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.”

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Fnatic vs G2

The fight for first

The rivalry

Though it seems that everyone gave it their best shot, it was hard to over-hype the game between G2 Esports and Fnatic. Coming into Week 6, the two teams were tied for first in the EU LCS, each with a record of 7-3. Fnatic had won their last five games in a row, and G2 had won their last six. Fnatic ADC Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and G2 Mid Laner Luka “Perkz” Perković each had a league-leading 46 kills. In the history of the league there have been 10 Splits. Fnatic has finished first in the league five times, and G2 four. All eyes were on these two as they took to the rift this week, and they did not disappoint.

Before the game, most predictions were leaning at least slightly towards G2. They have dominated the league for the past two years, and many who bet against them have regretted it. Still, Fnatic is never to be counted out, and after the draft their supporters were confident. The teams chose similar compositions, with tanks in the Jungle, several scaling Carries, and lots of wave clearing ability.

G2 was able to secure Ganglplank and Sejuani, two of the most contested champions this season. Fnatic countered by selecting Vladamir for a safe Top Lane matchup, and putting Rekkles on Sivir, a champion he has looked dominant on in the past. The primary focus was expected to be on the Mid Lane, where Perkz was to go head to head with Rasmus “Caps” Winther. “I think the Mid Lane is going to decide this one.” Fnatic Jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen said in a pre-game clip, elaborating on his prediction that he and G2 Jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski would be spending most of their time making sure their own Mid Laner was ahead.

Wunder G2

Courtesy of LoL Esports

First blood

Once on the rift, however, the first opportunity for action came in the Bot Lane. After taking the scuttle crab, Broxah (Skarner) slipped through the enemy Jungle and appeared behind Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss (Varus) and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in (Alistar). Simultaneously, Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Braum) flashed forward and used Winter’s Bite to slow Hjarnan and begin stacking Concussive Blows. Rekkles was able to follow up with auto attacks, stunning the enemy ADC and allowing Broxah to close the gap and land his own Crowd Control. After the three Fnatic members eliminated Hjarnan, they turned their attention to Wadid, once again stacking stuns and making escape impossible. Perkz (Ryze) began channeling a Teleport to assist, but cancelled it when he saw the hopelessness of the fight.

Another flurry of activity occurred only a few minutes later. Jankos (Sejuani) ganked the Top Lane to help Martin “Wunder” Hansen (Gangplank) secure a kill on Paul “sOAZ” Boyer (Vladamir). Seeing the enemy Jungler in the Top Lane, Fnatic responded with a four-man Tower Dive in the Bot Lane. Caps (Viktor) was able to kill Hjarnan, but Hylissang took too many Tower Shots, and gave up a kill to the enemy support.

For the next 15 minutes, the teams battled back and forth. Fnatic took the first two Dragons and picked up a tower and another kill. They mostly focused on playing safe, scaling, and keeping vision control. However, G2 was able to use their precise Macro play to lock down the Rift herald, two Dragons, three Towers (including First Tower), and two more kills. This objective-focused play slowly earned them a Gold Lead of almost 6k at 32 minutes, which they used to take the first Baron. Fnatic hunkered down even more, clearing waves until the Baron Buff was gone.

 

Turning the tides

Fnatic’s patience paid off, and eventually G2 ended up making a fatal mistake. At 36 minutes, G2 had used their Baron Buff to nearly double their gold lead to over 10k. They were inching ahead every second, but still had not been able to break their enemy. And then something happened. While posturing for vision around Elder Dragon, Perkz and Jankos found themselves alone behind Fnatic. As the enemy turned to collapse on them, Perkz calmly used Realm Warp to take them back to their team. As the teleport triggered, however, only Jankos was inside. Perkz had second guessed the safety of the Realm Warp destination as Fnatic moved towards it. In his hesitation, he stepped out of the circle, and instead tried to escape through the jungle. It did not take long for Fnatic to chase Perkz down and take him out.

This is the window Fnatic had been so patiently waiting for. Without wasting any time, they turned their attention to the Elder Dragon, knowing G2 could not contest with only four members. They burned down the Dragon, and took out G2’s other main threat, Wunder, mere seconds later. Making the most of this opportunity, Fnatic pushed down the Mid Lane as a team, and destroyed the first Inhibitor.

After both teams reset and bought new items, they returned to the Mid Lane, where a spontaneous skirmish left all members of both teams alive, but G2 without two important Ultimate abilities in Gangplank’s Cannon Barrage and Varus’ Chains of Corruption. Additionally, the fight had damaged Perkz enough that G2 had to back off. Fnatic used this brief advantage to move to the Baron pit and gain vision control. 

Rekkles Fnatic

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Fnatic seals the deal

G2 interrupted Fnatic’s first attempt to take the Baron, and the brief fight left both Supports dead. Fnatic re-focused on the objective, and were able to secure it just as the enemy closed in. In an incredible explosion of damage, Rekkles deleted both Jankos and Hjarnan. Before G2 knew what was happening, sOAZ showcased his exceptional map awareness. He disengaged, and immediately Teleported to the Minion Wave that was just approaching the enemy Nexus Towers. With the Baron Buff, he was able to take down the two remaining towers just as his team joined him, and though Wunder did his best to clear the minion wave, Fnatic won the game at 41:03.

 

While every victory is important at this stage of such a close split, this one meant just a little bit more. Not only is Fnatic alone at the top of the table, but they are now also 2-0 against G2 this split, which will put them ahead in case of a tie-breaker at the end of the season. Possibly just as important is the reminder that sOAZ, Rekkles, and the rest of Fnatic are still here, and are always coming for the title.

 

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

samsung galaxy

Samsung Galaxy: Kingslayers

Samsung Galaxy (SSG) overthrow the greatest dynasty in League of Legends history. After losing out against SK telecom T1 (SKT) at the World Championships in 2016, SSG worked all year for their shot at revenge. SSG’s Top 8 performance will go down as one of the most dominant runs in League history. Closing with a 9-1 record, Samsung Galaxy defeated the world’s top LoL teams and stamped their names in history. Despite this dominating performance, the climb to a world title was not easy.

Road to Redemption

samsung galaxy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

In the early years of LCK, Chanyong “Ambition” Kang was regarded as one of the world’s top mid-laners. Enter Sanghyeok “Faker” Lee, SKT’s mid-lane prodigy who, in his debut performance, dominated Ambition‘s former team, CJ Blaze. In 2016, Ambition became the jungler for Samsung Galaxy and met Faker again, this time for the world title. At the World Finals 2016, Samsung Galaxy took SK telecom to a grueling five game series. SKT edged out a victory to secure back-to-back world titles. 2017 would be a redemption chapter for Samsung Galaxy. The main roster stayed together, determined to grow and claim the glory that narrowly slipped through their fingers.

At Worlds 2017, Samsung Galaxy drew into Group C alongside Royal Never Give Up (RNG), G2 Esports (G2) and 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor (FB). Samsung was a huge threat in what many regarded as this year’s “group of death.” Their immaculate control style paired well against G2 and FB, who looked largely outclassed by the Korean representative. But the group stage did not go as smoothly as Samsung would have hoped. A near loss against 1907 Fenerbahçe along with two defeats against China’s RNG, left Samsung as the second seed of Group C.

