msi day 1 uzi

Uzi’s LPL Coronation

Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao has always been a player held in the highest regard. Touted as one of the most talented (and unlucky) AD carry players in the world, Uzi’s skill has never been questioned. His dream to take home an LPL title is one that he had chased throughout his storied career. After years of hard work and dedication, Uzi finally made his dream come true as he hoisted the LPL Championship trophy during the Spring 2018 LPL Finals.

RNG luck

Uzi LPL Coronation

Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

Sometimes, world class skill means nothing when faced with a streak of bad luck. Before the LPL Spring 2018 Finals, Uzi was never able to win an LPL title. Despite numerous first place finishes in the regular season under Royal Never Give Up, Uzi never could seem to get over the final hurdle. Uzi was seen, and would always seem to be seen, as a player with great talent and potential that was overshadowed by his tendency to choke when the opportunity for success came calling. Before the Spring 2018 Finals, Uzi and RNG came in second place every single split since Summer 2016. With so many opportunities missed, the title of LPL Champion always seemed to be out of reach for Uzi.

Coronation

Uzi’s bad luck finally ran out this season with his 3-1 victory over Edward Gaming. The first game in the series actually ended in a swift loss for RNG. While RNG attempted to protect their VIP, Edward Gaming was able to constantly make picks on Uzi and capitalize through swift map rotations. Though it was a bad defeat for RNG, there was still plenty of room to make a recovery. Down but not out, RNG then took the next two games of the series in dominant fashion, thanks in part to Uzi’s ability to set up and win key fights. With Games 2 and 3 out of the way, the series quickly moved on to a crucial Game 4.

Game 4 meant match point for RNG. Game 4 meant redemption for Uzi.

Uzi LPL Coronation

Courtesy of PentaQ

All was on the line in a game that EDG seemed keen on winning. EDG possessed control of the game, and they looked to cement it through securing Baron. Royal Never Give Up certainly stood by their name as they made their way to contest. Stopping EDG was RNG’s main priority, as a Baron-powered EDG would most likely mean game. A tremendous engage by Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu and Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze managed to catch their opponent completely off guard. Through their explosive teamwork, RNG was able to swipe the Baron, and the game, from their rivaled opponent. From there, EDG seemed to fall down like a set of carefully placed dominoes. With momentum and Baron on their side, RNG stormed the base of Edward Gaming and took the series.

 

Elated, RNG came together in a heartwarming embrace. Their years of hard work and sacrifice had built to this moment. Smiles were everywhere as the team made their way to the center stage. In a historic moment, Uzi raised the coveted LPL Cup high above his head. Finally, Uzi could call himself a champion.

 

 

 

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Featured Image and images courtesy of LoL Esports PhotosLoL Esports Flickr, and PentaQ

Doublelift thinks Olleh can play anything

TL Doublelift on what makes Olleh unique: “Well, first, he’s Korean.”

Team Liquid won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split on Sunday, becoming the fourth organization to do so. They took 100 Thieves 3-0 in a best-of-five series to cement their victory. Every member contributed powerful performances, between Xmithie’s Baron steal, Impact’s gank resistance, Pobelter’s Shurima Shuffles and Olleh and Doublelift’s bottom lane dominance.

Particularly stand-out, this win presents Doublelift with his third title on a new organization. He won with CLG in Summer 2015, TSM in Summers 2016 and 2017, and now with Team Liquid in Spring 2018. No other player has accomplished this feat in the NA LCS.

Doublelift has won with three different supports, as well. He paired with Aphromoo on CLG, Biofrost on TSM and now Olleh on Liquid. Finding success with so many different players is impressive, because the AD carry and support positions are so intertwined in League of Legends. One cannot succeed without the other, and some marksmen have risen or fallen because of bad supports, and vice versa. Doublelift is one of the only players to remain consistent, regardless of  the teammates that surround him.

Finals press conference

Doublelift and Olleh won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split finals with Team Liquid

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

After their win on Sunday, Team Liquid held a press conference. Each individual fielded questions regarding their year as a team and how they found success in playoffs. Here is what Doublelift had to say, when asked about what makes Olleh unique compared to his past supports:

Well, first, he’s Korean. (laugh)

I think the main thing is just, every support is totally different actually. Every time you play with a new teammate, you realize they have a different point system. And I think for Olleh, his point system is really play-making and looking to engage–looking to make a big, risky play.

I used to play like that, too, actually, so, we’re playing together at the wrong time. But, now I’m a lot more safe, I guess. After having so many bad experiences at Worlds I play a lot more safe, so, at first, we were really bad together. And every week we just worked on it. So, I think Olleh is unique, because he is really willing to play any style, and when we talk about bot lane, or when I criticize him, he’s really good at improving and making changes.

