into his second Worlds finals in two years.

Royal Club went on to face a stalwart Samsung White. The number two seed from the LCK topped Group C over OMG, then took down TSM and Samsung Blue to reach the finals. Their series with SHRC ended in a dominant 3-1 victory, with the LPL team looking completely outclassed. Imp’s touted Twitch over-shadowed Uzi’s Tristana throughout the series.

2014 would go down as a solid year for Uzi and Royal Club. The organization grew from their rebuilding phase into Worlds finalists in the span of one year. Uzi was truly able to shine as the year went on, but Korean powerhouse teams, such as Samsung White and Blue, were still on another level. Little did Uzi know, this World Championship would be his second of many crushing second-place finishes throughout his career.

CREDITS

Keep your eye out for parts two, three and four, as they are released in the near future.

Check out TheGameHaus.com for more sports and esports articles and interviews. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more content from Thomas and other contributors!

Images: LoL Esports Flickr

 

Dead Man’s Hand vs Odd Warrior: Who’s the king of Control?

Welcome to the Grand Tournament, champion! Though Justicar’s long gone from standard, her most defining upgraded hero power lives on. With Baku, Odd Warrior is an extremely potent control deck that can out-tank a huge proportion of the meta. Players like David “Dog” Caero gave it a strong tournament showing at the HCT playoffs. But Odd Warrior isn’t the only challenger for the one true Control Warrior build. Despite the loss of Coldlight Oracle, Dead Man’s Hand warrior is slowly rebuilding its viability. Most notably, Michaël “Maverick” Loose took his list to Dreamhack, winning the tournament. The deck performed amazingly, going and unbelievable 16-2. But out of these two archetypes, which is the stronger warrior? And what unique strengths and weaknesses do they present?

Tanking burn

Odd Warrior can tank through Priest’s burn based win conditions

One of Odd Warrior’s obvious advantages is its ability to out-heal most burn strategies reliably with the 4 armor hero power. Decks like Control Priest, Aggro Rogue and Tempo Mage that rely on burn have a tough time breaking through that sustained armourgain. Gaining 4 doesn’t sound too earth-shattering, but it’s consistency and ability to come down every turn results in obscene amounts of continual survivability.

Of course, Dead Man’s Hand Warrior has its fair share of lifegain in cards like “Bring it On!”, but its lifegain tools are less reliable. They have to be played only when an opportunity arises, giving the deck far less flexibility. To make matters worse, the deck must save its armor to shuffle back in, meaning it can’t react to continual pressure as well. As such, aggressive Death Knight hero powers like Bloodreaver Gul’dan, Shadowreaper Anduin and Malfurion the Pestilent can grind you out. Luckily, Dead Man’s Hand can avoid the damage in the first place.

Infinite Clears

With Odd Paladin resurgent, Dead Man’s clears can be more vital

But what Dead Man’s Hand lacks in reliable long-term lifegain, it makes up for in removal ability. Unlike Odd Warrior, Dead Man’s hand can run Executes, Blood Razors, Warpath and Scourgelord Garrosh. This gives it incredible board-clearing potential, especially for small minions. The Scourgelord heropower alone can completely shut down decks like Odd Paladin. In addition, this removal can be extended. Versus certain decks like Taunt Druid, you can shuffle in Brawls and Shield Slams early to maximize your ability to clear Hadronoxes.

Odd Warrior does have solid removal options; but is weaker against continual small or medium minion pressure. It’s great at blowing up big boards with Reckless Flurry or Brawl. Unfortunately, those Flurries can leave it dangerously vulnerable to finishers once the armor is lost. Hard removal is also in short supply, with only the two shield slams available. As such many Odd Warriors run sub-optimal clears like King Mosh or Baron Geddon to flesh out their lists, making them clunkier and less reliable.

Turning the corner

Dead Man’s can’t run cards like Azalina easily

An advantage that Odd Warrior can have is its ability to curve higher and run greedier late-game threats. An Odd Warrior’s hero power grants the survivability to run expensive cards, tech cards and niche options like Zola, Elise, Harrison, and Direhorn Hatchling. It doesn’t need to rely on fatigue for a win condition, it can end the game with its bulky threats.

But because a huge proportion of the Dead Man’s hand deck-list must be dedicated to cheap, easy to play cards, as eventually, you will have to refine your deck down to a few key components. If the total mana cost is too high, this would be impossible. It can go the distance into fatigue, but it’s comparatively terrible at putting out proactive threats.

Odd Warrior has a lot more room for tech cards, but it’ less flexible than Dead Man’s Hand Warrior. And while Dead Man’s is harder to play, the ability to have even cards essentially doubles the ability to react to the meta. With that said, Odd Warrior will likely become the superior option as more cards are released in the 1, 3 and 5 slots. And of course, eventually, Dead Man’s Hand will leave standard forever. But until then, the decks seem both to be worthy successors to the resurgent Control Warrior mantle.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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Smash 4 at GOML 2018 was Incredible: Here’s Why

Doubles

In one of the most stunning of developments of the season, a doubles team without Cloud actually won a major tournament. The team of Kelsy “superGirlKels” Medeiros and Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick. Using Sonic and Luigi, the team was able to defeat the team of Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez and Tamim “Mistake” Omary from winners bracket in a convincing 3-1 victory. A huge win for Elegant and superGirlKels, which comes on the heels of some pretty big changes.

On day one of the tournament, it was announced that dual Cloud was

SuperGirlKels and Elegant at GOML 2018

SuperGirlKels and Elegant dominated doubles
Twitter

banned, meaning no team could have both players using the character. There has been a lot of talk throughout the community about whether or not Cloud should be banned in doubles altogether. However, this is a great starting point. Double Cloud is undoubtedly a problem in the current doubles meta.

