Fnatic heading to MSI on a new patch

Given the long break between the end of the LCS and MSI, Fnatic will have several adjustments to make in order to continue their streak of success. Though all teams will be affected by these changes, Fnatic may feel it most of all in some of their key roles.

Braum

Fnatic

Courtesy of Riot Games

The first big change that Fnatic is likely to feel are the nerfs to Braum in Patch 8.8. While this may seem insignificant (Armor growth reduced by .5, and Stand Behind Me bonus resistance decreased by 7.5 at level 1 => 1.5 at level 5) every little bit counts for the pros. Braum was the most picked champion by Fnatic this past season, with Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov playing him in 11 of their 25 games. Additionally, an adjustment to Targon’s Brace (passive gold generation per 10 seconds reduced from 4 to 1) in Patch 8.7 has been a nerf to tanky supports overall.

If these changes are enough to keep Fnatic from picking Braum, it will not only affect their Bot Lane, but may force Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen or (likely) Paul “sOAZ” Boyer onto tanks when they would rather play a carry.

Rekkles

Luckily for Fnatic, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson may have received a huge buff in recent weeks. Although it is unlikely that any team will let Kai’sa through, it could be huge for Fnatic if they do.  The powerful scaling mixed with the early play-making potential could be lethal in the hands of the EU LCS MVP. As this may be a must-ban for many teams, it could possibly create an opportunity for a champion like Tristana or Xayah to slip though.

Another possible bonus for the Bot Lane is the buff for Lucian that came through in Patch 8.6. While the champion has been out of the meta for quite some time now, it remains the most-played champion on stage for Rekkles. With damage increases on both Ardent Blaze and The Culling, the mobile marksman could be strong again. Multiple ADC bans could result in him pulling out this pocket pick.

Caps

Rasmus “Caps” Winther has a sizable champion pool, playing 13 different champions on stage so far in 2018. Even so, he is not immune to nerfs. Azir, Taliyah, Galio, Ryze and Swain all took big hits in the last two patches which could be trouble for the Mid Laner. Caps shines on play-making Mages. With so many from his champion pool being taken down a notch, he will be much easier to ban against.

Some of these nerfs may be small enough where Caps can play through them. Also, he could break out the recently reverted LeBlanc or the newly buffed Lissandra. However he decides to deal with so many changes, it will be something that the team as a whole will have to adjust their play style to.

Death Brush

There is one additional change that could benefit teams like Fnatic. In Patch 8.6, the Sweeping Lens trinket was removed completely from the game. It was instead replaced by its former upgrade, Oracle Alteration. While in general, Oracle Alteration is seen as a better version of the Sweeping Lens, there is one major drawback. The sweeping area is centered around the champion rather than a selected point. This lack of range makes it a much more dangerous item to scout brush with.

fnatic

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Against the team that created the phrase “Fnatic Death Brush” this can be a worrisome change. Fnatic has always been famous for predicting where the enemy team will be pathing, and sitting in an un-warded brush to ambush them for a quick kill. While teams can still scout from distance with a Farsight Orb or certain skillshots, removal of a safe way to scout brush that Fnatic may be hiding in is a buff to them, although and obscure one.

While many of the recent changes, both positive and negative, seem to focus on things that are pivotal to Fnatic, the truth is that all teams will need to make adjustments. At MSI, the best teams from each region will be facing off. Victory will likely come to those that adjust the best.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured photo courtesy of Fnatic

Fnatic Misfits

Fnatic’s weakness is – Misfits Gaming?

Fnatic had a dominant showing in the EU LCS 2018 Spring Split. After going 2-2 in the first two weeks, they found their footing and defeated every opponent, with one big exception – Misfits Gaming. The team that ended in seventh place was somehow the only team that Fnatic could not beat, and they picked up two of their eight wins over the eventual champions. Whatever Misfits did this season may not have worked against most teams in the EU LCS, but it was the perfect combination to take down Fnatic.

Game 1

Blue Side: Fnatic

Bans: Caitlyn, Ryze, Kalista, Jayce, Camille

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer – Ornn

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen – Nunu

Rasmus “Caps” Winther – Azir

Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – Xayah

Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov – Rakan

 

Red Side: Misfits Gaming

Bans: Tristana, Galio, Tahm Kench, Jarvan IV, Zac

Barney “Alphari” Morris – Gangplank

Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian – Sejuani

Chres “Sencux” Laursen – Zoe

Steven “Hans Sama” Liv – Kog’maw

Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle – Braum

At their first meeting of the split, the 3-1 Misfits were not yet the underdogs to the 2-2 Fnatic. In champion select, Fnatic chose to ban away carries such as Camille, Jayce and Ryze while picking a mid-game team fighting comp. Their opponents, in turn, tried to keep Rekkles from running away with the game. Not only did they ban Tristana, but also Tahm Kench and Galio – two champions that excel at keeping their carries alive.

An important win condition for Fnatic was to prevent Misfits from scaling into late game, where Gangplank, Kog’maw, and Zoe would all do excessive damage. They used their mid-game power spike to punish Misfits as much as possible. They developed a 4.4k Gold lead by 26:00 and broke the enemy base by 30:00 minutes. At this point, things started to swing back towards Misfits.

Knowing that they needed to close things out or risk losing their lead, Fnatic overextended multiple times, getting caught in bad positions. This led to Misfits getting kills, and as a result, objectives. Though they came close several times, Fnatic failed to end the game before Misfits reached their full potential, and ended up paying the price. At 37:00, Misfits took back the gold lead, and kept building it. When all was said and done, the game had gone on for over an hour. Misfits had taken 4 Barons, amassed a 13k Gold lead, and defeated Fnatic in their first meeting of the season.

Fnatic Misfits

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Game 2

Blue Side: Misfits Gaming

Bans: Tristana, Azir, Galio, Kassadin, Taliyah

Alphari – Shen

Maxlore – Jarvan IV

Sencux – Anivia

Hans Sama – Xayah

Mikyx – Rakan

 

Red Side: Fnatic

Bans: Camille, Ryze, Skarner, Zac, Trundle

sOAZ – Sion

Broxah – Sejuani

Caps – Corki

Rekkles – Sivir

Hylissang – Alistar

By their second game of the season, the situation for both teams had completely changed. Misfits had gone 2-5 since they last met, while Fnatic had won their last seven straight. The latter looked unstoppable, but the former had struggled, especially in the Jungle and Mid Lane. Fnatic once again banned carries like Camille and Ryze, but also took three Champions away from Maxlore. Misfits chose to focus on Caps, banning out four Mid Lane Champions along with Tristana.

Realizing that Rekkles was likely to be strong no matter what, they focused on shutting down the top side of the map, and it worked for them. Though Rekkles went 5/1/5, it was not enough to carry the rest of Fnatic to victory.

Like their game in Week 3, this was another long match, going to almost an hour. However, this time it was much more one-sided. Misfits earned a solid gold lead by the 16 minute mark and kept it for the remainder of the game, stretching it to over 6k by the time they destroyed the nexus. They doubled Fnatic’s kills, controlled the jungle and most of the objectives, and once again shut down the best team in Europe.

How did they do it?

Defeating Fnatic twice in the regular season is an impressive feat, and the middle-of-the-pack Misfits were the only ones to do it. While many factors contributed, there seem to be three that were vital, and consistent through both games.

Bans

Rekkles was undoubtedly one of the main factors of Fnatic’s success throughout the split. Misfits realized that this was not because of the champions he played, but rather how he performed as a player. Because of this, they avoided the trap of banning multiple ADC’s that many others fell into. While they made a good decision to take away his Tristana, they used the rest of their bans to focus on the rest of the team, where they were much more effective. Other teams wasted two, three, and once, even five bans on Marksmen, to little effect.

Fnatic Misfits

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Broxah

Another thing that Misfits did that few others were able to was shut down Broxah. The young Jungler had an impressive season, and while he was not one of the main carries, he was essential to many victories. By essentially keeping him out of the game (KDAs of 0/6/7, 0/5/8), Misfits eliminated one of the main factors that would enable Caps and Rekkles to run away with the game. Additionally, this helped Maxlore to control objectives and have two of his best games of the season.

Control

Fnatic beat many of their opponents by controlling the tempo and flow of the game. Misfits took that away from them. By extending the games past the 40 minute mark, they allowed themselves time to catch up to Fnatic. Denying them this early victory evened the playing field, and got Misfits to a point where they could play to their strengths with a late game lead.

