Boston Red Sox: The difference

The 2018 baseball season is just 15 games young, but the Boston Red Sox have the best record in the Major leagues. They have won 13 out of their last 14 and have won their last four in a row. The Red Sox have never jumped out to 10-games above .500 faster than they have this season (14 games). In 15 games they have given up 47 runs which translates to just over three runs a game (3.07 which is fourth in all of baseball).

Their offense is in the top four of baseball in runs (86), batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.349) and slugging percentage (.445). Their pitching has been equally as impressive. The Red Sox have 11 quality starts in fifteen total games which is the best number in all of baseball. They are also fifth in the league in WHIP at 1.16 and eighth in the league in batting average against at .225. The Boston Red Sox have been the most balanced team in baseball.

The Offense:

It seems as though it’s a different bat every night for the Boston Red Sox. They have 14 players on their roster with at least one run batted in and have seven players so far with at least one home run. Every member of their opening day starting lineup has at least nine hits and no one has more than 18 in Mookie Betts. J.D. Martinez and Hanley Ramirez both have three home runs and over 12 RBIs through 15 games this season. Despite the Red Sox slightly increasing their Homerun total comparatively to last season, they are striking out less and turning in better quality starts on the mound.

The Missing Pieces:

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, (AP Photo/Steve Nesius).

It’s so easy to forget that the Boston Red Sox are missing some of their most important pieces. Hector Valazquez and Brian Johnson, although extremely talented, are just filling in for Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz to come back from injury. Drew Pomeranz is the biggest missing piece. He is a lefty that all of last season pitched like an ace. He finished the season at 17-7 and have a 3.34 ERA which was good for third among the starting pitchers last season. It was one of his best seasons and he is waiting to join the team again.

The other important missing piece is Dustin Pedroia. Many people forget about the former MVP because he hasn’t played in seemingly ever. Dustin Pedroia is the Red Sox everyday second baseman. What will happen when he gets back is a logjam of everyday infielders and one will be on the outside looking in. It might even be Dustin Pedroia who goes from everyday starter and MVP to backup if the lineup stays this hot.

Xander Bogaerts:

There was no one hotter at the beginning of the season than Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop was hitting .368 with two home runs and nine runs batted in in just nine games and 38 at-bats. Half of his 14 hits were doubles and he didn’t make an error in those nine games. Now he has been pushed to the 10-day disabled list and has been seen in a walking boot to protect his injured ankle. Since his injury, however, the Red Sox are 4-1 and Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin have been fantastic since he has left. One thing is for sure, the Red Sox don’t have a bunch of depth in the middle infield on their 40-man roster.

What they can do:

The Boston Red Sox have tons of balance and depth. The pitching staff essentially has four aces on it when healthy and their starting lineup doesn’t have a single easy out in it. Barring a bullpen collapse they would be 14-1. The Boston Red Sox will only go as far as their hitting takes them. The pitching has been there and that has been proven for the last three seasons with the same rotation. J.D. Martinez has been added to an already potent lineup and after scoring 29 more runs than opponents this season, the Boston Red Sox seem to be firing on all cylinders. Despite everyone talking about this new look New York Yankee lineup, the Boston Red Sox have a 3.5 game lead on the AL East, and the Yankees aren’t even the team in second place.


Featured image from The Boston Herald.

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Rockets Timberwolves preview

Rockets vs. Timberwolves series preview

The NBA playoffs are finally here. After a tumultuous regular season defined by injuries and shake-ups, we are bringing you some playoff previews before the first round begins.

An eight seed has upset a one seed in the first round only five times in the history of the NBA. The Timberwolves are hoping to make it six after breaking their 14-year playoff drought. The Rockets, however, are looking to continue their winning ways as they have their eyes on a title.

Here is a summary of the first round series between the No. 1 seed and the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Regular Season Summary

Houston Rockets

The Rockets finished the 2017-18 season with the best record in the league, at 65-17.

Their offense was nothing short of prolific as they made their way to clinching the West’s top seed. Houston was first in 3-pointers (both attempted and made), second in points and second in free throws made per game, despite their jump shooting ways.

James Harden, the probable NBA MVP, played out of his mind this season. He collected 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. Not to mention he owns all of these stats despite missing 10 regular season games due to knee soreness. The assists are especially surprising because of the addition of Chris Paul, who is one of the premiere passers in the NBA.

Paul and Harden proved any doubters that this combination could not work laughably wrong. Worried that two ball-dominate guards could not operate in the same system, NBA pundits thought the experiment would go horribly wrong, as neither would be able to get enough shots to be productive.

Rockets Timberwolves preview

Harden and Paul congratulate each other mid game. (Photo by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

Paul got his, however. He averaged 18.6 points, 7.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game, all while missing 24 games due to a multitude of injuries. The third piece of this puzzle, Clint Capela, averaged a double-double. Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza also averaged over 10 points per game in support of the Rockets’ big three.

Houston’s defense was no slouch either. The Rockets rank sixth in defensive rating, with a fifth place finish in steals. They also were in the top half of the league in blocks, opponents’ points off turnovers and opponents’ second chance points.

Being the No. 1 with the best record in the NBA does not lend itself to having many exploitable weaknesses. The most glaring issue, though, is Houston’s reluctancy to share the ball.

The Rockets are 26th in assists, which is decidedly bad. Obviously, it has not hurt them too much, as most every player on the floor can score at will. But the playoffs will test a team’s weaknesses in a way the regular season cannot. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but Houston’s main hurdle between them and a trip to the NBA Finals is Golden State, a team that shares the ball more than any other in the league.

