Each position’s top underperformer in the MSI group stage

The 2018 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational group stage concludes, with Royal Never Give Up surpassing Flash Wolves in a tie-breaker for first place. The six participating group stage teams represented elite organizations, each major region’s Spring Split victor. Every roster featured big names with historic reputations and colorful narratives. This event is designed to be a clash of major players with unique strengths and diverse talents.

However, like every other tournament, MSI brought out the worst in some individuals. Although fans have faith in their favorite players’ work ethic, ambition and talent, certain players could not put their best foot forward this time around. The group stage saw several teams suffer from lackluster individual performances out of each position. Here are the worst offenders who did not show their true potential over the 10 to 11 games.

Top – Khan

Kingzone Khan underperformed at the 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The only true top lane carnivore coming into the tournament, Khan is known as a monster that only played three tank games in the 2018 LCK spring regular season. He played significantly more matches on Gangplank, Gnar, Camille and Jayce, unlike the rest of the top lane field at MSI. Just like Worlds 2017, Khan came into this tournament as a touted weapon for Kingzone to wield against his island opponents.

But the anticipated results did not really come to fruition. Sure, Khan tops the charts in laning differences at 10 and 15 minutes, but he failed to transition these leads into major advantages for his team. Other than Kingzone’s match-ups with EVOS, Khan took the back seat to the rest of his team. Khan made poor team-fighting decisions, often over-aggressively diving the back line without back up. Like other tops, Khan over-extended in the side lane without proper vision or communication to back off.

Of course, Khan did not perform poorly in the MSI group stage compared to the rest of the field. He simply underperformed compared to audiences’ expectations. His 21.4 percent MSI kill participation pales in comparison to his 60.9 LCK Spring. He dropped his DPM from 570 to 356 without significantly less gold share. And Khan’s 2.2 KDA ranks lowest among MSI tops, while his 5.9 KDA was number one among LCK tops. He has not been able to perform to expectations just yet, which could be critical to Kingzone’s third place group stage finish.

Jungle – mLXG

Royal Never Give Up Mlxg underperformed at 2018 MSI Group Stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Though Royal Never Give Up finished group stage at the top of the standings, Mlxg stands out as an under-performer. Despite RNG’s high average gold difference at 15 minutes (+430), Mlxg averaged behind 308, second to last among junglers. While similar statistics are not available for the LPL, his gold per minute and damage per minute dropped six and 18 percent from Spring Split to MSI, despite playing fewer tanks. RNG’s First Blood percentage also dropped from 50 percent to 27.3 percent, with Mlxg contributing only 30 percent participation.

Similar to Khan, Mlxg did not perform poorly compared to the field. He definitely came across as a top three starting jungler. Mlxg mostly just played lower than fans have come to expect from him, especially in the earlier stages of the game. Few matches felt like he controlled the tempo. Comparatively, Karsa clearly controlled the pace of RNG’s game against Flash Wolves on day four.

By day five, Mlxg looked warmed up. His Xin Zhao against Flash Wolves and Graves against Team Liquid felt more controlled, more calculated. Hopefully, this form transitions into the bracket stage of MSI. Peanut, Broxah and MooJin essentially played to or above expectations. For RNG to reach the next level in a best-of series, Mlxg needs to channel his more aggressive early-game style. He is certainly capable of greater play than he has demonstrated during most of MSI.

Mid – Pobelter

Team Liquid Pobelter underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

While Pobelter is not considered to be a major threat by NA LCS fans, most considered him to be on an upward trajectory since Spring Split playoffs. His role in the finals against 100 Thieves awarded him Most Valuable Player of the series. MSI has brought that momentum to a screeching halt, as Pobelter has not lived up to expectations.

Team Liquid’s mid laner ranks last in laning stats at 15 minutes in the MSI group stage, which is not necessarily surprising, considering he was middle-of-the-pack during the regular season Spring Split. During playoffs he was roughly fourth or fifth in laning among mids. But, what he lacked in early game dominance, Pobelter made up for with team-fighting prowess. He knows the limits of his champion once he hits the two to three item mark, which is how he earned a 7.2 KDA and 527 damage per minute in playoffs.