The road would not get easier. In quarterfinals, SSG paired against tournament favorites, Longzhu Gaming (LZ). Longzhu’s aggressive early game playstyle looked like a perfect match to overpower Samsung’s defensive, late-game team. With the odds against them, Samsung Galaxy delivered the biggest upset of Worlds. After sweeping LZ 3-0, Samsung advanced to meet China’s dark-horse Team WE (WE). Coming into semifinals, buzz around this Samsung team rose. Suddenly, fans remembered that SSG were last year’s world finalists. With momentum on their side, Samsung Galaxy outclassed WE in a convincing 3-1 victory.

Walking the Knife’s Edge

samsung galaxy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

On the other side of the finals bracket, defending champions SK telecom edged out two Top 8 matches against Misfits Gaming (MSF) and Royal Never Give Up (RNG). However this year, the most dominant organization in League history looked shaky coming into Worlds. A loss against Longzhu Gaming in the LCK finals highlighted SKT’s rough summer split. After unexpectedly dropping a game against ahq e-Sports Club (AHQ) in the group stage, criticism surrounding starting jungler Wangho “Peanut” Han and AD-carry Junsik “Bang” Bae clouded the SKT narrative.

In their quarterfinal match against Misfits Gaming, SK telecom stood at the edge of defeat. Down 1-2 in the series, fans prepared for the largest upset of League history. Teetering on the knife’s edge, SKT’s legendary mid-laner Faker stretched his shoulders and carried his team to the promised land. After this narrow victory, SKT stood before Royal Never Give Up in the semifinals.

With RNG’s veteran AD-carry Zihao “Uzi” Jian leading his team, SK telecom geared up for one of their hardest matches of Worlds 2017. With the Shanghai crowd surging for their home team, Royal took the series lead against SKT 2-1. Once again, SK telecom stood at the mouth of the abyss. A single loss would be the end of the SKT dynasty. SK telecom clawed their way to victory in Game 4 of the semifinals to take the series to its final match. One elimination game away from their rightful spot at the finals, SKT zeroed in on their win conditions. Despite the criticism surrounding his play, it was SKT’s Peanut who found a clutch pick to snowball his team to the World Finals. Once again SKT walked on the knife’s edge. Once again, they prevailed.

Samsung Galaxy the conquerors

samsung galaxy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

After their loss in the previous year, Samsung Galaxy had a shot at revenge. In Game 1 against SKT, Samsung Galaxy doubled-down on their top-laner Sungjin “CuVee” Lee. Samsung recognized SKT’s tendency to play around carries and split-pushers for their top-laner Seonghoon “Huni” Heo. SSG locked in AD “Kennen,” a pick that would have CuVee outplay Huni with his own style. CuVee delivered, amassing a 20 CS lead at ten minutes, giving Huni little space to find teamfight initiations. Samsung dominated the vision and objective game to crush SKT in the series opener.

In Game 2, SK telecom struck back. Early proactive plays from Faker‘s “Ryze” gave SKT a sizable lead in the mid-game. But, at 18:47, SKT Bang made a crucial mistake. Flashing into the dragon pit to land a “Chain of Corruption” on Ambition left Bang open to a re-engage from three Samsung members. SKT lost the ensuing teamfight and several fights after. Bang‘s misplay opened a snowball that Samsung used to roll over SKT in Game 2.

Faced with yet another elimination in Game 3, again SKT stood on the knife’s edge. With their backs against the wall, SKT found success in early pressure coming from their substitute jungler Sungu “Blank” Kang. Early proactive plays opened a 7.0k gold lead for SKT at 25 minutes. However, Samsung Galaxy never gave SKT enough room to severely punish these advantages. Samsung took favorable trades when possible and stretched the game out. Finally, at 39:18, SSG’s AD-carry Jaehyeok “Ruler” Park seized his chance for victory. Ruler used “Flash” and “Chain of Corruption” to root Faker and Bang, earning two picks onto SKT’s main carries. Samsung pushed this man advantage to close out a dominating 3-0 sweep to win the World Championship.

The dynasty was over. Samsung Galaxy ascended the throne as the 2017 World Champions. They triumphed over both Longzhu and SK telecom, a feat that few thought was possible. The road was long for Samsung Galaxy, but the prize was all the sweeter for it.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

League play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series came to an end last weekend for North America and Europe. With that, it’s time to look at predictions for the upcoming promotion/relegation tournament as well as playoff predictions. Here are the RLCS standings for NA and EU after league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 6-1
  2. G2 Esports 6-1
  3. Ghost 5-2
  4. NRG Esports 4-3
  5. Rogue 3-4
  6. FlyQuest 2-5
  7. Allegiance 1-6
  8. Renegades 1-6

 EU

  1. Method 6-1
  2. PSG eSports 6-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 5-2
  4. Mockit eSports 4-3
  5. exceL 3-4
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 2-5
  7. Team Envy 2-5
  8. Team Secret 0-7
playoff predictions

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Seeds seven and eight for both NA and EU are no longer competing in season four. They are currently in the midst of fighting for the last two seeds moving into season five. The round-robin promotion/relegation tournament is underway. The top two teams from the RLRS in both regions are also competing in said tournament. Those teams include Fibeon and Out of Style for NA, along with Fnatic and The Juicy Kids for EU.

I’ll give you my predictions for the promotion/relegation tournament results before we move onto the rest of season four. In the end, for NA, I’m expecting to see Fibeon and Renegades in season five of the RLCS, with Out of Style remaining in the RLRS and Allegiance moving down to join them. As for EU, I expect to see Fnatic promoted to the RLCS alongside Team Envy retaining their spot, while The Juicy Kids remain where they are and Team Secret is relegated back.

These are certainly the safer predictions when it comes to the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, they’re safe for a reason. I’ll throw all of you Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin fans a bone and say Out of Style has the potential to come out on top over Renegades, relegating them back to the RLRS.

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

The fight for top four in NA was a close one all season. With top two still up for grabs at the start of week five, each of the top four teams had a viable shot at clinching one of those spots. As we now know, Cloud9 and G2 are the teams that managed to pull it off. Cloud9 was no surprise, considering the incredible season they had. I admit, I wasn’t expecting G2 to clinch that other spot.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

We’re guaranteed to see Cloud9 and G2 at the world finals this year, but who will the other two NA teams be? Here’s what we’ll see in round one of the NA playoffs: NRG versus Rogue and Ghost versus FlyQuest.

These are certain to be close matches. That being said, my NA playoff predictions are NRG over Rogue and Ghost over FlyQuest. I’m picking NRG over Rogue simply because of the team chemistry here. NRG won the last three NA regional championships and I’m looking to see them pick up number four.

As for Ghost over FlyQuest, the decision is a bit more difficult. FlyQuest looked strong all season, despite ending with a 2-5 record. And let’s not forget Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri made it to every LAN from previous seasons. But, as analyst Michael “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi said on RLCS Overtime, there’s a first time for everything. And this might be the first time Sadjunior doesn’t make it to the world championships. I say that because Ghost has looked phenomenal in season four. Despite going in with the number three seed, they could have easily been a top two team.