Mistake and Leo took 2nd place after fighting through losers bracket, losing to Ezra “Samsora” Morris and Jason “Anti” Bates who took 3rd place.

Having dual Cloud banned in doubles certainly made this event more engaging to watch. More teams were able to play with different characters, as opposed to picking Cloud just to stay viable. Many regions are beginning to experiment with banning Cloud in doubles altogether, which will make these upcoming months all the more interesting. Congratulations to Elegant and SuperGirlKels on their big win.

The Underdog hero of GOML

GOML was the highest tiered event of the season so far, and it showed. The players laid it all on the line and gave some amazing performances. One of the biggest upsets of the tournament came just outside of top 24. A MewTwo player by the name of Laith “SDX” Hamdan took out Elliot “Ally” Carroza in a 3-2 set. Ally, who not too long ago was hailed as being one of the best players in the world, has seen a decline in performance as of late.

While suffering yet another loss, hopefully Ally can return to form and finish the season strong. SDX also upset Chris “WaDi” Boston 3-0, huge seeing as Wadi is viewed as the best MewTwo in the world currently. SDX finished at 9th place losing to Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey.

Singles bracket had many surprises, but top 8 was when things really heated up.

Heart stopping performances

Nairo versus MK Leo at GOML 2018

The offstage interactions between these two were insane. Image:
Youtube

Winners finals saw Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada face off against MK Leo. There was a big fight feel all throughout the arena as this match had some pretty big implications. Nairo and Leo are widely believed to be two best players in the world this season.

With this being the biggest tournament of the season to date, it could make a strong case for who the definitive best in the world is. Nairo did have the set advantage (3-4) going into the set but he was still an underdog. However, he silenced all of his critics in game one. Nairo absolutely destroyed Leo in game one, two-stocking him in less than 40 seconds – an explosive start to the set for Nairo. However, Leo would not be outdone. Leo would take the next two games, one of them in dominating fashion.

Nairo would bring the set back, however, with the most intense game four that this author has ever seen. Switching from Zero Suit Samus to Bowser, Nairo put big-time pressure on MK Leo. Bowser being such a volatile character proved to be a big hurdle for Leo to overcome. In a last hit situation, Nairo kept on living into very high percents. In one final crazy offstage exchange, Nairo landed a clutch up air to close out an insane game. Leo counter picked to Bayonetta next game and put all thoughts of him losing to rest, winning 3-2, securing a spot in Grand finals. Nairo was sent to losers bracket, but would make a return.

Grand finals

Nairo fought back through losers bracket to make it into grand finals, for a run back with MK Leo. Nairo got right to work and won the first two games of set one. Leo would mount a comeback winning game three, but ultimately fell to Nairo’s Bowser in game four. With the bracket now reset, the pieces were in place for a huge finish.

Leo won game one pretty convincingly. Nairo would respond with bringing out his Bowser once again and winning game two in a last hit situation. Game three was the turning point, however, and proved to be Nairo’s downfall. Coming through with the surprise Diddy Kong pick, Nairo amassed a big lead over Leo early. But his play got a bit too sloppy late in the game, air-dodging too much and letting the victory slip form his grasp.

Leo now up 2-1, one game away from victory, came into game 4 with all the momentum in the world. Nairo would bring the Bowser out one last time but couldn’t overcome Leo’s insane pressure. MK Leo dominated the final game, closing it out with a two-stock. MK Leo remained consistent throughout the entire tournament and displayed a very clutch demeanor to win GOML 2018. Both players put on an amazing showcase of talent and definitely made the race for the top spot on the PGR much more interesting.

Congrats to MK Leo: Your GOML 2018 Champion!

Did you catch GOML over the weekend? let us know what you thought in the comments down below!

Featured image courtesy of Shoruken.

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Overwatch League Logo and Teams

The Race to the Overwatch League Postseason Playoffs

With only a few weeks left in Stage 4, teams are competing for their bid into the Overwatch League Postseason Playoffs. The New York Excelsior have already clinched first place in the Atlantic Division. They’ve rightfully claimed their spot in the Postseason Playoffs due to their domination throughout the Overwatch League’s four stages.

With only five spots remaining for Season 1 of the Overwatch League, the race is close. Teams are looking towards the big picture in Stage 4, not caring so much about winning Stage 4, rather doing well to qualify for the Postseason Playoffs. The Atlantic Division leader has already been named, but who will win the Pacific Division? More importantly, what four other teams will join them in the postseason?

Pacific Contenders

The title for the Pacific Division has not been claimed yet and the race could not be closer. The Los Angeles Valiant, Seoul Dynasty and Los Angeles Gladiators are all trying to make their case for the best team in the Pacific Division. Only three games separate these teams. Whoever gets first place can breathe a huge sigh of relief, due to the automatic bid it gives that team to the Postseason Playoffs.

As of writing, the Los Angeles Valiant hold first place. The Valiant are one game ahead of the Seoul Dynasty, who are one game ahead of the Los Angeles Gladiators. With a strong surge in Stage 3, the Los Angeles Valiant look confident to take the division. However, in Stage 4, they still have to play the New York Excelsior, Boston Uprising, and London Spitfire. In addition, the Valiant must play the Los Angeles Gladiators. A difficult road lies before the Valiant. They must earn every win if they want to make the Postseason Playoffs.