After the end of the regular season and playoffs and stuff, I think we are really good. It was like every day, every week, we’re just talking about stuff, and he’s making changes, I’m making changes. So I think that’s what’s really unique about him. He’s a really balanced player. He can play everything.

Considering Team Liquid had a 5-1 record over the first three weeks of the split, few outside viewers probably noticed much issue with Doublelift and Olleh’s synergy. However, Doublelift describes a long process of rigorous improvement and adaptation. Winning games on stage in the NA LCS does not seem like enough for Doublelift. His aspirations go beyond North America. Doublelift wants to perform at international events, and grow to be the best. Olleh has helped him secure another NA LCS title; maybe he will finally be the key to international success, as well.

credits

Images: LoL Esports Flickr

The Game Haus covered the NA LCS finals LIVE. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for articles, pictures, videos, interviews, and more content from Thomas and other contributors!

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant wins Academy Award

On Sunday, at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe Bryant stood on the stage of the Dolby Theater, accepting film’s highest honor.

He and his director and animator, Glen Keane, won the Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film. The short, named “Dear Basketball,” is an animated re-telling of Bryant’s poem of the same name. The poem, originally published in The Players’ Tribune, was written in honor of his final season in the NBA.

In “Dear Basketball,” Kobe relives falling in love with the game. He talks about how he gave basketball everything inside of him, and what it gave him in return. Bryant laments that his heart and mind are still willing, yet his body is unable.

“I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. ” (Kobe Bryant, Dear Basketball)

Up against the likes of Pixar, and a short based on a book by legendary children’s author Roald Dahl, Bryant’s five minute short emerged victorious. In an interview after the Oscar® win, Bryant said winning this award felt better than winning a championship.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane deliver their acceptance speech. (Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock).

In his speech, Kobe referenced the controversy regarding Fox News journalist Laura Ingraham taking offense to LeBron James’ willingness to discuss politics. He says, “…as basketball players, we are just supposed to shut up and dribble,” using Ingraham’s own words. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”

He does, indeed, do more than dribble, but he was pretty good at that, too.

Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career solidly puts him in contention as one of the greatest to ever play the sport.

He has five NBA Finals victories in seven appearances, winning Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. He won the NBA’s MVP award in 2008. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, and took home the All-Star Game MVP four times, along with one Slam Dunk Contest championship.

Kobe led the NBA in scoring twice, in 2006 and 2007. He scored 60 points in his final game, an NBA record. He also owns the distinction of being the only player in league history to have two numbers retired by the same team.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant celebrates winning an NBA championship. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Other NBA players took to Twitter to congratulate Bryant on his win. Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal showed their support. O’Neal even added, “I’m jealous lol.”

Kobe is the first athlete to win a championship in his sport and land an Oscar®. However, Steve Tisch, Chairman and Vice President of the New York Giants, does own an Academy Award for Best Picture for “Forrest Gump,” and a Super Bowl ring.

It’s clear that Kobe Bryant is not satisfied with simply being one of the best basketball players to ever live. He is also reportedly writing novels, and wants to continue telling stories in many different mediums now that his sports career is over.

You can read “Dear Basketball” on The Players’ Tribune’s website here. You can also watch the Academy Award winning short film here, courtesy of go90, who distributed the film.

Featured image by Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Cloud9 and Smoothie are doing very well with Alistar

The winningest player-champion combos in the NA LCS

*Presence of champion with specific team – Pick rate of champion with specific team – Win rate of champion with specific team (Presence of champion within the NA LCS – Win rate of champion within the NA LCS)

FOX Dardoch – Zac

Dardoch and Echo Fox have been very successful with Zac

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

80% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 100% WIN (54% PRESENCE – 77% WIN)*

Since Echo Fox has a 90 percent overall win rate, it is easy to point out strong player-champion combos that exist on this team, but not others. Altec’s Kalista and Fenix’s Cassiopeia are good examples. However, it is clear that Dardoch’s Zac has been the most successful. FOX picked the blob in five of ten games, and teams banned him another three. Dardoch carries a 100 percent win rate, while the LCS holds 77 percent.

Echo Fox generally utilizes Zac to gank the mid and top lanes from fog-of-war, then engage and disrupt teamfights in the mid-late game. Dardoch clearly understands the limits of the champion, often peeling with a sliver of health, only to regenerate using Warmog’s. Even if the power picks of the jungle move away from tanky initiators (Sejuani, Jarvan IV, etc.), Echo Fox and Dardoch will probably keep Zac as a pocket pick.