At MSI, Pobelter has a 2.8 KDA and 363 damage per minute. Team Liquid drafted him slightly different champions, such as Malzahar, Karma and Taliyah, but that does not make up the discrepancy between playoff Pobelter and MSI Pobelter. He seemed off all tournament, often getting caught during his split-push or roaming between lanes. This bump in the road is unfortunate, as many fans were enjoying Pobelter’s success. Caps, Maple, and even Warzone put their teams on their backs at times. Team Liquid could not count on Pobelter in the same way this time around.

AD Carry – Rekkles

Fnatic Rekkles underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Recency bias will cause European fans to turn their heads away from Rekkles’ overall lowered performance at MSI. From awkward drafts featuring Sivir when no other AD carry was playing her, to overly passive skirmishing, Rekkles had major issues during group stage. Unsurprisingly, Rekkles only composed of 27.1 percent of his team’s damage, while other members of the team stepped up to make up for his lack of presence.

For example, Uzi, PraY, Doublelift, and Betty output anywhere from 90 to 110 percent of their 2017 Worlds’ damage at 2018 MSI. Rekkles’ damage per minute dropped to 80 percent of his Worlds’ numbers. He put up a 6.5 KDA, third among AD carries, but mostly from lower deaths, not higher kills or assists. Rekkles’ champion preferences essentially gave up Fnatic’s early game pressure around bottom lane, while other teams prioritized more aggressive champions and playstyles.

Rekkles’ final Xayah game versus Team Liquid should restore hope for EU LCS followers. For seemingly the first time during the tournament, Rekkles and Hylissang exhibited substantial early laning pressure, and transitioned their power throughout the map. Rekkles output larger damage numbers and higher kill participation, which constricted Team Liquid the way Fnatic dominated Spring Split playoffs. As the West’s last hope of an MSI victory, Fnatic will need more of this Rekkles during the bracket stage.

Support – Olleh

Team Liquid Olleh underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Without beating a dead horse too much, Olleh fell flat at MSI, and was arguably the largest liability in the entire event. From sub-par day one play, to stepping down at one point, to further reduced execution, Team Liquid’s support looked completely out of sorts. His decision-making with Tahm Kench, Alistar and Braum was questionable, which is why safer supports, like Janna and Morgana, better suited him.

With supports having much less statistical analysis to back up their play, eye testing becomes much more important. Compared with SwordArt, Ming, GorillA and even Hylissang, Olleh felt outclassed. While every other support player showed off clutch play-making, particularly on Rakan, Olleh’s best plays were in the background and his worst plays remained memorable.

This tournament is far from Olleh’s best, and anyone who has followed his time in North America knows his potential. He was a top support in North America on Immortals, and he was strong this spring. Olleh will most likely come back even stronger this summer. However, this MSI will be a dark stain on his record, as he severely underperformed when Team Liquid needed him most.

credits

Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Player and Team Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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Postmortem: Flash Wolves vs Gambit Esports

Last week, the Play-In stage of the 2018 mid-season invitational (MSI) concluded not with a bang, but with a whimper, as CIS representatives Gambit Esports found themselves on the wrong end of a barely-contested 3-0 clean sweep at the hands of the LMS’ Flash Wolves. Gambit came close to victory only in the very first game. In this postmortem of Gambit’s defeat, I want to look at the teamfight that ultimately decided that game, and see what it tells us about Gambit, the Flash Wolves and why things turned out the way they did.

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Setting the scene

Before we can analyse the fight, we must understand the context in which it took place. Gambit’s soft-scaling composition, featuring champions most comfortable in mid to late game teamfights like Cassiopeia, Kai’sa and Trundle, had come online after 20 minutes of being forced to cede objective after objective to the Flash Wolves’ stronger, more early-game focused composition. The Flash Wolves attempted to engage multiple times after this point, trying to carry their momentum forward, but to no avail. After one particularly successful fight and an opportunistic baron, Gambit marched down the bot lane towards the Flash Wolves’ inhibitor turret to begin a siege. They had a gold lead, an active baron buff, and the tempo of the game in their hands. It seemed theirs to win or lose. It was here, exactly 29 and a half minutes into the game, that the pivotal teamfight occurred.

 

The Fight

One of the most important features of the Flash Wolves’ composition was Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh’s Rakan. Representing both their primary engage and counter-engage potential, SwordArt had a vital role to play. Thus, when he slightly overstepped on Gambit’s flank, toplaner Alexander “PvPStejos” Glazkov (Maokai), saw the chance to swing the odds in their favour and went for the pick, chaining his Twisted Advance and his ultimate to lock him down. Meanwhile Gambit AD Carry Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk, representing much of Gambit’s damage on a Kai’sa at the peak of her power, immediately blew his own ultimate ability to rush to his toplaner’s side and help secure the kill.