With a roster switch midway through Stage 3, many were unsure about how successful the Seoul Dynasty could be. With their eyes set on the big picture, the Seoul Dynasty said that they were confident that they could make it into the Postseason. Like the Valiant, the road will not be easy. The Dynasty play New York and London in Week 2 of Stage 4, followed by Boston and Philadelphia in Week 4. If the Dynasty want to prove that they are worthy of making the Postseason, they must win two of these four big games.

The Los Angeles Gladiators need to have a streaky Stage 4 if they want to make the Postseason. The Gladiators are two games behind the Valiant – who currently sits atop of the Pacific Division. The Gladiators have a tough road to the Postseason. They must hope that the Valiant and Dynasty lose, while also winning games against big contenders such as the Excelsior and Spitfire. The Gladiators have a small chance to make the Postseason, but a chance, nonetheless. The Gladiators must take every opportunity that they get and turn it into a positive.

Overwatch League Overall Standings

Overwatch League Overall Standings – Week 2 of Stage 4

Atlantic Contenders

Since the Atlantic Division is already clinched by the New York Excelsior, the Atlantic teams are downright playing to make the Postseason.

Five out of the six Atlantic Division teams could make the Postseason. Currently, Boston and London have the best chance to make the Postseason Playoffs. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fusion and Houston Outlaws are also fighting for their spot. Depending on how things shake out, there is the potential that all five Atlantic teams mentioned could make the Postseason. For this to happen, it would require all of the Atlantic teams to dominate the Pacific teams in Stage 4. This would not only put some of the Atlantic teams ahead of the Pacific teams in the overall standings, but it would also lower the number of Pacific teams in the top six – guaranteeing more Atlantic teams.

Looking Towards the Postseason

There is no doubt that Stage 4 will be the most competitive stage of the Overwatch League. With the race so close between the Atlantic and Pacific teams, every win matters. Teams must play strong in all their matches if they want to make it to the Postseason.

The New York Excelsior have already clinched, but who will join them in the Postseason? To find out who makes it, tune into Stage 4 of the Overwatch League.

 

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The London Spitfire just benched four players: Good move or not?

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, the London Spitfire announced a move that has shocked fans across the world.

“Effective immediately, the following players are designated as inactive on our roster…”

The names listed were a surprise at first glance, but make perfect sense after giving it a little thought. There were plenty of factors that forced London to this point with their roster, and a lot of it had to do with on-stage performance. Behind a mediocre Stage 3 and a terrible start to Stage 4, though, lie some deeper issues for the Spitfire.

 

Out with the old…

HaGoPeun


Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment 

I hate to say it, but HaGoPeun is a straight step down from Bdosin. This move (and Hooreg’s) made the most sense. Yes, he did get this absolutely ridiculous play that one time, but his consistency just isn’t at the level London needed it to be. In a league full of insanely talented Zen players, you need to bring your best. Jjonak can smell weakness. He can sense fear. His wrath knows no bounds.

In any case, the Spitfire are supremely confident in Bdosin’s ability, and he’s never given them reason to doubt his play. Bdosin may well be the player London builds around, modeling their efforts after NYXL’s Jjonak-centric approach. You can’t say it hasn’t been working, and if you can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?

Hooreg


Here’s the deal- Stage 3 showed us that Hooreg simply couldn’t hang. Everyone knew that he had less stage time and less mechanical skill than Birdring, and that gave every team going up against the Spitfire an easy in. Put pressure on Hooreg, run heroes that counter what he’s good at, win the game. Easy stuff. While he may have gelled a bit better with his team with more play time in Stage 4, Birdring is where the Spitfire want to invest their time right now. Even in his very rusty state, Birdring has the potential to blow fights wide open and win maps. That’s what the Spitfire needs more than anything right now. Splitting stage hours between the two of them with season playoffs on the way just doesn’t make sense for London, and they knew it. I’m ok with this change.

Woohyal


Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Spitfire’s second string off-tank saw a decent amount of play time, and did fairly well when on stage to boot. In this new Rein/Zarya focused meta, though, even a skilled D.Va player like Woohyal finds himself without a home.

There are plenty of heroes he can learn to flex to in his time off, at least. Off-tanks moving to Brigitte is something we’ve seen a lot of lately, and I think Woohyal has the reflex and game sense to be really, really good with her. If Brigitte isn’t nerfed to the ground within a few patches, being able to play her will be a must for any flexible off-tank player, or any new team looking for an off-tank.

TiZi


My initial reaction to seeing TiZi on this list was one of blind rage. He never even got to play a game on stage! He was our first chance to see a former RunAway player on stage! Runner would have been so proud!!

Looking at it with a little more context, though, the move makes just as much sense as the rest. I’ll let Susie explain:

“Tizi is an amazing Rein player. Like holy moly. But the rest of the team has already adapted to Gesture’s play style and he’s been consistent for us; there really was no space to incorporate Tizi as much as we wanted to. When we picked him up, we thought that we’d be getting a 12th player as well to keep things even but awkwardly ended up being 11.”

That last part is maybe the most important, even past the (totally valid) point about being used to Gesture’s play style. A 12-man roster means you can have one half of your team scrim the other. That means you can keep your secret strategies secret, try out different roster combinations on the fly and increase general efficiency by a lot. An 11-man roster means finding other teams to scrim you, while five of your players ride the bench at a time. There’s a big difference there, and that big difference may have been the deciding factor in all four of these moves.

 

The start of something new?

This move is the first of its kind in Overwatch League history, and its results will likely shape the dynamic of team rosters in a pretty major way. If London can come back to stage champion form with this streamlined roster, other teams going for a deeper playing field might look to trim down themselves. If it turns out this loss of flexibility bites the Spitfire in the butt, well… we’ll all be wiser at London’s expense.