Misfits had an underwhelming split, but being the only team to remain undefeated against the EU LCS champions is something to be proud of.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured photo courtesy of LoL Esports

Finals

EU LCS – The deciding moments

The EU Spring Split came to a close this weekend with G2 Esports facing Fnatic in the finals. Though the final score was 3-0, the series was much closer than the scoreline suggests. As is often the case with such closely matched games, the outcome can be traced back to a single factor that tipped the scales.

Game 1 – Team fight at Baron.

Blue Side: Fnatic

Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau – Sion

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen – Sejuani

Rasmus “Caps” Winther – Karma

Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – Tristana

Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov – Braum

 

Red Side: G2 Esports

Martin “Wunder” Hansen – Cho’Gath

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski  – Zac

Luka “Perkz” Perković – Ryze

Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss – Jinx

Kim “Wadid” Bae-in – Tahm Kench

The first game of the series started out in G2’s favor. Just after 4 minutes in, Jankos Ganked the rookie Bwipo who had pushed his Top Lane wave just a bit too far. Jankos walked in from the river, and was able to initiate with Stretching Strikes, saving Elastic Slingshot to prevent Bwipo’s escape. With Wunder’s help, he was able to secure First Blood and a small gold lead for G2.

Ten minutes later, G2 stretched this small lead into a considerable one. In a Bot Lane team fight that was originally initiated by Fnatic, G2 found themselves in a position to turn and overwhelm their opponents. Hjarnan took down Hylissang and Broxah, and Perkz was able to kill Bwipo as he tried to escape. Using this advantage, G2 executed the impressive macro play they are known for, and in the following 10 minutes extended their gold lead to nearly 6k as they took three towers, their second dragon, the Rift Herald and Baron Nashor.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

The decisive fight

Unfortunately for G2, it was this Baron call that allowed Fnatic back into the game. After using Perkz’s Realm Warp to make Bwipo use Unstoppable Onslaught defensively on the bottom half of the map, G2 cleared a wave in the Mid Lane and made their way to the Baron. Despite a Fnatic Teleport coming in behind the pit, G2 decided to stay and finish the objective.  As Broxah cast Glacial Prison and jumped into the enemy team, Caps and Rekkles put down significant damage on Wadid and Wunder. Bwipo landed a knockup from behind the wall, before flashing in and chunking Perkz, Hjarnan, and Jankos down with Soul Furnace. As G2 attempted to escape the Baron Pit, Rekkles melted their health bars one by one, using the resets on his Rocket Jump to follow their Flashes. Jankos was the only survivor for G2, and in the next few minutes Fnatic was able to secure several more objectives.

The next two team fights also went the way of Fnatic, and they nearly ended the game at 33 minutes before Hjarnan respawned and kept the G2 Nexus alive. Fnatic was finally able to end the game at 42 minutes following a clash in the Mid Lane that led to an unofficial Pentakill for Rekkles. Though this is the play captured in most highlight reels, Fnatic may not have made it this far without their victory at the Baron Pit.

 

Game 2 – The double carry

Blue Side: G2 Esports

Wunder –  Gangplank

Jankos – Olaf

Perkz – Karma

Hjarnan – Varus

Wadid – Tahm Kench

 

Red Side: Fnatic

Bwipo – Sion

Broxah – Skarner

Caps – Zoe

Rekkles – Sivir

Hylissang – Braum

In Game 1, Fnatic built their comp around Rekkles being the lone carry.  With three tanks to be the front line, and Caps playing Karma, Rekkles was able to stay alive while putting out 57.9k damage. Their success with this caused G2 to shift their focus going into Game 2. While for their first match, G2 banned three potential Mid Lane champions, they allocated only one ban for Mid Lane in the second. Instead, they focused Rekkles with 3 ADC bans, taking only Ryze away from Caps.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

The second carry

This suited Fnatic just fine, as they were planning a new strategy for Game 2. They once again went with three tanks, but instead of a secondary support, Caps locked in the high-damage Zoe. Perkz was the aggressor early, and came close to killing Caps around the 5th minute. From there, they continued to farm, staying fairly close in CS. Caps was biding his time. By 10:45, he had enough to purchase Luden’s Echo, and by 11:51, Perkz was dead.

Not only did this solo kill establish a lead for Caps in the mid lane that he kept throughout the game. It also showed that Fnatic could rely on more than just Rekkles to carry them. This additional threat proved too much for G2, and they failed to shut down either one. Despite 6 Magic Resist items on the enemy team, Caps did the most damage in the game by nearly 10k. This focus on MR and Fnatic’s expert team fighting enabled Rekkles to record his second Pentakill of the series. Shorty after this, Fnatic closed out the game to go up 2-0 in the series.

 

Game 3 – Panic

Blue Side: Fnatic

Bwipo – Sion

Broxah – Skarner

Caps – Ryze

Rekkles – Tristana

Hylissang – Janna

 

Red Side: G2 Esports

Wunder – Ornn

Jankos – Zac

Perkz – Cassiopeia

Hjarnan – Sivir

Wadid – Karma

By the time Game 3 came around, it was do or die for G2. Not only had they lost two games in a row to Fnatic, but they had lost both of their head to head matches during the split as well. G2 had been so successful for so long by having superior discipline, macro strategy, and team fighting, but they had found a team that surpassed them in all of those categories.

Only one loss away from being swept in the finals, G2 was desperate, and they played like it. Adjusting their style, they started the game by invading Fnatics jungle. Though they come close to killing Hylissang, he survives, and it puts G2 a bit behind in laning. The early game also saw G2 playing a different game than they were used to. They chased into the river, hoping to catch Broxah, but failed to come close, and lost out on experience and gold in lane. They attempted tower dives and overextended for fights that were not in their favor, forcing them to retreat almost immediately.  Though they got kills and took towers, something was off for G2. They were, understandably, shaken.

Panic sets in

Around the 22nd minute, G2 attempted to take Baron. They seemed indecisive, and were interrupted twice, ultimately wasting nearly two minutes dancing around the objective as Caps pushed the bottom lane into the base. Roughly four minutes later, they attempt Baron again, once again peeling off to fight the 4v5 as Caps split pushed. They managed to kill Hylissang, but then seemed to panic. As Caps chipped down the inhibitor turrets, G2 tried to back. Three members chose to do this inside the Baron Pit, including the flashless Hjarnan. As Fnatic looked to delay their return to base, they discovered the enemy ADC, trapped behind the Epic Monster. Allowing Nashor to do most of the work, Fnatic only had to wait as Hjarnan took giant chunks of damage.

Finals

Courtesy of LoL Esports

With the enemy Carry out of the way, Fnatic was able to put G2 in an impossible position. Caps was nearly on the Nexus, and Bwipo, Broxah, and Rekkles started to take the Baron. Knowing that it would be nearly impossible to defend if Fnatic got Baron, Jankos waited, attempting a heroic Baron steal. Fnatic read the situation perfectly, and stalled. Unable to wait any longer, Jankos dove in, and Fnatic killed both the Baron and the enemy Jungler. Though they did their best, G2 could do nothing to hold off Fnatic at this point, and the series was over.

Looking forward

The finals were a hard fought battle between the former and reigning champions of Europe. Though both had their chances, the superior coaching, strategy, and skill of Fnatic won out in the end. If both teams learn from this intense series, their Summer Split games will be for the history books.

 

I want to extend a special thank you to fellow Hausmate Benjamin Schwartz for his input on this article!

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured photo courtesy of LoL Esports

 

 

MVP Rekkles

Aphromoo and Rekkles – What it takes to be MVP

What does it take to be an LCS Spring Split MVP? While a winning record, excellent KDA and flashy plays certainly help, it involves much more than that. The individuals that were voted as the Most Valuable Players in their regions, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black for North America and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson for Europe play different positions and have completely different styles. What they have in common though, is what it takes to be the 2018 Spring Split MVP.

Rekkles

The numbers

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Rekkles taking the title in Europe this year. It seemed that the voters agreed, with 86% of the first place votes going his way. The veteran ADC looked unstoppable throughout the season, and largely because of that, his team did as well. Over the course of the split, his average KDA was 13.5. His closest competition, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir,  had an average KDA of 7.1. Rekkles also led the league with the most kills (88), highest CS (8,670) and least deaths (13).  

While all of his numbers are impressive, it is perhaps this last one that really set him apart. He was the only player to average less than one death per game. The impact that this had on the success of his team was evident. While the value of staying alive to gain CS and experience in the laning phase is immense, it was his late game play that earned Fnatic the championship trophy. His ability to survive team fights allowed him to put out consistent damage and close out games, even if the enemy team was ahead.

