FOX Altec did not prepare anything special for Clutch Gaming's bot lane

FOX Altec on facing Clutch’s bottom lane for third place: “I was not afraid of Clutch’s 2-v-2.”

Echo Fox decimated Clutch Gaming in their third place match of the NA LCS Spring Split playoffs. Their top-side trio of Huni-Dardoch-Fenix took over every single game, leaving both bottom lanes to their own devices. Such inactive bottom lanes are very different from the other games of quarterfinals and semifinals.

Quarters and Semis

Looking at Team Liquid’s victories over Cloud9, Doublelift and Olleh accounted for roughly 73 percent kill participation. Sneaky was involved in 86 percent of Cloud9’s kills. In the TSM-Clutch series, Zven and Mithy combined for an 8-27-23 scoreline (1.15 KDA) versus Apollo and Hakuho’s 20-7-48 (9.71 KDA). When Echo Fox lost to Team Liquid and Clutch lost to 100 Thieves in semifinals, Doublelift and Cody Sun won Player of the Series, with Doublelift specifically dominating TL’s series. Altec and Adrian combined for a 1.31 KDA in that series.

Third place match

Compare those matches to the third place match. Altec only participated in 36 percent of Echo Fox’s kills. Even as support, Adrian was only involved in 51 percent. FOX barely used their bottom lane to take the 3-0 over Clutch Gaming, turning the “bot-centric meta” on its head.

FOX Altec did not preapre anything special before facing Clutch Gaming in the third place match

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

When asked about preparing to face Apollo and Hakuho leading into the third place match, Altec responded “I was not afraid of Clutch’s 2-v-2. Sure, Hakuho has looked good on Thresh, but Adrian and I have unique picks of our own that we can pull out whenever we need to. We practiced a lot in scrims, but we didn’t prepare anything special for this series.”

Altec and Adrian played fine. They didn’t need to do more than keep Apollo and Hakuho glued to bottom lane by constantly pushing. Echo Fox only banned Thresh once, but Clutch drafted Tahm Kench and Braum for Hakuho, while Apollo’s Caitlyn and Varus failed to earn any early pressure. Adrian’s Nami was crucial in disengaging any roams and ganks from Febiven and Lira, keeping Altec safe.

Fenix, Dardoch, and Huni’s spectacular play won this series. With their snowballs rolling, Altec and Adrian simply needed to play safe, which they accomplished. Clutch’s bottom lane was unable to gain leads for themselves, and they watched the rest of their team crumbled.

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Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Echo Fox arrive on the red carpet for the NA LCS third place match

Dardoch, Huni and Fenix completely dismantle Clutch Gaming in a 3-0 for third place

Following Clutch Gaming’s victory over TSM in the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split quarterfinals, Riot’s Ovilee May asked Febiven if he had any doubts about winning. He responded:

Yeah, for sure, I mean, our scrims have been really bad. I think we lost, like, every game. But we always, like, seem to be really good on stage. Even in the regular season we lost, like, 80 percent of our scrims, but it feels like on stage we have this switch on and we just kill everyone.

Echo Fox seemed to have figured out how to turn that switch off, as Clutch looked completely out of sorts during their third place match series. FOX took CG down three for three, setting a new record for the fastest game this split in the process. Dardoch stood out as the clear Player of the Game, while Huni and Fenix benefited the most from his advantages. Here is a quick summary of the series.

Echo Fox defeated Clutch 3-0 in the third place match of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Game One

Echo Fox prioritized Olaf for Dardoch, while Clutch drafted Febiven’s Azir and Lira’s Skarner. Due to FOX’s pushing lanes in mid and bot, Dardoch bullied Lira the entire early game, taking every neutral objective and forcing down mid turret. Apollo’s Caitlyn slowly racked up a 3-0-1 scoreline by responding to FOX’s pressure. A relatively uncontested Baron for Echo Fox at 23 minutes allowed them to siege over the next six minutes to end in under 30 minutes.

Game Two

Clutch drafted Swain for game two. Echo Fox took Camille and Cassiopeia to answer, and, even though Lira locked in Trundle, Dardoch still took Olaf. Lira died to FOX’s level one invade, and then again due to his own aggressive roam near mid. From there, Echo Fox had complete control of the top side of the map, going 6-2 with Clutch’s top-jungle-mid trio. With Trundle and Swain so far behind, FOX punched straight through mid lane and finished the match in 21:10–the shortest game in the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split.

Game Three

CG wisely banned Olaf in the third draft, but it did not end up meaning much. Huni’s Camille completely warped the game, gaining four kills in 15 minutes. A Chronobreak and a second long pause later, and Clutch felt defeated. No one on Clutch could match Huni’s split-push. When they finally sent several members to shut him down, the rest of FOX pushed top and mid inhibitor and the game was over in 25 minutes with Echo Fox ahead by 16,500 gold.

Clutch Gaming ends their season in fourth place, good enough for 30 championship points. Echo Fox finishes in third place, granting them 50 championship points and a slot at Rift Rivals. Team Liquid faces 100 Thieves in the final series of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split to crown a winner and a runner-up.

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Image: LoL Esports Flickr

We are covering the NA LCS finals LIVE. 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 Thomas!

