Contenders Finals: Teams you need to know about

If you’ve followed Overwatch before the OWL was a thing, or are interested in the rising stars of the game, you’ve probably been watching Contenders. If you don’t fit any of those labels, though, worry not! Right about now is the perfect time to jump in on the action.

Season 1 of Contenders has been ongoing for some time now, but many regions are quickly approaching their final games of the season. Each region showcases the best of the best in local Overwatch. While there are seven regions in all, today I’ll be going over the biggest names in the scene: the North American semifinalists. Let’s get to it!

The North American Contenders scene is arguably the largest and most popular. NA features plenty of old and well-respected names in the minor-league Overwatch scene, as well as a few new teams and a few more “academy” teams. These teams are developed by existing Overwatch League franchises to train the next generation of OWL stars, and have the extensive resources and training regimens of an Overwatch League franchise at their back. Many even practice with their OWL counterparts, giving them the edge in training and coaching over their smaller-scale opponents.

Seven of the eight teams that made it to the quarterfinals were academy teams, and three of those advanced to the live semifinals in Poland. The fourth team is a particular favorite of mine. Let me introduce you properly…

 

EnVision eSports- McGravy, Jaru, iShiny, Fire, Crimzo, Buds

Image result for fire envision esports

Image Courtesy of EnVision eSports

EnVision started working on their roster in January 2017, and quickly became a staple of the early Contenders era. Their roster had a healthy mix of strategic thinking and raw mechanical skill, and pulled off some impressive tournament wins. Despite their smaller stature when compared to giants like Rogue and EnvyUs, EnVision held their own through Contenders Season 1, falling to Faze Clan in the semifinals. Players from Faze Clan later moved on to the Houston Outlaws (Rawkus, SPREE, FCTFCTN) and the Philadelphia Fusion (ShaDowBurn, Carpe), so a third place finish wasn’t so terrible, really!

After some time off between seasons, EnVision rebuilt their roster and got back into the tournament groove. Second place finishes in the PIT Championship and the BEAT Invitational leave EV with a lot to prove in Contenders, but the team certainly has the experience to give their opponents a run for their money.

 

Toronto Esports- Axxiom, Dalton, Shu, Kruise, nero, Guardian

Image result for fire envision esports

Image Courtesy of Toronto Esports

Toronto Esports is the first of the three academy teams. They’re partnered with the Boston Uprising, though Toronto as a team existed before the Overwatch League did. They rebuilt their roster in early 2018 (much like EnVision), and blazed a trail through the Overwatch Open Division.

Despite the loss of their main support Grant “moth” Espe, who was signed by the San Francisco Shock, Toronto maintained their momentum through the regular season with ease. They signed Harrison “Kruise” Pond, a well-known DPS main turned support star, and kruised all the way to the semifinals. (I am very sorry.)

With their tickets to Poland secured, Toronto are no doubt preparing to face off against EnVision for a spot in the Grand Finals against the next two teams on this list. With a 4-1 record and the greatest map differential in all of Contenders (+14,) they’re a strong candidate to win it all.

 

Fusion University- WhoRU, ZerG, ZachaREEE, crakinlakin, Beasthalo, Alarm, Elk

This team has the most interesting collection of names (and talent) I’ve ever seen. Let me break it down for you.

Image result for fusion university

Image Courtesy of Fusion University

Seung-jun “WhoRU” Lee is a legendary DPS player, who played for Lunatic Hai (now the Seoul Dynasty) when they were slamming all of their APEX opponents into the dirt on their way to a back-to-back championship run. His Genji play is the stuff of dreams, and his game sense is some of the best in the history of Overwatch. And that’s me going easy on the praise, here.

Haydin “ZerG” Gordon is fourteen years old. Yeah. I know. He was so good that he caught the Fusion’s attention without playing in a single tournament. He was so good that Kephrii accused him of hacking, several times. (Wait, he does that with everyone. Forget that part.) What was I saying? Really, REALLY good. Yeah.  

Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo was a mainstay for longstanding minor league team Renegades, who participated in some of the earliest Overwatch tournaments out there. Fun fact- Renegades was founded by MonteCristo, the famous caster and analyst for the Overwatch League. The organization is now owned by Jonas Jerbko, who plays basketball for the Utah Jazz.

For the sake of your attention span, I won’t go over the rest, but Beasthalo, crakinlakin, Elk and Alarm are all absolutely phenomenal talents who work hard and study harder to be the best at what they do. And with an acronym like FU, how can you not root for these guys?