C9 Smoothie – Alistar

Cloud9 and Smoothie have been very successful with Alistar

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

90% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 60% WIN (66% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

Smoothie has been showing the power of the current support role. Constant engages and peeling, surprise roams and ganks, protecting and enabling carries–these are all characteristics of Cloud9’s support. Alistar seems like the perfect champion for Smoothie, which is why he is virtually pick or ban in Cloud9’s games. Most teams are able to snag Braum or Taric, the highest presence supports, but Smoothie sometimes prioritizes Alistar over them.

Alistar is a popular pick in most metas, because of his repertoire of crowd control and tankiness. In the hands of a team shot-caller, the minotaur can realize its true potential. GorillA, Mata, and Ming are also currently prioritizing Alistar in other regions. Smoothie’s mastery of this champion put Cloud9’s opponents in the difficult position of choosing whether or not to ban him out and give Jensen or Sneaky a power pick. Even if the meta shifts, Alistar will remain a pocket pick, and Smoothie has a diverse pool.

CG Lira – Skarner 

Clutch Gaming and Lira have been very successful with Skarner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

40% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 100% WIN (30% PRESENCE – 80% WIN)*

Skarner has spiked in priority in the NA LCS, since Riot introduced patch 8.3. Lira and Clutch Gaming are benefiting more from the champion, with a 100 percent win rate. Skarner’s versatility and powerful displacement potential allow the jungler to hard engage like no other. Globally, Skarner only has a 40 percent presence in professional play, but he has 100 percent presence for North America’s teams.

Clutch has had the most success with multi-initiation compositions, and Lira’s Skarner fits right in. Just like others on this list, Lira is a crucial shot-caller for his team. They rely on him to pull the trigger on plays, which makes Skarner even better than Sejuani, Zac, or Jarvan IV. Clutch has picked up three of its six wins with the pick, so they may suffer if Skarner gets nerfed.

TL Doublelift – Tristana 

Team Liquid and Doublelift have been very successful with Tristana

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

90% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 60% WIN (66% PRESENCE – 55% WIN)*

While Tristana has been a top three priority AD carry, and rising, Team Liquid prioritizes her for Doublelift even more. They have only had one game in ten without Tristana picked or banned. She allows Doublelift to never truly have a weak point in the game. He can push waves easily, chip away turrets, and utilize Rocket Jump to get closer or farther from his opponents. When paired with Olleh’s top pick, Taric, Doublelift becomes an engage mechanism. He and Olleh work together to threaten stuns and kill pressure in lane.

Doublelift has shown mastery of nearly every marksman. He obviously enjoys high-skill options, like Lucian, but Tristana gives him versatility for his team. Doublelift has the fewest deaths per game and the highest CS per minute, due, in part, to his comfort with Tristana.

100 Cody Sun – Kog’Maw 

100 Thieves and Cody Sun have been very successful with Kog'Maw

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

70% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (60% PRESENCE – 47% WIN)*

Kog’Maw is another marksman champion that has been popular this split. His Rageblade power spike, combined with the safety of the Relic Shield-Fleet Footwork bottom lane strategy, made him a prime option. While other North American AD Carries selected Kog’Maw for one game while he was meta, 100 Thieves locked him in three times. The team coordinated well with Cody Sun on an immobile, squishy champion, as they won two of those three games.

Cody Sun currently has the highest damage per minute and the highest damage share in the NA LCS. Kog’Maw, when played correctly, unlocks this potential. 100 Thieves scored wins against TSM and Team Liquid using this pick, which has allowed them to remain in the top five. With the meta shifting away from Kog’Maw, 100 Thieves have started a downward trend, even locking in a Jinx pick. Hopefully, they can click with other champions.

TSM Bjergsen – Taliyah

TSM and Bjergsen are doing very well with Taliyah

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

60% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (42% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

TSM have three of their four wins with Bjergsen on semi-global champions, which is why Taliyah is a preferential choice. Her Weaver’s Wall allows Bjergsen to influence every phase of the game, from early roams to mid-game picks and late-game zoning. Champions like Taliyah put TSM’s steering wheel in Bjergsen’s hands, allowing him to directly control momentum. While TSM is having issues with coordination, it makes sense that they would pick Taliyah in three games, and other teams would ban her in another three.

Most professional mid laners have wide champion pools, rarely locking in the same one several times. With Zoe, Ryze, and Azir being nearly pick or ban for most of the split, NA mid laners go for Galio or a pocket pick if those three are banned out. Expect to see more mid laners picking or banning Taliyah, especially against TSM.

GG Hai – Orianna

Golden Guardians and Hai are doing very well with Orianna

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

40% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (32% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

Orianna is to Hai what Taliyah is to Bjergsen. Zoning, shielding, slowing, hasting, stunning, and damaging–Orianna is the whole package. Hai is the central leader for Golden Guardians, so putting so much versatility and control into his hands makes sense. In their only two wins, Golden Guardians drafted Orianna for Hai, after Zoe, Azir, Ryze, and Galio were banned out.