NA LCS Spring 2018 Playoffs Round-Up

NA LCS Spring 2018 Semifinals round-up

The NA LCS spring 2018 playoffs transitioned into the semifinals over the weekend, and boy howdy was it a treat for League of Legends fans. While the quarterfinals were a light simmer, the semifinals proved to be a boiling pot of tasty action and strategy that satisfied my palate and left me wanting more.

Wild stallions

Bloodthirsty would be the word to describe the first match of the semifinals, as both Team Liquid and Echo Fox put the pedal to the metal. Each game featured non-stop skirmishing and multiple back-and-forth kills that made it extremely fun to watch. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero playing Trundle and Olaf meant that the early game was a lot faster paced and a guaranteed presence whenever a fight were to break out. These picks also enabled the respective top lane players, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, to play big tanks for continuous playmaking and sustained team fighting.  NA LCS

What really impressed me in this series was Team Liquid’s ability turn around multiple fights and ganks that Echo Fox initiated. Xmithie’s ability to control the map mixed well with Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung’s roaming initiations to make it almost impossible for Echo Fox to establish any permanent foothold in the game. What has been so refreshing to see out of this Team Liquid squad is that they operate like a well-oiled machine, showing patience and strategy in the face of bloody, tit-for-tat games. It seems like nothing is able to phase them regardless of how chaotic a situation becomes. Conversely, Echo Fox’s play, while very ambitious, lacked some coordination.

Many of Echo Fox’s plays centered on Dardoch and/or Huni leading the charge through engages that would net quick advantages. Unfortunately, their plays sometimes ended as duds due to a lack of coordination with their mid laner, Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun.

At the end of it all, the battle was won. With a 3-1 victory for Team Liquid, the team was the first to advance to the final match.

Slow and steady wins the race

For those that put strategy and Baron control ahead of non-stop brawls, the match between 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming is right up your alley. Unlike the previous match, this one contained a heavy emphasis on strategy and controlling the area around Baron. On the side of 100 Thieves, top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, and jungler, William “Meteos” Hartman, seemed to be perfectly in-sync as they helped control a slow and steady pace. Meanwhile, Clutch Gaming’s Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten looked to speed things up through snowballing picks.

While this match was a bit different than the other matches of the spring playoffs, the slower pacing was a welcome change of scenery. The cerebral side of League of Legends has sometimes been overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of big plays and high octane team fighting, so seeing more of how a team behaves as a strategic unit was an interesting experience.

Probably the biggest focus of this match was the play around Baron, and both 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming did not take the threat of it lightly. While most teams would immediately leap at the chance of taking Baron, 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming held firm and waited for their opportune moment. Clutch especially showed a lot of tenacity, as they would constantly turn off Baron to try and gain a more favorable numbers advantageNA LCS in the ensuing fight.

While this sometimes didn’t work out as well as they would have hoped, it was definitely a clever way of trying to force 100 Thieves to panic and potentially make a mistake. The play in this series was often reminiscent of a soccer match in this regard. Both teams would constantly jockey for proper positioning and strike only when it was appropriate to do so. The constant trading of damage made Baron takes tense affairs with no clear outcome until the final second that it was secured.

If you are strapped for time and are looking to only watch one game in this marathon series, I would suggest Game 5. The play in Game 5 was methodical to a fault. There are definitely moments in this particular game where you can feel the weight of the situation. No one dared overstep and throw away their chance at the finals. Every move was well reserved and made with the utmost caution.

The tension was palpable with each passing second whenever the two teams began to circle around the Baron pit. Due to the unkillable nature of the two frontlines, these Baron moments became staring contests with everyone waiting to see who would blink first. While all the tank play and the regeneration from Warmog’s Armor seemed a bit overwhelming (not to mention annoying at times), it was worth it to see 100 Thieves find their finishing blow and close out the extremely tense game for a spot at the spring finals.

Miami bound

With the semifinals completed, we now know who will be competing in the finals in Miami. Through all the spills, chills and thrills of the playoffs so far, both Team Liquid and 100 Thieves have undoubtedly proven their worth for a title shot. The question will, of course, be who will come out on top? Team Liquid and 100 Thieves have both displayed a good amount of strategic patience in their playoff victories, so it will no doubt come down to who is able to more effectively execute their game plan. It will all come to a head this Sunday, so be sure your schedule is clear so you can catch all the action.

You can follow me 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 LoL Esports 

Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

100 Thieves’ First Place Heist

When 100 Thieves entered the North American League Championship Series in 2018, nobody could’ve expected much from them. Despite a solid roster, this new organisation was going up against the powerful line-ups and established infrastructure of old guard teams like Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Counter Logic-Gaming. With the likeable face of owner Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag at the helm, 100 Thieves looked poised to establish their brand, but do little else. However, the Thieves ended up doing far more, pulling off the ultimate heist to steal the coveted first place spot at the end of the regular spring season before anyone knew what was happening.

Their ascension to first was a genuine surprise to fans and analysts alike, so it’s worth taking a closer look at what got them there. Will the strengths that took them this far be enough to carry them to a victory in their first ever split? Let’s have a look.

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

A Favorable Battlefield

 

The Early Meta

The early spring split meta was characterized by a focus on the top lane. Carries were in, while the majority of tanks seemed comparatively weak. Junglers tended to roam towards the top side of the map. While both mid and bot lane play was defined by this focus, with these lanes expected to cede or apply pressure for the sake of top lane plays. With this both lanes forced to be wary of roams or teleports from fed carry toplaners. Teams like Echo Fox and Cloud 9 understood this, building their incredible early-split records by effectively utilizing their confident top lane carry players in Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Eric “Licorice” Ritchie.

