Late Roster Swaps: The right moves or trying to save a sinking boat with a bucket?
The Spring Split on both sides of the pond has been rife with VISA issues, on the NA side we had the kerfluffle that was Echo Fox’s first couple of weeks, while the European edition saw Ryu from H2K temporary out, while both Diamondprox and Edward seem to have been denied a future in the EU LCS. Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise to see the two teams affected making a last ditch roster change, even with only a few weeks remaining.
Unicorns of Love are our first team we’ll talk about, mainly because they’re still quite high on the standings. UOL brought in Challenger hero Rudy, who at times seemed to shine but also very much seemed a SoloQ hero. Instead of what could be a diamond in the rough, pun intended, UOL has gone the other team building direction: LCS experience in a team environment over raw mechanics. They picked up Loulex to fill the void in their Jungler position, which is either a major upgrade or a major downgrade.
It all depends on a few things for UOL, things that fans will be desperately paying attention to. The first, and most vital, is whether the rest of the team, talent wise and carry wise, can take a hold of the game without the mechanical pressure from a star jungler. Loulex was never known to make major plays on H2K, but his clear experiential lead over udy is what he will bring to the team. But this all depends on whether UOL has enough of the necessary raw talent to make the games swing in their favour. Or go full CLG and try and out-macro your opponents. This is could be a possible style change for UOL, who in their first incarnation were known and loved for their chaotic playstyle with lots of team fights. The only remaining members of that team are Viscicaci and Hylissang.
Roccat, on the other hand, had a clear upgrade in their botlane from extinkt to Noxiak. Extinkt never really… inspired me much when watching him, he just didn’t seem to be completely comfortable in the position. Noxiak, however, is quite the veteran of being tossed around in the EU LCS in League’s most underloved role of Support. It’s hard to say exactly what Noxiak can do for Roccat given how late it is in the split for the team, but it’s not just about standings for Roccat now: it’s about survival. Relegations are an almost certainty, so the team needs to be looking inwards seriously to figure out the problems within themselves so they can prove they belong amongst the best.
Roccat is just a team that can’t seem to pull off what Elements can, that is, being the leftovers of Europe and still managing a few decent wins. As far as raw talent goes, though, Roccat is in a much better position than Giants and Elements, so there is hope that maybe the addition of Noxiak can solve some of the problems that plague Roccat. But I think it’s going to take a lot of work to fix those problems, and that’s if players and the organization stay together as a unit. But in all truth Roccat needs to look to the future of the Summer Split, while hoping to prove that they belong in that split in the next three weeks.
Looking for slip ups from the top
A lot of the storylines from the last couple of weeks have been the jostling of the upper teams proving themselves against each other. Most, if not all, of the top contenders for the throne were up against each other in some capacity. This week is different. The only teams who we can reasonably say are challenged will be our Games of the Week, that is, the Fnatic vs. H2K and Origen vs. G2 eSports. Those are the only two games I feel could be really contention points between the teams, but I’ll talk about that later in the article.
Both Vitality and UOL have easy weeks ahead of them. If either team doesn’t come out with a 2-0 week that’ll be a worrying sight. Vitality faces a struggling-to-remain-even-LCS-caliber team of Giants, which even a close game will be a worrying sign from the resurging Vitality squad. Vitality also faces the downward spiraling Elements, who has struggled to take more than a single win after their surprising 3-1 first two weeks of the split. Still, Elements have shown to be a team that can surprise some of the upper teams, and Vitality, also, has been one of the two victories for Roccat, so they’ll need to not rest on their laurels, but a relatively quiet week should be expected for the team.
UOL face both Roccat and Splyce this week, the former having joined them in making a last minute roster change while the latter have remained untouched since making it into the LCS (other than the acquisition of Trashy for the Jungle.) UOL vs. Roccat could’ve been a Game of the Week, if it weren’t for the fact that the standings make this a hard-to-hype game. UOL should still be able to take the win, but the real point of interest between these two will be whether the new roster will be able to correct the course of the team. UOL is still quite high in the standings, but in an environment that has been rather scattered and weak and is only getting tougher, UOL need to do better than ‘mediocre.’ The next game against Splyce is similar in ways to the one against Roccat: it should go UOL’s way, but a recent feisty Splyce has shown that while they are low in the standings, they’re still here to stay. Still, a 2-0 week for UOL should be expected, given the standings.
Both H2K and G2 eSports have a single tricky game ahead of them against, oddly enough, the two strongest teams from Europe’s last Summer split, Fnatic and Origen. Both teams face a relatively uninspiring team elsewise: G2 against Elements is relatively easy to call, while an H2K against Giants barely even requires being watched. Still, any slip ups in these games could point to bigger issues for the upstart teams. Anything less than a 1-1 week for either team will be deeply concerning for fans and the teams alike.