Overall, coach Mike D’Antoni’s group has overachieved and then some. The main pieces are all healthy at the right time, and the stage is set for the Rockets to shake the woes that follow them into every NBA playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota, as previously stated, has broken their 14-year long drought, landing the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They had to do so by winning an instant classic, win-or-go-home overtime game against the Denver Nuggets. It is only fitting that in a playoff race as wild as the West’s was this year that the last game of the season would decide the eighth seed.

But the Timberwolves’ season was pretty wild before that last game.

Sitting as high as the fourth seed at the All-Star break, the wheels seemingly came off of Minnesota’s wagon as the rest of the Western Conference gained steam. As they started losing, the rest of the West had no problem racking up their wins and climbing up the standings.

The biggest harbinger of the Timberwolves’ disappointing second half was the loss of Jimmy Butler to a meniscus tear. Butler, at the time of his injury, was averaging the most minutes of any player in the entire league. He ended the season with an average of 36.7 minutes per game.

The problem for Minnesota was that with those minutes, came production. Butler scored 22.2 points per game on the season, almost six points above his career average. He was also the team leader on the defensive side of the court. As a result, the Timberwolves suffered on both ends of the floor when he was not playing.

Karl-Anthony Towns continued to be the brightest spot on the roster. He averaged a double-double at 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Towns continues to get better defensively, although that is not really saying much as of now. He also posted an impressive 54.5 field goal percentage while shooting 42.1 percent from three.

Rockets Timberwolves preview

Jeff Teague shoots over James Harden. (Photo by Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press)

Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson contributed well, despite their age, and were continuously counted on as huge pieces of the team. The rest of the roster, though, did not impress. Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins’ numbers were down from their career averages, and Jeff Teague was good while he was healthy, but was forced to take a backseat to Butler and Towns.

Finishing seventh in offensive rebounds per game and second in free throw percentage, the Timberwolves proved tough, even when overmatched by more complete teams. They also did not turn the ball over much, at just 12.5 times per game, which was also second-best in the league.

The defense was lackluster at best in Minneapolis. The team’s defensive rating landed them in the bottom 10 at 23rd overall. Cycling through the defensive statistics and seeing where the team finished in each paints a picture of an inconsistent defense. This is exceptionally rare for a team coached by Tom Thibodeau.

More pressing than any other issue that plagued the team throughout the season, though, was the awful bench play.

Minnesota finished dead last in minutes, points, rebounds, blocks, offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. They also were in the bottom six in assists, steals and offensive rebounds. This is incredibly bad. The Timberwolves’ starters played more than any other group in the NBA, and it is easy to see why.

Even so, the drought is over, and the Wolves have been playing playoff-type basketball for the entire month of April. They may be tired, but they are ready to give Minnesota fans something to cheer about.

Breakdown and Prediction


Jimmy Butler will have his hands full guarding James Harden, but he may be one of the only defenders in the league who can do so efficiently. Clearly, no one is taking Harden out of a game completely, but he faces one of his toughest matchups here in the first round. This will be the biggest thing to watch as the series progresses.

Houston’s main goal should be to stop Karl-Anthony Towns from putting up the points. It would be a smart bet to take that the Wolves will run their offense through him, playing an inside-out game. Clint Capela will not be able to match his production, with Harden and Chris Paul taking the bulk of the shots. Defending Towns will be their only option in the paint.

Paul versus Jeff Teague is interesting, as both have different preferred scoring methods. Paul favors the mid-range game, while Teague likes to slash to the hoop. The points here should be a wash, but the edge still goes to Paul because of his incredible passing ability.

Wing play favors Houston heavily. Almost everyone on the roster can shoot from distance, and Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Gerald Green, Joe Johnson and more will be waiting to pull up. The bench matchup is also a no-brainer. Considering that the Timberwolves have far and away the least productive bench in the NBA, all Houston’s players have to do is show up for the game and they already have the Timberwolves’ bench beaten.


The Houston Rockets are a buzz saw, and the Timberwolves, regardless of how great their story is, are on the conveyor belt headed towards it.

Rockets Timberwolves preview

Butler may be one of Harden’s biggest playoff challenges. (Photo by Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press)

Even if they were not one of the best NBA offenses ever, or slacked on the defensive end of the floor, the Timberwolves are an incomplete team. Thibodeau has always ridden his starters harder than any other coach in the league, but it is a different story when he has no choice but to.

Towns, Butler and the momentum that Minnesota has going into this series will be enough to carry them to one victory. The Rockets, however, seem like an unstoppable force, and it is going to take more than five players to beat them.

In the end, the Wolves’ drought is over, and that is something to celebrate. This team is probably trending upwards, too, if they can pull in some free agents. But the Rockets have their eyes on the prize, and this one should be over shortly.

Rockets in five


Featured image by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

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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.


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.


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

Paul DeJong

Paul DeJong is for real

The St. Louis Cardinals have a knack for finding talent where nobody would expect to. They proved that time and time again during their playoff stretch from 2011-15, where they would have no-name talents come up and beat on the big guys.

It seems to be the case once again that the Cardinals have found a surprise talent in Paul DeJong. While it may not be a surprise to some, as he was the runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, it is still strange to see a shortstop with the kind of power he does.

Off to a hot start

Paul DeJong

Paul DeJong has developed a reliable glove and powerful arm. (Photo from STL Today)

We all need to keep in mind that we are only five games into the 2018 season. That being said, DeJong has gotten off to a fast start by hitting .444 and knocking three balls out of the park already. He is quickly proving the Cardinals were smart for signing him to a very good extension at $26 million over the next six years.