It was in this meta that 100 Thieves first found success, with a strong early record, despite seemingly playing a somewhat different meta. Where other teams looked northward, the Thieves chose to play largely around their botside duo, Cody “Cody Sun” Sun and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. Early ganks and pressure would, compared to other teams, be more directed at Cody Sun, who boasted one of the highest first blood participation stats of any AD carry. Cody Sun would prove that he was worthy of the attention, consistently able to snowball small leads to become the primary late game carry.

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

The Meta Moves On

As the split progressed, each patch would further entice tanks to return to the top lane. Nerfs to one of the most reliable tank bullies, Gnar, tank-suited items like Banner of Command becoming increasingly attractive, nerfs to Cinderhulk specifically targeting jungle tanks and the removal of Tracker’s Knife giving top/jungle duos less vision to play with all contributed to top lane tanks becoming the norm again. This was a change that suited 100 Thieves toplaner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Though Ssumday has played a large variety of champions in his career, he has traditionally looked the strongest on tanks. In tank focused metas he can be an impassable rock both in the top lane and in teamfights.

As a result of these changes, the meta shifted towards the bottom half the map, yet surprisingly, 100 Thieves attention didn’t always stay there. Though Cody Sun continued to be a major part of the Thieves’ victories, it was as the top/jungle power duos of the league began to falter that 100 Thieves chose to prove that they could play to both sides of the map. Though they didn’t necessarily transition to a top-focused style, they proved that Ssumday couldn’t be underestimated, allowing him to butcher his enemies on a surprise Darius pick. They also sometimes chose to give him more attention on picks like Cho’Gath, on which he could carry while still being the Thieves’ primary frontline. Though he still remained mostly a tank player, it was times like this that one remembers that Ssumday has in the past been a consistent and terrifying carry on picks like Fiora, and even Kled. By the end of the regular split, there remained no doubt that he ought to be feared if he chooses to bring more aggressive picks out again.

 

Credit Where Credit is Due

This story is about far more than Cody Sun and Ssumday, however. Credit must also be given to jungler William “Meteos” Hartman and midlaner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook. Meteos had the highest first blood participation percentage in the entire league, ensuring his team regularly got an early leg up. Mostly playing champions with powerful pick and engage potential like Skarner, Sejuani, and Zac, Meteos would also often help the Thieves find beneficial midgame fights. Also using creative angles and vision control fought for alongside Ryu to find flanks and engage opportunities. Though not always as aggressive as junglers like Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett or Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Meteos’ high kill participation stat is testament to his ability to be in the right place at the right time. He was able to repeatedly demonstrate confident and intelligent frontline play.

Though one of the less flashy players of the team, Ryu also provided immense value. Often in the past a ‘role’ player, less interested in stealing the glory than in setting up his team for victory, Ryu has looked comfortable in a meta interested primarily in the side lanes. His Ryze has looked fearsome, giving 100 Thieves’ the opportunity for map plays at various points in the game, and safely scaling to the late game to provide an AP counterpoint to Cody Sun’s damage. Another popular Ryu pick that excels in sidelane metas is Taliyah, whose Weaver’s Wall ultimate can be used to roam, block escape routes, force fights and secure objectives.

Praise must also be given to Aphromoo, one of North America’s most storied supports, who played one of his best splits in years. Cody Sun may have often carried 100 Thieves to victory, but the story of Cody Sun must also be the story of the man who protected him. Aphromoo boasted a 100% winrate on Braum over 7 games. Yet he also broke from the established meta at times to deliver incredible carry performances of his own on champions like Thresh and Blitzcrank. One notable play in their second game versus Team SoloMid saw Aphromoo making a split-second decision to engage with Rakan, despite the team being 4v5 at the time. The resulting teamfight win would catapult them ahead and lead to their victory.

Past this, Aphromoo also lends his incredible shotcalling prowess and experience to the team. Though he reportedly doesn’t solely shoulder the burden of shotcalling, he has time and time again proven his ability to keep a level head and make confident and smart calls in the tensest of situations. He has undoubtedly been one of the primary voices behind many of 100 Thieves team plays.

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Playing the Map

Ryu, Meteos, and Aphromoo were often able to help 100 Thieves find good fights. Ssumday’s frontlining and Cody Sun’s ability as a carry were usually able to make sure they won them. But a good team knows when not to fight as well, and 100 Thieves was no different. Sometimes a lead can be built upon by taking fights and overpowering the opponents, but 100 Thieves regularly opted to instead extend their leads with clever map plays, wave control, and rotations.

One of the marks of a good team is never letting your opponent get something for nothing, and the Thieves would often respond to enemy picks or seized objectives by themselves rotating, setting up waves, or seizing vision control in crucial parts of the map. Fights would rarely be taken desperately, and 100 Thieves knew how to build up advantages and work from behind until they could set up a good fight.

 

Potential Pitfalls

Despite their strengths, possible weaknesses do exist. Champions like Ryze and Taliyah play to Ryu’s strengths, but they’re also two of the only champions Ryu has consistently played and looked good on. Though rarely the main target of ban focus, one has to wonder how Ryu would cope if his comfort picks were taken away. Meanwhile Ssumday, though having a champion pool demonstrably large enough to be able to avoid ban focus, is still likely to continue picking and playing tanks, and answers to this have already begun to pop up.