Was this a good decision? Yes and no. Publicly announcing a decrease in roster depth is a major strategic blow to the Spitfire, whose 11-man roster was always a wild card that teams were forced to prepare for. That said, the variability hasn’t exactly been yielding results. Focusing on a small core (one of the strongest in the Overwatch League, no less) will definitely make things easier for London’s coaches. They’ll just have to hope that the efforts to refocus the roster haven’t come too late.

 

 

 

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Overwatch League

Overwatch League power rankings: Stage 4 Week 2

The first week of stage 4 was quite interesting as we saw some teams that were expected to be very good falter. We had five teams sweep the week and five teams get swept. If this continues we could see not only the stage playoffs but season playoffs come down to the wire in the coming weeks.

As a reminder, this is overall power rankings, not just for this stage.

Here are the power rankings heading into week 2:

12. Shanghai Dragons 0-2 (VS. Fusion & Excelsior)

Overwatch League Power RankingsThese Dragons are much more like Mushu than Drogon. Many people expected their match-up against the Fuel to be their time they would finally win a match. It was a new stage and they had time to finally practice and develop as a team. Then they lost, again.

Week 2 will not bring them any reprieve as they go up against two squads that are 2-0. There is one major positive though, they are not in last as their map record is better than both London’s and Florida’s.

11. Florida Mayhem 0-2 (VS. Valiant & Gladiators)

Overwatch League Power RankingsThis team is truthfully not much better than the Dragons at this point. They have had some moments but none really to talk about in week 1. Even though they were able to secure a tie against the Excelsior on one map they were then swept by the Fusion.

It will be a Los Angeles week for the Mayhem as they face the two hometown teams who are also sporting 2-0 records. This team has the ability to surprise and their entrances continue to be solid but, that might be the only thing they have going for them.

10. Dallas Fuel 1-1 (VS. Uprising & Fusion)

Overwatch League Power RankingsThe Fuel currently sit in 7th in the league for this stage and that’s great. But, let’s not forget that their win was against the Mushu’s, sorry Dragons. They were then promptly swept by the Gladiators in their next game. Seagull is finally seeming to learn D.Va and that should help this team going forward.

The runners-up last stage look a little like they do when they go into their slump. Boston could be beatable this coming week is Dallas is truly able to come together. As for the Valiant, it is likely not the same.

9. London Spitfire 0-2 (vs.  shock & Dynasty)

Overwatch League Power RankingsWho would have guessed this fall from grace? A team that made the first two playoffs (when only three teams did) has won five of their last 12 matches and were only able to win one map in week one. To be fair to them they played the Excelsior and the suddenly hot Outlaws but those are teams they should at least be able to look even against.

This is a really major week for the Spitfire. They are still sitting third in the season standings and are currently in the playoffs. But, if they have another terrible week against a rising Shock team and a hungry Dynasty squad they could fall right out of the playoffs by weeks end.

8. San Francisco Shock 1-1 (Vs. Spitfire & Outlaws)

Overwatch League Power RankingsAfter barely missing the playoffs in Stage 3 this team had a solid showing to start off Stage 4. After losing a close series against the Gladiators the Shock were able to beat a struggling Seoul Dynasty team. While Seoul has been pretty bad lately that doesn’t mean the Shock don’t deserve the credit. This team is vastly improved and could beat just about anyone at any time.

If the Shock want to show that they’re the real deal this week would be a good time to do so. London is coming off an atrocious week but is still a solid squad. A win back to back weeks against “Korean teams” would be huge for them. Also if they can cool off Houston then San Fran might be on Stage 4 playoff watch.

7. Seoul Dynasty 0-2 (vs. Excelsior & Spitfire)

Overwatch League Power RankingsSeoul might be the most disappointing team this entire season in the OWL. They have never made a playoff, are barely holding onto the sixth season playoff spot, and they went 0-2 in week 1. Their match against the Valiant was reminiscent of what they look like when they are playing their game even in a loss. Against the Shock, they went back to their average form.

Like their London counterparts, this is a nut up or shut-up week for the Dynasty. The Excelsior are (spoiler) easily the best team in the league and they always lose one game per stage. Seoul better hope it’s against them. As for their game against London, that team has fallen even further than them. If the Dynasty miss out on that game then they could be well on their way to finishing in the bottom third of the league.

6. Philadelphia Fusion 2-0 (vs. Dragons & Fuel)

Overwatch League Power RankingsAfter shocking the Uprising the Fusion cruised in their game against the Mayhem to start of the stage well. This team continues to surprise the league with their consistent play. They are in fifth for the season due to having the most games played because they can’t finish teams off. They are tied with third record-wise and if they win both this week they could be the only team in that spot by the end of the week.

With their week 2 schedule, it would not be surprising to see this team sitting at 4-0. While both the Dragons and Fuel are getting better they still are no match for the Fusion.

5. Los Angeles Gladiators 2-0 (vs. Outlaws & Mayhem)

Overwatch League Power RankingsTalk about a team on the rise. This team has been slowly climbing the ranks ever since they added Fissure and Silkthread. They are very consistent in their team-fights and after taking care of business against the Shock and Fuel the Gladiators will look to continue to climb.

This week features their toughest match of weeks 1 and 2, the Outlaws. This will be a test for both teams as they continue to push towards not just a stage playoff but, also the season playoffs. If the Gladiators cannot be upset by the Mayhem and take at least two maps against Houston, if not the match, then they could find themselves in the top six.