With Lourlo and Contractz taking on initiation duty, and Matt playing more defensive options, Hai’s Orianna brings the necessary damage to stay relevant, while also boosting his teammates’ utility. He can put the ball onto Contractz’s Skarner or Camille for speedier engages. Lourlo’s Gnar or Illaoi can wombo combo with the Shockwave. Deftly can receive a large shield, if it comes to that. No one else in the NA LCS has played Orianna as often, or to as much success. Teams may start to let Hai have the power picks, instead.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Champion and Player Statistics: Games of Legends

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The World Championship was Hearthstone at its best and worst

(Spoilers)

Hearthstone’s World Championship is finally over, after a rollercoaster ride of high stakes, great plays and unbelievable topdecks. It served as testament to not only the contestants’ skill level, but also the craft of Hearthstone’s design team. Not all of this reflected well; both the players and the game had their fair share of mistakes highlighted. All in all, the tournament served to show Hearthstone ‘warts and all’ with all the crazy moments, skill-testing positions and unfortunate RNG design decisions we’ve come to love and hate.

Great plays

The tournament, a culmination of a year’s effort from hundreds of players over the world, was arguably a high-water-mark in skill. From Surrender’s counter-intuitive but ultimately successful “wasting” of Prophet Velen versus Shtanudachi’s Jade Druid to Fr0zen’s simple but decisive cycling of Holy Smite on a Northshire Cleric, Raza Priest offered many opportunities for flashy, hard-to spot plays. But skill was shown throughout even the most straightforward of decks. My favourite play of the entire tournament was a very straightforward two turn sequence by eventual champion Tom60229.

In the opening game of his semifinal match against Surrender, Tom played a nourish for mana on 5 after topdecking an Arcane Tyrant. The casters and audience all expected him to cash in on his good fortune, playing out the free 4/4. But Tom waited. Instead, he played it on the following turn along with Spreading Plague. Not only did this protect the 4/4 better, it allowed Tom to get an additional 1/5 scarab. By recognising he had the luxury of taking the game slower, he gained incremental advantages that ended up swinging the game in his favour (no doubt helped by Surrender’s Patches draw).

 

Tom60229’s choice to hold Arcane Tyrant was counter-intuitive but brilliant

Frustrating RNG

Drawing Patches may have cost Surrender a shot at the final

Of course, the tournament was filled with far more eventful, but less controllable events. Surrender couldn’t hide his despair as he drew Patches two games in a row. To make things even worse, it was immediately followed by Tom60229 starting out the game with Keleseth and Shadowstep. The final game of the tournament was also heartbreakingly one-sided, as Fr0zen tried desperately to dig for an Ultimate Infestation that came far, far too late.

However, the most frustrating early-game RNG came about on the previous game, where Tom60229’s turn one Swashburglar pulled Innervate, allowing him to follow up with a turn 2 10/10 Edwin. While a strong play, the single extra mana from the random Innervate gave his Edwin another +2/+2 and an extra turn to hit face, essentially resulting in 12 extra points of damage. That would be bad enough, were it not for the fact that he was able to have Leeroy on turn 5 for lethal.

Despite all this talk of Tom60229’s good fortune, it wasn’t totally out of his opponent’s control to counter. Fr0zen could have kept Ultimate Infestation in the mulligan, and hero powered out of Leeroy range, for instance. Regardless, the RNG made these two games far less enjoyable than the preceding few.

A turn 2 10/10 versus Druid, courtesy of Swashburglar RNG

Moments to remember

Despite how early-game RNG can make a tournament feel swingy, there were some great crowd-pleasing moments created by randomness. Sintolol and Fr0zen’s final face-off as Big Mage versus Combo Dragon Priest was such a fantastic match because of RNG. Sintolol pulling Frost Lich Jaina with Drakonid Operative created a fantastic and memorable game. It was filled with incredibly skill-testing and exciting situations that went all the way to fatigue. There were also the triumphant moments. It was hard not to cheer as Fr0zen’s hard-pressed Control Mage, struggling the entire game, managed to topdeck an Arcane Artificer to clear Tom60229’s last Jades with Flamestrike and heal out of range of Ultimate Infestation.

Brian Kibler’s words for the Sintolol versus Fr0zen match could apply to the entire tournament; “If you don’t like [this], you don’t like Hearthstone”.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via https://www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone

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Zoe's competitive

Early looks: Zoe’s competitive potential

Patch 7.22 brings the largest gameplay update League has seen in years. While the community theory-crafts fresh playstyles and build paths with the Runes Reforged overhaul, a new champion looms just around the corner. Zoe, the Aspect of Twilight, will soon be the latest addition to the Rift. With new play patterns emerging by the day, Zoe will enter the League just in time to sew some chaos. Professional players will no doubt spend much of preseason mastering Targon’s newest champion. How will Zoe‘s competitive future pan out after the pros have a chance to practice her high skill-cap style?

summoner spells, stars and… sleep?