St. Louis has faith that they have found their shortstop of the future, a position that has yet to be solidified since the departure of Ozzie Smith, who is one of the best to ever play the position. Ironically, DeJong was not drafted as a shortstop. He was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB draft and did not have a solid position.

DeJong won’t make the acrobatic play that you might see at the shortstop position. However, he has become a reliable glove with a strong arm that really provides some stability to the infield.

Power bat

DeJong has begun to separate himself as one of the best power-hitting middle infielders in baseball. Last year in the majors, he was able to hit 25 home runs. That does not seem like a lot with the amount of home runs that were hit last year. However, DeJong did not start to see consistent playing time until late June.

Before he started seeing consistent playing time, DeJong also hit 13 home runs at Triple-A. With three home runs already this year, he certainly has the makings of a guy who could hit 40 home runs in 2018.

The Cardinals have been missing the superstar bat in the lineup since Albert Pujols has left. There have been many great players to come through, but St. Louis is still missing that piece. Maybe DeJong is what the Cardinals are looking for.

Marcell Ozuna is certainly supposed to help with the big bat in the middle of the lineup, and that is what he is there to do. DeJong is currently batting behind Yadier Molina at the seven spot though. Before you know it, he may be backing up Ozuna.

Questions about discipline

Paul DeJong

DeJong has a high strikeout rate. (Photo from KSDK)

The downfall in DeJong’s game is similar to many at his point in his career. He is not able to draw as many walks as he should and strikes out a fair amount. The Cardinals shortstop actually only walks in five percent of his at bats, and strikes out in close to 30 percent of them.

Those are not the strikeout to walk numbers you want to see in a long-term major league ball player. However, the Cardinals made some great moves in the offseason in regards to their coaching staff. Jose Oquendo returned to St. Louis, and former NL MVP, Willie McGee, is now an assistant coach with the team. Their expertise certainly will come into play with the 24-year-old shortstop.

What is in store for 2018

At this rate, DeJong looks like he could have a breakout year and solidify himself as a force to be reckoned with. He has a solid lineup around him that should give him some protection, and the Cardinals certainly will continue to give him opportunities to succeed.

While DeJong may not make the All-Star game this year as a starter, it is not out of the realm of possibility for him to make it as a reserve. What should definitely be watched for is the Silver Slugger at the shortstop position. More likely than not, you will either see Corey Seager or Paul DeJong receiving that award in the end.

Home runs may not be as valuable as they once were with the newest surge in power. However, DeJong’s power certainly will provide pop in the bottom of the Cardinals’ lineup, which could keep them in contention for the crown in the NL Central.


 Featured image from USA Today 

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EU LCS Spring Split All-Pro Awards

The 2018 EU LCS Spring Split regular season has finished, and the standings are locked. Before the league enters playoffs, it is important to reflect on the past nine weeks and recognize the All-Pro players who have stood out. Each split, “the EU LCS English broadcast team, regional language broadcast teams, 3rd party media, and pro teams” submit ballots outlining their choices of the best players.

All-Pro Team, Coach of the Split, Rookie of the Split, and Most Valuable Player are the four recognitions. Each of these categories has its own definition, which is outlined on, and copied within each section below. This is my public ballot and reasoning for each individual chosen.

All-Pro Team 

“The EU LCS All-Pro team represents the individual stars in their respective roles. Players in the 1st team are the objectively best players in each position. If you’re in the All-Pro team, you truly are the best in Europe.”

First Team


G2 Wunder is my choice for first team All-Pro top laner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Wunder is one of the most clear standout performers this Spring Split, compared to others playing his position. Just watching G2’s games, fans can tell that he is always maintaining pressure. The audience most likely remembers his carry performances on Gangplank and Camille, but Wunder also put up solid wins on Ornn, Gnar, and Cho’Gath to round out his champion pool.

Objectively, Wunder leads top laners in almost every statistic–kills per game, assists per game, deaths per game, death share, gold and CS difference at 10 minutes, and damage per minute. His 5.9 KDA is tied fourth in the league, which is much higher than the next best top laner (Alphari, 22nd). Wunder should be an honest MVP candidate for this Spring Split.


Jungle is one of the toughest roles to judge independently, because it is a less structured role than laners. Xerxe won out at the end of the day, because of his early proactivity and overall value to Splyce. When compared to G2’s Jankos, Xerxe offers more utility and cerebral gameplay. He has shown success on a wide range of champions, as well as efficiently choosing between farming and ganking.

Xerxe leads junglers in KDA, death share, First Blood, and gold difference at 10 minutes. His 63 percent First Blood rate is the highest in the entire league, which boosts Splyce’s team rate to 74 percent (second overall). Xerxe has also never suffered as the victim of First Blood, and his 13 percent death share is fourth lowest in the league. Finally, Xerxe is the only jungler to draft Ivern on stage, giving him a bit of a “wild card” factor.


G2 Perkz is my choice for first team All-Pro mid laner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The mid lane was pretty stacked this split, but Perkz is still best-in-class. Not only does he feel like an anchor for G2 in the early game, but he is also an intimidating carry in the late game. He brings more stability and consistency than any other competitor in his role. While abusing the meta picks, Azir, Ryze, and Zoe, Perkz has also experimented with more assist-centric picks, such as Sion, Galio, and Taliyah.

