David and Goliath: Fnatic Rip Apart Kingzone DragonX

Did that really just happen?

In a story straight out of a fairytale, Fnatic pulled a complete 180 to take down Korean juggernauts Kingzone DragonX. After going 0-2 on the first day of the group stage, many were already writing off Fnatic. To be honest, who can blame them, Fnatic made mistake after mistake, with the only hope for the team being mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther. However, today it seems that Fnatic has patched over the cracks in their foundation and are here to contend.

 

Early Game

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

 

Right off the bat from level 1, Fnatic decided to go on the offensive, setting up their famed brush of death in bot side river. Unfortunately for Kingzone, Kim “PraY” Jong-in decided to face check the brush and paid for it with his life. Right off the back of this Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and the rest of Fnatic began to invade KZ’s jungle, forcing Han “Peanut” Wang-ho out, and securing red buff and raptors.

This already set up KZ at a massive disadvantage, as they make all their plays through Peanut. Peanut is the one snowballing lanes, Peanut is the one opening up the map. However, with him neutralized and top laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong getting shoved under his tower, KZ had no foothold in the early game.

 

Fool me once, Shame on you. Fool me Twice, Shame on Peanut

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Fnatic didn’t stop at the early game. They continued to put constant pressure on Peanut’s red buff. Every time they would do this peanut would try and contest and every time he would fail. Although the blame wasn’t just on peanut for trying to contest, it also fell on Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, who made terrible teleport calls and awkward dives into the entire Fnatic squad.

With the constant mistakes coming out of the two biggest playmakers on KZ, all hope was lost, they lost team fight after team fight. When the time came for baron they had such little map pressure and vision that they couldn’t even make a dent. As soon as they even got close to the baron pit, Fnatic would turn around and chase them off, denying Peanut the 50/50 smite. Therefore, cementing the fate of the match.

 

Final Nail in the Coffin

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Kingzone put up a valiant fight whilst Fnatic was sieging their base, but it was only a matter of time till Fnatic took the nexus. With every subsequent attempt at cracking KZ’s base, they whittled away at their defences. They took inhibitors whilst keeping KZ busy with team fights, and whilst KZ won the fights, they lost the war. Their base laid in tatters as a result of constant waves of super minions, KZ put up one last fight before Fnatic did the impossible and defeated the tournament favourites. Will Kingzone be able to bounce back? Will Fnatic continue this stellar performance? Only time will tell.

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Brandon!

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Featured image courtesy of Riot Games

Flash Wolves

Flash Wolves wipe the floor with the competition on the first day of MSI

After putting up poor performances on the international stage in the past years, Flash Wolves have come into the 2018 Mid Season Invitational with a point to prove. That point being that they are indeed a top tier team. If the first day of the group stage is anything to go by, that point is very much valid.

Today Flash Wolves faced off against fellow play-in stage survivors, EVOS, and the Kings of the EU LCS, Fnatic to start their run. Flash Wolves triumphed over both of these teams by employing their aggressive, calculated playstyle.

 

Maple is Godly

Much of today’s wins came down to the phenomenal performance coming out of mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tan. Posting an impressive combined scoreline of 19/0/9, Maple came out and showed the world just what he is made of. In their first game against EVOS, Maple was able to roam to his side lanes consistently. Almost every time he did this he would pick up a kill, allowing him to snowball incredibly hard.

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

In the second game, Maple was a force to be reckoned with on Vladimir. He would constantly dive onto Fnatic’s back line of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Rasmus “Caps” Winther and quickly kill or chunk them out to make sure they had no impact in a team fight. This allowed his team to win team fights consistently by dealing with the remaining players.

 

EVOS Can’t Clear Raptors

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Whilst there is no doubt that Flash Wolves ‘looked’ very dominant today, it is still to be seen whether or not they can hang with the big dogs. Both the teams they faced today were much weaker than them, especially EVOS. In fact the win against EVOS was cemented from the very first kill on jungler Nguyễn “YiJin” Lê Hải Đăng. YiJin was caught dying to raptors by Kim “Moojin” Moo-jinand. This converted into a 4 man roam down bot and a further two kills. If EVOS can’t even clear a raptor camp, can it really be said that Flash Wolves’ win was at all impressive?