Of course, the kill never actually happened, and SwordArt escaped by the skin of his teeth while the remaining elements of each team clashed at the entrance to the base. The Flash Wolves’ Cho’gath traded his life for that of Gambit jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov (Trundle) while their own carries (Karma and Xayah) dealt as much damage as they could from the back. A tense trade of summoner spells and cooldowns later, Gambit retreated, health bars low. The fight was over, and though it looked like little was ultimately lost, the moments before the fight were the last in which Gambit had any measure of control over the game. In the next several minutes, the Flash Wolves would push out from their base, re-establish control of the map and win the game after a single well-executed teamfight.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

 

Mistake #1: Over-committing

 We know what happened, but what did Gambit actually do wrong?

The first mistake that Gambit made was to commit so much to an uncertain play. Gambit spent the ultimates of Maokai and Kai’sa for the prospect of a kill on a Rakan. Though perhaps a fair trade, the cost of these ultimate abilities cannot be overstated. Maokai’s Nature’s Grasp was the central engage mechanic that Gambit relied on. As a lane-wide ultimate with long range, the ability could both force a fight or  zone the Flash Wolves away from important objectives. In the context of a siege, expending a Maokai ultimate for a single pick is more than a little risky.

Kai’sa’s ultimate, meanwhile, looks far less impactful on the surface. It provides a shield and the ability to quickly reposition, but by itself it provides none of Kai’sa’s substantial damage output and tank-shredding ability. However, the difference between having this ultimate available or not is the difference between being able to step forward and provide damage with a safety net versus having to play from the backline, and the difference between being able to forcefully clean up a fight or letting it get away. Though Kai’sa represented only half of Gambit’s primary damage output, with Lodik less than a percentage away from midlaner Mykhailo “Kira” Harmash’s (Cassiopeia) damage share in this game (29.6 to 29%), spending this ultimate came at a substantial cost.

That’s not to say it wasn’t worth it. Any good team knows that sometimes, you have to spend valuable resources to try and get ahead. What makes the play so questionable is how uncertain it was, as SwordArt had both Cleanse and Flash summoner spells available to him, which allowed him to escape. Gambit either failed to properly track his summoner spells, or failed to consider how strong they’d be in avoiding the pick. Either way, Gambit messed up.

 

Mistake #2: Mechanical missteps

A team could have the perfect draft and an unbeatable plan, with every possible risk or outcome accounted for; but at the end of the day what decides games is how well a team executes their plan. Gambit, unfortunately, did not execute their plan well at all.

The first mechanical error came from PvPStejos. We’ve already covered how important the Maokai ultimate could be, however it would’ve been entirely possible to use it for the pick on SwordArt whilst also helping the main fight. If he’d angled his ultimate towards the botlane tower, Gambit may have fared better. PvPStejos instead angled it away from the tower, meaning that aside from (briefly) rooting SwordArt, the ultimate did nothing except zone the Flash Wolves’ least relevant teamfighter, a Kha’zix.

But this had little bearing on the pick itself, and things may well had gone differently if SwordArt had gone down. What more directly influenced that was Lodik’s positioning. Rakan’s ultimate, The Quickness, causes Rakan to gain movement speed and charm whomever he touches. Maokai would almost necessarily be hit by this. A well-positioned Kai’sa, however, would be capable of firing off the crucial extra auto-attacks necessary to secure the kill before succumbing to the CC. It’s therefore tragic that Lodik, in his rush to follow up PvPStejos’ engage, positioned himself in melee range of the Rakan, meaning he was CC’ed and locked out of auto-attacking almost instantly and was unable to secure the kill. Each of these crucial mechanical errors snowballed against Gambit in their own ways, each contributing to their losing the fight.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

 

Mistake #3: The follow-up

While SwordArt was making his great escape, toplaner Su ‘Hanabi’ Chia-Hsiang stepped slightly out of the base to support him, and the remaining Gambit squad rushed forward in an attempt to punish him. It’s here that another issue with Lodik’s dive becomes clear: Gambit had no good way of dealing with Hanabi’s Cho’gath.