The presence

Another effect that Rekkles had that made him so valuable to his team was how much the enemy needed to allocate to trying to stop him. Though important, it was more than just pressure in the games to try to get him behind. Opponents also often focused on him before the game, attempting to ban away several of his champions. Rekkles, though, didn’t let this attention affect him. He played five different champions over the course of the Split, and ended with at least a 50% win rate on all of them. When pressured in laning phase, he was happy to farm safely and wait until the late game to do his damage.

Along with superior mechanical skill and statistics, Rekkles also brings an incredible amount of experience to his team. This is his third MVP honor, and his second in a row. With well over 400 professional games under his belt, he is one of the most veteran LCS players. The knowledge and cool head under pressure that comes with this kind of history can make all the difference in pivotal moments of tight games.

Aphromoo

The quiet leader

A somewhat less obvious choice for MVP, at least on paper, was Aphromoo. Along with being the first American born player selected to NA LCS MVP, he is also the first Support to make the list. Additionally, he was statistically not a standout performer in any main category. He ended the season 5th in assists, 6th in KDA and 8th in Kill Participation among NA Supports.

To anyone who watched him play this season however, this honor comes as no surprise. He was able to lead 100 Thieves to the finals in their first ever split. Having been with Counter Logic Gaming since 2012, other than a brief stint in 2013, seeing Aphromoo on a new team was a shock to many. However, if there was any doubt whether he could succeed somewhere other than CLG, it was quickly put to rest. 100 Thieves took down CLG in Week 1 of the Spring Split, and did so again in Week 5 to break a losing streak. Though they struggled a bit in the first half of the split, they found their stride halfway through. Finishing the regular season with a win over Echo Fox to tie them for first place, and then turning around to beat them again in the tiebreaker, they jumped to the top spot.

MVP Aphromoo

Aphromoo (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

The play-maker

Throughout the split as 100 Thieves continued to rise, they often did so on the back of Aphromoo. Long known for being a playmaker, he used champions like Braum, Alistar and Rakan to great effect, making critical engages to help 100 Thieves win team fights and games. He also proved vital in the early game, assisting the young Cody Sun on his path to be one of the top ADC’s in the league with an NA LCS high 79 kills.

His strategic, team oriented play style caught the eye of many in the league. With an impressive 80 points, he beat out Seung-hoon “Huni” Heo (63) and the four time MVP winner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg (52).

Rekkles and Aphromoo both showed impressive play throughout the Split to take their respective teams to the finals. While Rekkles did so by killing everyone without being killed, Aphromoo lead with poise and strategy. In a year that saw lots of impressive young players, these two veterans proved that the LCS still belongs to them, and they’re not handing it over any time soon.

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

G2 and Fnatic face each other for the first time in the finals for 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

The top six storylines for EU finals that are not “Old Kings versus New Kings”

Fnatic and G2 are poised to take the stage this Sunday for the 2018 Spring Split EU LCS Finals. Fans and analysts anxiously await the showdown. Fnatic ended the regular season 14-4, and they defeated Team Vitality in the playoff semifinals last weekend. G2 move into the finals after defeating Splyce in the semifinals and ending the regular season 12-7. The regular season first and second place teams will meet in the finals to truly crown 2018’s Spring champion.

Both G2 and Fnatic have storied legacies moving into the last playoff stage in Copenhagen. As an organization, Fnatic covers the entire positive record books of the EU LCS. They have the most championships (five), the best season records, and the longest winning streaks of all time. This is Fnatic’s seventh final in 11 splits of LCS. Internationally, Fnatic has won the World Championship, and finished top four two other times.

However, since most of their dominance occurred in 2015 and earlier, Fnatic is painted as the “Old Kings of Europe.” The English organization’s legacy mostly exists in the past. Listening to long-time Fnatic fans revel in their past victories sounds like ancient esports legend. Almost all of the individuals that brought Fnatic success in the past are long gone and never coming back.

G2 Esports, on the other hand, are considered the “New Kings of Europe.” Since they entered the EU LCS in 2016, G2 has finished every split in first place. The Spanish organization has dominated Europe for the last two years, taking down four different finals opponents in the process. G2 has four gold trophies of its own, and has qualified for Worlds two years in a row as Europe’s top seed.

This “Old Kings versus New Kings” narrative is pushed by the LCS Broadcast every time these two teams face off. G2 and Fnatic battled in Group A all last year, and, regardless of either team’s form, the casters slated the match-up as “Old Kings versus New Kings of Europe.” The analysts and casters will most likely rehash this storyline in the 2018 Spring finals, but here are six alternatives for anyone finding the “Old Kings versus New Kings” idea worn out.

G2’s fifth straight EU LCS Final

G2 enter the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split finals for their fifth straight time

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Esports has attended the finals for every split they have been in EU LCS, despite significant roster changes. The organization entered the LCS in 2016 with Kikis, Trick, Perkz, Emperor and Hybrid on the roster, and YoungBuck as coach. They finished first in the regular season and went on to defeat Origen in the finals. That summer, G2 brought on Zven and Mithy in the bottom lane, and eventually started Expect over Kikis. Again, they finished first in the regular season and took down Splyce for the finals victory.

This same roster continued maintained their dominion over the EU LCS for all of 2017. They topped Group A in Spring and Summer Split, then took down Unicorns of Love and Misfits in the finals. G2 Esports has won four splits straight, the first team in Europe or North America ever to do so. This level of consistency at the top of the league is unprecedented.

Coming into 2018, G2 changed almost every member of its roster. Expect, Trick, Zven, and Mithy parted ways with the organization, while Wunder, Jankos, Hjarnan, and Wadid joined. YoungBuck switched teams, so G2 brought on GrabbZ from last year’s ROCCAT. Perkz is the only remaining member of the original LCS roster from 2016, yet they still made it to the finals for the fifth straight split. This finals presents an opportunity for G2 and Perkz to build on their legacies by winning a fifth EU LCS title. A victory would extend their win streak to five splits straight, two more than the next best title streak (Fnatic’s Spring 2013, Summer 2013, Spring 2014).

Fnatic’s first finals in two years

Fnatic enters the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split finals for their first finals in two years

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Despite being the most successful organization in the EU LCS, Fnatic has not made finals in the past four splits. G2 played spoiler in Spring 2016 (3-1 in semifinals) and Spring 2017 (3-1 in semifinals), while H2K knocked them out in Summer 2016 (3-0 in quarterfinals) and Misfits in Summer 2017 (3-1 in semifinals). Fnatic has finished playoffs third place in three of the last four splits.

Just making the EU LCS finals is a huge step in righting Fnatic’s ship for the future. Every third place or lower finish tarnishes Fnatic’s reputation for long-time EU fans, while setting tarnished standards for newcomers to esports. A win this weekend would push Fnatic back into the spotlight as a dominant organization in Europe. But, more importantly, Fnatic will need to continue making the finals for splits to come.

First time G2 and Fnatic face each other in The finals

G2 and Fnatic face each other for the first time in the finals for 2018 EU LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Although G2 and Fnatic have met a few times in past playoffs, this is their first chance to fight in the finals. If G2 win, then they extend their legacy of winning every LCS split since entering the league in 2016. They also tie Fnatic for the most total EU LCS championships won. If Fnatic win, then they add an extra title to their name, bringing their total championships to six. G2 would remain second with four.

This Spring Split finals will set the narrative between these two teams for Summer Split and onward. Their rivalry meets its nexus here. If G2 pulls out a win, then Fnatic will be viewed as the team that failed. They will become the underdogs moving into Summer Split, and their “most championships” record will become tainted, since G2 will also have five trophies. If Fnatic wins, then they will solidify their spot as the single best EU LCS organization ever. Fnatic would break G2’s win streak, which will bring them down a peg as the current apex predator, and reinforce Fnatic’s off-season roster decisions.

Jankos’ first EU LCS finals

Jankos enters his first EU LCS finals ever in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Despite playing in the league since Spring 2014, Jankos has never appeared in the finals. While on H2K, he placed fourth twice, third once, and fifth-sixth once. Jankos played for ROCCAT prior to H2K, and they placed third once, fourth once, and fifth-sixth once. Just like Pr0lly with 100 Thieves in the NA LCS, this weekend will be Jankos’ first time on stage for a title.