Perkz’s 4.7 KDA, 78.9 percent kill participation, 5.6 CS difference at 10 minutes, and 650 damage per minute are all top three for mid lane. His death share 21.8 percent death share is fairly high, but Caps and Jiizuke have 21 and 19.5 percent, respectively. By the 15 minute mark, Perkz averages ahead in 73.7 percent of games, also third highest among mid laners. This deep and wide strength profile that makes Perkz number one.


With Zven relocated to North America, Rekkles has been able to showcase just how deadly he can be. Even in games where Fnatic fall drastically behind, Rekkles is somehow able to solo carry teamfights. Few players in the league probably eat more bans during the draft than Rekkles.

Some of his statistics are jaw-dropping. Among AD carries, Rekkles has the highest KDA (13.5), First Blood rate (44 percent), gold difference at 10 (+254), and damage per minute (674). There is a reason Fnatic provides him with the highest gold share of all marksmen. Rekkles is also unafraid to draft Ezreal or Sivir when his role is pinched, and then still execute without fail. It is hard to form an argument against him as first team All-Pro.


MSF Mikyx is my choice for first team All-Pro support

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Despite Misfits’ team-wide issues, Mikyx has been excelling as support. He and Hans sama have a dominant laning phase, generally accounting for most of Misfits’ early game leads. Mikyx follows through as a threat through all phases of the game, often acting as crucial disengage and protection to allies, or catching out an enemy and salvaging fights.

Surprisingly, Mikyx holds the second highest overall First Blood rate in the EU LCS–56 percent. Misfits’ support also averages 8.1 assists per game and 80.1 kill participation, both second among supports. According to Games of Legends, Mikyx has the highest support vision score per minute (2.98), and, he is ranked the second best EU LCS support by Best.GG. His 3.4 KDA is pretty average overall, but mostly due to his 26.6 percent death share. Thirteen of his 18 games have been on tanks, such as Braum, Tahm Kench, or Alistar, so higher deaths is not terrible since he is so involved in Misfits’ teamfights and vision.

Second Team


Misfits’ top laner comes in for EU LCS second team All-Pro. While other tops have varying effectiveness over the course of the split, Alphari brings higher highs and higher lows. He pushes his leads, especially on carries like Gangplank or Camille, and minimizes his losses. Alphari’s champion pool seems deeper, as well, showing solid performances on Shen, Malphite, Swain, and Cho’Gath.

A 4.1 KDA (second among tops), 17.2 percent death share (first among tops), and zero percent First Blood victim rate (tied first among tops) make up Alphari’s most impressive statistics. In a pool of over-aggressive, reckless top laners, Alphari remans calculated and safe. Even with Misfits’ low overall win rate, Alphari keeps his cool and never seems to lose the game for his team. If Misfits are able to solve their late-game decision problems, then expect Alphari to shine even brighter.


G2 Jankos is my choice for second team All-Pro jungler

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

In a strange twist, having the two best solo laners is the only issue holding Jankos back from first team All-Pro. No doubt, Jankos has been a consistent force in the EU LCS this split. He turns up for ganks and counter-ganks whenever needed, but is often allowed to free farm while Wunder and Perkz hold down their lanes.

Jankos’ 80.8 kill participation and 3.17 vision score per minute are the highest among junglers. He also holds top three for KDA (5.9), death share (17.6 percent), and damage per minute (212). Jankos has been one of the few junglers to look formidable on such a wide array of champions, including Nunu, Kha’Zix, Skarner, and Olaf.


What Caps lacks in the laning phase he makes up in the mid and late game. While generally the target of a lot of enemy pressure, Caps gets through the early game as best he can. Caps always becomes Fnatic’s secondary damage threat with Rekkles and takes over games. His diverse champion skill set, including Aurelion Sol and Veigar, makes drafting versus Fnatic extremely difficult.

Caps has the second highest damage per minute (659) in the EU LCS, and the highest damage share (32.6 percent) of any mid laner. His 4.3 KDA is tied for third among mids. While his kill participation and CS/gold/XP difference at 10 minutes are on the lower side, Caps does the most important job for mid laners–dishing damage while staying safe. His .07 deaths per 1000 damage contributes to his first place rank on Best.GG.


MSF Hans sama is my choice for second team All-Pro AD carry

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Hans sama is like a watered down Rekkles. He is online at all stages of the game, often winning lane with Mikyx and transitioning to crushing team fights. Misfits’ AD carry has exceptional positioning around objectives, allowing himself to output damage while remaining alive. He is one of the only EU AD carries that looks good on Kog’Maw.

Hans sama holds a 5.3 KDA, second only to Rekkles. He leads marksmen in CS difference at 10 minutes (+7.6) and First Blood rate (44 percent), and has a top three gold difference at 10 (+210), damage share (33.3 percent), and share of games ahead at 15 minutes (72.2 percent). All of these statistics are even more impressive when taking into account Misfits’ 44 percent win rate.


Wadid carried over his play-making from last year onto G2. Excelling on Braum, Taric, and Janna, G2’s support does a great job protecting Hjarnan and enabling his carries. Wadid may not have the most dominant laning phase of all the supports, but he is the best at pressuring objectives and fighting in the mid-late game.

8.2 assists per game sets Wadid at the top of the entire EU LCS. Although he only has the fourth highest kill participation among supports (77 percent), Wadid makes up for it with the second lowest deaths per game (1.9). Wadid is actually ranked as the strongest support in EU by Best.GG, and his 9.8 percent gold share is the second lowest in the league.