 

The Coming Storm

Flash Wolves move on to face the tournament favourites Royal Never Give Up and Kingzone DragonX in the next two days. Kingzone continued their reign of terror today going 2-0, showing the competition that they are not to be trifled with.

Flash Wolves

Source: Riot Games Flickr

RNG also had an impressive showing posting a 1-1 scoreline. RNG destroyed Fnatic earlier in the day, however they fell to none other than Kingzone themselves later on. With this, RNG will be looking to make up for this loss. Unfortunately for Flash Wolves, they will be taking the full brunt of RNG’s vengeance.

If Flash Wolves want to stand a chance against these powerhouses, they will have to look to continue what they started today. Thus, requiring their carries in Maple and Betty to stay on top form if they hope to even go even with these teams.

 

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Brandon!

To continue enjoying great content from your favourite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Featured image courtesy of Riot Games

fnatic

RNG Defeat Fnatic in First Match of the MSI Group Stage

The first day of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational group stage is finally upon us. With it comes the top teams from every region competing to show that they are the best international team.

Today’s first match of Fnatic VS RNG, saw Fnatic’s pride on the line with a worlds rematch. However, once again Fnatic fell to the ever-dominant Chinese team.

Champ Select

Jumping into champ select, we see a lot of target bans coming out from both teams. Both teams used their first phase bans to triple ban a role. Fnatic banning out Morgana, Karma and Rakan to pinch RNG’s support (ming), Morgana and karma being flex pick bans out on mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao as well. RNG, on the other hand, decide to ban out Gangplank, Swain and Sion in an effort to target ban top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, whilst also banning out a mid lane flex pick in Swain.

Moving onto first phase picks, with Kai’sa being left on the table for the first time during the tournament, Fnatic quickly snapped it up as their first pick. RNG responded with another scaling ADC in the form of Kog’Maw, a great pick for the absolute monster that is Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, and snowballing jungler Olaf. Fnatic rounded out their first phase picks with the jungle trundle and support Braum. Braum is a very good pick here for Fnatic as it means that bot lane becomes very hard to gank, thus allowing Martin “Rekkles” Larsson to scale up and play Kai’sa to her full potential. To round out the first phase RNG’s final pick came in the form of the ever-popular Ryze for Xiahou.

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games

Moving onto second phase bans. RNG came out with a Zoe and Ornn ban, both of which historically are picked whenever they get through the ban phase. Fnatic responded with a Shen and Lulu ban, with the Shen being a very good top laner with his ability to quickly respond to threats around the map with his ult and the teleport summoner spell.

Onto the final pick phase of the match. RNG finally pick up a support in Tahm Kench, a good aggressive playmaker that can also quickly get his carry out of danger. Fnatic responded with the Yassuo and Vladimir, setting themselves up for a high risk/high reward game, where if they can keep themselves safe early and not fall behind, whilst also making a pick or two they will be able to create side lane dominance. RNG rounded out their comp with the Cho’gath response coming out to counter the Vlad and keep him pushed under the tower.

The match

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

RNG took command of the early game, placing multiple deep wards to neutralize any gank attempts from Fnatic jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, keeping the game in RNG’s favour as Fnatic had no tempo in any lane whatsoever. The game began to turn around for Fnatic when Rasmus “Caps” Winther got a solo kill off on Xiahou in the bottom lane, allowing for Fnatic to also pick up a tower and close the gold gap.

Later in the game, Fnatic begin trying to take baron resulting in a 1 for 1 trade and one of RNG’s towers going down, putting the match in favour of Fnatic. However, with Caps dead, there was no one to put enough pressure down to stop RNG taking baron. RNG immediately began to set up for a 5 man gank onto the members of Fnatic in the mid lane, but a nice sidestep of the Olaf engage allowed for Fnatic to turn the tables and pick up 2 kills and even an inhibitor.

Fnatic

Source: Riot Games Flickr

With the match looking all but won for Fnatic, they decided to go for a 5 man bush to put the final nail in RNG’s coffin. However, it failed and RNG wiped the floor with them, leaving only 1 man up for Fnatic to defend the nexus against 5. Thus, allowing RNG to close out the game moments later.

The 2018 MSI Group stage is now underway.