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

As we’ve seen all season long, EU is a bit more of an emotional roller coaster for Rocket League fans. Team Envy, formerly Northern Gaming when they won the season three world championships, now sit in the seventh seed. Meaning their season is done. They’re currently fighting for their season five RLCS spot in the promotion/relegation tournament. Gale Force eSports and Flipsid3 Tactics, two other highly anticipated teams at the beginning of season four, are sitting in the number three and six seeds respectively. Needless to say, EU’s had an unexpected season.

That being said, there’s still time for Gale Force and Flipsid3 Tactics, as they look forward to playoffs. Here’s round one of the EU playoffs: Mockit eSports versus exceL and Flipsid3 Tactics versus Gale Force esports.

Now just because Flipsid3 and Gale Force are both looking to keep the dream alive doesn’t mean they’ll both get to. There’s only four EU spots at the world finals, meaning only two up for grabs. One of these two teams’ seasons will come to an end after this weekend.

Here are my EU playoff predictions. ExceL over Mockit eSports and Gale Force over Flipsid3 Tactics, and here’s why.

ExceL had a rough season three, under the name Cow Nose. However, in the off season, the squad dropped Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol and replaced him with Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen. They came into season four by securing a spot in qualifiers, and they’ve looked strong ever since.

GFE versus F.3

As for Flipsid3 Tactics and Gale Force eSports, it promises to be nail biter. All six of the players that make up these two starting rosters are veterans of not only the RLCS, but the world championship stage. They’ll all surely be eager to make it back to that stage as well. Flipsid3 Tactics, time and time again, have come up through one loser’s bracket or another to turn their position in a tournament around. They are essentially in that same position now, securing the sixth and final playoff seed. However, I have to give this one to Gale Force.

This Gale Force eSports squad formed after season two. Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre left Mockit eSports after winning the season three regional championships. Had he stayed with Mockit and one other member of that roster from season three, he would have been guaranteed a spot in this season of the RLCS. Despite that, he left to join Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs on Gale Force. Their third, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, has a similar story.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

Since then, they’ve been a force to reckon with. Although they had somewhat of a second place curse during the off season, until the NBC Universal Open, they were still coming in at least second consistently. Now they’re looking for yet another first place win in a LAN environment.

So, there you have it, here are the eight NA and EU teams I expect to see in the world championships:

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



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top two

RLCS: Fighting for top two

This weekend we move into the fifth and final week of North American and European league play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. As we look ahead, the fight to secure a top two spot is a tight one, especially in North America.

The top six teams in NA and EU RLCS, at the end of league play, qualify for playoffs. Not only that, the top six secure their spot in season five of the RLCS. More importantly, they avoid the stress of facing off in the promotion/relegation tournament to try to remain in the upper division. Most teams are looking to secure a top six spot at this point, but there are a select few still aiming for a higher goal: clinching a top two spot.

As always, before we take a look at what we might see, here’s where the standings are now.

Standings

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. Ghost 4-1
  3. G2 Esports 4-1
  4. NRG Esports 4-2
  5. Rogue 3-3
  6. FlyQuest 2-4
  7. Renegades 1-5
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. PSG eSports 6-0
  2. Method 5-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 4-2
  4. exceL 3-2
  5. Mockit eSports 2-3
  6. Team Envy 1-4
  7. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-5
  8. Team Secret 0-5

Top two

top two

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

While it’s not an achievable goal for some teams at this point, teams at the top of their leaderboards are still aiming for a top two spot. While top six guarantees your spot in playoffs and season five of the RLCS, top two guarantees a trip to the season four world championships.

PSG eSports currently holds the record for the most wins during league play of the RLCS. If they win their match in week five, against Team Envy, they will be the only team to go undefeated in RLCS league play history. Not only that, PSG eSports is the only team to already clinch a top two league play spot.

Although PSG eSports is guaranteed a shot at the world championships, they’re still looking to secure that number one seed moving into the world championships. So, don’t expect this squad to slow down during playoffs.

EU top two teams

Since we already know that PSG eSports has nailed down their top two spot, let’s take a look at the other contenders for EU top two, beginning, of course, with Method.

Method is the most likely team in EU to snag up the other top two position. Sitting at 5-1, their only loss currently is to PSG eSports.

top two

Image courtesy of @Methodgg Twitter account

Heading into week four, Method and PSG eSports were both 4-0. Method won their first match of week four against Mockit eSports, putting them at 5-0 before their match against PSG eSports. They set the record for most wins in league play of the RLCS. However, it was short lived, as the very same day PSG beat Method and exceL to go 6-0 and take that record away.

While Method has been on fire all season, there are two other contenders: Gale Force eSports and exceL.

Gale Force sat at number five in the EU standings heading into week four. They took down Flipsid3 Tactics and Mockit eSports, both in five games, bumping them up to number three in the standings. Gale Force eSports is looking to beat Team Envy, as well as for exceL to beat Method and lose to Mockit eSports, in order to clinch a number two spot.

ExceL, on the other hand, is looking to beat Method and Mockit eSports, with Gale Force eSports losing to Team Envy, in order to clinch the number two spot for themselves.

NA top two teams

top two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

The race for top two in NA is much closer than in EU, particularly because no team has clinched one of those spots yet. Right now, Cloud9, Ghost and G2 Esports sit in the top three, respectively. They all have four wins and one loss. Their positioning in the top three, since they are tied in matches, is determined by game win percentage. Along with these three, NRG sits at number four with four wins and two losses.

There are a number of different scenarios for how the fight for top two will play out in week five. Mostly because Ghost faces off against G2 Esports and Cloud9 faces off against NRG. That being said, don’t be surprised when the top two spots come down to a tie breaker, determined by each teams win percentage.

Predictions

Below are my predictions for who will clinch the remaining three top two spots after league play this weekend.

top two

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

For EU, I have to give this one to Method. As mentioned above, they’ve been on fire all season. With only one loss to the currently undefeated PSG eSports, they have what it takes to come out on top over exceL this weekend.

NA is a bit trickier. Here’s what I’d like to see happen: Rogue beats Ghost, G2 beats Allegiance, Ghost beats G2, Cloud9 beats Renegades and NRG beats Cloud9. If I’m doing my math right, this scenario puts the current top four teams all at 5-2, leaving top two entirely up to the game-win percentage.

Now, here’s what the realistic side of me predicts for NA top two: Cloud9 and Ghost.

We will have our answers this weekend in the final week of league play for season four of the RLCS.


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playoffs

RLCS: looking ahead to playoffs

The Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series are past the half-way mark for season four league play. It’s time for a peek at what playoffs may hold in store, as we move into the last two weeks of North American and European league play.

Standings

First and foremost, here are the current standings after week three of league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. NRG Esports 3-1
  3. G2 Esports 2-1 (7-5 games)
  4. Ghost 2-1 (6-6 games)
  5. FlyQuest 2-2 (8-8 games)
  6. Rogue 2-2 (8-8 games)
  7. Renegades 1-3
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. Method 4-0 (12-5 games)
  2. PSG eSports 4-0 (12-5 games)
  3. exceL 2-1 (7-3 games)
  4. Mockit eSports 2-1 (8-5 games)
  5. Gale Force eSports 2-2
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-3
  7. Team Envy 1-4
  8. Team Secret 0-5

As I predicted at the beginning of the season, Allegiance and Team Secret, then Emotion and Aeriality, have all but solidified their spots in the bottom two of the RLCS. Both sit at 0-5 with two matches remaining. These teams have their bye weeks coming up in week four and will return for their final matches of league play in week five.