Simply getting this deep in the EU playoffs should be vindication for Jankos’ move to G2. However, a win would be important for proving Jankos is one of the top European junglers of all time. Diamondprox, Cyanide, and others have LCS titles under their belts. While Jankos has consistently carried his teams towards the top of the pack, without a first place finish most fans will discount his individual strength.

several players’ first finals (second most ever)

Broxah enters his first finals in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This will be the first playoffs finals for Bwipo, Broxah, Caps, Jankos, Hjarnan and Wadid. This year’s six players ties with Summer 2016 and Summer 2013 for second most finals debuts ever. Only 2015 Summer had more (9 new players). While this fact is not extremely important, spreading the competitive experience across more players is almost always better for the league ecosystem. When these individuals switch teams, return to finals, or compete internationally, analysts will reflect on the results of this Spring Split finals and weigh each players’ contributions. This championship would be especially valuable for the younger Fnatic players.

Continued dominance for youngbuck, redemption for dylan falco

YoungBuck, Dylan Falco, and GrabbZ all have something on the line for the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Besides the organizations and the players, all of the coaches in the finals have something on the line, as well. Youngbuck coached G2 over the past two years, racking up four championships for himself. For this Spring Split final, the tables have turned, and Youngbuck will support Fnatic in ending G2’s title streak, while extending his own. His coaching record is far superior to any other coach Europe has seen.

Dylan Falco, Fnatic’s other coach, hopes to reach a new height with Fnatic this year. While Dylan coached Immortals in the NA LCS in 2016 they finished playoffs in third place both splits. Immortals was unable to translate their regular season dominance into playoffs, dropping out in semifinals. When Dylan moved to Team Envy, the team finished in tenth place and faced the Promotion Tournament. Finally, he moved to Fnatic in the EU LCS, where he finished third in the 2017 Summer Split playoffs again, despite Fnatic’s regular season dominance. Moving into the finals, similar to Jankos, is such a crucial step for Dylan, and winning would be so gratifying.

Finally, GrabbZ enters his first finals ever. Since he has only previously coached for ROCCAT, GrabbZ should be proud to bring a rebuilt G2 roster all the way to the Spring Split finals. A win here gives a solid jump-start to his coaching career, and would play spoiler to YoungBuck and Dylan’s above-mentioned hopes.

Tune in this Sunday, April 8, to watch these teams, organizations, players, and coaches put everything on the line. Their legacies, their records, and their stories will be built off of the results of this final best-of-five. Only one team can walk away with the win. With it, they will get the glory, and everything that comes with it. All of these storylines coalesce in the 2018 Spring Split finals, which goes much deeper than “Old Kings versus New Kings.”

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Fnatic will face G2 in the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split finals

EU playoffs update: Semifinals review and finals preview

The EU LCS moved into the playoff semifinals this past weekend, with Europe’s quarterfinal winners stepping up to the plate. Splyce met G2 after defeating ROCCAT 3-0 in quarterfinals, while Vitality had beaten H2K 3-2 to face Fnatic in semifinals. Check out last week’s article to get the setup for quarterfinals and semifinals.

G2 v. SPY

G2 defeated Splyce in the 2018 Spring Split semifinals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce came into Friday’s match as the slight underdog, as they lost the second place slot in a tiebreaker with G2 at the end of the season. That being said, four of Splyce’s members won All-Pro honors, while only three from G2 were recognized. Splyce also dominated ROCCAT just last week, which made their match-up versus G2 even more exciting.

Their first game kicked off with Perkz giving First Blood to Xerxe’s Trundle in the mid lane. Jankos and the rest of G2 responded with a successful top lane gank and a pair of Ocean Drakes. He then turned to bottom lane for a dive, but KaSing’s Janna ultimate and Odoamne’s Sion Teleport nullified Jankos’ attempt, which turned into a death for Wadid and G2’s bottom turret. Over the next several minutes, Splyce and G2 traded rotations to take all outer turrets until G2 won a mid lane fight and took Baron. Using the pushing pressure, G2 accrued a 7,000 gold lead, but when G2 took their second Baron, Splyce traded for Elder Drake and was able to win every fight from there. They took G2’s Nexus in 42 minutes, still over 5,000 gold behind.

Game two was relatively quiet for the first 15 minutes. G2 was able to sustain enough lane pressure to allow Jankos space to take two Infernal Drakes. Wunder showcased the power of Swain, gaining around 40 CS over Odoamne and pushing down both solo lane turrets. G2 more-or-less forced their will onto Splyce for the rest of the game, sometimes a bit overzealous. Hjarnan’s Jhin and Jankos’ Skarner were able to engage onto Splyce at will, which allowed G2 to easily siege. Securing a Baron at 25 minutes was the straw that broke Splyce’s camel’s back, as G2 successfully kited any counter-engage from Odoamne’s Sion or Xerxe’s Sejuani. G2 ended the game almost 10,000 gold ahead by 34 minutes.

G2 gained the early lead in game three, by surviving a massive bottom lane gank from Splyce. They came out of it with two kills and bottom lane turret for just Wadid’s death. G2 also outplayed Splyce when they contested Rift Herald, but Odoamne, Xerxe, and Nisqy took mid lane turret in exchange. By 20 minutes, Splyce and G2 took all six outer turrets. They danced around the first Baron on even terms, but G2 secured it and a kill, which cracked open a 5,000 gold lead. After a surprise pick on Perkz’s Zoe, Splyce turned to secure Baron. Kobbe secured the objective, but G2 forced the fight and Hjarnan’s Jhin cleaned up a Quadra Kill. G2 pushed the series to match point.

Splyce and G2 remained even through the first 20 minutes of game four. However, G2 outplayed Splyce once more in a large top lane fight to take the lead. Odoamne’s Camille teleported in with KaSing’s Shen ult on him, but Wunder’s Fiora teleported in reply. Hjarnan and Wadid beat Kobbe to the lane, which resulted in a three for one for G2. Splyce pressured Baron just after 20 minutes, which resulted in a pick, but G2 staved them off of the objectives. Minutes later, Splyce sent three members bottom to kill Wunder, but G2 secured the Baron in response. In a desperation play, Splyce turned to pressure Baron again, at 33 minutes, but G2 took the fight, took the Baron, took the Elder Drake, and took the series. Hjarnan went 19-2-22 over the four games.

FNC v. VIT

Fnatic defeated Vitality in the 2018 EU LCS Semifinals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Analysts were not sure what to make of Vitality versus Fnatic coming into the match-up. Fnatic were clearly the most dominant team in Europe, but Vitality had been their biggest rival during the regular season. Most expected the early game to revolve around Caps and Jiizuke in the mid lane, while Rekkles would be Fnatic’s late game ace up their sleeve. On top of that, Bwipo would substitute for SoaZ, due to an injury. The series could theoretically go many ways.

Fnatic drafted a powerful poke composition for game one, including Nidalee, Zoe, and Ezreal. Most of Fnatic’s pressure was on mid lane, as Broxah pulled off three successful ganks on Jiizuke pre-13 minutes. Although Vitality got a couple of picks on Hylissang’s Tahm Kench, Fnatic secured a 4,000 gold lead by 16:30. Caps’ Zoe roamed several times to nuke down Gilius and Minitroupax, while Fnatic also took first turret and a Mountain Drake. Fnatic took an uncontested Baron just after 20 minutes, and they finished in less than 26 minutes.

Game two saw Fnatic take a level one jungle invade, which ended as a one for one. Vitality ruled the early game this time around, as Gilius’ Skarner pulled off successful ganks top and mid. Fnatic also got outplayed in an early skirmish in their top-side jungle, giving Vitality a 2,000 gold lead around 10 minutes. Hylissang’s Braum made an aggressive play in the mid lane to shut down Jiizuke’s Taliyah and Gilius, which helped even out the game. Fnatic continued to pick up kills by punishing Vitality’s aggression towards Bwipo’s Gangplank in the side lane, gaining their own 3,000 gold lead by 20 minutes. The rest of the game was the Fnatic show, as Vitality only got one kill for the rest of the 30-minute game–no more turrets or neutral objectives.

Vitality got their first win in the third game. Gilius’ Olaf and Jiizuke’s Taliyah focused on the top side and Cabochard’s Camille pick, roaming and ganking Bwipo’s Cho’Gath twice in the first 10 minutes. With so much pressure, Cabochard was able to open up the map, taking several turrets, but Fnatic rotated as a team to match. They evened out the gold around 20 minutes, aggressively outplaying Vitality with Rekkles’ Ezreal and Caps’ Swain. Vitality pushed Fnatic off of a 20-minute Baron and took it for themselves. Fnatic returned to Baron around 29 minutes, but Gilius stole it and Cabochard and Jiizuke’s split push knocked down Fnatic’s Nexus turrets. With the next siege, Vitality closed game three.

