Several players from 2017 Immortals found success in the 2018 Spring Split

An Echo of Immortals in the 2018 Spring Split

Leading into the 2018 Spring Split, ESPN’s Jacob Wolf reported that Immortals would not be included in North America’s franchised LCS. The League of Legends community responded to the decision with disbelief, anger and confusion. They also wondered, “If IMT did not get accepted into the LCS, then which teams are safe?”

A Brief History of Immortals

Immortals entered the NA LCS in 2016 with Huni, Reignover, Pobelter, Wildturtle, and Adrian

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Immortals entered the NA LCS in 2016, announcing Huni, Reignover, Pobelter, WildTurtle and Adrian as its roster. Dylan Falco would coach. They finished the 2016 Spring and Summer regular seasons in first and second, respectively, but only secured third in both playoffs. IMT barely missed Worlds that year, because they lost to Cloud9 in the Regional Qualifier.

In 2017, Immortals broke up and completely rebuilt its roster around Pobelter. Flame, Dardoch, Cody Sun, and Olleh joined as starters, while Anda signed as a substitute. Hermes moved up to fill the head coaching position. During 2017 Spring Split, this roster finished seventh in the regular season, narrowly missing playoffs. In the mid-season, Immortals traded Dardoch to CLG for Xmithie, imported Ssong as head coach, and brought on Stunt as a substitute. The invigorated team rose to second place during the Summer regular season and playoffs. IMT booked their first ticket to Worlds, where they finished 14th-16th.

And Immortals’ time in the NA LCS ended there. They would not get a new opportunity to dominate North America like 2016, or go to Worlds like 2017. The team fully disbanded, and the league moved on.

EX-IMMORTALS IN 2018

Immortals traded Dardoch to CLG in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Following Riot’s permanent partners announcement, Team Liquid acquired most of Immortals’ released roster. Xmithie, Pobelter, Cody Sun, Anda and Olleh joined the organization initially, but Cody Sun went on to 100 Thieves and Anda went to FlyQuest. Flame and Stunt signed with FlyQuest, as well. TSM picked up Coach Ssong to lead their new roster.

Four fifths of Immortals’ 2017 roster met in the last stage of playoffs. Xmithie, Pobelter, Olleh and Cody Sun made it to the finals, yet again, with Team Liquid winning the whole split and 100 Thieves second. Flame, Anda and Stunt finished the split in eighth place, and Coach Ssong finished fifth-sixth with TSM. However, this was the first time Anda and Stunt entered a split as starters. Flame performed perfectly fine as an individual top laner. And Coach Ssong helped build TSM into a formidable team, even if they fell short in playoffs.

Looking back at previous iterations of Immortals, Huni, Dardoch and Adrian made up three fifths of Echo Fox this split, finishing third in playoffs. Wildturtle joined FlyQuest in eighth place, but had several stand out performances himself. Reignover played with CLG to secure seventh place, and Dylan just led Fnatic to their first LCS title in two years.

Immortals Echoing through the LCS

Olleh, Cody Sun, and Zmithie used to play on Immortals in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Each of these individuals had significant development during their time on Immortals. Ssong, Huni, Reignover, Flame, and Olleh might not be in North America without importing with IMT. Xmithie and Pobelter might not be as renowned as they are now without taking Immortals to Worlds. Cody Sun, Anda and Stunt might not have starting roles this year. Wildturtle and Adrian’s stock definitely rose after their time on IMT, and Dardoch’s trade may have spurred changes with him. Dylan Falco got his first coaching job on Immortals, long before joining Fnatic.

Although Immortals’ organization no longer plays in the LCS, their players and staff have spread throughout the league. Many individuals had their LCS debut with IMT, and, through their development, upgraded the ecosystem overall. IMT put up strong performances throughout 2016 and 2017, leaving their mark in the history books. Although its banner no longer hangs in the LCS arena, Immortals’ legacy echoes on through the players and coaches they brought to the table.

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Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Game One

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

Game Two

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

Game Three

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

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

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Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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SKT

SKT T1 falls short in playoffs, misses MSI

SK Telecom T1

SK Telecom T1 has been the most dominant League of Legends team in the world for as long as many fans can remember.  For much of the past five years, they have been the top team in the toughest region in the world. They have racked up 13 first place titles between splits, playoffs, and international competitions. With their recent playoff loss however, they will be missing MSI for the first time, and people are beginning to question whether the stumble that started last season is turning into a true fall for the masters of the Rift.

Although having Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who many regard as the best League of Legends player ever, has been a big part of this success, it is far from the only factor. They have consistently had some of the best talent in all positions. This versatility allowed them to rely on their other lanes to carry if the enemy devoted too much of their time to shutting Faker down. Along with long-time Head Coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, former SKT T1 players Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon and Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong are also part of the coaching team. For years, they had the talent and discipline to take down any opponent, and they looked unstoppable.