While there is a chance each of these teams can clinch number six and move on to playoffs instead of their promotion/relegation tournaments, it’s not looking promising.

Playoffs Clinched

Three teams, across NA and EU, have already clinched their top six spot, guaranteeing a shot at playoffs as well as auto-qualification for season five of the RLCS. These teams are Cloud9, Method and PSG eSports.

Cloud9

playoffs

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net.

Cloud9 was perhaps the most highly anticipated newcomers to the RLCS this season. The Cloud9 roster consists of Jesus “Gimmick” Parra, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda and Kyle “Torment” Storer, and of these three players, Torment is the only one to compete in a previous season of the RLCS.

Despite a lack of prior RLCS experience, Gimmick and, especially, Squishy, came riding into season four on a hype train. Squishy’s been prominent in the community for quite some time through streaming, known for his next-level mechanical skill. That being said, it was at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 that this roster really made a name for themselves.

Playing under the name The Muffin Men, these three showed up to DreamHack Atlanta to take on some of NA and EU’s biggest name teams. They took first place and were quickly picked up by Cloud9. At DreamHack Atlanta and since, Gimmick continues to build the hype around his name, showing the world that he’s ready to take on the top Rocket League players just as much, if not more, than Squishy and Torment.

Method and PSG eSports

Both Method and PSG eSports sit undefeated at the top of the EU leaderboard. With only three games left to play, these two tames have already guaranteed their top six position.

playoffs

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Many expected both Method and PSG to do relatively well, even considering the stiff competition in EU. They’ve managed to continue to perform above expectations.

Method is the only EU squad from season three of the RLCS to retain their entire starting roster. They’re showing everyone just how deadly that long-term team chemistry can be. PSG, on the other hand, is showing everyone just how deadly an untried roster can be.

Despite their 4-0 standings right now, these teams will finally meet up in week four, guaranteeing an end to at least one of their undefeated seasons. All things considered though, it’s looking more and more promising that these two teams will come out of league play with the number one and two seeds. It’s tough to predict, but I’m expecting to see PSG come out in the number one seed.

Promotion/Relegation

When Psyonix announced the Rocket League Rival Series, they also announced a Promotion/Relegation tournament which will take place the weekend after league play finish. The bottom two teams from each region of the RLCS will play a round-robin style tournament with the top two teams from the RLRS in their respective regions.

To no surprise, as mentioned above, the current bottom teams in NA and EU are Allegiance and Team Secret respectively. Both sitting at 0-5, it’s difficult to imagine either clinching a top six spot at this point. However, the real interest is around who will wind up in seventh for each region. Right now, that’s Renegades for NA and Team EnVy for EU.

Renegades

Although it’s somewhat surprising to see Renegades out of the top six currently, they were never expected to be a top two, or perhaps even top four, team. That being said, they aren’t in deep water just yet.

Renegades, 1-3, sit just behind Rogue, 2-2, on the NA leaderboard. These two teams will come together for a match in week four. On top of playing each other, Renegades are set to play Ghost and Rogue are set to play G2 Esports. If Renegades are able to secure a win against Rogue and Ghost, and Rogue falls to G2, then Renegades could easily move up to that number six spot. This isn’t an unlikely scenario, but Rogue certainly has other plans.

The current number seven seed across the pond faces some tougher odds than the Renegades.

Team EnVy

Team EnVy is the reigning world champion from season three, the roster playing then for Northern Gaming. One of their starters, Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, was unable to attend the world championships and was then on vacation for much of the off season. As a result, Team EnVy dropped Maestro and picked up Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, whom they’d spent much of the off season playing with.

playoffs

Image courtesy of @TeamEnVyUs Twitter account.

There were certainly doubts when the iconic Maestro and Remco “Remkoe” den Boer duo split up. That being said, there was also a lot of anticipation for the addition of gReazymeister, as Remkoe, Maestro and gReazy made up the starting Northern Gaming squad in season one of the RLCS.

However, those doubts and concerns are winning out over the anticipation. Team EnVy sits at 1-4. Although they aren’t currently too far behind Flipsid3 Tactics, who sit at 1-3, Team Envy is the one win that Flipsid3 has so far.

Considering Remkoe’s Twitter responses to their losses after week two, I imagine this squad won’t stick together if they’re relegated to the RLRS. Even they do come out on top of Relegation/Promotion tournament, I still expect to see a roster change, since teams are only required to maintain two-thirds of their starting roster to retain auto-qualification.

Be sure to keep checking back for more info on playoffs and the world championships as season four of the RLCS and RLRS draws closer to the end of league play.


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 Ryan McElroy.

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week two

RLCS/RLRS week two recap: Europe

Season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series are heading into week three. After week two, here are the standings, upsets and what to look out for moving forward.

If you missed it, take a look at the week two recap for North America.

Standings

 RLCS

  • Method 4-0
  • Frontline 2-0
  • Gale Force eSports 2-2
  • Flipsid3 Tactics 1-1
  • Team EnVyUs 1-2
  • Mockit eSports 0-1
  • exceL eSports 0-1
  • Team Secret 0-3

 RLRS

  • The Leftovers 3-0
  • The Juicy Kids 3-1
  • ExRay 1-0
  • Inspiration 1-2
  • Endpoint 0-1
  • Supersonic Avengers 0-1
  • Most Wanted Esports 0-1
  • Golden Hawks 0-2

As with NA, EU has some clear leaders in both the RLCS and RLRS after only two weeks. Those leaders in the RLRS, to no surprise, are The Leftovers and The Juicy Kids.

Upsets

The Leftovers’ relegation to the RLRS, after losing to Team Secret (then Aeriality) in the loser’s bracket of the Play-Ins, was unexpected. The Leftovers’ founder, Nicolai “Snaski” Vistessen Andersen, promptly tweeted about showing everyone they don’t belong in the RLRS. Since then, they’ve shown why.

The real surprises after week two, heading into week three, come from the RLCS.

Method

This Method roster has been playing together since season three of the RLCS, playing then for Resonant Esports. The squad consists of Linus “al0t” Möllergren, Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen and Joonas “Mognus” Salo.

week two

Image courtesy of @Methodgg Twitter account.

As Resonant, they came in sixth during League Play of RLCS season three and missed out on the World Championships after losing to Flipsid3 Tactics in the first round of playoffs. Despite missing LANs, the trio stuck together and moved from Resonant to Method.

As seen in throughout the history of the RLCS, trios and duos who stick together for multiple seasons often do better than many teams that formed for the season. Method is not only proving that so far this season, they’re showing that trios sticking together might be stronger than threes team with a long-time duo.

Method was hard at work during the off season, consistently competing in season one of Gfinity’s Elite Series and the European Gfinity Weekly Cups, and it has shown. They were easily accepted as a top six team coming into League Play but are quickly showing everyone that they have the potential to be much more than that.

Frontline

week two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net.

The other surprising team in EU right now is Frontline. While Frontline had a bye week in week two, they still sit at number two in the standings after week one.