Gambit had a Trundle, whose Subjugate ultimate shreds through tanks resistances. Effective as this is, Hanabi had both substantial health scaling from his own ultimate, as well as a Gargoyle’s Stoneplate which can temporarily make any tank virtually unkillable. In order to be able to properly utilise Subjugate to burn through Cho’gath and make it to the backline, Gambit needed their consistent damage sources at the ready to take him out. Unfortunately, the best tank-shredder on the team was Lodik, who was busy being CC’ed by a frustratingly not-dead Rakan at the point that Diamondprox and Kira decided to engage on Hanabi. Meanwhile both of Flash Wolves carries were present and dealing incredible amounts of damage to every Gambit member, safe in the knowledge that both the most salient enemy damage threat and the main source of engage were preoccupied.

Though PvPStejos and Lodick did soon rejoin the central fight, Diamondprox was already dead and PvPStejos was forced to use his most reliable remaining method of locking a target down, his Twisted Advance, to secure the kill on Hanabi, allowing the Flash Wolves’ carries a further measure of safety for a few seconds. Meanwhile Lu ‘Betty’ Yu-Hung’ (Xayah) had a full health bar, his flash, and his own safety-net ultimate at the ready.

In other words, at the point that Gambit engaged onto Hanabi they had neither the damage output nor lockdown to secure the kill, or any method of stopping the carries Hanabi was protecting from dealing damage. By the time they were able to secure the kill, Gambit had low health bars across the board, and neither Flash Wolves’ mid or ADC had a scratch on them. Diving SwordArt was problematic in itself, but committing to a fight which had little chance of success with a Cho’gath and two carries was arguably the bigger mistake.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Lessons learned

This teamfight serves perfectly to elucidate Gambit’s issues when faced with a team of the Flash Wolves’ calibre. Gambit demonstrated awkward and poorly considered calls, mechanical errors, and a failure to understand both where the power in their composition lay, and how much of it would be required to stand up to specific elements of the Flash Wolves’ composition. Though this fight only cost them one game, it was the game they were best positioned to win, and what we learned about how Gambit functioned under pressure helps explain how they were so outclassed by the Flash Wolves throughout the series. Yet as tragic as the loss was for Gambit fans, at the end of the day, the better team won.

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Featured photo from Riot Games

David and Goliath: Fnatic Rip Apart Kingzone DragonX

Did that really just happen?

In a story straight out of a fairytale, Fnatic pulled a complete 180 to take down Korean juggernauts Kingzone DragonX. After going 0-2 on the first day of the group stage, many were already writing off Fnatic. To be honest, who can blame them, Fnatic made mistake after mistake, with the only hope for the team being mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther. However, today it seems that Fnatic has patched over the cracks in their foundation and are here to contend.

 

Early Game

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

 

Right off the bat from level 1, Fnatic decided to go on the offensive, setting up their famed brush of death in bot side river. Unfortunately for Kingzone, Kim “PraY” Jong-in decided to face check the brush and paid for it with his life. Right off the back of this Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and the rest of Fnatic began to invade KZ’s jungle, forcing Han “Peanut” Wang-ho out, and securing red buff and raptors.

This already set up KZ at a massive disadvantage, as they make all their plays through Peanut. Peanut is the one snowballing lanes, Peanut is the one opening up the map. However, with him neutralized and top laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong getting shoved under his tower, KZ had no foothold in the early game.

 

Fool me once, Shame on you. Fool me Twice, Shame on Peanut

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Fnatic didn’t stop at the early game. They continued to put constant pressure on Peanut’s red buff. Every time they would do this peanut would try and contest and every time he would fail. Although the blame wasn’t just on peanut for trying to contest, it also fell on Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, who made terrible teleport calls and awkward dives into the entire Fnatic squad.

With the constant mistakes coming out of the two biggest playmakers on KZ, all hope was lost, they lost team fight after team fight. When the time came for baron they had such little map pressure and vision that they couldn’t even make a dent. As soon as they even got close to the baron pit, Fnatic would turn around and chase them off, denying Peanut the 50/50 smite. Therefore, cementing the fate of the match.

 

Final Nail in the Coffin

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Kingzone put up a valiant fight whilst Fnatic was sieging their base, but it was only a matter of time till Fnatic took the nexus. With every subsequent attempt at cracking KZ’s base, they whittled away at their defences. They took inhibitors whilst keeping KZ busy with team fights, and whilst KZ won the fights, they lost the war. Their base laid in tatters as a result of constant waves of super minions, KZ put up one last fight before Fnatic did the impossible and defeated the tournament favourites. Will Kingzone be able to bounce back? Will Fnatic continue this stellar performance? Only time will tell.