Third Team


SPY Odoamne is my choice for third team All-Pro top laner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Recency and win rate bias probably puts Odoamne above Alphari for some people. But, looking back on the first few weeks of the Spring Split, Odoamne really struggled. Just looking on his first six matches, Odoamne’s KDA was 1.04. However, he maintained a 3.37 KDA over the last 13 games.Odoamne’s resurgence has allowed Splyce to finish the split in third place, and if he held this higher form over the entire split, then maybe he would be second or first team All-Pro.

Despite these earlier woes, Odoamne averages ahead in CS, XP, and gold at 10 minutes. He also participates in First Blood in 42 percent of games (first among top laners). While Odoamne has the highest death share among top laners (33.8 percent), he also contributes 25.6 percent of Splyce’s damage (second among tops). Odo is peaking at the perfect time for playoffs, with powerful performances on Camille, Vladimir, Cho’Gath, and Sion.


Even though Broxah is surrounded by strong players and veteran leadership, he deserves credit for his individual performances this split. Broxah plays a large part in Fnatic’s ability to gain early pressure and transition into mid-game momentum. The team averages ahead by 800 gold at 15 minutes (second in EU), has a 78 percent First Blood rate (first in EU), a 61 percent dragon control rate, and a 58 percent Baron control rate (both second in EU). Fnatic also maintains a 55 percent jungle control rate, which is first in the league.

Broxah has been crucial to Fnatic’s dominance this split. Jarvan IV, Sejuani, and Zac have put Broxah on initiation duty, which works well for the team. However, Broxah’s Kha’Zix games have been some of the best in the league. He has the second highest KDA (6.5), third lowest death share (15.3 percent), and the second highest First Blood rate (50 percent), while never falling victim to First Blood. Broxah has truly come into his own this year.


Jiizuke has been a central part of Vitality’s success this split. His aggression has helped define the team’s playstyle, which kept Vitality towards the top for most of the regular season. The best-looking Ryze in EU, Jiizuke benefitted most from the Zoe-Azir-Ryze meta prior to patch 8.5. His highlight plays are some of the flashiest of the entire split, often pulling off 1-v-2s and clutch escapes.

Jiizuke averages ahead in lane in 77.8 percent of games with top three gold, XP, and CS differences at 15 minutes. He also outputs 611 damage per minute (second among mids), which makes up 31.8 percent of Vitality’s overall damage (second among mids). And while Vitality has been on a downward trajectory on the back half of the split, few would blame it on Jiizuke’s performance. He offers the most kills per game (3.6), but also the third most deaths per game (2.1).


H2K Sheriff is my choice for third team All-Pro AD carry

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Sheriff and H2K have had the opposite effect this split. Prior to Shook’s starting, Sheriff only had seven kills and 11 assists over eight games, most of which were in H2K’s win over Fnatic. His KDA was 1.8. He and H2K were free wins in the eyes of the community.

Since Shook joined the team, Sheriff has blossomed into a true late game carry. His KDA has risen to 4.2 (5.87 over the last 10 games). Sheriff outputs the third most damage per minute (652), has the highest kill participation (85.5 percent), and the third lowest death share (12.8 percent) in the entire league, despite the devastating first four weeks. Other AD carries, such as Kobbe, Hjarnan, and Minitroupax, are not able to match Sheriff’s consistency, despite their stronger teammates and being higher in the standings.


Although Hylissang is not the star of Fnatic, he has still been a solid performer for the top team. Fnatic’s overall strength allows Hylissang to get away with more face-checking and errors than other supports, but his initiations and his impact with champions like Braum, Rakan, and Alistar is undeniable. His strategies are working much better this year with Fnatic’s controlled style than last year with Unicorns of Love.

Hylissang has a top three KDA (3.7), gold and XP difference at 15 minutes (+229, +150), and First Blood rate (50 percent) among supports. The rest of his stats are not ideal, especially considering Fnatic’s place in the standings, but his utility and effectiveness for the team raise him above other supports like Norskeren or kaSing. Hylissang feels more like a threat of his own.

Rookie of the Split

VIT Jiizuke is my choice for Rookie of the Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr


The 2018 EU LCS Spring Split has been full of promising rookies, including Jiizuke, Sheriff, Norskeren, and Minitroupax. However, what elevates Jiizuke, in particular, is everything he brings to the game. Not only is he formidable on the Rift, but he also brings so much that League of Legends fans enjoy–aggressive playmaking, high energy on stage, and a winning personality. Jiizuke immediately left his mark on the EU LCS from day one, and he has been riding the wave ever since. Vitality is lucky to have him as a competitive mid laner, but fans are also lucky to spectate live and on-screen.

Coach of the Split


While Splyce still need to prove themselves moving into playoffs, they have had a much better regular season than many expected. Peter Dun came on board a plateaued organization with a rebuilt roster for 2018. So far he has been able to lead the team to a third place regular season finish, and each individual member, as well as the team as a whole, seems to get better week after week.

YamatoCannon comes in a close second for this award, but the fact that four fifths of Vitality’s roster had already played together last split, and Vitality’s loss of momentum over the split, detracted from his perceived contributions.

Most Valuable Player

FNC Rekkles is my choice for Most Valuable Player

Image from LoL Esports Flickr


This vote does not require much explanation. Rekkles is a world-class player who looks just as good as ever. With Febiven, PowerOfEvil, Zven, and Mithy gone to North America, Rekkles has much less star power to contend with. He is one of the only players to play at a consistently high level over the entire split, at all stages of the game, on any champion, regardless of the draft.

When SoaZ or Caps is diminished, Rekkles is always the one that steps up to carry the team. When Fnatic falls behind by a significant amount, Rekkles is the one that reels it back in. Every other player in the EU LCS feels like they have significant weaknesses. Rekkles overshadows them all.