Frontline consists of Dan “Bluey” Bluett, Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak and Victor “Ferra” Francal.

Ferra, a former member of The Leftovers during season three, knocked his old squad into the loser’s bracket during Play-Ins, securing their spot in the RLCS this season. After their performance during Play-Ins, many expected them to do well. So far they’re doing great.

In week one, Frontline took down two top-tier teams, Mockit eSports and Gale Force eSports. While Mockit lost their auto-qualification bid from season three, due to losing two-thirds of their starting line-up, they still managed to find their way into the RLCS. The real shock here, though, is the victory over Gale Force eSports.

Gale Force eSports was on fire this off season, despite seemingly having a second-place curse until NBC Universal Open. The star-studded Gale Force squad consists of Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver and Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs. They were considered the favorites to win EU regionals, and perhaps worlds, at the beginning of league play.

Coming off their bye week, Frontline is looking to continue their undefeated streak and match Method’s 4-0 standing. They are set to play Team Secret and Flipsid3 Tactics in week three. Frontline and Method face off in week four.

Moving into week 3

In NA, the two teams with only one series played so far, G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming, find themselves undefeated. That’s not the case in EU. Both Mockit eSports and exceL are 0-1 so far for the season. While they aren’t looking to continue an undefeated season, as with G2 and Ghost, they are looking to turn their seasons around.

Mockit

week two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Mockit consists of Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet, Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth and Philip “paschy90” Paschmeyer.

Mockit has been an ever-present force since the beginning of RLCS, despite constantly changing rosters during off seasons. While they are looking to turn their season around in week three, it certainly won’t be easy. Mockit is scheduled to play Flipsid3 Tactics and EnVyUs, both considered powerhouses of EU. Flipsid3 Tactics were the world champions of season two and EnVyUs, then Northern Gaming, the world champions of season three. The other major powerhouse being Gale Force eSports.

However, as the first two weeks have shown, anything can happen in EU Rocket League. Gale Force, Flipsid3 Tactics and EnVyUs were expected to be top three, in varying orders depending who you ask, coming into season four. However, they currently sit at three, four and five, respectively.

exceL

The exceL squad is my personal EU team to keep an eye on this season. Consisting of Niels “Nielskoek” Kok, Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen and Hampus “Zensuz” Öberg, these players aren’t strangers to the RLCS.

ExceL has a somewhat easier turnaround week coming than Mockit. Although they are playing EnVyUs in their first match of the day, their second match is against Team Secret.

I expect the match against EnVyUs to be much closer than that of the one against Team Secret. Not to put Team Secret down, but it was a shock they made it into the RLCS this season, and they have yet to prove they belong, sitting at 0-3.

No matter what happens, EU has already flipped expectations on their heads. There’s no reason to assume they won’t do it again as the season moves forward.


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week two

RLCS/RLRS week two recap: North America

It’s time to take a look back at week two of season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. From standings and upsets to the drama surrounding the rookie squad Naventic, let’s dive in and find out what’s been happening.

Standings

 

 RLCS

  • Cloud9 3-0
  • NRG Esports 3-1
  • Rogue 2-2
  • G2 Esports 1-0
  • Ghost Gaming 1-0
  • FlyQuest 0-2
  • Renegades 0-2
  • Allegiance 0-3

 RLRS

  • Fibeon 3-0
  • Naventic 2-0
  • Premature Superhero Cops 2-2
  • Radiance 1-0
  • Ambition Esports 0-1
  • Out Of Style 0-1
  • Incognito 0-1
  • Kinematics 0-3

There are some clear leaders in both the RLCS and RLRS at the moment. There’s still plenty of time for some of the lower ranked teams to make their way back, though. G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming, in the RLCS, have only played one series so far. The same goes for Radiance, Ambition Esports, Out Of Style and Incognito in the RLRS.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming

week two

Image courtesy of @G2esports Twitter account.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming are looking for a strong presence in the coming weeks of the RLCS. Since they’ve each only played one series, their opportunities to rise in the standings are still in front of them. However, they have some major hurdles ahead.

Coming up in week three, both G2 and Ghost are playing the only other undefeated team in NA RLCS, Cloud9. This means at least two of these three teams will no longer be undefeated after week three.

Both teams have a tough week ahead, playing the favorite, for many, to win the NA regional championships. On the other hand, they are also both playing teams that have yet to secure a win this season. All things considered though, I would say G2 has the tougher week three.

The other teams G2 and the Ghost are playing in week three are FlyQuest and Allegiance, respectively.

Flyquest

FlyQuest, despite sitting at 0-2, is a strong team consisting of some of the world’s best players. The lineup consists of Robert “Chrome” Gomez, Gabriel “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri, all of which are RLCS veterans. FlyQuest lost their first series of the season by reverse sweep, in week two, to Rogue. They lost their second series, 3-0, to Cloud9. Although they were reverse swept and then swept in their first two match-ups of the season, they were playing two of the top rated teams North America. Allegiance, on the other hand, is not quite as star-studded as the FlyQuest squad.

Allegiance

Allegiance’s roster, formerly Emotion at the beginning of the season, consists of Braxton “Allushin,” Sebastian “Sea-Bass” Becerra and Ty “TyNotTyler” Helewa. Although Allegiance came barreling through the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins, they weren’t expected to make it to the RLCS.

week two

Image courtesy of halo.esportswikis.com

 

They upset Fibeon, a team expected to make it to the RLCS, during Play-Ins, relegating them to the RLRS and securing their own spot in the RLCS. They’ve yet to prove they belong in the RLCS, sitting at 0-3 so far. On top of this, they’ve only found themselves winning two total games throughout these three series.

So, it’s FlyQuest’s experience, coupled with Allegiance’s inexperience and inability to prove themselves so far that leaves G2 with a more difficult week three, in terms of climbing the leaderboard. Although FlyQuest has yet to prove themselves this season as well, each of the FlyQuest squad members proved they belong in the RLCS during previous seasons.

Upsets

As always, the RLCS is full of upsets so far, just take a look back at this article discussing Play-Ins and the beginning of season four. While Europe has been and continues to be the region of upsets, NA saw it’s first huge upset of season four League Play during week two.

In the second series of the day, NRG Esports faced off against Ghost Gaming. NRG won the previous three NA regional championships and continue to remain one of the top teams in the world, let alone in NA. Ghost Gaming took these goliaths down in a four-game series, however. NRG took the first game in the series but found themselves unable to secure any other wins against the Ghost squad.

Although this is Ghost’s only series so far, and NRG’s only loss so far, Ghost is certainly a team to keep an eye on during the rest of the season and potentially the future. This is no surprise, considering this squad formed for season four is full of RLCS veterans.

Naventic

A matter which is currently still in the process of unfolding…

After week two, Naventic sits just behind Fibeon in the standings at 2-0. Fibeon is currently 3-0. That being said, it’s likely viewers won’t be seeing this Naventic squad anymore during season four, or perhaps ever.

The team consists of Tanner “Dooble” Toupin, Adam “Kerupt” Stankovic and Jay “King Wizard” Kidston. As of Wednesday, Psyonix and the official esports coordinators for the RLCS have not made any official statements, but  here’s what we do know from Kerupt and Naventic’s Twitter accounts.

week two

Image courtesy of @Naventic Twitter account.