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. 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 Brandon!

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Featured image courtesy of Riot Games

Flash Wolves

Flash Wolves wipe the floor with the competition on the first day of MSI

After putting up poor performances on the international stage in the past years, Flash Wolves have come into the 2018 Mid Season Invitational with a point to prove. That point being that they are indeed a top tier team. If the first day of the group stage is anything to go by, that point is very much valid.

Today Flash Wolves faced off against fellow play-in stage survivors, EVOS, and the Kings of the EU LCS, Fnatic to start their run. Flash Wolves triumphed over both of these teams by employing their aggressive, calculated playstyle.

 

Maple is Godly

Much of today’s wins came down to the phenomenal performance coming out of mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tan. Posting an impressive combined scoreline of 19/0/9, Maple came out and showed the world just what he is made of. In their first game against EVOS, Maple was able to roam to his side lanes consistently. Almost every time he did this he would pick up a kill, allowing him to snowball incredibly hard.

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

In the second game, Maple was a force to be reckoned with on Vladimir. He would constantly dive onto Fnatic’s back line of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Rasmus “Caps” Winther and quickly kill or chunk them out to make sure they had no impact in a team fight. This allowed his team to win team fights consistently by dealing with the remaining players.

 

EVOS Can’t Clear Raptors

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Whilst there is no doubt that Flash Wolves ‘looked’ very dominant today, it is still to be seen whether or not they can hang with the big dogs. Both the teams they faced today were much weaker than them, especially EVOS. In fact the win against EVOS was cemented from the very first kill on jungler Nguyễn “YiJin” Lê Hải Đăng. YiJin was caught dying to raptors by Kim “Moojin” Moo-jinand. This converted into a 4 man roam down bot and a further two kills. If EVOS can’t even clear a raptor camp, can it really be said that Flash Wolves’ win was at all impressive?

 

The Coming Storm

Flash Wolves move on to face the tournament favourites Royal Never Give Up and Kingzone DragonX in the next two days. Kingzone continued their reign of terror today going 2-0, showing the competition that they are not to be trifled with.

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

RNG also had an impressive showing posting a 1-1 scoreline. RNG destroyed Fnatic earlier in the day, however they fell to none other than Kingzone themselves later on. With this, RNG will be looking to make up for this loss. Unfortunately for Flash Wolves, they will be taking the full brunt of RNG’s vengeance.

If Flash Wolves want to stand a chance against these powerhouses, they will have to look to continue what they started today. Thus, requiring their carries in Maple and Betty to stay on top form if they hope to even go even with these teams.

 

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. 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 Brandon!

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Featured image courtesy of Riot Games

fnatic

RNG Defeat Fnatic in First Match of the MSI Group Stage

The first day of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational group stage is finally upon us. With it comes the top teams from every region competing to show that they are the best international team.

Today’s first match of Fnatic VS RNG, saw Fnatic’s pride on the line with a worlds rematch. However, once again Fnatic fell to the ever-dominant Chinese team.

Champ Select

Jumping into champ select, we see a lot of target bans coming out from both teams. Both teams used their first phase bans to triple ban a role. Fnatic banning out Morgana, Karma and Rakan to pinch RNG’s support (ming), Morgana and karma being flex pick bans out on mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao as well. RNG, on the other hand, decide to ban out Gangplank, Swain and Sion in an effort to target ban top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, whilst also banning out a mid lane flex pick in Swain.

Moving onto first phase picks, with Kai’sa being left on the table for the first time during the tournament, Fnatic quickly snapped it up as their first pick. RNG responded with another scaling ADC in the form of Kog’Maw, a great pick for the absolute monster that is Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, and snowballing jungler Olaf. Fnatic rounded out their first phase picks with the jungle trundle and support Braum. Braum is a very good pick here for Fnatic as it means that bot lane becomes very hard to gank, thus allowing Martin “Rekkles” Larsson to scale up and play Kai’sa to her full potential. To round out the first phase RNG’s final pick came in the form of the ever-popular Ryze for Xiahou.

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Moving onto second phase bans. RNG came out with a Zoe and Ornn ban, both of which historically are picked whenever they get through the ban phase. Fnatic responded with a Shen and Lulu ban, with the Shen being a very good top laner with his ability to quickly respond to threats around the map with his ult and the teleport summoner spell.