4. Houston Outlaws 2-0 (vs. Gladiators & Shock)

Overwatch League Power RankingsAfter a less than stellar Stage 3 it looks like Jake and the boys are back. They swept the Spitfire in convincing fashion and 3-1’d Boston. Is it possible that the meta this time around suits them better? Probably. What is more important is that they looked like they were back in a groove as a team. Last stage they seemed to struggle to find their cohesion that has made them so good.

The Outlaws sit right outside of a playoff spot currently but with six teams within two games of each other, everything can change week by week. They start off the week by playing a team that is scorching hot and only two map losses behind them. This could be an epic series and if the Outlaws can win it, even barely, then they are announcing to everyone to watch out.

3. Boston Uprising 0-2 (vs. fuel & Valiant)

Overwatch League Power RankingsOh Boston, what was up this week? After not losing a single game last stage they go out and lose both of their week 1 games 3-1. While the Fusion and Outlaws are very good teams, one would expect that Boston would win at least one of their match-ups. They are still sitting in second in the overall standings and would have to go into a huge slump to fall out of it.

Boston will face Dallas and the LA Valiant this week. Dallas can put up a fight but unless Boston throw, they should be able to handle this match-up. The Valiant and Boston are going to be going blow for blow. These teams match-up pretty well across the board and should have a very entertaining series.

2. Los Angeles Valiant 2-0 (vs. Mayhem & Uprising)

Overwatch League Power RankingsThis team continues to play very well at all positions, even after losing Silkthread. They were able to beat Seoul in overtime in an impressive series for them and then they handled Shanghai. This team is currently in the playoffs and it is unlikely that they will fall out as they currently sit in fourth.

This week they have the Mayhem and the Uprising. The Mayhem will more than likely take one map off of the Valiant but shouldn’t be much of a threat. The Uprising are a totally different story. While they had a rough week, they tend to do this at times. Boston and LA will absolutely be battling it out this week in what should be an excellent match.

1. New York Excelsior 2-0 (vs. Dragons & Dynasty)

Overwatch League Power RankingsIs anyone honestly even surprised at this point? They are 29-3 this season and continued their dominance by beating the Mayhem and Spitfire this week. The Excelsior do not seem to have any glaring weaknesses. If anything the announcement of new teams joining might be the only thing as they could potentially lose some players this offseason. Not saying they will win season one because anything can happen but, this team is incredibly good.

Focusing on this coming week, New York plays Shanghai and Seoul. The Shanghai game is a win 99 times out of 100. Seoul, on the other hand, might be like a starved tiger. If the Excelsior aren’t careful they could lose their one match a stage this week.

 

 

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mega glalie vgc

Mega Glalie: The Only Legal Mega Evolution in VGC 2018 Without Championship Points

Since the creation of VGCStats, competitive players have had access to a database of all of the Pokemon in the current format that have earned Championship Points. On the front page of their site, you can see the copious amount of points that have been earned by format staples like Landorus-Therian. You can also see how much success some unconventional choices have seen at tournaments.

On Twitter, VGCStats likes to share metagame reports regarding usage and CP earnings after different tournaments or parts of the season. One of the most popular reports was of how many Mega Evolutions that yet to earn any CP. While starting with ten, the list gradually decreased after their first report. The majority of the list, from Mega Latios to Mega Audino, was cleared in a matter of weeks… but there is still one left. The last Mega Evolution to earn CP in the 2018 format is none other than Mega Glalie.

Is Mega Glalie really that bad?mega glalie vgc

In doubles…it’s not great.

Glalie is a Pokemon that got the short end of the stick as a concept. You have a giant, angry ball of ice with mediocre stats and the worst defensive typing in the game.

Actually, scratch mediocre. Glalie’s base 80 stats across the board are pretty rough. But Glalie’s Mega Evolution should have fixed that problem with the 100 base stat total increase that comes with it, right? No, not really.

Mega Glalie gets 20 more points in Speed and 40 points in both its Attack and Special Attack stats, making it a much better offensive threat. It also gets a neat ability in Refrigerate, which turns all Normal-type moves into Ice-type moves with a 20% boost.

Unfortunately for Glalie, it remains a pure Ice-type and its mediocre defensive stats, so it likely won’t last long in battle. Have fun with those Rock Slides and Heat Waves.

Even with the boost to its Speed, base 100 is an unforgiving Speed tier with other popular Mega Evolutions like Kangaskhan and Charizard being right there with it. It also doesn’t help against faster threats like Mega Metagross, Kartana and Tapu Koko, just to name a few. Mega Glalie is fast relative to most Pokemon in the metagame, but not fast enough to be anything special.

Let’s talk about that boost to Glalie’s attack power. Base 120 is pretty solid for attacking stats, but Glalie’s coverage leaves something to be desired. Glalie’s coverage includes. Ice-type moves, Normal-type moves that will turn into Ice-type moves, some Dark-type moves and Earthquake. Beyond that, you don’t have much to work with.

The unfortunate thing is that Glalie has no way to boost its stats, meaning that it’s stuck with what it has. 120 might make those Refrigerate-boosted Returns or Double-Edges hurt, but Earthquake struggles to knock out a Heatran with some bulk in it.

Mega Glalie as a Pokemon is quite underwhelming, but we’ve seen some weird stuff earn CP this season. Maybe there are some good matchups for it in VGC 2018.

Does Mega Glalie have a place in the format right now?

Not really.

If there’s one Pokemon Mega Glalie hates going up against (that just happens to be the Pokemon that most recently took over the metagame), it’s Incineroar. Not only is Incineroar a Fire-type, but Intimidate reduces Mega Glalie’s threat status to a minimum. As an Ice-type that uses only Ice-type moves, Mega Glalie isn’t capable of dealing too much damage.