Naventic announced Tuesday, via Twitter, that “Kerupt, Dooble and KingWizard will no longer be representing #NaventicRL in the #RLRS Season 4 – more information will be released soon.”

With only this information, it may appear that the esports organization is simply dropping the squad. There’s a bit more, however.

Kerupt offered a bit more information on the topic in a tweet on Tuesday. He stated the team “had to either forfeit ro128 or risk using a sub not on the roster… chose the latter and played with atomic.”

Kerupt has since replied to Twitter users saying that a statement should be out soon regarding the situation.

Since the team used an illegal substitute during the Play-Ins, it’s likely they’ll be banned, for at least the rest of the season, for breaking the rules.

This could create an interesting rest of season for the teams in the RLRS. The Naventic squad was sitting undefeated in the number two spot of the standings. The top two teams from NA RLRS will play the bottom two teams from NA RLCS at the end of League Play in a promotion/relegation tournament. Not only that, the teams in third and fourth keep their spot in the RLRS for season five. Naventic potentially getting banned would, essentially, move everyone up a spot in the standings.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for week two recap of EU.


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Worlds Group A

Worlds Group C preview: The Group of Death™, or a song of Fire and Ice

There’s one every year, and this year it’s the fated Group C that has been dubbed by many as the Group of Death™. Honestly, it’s hard to debate this fact. You’ve got the top seed from Europe in G2, the tyrannical kings of Europe whose track record at international tournaments can be shaky but domestically unquestionable. You have the storied Samsung, managing again to upset KT and find themselves back at the World Stage, looking across from what is quietly becoming somewhat of a Worlds Rivalry in Royal Never Give Up. RNG, the golden darlings of the LPL, return once again to Worlds, bringing the ferocity that the LPL is known for in droves.

It’s a spicy group, but more interestingly it’s a clash of identities, between the cold Ice of a mid to late game team and the fire of early game aggression. G2, once known for their aggressive tendencies, have become quite the defensive team as of late, absorbing early game aggression with grace, to come out swinging in the late game to demolish teams. Samsung are of a similar philosophy, as was shown in their series against KT Rolster, the most aggressive early game team in the LCK. Samsung played like a defensive boxer, taking blow after blow, but ultimately doing so only to wear out their over eager opponents to close in for the knockout.

RNG have never had such ideas cross their mind. They’re aggression through and through, bringing the LPL’s almost trademarked style of taking fights wherever they are, whenever they are and however they are. But RNG is even known within this region of brawlers to be exceptionally brawly, and early aggression is one of their fortes. While the Group is most obviously dubbed the Group of Death™, it very well could be just as easily understood as a case study in style. Will the two defensive sides, absorbing blow after blow effectively, come out on top in a late game orchestra of macro play and team fights? Or can the scrappy, fast and furious Chinese squad of RNG bring that fire into the post-group stage? What could the possible addition of, as Joshua “Jatt” Leesman pointed out, the likes of a Cloud 9 thrown into the group do too?

 

G2 Esports: The tyrant kings of Europe

 

Another EU LCS Finals, another G2 win to make the fourpeat a reality. Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.

G2 are one of those teams that just look too damn good domestically. Sure, they’ve stumbled, but a four-peat at claiming the EU LCS title (something they’ve done since qualifying for the league) is something that has to be respected. And yet, commentators are almost always going to remember the G2-8 memes, even if G2 has shown to be much better now internationally at the most recent MSI, making it to the finals after a 3-1 victory over LPL side Team WE. They’re unquestionably the strongest team in Europe, but outside of it they’ve had some troubles.

But that is the past. Too often analysis has to focus on what was, and G2 look to prove that wrong in this group. Lady Luck was not on their side, as they’re facing some of the strongest opponents at the competition. Against Samsung, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen will be tested against the likes of Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk who has been a dominant force in the LCK. Against RNG, Perkz matches up against the Little Tiger in Li “Xiaohu” Yuan Hao . While Europe is renown for its mid lane talent, Xiaohu, the LPL’s Summer Split MVP, has had the split of his life.

But G2 brings the talent where other teams may not. Sure, against RNG they may struggle in the mid lane, but they very well may not. Luka “PerkZ” Perković has had some great showings against the likes of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok (getting a first blood quasi solo kill on God himself counts for something); and while Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen Ming are a great bot lane, the Zven/Mithy combo has been one of the most constant terrors in the bot side Europe has ever produced. G2 has recently overcome its international woes, but even then its group stage hasn’t been nearly as dominant as their Bo5’s. Whether G2 can come in strong in a one game showing will determine whether they can flex that adaptability.

Oddly enough, it’s the Korean top side that has questions for me going into this group. While Liu “mlxg” Shi Yu and Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong, one a snowballing gank bot and the other a defensive jungler, may not be the most formidable. Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and Yan “LetMe” Jun Ze both match up stronger into Ki “Expect” Dae-Han for me. Equally, Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun has not been the strongest point for G2, and is something that can easily be abused if teams want to. Particularly against the likes of RNG this can be worrisome, as an early lead is something the Chinese side will be looking for. However, consistent play from the Korean top half can thwart the game plans of not just RNG’s early game, but Samsung’s mid to late game too.

 

The X Factor: Perkz and Zven/Mithy

The star mid laner Perkz is behind much of G2’s success domestically, but can he show up at Worlds? Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.

League of Legends has always required that laners be as strong as they can be for teams to win, but it’s particularly important in the primary carry position of the mid lane. Group C is no exception, with the star Mid of RNG being a constant threat, but also the ability for Perkz to show up against a slightly weaker Lee “Crown” Min-ho. Winning in lane doesn’t just put Perkz ahead, but also puts the opposing jungler on the back foot, making them decide whether to try and save their ailing mid laner with gank(s), something Perkz has been adept at avoiding, or to try and help other lanes get ahead. But that pressure that Perkz can create on the map will only be a good thing, and the European phenom will need to step up against some of his toughest competition yet.

Zven and Mithy also are key factors for this team’s success, not just because they too occupy a huge carry position, but because they can nullify the strongest parts of both of their opposing teams, in Ruler/Jo “Core JJ” Yong-in and Uzi/Ming. Winning lane, or even being ahead in lane, has important macro advantages too, something that G2 can take advantage of over the more pensive Samsung or the rash RNG. An early lead, or at least a showing of good form, can either set themselves up for the late game, or put a halt to the aggression. Either way, Zven and Mithy need to bring their A game for G2 to stand a chance making it out of groups.

 

Samsung Galaxy: The defensive, pensive boxers of the LCK

 

What was tragedy for the KT Rolster organization and their fans (those poor, poor fans…) is a happy repeat for the Samsung organization, qualifying for the second year through the gauntlet format. The roster, largely unchanged from last years iteration, bring a sense of stability to the LCK representatives this year. And as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Samsung organization is one of the few teams to know the sweet taste of winning at Worlds. Can they make a return to the Finals this time around? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Samsung occupy a unique space within Group C. They’re the Korean team, so a lot of expectations of them advancing from the group exist. But they’re also stylistically very different from the real wildcard of the group in RNG. They also match up in similar style to G2, and ultimately many have them favored as the stronger outfit in that regard.