Onto the final pick phase of the match. RNG finally pick up a support in Tahm Kench, a good aggressive playmaker that can also quickly get his carry out of danger. Fnatic responded with the Yassuo and Vladimir, setting themselves up for a high risk/high reward game, where if they can keep themselves safe early and not fall behind, whilst also making a pick or two they will be able to create side lane dominance. RNG rounded out their comp with the Cho’gath response coming out to counter the Vlad and keep him pushed under the tower.

The match

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

RNG took command of the early game, placing multiple deep wards to neutralize any gank attempts from Fnatic jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, keeping the game in RNG’s favour as Fnatic had no tempo in any lane whatsoever. The game began to turn around for Fnatic when Rasmus “Caps” Winther got a solo kill off on Xiahou in the bottom lane, allowing for Fnatic to also pick up a tower and close the gold gap.

Later in the game, Fnatic begin trying to take baron resulting in a 1 for 1 trade and one of RNG’s towers going down, putting the match in favour of Fnatic. However, with Caps dead, there was no one to put enough pressure down to stop RNG taking baron. RNG immediately began to set up for a 5 man gank onto the members of Fnatic in the mid lane, but a nice sidestep of the Olaf engage allowed for Fnatic to turn the tables and pick up 2 kills and even an inhibitor.

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

With the match looking all but won for Fnatic, they decided to go for a 5 man bush to put the final nail in RNG’s coffin. However, it failed and RNG wiped the floor with them, leaving only 1 man up for Fnatic to defend the nexus against 5. Thus, allowing RNG to close out the game moments later.

The 2018 MSI Group stage is now underway.

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. 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 Brandon!

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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.

 

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!

MSI

Diamonds in the Rough: The Top 5 Standouts of the MSI Play-In Stage

The Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) kicked off last Thursday with the Play-In Stage. The Play-In phase of the tournament allows the emerging regions of the world to show their stuff and contend for one of the two remaining spots in the main event’s group stage. While these smaller regions were not as spectacular as any of the mainstay competitors, they still possess some diamonds in the rough that were definitely worth keeping an eye on.

5: Dire Wolves’ “Triple”

MSI 2018

Courtesty of LoL Esports

While most of the MSI Play-Ins were about the AD Carries or the Junlgers, one Midlaner that definitely stood out was the Dire Wolves’ Stephen “Triple” Li.

Li displayed some very explosive results on picks like Zoe and Cassiopeia. His mechanical skill and ability to make plays on the individual level, even when his team was losing, made him a definite standout from the other participating Midlaners. There were several moments in the Dire Wolves’ losses where Li came extremely close to turning things around for his team. Sadly, he was not able to push the Dire Wolves over the edge and claim more victories in his group. Hopefully, Li will be returning to the international stage soon and display even more of his great talent.

4: Rainbow7’s “WhiteLotus”

Matías “WhiteLotus” Musso is no stranger to the international stage. Musso was introduced to the world during 2017’s MSI Play-In Stage. League of Legends fans were wowed by this one-man army and his impressively flashy play. This year proved to be no different.

Musso seems to have not lost his penchant for flashy, skin-of-his-teeth play. Any time Rainbow7 was caught in a fight, Musso would seem to stay alive much longer than would be expected, sometimes meaning the difference between a win or loss. This aspect of Musso’s play is a testament to his mechanical skill and his high value within his team. Sadly, there was a lack of explosiveness in his performance this year versus his other international performances that keeps him from reaching a higher place on this list.

3: Gambit Esports

MSI 2018

Courtesy of LoL Esports

While placing a whole team on a list of standout players may seem like cheating, it is hard to argue that Gambit does not deserve the praise that they received during the group stage of Play-Ins. Their crisp teamwork allowed them to easily dismantle any opponent that they came across. Each win for Gambit seemed to be child’s play due to their incredible synergy within the roster.

Though their performance in the group stage was a walk in the park, their match against the LMS’ Flash Wolves was another story. Their crisp coordination went ravaged as the Flash Wolves easily outmatched them for a swift 0-3 loss. Whether their performance in the second stage of Play-Ins was an indicator of the team’s strength or their unpreparedness against the Flash Wolves will be a debated topic. All in all, Gambit should still be proud, as their group stage performance was worth the watch.