In the European LCS quarterfinals, Trundle, a strong anti-tank champion, was picked four times by three different teams, with a 100% winrate. Meta reactions of a different sort may prove problematic as well, with Kog’maw, a fantastic anti-tank ADC seeing play, and top lane counterpicks like Fiora still being viable (though also potentially effective in his own hands). Meanwhile Cody Sun hasn’t always looked quite as stellar in lane as he has in fights. Though the team plays with and around him very well, it remains to be seen how well he would cope if he were substantially set behind early. With aggressive and mechanically potent AD carries like Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng still in the playoffs, Cody Sun may meet his match.

These worries exist, yet are unlikely to be enough to oust 100 Thieves from the secure position they find themselves in. Weaknesses are part of any team, and 100 Thieves likely understand theirs. They also clearly understand the meta, both how to play it and when not to. The Thieves seem well suited to patch 8.5, and with this being the patch the playoffs are being played on, it’s hard to deny that 100 Thieves have a favourable battlefield.

 

The Value of Veterancy

Any team heading to its first playoffs will face certain issues. The possibility of nerves can’t be ignored for rookies, or even for experienced players who’ve nonetheless never played a best-of-5 series. The pressure of the situation can be immense, especially as whatever team you’ll be facing will have had at least a week to plan for facing you and you alone. Any player could be the focus of bans or jungle ganks. Strategies that served well during the regular season may not hold up to scrutiny and planning. And with all eyes on you, the pressure to perform, and the stress of making a mistake that could lose a crucial game, can add up. Many teams that have looked mighty in the regular season have faltered in their first test in the playoffs, like Team Liquid in the summer of 2015, or Immortals in both splits of 2016.

It is here that the value of a veteran squad comes to bear, and that is undoubtedly what 100 Thieves is. Toplaner Ssumday has played extensively in the LCK, one of the most competitive and high-level leagues in the world, and has been a finalist there multiple times. Jungler Meteos has won the North American LCS twice and attended worlds multiple times. Ryu, also a veteran of the Korean scene in the pre-LCK days, represented Europe at worlds, making it all the way to the semi-finals. Aphromoo, a famous team leader and shotcaller, led his long-time team Counter Logic Gaming to every single NA LCS playoffs during his tenure on the team, as well as two split victories and a historic international performance by a North American team at the 2016 mid-season invitational. Even Cody Sun, the youngest and least experienced team member, has represented his region on the world stage. These players have been around the block.

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

This experience was undoubtedly important in helping 100 Thieves recover from their mid-split slump. Any new team needs time to gel and work out how they want to play, and players who aren’t new will often have their own ideas about how they want to play the game and how the team should function. As an experienced squad, every member of 100 Thieves will have been in this situation before, understanding the need to maintain mental strength and motivation while maturely working through their issues to shape up in time for playoffs.

It’s fair to ask if 100 Thieves will be able to carry their regular split success forward? Any team is prone to mistakes and failure for any number of reasons, no matter how strong they look. But experience is valuable, and this team will not fall prey to pretty squabbles, nerves, or the standard pitfalls of inexperience.

 

The Rest of the Road

We’ve seen how 100 Thieves got to where they are. But the question before us now is whether they can carry this success forward. The spring quarterfinals were intense and full of surprises, from Team Liquid’s confident sweep of Cloud 9 to the incredible upset pulled off versus TSM by Clutch Gaming, a team that had previously seemed more like a playoffs-stocking-filler than a genuine threat. It is in this chaotic battlefield that 100 Thieves find themselves in as they wait for their semi-finals matchup versus Clutch Gaming. Though the Thieves would appear to be favored in this matchup and have seemingly superior players in the top and AD carry positions, Clutch may also be well poised to take advantages of some of 100 Thieves’ weaknesses.

Clutch Gaming midlaner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten has been one of the more impressive midlaners in North America this split, and alongside his aggressive and confident jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, may be just the right person to exploit 100 Thieves’ potentially weaker mid lane, especially with some well-considered bans. However, much of their success in the quarterfinals was predicated on a series of incredible performances on Thresh from support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent, and if this pick is banned away from him, Clutch Gaming’s botlane may find themselves outclassed by Cody Sun and Aphromoo. Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, Echo Fox will undoubtedly have used the time provided by their playoff bye to sort some of the issues seen in their shaky end to the regular season. Their semi-finals opponents Team Liquid look bloodthirsty and motivated to seize their long-awaited first finals win.

Though their trials are far from over in this unpredictable climate, 100 Thieves truly earned their first place finish, and cannot be underestimated. They have the skill, the experience, the flexibility and the shotcalling of a top team. It’s time to see if they can steal not just the first seed, but the split victory and the hearts of the fans.

NA LCS Spring 2018 Playoffs Round-Up

NA LCS Spring 2018 Quarterfinals round-up

The NA LCS spring 2018 playoffs kicked off last weekend and League of Legends fans were excited to see what would happen in what is possibly the most exciting season of the NA LCS to date. Overall, the matches were very exciting, as all four teams had something to prove.

Well oiled machine

The first match of the quarterfinals featured a clash between Team Liquid and Cloud9. Team Liquid, who had struggled in past splits, was looking to fix their tarnished reputation through their super-group roster, while Cloud9 was looking to prove that their recent struggles were not indicative of the team’s true strength.