Honorable Mentions


SoaZ is certainly a top three top laner. While his statistics are not stellar, his role on Fnatic is essential to how they play. Enemies often set SoaZ behind and catch him out in side lanes, but he milks the attention and makes those sacrifices in order for Fnatic to win other areas and make aggressive trades.

But it feels awkward voting for SoaZ over Odoamne or Alphari when he did not play the last couple of games. Fnatic has been very transparent about why they brought Bwipo on stage, and it was not because SoaZ is slumping or having any issues. But, because he did not finish out the regular season, and Bwipo was able to step in without hurting Fnatic’s chances, it is hard to cast a vote for SoaZ.


H2K Shook deserves an honorable mention

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

In that same vein, Shook and Selfie did not play the entire split. However, it is undeniable how large their impact has been for H2K. Before Shook joined the team, H2K had a 1-7 record. Since he joined, H2K has had a 7-3 record. His ability to control the pace of the game, and to help H2K maintain mental fortitude through rough games, deserves credit.

Also, Selfie has been essential to H2K’s wins. Statistically, he has a very strong laning phase, and is involved in over 80 percent of H2K’s kills, while keeping the lowest death share of all mid laners. This split has been the best showing of LCS play from Selfie, and he could be in the conversation for the third best mid laner if he had played over the entire split at his current level.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Statistics: Oracles Elixir, Games of Legends

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James Harden MVP

The NBA MVP is Harden’s to lose

It is not a secret that James Harden is the clear frontrunner for the NBA MVP award. Other names are inevitably mentioned throughout the season, but Harden’s has been the mainstay.

Tuesday’s matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Rockets may have been his victory lap. A 42-point performance against one of the hottest teams in the league solidified his campaign, especially considering Portland’s team features some of the best guard play in the league.

Harden has been a man on a mission this season. After coming second in MVP voting twice, he has been out to show the NBA he is more than just a runner-up. He is an unstoppable force that will go down as one of the best multifaceted offensive players in league history.

Here is an in-depth look at his rise to glory during the 2017-18 season and why he is a virtual lock to take home the trophy.


After Tuesday’s 42-point performance, Harden’s stats stand at 31.2 points, 8.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.

His player efficiency rating is an NBA-best 30.67. A stat like that is not only a testament to what he brings to his team, but also a comment on the success of the Rockets’ analytics-based team-building strategy.

James Harden is also shooting almost 47 percent from the field in his last 10 games, and 45.2 percent on the season. Considering the amount of jump shots he takes, that number is sky high. He is also shooting 86.7 percent from the free-throw line, slightly higher than his 85.5 career percentage.

James Harden MVP

James Harden during his 60-point triple-double performance against Orlando. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

At 37.5 percent, his three-point percentage may seem weak compared to the NBA’s best percentage, 44.7, held by Darren Collison. But, on average, he takes 7.3 more threes per game than Collison, meaning he hits more threes per game this season than Collison even attempts.

What should not be overlooked here is the assists. Harden is playing with Chris Paul, one of the best assist men in NBA history. He is actually averaging almost an entire assist more per game this season than his own point guard. Even with a prolific passer running the offense half the time, Harden still has the ability to distribute the ball and find his shots.

This is exemplified by his 27 double-doubles and three triple-doubles. Included in those is an NBA-record 60-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist performance that was good for the most points ever scored in a triple-double.

All of those are MVP-level stats, regardless of one’s feelings about the current “offense over everything” identity of the NBA.


Harden’s incredible season is garnering a lot of attention from players and coaches alike.

Of course Harden’s own coach is going to laud his abilities, but Mike D’Antoni took his praise to the next level.

Calling someone “the best offensive player I’ve ever seen” is a very big deal, especially coming from D’Antoni, who has been coaching professional basketball for almost 30 years.

Considering he has coached some of the biggest offensive names in basketball during his coaching tenures, such as Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash, it takes the praise even further.

Harden’s main competition in the MVP race, Anthony Davis, is a fantastic young player who has put the Pelicans on his back after DeMarcus Cousins’ injury. But even his coach, Alvin Gentry, said the race is, “not even close,” in an interview with The Houston Chronicle.

Eric Gordon, Harden’s teammate, has stated that he can’t imagine anyone else being the MVP this year. Chris Paul has gone on record saying the MVP voting will take care of itself.

The Beard himself, however, has been hesitant to talk about a possible MVP award. Again, he’s been in the conversation for the past five years, and come in second place twice. One of those second place finishes was against Russell Westbrook’s triple-double season last year. That is the very definition of running into a buzzsaw.

All of that aside, it seems as if his time has come this season. He has only one true competitor, and many sports news outlets are starting to ask if he can be the second unanimous MVP. He certainly deserves it, yet it’s likely some votes will swing to Davis, considering he is single-handedly keeping the Pelicans afloat in the playoff race.


The only thing that could possibly stand between James Harden and the MVP is his defensive shortcomings.

Harden has been the butt of many jokes regarding his effort on the defensive end of the floor. The internet is littered with GIFs of him barely running down the court, or simply clearing the lane completely when a player is driving towards him.

The Houston Rockets’ system has found a way to mask these issues though. With the offensive capabilities of the team, defense is not the focus so much as matching the other teams’ shots. If there is anything Harden can do, it’s go shot-for-shot with anybody in the NBA.