CREDITS

Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Brandon!

To continue enjoying great content from your favourite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Featured image courtesy of Riot Games

msi day 1

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs RNG

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up

“My goal is top two, otherwise I will be disappointed.” Martin “Rekkles” Larsson had high expectations ahead of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. These feelings are understandable coming from the EU Spring Split, as he is surrounded by a team that dominated both the regular season and the playoffs. However, as they faced RNG in the first game of MSI Day 1, Fnatic needed to be ready. In RNG they were up against tougher competition than they faced all year. Most notably, the RNG roster boasts Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao who has been ranked by most (including Rekkles himself) as the best AD Carry in the world.

Early Game

As the teams took their spots on the stage, they showed their strategy in the Pick & Ban stage. Fnatic attempted to limit the impact of Uzi, not by banning his champions, but instead banning Supports and Mid Laners like Karma, Morgana, and Lulu that would make him unstoppable. RNG decided to focus their bans on rookie Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau by taking out Sion, Swain, and Gangplank. Bwipo only recently took the starting spot in Fnatic’s Top Lane due to an injured Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.

RNG started the game by attempting to punish the rookie once again, and Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu (Olaf) Ganked top early. Though Mlxg took him down to very low health, Bwipo (Vladamir) managed to escape without using Flash.  In response, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen (Trundle)  Ganked the Mid Lane shortly after, and managed to force the Flash from Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao (Ryze).

msi day 1

FNC Broxah. Credit: LoL Esports

First Blood

RNG began to assert their dominance early, taking the farm lead in every lane as Fnatic played safe. This patience paid off at 12 minutes when Broxah and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Braum) joined Rasmus “Caps” Winther (Yasuo) in the Mid Lane, giving Broxah First Blood on the Flash-less Xaiohu. Then, just seven minutes later, Caps and Xaioho faced off in the Bottom Lane. Caps flashed under the tower to get the solo kill. Xaioho returned immediately to the bottom lane, and was caught again. After a Pillar from Broxah and Last Breath from Caps, Broxah walked away with another kill and Xaiohu found himself at 0/3/0.

RNG Finally shut down Caps as they caught him near the Baron Pit, but he was able to force out Ultimates from both Mlxg and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming (Tahm Kench). He led them both on a chase that would allow Fnatic to take the Mid Lane turret. Both teams continued through the Mid Game very cautiously, prioritizing vision and Baron pressure without either looking to engage the other.

At 31 minutes, Caps once again forced a fight, and killed the enemy Jungler behind the Baron Pit. With this advantage, Fnatic looked to take the Baron, but were foiled as Caps attempted to prevent RNG from stealing it, and was deleted by Uzi. The Baron Buff went to RNG, and with it, Fnatic’s Bot Lane Inhibitor.

msi day 1 uzi

RNG Uzi. Photo: LoL Esports

End Game

Shortly after, RNG set up a “Death Brush” on the top side of the Mid Lane, but Fnatic was able to turn this ambush against them. A Pillar of Ice from Broxah allowed them to single out and kill Mlxg. Continuing to engage, they followed up with a kill on Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze (Cho’Gath). Fnatic pushed the 5-3 advantage down the Mid Lane to take the enemy Inhibitor. Rather than recalling after this, they decided to make a Death Brush of their own in the RNG Jungle, which proved to be their downfall.

Though RNG had no wards in the area, Uzi was suspicious, and used Living Artillery blindly. Aiming wisely, he managed to hit the tightly grouped Fnatic team. In the resulting fight, Fnatic looked to focus the enemy AD Carry. As Uzi was saved by Ming’s Devour, Fnatic was unable to adjust, and ended up losing four members. RNG easily walked down the Mid Lane and ended the game.

Though Fnatic looked to be a match for RNG throughout much of the game, they could not win out in the end. In truth, the LPL team was able to keep a gold lead and played to their Win Condition more successfully. Through smart Macro play and playing around Uzi, RNG came away with the first victory of the MSI 2018 Group Stage.

 

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!

CLG’s 2016 spring of dreams: The sports anime team of the LCS Part 1

When people say what draws them to esports and sports, you’ll often hear two philosophies: to watch the best of the best play their game at the peak level of competition, or for the story lines that weave themselves on and off the playing fields.