The match proved exciting, as Team Liquid and Cloud9 were able to draft towards their strengths in all three games. Team Liquid was able to draft Skarner for Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, allowing him to greatly influence how the game was played through Skarner’s pick potential and durability. Team Liquid also benefited from drafting sturdy top lane champions like Swain and Singed for their star top laner, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. Cloud9, on the other hand, looked to play around the composition strategies that had aided them in the first half of the split. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie was placed on strong laners in the top lane, while Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi were placed on champions that were both extremely impactful and familiar.

NA LCS Spring 2018 Quarterfinals Round-Up

Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

Though the match score was 3-0 in favor of Team Liquid, the match was certainly a close one. While Cloud9 sported good form in lane and in the early game, their issues around neutral objectives and gold leads continued to plague them. Game 1, for example, demonstrated Cloud9’s late game indecision. Team Liquid out maneuvered C9 in a catch-22 style play at Elder Dragon that allowed TL to come up ahead in the first game of the series. Even when making big plays, like Sneaky’s Game 3 quadra kill, C9’s individual play was not enough to get them over the hump. Team Liquid certainly proved to be the more cohesive team, as they were able to run circles around Cloud9 when it came to decisive macro play and securing neutral objectives even when behind in gold.

Underdogs bite back

The next match of the quarterfinals featured Team Solo Mid, the kings of North American League of Legends, defend their title against the newly minted Clutch Gaming. Again, the narratives proved irresistible in this match. TSM, who experienced a rough start to the split with their new jungler and bot lane, looked to grasp another NA title with Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell leading the charge. Meanwhile, Clutch Gaming was a team that no one believed would be able to make it to playoffs and looked to prove everyone wrong.

The game, much like the C9-TL match, proved to be just as exciting. The series started with TSM drawing first blood with a methodical Game 1 win through Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung’s suffocating counter jungling. While down from Game 1, Clutch was not ready to throw in the towel by any means. The next game saw Clutch ramping up with Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent’s insane playmaking on Thresh and Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo’s scrappy, in-your-face playstyle. After winning a back and forth Game 2, the rest of the series was all Clutch, as TSM was not unable to stop LirA or Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten’s Swain from dominating the rift, and ultimately the series.

With the 3-1 win over TSM, the scrappy band of underdogs known as Clutch Gaming look to prove that new faces are just as strong as the old as they enter the semifinals.

NA LCS Spring 2018 Quarterfinals Round-Up

Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

This weekend

Looking to this weekend, we will see Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming take on Echo Fox and 100 Thieves respectively. 100 Thieves, the first seed, and Echo Fox, the second seed, look to take advantage of their playoff bye and use the information they have scouted to better prepare for their respective matches. Meanwhile, their opponents will look to gain a spot in the finals and make NA LCS history. Will Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming be able to overcome their higher seeded opponent? You’ll have to watch the games this weekend to find out!

You can follow me 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 LoL Esports 

Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

Team Liquid win the regular season Academy League

Team Liquid finish first in Academy; Cloud9, FlyQuest and Echo Fox to playoffs

The inaugural North American Academy League finished its first split last night. Nine weeks of competition ended with Team Liquid in first place, followed by Cloud9, FlyQuest, and Echo Fox. These four teams move on to the playoff stage of the Spring Split to battle for bragging rights.

Week Nine

The final week of the Spring Split shook up the standings quite a bit. Coming out of week eight, Cloud9 and FlyQuest were tied for first. Team Liquid followed in third with Echo Fox fourth. CLG sat fifth, while 100 Thieves and TSM tied for sixth. Clutch and OpTic tied for eighth, and Golden Guardians rounded out the league in tenth.

Day One

Cloud9 finish the regular season Academy League in second place

Image from Leaguepedia

C9 and FLY faced off on day one of week nine, which would determine who would solely hold first place. C9’s “bouncy house” composition finally came through, despite FLY’s accrued gold lead. FLY’s 8,000 gold lead crumbled quickly after C9’s Baron call around 38 minutes. Two major team fights, and C9 took the Nexus, as well as first place. The rest of Thursday’s matches went to the expected victors (Liquid, Clutch, FOX, and CLG).

Day Two

Team Liquid took their shot at Cloud9 on Friday, hoping to challenge the top spot. V1PER’s snowballing top lane Olaf went berserk, finishing 9-3-4 with the most gold in the game. With the win, Team Liquid tied for first, which would later force a tiebreaker.

The following match, Clutch versus 100 Thieves, was another crucial head-to-head between tied teams. These two, along with TSM, sat tangled in sixth with a 7-10 record. The match remained relatively even through 23 minutes, but a big Baron take for Clutch blew it wide open. Piglet’s Twitch finished 8-1-3. Linsanity’s Ryze went 0-5-2. The loss bumped 100 Thieves out of sixth.

Echo Fox finish the regular season Academy League in fourth place

Image from Leaguepedia

Echo Fox defended their playoff spot by upsetting FlyQuest in Friday’s showdown. Three early kills to FOX’s carries set them up for an easy snowball. Damonte’s Anivia, OddOrange’s Sejuani, and Allorim’s Sion combined for an incredible amount of crowd control, which FLY was unable to overcome. Erry’s Jinx never came online, and FOX closed out the game with only a single tower lost. This victory solidified FOX’s fourth place finish, as well as FLY’s third place finish.