But a weak mid laner is not the position you want to be lacking in this group, against the likes of Perkz and Xiaohu. The boon of at least a strong bot lane is good, but could very well be nullified again in a group that boasts the likes of Zven/Mithy and Uzi/Ming. Cuvee is notorious in the top lane, and would be a strong point against G2 and probably RNG, but in a tank meta that may not mean as much. Samsung will need to be the better defensive team, but also be able to react and reply in kind to the aggression of RNG to top the group. Even if first place isn’t secured for the Korean team, a second place finish is just as good, and highly likely.

For Samsung it’s about shoring up their weaker flanks and sticking to their own stylistic way of playing the game. A Bo1 format does not agree the most with a team that tends to be more defensive, as it does not allow for the adjustments in between games. But it’s not the biggest hurdle for the team. This is an experienced roster, and while they seem the ‘I’m you but stronger’ version of G2, they also have a strong win condition against the early game style of RNG. If they play their cards right, the top seed of the group is a big possibility, so long as they can prove to be the stronger mid-late game than G2 and be able to rebuke any of RNG’s aggression.

 

The X Factor: Cuvee and Ruler/CoreJJ

Cuvee may the most underrated top laner going into Worlds, with a strong solo performance. Can he show up in the Group of Death for Samsung? Courtesy of leaguepedia.

While not as hyped as Kim “Khan” Dong-ha is, nor say the Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo of Spring Split, Cuvee is still a terror in the top lane for Samsung. He’s a solid player and can make a great advantage for the team in a group that doesn’t boast the most star studded of top laners. A stronger Cuvee can draw pressure away from Crown and Ruler/CoreJJ, allowing the carries to get ahead, or at least make the opposing junglers dance to Samsung’s beat.

Interestingly enough, he leads all top laners currently at Worlds in solo kills (over Khan). That says something, and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong may have to be careful of his meme “top die” being handed over to a new top laner. A top laner, particularly a tanky one, in the late game can be a scary thing, particularly for a team so adept at team fighting. Cuvee’s role may not be the most glamorous, but it’s imperative.

You can’t talk about Samsung without talking about the Ruler/CoreJJ bot lane. Ruler has had an amazing split in the Summer, and while Crown hasn’t looked as strong, Ruler and CoreJJ have stepped up in a lot of ways. With the highest damage percent out of any ADC from the LCK in the Summer, not only is Ruler doing work for his team, he’s going to need to in this group. This is a group with Zven and Uzi, who are both formidable ADCs not just in their laning phases, but in their abilities to continually dish out damage effectively and safely. With a strong side lane pressure, Crown is also opened up to bounce back and create some pressure of his own in the mid lane. Keeping ahead, or at least even, favors Samsung heavily into any of their known match ups.

 

Royal Never Give Up: The Little Tiger and the puppy

While under many names, the Royal Club/Royal Never Give Up organization has been a staple of the LPL region. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

For fans that have been in the scene for awhile, Uzi, and the ‘Royal [insert whatever]’ organization are old names, dating back to the Season 3 Worlds. They’ve bounced back from a relatively irrelevant few years (being dropped down to the LSPL league for a second, before picking up a new roster in the LPL) into a monster in the LPL region, and are one of the few teams to consist of only Chinese players. International fans will recognize Uzi and possibly MLXG, but that shouldn’t distract from the mid lane Xiaohu, or the Little Tiger, who has become much of a talking piece for analysts when discussing RNG. With a 70% First Blood rate in the LPL, the highest in the league, they’re a team that puts their foot on the pedal from the first minute of the game.

RNG play a hard and fast game, with MLXG ganking often for his laners, often sacrificing his own farming abilities to do so, to get them ahead. And that makes sense, when you’ve got the likes of Letme, a carry top laner in his own right, Xiaohu, the MVP of the Summer Split, and the duo of Uzi and Ming. There’s a lot of raw talent on the roster, and MLXG is the tinder to ignite those fires. Or to not. He can be the wild card of the team, and whether he performs at his best or his worst often can be the factor that swings games.

If it’s not Uzi and Ming making plays and getting ahead in the bot lane, then MLXG can look to the mid, particularly against a weaker Crown on Samsung Galaxy, for Xiaohu. Or maybe focusing towards Letme against the likes of Expect might be best. MLXG and RNG enter the group stage like a football team. MLXG, the quarterback, has an array of options and weapons to choose from to get the team ahead. It all matters on making the right choices against the right team at the right time. If they can pull that off and close games off of early leads, RNG look poised to top the group. If they struggle with that, or worse, find themselves behind early, RNG are in a much shakier position.

 

The X Factor: Xiaohu and MLXG

Praised in one stroke for his unique jungling, criticized in the next for questionable decision making, MLXG is a key part to any of RNG’s games, for better or for worse.

The first kind of goes without saying, Xiaohu is the scariest carry currently on the RNG roster, and one of the best mid laners at the tournament. But, more interestingly, him performing well has two meanings in each match up. Against G2, he can nullify one of G2’s greatest weapons in Perkz, who has been a star for the European side. Against Samsung, he can cause so much pressure by taking advantage of a weaker Crown, possibly not just getting himself ahead, but opening up other lanes for MLXG to gank.

There’s a lot of RNG’s hopes being rested on the Little Tiger’s shoulders, but if he can pull it off, RNG look to be a titan in an extremely hard group. A first place in the toughest group in the group stage wouldn’t just be a confidence boost for the whole team, but a statement against future foes to take RNG seriously.

MLXG is the other key factor in RNG’s success, or in their failure. Known for getting his laners ahead, but equally for making some… interesting decisions for a jungler, RNG is going to need him to be as strong as possible. RNG bring a strong set of laners for MLXG to choose from, so he’s not stuck ganking for any particular lane to get a star ahead. Rather, each can stand on their own against their lane opponents, and it’ll be up to the decision making on who to get ahead in each game.

If it’s MLXG at his finest, this will be a scary opponent for G2 and Samsung to face up. If it isn’t, and early game miscalls allow the late game teams to stall out that early stage, it can mean the demise of RNG. Consistency may not be RNG’s strongest suite, but with the explosive gameplay and team-fighting, it may not have to be, and MLXG exemplifies that the strongest.

 

The overall story lines: A clash of styles and laners

 

The biggest feature of this group is the two contrasting ways of playing League of Legends. There’s the slower, methodical, late game focused approach that both G2 and Samsung are fond of. On the other side, you have the intense, in your face fiery style of RNG, looking to fight early and often. The question will be, which style is the stronger one come Worlds? Samsung look poised to deal with RNG’s aggression fairly well, having had to take down KT to find themselves at Worlds. G2, on the other hand, may not be as equipped for the fight-fight-fight style of the LPL. Or, possibly, the meta (noting that no patches will be dropped and applicable for the competitive scene) may shift to favor one style over the other. It’s hard to say, but it’s rare for a group to be so crystallized in a contrast of styles.