This piece is for the second group. This article started in my mind as a joke, as I was looking back with a friend on past NA LCS splits playoffs and remembered just how insanely storybook like Counter Logic Gaming’s (CLG) run to win the Spring Split in 2016 and their performance at MSI was. In my mind, it was the greatest sports anime style narrative we’ve yet to see. (Rivaled by Cloud 9’s Cinderella story to Worlds in S6, mind you.)

I mean, THIS happened so anything is possible folks…

What do I mean by this? Well, think about it. Long time team, they had just come off a big win but now were thrown into question, lots of pressure on the roster, and a bunch of faces old and new, veterans and no name rookies, who managed to stick it to the pundits and win it all.

Hell, even the archetypes are there: the Leader (Aphro), the Cutesy dopey one (Huhi), the Downplayed ace (Stixxay), the Steady and silent one (Xmithie), the Pretty one (Darshan), and the Mr. Serious Coach Guy (Zikz… kind of).

The narrative practically writes itself folks. There were ups and downs, moments it looked bleak and others where they shined as a team, not as individuals. They coalesced, they backed each other up on and off the rift, and they showed that team work meant more than flashy players and big transfers. They also lost in heart breakers, they had to buffer themselves to the community’s constant criticisms, and ultimately to have faith in each other.

With MSI behind us, and the NA LCS ultimately losing their top seed at the next Worlds, lets take a look back a brighter time for North America, a time where, funny enough, the team representing the region was not seen as the best team there. They were criticized harshly going into it, and many felt that perhaps they would not be the best showing for the NA LCS internationally. It turned out, they were. This is the first part of a two part series, so be sure to check in tomorrow for our dramatic conclusion!

The Set Up

I still remember the shock of the off season between Worlds 2015 and the NA LCS Spring Split 2016. Losing  Eugene “Pobelter” Park seemed like a blow enough. Pob was, as I always said, a solid, if not uninspiring, Mid laner. The perfect fit for CLG, who often had… on and off Mid laners. That was fine. Maybe the team had some crazy import in mind, right? After all, Faith has always been part of the CLG fandom. But that wasn’t all.

Then the unthinkable happened. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng traded in the blue and gray for the black and white of long time rivals TSM. Why not top it all off with picking up two almost unheard of rookies in Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, and CLG pulled a full CLG and went counter to everyone’s expectations. They finally found the solution, the team that got them that coveted NA LCS Finals and Worlds appearance. It was supposed to be the Golden Age. Then they decided to remove two key players and replace them with untested rookies.

The rag tag team of dreams, NA’s hope at MSI. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

The scene was left scratching their heads, as eternal rivals TSM looked to rebound after an off performance during their last Summer’s playoff showing, having gotten arguably the strongest ADC in the West from the very team that beat them. TSM’s rivals, of course, were left with two rookies, Stixxay having been promoted from CLG Black, while Huhi was reportedly scouted in Korea for his talent. But they both had big shoes to fill, and while being surrounded by some of the most storied veterans in Top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha, Jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, CLG fans felt that maybe, just maybe, they’d be able to pull out a playoff win in Summer.

Alongside the player changes, CLG brought on a new head coach by the name of Tony “Zikzlol” Gray, now a household name as arguably one of the best coaches in North America, there was a lot of new faces and questions mixed with hopes.

Nobody expected that the team would amount to much in Spring. Even CLG didn’t. A win on domestic soil seemed a great showing, but the impressive showings didn’t end there: they also went on to place second at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational, after showing up against international teams and only falling short against Korean juggernauts SKT. Then again, what would a good sports anime be without the unlikely happening?

Our protagonists

Archetypes in Anime aren’t really set in stone. Sure, there are tropes and there’s kind of constant themes throughout, but archetypes are always kind of murky grounds. Some will disagree with the ones I find almost ever present. Some will say I forgot some. Hell, it’s even likely you’ll disagree with my identification of the players in their archetypes. That’s fine, I’m not claiming objectivity here. But if I were writing the show, this is how I’d envision the players.

Darshan: Even his teacher calls him Zionspartan… but fans now call him Darshan, and arguably last Spring was some of the best times for the one they call Darshan.