2: Supermassive’s “Zeitnot”

Turkish team Supermassive had a lot to prove during this year’s MSI Play-Ins. Turkey has been a region looking to bounce back and show the world just how strong they can be. While they were not able to move on to the main stage of the tournament, Supermassive’s Berkay “Zeitnot” Aşıkuzun proved to be a world class ADC during the Play-In Stage. Aşıkuzun, especially on Caitlyn and Ka’Sai, was ruthless in dominating his opponents. Whether it be as an individual or operating within his unit, he was able to pump out incredible amounts of damage and dodge death multiple times. Aşıkuzun’s team also regularly priotized him when divvying up resources. Supermassive made sure to maintain a steady supply of jungle camps and minion waves  toward their star player. This made Aşıkuzun’s survival a critical point to SUP’s strategy, as his presence was always a key factor between victory or defeat.

Though Aşıkuzun’s play was extraordinary, there was a dynamic duo from Vietnam that stole his claim to the number one spot on this list.

1: “Stark” and “YiJin”

MSI 2018

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Ever since the Gigabyte Marines made their splash at last year’s MSI, the LoL community has fallen in love with the region of Vietnam. This year’s MSI was no different, as fans fell in love all over again thanks to EVOS’ Phan “Stark” Công Minh and Nguyễn “YiJin” Lê Hải Đăng.

The Top-Jungler duo made up the driving force behind EVOS’ crushing win against Supermassive in the second round of the Play-In Stage. This dynamic duo brought smart and aggressive play that was left unchallenged. Lê Hải Đăng’s Graves was especially deadly, as he was able to accrue such an advantage in the early game that he was able to almost single-handedly fight the entire Supermassive roster. Whlie Lê Hải Đăng was creating chaos in Supermassive’s backline; Công Minh was able to make considerable room for his teammates upfront. Even if he was to fall in an ensuing fight, Công Minh’s space-making and damage-soaking would allow the rest of EVOS to sweep through with relative ease.

 

While these were perhaps the best standouts in the Play-In Stage, there is still plenty of action to go around as the Mid-Season Invitational moves on to the main event this weekend. Be sure to tune in and watch out for LoL’s top players and teams that will be participating.

 

You can follow Mason on Twitter here: @masonjenkinstgh Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter and Facebook so you can get more and esports action. 

Featured Image courtesy of Riot Games. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

Here is why Esports Arenas will be coming to a city near you

The world of esports is growing very quickly. Estimations show that it will be larger than a $1.5 Billion industry in the next couple years. We are seeing more major sponsors for leagues and teams. With this, esports are switching over to a franchising system. This can only mean more money coming into esports.

With franchising comes the need for arenas. For a long time, esports were not taken all that seriously because many worried that either a certain esport wouldn’t last long enough or that esports would be unable to be franchised because they wouldn’t make enough money. Well, Twitch and other streaming services changed that. This grew the audiences to very high levels. What it also did, however, was bring about a new worry.

Would people go to games or would they just prefer to watch it online? After spending time at TD Gardens in Boston, The Fillmore in Miami for NA LCS, talking with other journalists, and following both League and Overwatch League closely, I can tell you that people will absolutely go to these games weekly.

What about all the other events that have come before this?

Counter-Strike Global Offensive in Esports arena

Courtesy of: CS:GO Betting

This is a valid question. The answer is that most events or even leagues can be categorized into two different areas right now.

  1. Most of these events are only happening maybe once a month as tournaments or major events that happen a couple times a year. Examples of this are CS:GO and Dota 2. What these events prove is that if there is a major event, people will come. The problem is that it doesn’t show that there are enough people who would go on a weekly or multiple days a week basis.
  2. The second area is that most leagues as of now are based in Los Angeles or other centrally located cities. Both the OWL and League are based in LA and the NBA2k League is in New York City. This is great for the people who live there or who travel there as they can watch their teams play. Everyone else is sadly out of luck.

The Fans

Fan bases for esports as a whole are growing substantially. According to Statista.com, there will be almost 400 million viewers by the end of 2018. This number will only increase as games like Fortnite, which are sweeping the world right now, are spreading to casual and non-gamers.

With the swath of viewers, there will be many who attach to certain players or teams based on their viewing experiences and what games they like. While this is great, many people often never have an event close enough to them to see their favorite team or player perform in person. Thus, they watch online.