To finish out the day, Liquid and Cloud9 rematched to tiebreak first place. Risky Riven and Kog’Maw picks put a lot of pressure on TL throughout the mid-game. C9 racked up a 4,200 gold lead by 19 minutes, winning skirmishes around Goldenglue’s Ryze. However, like the rest of the matches, TL’s Baron capture and teamfight win put them back in the saddle. C9 looked shaken, as V1PER’s Riven and Mickey’s Swain broke the team up and pushed them back. Liquid ended just under 37 minutes with nearly 10,000 gold over Cloud9.

Playoffs

Unlike the LCS, only four teams enter playoffs in the Academy League. The semifinals consists of Team Liquid versus Echo Fox, and Cloud9 versus FlyQuest. These teams will play a best-of-five to see who moves onto the finals. Team Liquid beat Echo Fox in both of their regular season face-offs, while Cloud9 and FlyQuest went 1-1.

Team Liquid v. Echo Fox

Team Liquid win the Academy League regular season

Image from Leaguepedia

Team Liquid seems the most explosive team in the league. They average .76 combined kills per minute, more than any other team, while Echo Fox averages .57, third lowest. Look for Joey and Hard to force plays, while Damonte and Lost do their best to carry. Mickey does some of the highest damage in the league, so FOX should do all they can to hold him down. According to Oracles Elixir, Echo Fox has the stronger early game, while Team Liquid have the superior mid-late game.

V1PER played 14 of 17 games on carries, such as Riven, Camille, and Yasuo, while Allorim played almost exclusively tanks, like Sion, Ornn, and Maokai. Mickey’s champion pool has been all over the place, while Damonte has mostly drafted Cassiopeia and Ryze over the second half of the split. TL and FOX’s AD carry position is probably the most unbalanced. Lost consistently outputs more damage, more kill participation, and higher KDAs than Shoryu. He is also unafraid to draft Ezreal or Kog’Maw, where Shoryu leans on Tristana and Xayah much more. This offset could be exploited over a series.

Cloud9 v. FlyQuest

Flyquest finish the regular season Academy League in third place

Image from Leaguepedia

FLY and C9 will be a much closer match-up, on paper. Their team-wide statistics generally line up, with FlyQuest looking slightly better overall. Baron and Elder Drake control are their widest gaps. C9 only takes 54 percent of Barons, while FLY takes 72 percent. On the flip-side, FLY takes 33 percent of Elder Drakes, while C9 has taken 100 percent. These trends could result in divisive games.

Keith topped the Academy League in virtually every stat. He has the highest KDA, kill participation and damage per minute, while also maintaining the lowest death share. Zeyzal and he will most likely win Cloud9 the series, matching up against Erry and JayJ. However, Keane and Shrimp will get things going early, maintaining some of the highest First Blood and kill participation rates of any jungle-mid duo. Shiro appears to be C9’s weakest member, and his reliance on Gnar could get exploited.

The rest of the league

The other teams enter the off-season for a much needed break. CLG finished fifth, only one win from fourth place. TSM and Clutch tied for sixth with 8-10 records. 100 Thieves kept eighth for themselves, while OpTic concluded their season ninth. Golden Guardians bottomed out the league at 2-16.

Without the immediate fear of relegation or promotion tournament, it is difficult to predict what this mid-season may be like. The Academy League is supposed to center around developing rising talent, so losing is not necessarily cause for change. Team pride will most likely win out, resulting in plenty of recruitment for fresh new talent. A few players may even get scouted for low-level LCS teams.

Golden Guardians and OpTic Gaming should probably make sweeping change with their rosters, as their Academy and LCS squads failed to really pull together. Xpecial, Hai, Contractz and PowerOfEvil are probably the most safe candidates for rebuilding around, but anyone is fair game at this point. Coaches and support staff may also be considered for replacement. These new organizations most likely learned a lot in their first Spring Split, which they will utilize in off-season decision-making.

credits

Featured Image: LoLesports.com

Other Images: Leaguepedia

Statistics: Oracles Elixir, Games of Legends

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Postseason

The NA LCS postseason takes shape

There is only one week remaining in the North American League Championship Series, and the postseason is taking shape. After Week 8, there are four teams that have secured a place in the playoffs, three teams that are officially eliminated and three that are still fighting for the chance to go to the finals. Each team only has two games left to solidify their final standing in the spring split.

Secured:

Echo Fox

Echo Fox took off running Week 1, and though they may have stumbled a few times, they hardly slowed down. Even with two losses last week, they are still tied for first place with 11 wins and 5 losses. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has returned from Korea to dominate the top lane, and the new roster has been dominating the rift.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett appears to have finally found a team that is a good fit. He has spent the last few years bouncing from team to team every few months, and many thought that this would just be another short stop for him before he moved on to another team, or left the pro scene altogether. Instead, he has been playing better than ever, and it seems that for the first time in his career he is connecting just as well with his team off the rift. They are in the position to secure first place as long as they win both of their Week 9 games.

Postseason

Echo Fox (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

Cloud9

Currently tied with Echo Fox for first place is Cloud9. Though they have not ever won an NA LCS split, they also have never failed to make it to Worlds. Additionally, they have been the only North American team to make it past the group stage in the last two World Championships. They have several experienced players, including Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi who most consider to be the best ADC in the league. However, their rookie Top Laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie has also been getting a lot of attention. He has held his own against some of the most experienced Top Laners in the West, and his lane control has been a key part of many of their victories.