Troubles arise

Then came the 2017 Summer Split. The same team that easily won the Spring Split, Spring Playoffs and MSI was suddenly losing games. They went 13-5 and finished 4th, their lowest ever, before going on to lose to Longzhu Gaming in the LCK Finals. Though surprising, second place is a respectable finish, and SKT T1 was still headed to Worlds.

SKT T1 and their supporters were hoping to put the Summer Split and talk of their recent struggles behind them. Unfortunately, they faced stiff competition on their way to the finals, beating both Misfits Gaming and Royal Never Give Up 3-2 in the elimination rounds. In the Championship matchup, Samsung Galaxy defeated SKT T1 3-0, and the esports world was stunned.

SKT

Courtesy of Dailycal.org

Shorty after the loss at Worlds, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho left SKT T1. Throughout the Spring Split, they shuffled their roster for both health reasons as well as in an effort to regain their winning style. Only Faker and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik remained as starters throughout the split. Despite a dismal early season, SKT T1 were able to rally and secure 4th place once again. To the surprise of many, they found a way to make it to the playoffs.

2018 Spring Playoffs

Their first opponent was 5th place KSV eSports, the team that purchased the LCK spot from reigning world champions Samsung Galaxy. Along with their place in the league, KSV kept the same roster. Throughout the Spring Split they fielded the same lineup that won the Summoners Cup only months ago. Despite a strong start, KSV struggled down the stretch, losing both of their match ups against SKT T1 during the regular season. In the first stage of playoffs, SKT T1 completed the sweep, defeating KSV 2-1.

Up next for SKT T1 was KT Rolster, a team that defeated them twice during the split. With names like Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu on the roster, it’s no surprise that KT Rolster was one of the top teams in the LCK.

Game 1 went well for SKT T1, with Faker, Bang and Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk each doing impressive damage, and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu dominating the Jungle. Despite being down early, they were able to win an important team fight which led to them taking back the gold lead, several objectives, and soon, the game.

Things turned against SKT T1 in Game 2. Instead of playing Azir, Faker had to face him. Newcomer  Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon more than held his own, going 5/2/3 and dominating the Mid Lane.  His Double Kill at 12 minutes helped give KT Rolster a significant lead. Other than for a brief stretch in Game 4, they kept this lead for the rest of the series.

KT Rolster took Games 2, 3, and 4 in a decisive fashion, outplaying their opponents in nearly every way. The disappointment of SKT T1 was clear as they packed up after the game. Falling short of the full comeback that many secretly expected. From 9th place to a playoff run, most teams would be proud of such a turnaround. For SKT T1, though, anything short of a championship title tastes bitter.

Greatest no longer?

For the first time since the tournament’s start in 2015, SK Telecom T1 will not be in the finals of the Mid Season Invitational. In a sport that is seeing so many of its dynasties fall worldwide, this is perhaps the most shocking. Along with his team falling in the rankings, many have been speculating that Faker is no longer the greatest player in the world. While the results of recent competitions may seem to prove this, to watch him is a different matter. He is still Faker. However, the gap is narrowing. Other players are closing in on his skill, opponents are learning how to limit his influence, and he can no longer carry games alone against such strong teams. Times are changing, and new things are coming.

 

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 PCgamesn.com

100 Thieves’ First Place Heist

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

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

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

A Favorable Battlefield

 

The Early Meta

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

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

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

The Meta Moves On

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

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

 

Credit Where Credit is Due

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Playing the Map

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

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

 

Potential Pitfalls

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

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

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

 

The Value of Veterancy

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

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

Image courtesy of LoL Esports

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

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

 

The Rest of the Road

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

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

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

surprise

A surprise ending to the Spring Split

Week 9 of the League Championship Series came with a lot of hype, and it didn’t disappoint. Possibilities, predictions and guesses were everywhere. While just about every outcome was discussed at some point, some options were quickly brushed aside, and even laughed at. Everyone debated whether CLG had a real shot to make the playoffs, if Cloud9 or Echo Fox would come out ahead, or if Misfits could hold on long enough to continue their season. When the dust settled, two of the most surprising outcomes had occurred. 100 Thieves was the best team in the NA LCS, and H2K was headed to the postseason.

100 Thieves

In their inaugural season, 100 Thieves came out swinging, winning four of their first five games. After losing their next four games in a row, however, they fell off the radar for many people. For some reason, they seemed to stay there despite rebounding to end their season with a 7-1 stretch. With so much talk focusing on the battle for first between Echo Fox and Cloud9, and TSM, Team Liquid and CLG all fighting for playoff spots, 100 Thieves slid under the radar into third place after Week 8.

In Week 9, 100 Thieves dominated Clutch Gaming on Saturday in a 33 minute match. On Sunday, they continued their winning streak by one more. Facing an Echo Fox team that included two subs (Midlaner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte and Support John “Papa Chau” Le), 100 Thieves didn’t hold back. Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook was able to secure Ryze who had been banned against him 11 times during the season, and William “Meteos” Hartman punished the enemy on Zac. They took down Echo Fox to tie them for first place in the NA LCS with a 12-6 record.