James Harden MVP

Harden guards LeBron James. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Even so, his defensive stats are up slightly from his career average. His steals are up 0.3 per game, and his blocks are up 0.2 per game. Now, these numbers aren’t huge, but consider that if there is a steal made, Harden is usually the one running up the court instead of holding the ball. And guards’ blocks are simply a luxury item, not to be compared to the importance of forwards’ block numbers.

Any coach or player will tell you that defense matters, and it does. But when a team puts up almost 114 points every single night, it can be allowed to take a back seat. Harden’s defense might be another reason he may not be the second-ever unanimous MVP, but it won’t lose him the award by any means.

With Lil B’s curse lifted once and for all, it is finally Harden’s year.


Featured image by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr.’s surprise return to the court

In surprising news, it was announced earlier this week that star freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. would return to the court for the Missouri Tigers for the SEC tournament. The former no. 2 overall recruit in country and the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP returned to the hardwood after only playing 2 minutes all season. He injured his back in the first game of the year, and many pundits and scouts thought that he wouldn’t return at all and make sure he was ready to go by the NBA Draft in June.

It was announced on March 3 that Porter Jr. would return for the Tigers in the SEC tournament game versus the Georgia Bulldogs.

Although Michael Porter Jr. didn’t start the game, he entered the game with a little more than three minutes gone in the first half. His impact was immediately felt, as he grabbed a defensive rebound, tossed an outlet pass to his brother Jontay Porter, who slid him a pocket bounce pass right back to him for the easy fast-break lay-up. It was something Missouri and basketball fans across the country have been waiting to see the entire year. There is only so many highlight videos on Youtube that you can watch on the phenom who averaged 37 points and 14 rebounds-per-game in high school.

After that first bucket, the rest would be what you would expect out of someone who have missed basically the whole season and by his own account “at 65-70% health wise” according to the SEC Network telecast. He was rusty in his return, finishing 5-17 from the field for 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. This much was to be expected, no matter how talented a player Porter Jr. is. Nobody should be sweating his poor shooting performance.

All this goes to show that the talent is clearly there and the secret of Michael Porter Jr.’s game is no more. He is clearly lottery pick on potential and talent alone, despite the poor shooting game. I would not be surprised if he goes top seven in the 2018 NBA Draft. Fully healthy, I think he is an All-Star caliber wing who fits right into today’s style of play in the NBA.

Featured Image: Bleacher Report

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant wins Academy Award

On Sunday, at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe Bryant stood on the stage of the Dolby Theater, accepting film’s highest honor.

He and his director and animator, Glen Keane, won the Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film. The short, named “Dear Basketball,” is an animated re-telling of Bryant’s poem of the same name. The poem, originally published in The Players’ Tribune, was written in honor of his final season in the NBA.

In “Dear Basketball,” Kobe relives falling in love with the game. He talks about how he gave basketball everything inside of him, and what it gave him in return. Bryant laments that his heart and mind are still willing, yet his body is unable.

“I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. ” (Kobe Bryant, Dear Basketball)

Up against the likes of Pixar, and a short based on a book by legendary children’s author Roald Dahl, Bryant’s five minute short emerged victorious. In an interview after the Oscar® win, Bryant said winning this award felt better than winning a championship.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane deliver their acceptance speech. (Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock).

In his speech, Kobe referenced the controversy regarding Fox News journalist Laura Ingraham taking offense to LeBron James’ willingness to discuss politics. He says, “…as basketball players, we are just supposed to shut up and dribble,” using Ingraham’s own words. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”

He does, indeed, do more than dribble, but he was pretty good at that, too.

Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career solidly puts him in contention as one of the greatest to ever play the sport.

He has five NBA Finals victories in seven appearances, winning Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. He won the NBA’s MVP award in 2008. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, and took home the All-Star Game MVP four times, along with one Slam Dunk Contest championship.

Kobe led the NBA in scoring twice, in 2006 and 2007. He scored 60 points in his final game, an NBA record. He also owns the distinction of being the only player in league history to have two numbers retired by the same team.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant celebrates winning an NBA championship. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Other NBA players took to Twitter to congratulate Bryant on his win. Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal showed their support. O’Neal even added, “I’m jealous lol.”

Kobe is the first athlete to win a championship in his sport and land an Oscar®. However, Steve Tisch, Chairman and Vice President of the New York Giants, does own an Academy Award for Best Picture for “Forrest Gump,” and a Super Bowl ring.

It’s clear that Kobe Bryant is not satisfied with simply being one of the best basketball players to ever live. He is also reportedly writing novels, and wants to continue telling stories in many different mediums now that his sports career is over.

You can read “Dear Basketball” on The Players’ Tribune’s website here. You can also watch the Academy Award winning short film here, courtesy of go90, who distributed the film.

Featured image by Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

MLB top 5 catchers

Top 5 catchers heading into 2018

As spring training kicks into full swing, it is as good of a time as ever to consider some of the best catchers in the majors.

The catcher has perhaps an underrated role in today’s baseball world, but nothing they do should be undervalued. Catchers are responsible for working with every pitcher on their staff, calling pitches, keeping base runners in check and hitting on top of all of that.

With that in mind, here are the best catchers in baseball as of right now.

5. Yadier Molina

In terms of running a pitching staff, Molina may be the best of the bunch. The eight-time Gold Glove winner is turning 36 this season, and is in the twilight of his career. In 2017, Molina hit the second most home runs of his career despite missing some time. Molina has not earned a Gold Glove since 2015 either, which was the end of his eight consecutive seasons streak.

Molina still may mean more to his team than many other top players in the league. He may not be the best offensively or defensively, but his work with pitchers is second to none.