Zoe's competitive

Credits: Riot Games

Zoe introduces several new ideas and a unique mechanic to the League. Her E, “Sleepy Trouble Bubble” is the first ability in the game to have the “drowsy” mechanic. After hitting an enemy with her bubble, Zoe sleeps her target, a form of hard crowd-control seemingly similar to a root. If the initial cast does not hit a target, the bubble lingers as a fairly wide trap. This new mechanic makes messy mid-game skirmishes against Zoe increasingly tricky. Sneaky bubble placement can cause huge disruption in teamfights. Tanks can find themselves immobile for the few seconds it takes to lose their AD-carry. Players can also use these bubbles to zone off entrances or exits to jungle corridors, taking the positional advantage to secure objective control.

Zoe‘s bubble becomes even more threatening when coupled with her ultimate, “Portal Jump.” Zoe gains an extra dimension of mobility with her portal. Although she cannot move while portal jumping, Zoe can cast abilities, ward and auto-attack. A quick “Portal Jump” near the enemy AD-carry can deliver a fast sleep bubble before Zoe jumps back to safety. Alternatively, she can quickly ward dangerous enemy territory and escape unscathed.

Zoe‘s competitive potential and teamfight explosiveness shines with her W ability, “Spell Thief.” When enemy champions use active spells or items, they leave spell shards that Zoe can steal with her WIn her champion teaser, Riot showcased Zoe‘s skirmishing strength by weaving multiple “Flashes” to make for quick spell rotations. Mechanically gifted players will take Zoe‘s competitive gameplay far beyond Riot’s teaser video. But, will this aspect of Zoe‘s kit put her in the ranks of mages like Ryze and Azir? Champions whose skill ceilings are oppressively strong on the competitive stage.

Zoe’s Competitive Skill Ceiling

Zoe's competitive

Credit: LoL Esports Photos

We have seen it with several champions over the past few years. Champs like KalistaRyze and Azir whose kits gave room for massive skill caps that dominated competitively. However, because of their dominance, Riot was forced to nerf these champions beyond viability for the average player. This causes a frustrating disparity between the pros and casual players in solo queue. The question now is, will Zoe be doomed to a similar fate?

Many initial reactions to Zoe highlight her “over-loaded” kit. In all fairness, Zoe does boast a kit with high ceilings for mobility, crowd-control and wave-clear. However, on a recent episode of Beyond the Rift hosted by Michael “imaqtpie” Santana and William “Scarra” Li, RiotWrekz and RiotMeddler dive deeper into a discussion on Zoe‘s mechanics. Scarra used the term “fake mobility” to characterize how Zoe‘s ultimate is more of a deceptive type of mobility. RiotMeddler elaborated on the point, adding that “Portal Jump” excels when used to dodge skillshots, not run down enemy champions. In the podcast, they highlight that Zoe‘s actual strength is her ability to quickly re-position in teamfights.

In Riot’s teaser, Zoe chases down multiple targets in an oppressive display of mobility. However, when we take a step back to really look at the champion, her power lies elsewhere. Zoe seems to excel more in mid-game teamfight scenarios where she can duck enemy crowd-control with “Portal Jump” and steal summoners to effectively lay down her own CC. While Zoe‘s kit is extremely impressive at a glance, the months to come will test her strength in a competitive setting. With the preseason patch constantly reinventing the meta, Zoe‘s competitive viability changes every day.

Featured Image: Riot Games

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Competitive ranking in Rocket League

Rocket League’s competitive ranking system, as with many games, can be a bit confusing to newcomers and veterans alike. Fear not, this article will help you understand the ranks, rank rewards and what’s going on behind the scenes of the ranking system.

Skill Rank versus Reward Rank

competitive ranking

Current skill ranking system. Image by rocketleague.wikia.com

At the beginning of the first four seasons of competitive Rocket League, players found themselves unranked in each of the competitive playlists. They were tasked with winning matches to progress through the ranks. At the end of the season, players would then receive rewards based on the highest rank they reached that season, despite whether they had fallen out of this rank or not.

At the beginning of the month, Psyonix rolled out their two-year anniversary update and competitive season five along with it. This came with two very noticeable differences from previous seasons.

No Reset

Days before the update, Psyonix announced that they wouldn’t hard reset players’ ranks in season five. As players downloaded the update and logged on, they found their respective ranks from season four intact.