Fnatic won out the early skirmishes of game four, mostly centered around Caps’ Swain. By 11 minutes, he was 3-0-2 with 100 percent kill participation. Vitality were active in finding picks on Bwipo’s Gangplank and shutting down Caps, but Fnatic always traded for turrets. Fnatic won the first big fight in the mid lane around 19 minutes, and they snowballed from there. Vitality contested Fnatic’s every move, but Broxah’s Trundle and Hylissang’s Braum permanently slowed their opponents, easily allowing Rekkles and Caps to secure kills. Fnatic took a Baron at 15 minutes without losing any members, and the following siege ended the game in 30 minutes. Vitality lost the series 1-3, qualifying Fnatic for their first finals in two years.

G2 v. FNC

G2 will face Fnatic in the 2018 EU LCS Finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The classic “Old Kings versus New Kings” showdown will happen this weekend for the EU LCS Spring Split title. Of the 10 total LCS championships, Fnatic won five between 2013 and 2015, while G2 has won the last four in a row. These two organizations are the most decorated in EU LCS history.

But these are very different teams than the championship winners of the past. Huni, Reignover, Febiven, Zven, and Mithy play in North America now. Trick moved to the LCK and Yellowstar coaches. Perkz and Rekkles are the only remaining members of these previous winning teams, and everyone is watching them in this final.

2018 Spring Split G2 and Fnatic have relatively similar styles. Their junglers usually wait a while to make moves, opting for safer farm in the early game. Wunder and Perkz generally gain leads from laning phase, while Rekkles and Hylissang are more controlled for Fnatic. Giving a dragon or a turret is okay for these two, as long as they are safely farming and controlling vision.

However, once Baron spawns, the game truly starts. Both of these teams jockey for vision around Baron non-stop. Caps and Hylissang are often Fnatic’s initiators, engaging onto unsuspecting targets or baiting their opponents into an unwanted skirmish. Perkz and Hjarnan stay on the backline, while Jankos and Wadid check all fog-of-war. Wunder is quick to teleport into the fight, while Bwipo tends to hesitate.

Before semifinals, this match-up would be much more Fnatic-favored. But, with Hjarnan stepping up big time against Splyce, and Bwipo subbing in for Soaz, this match-up should be extremely close. Both teams showed variations in their playstyles over their series. Fnatic showed their extreme poke composition and strong team-fighting. G2 showed they can play split-pushing with Fiora and a pick composition with Zoe and Thresh.

Expect intense drafts from these two. Braum, Camille, Swain, Zoe, and Gangplank proved extremely strong for both teams. G2 and Fnatic will most likely stick to the meta picks and opt for scaling through the first phase of the game. Once they are in-game, the victories are going to come down to five-versus-five team-fighting and macro play. It should be a historic series, as these fights are going to be explosive. G2 could tie up the trophy count five and five, or Fnatic may re-establish their dominance in Europe. Find out on Sunday, April 8.

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The rebirth of Origen

Birth

In December of 2014, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez left Fnatic to form his own Esports organization and League of Legends team. Origen entered the 2015 Challenger Ladder with an impressive lineup. Joining him was former Fnatic teammate Paul “sOAZ” Boyer in the Top Lane, and Jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider from Team SoloMid. xPeke also recruited Support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez who had recently come off suspension, and the rookie ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, then known as Niels. This world class talent and experience mixed with the skill and synergy in the bot lane produced fast success for Origen, and after one split as a Challenger team they were promoted to the EU LCS.

Rise

2015

The 2015 Summer Split was the first in the LCS for Origen, and they proved that they belonged there. Finishing second behind an undefeated Fnatic, they breezed past H2K before taking Fnatic to Game 5 in the finals. Though they lost, their second place finish was enough to put them through to the European Regional Finals.

Defeating both ROCCAT and the Unicorns of Love without much trouble, Origen qualified for Worlds in their first split as an LCS team. In a group with Team SoloMid, LGD Gaming, and KT Rolster, they went 4-2 and advance to the knockout stage. Impressively, they knocked out the Taiwanese team Flash Wolves before finally falling to the eventual champions, SKT T1.

2016

Though things went nearly as well as they could have for the new team in 2015, Origen decided to make some changes before the 2016 Season. Hoping to focus more on the management side of the team, xPeke brought in Mid Laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. He started off strong, helping the team to win IEM San Jose by sweeping both Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming.

Origen continued their success in the 2016 Spring Split with PowerOfEvil starting nearly every game in the Mid Lane. Although the road was a bit rougher than the previous split, they went 11-5 and earned a spot in the playoffs. Origen once again made it to the finals, where they lost to G2 Esports.

Fall

2016

Big changes came for Origen before the Summer Split in 2016. Reigning EU LCS champions G2 Esports acquired the nearly unstoppable Bot Lane duo of Zven and mithy. Origen filled the positions by picking up veteran ADC Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou and Support Glenn “Hybrid” Doornenbal who was recently released by none other than G2.

This lineup didn’t last long, and after the team struggled for the first couple of weeks, FORG1VEN left. Although they picked up a new rookie ADC, Augustas “Toaster” Ruplys, it was xPeke that filled in for most of the remainder of the season. All of this proved too much for the team to overcome, and Origen found themselves fighting to remain in the LCS. They beat Misfits in a tough 3-2 series, and were able to retain their spot, but things were bleak.

2017

By the start of the 2017 Season, xPeke was the only player remaining from the previous split. He signed experienced ADC Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert who had been playing competitively since Season 1. To round out the roster, Origen added Jungler Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan, Support Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen, Top Laner Max “Satorius” Günther, and Mid Laner Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun, which allowed xPeke to move back to a substitute position.

Origen failed to win a series in the 2017 Spring Split, and went 0-3 in the Summer Promotions to be officially relegated from the EU LCS. They continued their fall through the Summer Split in the Challenger Series, with their new 8-man roster finishing in the bottom two.

Along with this extreme under-performance competitively, there were many indications that the management and infrastructure of the organization left much to be desired as well. Whether these were independent issues, or one led to the other, the result was the same. Origen had gone from one of the top teams in the world to no longer a team at all in just two years, and many fans thought that was the end.

Rebirth

Then, on March 29th, 2018, Origen posted a tweet for the first time in months. It read “We want to give back everything you did for us. The show begins. What’s next? #OGresurrection.”

Origen

Courtesy of Origen Twitter

Such a mysterious and unexpected announcement caught the eye of many. Over the next few days, Origen revealed that they plan to field a team to participate in the European Masters in April, and that Jungle legend Choi “inSec” In-seok will be joining the team.

So far, that is all we officially know, but there are plenty of rumors and predictions floating around. Will this be a one time thing, or is Origen looking to try to rejoin the EU LCS with the recent news of franchising? Is xPeke going to be playing again? Will they sign Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, FORG1VEN, and other veterans? All that can be said for sure is that the next few weeks will be an exciting time for any remaining fans of Origen and xPeke.

 

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 3rd, Origen announced that former G2 Esports Top Laner Ki “Expect” Dae-han will be joining the team.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of Origen Twitter

An interview with Bwipo – Part 2

Earlier this week, I talked to Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau about League of Legends and his path to becoming a Pro Gamer.  In Part 1 we discussed his recent games on the LCS stage and the game in general. In Part 2, we delve a little deeper into his history as a gamer and how he got here.

Have you always been a gamer?  What was the first game that you fell in love with and worked hard to get better at?

So, let me think. When I was a kid, like really young, my dad would always end up playing video games as a release. He had a hospital job working as something like a physiotherapist, so he was working 9-5. When he got home, he would play on PS2, or GameCube, or whatever. And he would play with us kids, we were like 5 or 6 at the time, me and my older brother. We got all the Nintendo stuff, played Pokemon and all that, and then we finally got our own PCs. I started off playing Runescape, and eventually World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft was actually the first game that I tried – hard – to get good at. So I ended up playing – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with World of Warcraft Arenas and raiding, but mainly Arenas. I tried really hard. I grinded that game out for full year, 12 hours a day. And I loved doing it, don’t get me wrong it was very fun playing my Warrior. I ended up getting relatively high on the ladder, I think 2200 MMR the first year. And then the next year we got to 2500, which I think percentage wise was like top 2%. We weren’t bad at the game basically, but it wasn’t anything good enough to go pro. Near the end of that, we had a group of friends, and we weren’t sure what to play next because World of Warcraft was starting to get kind of boring. Someone said ‘What if we tried League?.’

What champion did you play when you first started?