While one of the most popular Pokemon in the game (Landorus) is x4 weak to Ice, most Landorus users have Choice Scarf and Superpower/Rock Slide on standby. That means that Landorus doesn’t have much need to be afraid of Glalie. One of the biggest rising stars in the metagame is Kommo-o, which is weak to Ice, but it’s also a Fighting-type.

It seems like Mega Glalie’s bad matchups outweigh its good ones, which, admittedly, are very hard to come by.

Hypothetically, if you were to use Mega Glalie in VGC 2018, how would you use it? The best thing you could do would be to go for an all-out attacker with either Double-Edge or Return for your main source of damage. You could throw in Earthquake for coverage and Protect to round out the set.

Your third move? Explosion. Mega Glalie is the only Pokemon with an -ate ability (Aerilate, Pixilate, etc.) that has a boosted Explosion thanks to one of these abilities. It’s meant to be a last ditch move, and it does good damage to everything that isn’t a bulky Pokemon (like Snorlax, Cresselia, etc) or an Ice resistance. The idea of letting your Mega Evolution go boom doesn’t sound too great though, especially with the potential for your opponent to Protect right into your Explosion.

Is there any hope for Mega Glalie?

At this point in the season, the answer to that question is yes and no. Anyone using Mega Glalie to any major success isn’t likely. That said, it isn’t impossible for Mega Glalie to earn Championship Points.

There are still many Premier Challenges and Mid-Season Showdowns left for the season, and there are a fair amount of players that have already qualified for the World Championships. If anyone cares enough to get Mega Glalie the tiniest bit of CP, it will likely happen at one of these smaller events. As for players who are most likely to do it, this author’s bets are on either Jamie Boyt or Ashton Cox. Cox is infamously known for using not-so-serious sets at tournaments when he has little on the line. With that in mind, it’s possible to see him create his own Mega Glalie team.

Currently, this author is leaning more towards Boyt, especially after he teased the world with this tweet:

From the sound of this tweet, it looks like the Mega Glalie dream is dead. But there’s a chance it still lives.

Boyt and Cox have not been afraid to bring crazy spectacles to big tournaments. Considering that they are both comfortably high in CP total, players in Columbus should watch out.

With the season almost over, time is running out for Mega Glalie. While all of Glalie’s Mega Evolved brethren have earned Championship Points, Mega Glalie continues to rot in obscurity. Will someone eventually come to it’s rescue? Time will tell.



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mega blaziken

Mega Blaziken Fires Up the Metagame! – VGC 2018 Underrated List

Ever since Incineroar showed up, it has been hard for other Fire-types in the 2018 metagame to find a place on a lot of teams. Mega Charizard Y has dominated the Fire-type Mega Evolution slot for years. Only a couple other mega evolution appearances include the likes of Mega Camerupt and Mega Blaziken.

Mega Blaziken seems like it’s turning into one of the most popular anti-meta Pokemon in the format. The sheer amount of offense Mega Blaziken teams possess can easily overwhelm a team that isn’t prepared. However, with such a focus on offense, using Mega Blaziken means you can rarely play safe or defensive. Let’s see how a Pokemon built on the strategy of “high risk, high reward” fares in VGC 2018.

Stats & Typing 

FireFighting

mega blaziken

Being a Mega Evolution naturally means that Mega Blaziken has solid stats across the board. As mentioned before, Mega Blaziken’s focus is on offense, which is reflected in both its Attack and Special Attack. This gives Mega Blaziken the ability to not adhere to just one side of the attacking spectrum, as it can use both physical and special moves effectively. One of the biggest upgrades it gets is in its Speed stat which is 20 points higher than normal Blaziken. This allows Mega Blaziken to out-speed many common threats even before a Speed Boost. Base 80 in HP and Defense aren’t too bad, considering Blaziken’s defenses receive a slight boost from Mega Evolving. However, you shouldn’t count on this Pokemon soaking up a lot of hits.

Fire and Fighting is an amazing offensive typing, and Mega Blaziken has both the stats and moves to back it up. Other than Incineroar and the occasional bulky Water-type, Fire-type attacks have very few resistances in the metagame, allowing Mega Blaziken to inflict a lot of damage. The other half of Mega Blaziken’s offense comes from his Fighting typing. This allows Mega Blaziken to approach in many different ways. Mega Blaziken is fortunately one of the few Fighting-types that can deal with Fairy-types better, thanks to it being half Fire-type.

Even though Mega Blaziken has a few defensive advantages, it still has to deal with all of the other woes of being both a Fire and Fighting-type in VGC 2018. Being a Fire-type means that Mega Blaziken struggles to break through bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini. Fighting-type attacks may do well against Pokemon like Porygon2 and Snorlax. Though, compared to the rest of the metagame that’s dominated by Fairy-type Pokemon and bulky Psychic-types like Cresselia and Gothitelle, using a Fighting-type becomes a bit more challenging.

Move pool

Mega Blaziken can find use for both moves on the physical and special side, so that’s how we’ll be dividing up this category.