The other aspect, and this could be argued of every group some might say, is the clash of laners themselves. The three teams locked in for Group C bring some of the strongest players in each position in the tournament, at least individually. Whether it’s the mid lane battle of Perkz/Xiaohu/Crown, or the bot lane of Zven and Mithy/ Uzi and Ming/ Ruler and CoreJJ, sparks will fly in any of these lanes. Even the top lane is no slouch, with the likes of Cuvee and Letme duking it out, while Expect may bring some unexpected (hah) surprises to the tournament. The more defensive teams need to deflect much of RNG’s aggression, and RNG in turn need to make the aggression ‘stick’ to take an advantage in the group. The laning phase will surely be a sight to behold for Group C.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Courtesy of LoL Esports.

season four

Season four begins

We’re just days away from season four of the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) and inaugural Rocket League Rival Series (RLRS). It’s finally time to take a look at this season’s competitors, with Play-Ins taking place last weekend.

season four

Image courtesy of steamcardexchange.net

Despite upsets already happening, Friday marks the beginning of a long road to the world finals for these players.

Season four will take place over the next six weeks, with Oceania’s league play offset from North America and Europe by a week. Meaning OCE’s fifth week of league play will take place on week six, while NA and EU are in regional championships. Two weeks after this, OCE’s regional championship will take place alongside NA and EU’s promotion/relegation tournament.

Teams

With the addition of the RLRS, there are 40 teams competing in season four. 16 from NA, 16 from EU and eight from OCE. Here’s a look at the season four teams, with substitute players in parenthesis.

NA

RLCS

  • Cloud9: Torment / SquishyMuffinz / Gimmick / (Napp)
  • Emotion: Allushin / Sea-bass / TyNotTyler / (Blaze)
  • Flyquest: CorruptedG / Chrome / Sadjunior / (Pepiope)
  • G2 Esports: Kronovi / Rizzo / Jknaps / (Turtle)
  • Ghost: Klassux / Lethamyr / Zanejackey / (blueze)
  • NRG: Fireburner / Jacob / GarretG / (DudeWithTheNose)
  • Renegades: Dappur / Moses / Timi / (Mijo)
  • Rogue: Matt / Sizz / Insolences / (Red)

 RLRS

  • Ambition Esports: PrimeThunder / Wonder / Air / (sQuillis)
  • Cypher: Dooble / Kerupt / King Wizard / (Akenro)
  • Fibeon: Chicago / Zolhay / Hato / (Raze)
  • Incognito: GoRocksGo / Tuster / JWismont / (Nickymac18)
  • Out of Style: Lachinio / JSTN / EPICJonny
  • Premature Superhero Cops: Gambit / Prem / Genocop / (Donnie)
  • SetToDestroyX: Lemonpuppy / Halcyon / Memory / (Loomin)
  • Wildcard Gaming: Laz / Nomad / Pepper / (Astroh)

EU

 RLCS

  • Aeriality: Continuum / Tylacto / FlamE / (Ertunc)
  • EnVyUs: Remkoe / Deevo / gReazymeister / (Mout)
  • exceL: Nielskoek / Pwndx / Zensuz / (Masterio)
  • Flipsid3 Tactics: Markydooda / Kuxir97 / Miztik / (JHZER)
  • frontline: Ferra / Bluey / Chausette45 / (Yukeo)
  • Gale Force eSports: ViolentPanda / Turbopolsa / Kaydop / (Dogu)
  • Method: al0t / Metsanauris / Mognus / (Sniper)
  • Mockit eSports: paschy90 / Fairy Peak! / FreaKii / (PetricK)

 RLRS

  • BoonkGang: Skyline / Mummisnow / EyeIgnite / (Tizz)
  • eHawkerz: Kontrol / GCR710 / dani_ana
  • Endpoint: Tinny / Cheerio / Shakahron / (Pulsar)
  • Inspiration: Oscillon / Sebadam / Lauty / (Flakes)
  • Soul Gaming: Dadooh / SkieS / ghostfire / (Wolfsonthemoon)
  • Supersonic Avengers: PauliepaulNL / ELMP / Shikuni / (kilEak)
  • The Juicy Kids: Killerno7 / stocki / Frag / (coKaaa)
  • The Leftovers: Snaski / Maestro / Sikii / (Danzhizzle)

OCE

  • Avant Gaming: Cyrix / Ellusive / Siki / (Requiem)
    season four

    Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

  • Chiefs ESC: Torsos / Drippay / Jake / (Enigma)
  • Conspiracy Esports: Hectic / Slurpee / Walcott
  • JAM Gaming: Montyconnor / Express / Shadey / (Bango)
  • Legacy Esports: Soma / Zen / Plitz
  • Noizee Isn’t Toxic: Noizee / Outlast / Zest / (Reggles)
  • Pale Horse Esports: CJCJ / Kamii / Kia
  • Scylla Esports: Dumbo / SnarfSnarf / Addzey

Ultimately, all of these teams are aiming for a chance to take the stage at the world championships. However, the road to the world championships is longer for some of these teams than others. Any team in the RLRS hoping to make it into the world championships will have to wait until season five.

Future seasons

In order for any of the teams in the RLRS to have a shot at the world championships in season five, they’ll have to come in the top two for their region in season four. Even then, they aren’t guaranteed a spot in the RLCS. At the end of season four, the top two teams in each region of the RLRS will take part in a double-elimination, best-of-seven tournament along with the bottom two teams in region of the RLCS. This tournament will determine whether a team drops into the lower RLRS division, rises up into the higher RLCS division, or simply stays in their current division.

The introduction of this promotion/relegation system raises the stakes for these players. They can no longer simply regroup or try a new team after a cold season and make into the RLCS next time around. Any new team hoping to compete in the RLCS must first fight their way to the top of the RLRS.

Upsets

season four

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

Despite league play not beginning until Friday, season four has already seen several upsets. Many expected to see Fibeon Esports get a shot at the RLCS in season four. However, they were relegated to the RLRS after losing 3-0 to Emotion in the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins.

Perhaps the biggest upset so far, though, is the relegation of The Leftovers to the RLRS. After season three, The Leftovers gave Victor “Ferra” Francal the boot, opting to replace him with veteran Nicolai “Maestro” Bang. Ferra created his own team and knocked The Leftovers into the loser’s bracket with a clean sweep.

In the loser’s bracket, The Leftovers were relegated to the RLRS after losing by another clean sweep. This time to Aeriality. Aeriality was, perhaps, expected to make it into the RLRS. However, the clean sweep over the veterans in The Leftovers sent them into RLCS, causing perhaps the biggest upset of season four so far.

What next?

With teams relegated and league play about to begin, the real question is whether or not these upset teams can hold their own against the veteran teams they’ll be up against in the RLCS. Will the upsets continue, or will they find themselves being relegated down to the RLRS for season five?

Team captain of The Leftovers, Nicolai “Snaski” Vistesen Andersen believes his team will be promoted to the RLCS for season five, as he tweeted “Guess we gotta go through RLRS to show everyone that we definitely don’t belong there.” There’s a strong possibility that this veteran team will do just that, coming in the top two of the RLRS and winning their way into the RLCS during the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, in order for The Leftovers to be promoted, someone has to be relegated down.

With these upset teams already shattering expectations, it’s surely possible they will continue to do so during league play. Hence the term upset. Yet, I fully expect to see Emotion from NA and Aeriality from EU at least competing in their respective promotion/relegation tournaments, if not being relegated down to the RLRS for season five.


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