I started as a Gragas one trick pony. That’s how I really got into the game. My brother was playing Gragas, and I saw him use his ultimate, and from my point of view I thought he threw a glue bomb or something. It was awesome because I thought he was going to root everybody to the floor or whatever. I soon realized that, no, he does not do that, he in fact throws them away, but I still loved Gragas. Leveling up, levels 1-30, I just played Gragas almost exclusively, along with a little Lee Sin and Blitzcrank.

Once I hit level 30, I just played the entire season through, something like 1500 ranked games. I just grinded, I liked it so much. I felt like every game I played I could do something better. That’s what really got me hooked, what kept me coming back for more. I ended up Diamond 1-ish, which was pretty respectable at the time. I got there and I was really proud of myself. That was really a special moment for me, because I didn’t just start and jump into Diamond 1. It took me just as long as everyone else to get to get to Gold, to get to Platinum.

And you just kept rising from there?

I took a break from League in Season 4 actually, until Yasuo was released. I had a friend who was still playing, and he was convinced I had to play Yasuo.  He had to convince me to come back to League of Legends just to play Yasuo, because it was a new release and he was like ‘You have to play it!’ We would play normal games and no matter what he would pick that champ for me because he wanted to see me play it. I still don’t know why he did that really, but it got me back into League. I felt at that point the gap between me and Challenger players was too big for me, I didn’t think I could make it. But thanks to him, he convinced me to just keep playing, and I actually got to Challenger for the first time in Season 4 by playing Yasuo. At that point I was a one-trick. I could still play all the champions I had practiced in Season 3, but at the end of the day, I was the Yasuo one-trick.

Is that when you decided you could make this into a career?

Bwipo

Courtesy of Fnatic

Even though I hit Challenger, I still wasn’t convinced I could go pro. I didn’t think ‘Yeah, there’s a career here for me.’ I was really just playing the game, and focusing on school, since I had failed a year at school before that because of World of Warcraft. That wasn’t really a shocker, because I understood that I had really messed up by not taking school seriously. So then I made sure that I at least passed in school.

Somewhere in early Season 5, after the ladder reset, I was able to hit Challenger in the matter of like, a week. So I was suddenly like ‘Wait a minute, I’m actually pretty good at this game.’ School was really not going that well, and I was really struggling to balance the game and my studies, and I needed to make a decision. I’m the type of person that really struggles at focusing on two things at the same time. It just doesn’t feel right. If I’m going to school and I’m not committed to studying, then I feel like I shouldn’t be going. If I’m failing my classes, my grades are all bad, then I’m just making my parents pay for my school when I’m not even taking it seriously. It doesn’t feel right to me.

So you decided to leave school to pursue an esports career?

At that point, I went to my mother one morning and was like, ‘I can keep going to school, but for me personally, if I could try and go pro in this game, it would mean a lot more to me.’ At this point I had been Challenger for a long time, and I felt like it was appropriate to make a decision. I had to not feel like I would be disappointing anybody. Not myself, not my parents, not my brother. I needed to make a decision and stick with it as fast as possible, and the first thing that came to mind was ‘I’m going to go pro with this game.’

So I went to my mom, and at the time, she was recovering from cancer, which was really tough on her. She was working full hours and dealing with these health problems, but it was her decision that led me to actually do this. I made sure that she accepted that I could. I asked her ‘Can I quit school to pursue this?’ It was important that I didn’t just quit and be like, yeah, deal with it. I made sure my mother agreed with me quitting school, and was OK with me going after this opportunity.

And she was supportive?

Yes, absolutely. She has been so supportive from day 1, it’s incredible really. By the time things were really underway, it was a good few years in already. It was really impressive that she was doing all that for me. She could have just said ‘No, I just want you to go to school and have a normal life.’ but she saw it as an opportunity for me to shine, to be different from other people, to be myself. To do what I wanted to do.

And the beautiful thing is that she had no idea what I was doing. I was on the computer all day, but she wasn’t very good with computers. She had no idea what was going on. I could have been playing Tetris for 24 hours a day and she wouldn’t have known. But despite that, she had the blind faith of ‘My son is doing what he wants to be doing, and I want to give him this chance.’

That’s really what sparked this opportunity, and gave me the time that I needed to develop myself through some coaching from a very good friend of mine. That’s really what ignited it, was my mother saying yes. That’s what made me want to push myself. As I said, my mom was recovering from cancer, and that’s an ordeal. But despite that, she said ‘Yes, you can do that.’ So being that person that gets that permission, there is naturally an obligation to do your best. Because she is, right? She’s trying her hardest to make sure that I have the room to try. That alone is very impressive to me already.

That’s really inspirational.

Absolutely. I think what she did for me and still does for me, although to a lesser extent now that I’m living in Berlin. She took care of me every day, made sure there was food on the table, made sure my bed sheets were clean. And I was in the room while she was doing my bed sheets, you know? I was sitting on my computer, and it’s not like she would say ‘Yeah yeah, do your sheets, it’s not like you’re doing anything anyway.’ She treated it as if it was my dream, my job.  I stress this so much, because THE most important thing in my career, by miles, is the fact that she treated it as if this was equally as important as school.

It’s hard for me to explain. She doesn’t know what I’m doing, she has no idea. But despite that, she’s working every day, she never complains, she makes sure everything is ready for me. Just imagine, having that kind of support is magical. I think I’m the luckiest pro player in that sense, because I don’t know of any other pro player that had that kind of luck. And that’s the only word I can think of to describe it.  My mom was giving me this freedom, and I wanted to make something of it because of that.

Bwipo

Courtesy of LoL Esports

So this is where you really committed to being a Pro Gamer?

So in Season 5, I hit Challenger, 400 or 500 LP. A regional Dutch team with former pro players from Season 2 was looking for a Top Laner. I stuck with that team for about a year, it was an amateur team, and we were trying to get into the Challenger Series. Though it’s pretty apparent now that that doesn’t matter to get signed.  What did matter was the amount of experience I got playing with that team.

Because of that, I think most people considered me to be a little bit ahead of the other rookies in terms of understanding the game and communication skills, at least that’s how it seems. People are saying that Broxah is playing around me, blah blah blah, but I’m making sure that he knows he can. That’s something I’m very focused on, to make sure that I’m setting up something for my Jungler. To me it feels terrible as a Laner to not be able to set anything up for my Jungler. If he is coming to my lane at any point, he is getting something out of it. At least that’s my goal.

What did you learn in those two years before joining Fnatic?

You have to be incredibly high on the Solo Queue ladder. I really wasted a year when it comes to exposure. I was only 500 or 600 LP and that’s just not enough. Nobody looks that far down on the ladder, realistically speaking. I was playing in the Turkish League and the Russian League. I played on stage, I got used to the white noise, all that stuff. But at the end of the day, I needed to be Top 10, consistently. That’s what got me there, and for anyone who wants to be pro level – get there. Be Top 10, for a month, a year, however long it takes.

What do you think gave you the edge to get noticed by Fnatic?

During all of this Solo Queue time, I have this friend called Shaves, and he coached me every day. He was always making sure that I understood what I was doing. He taught me how to play the game, really. I still think to this day that if you watch me play and you think I’m good at the game, or that I’m a smart player, that’s him. This guy is really smart. You give him time and someone that’s really committed, and he will make LCS caliber talent out of that player.

And I’m looking to prove that right? I want to be the living proof that he can do that, because at the end of the day, he is the one who taught me. Not necessarily how to play the match ups, but the idea behind the match up. What I want to do and when I want to do it, and how to play the map. A lot of people are saying that I’m smart in the way I play the map, and that is what he gave me.

What advice to you have to players that are trying to improve?

Fnatic, Bwipo

Courtesy of LoL Esports

The way I like to think, is that if you’re listening to somebody talk, and let’s say they make 10 different points of criticism on your gameplay. Maybe 9 of those things are complete bullshit, and you know it. Most people would get frustrated and annoyed, like ‘Why are they pointing all this stuff out? It’s useless.’ But there’s a good chance that out of those 10 things, there will be at least one thing that will be right. So instead of focusing on the 9 things that are wrong, I try to listen and incorporate the one thing they were right about. If they point out one mistake, I will take that advice and be happy that I listened to this person. Because at the end of the day, I just got better, you know?

What a lot of people forget – because tilt is a real thing – is that when you press play on the League of Legends client, you’re trying to win this game. And that’s what I’m basically looking at, is ‘How do I win this game?’ My mind is constantly busy with how do I win, and what can I learn from other people? Now I’m not saying you should take every piece of advice and criticism 100% seriously, but just listen.  If someone is very smart, but you disagree, that is the best type of person you can learn from. That’s why I’ve learned so much from sOAZ, because we disagree on almost everything.