 

OpTic Academy- kellar, RinaVX, SharP, Voll, Kaiser, smurf, Aid, Greyy, Tehpwnzorr

If you’ve followed any other esport, you know the name OpTic. The Green Wall has been a fixture in the competitive DOTA, CS:GO, and Call of Duty circuits, and their ventures into Overwatch (Optic Academy and the Houston Outlaws) have been no less successful. Just like Fusion University, this roster is utterly stacked, and the raw talent contained within the confines of their team house is really something special.

Image Courtesy of OpTic Academy

My personal favorite among them is their main tank- Sang-hoon “Kaiser” Ryu. Kaiser hails from a little Korean team called RunAway, and is responsible for the most impressive Reinhardt play in the history of the game. That is not a statement you can usually make about an Overwatch player. Yet here I stand.

And that’s just one guy!! OpTic has it all, really, and that’s going to make for some impressive Overwatch when they face off against FU in May. For a preview of that action, a regular season match between the two teams is available here. I know what I’ll be watching on repeat for the next two weeks…

 

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Featured photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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How good is Hide of the Urchin?

In the European Smite Pro League, Hide of the Urchin is a common sight. The item has been picked up frequently by Solos, and sometimes even some Tanky Junglers. By my count, so far European players have picked up Hide of the Urchin 15 times this season in only three total days of play.

Hop across the ocean, though, and you’ll see a pretty different attitude towards the item. In the North American Pro League, this season players have only built Hide of the Urchin twice. Both times by Counter Logic Gaming’s Alec “FineOkay” Fonzo.

There’s a rift between these two continents in the value of this item. And that begs the question: Who’s right?

The numbers

First off, let’s look at Hide of the Urchin’s stats. For 2450 Gold, Hide of the Urchin gives you: 30 Physical and Magical Protection, 250 Health and 250 Mana. The Passive can net you an additional 2 Protections for every kill or assist you get. After capping the item at 10 stacks, you get an extra passive: a 100 + 5 per level shield that regenerates when out of combat.

The pros

Hide of the Urchin

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

Hide of the Urchin’s stats are great, if you can manage to get the item stacked. 50 of each protection is a decent chunk more than its biggest competition, Spirit Robe. It’s also got 250 Health, which makes it one of only three items that give both types of Protections and Health. In one item you get every defensive stat you need to survive, which makes it efficient when building mostly damage items.

In addition to its decent base stats, if you get the full passive shield it’s technically giving you 450 health. That makes it the third most effective health you can get off a single item in the game, only outclassed by Bulwark of Hope and Warlock’s Staff. That is, if you can get the whole shield.

The cons

That’s Hide of the Urchin’s achilles heel: the shield is too difficult to regenerate fully. You have to stay out of combat for 30 whole seconds, eons in Smite time, to fully stack that Shield. Late game, that’s a privilege you can’t often afford. In practice you’re rarely going to get the full 450 health that the item potentially gives. Unlike real health, the shield on Hide of the Urchin isn’t immediately full upon respawn, and can’t be healed. Compared to Hide’s peers, this Passive is awful.

But that’s not Hide’s only weakness. Hide only gets to this level once you’ve received 10 stacks from kills or assists. Before getting those stacks, there’s no controversy: Hide of the Urchin is garbage.

Hide of the Urchin

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

2450 gold is relatively expensive for a defensive item, and with only 30 of each protection and 250 health you’re better off going with something else. Like its neighbor on the other end of the Robe tree, Spirit Robe. For 50 less Gold, Spirit Robe gives 10 more Protections, 10% Cooldown Reduction, 20% Crowd Control Reduction, and a powerful passive that gives you 15% Damage Mitigation when under the effects of Hard CC. Before you manage to find those 10 kills or assists, you’ll be much better off with Spirit Robe.

In some games, that might not be too easy. If your team falls behind after you commit to Hide of the Urchin, you might never get those stacks. And if you do, it will be much slower. Hide of the Urchin can make a bad situation much worse if you aren’t getting your stacks.

Conclusion

So that leaves us with the original question: Who’s right? The North American teams, or the European teams? That’s partially up to your own opinion and play style. Do you value immediate power spikes, or do you not mind getting your stats gradually? Do you value useful passives, or raw stats? Do you value a wide spread of stats, or do you want to focus on one or two?

But in my opinion, North America wins this one. The eventual stats just aren’t worth the downsides; too many things can go wrong with this item. And the passive shield is just terrible. But what do you think? Do you think Hide of the Urchin is better than I’m giving it credit for? Let me know by tweeting me, or in the comments below.