Psyonix likely did this for several reasons, but there’s one that stands out in particular. At the beginning of past seasons, players found themselves in extremely uneven matches. For example, a player ranked Gold in the previous season might be playing someone ranked Champion in the previous season. This uneven matchmaking would last several weeks, as players climbed to their respective ranks.

This leads us to the second noticeable change, the Reward Rank.

Reward Rank

A separate rank post-match at the bottom of the screen may still confuse some players. The rank often doesn’t match up with their skill rank, and thus can seem quite strange.

This is your reward ranking level. Since Psyonix decided not to reset skill ranks for season five, there was a need for how to dole out rewards when the end of the season comes. The reward ranking system works as a less complicated version of the skill ranking system.

In each competitive playlist, player’s begin unranked in the reward ranking system. As they win matches, they progress. After 12 wins, the player progresses to the next rank. Losses do not affect the player’s reward rank in any way.

Deranking and ranking up is where it gets a little trickier. A player cannot progress through a reward rank that is higher than their current skill rank.

competitive ranking

Psyonix lowered the number of wins needed from 20 to 12. Image by rocketleague.com

This means if a Platinum II player has already received the reward rank for Platinum in a particular playlist, their reward rank will not progress any further unless they reach Diamond rank.

As for deranking, this does not affect a player’s reward rank. If a player in Platinum I wins 12 matches while in Platinum, securing the Platinum rewards for the end of the season, the player will not lose the rewards by deranking from Platinum I to Gold III.

Once you’ve secured your end of season reward for a particular rank, it’s yours. The only thing you have to worry about is stepping up your skill rank so you can get the reward for the next level.

Now deeper into skill ranking.

Elo Rating System

Arpad Elo initially created the Elo rating system as a means of rating the skill of chess players. It is used to calculate and assign a numbered skill value to competitors in a player-versus-player setting, whether that’s one-on-one or teams. The Elo rating system has since been adopted and adapted throughout esports and sports alike.

Wins and losses impact a player’s Elo value. By winning a match, the player takes points from the opponent to add to his or her score. Vice versa, a player forfeits points to an opponent when losing a match. This is to put it very simplistically. There are a number of factors which determine the point value the player gains or loses.

Determining Factors

competitive ranking

Arpad Elo. Image by worldchesshof.com

A player’s Elo value doesn’t raise or lower a set amount for each win or loss. It depends on their opponent’s Elo rating as well.

Take Solo Duel for instance, Rocket League’s one-one-one competitive playlist. Say you are a Silver I and your opponent is Gold II. There’s a significant difference in ranks here. The stakes are high for the Gold II player but not so much the Silver I player. This is because if the Silver I player loses, the player will only lose a small amount of Elo to the Gold II player since the Silver player was outmatched. If the Gold II player loses, however, he or she forfeits a larger amount of Elo because the match was stacked in that player’s favor, on paper at least.

Now, if matches are even, the amount of Elo lost or gained will be relatively small either way. This attributes to why it may seem as if you go down in rank quicker than you go up. If you win a handful of evenly matched games, then lose one where you outmatch the other player, you may lose all or most of the Elo points you racked up in the previous matches.

Another reason why players might feel they are ranking down at a quicker rate than they rank up is because Rocket League doesn’t show Elo values. You simply see whether you stayed in your current division/rank or whether you went up or down. But you can still keep track.

Rocket League Tracker Network

The Rocket League Tracker Network allows players to keep an eye on their Elo values and the progression for each competitive playlist. The site refers to the Elo value as a Matchmaking Rating, or MMR, as with many other competitive games.

Along with player MMR, Rocket League Tracker Network offers detailed statistics about a person’s play style and percentages throughout their time playing Rocket League.

Pull up your tracker, hit the pitch and continue climbing the ladder to Grand Champion!

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Featured Image by RocketLeague.com

The New Halo 5 Matchmaking Update Won’t Punish You for Bad Teammates

In a community update yesterday, 343 Industries’ Josh Menke shared details of new matchmaking updates coming to Halo 5. These recent updates make life a little easier for players in ranked playlists when teammates decide to quit. Additionally, ranked playlists will see some balance tweaks to competitive skill rating (CSR) and matching times. This article breaks down the latest changes, and explains their importance to ranked Halo 5.

The “Soft Forfeit”

In his update, Menke introduces the concept of a Soft Forfeit for ranked matchmaking games. The premise of the Soft Forfeit is to not punish players for leaving matches if someone has already quit out of the game. Previously, quitting a ranked match under any circumstance automatically decreased CSR, and put the player at risk for a matchmaking ban. These bans ranged in time due to the frequency at which players left ranked games.