A lot of this game is asking yourself ‘Can I do this?’ and if your answer is yes, the odds of you doing it are much higher. If you go into the game with the mindset ‘I’m going to lose this lane,’ I firmly believe that the odds of you losing that lane are a little higher. I do think believing in yourself is rather important.

 

I would like to sincerely thank Bwipo for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure you catch Part 1 of the interview here.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

EU playoffs update: Quarterfinals review and semifinals preview

The first stage of the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split playoffs kicked off this past weekend, with Splyce facing off against ROCCAT and H2K versus Team Vitality. These two pairs battled in best-of-five matches to determine who would continue into the semifinals. Here is what has happened so far, and what playoffs looks like moving forward. 

SPY v. ROC

ROCCAT faced Splyce in the quarterfinals of 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce was the heavy favorite coming into their quarterfinals match against ROCCAT, since they closed the regular season in third, while ROCCAT finished sixth. Splyce had four of five members voted into EU’s All-Pro team; ROCCAT had none. The Snakes finished the last four weeks of LCS with only two losses, while ROCCAT went 4-4, including one loss to Splyce.

The first game of the series began with Splyce reacting to deep invades from ROCCAT. Nisqy secured three early kills on Kassadin, two from Memento, one from Blanc. ROCCAT maintained momentum, taking the first three turrets, three dragons, and Rift Herald, until a three for zero fight in Splyce’s favor around 25 minutes. Splyce took Baron, which unlocked the map. Nisqy finished the game 12-0-2.

Top lane pressure characterized game two’s early game, with Xerxe and Memento both pulling off successful ganks. Splyce gained the momentum with an Infernal Drake, a two for zero fight, and mid lane turret secured by 17 minutes. ROCCAT were completely out of sorts from there, as Splyce knocked down three more turrets by 20 minutes. With the map opened up, Odoamne’s Camille and Xerxe’s Zac were unlocked to roam the map and engage at their leisure. Splyce took Baron and ended the game by 29 minutes.

ROCCAT started game three with early game success on the bottom side, with KaSing dying twice and Nisqy dying once pre-10 minutes. However, ROCCAT’s messy skirmishing around the bottom side allowed Splyce to grab the reins. Odoamne’s Camille wreaked havoc once again, split-pushing down turrets and catching out unsuspecting ROCCAT members. Splyce took a 30-minute Baron and ROCCAT was unable to stall long enough for HeaQ’s Jinx to come online. The series ended in a 3-0 for Splyce, eliminating ROCCAT from playoffs in fifth-sixth.

H2K v. VIT

H2K faced Team Vitality in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Saturday kicked off with fourth place Vitality battling fifth place H2K for the semifinals spot versus Fnatic. H2K looked to ride the momentum of the back half of their split, which finished 7-3 over the last five weeks. Vitality felt the inverse effect, finishing 3-7 over that same time. This quarterfinal match-up would be a nexus point between the rise and fall of these two teams.

Game one saw H2K controlling the top side with Smittyj’s Camille gaining a leading and taking the turret, while Vitality’s bottom lane gained a lead and took their turret. Both teams matched their rotations to take second turrets, but Vitality’s Infernal Drakes and superior skirmishing allowed them to take a 2,000 gold lead, their third Infernal, and mid lane turret around 20 minutes. Vitality took the Baron and sieged bottom lane to end in 27 minutes.

Vitality won out bot lane again in their second game against H2K, with Sheriff and Promisq falling to an early turret dive. Minitroupax’s Caitlyn sieged down all three outer turrets by 17 minutes. However, Shook’s Baron steal around 27 minutes was the great equalizer. H2K pushed Vitality’s bottom lane all the way into the Nexus turrets, which gave them pressure to take the second Baron. Vitality never found the proper engage between Shen, Sejuani and Thresh, and H2K closed the game.

With Caitlyn and Leona locked in, Vitality continued to index heavily on bottom lane dominance in game three. By 18 minutes, Vitality knocked down two bot lane turrets and two Ocean Drakes, compared to H2K’s single top turret. Despite their 8-1 kill lead, Vitality were unable to properly posture around Baron. H2K forced them off with a three for one fight, then secured Baron for themselves the next go around. Sheriff got caught out during the siege, which gave Vitality enough control to take the third Baron. Vitality pushed down mid, but H2K defended the inhibitor, which caused both teams to dance around the 44 minute Baron. Neither team lost members, but Vitality secured Baron, rotated and took Elder Drake, then rolled over H2K to take the series to game four.

H2K flipped the script by taking the Morgana-Caitlyn bot lane combo, killing Jactroll, and taking turret around 9 minutes. Shook ganked bot with Zac and helped secure two more kills on Vitality’s bottom lane. With Smittyj solo killing Cabochard’s Shen with Sion, H2K maintained tempo advantage. They aced Vitality in the mid lane around 18 minutes, including a Quadra Kill for Selfie’s Kassadin. A 20 minute Baron for H2K set them up for an unstoppable siege. They ended the game in 23 minutes for “silver scrapes.”

The match point game saw both teams return to top side focus. Gilius and Jiizuke visited top lane for kills on Smittyj’s Ornn in the first 12 minutes. H2K responded by outplaying Gilius’ gank to bottom lane, resulting in a Double Kill for Smittyj. They took bottom turret, then rotated top for Rift Herald, where Vitality lost the fight 0-2. H2K contested Vitality around Infernal Drake, which Shook stole, but Minitroupax’s Tristana also got a Double Kill. From there, Vitality won siege after siege, eventually taking a 22 minute Baron. Over the next 10 minutes, H2K was only able to successfully engage and kill Minitroupax once, and Vitality used the Tristana and Baron buffs to push down all the way to the Nexus. The series went to Vitality, eliminating H2K from playoffs in fifth-sixth.

G2 v. SPY

Splyce will face G2 in the semifinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 awaits Splyce in Europe’s first semifinals match. The Samurai hold a slight advantage in this match-up, considering they defeated Splyce in a tiebreaker two weeks ago to secure second place. Both teams ended the regular season 11-7, with G2 winning in week three and Splyce winning in week seven.

In their first best-of-one, G2 gained a slight lead in laning phase. Most of the game held a 2-2 kill score, with both teams focusing on trading turrets and vision. Around 36 minutes G2 secured a 50/50 Elder Drake, which allowed them to win the fight and blow the game open.

When they met in the seventh week of LCS, Splyce took decisive control of the early game. Nisqy’s Galio paired nicely with Xerxe’s Ivern to wander around the map catching G2 out. Splyce also took the first turret and dragon by 11 minutes. The open map made it even more difficult for G2 to wander out of vision, and Splyce took over. Their Rakan-Galio engage combined with the buffed Baron-Banner-Ivern bush minion to mow down all of G2’s base without much resistance. Splyce almost perfect-gamed G2, who only ended with one kill and one turret.

Their tiebreaker match began with Splyce taking early control, yet again. Xerxe pulled off successful ganks in top lane and bottom lane, but a couple of uncoordinated plays in the top river cost Splyce several kills, two more turrets, and, ultimately, a 21 minute Baron. With G2 fully unlocked, they gained a 12,000 gold lead and bled Splyce out for second place.

Expect both of these teams to play standard League of Legends for the first 20 minutes. G2 and Splyce will politely lane against one another with the occasional gank from Xerxe or Jankos. They will group and rotate to contest turrets and dragons, but will otherwise avoid one another. Baron and Elder Drake will be game-breaking for these two, because once one of them secures the major neutral objective, they kick the game into overdrive and push their advantages hard.

G2’s individual members should be able to gain laning phase leads, if left to their own devices. Xerxe has been fairly successful with early game ganking in top and bottom lane, though. Over the course of a best-of-five, both of these teams should hold up. Splyce seem most likely to adapt their draft between each game, and prepare surprise strategies that could net them wins. This series should go to five games, unless Splyce or G2 heavily over-performs.

FNC v. VIT

Vitality will face Fnatic in the semifinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Vitality will challenge first seed Fnatic in the second semifinals series this weekend. Fnatic are favorites in this match-up, as they only lost four games all split. Vitality finished the season 10-8, but the back half of their spring was much less convincing than the front half. These two went 1-1 against each other over the regular season, with Vitality winning first in week two and Fnatic getting revenge in week seven.

Jiizuke’s Ryze was the star of the show in Vitality’s win over Fnatic. Gilius basically camped mid to put Caps’ Azir far behind. In response, Fnatic rotated top several times to shut down Cabochard’s Lucian. However, Jiizuke persistently pressured the side lanes with Ryze, frequently winning versus multiple opponents. Vitality ultimately feigned an Elder Drake take, but instead backdoored Fnatic’s nexus to end.