Physical

  • Flare Blitz: The go-to Fire-type attack for most Fire-type physical attackers. While there’s recoil that makes this move risky to use, Mega Blaziken’s focus, again, is to inflict as much damage as possible. With that in mind, this move delivers very high damage, and showcases Mega Blaziken’s offensive capability quite well.
  • High Jump Kick: One of many of Blaziken’s high-damaging Fighting-type attacks. Though, this one is probably one of the least advised to use. The reason being that Protect and the high chance of missing, meaning you could easily whiff this move and lose half of Mega Blaziken’s HP for nothing. If you want to gamble like a Pheromosa in VGC 2017, then feel free to try out High Jump Kick.
  • Rock Slide: A fast Rock Slide is never a bad option in VGC, and Mega Blaziken can deliver. Having this move available usually solves most Mega Blaziken teams’ matchup against Mega Charizard Y, so its worth it for coverage.
  • Superpower: Not as risky as High Jump Kick, but definitely not a means of consistent damage output. Superpower may be 100% accurate, but you do have to deal with the drops in Attack and Defense after a successful use of it. A good option for a Swords Dance set where you can boost your attack to the point of not worrying about the single stage drops to Mega Blaziken’s Attack stat.
  • Low Kick: The physical Fighting-type attack with the most “consistent” damage output. While Low Kick never misses and doesn’t lower stats, this move’s power is entirely dependent on the weight of your target. Great for Pokemon like Tyranitar and Snorlax. Not so great for Porygon2 and Kartana.
  • Thunder Punch: Thankfully, Mega Blaziken has a way of dealing with bulky Water-types, though the damage here isn’t the greatest. Mega Blaziken that run ThunderPunch usually have a Tapu Koko on their team for the Electric Terrain boost.
  • Swords Dance: If your team has the proper means of support, Swords Dance can be devestating for an opponent. After just one use of Swords Dance, Mega Blaziken can start picking up one-hit-KO’s left and right. Many players usually like to opt for coverage over set-up on Mega Blaziken, but Swords Dance is by no means a bad option.

Special

  • Overheat: The go-to Fire-type attack for Special and mixed variants of Mega Blaziken. Like Superpower, this move drops Mega Blaziken’s stats (this time a two stage drop to Special Attack), but the damage output is worth it. This works out fine on mixed sets that have physical moves to work with, so the drop in Special Attack doesn’t matter too much.
  • Focus Blast: If you’re feeling as risky as High Jump Kick, Focus Blast is pretty much the Special equivalent. 70% accuracy often feels like 20% after some extended play with this move, causing many competitive players to advise against using it.
  • Hidden Power: Hidden Power might be a move that every Pokemon has access to, but Mega Blaziken is a solid candidate for Hidden Power Ice. With Mega Blaziken’s Special Attack, it can easily pick up one-hit-KO’s on two of its biggest counters in Landorus and Mega Salamence.

Mega Blaziken’s Physical move pool is a lot better than its Special one, leading many players to opt for mixed sets rather than just strictly Special ones. Physical-based sets are the most popular right now, but mixed sets are effective enough to not be discounted when seen.

Ability: Speed Boost

The ability that got Mega Blaziken (and normal Blaziken) banned from Smogon’s OU singles metagame is what also makes it a huge threat in doubles. Speed Boost raises Blaziken’s Speed by one stage every turn. This is insane, coming from an already fast Pokemon. What’s even better is that Protect is even more usable in doubles, making turn one pretty much a free speed boost for Mega Blaziken. With just one boost, Mega Blaziken can out-speed a lot of common Choice Scarf Pokemon. With two, it can even ignore an opponent’s Tailwind in most cases. This ability is amazing, and it allows Mega Blaziken to become a huge threat after being in the battle for just a single turn.

Checks and Counters

Bulky Water-types

tapu fini mega blaziken

Even though Thunder Punch is an option for Mega Blaziken, it surely won’t pick up KO’s on Pokemon like Tapu Fini, Milotic and Suicune. To handle this weakness, Mega Blaziken appreciates a Grass or Electric-type teammate.

Cresselia

Mega Blaziken cannot touch Cresselia at all, making it a hard counter to it. Not only that, but Cresselia can easily spam Icy Wind to negate Mega Blaziken’s speed boosts or just set up Trick Room to flip the speed order.

Landorus-Therian

Intimidate+Earthquake is a horrible combo for Mega Blaziken to go up against. Luckily, Mega Blaziken can out-speed even the fastest of Landorus after one speed boost and do massive damage with Flare Blitz. If you want to OHKO Landorus-Therian though, then consider having Hidden Power Ice.

Mega Salamence

Intimidate+strong Flying-type damage is another combo Mega Blaziken hates going against. Unfortunately, unlike Landorus, Blaziken can’t touch Mega Salamence with Fire or Fighting-type moves, so Hidden Power Ice or a potentially weakened Rock Slide are the only way to damage it.

Good Teammates 

Bisharp

bisharp mega blaziken

Physical-attacking Mega Evolutions in VGC 2018 like to have a Pokemon that does well against Intimidate, and this is where Bisharp comes in. Bisharp does well against the Psychic and Fairy-types that Blaziken hates. Meanwhile, Blaziken can handle Incineroar pretty well for Bisharp. These two have such great synergy that Bisharp+Mega Blaziken is considered an archetype by many players.

Tapu Koko

An answer to the bulky Water-types and having Electric Terrain to boost Mega Blaziken’s Thunder Punch. Tapu Koko’s high speed combined with Blaziken’s high speed make these two a solid offensive duo.

Tapu Lele

Having Tapu Lele paired with Mega Blaziken reminds me of the days of Tapu Lele and Pheromosa back in VGC 2017. The combination of Psychic/Fairy and Fire/Fighting is a strong offensive combo, and these two have the capability to do massive damage if left unchecked.

So why use Mega Blaziken?

mega blaziken anime

If you’re a player that enjoys playing hyper offense, this is the Pokemon to build your team around. With a great offensive typing and solid offensive moves and stats, Mega Blaziken can dent opposing teams without much help. It does have to watch out for the occasional Landorus or Tapu Fini, but it does well against the increasingly common Mega Gengar team archetype.