Courtesy of: SportsTechie

With the new franchising leagues, esports are following traditional sports. Many people forget that traditional sports did not start off with teams magically appearing in cities around the world all of a sudden. Instead, a relatively small amount of teams traveled and hosted events at venues where large numbers of people could gather. This mirrors how esports have been the last few years. Now, esports are moving onto the next stage of development with franchising.

With teams representing areas and cities, people will more likely gravitate towards them as their team. Again following the traditional sports model, this will help fan bases grow, allowing people to become more attached to their teams.

As more and more people watch esports, they will be enticed to at least look at their hometown teams which should, in turn, build fans in those areas.

Franchising

As one could probably tell when reading this, franchising is a game changer. Like the NFL, NBA, and MLB, esports like League of Legends, NBA2k, and Overwatch are following in their predecessors’ footsteps. They are paving the way for other esports to jump on franchising as it offers stability and money.

Stability and massive amounts of money have always been what has kept esports from being taken seriously. There were relegations at such an early start for esports like League of Legends. This kept people and groups from feeling comfortable in investing. With franchising eliminating relegations, we saw an instant interest to the tune of up to $20 million in investments for spots in these leagues.

This is a much cheaper price than trying to buy an NBA franchise. Getting in on the ground level of anything this big is always more exciting.

With the money and stability comes the desire to make more money. Building an arena can definitely help in this area. The investment towards the future will pay off as they will be able to grow the fan base even more due to people finally being able to watch their city’s team in person.

“If you build it, they will come.”

This quote from the movie Field of Dreams, while it is about the traditional sport of baseball, applies to esports quite well.

Between other events, the fan bases, and the stability brought about by franchising, the next logical step is to start building esports arenas in cities. While there are some newer ones, like in Las Vegas and Arlington, there are plenty of teams and companies working out ways to create even more.

With the leagues that are franchising, there are even some cities that will already have a need for new arenas to host the multiple teams that are in them. You can check them out here.

All of these leagues will continue to grow and more esports will be franchising. Call of Duty announced their intentions to franchise, but not much more has come out since. With that, more cities will get involved and the need for arenas will increase.

Keep an eye out, esports and their arenas will be coming to a city near you.

 

Featured image courtesy of: Populous.com

 

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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.

 

 

 

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!

Multi-Esport Cities

While the Esports industry is very young, franchising has allowed for it to mature much faster than its traditional sports counterpart. With franchising coming into play there are many different groups and people buying in, and these entities want esports teams in their cities.

This means that many fans will start to want to see their teams in person and thus esports arenas are the next step, you can check out why that is here.

The teams in League of Legends have not officially stated what cities they will be based in, so some of this is a bit of guessing as either they were founded in these cities or have major investments from them.

Now here is a list of US/NA cities that already have multiple teams in them:

Boston:

  • Boston Uprising (Overwatch League)
  • Celtics Crossover Gaming (NBA2k)

Cleveland:

  • 100 Thieves (League of Legends)
  • Cavs Legion (NBA2k)

Dallas:

  • Dallas Fuel (Overwatch League)
  • Mavs Gaming (NBA2k)

Houston:

  • Clutch City (League of Legends)
  • Houston Outlaws (Overwatch League)
  • OpTic Gaming (League of Legends)

Los Angeles:

  • LA Gladiators (Overwatch League)
  • LA Valiant (Overwatch League)
  • The Overwatch League
  • NALCS

Miami:

  • Florida Mayhem (Overwatch League)
  • Heat Check Gaming (NBA2k)

Milwaukee:

  • Bucks Gaming (NBA2k)
  • FlyQuest (League of Legends)

New York:

  • Counter Logic Gaming (League of Legends)
  • Echo Fox (League of Legends)
  • Knicks Gaming (NBA2k)
  • New York Excelsior (Overwatch League)

Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Golden State Guardians (League of Legends)
  • San Francisco Shock (Overwatch League)
  • Warriors Gaming Squad (NBA2k)

Philadelphia:

  • 76ers GC (NBA2k)
  • Philadelphia Fusion (Overwatch League)

Toronto:

  • Raptors Uprising GC (NBA2k)
  • Team Solo Mid (League of Legends)

 

We will make sure to continue updating this list as more esports franchise, more teams commit to cities, and more teams join the already franchised leagues. An EU and Asia list will come out once a couple other franchising esports leagues finalize.

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 Robert!

“From Our Haus to Yours”