Tiebreaker

In the first of four NA LCS tiebreakers, the two went head to head for the second time that day. The action started early, with Meteos (Skarner) invading the enemy’s Top Side Jungle. He caught Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett (Nocturne) at the Red Buff, and they dueled briefly before being joined by both Mid and Top Laners. Ryu, once again on Ryze, took down Dardoch for first blood. Lamonte (Azir) responded with a kill on Meteos, and Ryu eliminated Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon (Shen) before being killed by Lamonte. Both Mid Laners had earned a double kill before 4 minutes had passed.

Damonte played well for Echo Fox as the match continued, but the superior teamwork and experience of 100 Thieves paid off. They had better objective pressure, team fighting and shot calling. More than once they were able to use Realm Warp to catch the enemy off guard. Destroying the Nexus in just under 27 Minutes, 100 Thieves truly looked deserving of the first place spot in the NA LCS.

 

surprise

Courtesy of LoL Esports

H2K

Over in the EU LCS, another team also turned around a dismal early season to find success this weekend. H2K was 1-7 going into Week 5. One of the older and more successful organizations in Europe, they were struggling to make things work. Unable to compete with team after team, they were easily the worst team in the EU LCS.

Desperate to end their losing streak, they made several changes. H2K tried subbing out Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer for Marc “Caedrel” Robert Lamont in the Jungle before finally settling on Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema in Week 5. This move, combined with putting Marcin “Selfie” Wolski in the Mid Lane turned out to be exactly what they needed. Looking like a completely different team, H2K went 6-3 in the back half of the split and put themselves in the position to decide their own fate. If they beat ROCCAT in their last game of the Spring Split, they would earn a spot in the playoffs.

ROCCAT took the lead early on as Shook (Sejuani) and Selfie (Kassadin) overextended to attempt to kill Jin “Blanc” Seong-min (Anivia). Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi (Skarner) and Kim “Profit” Jun-hyung (Sion) responded quickly, and it resulted in Profit getting First Blood on Shook. This set the tone for the next 30 minutes, and ROCCAT used this early advantage to control objectives. They took six towers, three dragons, and a Baron to earn a 7k gold lead.

The comeback

Though it may have looked like it, H2K was not done yet, and at 30 minutes they used superior positioning to allow Patrik “Sheriff” Jírů (Jinx) to put out impressive damage. He was able to get a double kill, leading to the teams first Baron of the game. They were able to push and take two Towers before repeating the play. Sheriff once again got a double kill in a prolonged team fight, leading to another Baron and the first significant gold lead for H2K.

Despite an Elder Dragon that allowed ROCCAT to get another inhibitor, H2K kept the gold lead for the rest of the match. At 52 minutes were able to use their third Baron buff of the game to crush the enemy Nexus. In one of the most impressive regular season comebacks in recent memory, H2K went from 1-7 to earning themselves a Playoff spot.

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @buttsy11. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

Reignover joined CLG for 2018

Reignover’s journey from 2015 Worlds to the bottom of the NA LCS

When Fnatic announced Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin as their starting jungler for the 2015 Spring Split, the LCS community aired its skepticism and criticism:

“Korean imports again. Can only end well. -_-”

“haha, reignover really?”

“This roster is pretty underwhelming, considering the talent that was available…FNC looking like a bottom-half team atm.”

Several online news outlets voiced similar sentiments:

“While that should have been significant incentive for Fnatic to pull together the best talent they can, the results are somewhat mystifying. To wit: While picking up premier new midlane talent in Febiven is an undeniably good choice, every other decision on the roster seems questionable.”

Reignover joined Fnatic in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

“Their Worlds placings; their endless top placings in LCS splits; the players who won those games and splits were no more. What was Fnatic’s response? They imported a Samsung Galaxy sub and his duo-que buddy, an ADC from the challenger scene, and the star mid-laner of H2K; Huni and Reignover, Steelback, and Febiven. A lot of people thought of these acquisitions as sub-optimal and disappointing.”

“It’d be a tough season, fans began to reason, but Fnatic had a tremendous eye for talent and would surely find the best possible players to replace their former stars. This general assumption resulted in a great and terrible gnashing of teeth when Fnatic’s signings to complete their new roster for Season 5 included two Korean players—Kim ‘ReignOver’ Yeu-jin, formerly of Incredible Miracle, and Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon, a complete newcomer to competitive League of Legends.”

At the time, importing players from other regions was still uncommon in Europe, and Huni and Reignover were relatively unknown quantities in Korea. It was understandable that audiences would question Fnatic’s pick-ups, following the departure of several star players. Little did they know, these two players would be pivotal to Fnatic’s deep run at the World Championship that year.

Reignover’s Beginning: Spring and Summer Titles

Reignover had a spectacular year with Fnatic in 2015. Huni and he had instant synergy as a top-jungle duo, which allowed them to finish the spring regular season in second place with a 13-5 record. Reignover even earned weekly MVP of the EU LCS in week two for his Rengar and Olaf play.