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Top Image background courtesy of Smitegame.com, Hide of the Urchin image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

Smite Esports

North American Smite esports teams are more balanced than ever before

It’s anyone’s league

Going into Season 5 of Smite esports, Smite fans knew exactly what team to look for: eUnited. The world champions, eUnited were the undisputed kings of Smite. Luminosity Gaming, on the other hand, were the opposite.

Smite Esports

Image Courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Fans had mixed opinions on the organization’s new roster, fueled by Jungler Kurt “Weak3n” Schray’s polarizing reputation. When eUnited and Luminosity were scheduled to play against each other, most people wrote this match off as an easy 2-0 for eUnited.

Then Luminosity won. That was the first match of the NA Season 5 SPL. And the excitement didn’t stop there. Across the first week of the Season 5 SPL, we saw an amazing amount of close games and sets going to game 3.

The perfect storm has hit Smite esports this season, and the playing field has never been more even. There is no dominant team that nobody can take a game off of. There is no laughing stock that can never seem to win. The outcome of a match never feels predetermined going into any of this season’s matches. Anyone can win, and anyone can lose.

The causes

The new SPL rules have some part to play in this shift. Season 5 of Smite esports has only six participating teams, as opposed to all previous season’s eight. This increased barrier to entry has prevented weaker teams that would normally be bullied into the bottom seed.

But rule changes can only go so far. The heart of this season’s balanced state lies in the teams themselves. They’re all just a lot stronger than in previous seasons. Players have found rosters with amazing synergy, leading to some amazing performances.

The teams

Smite Esports

Image courtesy of smite-esports.gamepedia.com

Space Station Gaming, who most agree to be the strongest team currently, feels like an old Cloud 9 reunion. Gathering most of the classic roster, they’ve most notably put Andrew “Andinster” Woodward back into the jungle after a long break playing Mid. And after his performance over the last week, it feels like he never left.

And they’re not alone: Counter Logic Gaming, Splyce and Trifecta are all full of veteran players who have shown they work well together. Each has proven that they have what it takes to stand up to Space Station Gaming. Trifecta took a game off of SSG in their set last Friday, taking the match to game three. Counter Logic Gaming beat both Splyce and Trifecta, but not without a fight: both matches went to game 3. In fact, the only matches that didn’t go to game 3 in the first week were the two matches that eUnited lost, against Luminosity and then Space Station Gaming.

eUnited’s problem

Smite Esports

Image Courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

It may be tempting to say that the world champions are washed up after their poor performance. But that would be a little naive. Only a few months ago, they won the world championship. It takes a little longer than that for a team to go from the best in the world to “washed up.” Instead, Space Station Gaming’s ADC John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter explained it best before their showmatch at the Las Vegas Esports Arena, saying “I think [eUnited are] still a little stuck in season 4.” Indeed, it seems eUnited are having trouble adapting to this season’s changes. While they may seem weak now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see eUnited turn it around and play like the world champions that they are.

In any case, this season of Smite esports is shaping up to be one of the best in years. The balance between each team gives each match a sense of excitement, and the close sets have never been a disappointment. Any Smite fan that’s not watching these turbulent early matches is missing out on some of the most entertaining matches in SPL history.

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Top Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

What’s new in the SPL for Season 5?

After what felt like forever, the SPL is finally back in our lives, beginning on Tuesday 20th of March. Ever since Worlds wrapped up in early January, HiRez has been treating us to a huge amount of new content and updates in an attempt to make Smite eSports the best it has ever been in Season 5. So many changes, in fact, that those who don’t follow the competitive scene with a fine-toothed comb might have even missed a couple. So without further ado, here’s a countdown of the top 7 changes you’ll notice in the SPL this season.

The announced teams for the SPL 2018 “SMITE Esports.” SMITE, esports.smitegame.com/leagues.

7) New Teams

While many old favourites have returned, Smite is joined by several new organisations as well.  Joining some of 2017’s top EU teams, such as Dignitas, Rival, NRG and Obey, are two new organisations, SK gaming and Mousesports. Some might remember SK from their 4th place finish at Season 1 worlds, but Mousesports are brand new to the scene.

On the NA side, fan favourites Luminosity, Spacestation, Trifecta and of course World Champions EUnited will be joined by Splyce, an organisation famous for its successful CS-GO team as well as another brand new organisation announced yesterday, Counter-Logic Gaming!

All of these organisations will remain in the league for the entirety of the 2018 smite season, as relegations have also been removed – this should allow consistency of teams to be established, allowing fans who don’t catch every game to understand the shape of the league much more easily.