He was a monster in the Top lane, eloquent in the lane swap meta, and a menace when left to split push to victory. If fans of the NA LCS had a dime for every time Darshan would split push to win with Fiora or similar split pushers, they’d have a lot of dimes. It wasn’t quite the Flame Horizon in the Top lane, but it was pretty damn close, and many of the W’s in CLG’s Spring Split could be chalked up to the dashing Darshan.

Darshan, probably thinking about how to style his hair or like the next song to cover… Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

Of course, it’s not just about how the players played, but their place in our overall story, right? Darshan could’ve been the kind of Clutch Player, the one who shows up when the team needs him the most and somehow pulls off the victory. But I think the other side of Darshan plays out more in my mind: He seriously was the pretty boy of the group. Amazing facial hair and style aside, he also sings amazingly. If he were to walk onto stage, I feel like he would have to have a flower background and a close up zoom in, as his eye sparkled or something. Next to Huhi, Darshan would probably have the most fanart of himself if we’re being totally honest.

Xmithie: Xmithie has been a staple in the NA LCS since his time way back in Season 3 with Team FeaR and Team Vulcun. He’s been a stable force in the scene, never quite as strong as some of his flashier compatriots in the Jungle, yet Xmithie never failed though to remain a rock and foundational piece for many a team. Hell, he was the unchallenged Best Lee Sin NA for a while folks…

Over the shoulder eye brow raising smoulder. Courtesy of Riot Flikr.

But more than that, Xmithie fit into the CLG story line as that Steady and Silent one. For the entirety of the Spring split and into MSI, Xmithie put in production for the team, helping his lane mates get ahead and maintaining overall map control.

He was there where and when the team needed him and read the game to know who to set up and get ahead. In some ways he was like a tactician for the squad, if not for Aphro’s obvious influence in that department. He was, however, always the quietest member it felt like. He wouldn’t be the player dominating a scene in the show, but he would show up at the right time to help a fellow player. The strong, silent type that always held a place in your heart for his sincere concern for his fellows.

 

Huhi: Huhi came in as a heavily scrutinized player, always at the center of criticism for the team and seemingly always the one that had to go. Still, through all of this, it seemed like the bubbly personality of Huhi persisted on. While notorious for his pocket picks like Aurelion Sol, Huhi’s performance on the rift has always been polarizing. He’s either the one surprisingly carrying his whole team on his giant space dragon back, or the one that’s the anchor for the early game of the team. Huhi was always a polarizing player, but he was never a negative player.

If you don’t find this image heart warming and wholesome, I ask you kindly, but firmly, to leave. Courtesy of Yahoo Esports.

It was his off the rift presence that was the perfect fit for somewhere between the comedic relief and the adorable one of the group. Just check his Twitter, and see the beauty that is the HuhixHaru.

It was, however, I think Huhi’s defining feature in my mind of his overall positive attitude in the face of adversity. He always seemed happy, always ready to try and prove himself again, and never daunted by opponents or critics. He would keep the team cheery and would offer his positive attitude to the team atmosphere.

Stixxay: Fans of CLG may have forgotten this, but Stixxay was considered once one of the weakest members of CLG for a time. Not many should be surprised by this, as stepping into the shoes of ace ADC and Best in the West Doublelift is definitely a tall task. But Stixxay never seemed fazed by those who didn’t believe in him. He was always stepping up, and I think the shinning moment of his Spring career was the Tristana play that propelled them to their victory over TSM and onto the MSI tournament.

From Zero to Hero in no time flat. Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

In a lot of ways, Stixxay would seem our protagonist for this show. The young kid, stepping into the ace role for a team, under heavy scrutiny by fans and pundits, and with a kind of self confidence in himself and his team that felt slightly above what one might feel was warranted. He and Aphromoo set out to prove everyone wrong, the young gun under the mentorship of the leader and brain in the botlane duo of Rush Hour.

Interviews with Stixxay showed this side time and time again: he felt he was good, damn good, but not in a pretentious way, not by putting others down or overstating his point. He felt he had the mechanics and just needed the time to ripen and he could match Doublelift’s legacy. Well, as a spoiler, it seemed he wasn’t too far off, and while a discussion of whether he’s ‘better than’ Doublelift or not would be a hotly contested debate, it’s safe to say that the rookie has proved himself, long before gaining the moniker of Big Dixxay.