Reignover and Fnatic won Spring and Summer Split 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic went on to win a heated playoff bracket that spring. They beat H2K in the semifinals 3-2, despite losing two early games using a double-smite, Lee Sin top composition. With Unicorns of Love upsetting SK Gaming, Fnatic came into the finals as favorites. The series saw several different champions played, but Fnatic was able to pull out another 3-2 to take the Spring Split title. Reignover won MVP of the finals, Huni won the Outstanding Rookie award, and every Fnatic member represented the EU LCS first team All-Pro.

After bringing Europe home a fourth place finish at the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational (and taking SKT to fives games in the semifinals), Fnatic returned to the Summer Split with one new member–Rekkles. He turned out to be the key that unlocked Fnatic’s full potential. This roster finished the regular season undefeated, 18-0, solidifying Huni, Reignover, and the rest as some of the best Europe had ever seen. Reignover’s efficient jungle pathing with mostly Rek’Sai and Gragas provided Huni and Febiven with the upper hand in most match-ups.

The entire Fnatic line-up won first-team All-Pro honors again, and the summer playoffs went mostly as expected. Fnatic took down Unicorns of Love 3-0 in the semifinals. They met a formidable Origen squad in the finals, which went to five games. This match-up represented the narrative culmination of “old Fnatic” versus “new Fnatic”, with xPeke and Soaz facing off against Rekkles and Yellowstar. Huni and Reignover played large parts in allowing Fnatic to win the series 3-2, reinforcing the organization’s off-season roster decisions, and sending them to Worlds as Europe’s top seed.

Reignover’s Peak: Top Four at Worlds

Heading into the 2015 World Championship, western media outlets put Fnatic and Reignover under the microscope with statements like “To make it through their Group and beyond, Reignover needs to be successful in his ganks, specifically top side, to put Huni ahead,” “Reignover relies on high gold values to be effective in team fights, as he likes to play high damage picks like Elise, but with other high gold jungle monsters in this group, that’s less of an easy advantage,” “It’s easy to tag ReignOver as the weakest player on Fnatic based on his performances during the latter stages of the EU LCS,” and “Many have looked at Reignover’s champion pool as a target for Fnatic.”

Reignover and Fnatic went to Worlds in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Invictus Gaming, Cloud9 and AHQ Esports Club joined Fnatic in Group B, pitting Reignover against Mountain, Hai and KaKAO. In the round robin, Fnatic lost to AHQ and Cloud9 once each, then won their other four games. The 4-2 record put Fnatic at the top of their group, pushing them into the bracket stage.

For quarterfinals, Fnatic faced EDward Gaming. The Chinese organization finished first in the LPL regular season that summer, but flopped in the playoffs to finally place fourth. They won the Regional Qualifiers, which allowed EDG to qualify into Worlds. During the group stage, EDG lost both games to SKT, but went 2-0 against H2K and Bangkok Titans. Clearlove was a primary factor in EDG’s success, which meant all eyes would be on Reignover.

Clearlove and Reignover went back and forth with Rek’Sai and Gragas picks, but Reignover proved to be the better jungle on the day. He finished with more gold and assists in every game of Fnatic’s 3-0 victory. The series win qualified Fnatic for the World semifinals, an achievement no western team had reached since season three (which was also Fnatic).

Unfortunately, KOO Tigers, a top Korean team, crushed Fnatic 3-0. They joined their European rivals, Origen, finishing third-fourth in the tournament. These placements reinstated the EU LCS as a top region behind the LCK, and Fnatic as an international threat.

Reignover’s Move: Immortals’ Domestic Dominance

Reignover and Huni joined Immortals in 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Reignover’s off-season, following such an impressive year with Fnatic, brought opportunities unlike any other. Eventually, Immortals announced their entrance into the NA LCS, and their successful signing of Fnatic’s top-jungle duo–Huni and Reignover. The two were such a hit together that they became a package deal.

Expectations for Immortals’ top-side was through the roof. “Immortals will be relying on the touted top-jungle synergy of former Fnatic duo of breakout rookie top laner Heo ‘Huni’ Seunghoon and junger Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeujin to take them to the top of the standings,” “[Immortals’] starting five is headlined by Fnatic’s South Korean duo from last year, the explosive Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon in the top lane and his partner Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin at the jungler position,” and “Yes, it was a fantastic move, especially if the Koreans can bring along some of Fnatic’s winning culture and approach, but Immortals really scored points for how they built their team around Huni and Reignover,” were all remarks by the media. It was clear that Reignover and Huni had risen from Korean nobodies to titans in the span of a year.

Spring Split proved these presuppositions to be warranted. Immortals tore through North America’s teams to finish with a 17-1 record, only dropping one series to Counter Logic Gaming in week seven. CLG was the next closest contender, with a 13-5 record, four wins behind. Huni and Reignover won first team All-Pro honors for the third split in a row, and Reignover was deemed North America’s MVP.