Players will no longer be banned for quitting after teammates. Image by Youtube.com

The new system will still net players a standard CSR loss for losing the game, but will not ban players who leave ranked games after someone has already quit. Menke explains that while leavers will always lose CSR, players will not be unnecessarily punished for unsporting teammates. The first player to leave a ranked game, however, will be subject to extra CSR loss, and a potential ban.

This update will surely have ranked playlist-goers rejoicing, as many felt punished for having teammates that don’t stick around. Halo 5 as a team-oriented arena shooter needs balance to operate correctly. An advantage in numbers almost always throws games askew, and now players won’t be forced to finish those games.

 

CSR Economy and Wait Times

In addition to the soft forfeit feature, Menke details some troubles with high-skilled players in matchmaking. Previously in ranked playlists, high-CSR players sometimes received matchmaking ratios (MMR) that are a little too high for their actual skill. These inflated MMRs created a wider gap between players, resulting in greatly increased wait times when searching ranked matchmaking. Menke explains that while these adjustments improve search times, players won’t be placed in extremely uneven matches.

Image by Halowaypoint.com

To combat ranked playlist inflation, the update will tighten up CSR boundaries. The pool of Onyx-ranked players will now be more exclusive, and the elusive “Champion” rank even harder to achieve. These changes will place competitors into ranks that better represent their skill level, while also lowering incentives for smurf accounts.

To represent just how drastic the CSR adjustments are, a comparison between seasons for Champion-ranked players is necessary. Prior seasons required players to earn CSR scores of 3,000 or higher to reach Champion. Currently, the top-ranked champion player only has 1,874 CSR. This score, If applied to prior seasons, would place players in the low-middle tier of Onyx.

 

Conclusion

Although the wait for fair matchmaking treatment has been lengthy, players can now relax a little more when trying to rank up. The changes are another step in 343 Industries’ process to prove to players that feedback is certainly being heard. Rather than being punished for jerk teammates, players can now leave an uneven game without fear of excessive penalties. As a result, players can hop back into more even ranked games, and have a healthier, less rage-inducing matchmaking session.

Featured image by Halowaypoint.com

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The King Falls Early – An Explosive Ro32

The first GSL Code S of 2017 is underway, and already we’ve seen some excellent games and huge upsets. The most notable story from the Round of 32 was the shocking elimination of defending GSL and Blizzcon champion Hyun “Byun” Woo.

Byun

 

Considered widely to be the best in the world, Byun lost a close series with top-tier Protoss Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob after crushing an the unknown Zerg, Lee “DRGLing” Won Ju. Byun rushed to Liberator range in a back-and-forth Game 3, but found himself out-positioned by the high mobility of Stats’s Stalker/Colossus composition. Stats closed it out by faking an attack on Byun’s third base, luring out the inferior Terran army, and blanketing it with Psionic Storms.

 

Next, he would face the Terran-vs-Terran expert Kim “Ryung” Dong Won for a chance to move on to the Round of 16. Game 1 was a very convincing win for Byun, utilizing doom drops and multi-pronged attacks to out position his opponent. In Game 2, Byun went for an odd two-base tank push that Ryung easily repelled with a mirror build, prompting a swift counter with double the siege tanks to choke out Byun’s natural base and win.

Then there was Game 3… Game 3 will surely haunt Byun for years to come, and cost him both a chance at a second consecutive GSL championship, and the title of best in the world. After taking some heavy worker losses from an early Cyclone attack, Byun attempted a doom drop in Ryung’s main base with four full Medivacs. To the horror of Tastless, Artosis, and Byun fans everywhere, he flew over a missile turret, decided NOT to drop after all, and flew back over that same turret without a Medivac boost. 20 supply and two siege tanks exploded out of the sky in a matter of seconds.

“This was the most indecisive thing I’ve ever seen Byun do… This is the worst move that Byun has done that I can remember.” – Artosis

Less than three minutes later, Byun typed out “gg” and buried his head in his hands.

 

 

Scarlett

 

Second only to the fall of the King was Canadian Zerg Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn’s remarkable run in Code S – a very rare occurrence for a non-Korean. After smashing the Protoss Kim “Myungsik” Myung-Sik 2-0, she went on to face Kim “Classic” Doh Woo. Game 1 was very short, as Classic masterfully countered her proxy hatch all-in.

 

 

Game 2 we saw Classic go for the very popular archon drop, but Scarlett was able to push away his mid-game Immortal-Sentry push while defending her main from charge Zealots and a pair of Archons.

 

 

Scarlett immediately launched a Roach/Ravager counter attack on Classic’s third base with a 180 degree surround, wiping his Sentry-heavy army and winning the game.

 Game 3 was one of the best games of group stage. Classic’s first two adepts managed to get a devastating seven drone kills. His follow up with glaives killed another six. Behind massively in economy against a Protoss starting up double-stargate Phoenix production, Scarlett attempted a full force Baneling bust that failed to do game-ending damage.