Clutch Gaming & 100 Thieves

The other two teams to have secured a playoff spot this week are Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves, but they have a lot more in common than just that. Both new to the NA LCS this year, they each rebounded from a rough start to make it into the postseason. Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves are backed by the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. Additionally, both have relied on a mix of veteran LCS talent and fresh skill to succeed this season. Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black and the rest of 100 Thieves will take on Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and Clutch Gaming in the first game of Week 9 to decide their final rankings.

 

Eliminated:

 

On the other side, this week’s games also saw three teams eliminated from the possibility of extending their seasons.

FlyQuest

Last year, FlyQuest finished their first split in 4th place, exceeding the expectations of most. This year has been a different story, and the changes made by the rest of the league outpaced their own. Many people thought it was an improvement when they chose Jason “WildTurtle” Tran to replace Johnny “Altec” Ru last year. Now, Altec is on Echo Fox, tied for first, and FlyQuest is figuring out how to improve before the Summer Split arrives.

OpTic Gaming

The other two teams that are officially out of playoff contention are both brand new to the league. OpTic Gaming is an established esports brand that has just branched out into League of Legends. With a team full of veterans such as Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, and Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, expectations were high. There were some impressive individual performances that looked promising at times. However, they never really played up to their potential as a team, and it resulted in their current 4-12 record.

Postseason

OpTic Gaming (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

The Golden Guardians

The Golden Guardians are a new team backed by the Golden State Warriors, and unfortunately for them, they did about as well this season as people expected them to. Hai “Hai” Du Lam’s experience was not enough to outweigh the rest of the team, and they were outplayed in nearly all of their performances this split. They have the skill to improve as a team in the future, but they have a long way to go.

 

Still fighting:

In the final week of the Spring Split, there are 3 teams that are technically still fighting for playoff spots. To make things more interesting, many predicted Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, and Counter Logic Gaming  to be at the top of the table. TSM and TL each only need to win one of their Week 9 games to move on. If either team does this, it will dash the hopes of CLG.

Team SoloMid

TSM made big roster changes that included the addition of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez. Coming from G2 Esports, they were widely regarded as the best Bot Lane duo in the West. Unexpectedly, these two were one of the weak points for the team for most of the season. Most of the weight was left on the shoulders of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg to carry them even this far. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell was not a liability in the top lane, but wasn’t as consistently strong as he has been in the past, and Jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung was less explosive than they had hoped he would be.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid acquired an entirely new roster full of experience at the end of 2017. They started off the season strong, dominating the first 3 weeks to earn a 5-1 record. Two losses to top teams in Week 4 seemed to shake their confidence, and since then they have failed to have another 2-0 week. One of the most “hit or miss” teams in the NA LCS, they will need to be in top form to ensure a playoff spot. If Bot Lane duo Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung play as well as they did in Week 1, this should be a breeze.

Postseason

Team Liquid (Courtesy of LoL esports)

Counter Logic Gaming

Last, there is Counger Logic Gaming. While technically still in the running, everything possible must go their way to have a chance at playoffs. If they don’t, it will be the first time ever that CLG did not advance past the regular season. Going 3-3 in the first three weeks, they then went on a six-game losing streak. However, something changed in Week 7, and they have won four straight games. Led by incredible performances in the Bottom Lane by Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, they have looked strong enough to have people hopeful for a last minute comeback to force a tiebreaker.

 

Regardless of the outcomes of this week’s games, you can bet that they will be some of the best of the season. As some teams fight for a spot in the playoffs, others jostle for a better ranking and playoff berth. Even the eliminated teams will be fighting to win some respect and finish with the best record possible. With so much on the line, the NA LCS games in Week 9 are not ones to miss.

 

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: @buttsy11.  For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

Graphing the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over six weeks

Like Europe, the NA LCS has been much different than preseason expectations, so far. The Spring Split has seen new teams succeed and have rough starts, while old teams push forward and falter. The renewed best-of-one format creates a different paradigm for teams to rise and fall. Each week comes down to two games. The teams only have three outcomes–a 100 percent win rate, a 50 percent win rate, or a zero percent win rate. These three outcomes basically boil down to climbing, stagnating or sinking.

GRAPHING THE STANDINGS

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

The first week of the Spring Split illustrates these three outcomes. Four teams began tied for first, because they won both games. Two teams tied for fifth with 1-1 records, and four teams took the week 0-2, tying them at seventh.

Echo Fox (orange) and Golden Guardians (yellow) were the only teams to maintain their places over several weeks, framing the league in first and last. Cloud9 (sky blue) and Team Liquid (light grey) followed similar trajectories, dipping and rising around the top, until Liquid’s 0-2 in week four. Optic (light green) has trended similarly around the bottom three spots.

All the rest of the North American teams have varied quite a bit in the standings. Clutch (red), TSM (black), CLG (cyan), FlyQuest (dark green) and 100 Thieves (dark grey) average 3.4 places between their highest and lowest placement over the first six weeks. FlyQuest, the least variable, has been hovering between seventh and fifth. Meanwhile, 100 Thieves started in first, dropped to fifth, and are currently back upward. CLG, on the other hand, started in seventh, rose to fifth, and have tanked down to ninth going into week seven.

Clutch Gaming and TSM have varied in a more positive way. TSM were stuck in seventh for two weeks, before climbing to fourth, and solidifying themselves in sixth with two wins above seventh place. Clutch dipped into seventh place with an 0-2 third week, but have since risen to a third place tie after winning five of their past six matches.