However, TSM was able to find Immortals’ achilles heel and vanquish them in the playoffs. Some questionable top lane picks for Huni, and lackluster decision-making from Immortals, resulted in an 0-3 loss, which they took out on Team Liquid for third place. This moment marked the first major domestic shutdown of Reignover and Huni since their start as professional players. 

Reignover and Immortals barely missed playoffs in Spring and Summer Split 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The Immortals roster stayed together for Summer Split, which left many wondering if they could repeat their dominating spring performance. TSM proved to be the only contender, finishing the split with a 4-1 game record against Immortals, and the only team above them in the standings. Immortals 16-2 regular season record was still impressive, but not nearly as dominant as their prior first place finish. Reignover was the only Immortals member to be first team All-Pro, with TSM taking the other spots.

Playoffs seemed all but certain to end with TSM facing Immortals in the finals, but history decided to repeat itself. Immortals faced Cloud9 in the semifinals, and fell 3-2. For the second time in two splits, Immortals missed the NA LCS finals, due to uncharacteristic play in the semifinals. And again, they won the third place match. They took down CLG 3-2, which provided enough championship points for Immortals to get a direct seed to the regional finals for a spot at Worlds. Everyone’s anxieties came true, as Cloud9 defeated Immortals again, this time 3-1. All three losses were fairly one-sided, with most of Immortals’ players suffering negative KDAs and significant gold deficits.

It is hard to believe how disappointed each of Immortals’ members were once they realized they would not make it to the 2016 World Championship. Huni, Reignover and Pobelter had all competed in 2015, and regular-season-Immortals felt like they were set to go. This probably felt like a low point for Reignover, coming off of two years of solid performance. Playing with Immortals in North America had to feel like playing with Fnatic in Europe, except Immortals fell just short of glory–no trophies, no MSI, no Worlds. Reignover could not know that the following year would only get worse.

Reignover’s Fall: Team Liquid’s Mismanagement

Reignover joined Team Liquid in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Immortals rebuilt their roster around Pobelter in the off-season leading into 2017. Reignover and Huni were given opportunities to weigh other offers, and they ended up splitting for the first time in two years. Huni made the move to Korean powerhouse SKT, while Reignover signed with Team Liquid in North America. He joined Lourlo, Goldenglue, Link, Piglet and Matt.

The media was even higher on Reignover in this move than they had ever been before. Esports news outlets touted “Reignover is a master of being in the right place at the right time,” “Reignover was the best jungler in NA last year, and he’s a welcome, experienced addition to this team,” “If Team Liquid does as well as I’m projecting, it will be mostly due to their superstars, Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin and Piglet, both of whom are arguably the strongest players at their positions in North America,” and “Stars like Chae ‘Piglet’ Gwang-jin and Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin can be terrifying.”

This roster turned out to be a mess. They finished the Spring Split in ninth place with a 5-13 series record and a 36 percent game win rate. After announcing changes in the middle of the split, Liquid decided to move Piglet to the mid lane and bring in Youngbin as AD carry. After a couple of weeks with no improvement, Doublelift joined the team as a temporary sub out of his break, and Adrian later joined and started a few games. All of this turmoil and chaos completely overshadowed any positive gameplay out of Reignover.

Luckily, Team Liquid avoided relegation. The Promotion tournament was an extreme low point for the organization, and Reignover himself. No one had questioned his talent and consistency in over two years. Going into Summer Split, everyone was wondering what Liquid would do to rectify the situation. It turns out, they did not change anything. They picked up Inori and Slooshi as substitutes, but kept Lourlo, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet and Matt as starters.

Reignover and Team Liquid played both promotion tournaments in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Similar results ensued. TL finished Summer Split in ninth place again, with a 4-14 series record and a 30 percent game win rate. Just like spring, as the split went on, Liquid started Inori, Slooshi, and KonKwon. They brought back Dardoch, despite past troubles with the controversial jungler. They imported Mickey, a Korean mid laner from ROX Tigers. Liquid even swapped out David Lim for Cain as head coach. They went on to compete in the Promotion Tournament, and defended their spot, yet again.

This was truly the lowest point for Reignover. He was completely dropped from conversations of “the best jungler in the league,” in favor of LiRa, Xmithie and Contractz. Fnatic, Immortals, Huni, Rekkles and Pobelter had some of their best splits yet, and were heading to Worlds. Reignover was fighting in promotion tournaments, getting benched for Inori and Dardoch, and falling from grace.

Reignover’s Present: CLG’s Struggles

Enter CLG, an organization also in need of redemption. Darshan, Huhi and Stixxay carried over into 2018, while Reignover and Biofrost joined in the off-season. Although several sources predicted CLG to be a top three team in their preseason power rankings, few commented on Reignover in the same tone of awe as they had in the past.

Several weeks into the split, CLG sits tied for seventh with a 3-5 record. Many of their losses have chalked up to Stixxay’s shortcomings, but coordination and decisiveness in the late game are contributing, as well. Reignover needs this split to be a success. For his stock to rise, CLG needs to make playoffs and prove they can compete at the top level.