Origen, Elements, or Splyce: Will the final Playoffs team please stand up?
We’ve talked about playoff seeding before, but it’s going to become a common storyline going forward in the last few weeks of the Split. This is where playoff dreams can be realized or fall apart based on each game, so teams will need to not let their guards down. The three teams, however, that are still contending for this position seem like an odd bunch. First, and foremost, we have the leader of the pack in Origen. Origen, folks, is still in a tenuous position for playoffs. Oi. I’ve already mostly said my peace on them, but they still need to be brought up as not securing necessarily for themselves a place in the playoffs, which have gone up exponentially in importance for teams who want to go to World’s. So Origen needs to hold onto this spot if they have any hope of not having to repeat last years miracle run from CS to the 3-4th at World’s.
Elements is another team that, maybe back at their inception, would’ve been a surprise for only existing at this point in the standings. But given the vagabond and misfit nature of the team, a playoff spot would be a resounding victory. However, given their most recent games, I highly doubt it. Still, they have the chance, with a couple of bad weeks from Origen, Elements could find themselves in the playoffs and the possibility for some points towards World’s. Still, given the weak field that is the EU LCS, Elements could go decently far, maybe finding themselves in contention for the 3-4 place, which would be great for a team still struggling to remain more relevant than just a spot to be sold in the offseason.
Our last playoff contender is the one who an older Defico probably still has dreams of, the all Danish roster of Splyce. Splyce entered into the EU LCS as a possible contender for middle of the pack, but have struggled in the early stages of the split. This team has recently picked up a couple of crucial wins that have them still poised to make their first Split also their first appearance in the playoffs. Recently, the team has stated that they have “grown some balls” and are starting to make the aggressive moves they pull off in scrims. Time will tell whether this will translate into an actual consistent playstyle, but it looked good, much better than their “wait for Sencux to carry,” style that got them a few early wins. If Splyce wants to prove themselves to not simply be a ‘relegation contender,’ and a real contender in the LCS, they’ll need to make sure that scrim mentality continues to come out, because it seems to work much better.
Games to Watch
Fnatic vs. H2K: For Fnatic, proof for being here, for H2K, business as usual.
As if it needed being said, H2K looks strong, but now that they’ve returned to their full roster with Ryu in the midlane, normality might be able to return to the squad. But H2K hasn’t really been all that worried by the subbing in of SELFIE. They’re still on the top in a three way tie. Fnatic, on the other hand, have struggled to really assert themselves in the way they did last split, not surprising given their relative ‘emptying of talent’ that took place in the offseason. If Immortals current win streak is any indication, Huni and Reignover played major roles in Fnatic’s record setting split. The loss of shotcaller and veteran rebuilder in Yellowstar was another hit. Still, Fnatic is no team to shrug off, and hence why this is one of our games of the week.
On the line for H2K is whether they will remain at the top when Week 7’s dust settles. They’ll need to gel again as a team, so it’ll really be a story of whether this H2K is deserving to be on the top. Fnatic, on the other hand, have a lot on the line. H2K could reasonably lose quite a few of their games going ahead and still make playoffs. Fnatic can’t. They need each win, and not just to make it in but to also prove that they should be in the playoffs. Fnatic’s been up and down, and while they have all the right tools, it’s got to actually work. The acquisition of a new support player that’s been cited as a shotcaller like Yellowstar is promising. A win here for Fnatic would be huge, while a win for H2K will only cement what many already say, that is, they’re one of the best in Europe.
Origen vs. G2 eSports: For Origen, redemption, and for G2, a show of muscle.
Origen, Origen, Origen. I’m sorry, but seriously, what the Origen is Origen right now? Just scraping by currently to make it into the playoffs is not at all what anyone would’ve predicted. It really raises the question as to the actual role for xPeke on the team. That aside, Origen needs this win, not to pad their current two game lead over Elements/Splyce, but more so to prove that they won’t be down and out getting 3-0ed in the first level of playoffs. G2 eSports is in a similar case to H2K: this game is really just a sabre rattling to the other top teams more so than proving themselves against a lower tier team. Still, G2 have seemed less like gods lately, so it might still be vital for them to reassert themselves against the other top tier teams.
For Origen and their fans this is the chance to rally behind something this split. Some key victories off the top teams can point towards a good playoff run, ultimately what matters most. Still, even a good showing can be encouraging. Origen need to, though, be sure not to slip too far behind and remain at a comfortable distance from Elements and Splyce, elsewise they may be looking at probably the strangest history of recent teams to date. G2 eSports need to maintain their solidity at the top, while also beating back the increasingly hungry middle of the pack in Europe. Still, the implications of this game for G2 are more immaterial than standings position. G2 need to prove themselves to not just be a ‘flash in the pan,’ but a consistent top tier team, and that means not dropping games to lower tier teams, at least not without a fight.