INTO WEEK SEVEN

Coming out of week six, there seems to be a clear separation between the top five teams and the bottom five. However, simply graphing the standings can be misleading, as TSM is only one win off of Clutch, Liquid, and 100 Thieves. Instead, the true separation lies between the top six and bottom four, as FlyQuest and Optic are two wins behind TSM.

If TSM and the other top six teams continue to maintain their current forms, then the bottom four do not really have much chance in catching up. There are only eight games left for each team, and the lower teams are going to have to take wins from the higher teams to reach playoffs. Instead, it looks like Golden Guardians and Optic are climbing at FlyQuest and CLG’s expense, and 100 Thieves and TSM are clawing their way upwards by beating teams above them. For example, TSM beat Echo Fox and 100 Thieves beat Cloud9 in week six, but TSM lost to Cloud9 and 100 Thieves lost to Echo Fox in week five.

These could be the standings if week six repeats.

These could be the standings if week six repeats.

If the momentum of week six carries over and repeats in week seven, the standings get even more divided. Clutch, Liquid, and TSM would collide at fourth place with 8-6 records, while Optic would stick to seventh at 5-9. The top of the standings would spread out, as Echo Fox, Cloud9, and 100 Thieves finished first, second, and third, respectively. Golden Guardians would reach its highest place in the standings since week one, while CLG would reach its lowest, tenth.

Of course, the schedule will play a major factor in the rest of the Spring Split standings. TSM still needs to rematch FlyQuest, 100 Thieves, Cloud9, CLG, Golden Guardians, and Team Liquid, only three of which they beat. Meanwhile, Optic only plays one opponent currently ranked below them in the standings for the next three weeks. Essentially, if any teams want to continue their movement up the ranks, they will need to win against opponents that previously bested them.

While such uncertainty in the standings probably causes anxiety for the NA LCS teams, players, and organizations, it has made for an exciting, engaging fan experience. Watching Echo Fox rise to the top of the ranks and maintain their first place goes against all of the preseason story-lines. Seeing CLG struggle harder than ever before, while Clutch and 100 Thieves probably make playoffs, represents a kind of success with franchising.

The best-of-one format makes every game do-or-die, which is probably boosting some teams. Best-of-threes in the playoffs will test teams in new ways, which should allow well-rounded rosters to shine. However, these teams need to win their single games first, before they can even think about series.

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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 Thomas!

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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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cg solo

Solo: ‘I think we can go toe-to-toe with everyone’

Clutch Gaming came out on top against a struggling Counter Logic Gaming this Saturday, climbing to a 2-1 start in their inaugural split as members of the North American League Championship Series.

Following their rout of CLG, their top laner Colin “Solo” Earnest sat down with The Game Haus to talk about their win, his ascension to the LCS and what it’s like to play with a veteran-filled lineup.

Alright, so the CLG game was a stomp. What made it such a one-sided game?

“It seemed like we were really ready for all of their aggressive plays. Their team is like, if one person goes in, they all go in. We were just able to counter their aggression with some good plays of our own.”

Prior to signing on with Clutch you spent a few years in the Challenger Series. How has the jump to LCS been for you? And what do you bring to the table as a player?

“The jump has been pretty good. I have played in a lot of stage games and best-of-five series, so I’m experienced some of the LCS teams. It is a much different animal being week-to-week and against playing some of the really top teams. I’m just trying to get as comfortable as possible stage against some of the really good strong opponents.

CG Solo

Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

I think I just have a really solid base to grow on. I’m a really good teammate, a strong leader and I think I bring a lot of x-factors, as well as my play.”

Now most of Clutch came over together from Team Envy and Febiven arrived after an impressive career in Europe. Has it been tough finding your place in this roster?

“It’s been a little different, they’re definitely really talented guys and they been in the scene for a really long time. I’m really willing to just listen and learn a lot from them. They’ve been really great teachers.”

Speaking of Febiven, you’re playing with one of the most accomplished Western mid laners over the past few years. What’s he like as a player? As a leader?

“He’s a really strong player, can do everything and is willing to make sacrifices for the team. He’s a really funny guy, really great guy to be around and is really strong mentally, which is surprising considering Europe’s reputation with that.

I’ve had a really great time playing with him. We’re very similar in how we look at the game and how we think a team should function.”

Now there’s been a lot of talk about some of the newer faces, such as AnDa and Licorice, and not as much about you. Why do you feel that is?

“I think it’s just because I’ve been around for a lot longer. At least in the spotlight, I’ve done challenger for a long time, so I think people will take for granted how good I am as a player. It’s a lot easier to get excited for someone who kinda just started out than it is for someone who has been grinding for so long.

cg solo

Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

I don’t really worry about too much, at the end of the day I’m just going to do my best for myself and the team, and take it from there.”

Where does Clutch stand amongst the rest of the LCS?

“I think we can go toe-to-toe with everyone. I think we are going to have losses and we’re gonna have wins, but depending on how well we learn from them will dictate how we do in playoffs.”

Tomorrow you play against against a hyped up Team Liquid. What’s it going to take to win?

“We’re gonna have to have a really solid draft and really solid game plan going in. And then we’re going to have to play as a team and really focus on our strengths and making sure they don’t roll over us with their really strong individual play.”

Featured image: Riot Games

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