Huni and Reignover are playing in the NA LCS in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Reignover was patient with Team Liquid last year, but now it’s time for dividends. Huni is even back in North America, playing for a different team, and solidifying himself at the top of the standings. A bottom-three finish would be detrimental to Reignover and CLG. In fact, CLG looked best in their 2016 Spring Split victory and MSI performance. They have fallen slightly out of favor since then, narrowly missing a chance at Worlds last year. This organization and this player need each other for success. A high finish this split, and this year, could be an ultimate catharsis for such decorated League of Legends entities. Reignover’s journey has been treacherous thus far, but it is not over yet. 

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Quotes: Reddit, Esports Heaven, Concussion Gaming, Thorin’s Thoughts, Dot Esports, EU LCS Broadcast, LoL Esports, TheScore Esports, TheScore Esports, Esports HeavenYahoo Esports, TheScore Esports, TheScore Esports

Historical Data: Leaguepedia

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The Echo Fox Team

Keeping the faith: Echo Fox, Dardoch and the case for second chances

The path of Echo Fox

When Echo Fox joined the NA LCS prior to the 2016 Spring Split, the expectations and excitement were high. Purchasing the spot from Gravity, former NBA Star and actor Rick Fox wasted no time. He invested quickly and heavily in foreign talent, but due to Visa issues among other things, Echo Fox ended their first split in 7th place. By the end of that year, they found themselves facing NRG Esports in a best of five series for the right to stay in the NA LCS. Though they avoided relegation, they ended both 2017 Splits in 8th place. By the start of 2018, they had a completely new roster. Now, sitting atop the NA LCS at 7-1, they have defied critics with a roster full of second chances.

 

Dardoch and Echo Fox

Courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Dardoch

The signing of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to yet another team was one of the most talked about stories this preseason. Since signing with AffNity in 2014, he played for no less than nine teams before finally landing with Echo Fox. The year he spent with Team Liquid was his longest stint in one place. During that time he bounced between being a starter, a substitute and a member of their Academy team.  

A mechanically talented player, the cause of his frequent moves was not because of poor performance. Instead, most were due to personal differences with other members of the organizations. Before long, this understandably earned him the reputation of being hard to work with. Other than Team Liquid, each team that signed him found a replacement within six months. He represented Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming and even found his way back into a Team Liquid uniform for a split before being signed by Echo Fox.

Now, it seems that he has figured out whatever issues he had with teams in the past. Dardoch has built a rapport with his team that is not just built on his talent, but also his presence as a teammate. Additionally, he has excelled on the rift with his current team, and is looking more dominant than ever. Adding improved decision-making and pathing to his already impressive mechanics, he leads both the NA and EU LCS junglers by a margin of over 20 assists after only four weeks of play.

 

A common theme

Though he may be the most well known example, Dardoch’s story isn’t exactly unique on the Echo Fox roster.  ADC Johnny “Altec” Ru has played for 11 different teams since 2014, including three stints as a substitute. Support Adrian “Adrian” Ma has worn six different jerseys in the NA LCS. Three of these came last season when he left Phoenix 1 due to internal issues, spent one month with Team Liquid, and then landed with Team Dignitas. Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun spent last year as the mid lane substitute for Gold Coin United. This NA Challenger Series team finished in second place, but failed to secure a promotion to the LCS. Even Top Laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who has the most consistent history of the group, has been a member of four teams in three different leagues over the last four years. SKT T1 released Huni after they failed to win the World Championship last year.

Though all well known players, it’s safe to say that not many would pick this roster to lead the NA LCS. Despite their history, however, the team has come together to earn a top spot, tied for first with Cloud9. One possible reason for this is maturity. Dardoch bounced between all of those teams and earned this reputation for being difficult all before his 19th birthday. Fenix is the only member over 20 at the ripe old age of 22. One can hardly blame players for struggling to navigate relationships and team politics perfectly at such a young age. As these players have grown, the sport has grown as well, and each year the infrastructure is improved to help the athletes succeed. In an esport dominated by younger and younger players, there may be something to be said for those who have earned experience and the level head that comes with it.

Echo Fox

Courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Supporting success

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the organization itself. With Fox’s experience in the NBA, three time NBA Champion Jared Jeffries as the new President, and the recent investment by the New York Yankees, Echo Fox approaches player management from a more traditional manner than most epsorts teams. They create an infrastructure that focuses on the development of the members as people as well as players. Along with this, they have a broad range of experience with players of varying egos and personalities.

Though his background is in traditional sports, Rick Fox has jumped into the esports scene with both feet. He is one of the most vocal supporters of not only his team, but esports in general. After their recent victory against Team Liquid, Dardoch referenced this support in a post game interview with LoL Esports. “I mean, it obviously helps a lot just having people in general…just being there to support us every day.” he said, referencing Rick waving from the crowd. “Stratton comes out, Jared Jeffries comes out, our President. And also Rick Fox comes out very often, so, just seeing them at work every day, and also them to show up on the days that matter most helps us a lot.”