The Cardinals have a losing record without Molina behind the plate. He won’t win an MVP, but he is very important to the Cardinals’ success.

4. J.T. Realmuto

MLB top 5 catchers

Realmuto may be the most athletic catcher in baseball. (Photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Realmuto has broken out as one of the best catchers in baseball the last couple of years. He finished last season with a 3.6 WAR and has had an average floating around .300 the last two years.

Realmuto finds himself in a precarious situation after this past offseason. Derek Jeter and the new Marlins ownership just sold most of their best players in order to shed salary and build for the future.

Of course, anybody who was ready to win now is not happy about the recent changes. The Marlins had one of the best outfields in baseball and shipped them off all over the country.

Realmuto is one of the last remaining pieces from the old Marlins team. He now finds himself in a sort of limbo, as he still has three years left in Miami.

Despite the shuffling in Miami, Realmuto should be in store for another great year offensively. Part of the success comes from his speed, as he can run with some of the quickest outfielders as well. He is an all around player who can bring many different things to the table.

3. Willson Contreras

MLB top 5 catchers

Contreras looks to get a full season of solid work under his belt. (Photo from The Chicago Tribune)

Contreras turned into perhaps the best hitter on a stacked Chicago team last summer. He was sidetracked by a hamstring injury while running down the first base line, but the 25-year-old still had a solid year after racking up 21 home runs and a .276 batting average. He should be a vital part of the Cubs offense once again in 2018.

Contreras is also known for his cannon of an arm. What may be the strongest arm behind the plate adds another dimension to his game that can shut down base runners. One of his weaknesses though is he is not considered a good framer. However, his ability to throw the ball makes up for it, and his lightning bat certainly puts him above most other catchers.

2. Gary Sanchez

Sanchez is the best hitting catcher in the game without question. He cranked out 33 home runs and had an average approaching .300 last year. With Giancarlo Stanton coming into the picture in New York, Sanchez ought to have a solid cushion in the lineup and may have an even better year offensively.

Sanchez has a solid throwing arm and is considered an above average pitch framer. His downfall is his pitch blocking, and in that category he is one of the worst in all of baseball. If it wasn’t for that downfall, Sanchez may be No. 1 on this list as his offense puts him in a whole other league when talking about catchers.

1. Buster Posey

Coming in at the No. 1 spot is Buster Posey, which should be a surprise to no one. Posey has had continued success throughout his career. With Sanchez coming into the picture, he might not be the best hitting catcher in baseball anymore, but he should still be considered one of the best of all time.

The All-Star catcher has hit over .300 in five separate seasons, winning the batting title once and bringing in the MVP in 2012. The only other catcher to win MVP in the National League is Johnny Bench, so that should say a lot about the league Posey is in.

He has a straight shot into Cooperstown and has not shown any decline in production. Expect Posey to have continued success for the coming years.


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“From Our Haus to Yours”


Bbq Olivers end KINGZONE DragonX’s 14 game win streak

KINGZONE DragonX’s 14 game win streak has ended after a surprise defeat to bbq Olivers, ending the first half of the LCK Spring Split.

This was set to be an easy match for KINGZONE. They were considered to be the best team in Korea, if not the world, boasting an impressive 14 game win streak. Meanwhile, bbq sat at the bottom of the standings, having previously lost to MVP. MVP being the worst team in Korea according to many analysts.


game 1

After a week off from play for the Korean Lunar New Year, bbq came back ready to take on whatever challenge faced them. KINGZONE, on the other hand, seemed to look down on bbq and let them draft incredibly strong snowball picks. Handing over power picks such as Zoe and the recently popular Skarner. KINGZONE were quick to regret their decision.

Bbq began to snowball the game as quickly as possible. Sending mid-laner Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu along with jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun to bot. They repeatedly did this, snowballing their bot lane very quickly. KINGZONE was unprepared for bbq’s uncharacteristically relentless aggression and ended up handing over many kills. KINGZONE, having drafted a late game team fight composition, found themselves unable to recover, giving over game 1.



Courtesy of KeSPA


game 2

Game 2 saw KINGZONE come back into their own, after a top lane substitution of Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee for Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Bbq tried to play a very unusual pick in Kassadin Top and was punished heavily for the pick. KINGZONE used bbq’s own tactics against them, putting the Kassadin severely behind in gold after multiple top lane ganks. They then extended their side lane lead to the rest of the map, gaining full control and taking the game. With KINGZONE back on form, with a tied up series, it seemed like there was no hope for bbq.



Courtesy of FOMOS


game 3

However, game 3 saw KINGZONE revert to their strategies from game 1. An early pickup of Orianna in the first round pick phase caused a lot of controversy. Orianna is a champion that is normally picked in the second round pick phase due to its versatility as a safe counter. KINGZONE’s pick felt very much out of place, in-game and in the draft.

KINGZONE mid-laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong’s performance on the champ was one of the most unimpressive showings in a long time. Bdd repeatedly failed to miss ult after ult during team fights, and was constantly out of position, making himself a massive target. One particular example of this was during the Baron team fight at around 26 minutes. Bdd was so far away from his team and was getting caught out, forcing out the ult from KINGZONE’s Support, Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon on Tahm Kench just to get him out. This resulted in GorillA dying and KINGZONE losing the fight. The mistakes kept adding up, eventually leading to KINGZONE’s untimely demise.

KINGZONE are set to face the Afreeca Freecs next. Will KINGZONE be able to fully address their issues and once again show that they are a top-tier team that is to be feared, or will they end up flopping?



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Featured image courtesy of FOMOS