 

 

He would use that lead to roll over Scarlett’s Hydralisk force with a high-tech Protoss army of Immortals, Archons, Void Rays, and High templar a few minutes later.

 

Another fantastic series and the one that would deny “the foreign hope” passage to the Round of 16 (last time this happened was 2013) was Scarlett vs. Han “aLive” Lee Seok. Scarlett was able to come back from a huge deficit in Game 1 with some fantastic burrowed Infestor play and Zergling counter attacks.

 

She almost took Game 2 with a Roach/Ravager timing, and almost won it again later on with a very low economy Brood Lord play. Before the Brood Lords could arrive at the Terran’s base, Scarlett made a questionable choice in attacking into Alive’s tanks with just her ground army, leaving the Brood Lords exposed to his small Viking force and fully upgraded marines.

 

 

 

Game 3 was very close as well, but Scarlett’s burrowed Infestors and Muta/Zergling/Baneling were not enough to handle Alive’s impressive macro and bio control.

Other great games to watch from the Round of 32 were Solar vs. Trap Game 3, sOs vs Curious Game 2, and Ryung vs Stats Game 3.  All VoD’s can be found organized and in high quality at SC2Links.com. The Round of 16 Groups Selections will be held on February 1.

All photos courtesy of AfreecaTV

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Taric, The Shield of Valoran

Alright everybody, I honestly have to say this is one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever experienced as a LoL player. Taric is FINALLY getting the rework we all knew he deserved.

A lot of times, I hate champion reworks: I was a Shen main until they destroyed his kit and made him no fun to play. So I’m super apprehensive when it comes to reworks, but after Riot revealed the details of the update, I honestly believe Taric is going to dazzle his way back into the meta. For anyone who hasn’t checked out the update I’m gonna run through the major points, and give y’all some insight into League’s most fabulous champion.

So first is Taric’s new passive: Bravado. Whenever Taric casts an ability, his next two basic attacks will have increased damage, attack speed, and will reduce his cooldowns. Having seen a bit of PBE play, this looks super OP. I believe this passive gives him viability outside of bot lane, and is the secret to playing him in a solo lane (or even jungle).

His Q is called Starlight’s Touch, and its his new healing ability. Instead of being his old point/click heal, its now an AOE that heals Taric and any champions near him. The strength of the heal is determined by the number of charges he has stored, which are developed over time.

 

His W is what I’m most excited about. It’s called Bastion, and it allows Taric to link himself to an ally. On cast, the link shields Taric and the ally, and as long as Taric doesn’t recast or move to far away from the linked ally, all his abilities will also be casted from the ally (similar to how Pix mirrors Lulu’s actions). This looks like a completely OP ability. Taric will be able to AOE heal and stun for his allies even when he’s not close enough to do it himself. (Bastion also passively increases his armor)

 

His E is Dazzle. Like the original Dazzle, this is a stun. But unlike the old ability, this is a slightly delayed aoe skillshot. The downside is that it will be harder to hit the enemy, but it is now capable of stunning as many champions as it can hit (and when paired with Bastion has a high stun potential in big team fights).

 

Finally, is Cosmic Radiance, his ultimate. Personally this is the only new ability that I’m not a particularly big fan of. After a slight delay, Cosmic Radiance will make Taric and his nearby allies invulnerable for a few seconds. Honestly, this is kind of a disappointment to me. First off, I feel like this is just a repackaged Kindred ult, and beyond that, the number one reason I rage while playing League is abilities that deny death (Trynd, Kayle, Aatrox, Zac, etc.). I think that having a champion or two with the ability to postpone or deny death is fine, but it feels like there are now far too many options.

One of my biggest worries with this rework is that Taric is no longer going to be viable outside of Support. I for one have always enjoyed playing Top Taric, and I think Riot has done an excellent job of preserving his ability to work alone. He is certainly designed for a duo lane, but frankly I feel he still has great potential to smack things with Iceborn Gauntlet for killtacular fun.

 

My expectation is that Taric will have fantastic synergy with champs that have poor escape mechanics. With Bastion and Dazzle, Taric can help provide stuns for his ADC even when he (or they) are poorly positioned. So good luck to all you Kog’Maw’s out there. I think Taric will have a lot of struggles against high damage assassins though. Unless the players reflexes are incredibly fast, the heal/stun combo are going to do very little against a Zed or LeBlanc all-in. You could argue his ultimate could save teammates, but I don’t think preventing death is all that valuable in a 100-0 in 2 seconds situation.

Overall, I think Taric will find a place in competitive play in the Summer Split, and I look forward to some truly OUTRAGEOUS plays.

 

YouTube videos courtesy of the League of Legends Channel