Whatever the key ingredient is, it’s clear that it’s working. They have lost only one game this split to the veterans of CLG. Despite many critics’ predictions, they bounced back the next game just as strong as before. If they can keep succeeding, the members of Echo Fox may have finally found a permanent home and lasting success.

 

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

Targon’s? More like TarGONE’s

Apollo – “Targon’s meta is dead… I think.”

 

First thing’s first, let’s breakdown the Double Targon’s meta.

The “Double Targon’s” factor was the scapegoat and catalyst of the prominent competitive meta for patch 8.1. It, along with other contributing factors, allowed weak laners to survive the early game and scale up for late game teamfights. The meta was not only made possible by both ADC and Support taking Targon’s Brace, but also by Fleet Footwork, Overheal, Perfect Timing (AKA Stopwatch), Kleptomancy Elixermancy (Ezreal only), etc. Because of all the defensive options, bot laners were extremely safe (definitely not the status quo). Strong early laners had no guarantee of being able to smash lane because the enemy laners could always count on healing and playing defensively.

This made engage supports, like Alistar, much stronger, the mindset being, “If you don’t lock the enemy down and kill them now, they will heal it all back!”. That, in turn, increased the value of more defensive supports like Braum and Taric too! If Ali engages, Braum throws up a shield and absorbs all the damage. And because Targon’s increased it’s heal by % missing health, it was insanely easy to heal up after any skirmishes that didn’t end up in a kill. If you chunk an enemy ADC down to 30% health, within a couple Fleet Footwork procs and a few clangs of the Relic Shield, they would be back at a comfortable 90%. They may lose pressure for one or two waves, but the danger factor was incredibly low.

To make matters worse, once the Targon’s quest is completed, you generate a hefty shield while out of combat. So this meant laners walked to lane with a passive shield, immediately generated an Overheal shield on top, added even more shield with Fleet Footwork (which also provides even more movement speed for running away), and had tons of Targon’s proc healing if the shield was ever broken.

Combine all that with 4 Stopwatches in the bot lane, and everyone became virtually unkillable. Viable ADCs were almost exclusively late game scalers and top tier team-fighters. Kog’Maw, Kalista, Ezreal, and Tristana topped the charts, with others like Varus and Sivir falling short behind. Lucian, sadly, was left unplayed – except by Huni; but that’s a whole different story for another time.

With all these cheap and effective ways of scaling for late, the bot lane became an extremely dangerous place to be a minion.

Image provided by Minion Champion Spotlight


But don’t just take my word for it. Take a pro’s words instead!

Doublelift explains that, “Targon’s is an extension of the support meta, because people become unkillable, and supports are stronger than ADs in lane. So [prior to this meta] you get in these weird situations where even when you hit a Tahm Kench twice, if he Qs you once, you actually lost the trade… So that’s why Targon’s came in. If I’m gonna be useless, I might as well be useless but generate gold for my support who is actually useful!” 

And what’s with all the festivities? Patch 8.1 is a…

“Farmfest,” – Apollo, Hakuho, Aphromoo, Adrian, Smoothie

“Snoozefest,” – Doublelift (said twice)

 

That equals 7 festivals for our minions! But don’t be fooled. It still is a crap place to be for those little descendants of Lari


Provided by TimeLordJikan

Changes to expect in 8.2?

As it turns out, this meta was pretty lame to watch, mostly due to the slowdown on botside. Therefore, the patch largely focuses bot side to address and influence that lane specifically. Even most of the Keystone changes were focused on the bot lane. Guardian and Aftershock both got a slight power shift to make them each a bit more unique and more specifically viable rather than generally fine.

Smoothie predicts that, “Next patch, the ranged supports are going to have a bigger impact in lane. But, blind picking melees may still be strong.” Aphromoo seemed to be on the same page, stating there is “probably gonna be a lot more ranged supports, [though] Ali and Braum will still be in there for counters.” He also predicts that “ardent is gonna come back a little bit,” though he claims to not really favor that meta either. 

Altec points out that 8.2 will bring back some spice to the lane again. “Now that the double Targon’s meta is gone, you will see more difference between the bot lanes. You’ll get to see who are the good bot lanes and the not so good bot lanes… If people make bad trades, it should be a lot easier to make plays.” 

If Altec is right, the Clutch Gaming duo in Apollo and Hakuho may be in luck! Apollo states, “We’re better when we’re fighting bot lane, rather than the farming, hyper carry [style] bot lane.” Although he later claims it’s all in Hakuho’s favor. “I just go with the flow,” he says. Hakuho agrees, stating “As a laner, I always wanna fight in bot lane.” And with palpable enthusiasm and anticipation for the upcoming matches, he claims he’s “hyped for next patch, because the bot lane meta is kinda boring right now… Bot lane is gonna be fun again!” 

However, even with all of this hope for change, Doublelift still finds time for some last second pessimism realism. “I have a feeling that games are still going to be going super long, and if Janna comes back into the meta, I might actually claw my eyeballs out.”