Aphromoo: If ever there was a franchise player to match the level of Doublelift, it could be argued that it would be Aphromoo. Support, as a position, occupies a unique role within League of Legends: they’re both the ones to set up the plays and their lane mates success, while also generally tasked with the shotcalling role. In short, the best Supports are often the ultimate altruistic leaders. Aphromoo is no exception to this role either, often being praised as the driving force behind CLG’s success, being the leader the team needs on and off the rift.

There are certain players whose reputation transcends their on the Rift abilities. Aphromoo is one such player. Courtesy of Riot Flikr.

It’s the perfect plot line too. The mentor, the veteran, the one left behind the famous departure of lanemate Doublelift. Aphromoo had to prove himself not only mechanically as a player, but to prove himself to the team captain and mentor everyone believed he could be. He was given the untested, gifted, and highly coachable player that was Stixxay, and their role in the team ultimately became the lynch pin for their success.

While Darshan was known for his split pushing, Huhi his pocket picks and Xmithie for his selfless jungling style, it was the Bot lane duo that often was tasked to face some of the best and strongest opponents and carry. If it’s not a saying, it should be, that behind every God ADC is a Support who whipped them into shape, and look no further for proof of this then the Lethal Weapon duo that is Stixxay and Aphromoo.

Zikz: An untested team needs a leader, but it also needs a coach. Zikz stepped into the role of Head Coach before the roster was finalized, replacing William “scarra” Li and being promoted from Head Analyst position. Fans will remember Zikz for his simple, elegant style, a classy suit and non-distracting hair gave him the appearance of a largely non-menacing coach. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Zikz has established himself in the coaching role, holding one of the longest tenures as such, in a position that largely has seen more revolving doors than an European Super Team.

“Ok guys, if we destroy their Nexus first we win. Break!” Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr.

So how does Zikz play into this story? Well, he’s the behind the scene coach, the one who propels his team, prepares them to the best he can, and then sits there and watches as his work and tactics unfold before his eyes. Zikz was always there with his team, laughing, encouraging, being one on one with many of the players, and arguably a lot of CLG’s success can be placed as a fact of his impressive coaching. He was a strong Runner Up for the Coach of the Spring Split in 2016, and is a constant contender for the best coach each split.

He also plays the role of the coach who not much is known about. He’s been a relative silent force in CLG’s presence, and while this fits that narrative well of the behind the scenes coach who is stronger than he comes off, it also gave him the kind of mysterious aspect to him. All he needs is some glasses to push up his nose menacing when a team falls into his well laid trap and he’d be perfect.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 everyone!

Is That a Jojo Reference? Courtesy of Riot’s Flikr and bad MS Paint skills.

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Six Takeaways from the MSI Group Stage

The Mid Season Invitational concluded on Sunday, with SKT, WE, G2, and Flash Wolves all advancing to the bracket stage of the tournament. It was a close competition as there were a ton of surprises and close games throughout the tournament. Outside of SKT and maybe WE, every team had its shares of ups and downs throughout the tournament. It’s always interesting to have the top teams from around the world compete. It gives a glimpse at how each region stacks up to one another and gets us more excited for Worlds. Here are some key takeaways from the tournament:

Is the gap closing?

Photo by: Riot Esports

As we’ve come to expect, Korea’s SKT Telecom T1 finished atop the standings.

They did drop two games during the group stage. Once, to the Korean slayers, Flash Wolves, and another to WE. Despite this, SKT still looked quite dominant throughout the tournament. Even when they’re behind, they don’t look the part. Their strength is definitely in the mid-late game shot calling where they almost always know exactly what to do to earn the victory.

SKT could fall behind one thousand gold or so in the early game, but take one big team fight to retake the lead in the mid game. Once the tournament goes to best of 5’s, I’m honestly not sure if they’ll drop a game. They’ve had a chance to scout the competition now. Head coach Kim kkOma Jung-gyun will have a week to prepare SKT which will be more than enough to get his team ready to take another MSI title.

TSM’s International Struggles Continue

North America’s champs, TSM, took a heavy defeat Sunday as they lost out on NA’s chance at a number one seed for Worlds. Failing to make it out of the group stage of MSI just adds to the TSM legacy of under performing at international events. The team had a poor start to the tournament, just barely edging out Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines in the play-in stage.