Also, Mega Metagross is still around, and Mega Blaziken loves that matchup.

 

Mega Blaziken may not be the most consistent or popular Mega Pokemon out there, but the surprise factor and ability to overwhelm opponents is probably why its been picking up in usage as of late.

The last time we did an “Underrated List” piece on a Mega Evolution was for Mega Scizor. Shortly after, it won an International Championship.

Perhaps some big-time success isn’t too far off for Mega Blaziken too.



You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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Gesture from the London Spitfire

The London Spitfire’s Slow Fall from Grace

Even though Stage 4 just started, the Overwatch League is on a new patch. Moreover, Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim has returned to the London Spitfire’s lineup, making an appearance for the first time since early in Stage 3. The Spitfire are still looking shaky after their match against the Houston Outlaws. The Spitfire have never beat Houston, as the Outlaws are 4-0 against them in the regular season. More impressively from the Outlaws, London’s fourth loss came as a brutal 4-0 sweep. Are the London Spitfire, the Stage 1 Champions, still a team to be worried about?

No Birdring, No Widowmaker

With the double sniper meta becoming more prevalent, Birdring is making his return at the right time. Snipers have become an ever-increasing importance for teams in Stage 3 and Stage 4. In Stage 3 the London Spitfire weren’t nearly as dominant, Birdring’s absence was felt. A great Widowmaker, like Birdring, can dominate space and make enemies fear peeking at any position. In Stage 3, the London Spitfire had to opt out of Widowmaker duels because Birdring was unable to play. However, with Birdring back in the mix, will the London Spitfire return to form?

Not Nearly as Dominant

London Spitfire's Birdring

London Spitfire’s Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim

Since the start of Stage 3, teams have closed in on the London Spitfire in the overall standings. A once dominant London Spitfire, who finished in the top three during both Stage 1 and Stage 2, and finished sixth in Stage 3 with a 5-5 record. Although they didn’t have Birdring, this is still concerning for London Spitfire fans and players. A team with a star-studded roster, who dominated Stage 1 and Stage 2, should not go 5-5 in a stage.

Instead of improving, it seems like they have hit their peak early on in the Overwatch League. Meanwhile, teams like the Boston Uprising, Philadelphia Fusion, Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators and San Francisco Shock are continuing to improve, climbing the standings each week. With the London Spitfire on a downward trend and other teams on an upward trend, will London have another shaky stage?

London Can Prove Teams Wrong

With the playoffs coming up soon, every win matters for teams in Stage 4. As it currently stands, the London Spitfire are third in the overall standings. However, they are nowhere near safe. Three teams are currently one game behind them, while two other teams only trail by three games.

Six teams make the Playoffs for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The London Spitfire need to do well in Stage 4 if they want to play in the playoff spotlight. The good news is that, with Birdring back and a meta that favors double snipers, the London Spitfire can do well in Stage 4. But the question is: can the Spitfire return to their strong play that we saw during the regular season?

The road won’t be easy, but Stage 4 offers an opportunity for the London Spitfire – an opportunity to rise above their recently lacking performance and impress all Overwatch League viewers. They can prove, once again, that they are a team to be feared.

To find out if the London Spitfire can finish the rest of Stage 4 strong and make the Playoffs, tune into the Overwatch League.

 

For more esports news and coverage, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong.

Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment/Overwatch

LA Valiant & Microsoft to Partner for Girls in Gaming Summit

2018 Girls in Gaming Summit

The LA Valiant (Immortals) and Microsoft have announced a partnership with the intent of growing the esports ecosystem. They will start with the first event which will be this Saturday, May 19th, called “Girls in Gaming Summit”. The description of this event is as follows:

“Time to amplify all female gamers voices.

Time to unmute and highlight all that women do and can do for gaming. Together we can build a positive industry by spotlighting female heroes, giving girls a space to feel strong and meet gamers like them.

Join LA Valiant and some of the most influential women in the gaming community as we celebrate diversity in gaming at LA Valiant’s Girls in Gaming Summit.

Learn from the many women who make and work in games about their experience and growth in the industry and about the countless opportunities the gaming world holds for developing, writing, marketing and more. Attendees will hear about common experiences and tips, and learn actionable steps on how to break into a competitive industry.

This community building event will include a Business of Esports Panel, Viewing Party, Networking, and game play. All that’s needed for attendees is a desire build the community of females and allies within the gaming industry.”

Girls in Gaming Geguri

Shanghai Dragons player Geguri. Courtesy of: Liquidpedia

This networking event will be taking place at the new Microsoft Lounge in Culver City with big names of women from the esports scene. They are, Catarina Macedo, Program Manager at Xbox, Nicole Fawcette, Sr. Brand Manager, Gears of War & Women in Gaming Co-Lead at Xbox, Alice White, Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition at Blizzard Entertainment and Ann Hand, Chairman & CEO of Amateur Esports platform, Super League Gaming.

Be Valiant

With their “Be Valiant” campaign Immortals and Microsoft hope to “…provide a community and platform that embraces aspiring female gamers to explore both the competitive and career opportunities available to them in esports.”

The Girls in Gaming Summit is currently sold out and no tickets will be sold at the door.

This event should help to bring in more female fans not only to esports, but also out from behind the screen. There has been a problem of toxicity towards women in esports, and while Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim took a major step for all female gamers, many believe there is still a long way to go.

Make sure to keep up with the Valiant’s efforts to grow the esports community!

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