But Apollo, is it really, really dead?

Of course we won’t know until we see the meta unfold, but we can all sure hope so. Altec claims that while, “Technically you can still buy Targons, it’s just not as good as it was before.” I actually think that is extremely important! The potential to run double Targon’s provides the ability for Kog’Maw (and other crazy scalers) to stay relevant in a meta that is sub-optimal for hyper carries, while still providing room for those like Lucian to shine!

Doublelift agrees, stating “It definitely won’t be as strong, but it’ll still be viable. I don’t think it’ll be every game, but I think initially what’ll happen is everyone is gonna switch to dorans, and then someone is gonna find a way to make targons still viable and it’s gonna be finding its way back. Because yeah sure you don’t have the shield, but what you have is three wards. That’s not bad!” At least now when we see double Targon’s, it will change the entire botside game, because vision control will get a heck of a lot more lopsided. Dives onto the scaling carries will be hard because of vision, not 300+ health shields on the ADC!! 

 

I asked Doublelift if he would be the first to bring out the Yasuo ADC, to which he responded, “Yeah yeah. No. Idk Idk!” Unsatisfied, I challenged him, “Well, can you pull it off?” And with full confidence….

“Yeah, I can pull off Yasuo ADC. Easy!” – Doublelift 

Image Provided by Riot Games

 


And what’s the deal with Thresh? Wildturtle told me there would be buffs!!

Don’t expect to see Thresh much in competitive as long as we are in 8.2. After the Targon nerfs to ranged champions, I think even Nunu might have a higher play rate despite him potentially being perma-banned for a while. And although Aphromoo claimed that “Thresh is still viable, but it really depends on confidence,” Adrian disagreed. “I still think Thresh is pretty bad… He definitely needs more buffs… I don’t think there is any good situation to play him unless you’re really good at Thresh and there’s nothing else to play.” Either way, I hope to see a little love thrown towards everyone’s favorite chain warden so we can get back to watching even more big flays in the bot lane.


 

Image provided by Sunsero

Thanks for reading! For questions on the current meta, find some reliable source somewhere, or just watch the NA LCS every weekend! I’ll be there talking to your favorite pros. Tweet me some questions you want to ask @parkeso. Follow me on Insta @parqueso for some fun stories of pros and fan interactions, especially Saturday and Sunday! For all other inquiries, you can email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. Thanks! And email Riot asking for Thresh buffs!

Fox Dardoch

Dardoch on Free Agency: ‘I didn’t really have many other options’

Echo Fox debuted their revamped roster this past weekend, premiering their veteran-laden lineup as they begin gunning for their organization’s first playoff berth.

Labeled by some as North America’s biggest boom-or-bust team, the new Foxes swept their opening weekend with convincing wins over FlyQuest and Clutch Gaming, comforting Echo Fox fans heading into Week 2. And with games against Cloud9 (2-0) and TSM (2-0) on the docket, this team will certainly have a chance to prove themselves again this weekend.

Anyways, following their opening victory, we had the opportunity to sit down with Echo Fox jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett.

First off, congratulations on your first win. What do you feel made it such a one-sided victory?

“First, our coach Inero and our assistant coach Thinkcard set us up with a really great draft. And everyone felt really confident going into the game, so that definitely helped us play well. Other than that, I think FlyQuest just kinda let us play to our team comp’s win condition and they didn’t really contest us in places they needed to so we just kinda got to do what we wanted to do, and we won.”

What were your thoughts on AnDa’s debut?

“It’s kind of hard to tell because they were pretty outclassed as a team it seemed, so not much to gain from it. I don’t know yet.”

Dardoch fans

Echo Fox is Dardoch’s fourth team since the beginning of 2017. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

So you picked Echo Fox this offseason, why them over other teams?

“For me personally, I didn’t really have many other options. So, I signed with Echo Fox only knowing Fenix was on the roster and I just kinda trusted them. With the names that they gave me and the options that we had, I felt pretty comfortable signing, so I just did.”

Have you noticed a difference in Huni since his time on SK Telecom?

“Well, he’s definitely a lot better than he was previously. Even though he was already an overwhelming individual player on Immortals. After his year on SKT, he just became a lot more composed and he’s actually a very good leader.”

In terms of your character, do you feel like you have something to prove to people outside of your team?
fox dardoch

Despite his talent, his behavior as a teammate has always been called into question. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone outside of my organization but I know if I act the way I act my teammates will speak the truth about me. And eventually the word will get out that I’m not this toxic entity.”

No doubt in this team’s talent. You’ve got Huni, yourself and you’ve all played in LCS for quite some time. What do you feel like you guys need to do to unseat the favorites like TSM or TL?

“I think all we need to do is keep practicing as hard as we do and keep the communication line flowing. I think we’re a really creative bunch who aren’t scared to make plays, so I think we can easily dethrone TSM, TL, whoever the top teams will be by the end of the season if we keep our practice up.”

 

Featured image: Riot Games

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