Most of the blame was shifted to jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen for getting caught out multiple times on aggressive invades throughout the tournament. ADC Jason “Wildturtle” Tran also received much of the criticism, specifically costing his team a game against WE face-checking at baron with both summoner spells up. Head coach, Parth Naidu, also received a lot of criticism from the community for his drafts. In their tiebreaker match, he banned Kog’maw and Twitch when FW hadn’t played either of those champions the whole tournament.

Overall, it felt like TSM were scared to make plays. In both their matches against G2, they failed to snowball their leads and let G2 back into both games. Game one would have been lost, had it not been for some small misplays by G2. TSM had no idea how to properly close out games, ultimately being the biggest reason for their failure to get out of groups.

Gigabyte Marines Are Fun To Watch

Nobody was really talking about these guys coming in, but Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines can hold their heads up high. They played phenomenal for a wildcard region and showed that the GPL has some tough competition. From the beginning of the play-ins, Gigabyte Marines’ aggressive early game has given teams troubles and they were able to take some games off some of the top teams, finishing 3-7.

Jungler, Đỗ “Levi” Duy, Khánh made a name for himself this tournament. He was a major part of his team’s success, and analysts even said that he should be imported into a major region for summer. His Lee Sin and Kha’zix were a treat to watch and everyone is hoping to see more of him in the future.

If Gigabyte Marines can keep this momentum going, we can definitely expect to seem them again at Worlds 2017.

G2 Redeems themselves

Photo by: Riot Esports

After a whole year of international tournament stumbles, G2 esports was finally able to play well and earn a spot in the knockout stage for MSI. This has to be relieving for all members, after much of the hate that ensued after their last MSI and Worlds performances.

Their mid laner, Luka “PerkZ” Perković, had a phenomenal tournament, finally getting to showcase his skill on the international stage. Star ADC, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, also had a great tournament. G2 often built their comps around him to allow him to carry in the mid/late game.

Jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun didn’t have the greatest performances. He was often reactive to many of the aggressive junglers in the tournament. G2 has shifted to putting him on supportive junglers such as Nunu and Ivern to allow for Zven to carry. It’ll be interesting to see if G2 decides to keep with Trick after many of his international struggles.

G2 can finally breathe a bit as they earned a number one seed for EU at Worlds 2017.

Flash wolves overrated?

Taiwan’s Flash Wolves came into MSI as most people’s 2nd best team to SKT. Most thought they’d take second easily after a dominant showing at IEM and in their championship run. That was not the case as Flash Wolves struggled heavily early in the tournament.

Specifically, it seemed like other teams were exploiting top laner, Yau “MMD” Li-Hung, one of Flash Wolves’ weaker members. Early in the tournament, he struggled to make an impact on the team, often falling behind. As the tournament went on though, MMD’s confidence seemed to come back as Flash Wolves was able to do just enough to beat out TSM for the last spot in the knockout stage.

Flash Wolves are an explosive early game team. Sometimes this can also be their downfall though. The “Korean Slayers” will get a chance to take down SKT in a bo5.

WE Surprises

Photo by: Riot Esports

Maybe team WE wasn’t expected to do that bad, but many people didn’t expect them to do this well. WE was getting ranked around 4-5th position due to many people just not really knowing what to expect.

Team WE doesn’t adhere to the Chinese stereotype of chaotic games. Their macro is solid and they know how to push their leads well. They’ve shown the ability to play a number of unique champions, such as mid laner Su “Xiye” Han-Wei pulling out Lucian in their victory against SKT.

Jungler Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie showed he can compete with some of the best. He was 2nd in KDA among junglers and was first in kill participation percentage with a whopping 70 percent. His early game plays helped setup his team to snowball leads.

Top laner Ke “957” Changyu had some great performances on carry split pushers like Fizz and Kled. He was a nuisance for the enemy team, pressuring side lanes and getting picks in team fights.

WE look like big contenders to contest SKT for the MSI title. They’ll need to get through EU’s G2 first though.

Cover photo by: Riot Esports

Tune into the MSI Knockout Stage this Friday, Saturday, and Finals Sunday

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