In their rematch, Vitality attempted a similar strategy, earning two kills for Jiizuke’s Azir by camping Caps’ Corki in mid lane. This pressure spilled over into bottom and top lane, as Vitality had a 4,000 gold lead by 15 minutes. Fnatic held it together long enough to sneak Broxah’s Kha’Zix into the Baron pit and steal it from Vitality. The steal brought Fnatic right back into the game, and allowed Rekkles’ Tristana and Caps’ Corki to lay siege. They pushed all the way to Vitality’s nexus turrets, then back off. Vitality responded with several picks and an Elder Drake, which they used to break open Fnatic’s base. Caps and SoaZ tried to teleport and backdoor, but Cabochard and Minitroupax stopped them. Vitality attempted to take Elder Drake, but Broxah stole that, too. The buff pushed Fnatic over the top to almost aced Vitality and end the game.

Vitality may have some weaknesses in their draft, if they try to utilize the same “camp mid” strategy every game. Rekkles has shown multiple times that he can remain self-sufficient playing into losing match-ups. Fnatic could easily force Vitality to pick Jiizuke’s mid lane champion first, and save the counter for Caps. They could also remove Gilius’ safest champions, Sejuani and Zac, and force him to play Trundle or Olaf. He would have less crowd control for mid lane that way, and less agency to gank early. Fnatic also have much more experience as a team in longer high pressure series, and should be able to adapt.

On the other hand, Fnatic will not start SoaZ this weekend. He is out with an injury, which means Bwipo will step in as their starting top laner. Putting a rookie in such a position could slightly compromise Fnatic’s chances. However, in their two games with Bwipo so far, Fnatic seemed just as dominant. They should be able to take this series quickly and efficiently, but Vitality will probably take a win in the first two games. Vitality’s unbridled playstyle should yield some exciting games, but if any team can stamp out their sparks before they burn everything down, it is Fnatic.

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An interview with Bwipo – Part 1

I sat down with Fnatic member and rising star Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau to discuss League of Legends and his recent games on the LCS Stage. Joining the team a few months ago as a substitute, his consistent play and desire to improve earned him two starts in the last two weeks. Don’t miss Part 2 later this week as he talks about his path from a kid playing World of Warcraft to being on stage for the top team in the EU LCS.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and answer some questions!

“Of course, no problem. What would you like to know?”

You recently started two games for Fnatic. What was your most memorable moment from your first experience on the LCS stage?

“Everything about being on stage was memorable, the entire experience – the Fnatic experience I’ll call it – was memorable, because just the way the team plays feels really nice; I feel confident. The most memorable for me is when we went into Game 1 and I saw the draft, I knew we were going to win. I was confident, and that basically killed all my nerves. After seeing that draft, I was like “Yup, we’re going to win this game guys.” I knew that I would be able to prove to people that I am good at this game, and I knew that my teammates were going to have my back.”

Bwipo

Courtesy of LoL Esports

What part of your game did you want to focus on most?

“Consistency, by miles. I think I have very high highs, and that’s also visible in the scrims I’m playing. At the moment I think I am performing well, and that’s why I even got any stage time.  When I signed on, there was no intention – at all – to give me any stage games. A grand total of zero.”

You mentioned on Twitter that you got to play in Week 9 thanks to sOAZ, even thought you weren’t scheduled to. How did that happen?

“The first game I played, it was decided two weeks ahead of time, so even if we went 0-2 the week before, we would still play me. To avoid the feeling of sOAZ getting benched, we made sure that we agreed that this was going to happen. It was to make sure that there were no hard feelings about me playing. Then, in Week 9, the coaches went up to sOAZ and said “Look, if you want to play the last two games, that’s fine, that’s what is on the menu, but if Bwipo can play one of the two games, I think it would be good to give him extra experience going into playoffs in case anything goes wrong.” And sOAZ was like “Yeah, I think it will be good if he can play, I think it will be good for him.” So that’s what ended up happening.”

How has playing with Fnatic helped you improve as a player?

Bwipo

Courtesy of Lol Esports

“Fnatic is one of the strongest line ups, everyone on this line up is really insane. I think individually we have the top 2 at the very least on every role.  I make sure that I’m taking the feedback from what the coaches tell me, the feedback that the players are giving me. It’s often indirectly. I have to pick up on the visible cues I get from them.  If the team is winning by playing through the top lane often, and my team is OK with playing through the top lane, then it makes sense for me to make more calls to play through top.”

What is it like learning from a veteran like sOAZ?

“It’s difficult for me to say what I’m specifically learning from sOAZ, because I’m actively trying to do the opposite of what he’s doing, so that I’m actually a merit to the team. Because at the end of the day, if I’m just basically Mini sOAZ, or sOAZ Version 2, then I’m sOAZ Version 2, and he’s just better than me at what he’s doing. So why would I be sOAZ Version 2 instead of being my own player?  So that’s why when people say “am I learning from him?” Absolutely. But I’m also, in a way, making sure that I’m not “him.” I’m basically taking the good elements, or what I think suits my play style from him, and adapting it to what I think works for me.”

“So the biggest thing I learn from him is the creativity I think. Creativity is a big part – the thing where sOAZ is in every bush, ya know? – mind games like that pay off. They can really give you a very big advantage that shouldn’t exist, but it exists. It’s the small things, creating advantages out of nothing that is really a big part of his game play. For example, that Sion game I played on stage – I played far up. I knew he would beat me in a trade if I contested him, but I played up front in the lane anyway. I got the push when in this match up I shouldn’t get even get the push against Shen. If you watched Ssumday versus Impact, Impact was really crushing Ssumday in this match up, and that’s how the match up should be going, and that’s why they picked it also. But if you just apply the mental pressure of “I have Taliyah and you have Kassadin, and if you trade with me, my teammates are going to come and kill you,” they don’t even attempt to trade.”

Who is the champion you most enjoy playing, regardless of the current meta?

“I think it really depends on my mood. I have a few champions that I circulate depending on how I’m feeling.  If you asked me six months ago, I would have said Jayce, no question. Now, I’m not sure if it’s Gangplank, or maybe Darius, but I think Jayce and Gangplank are the safest bets. I like to play whoever is stronger because I like winning.”

How did you become a Top Lane player?

“I started playing in the Top Lane because of the champions that are played there. I didn’t main top because I wanted to play top, but because I wanted to play Gangplank, I wanted to play Darius, I wanted to play Hecarim. At the time those were the Top Lane meta champions, so I was like “Well, I guess I’m playing top lane.”  

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Who is your current solo queue ban and why?

“I’ve always hated Fiora, I’ve genuinely never enjoyed playing against that champion. I am currently must-banning Kha’ZIx because I don’t enjoy the idea of the enemy Jungler being invisible for so long. He could be behind me and I would have no idea and I don’t like that. He could lane Gank you and you wouldn’t know until he jumped on you. I don’t look forward to that when I press play on the client.”

What do you enjoy doing other than playing League?

“Well the cliche answer is to watch League, but I enjoy other games as well.  Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. I’m not too big a fan of just watching things, like watching movies or T.V. series isn’t something I do very often. Actually, we’re playing a board game at the Fnatic house very often that I really enjoy. It’s called Werewolves, I don’t know if you know it? It’s like Mafia, but instead of the Mafia that you have to find and kill, its werewolves, or aliens, or vampires. There are several variants that we’re mixing around. We play that together as a team for extra team bonding, and its just a good time. We’re all enjoying playing that a lot.”

Is there anything you would like people to know about you that I haven’t asked about?

“I just want to make sure that people know that I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play for Fnatic. If you look at social media, I’m getting recognition from all the Fnatic players, and that’s a wonderful thing. Hylissang did an interview and said that Fnatic should keep me from other teams, and that’s a huge confidence boost. The fact that the team is really investing in me. I really try to invest myself in the team, and now I feel like its coming back, and the effort has paid off, so I really want to thank the entire team, the coaching staff, and everybody involved with the League of Legends team for Fnatic. The organization, and everything entirely – I want to give them a big thanks for giving me the room to grow.

It’s magical, you know? I’m sitting in the same place as names like Rekkles and sOAZ, and these players are giving me validation. They’re like “this guy is good” and I’m like, who am I? I’m this rookie guy, and they’re these proven veterans that have gone to worlds year after year, and pulled results there. They’re really fucking good. Same with Hylissang, and Broxah, and Caps. It’s really incredible. I want to make sure that people know that, that I’m grateful for that, because, holy moly.”

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of Fnatic