6) New League Format

The astute amongst you might have noticed that only six teams per region are listed above. Not because the author is forgetful, but because the league has been condensed to a 6-team double round robin format. Each team will play each other twice per split, in a six-week best-of-three tournament, with the top teams progressing to the end-of-split LAN event. This will mean for the viewer much more Smite (moving from 56 * 2 = 104 games per split in season 4 to between 120 and 180 games per split), as well as much more competitive action – no 7th or 8th seeded team managed to win more than 4 individual games all split in the fall… Hopefully, Spring Split Season 5 will be the most competitive yet!

 

smite

The Smite Minor League 2018 logo SMITE, esports.smitegame.com/leagues.

5) A second-string league

While these changes should hopefully bring closer, more exciting games, there are a couple of drawbacks. These include fewer chances for new rookies to break into the scene, as well as less motivation for current teams to stay hungry and competitive. Luckily, HiRez thought of this as well and has established a more formal “minor league” – the SML – which will also be fully shoutcasted and have the benefit of HiRezTV’s Twitch channel at prime-time for e-sports on a weekend afternoon. This, as well as increased prize money for the SML, should begin to nurture some future SPL stars.

4) Player Salaries

Along with the more formal and professional direction taken with the rest of these changes, every SPL player will be getting a guaranteed income of $30,000 per year. This expenditure by Hirez (almost $3m per year!) should further legitimise the league and allow most if not all players to focus on Smite full-time. As part of the deal, SPL players will be required to make more content, be that streaming, youtube or simply social media, which should also increase the presence of the Smite esports scene.

3) New Broadcast Times

To fit in all the extra smite, including the minor league, the broadcast times have been bumped up significantly. The SPL will now air in the week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm EST and on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4pm EST. That, coupled with the SML means we get 6 days a week of PC smite – pretty much more than any one person can watch, in fact. It’s going to be more of a challenge than ever keeping up with the whole SPL, so it’s a good thing that HiRez have committed to keeping their new-look esports website up to date. I have also made a full calendar of the Spring Split which can be found here, to help you keep abreast of the changes.

smite

Smite and Mixer team up for S5 “Mixer (@WatchMixer).”

2) A new broadcast deal

In order to fund the additional prizing and extra Minor League, Hirez has struck a deal with Mixer (https://mixer.com/smitegame) to stream the SPL exclusively on their platform. Owned by technology giant Microsoft, this will be both a blessing and a curse. New “Multicam” technology will allow the SPL to be seen from more angles. This will also have replays shown while the action continues elsewhere on the screen. Additionally, Smite will no doubt be getting a larger advertising push though the Microsoft deal.

However, the Smite fanbase was split when this change was announced, with many unhappy as they felt the extra publicity avoided by the much larger streaming platform, Twitch, as well as the greater availability of Twitch apps on smart TV’s and other technology platforms such as the PS4 would make the Mixer deal ultimately a bad idea for Smite.  Only time will tell which side of the fan-base was correct…

1) A new studio

smite

HiRezCorridor being refurbished

With Smite now being cast professionally by HiRez every day of the week (if you include Smite Global Series games on Mondays), the time was right to invest in a brand new, state of the art casting studio at HiRez. This space  will be completed this week and will allow a more professional studio and LAN space, and will be the first purpose-built Smite facility of its kind. This should allow less technical difficulties, more fluid and formal production and again increase the overall professionalism of the league.

smite

Hirez’s office is being redone

With all of these changes, there will no doubt be some teething problems – and there have already been a number of divisive moments in the offseason including the dismissal of several high-profile Hirez staff – however, should HiRez overcome these initial hurdles successfully, the league looks set to be the most exciting season of Smite yet – and I cannot wait!

 

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Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett on their victory over TSM, onstage intensity and words for MikeYeung

“I genuinely feel like I have a long term home here. I really love playing with my teammates.” – Dardoch on Echo Fox

Parqueso – What are the comms like when it gets into these really late game teamfights? How do you keep calm, how do you keep your composure? Especially as the only one who can get into the backline.

Dardoch – “Well I wouldn’t necessarily say I kept composure during the game. *laughs* I was screaming a lot, and I was really intense… Every time I would engage, I was screaming who I was going for. Like, “Kill Bjergsen! Please kill Malzahar, kill Ez!” That kind of stuff. But overall, when everything calms down and we need to talk about strategy, like after the teamfight disperses and we are clearing waves, everyone is really calmed down and we just get the concise plan out.”

Image provided by Riot Games

P – Everyone talks about 100 Thieves showing up and proving to not just be “pretenders,” but what about you guys on EchoFox? People talk about how you seem to have potential, but could easily fall apart. Any response to that?

D – “I wouldn’t say we have solidified ourselves as a top team yet but we are definitely on the right track. And I think if we have a couple more strong performances, we will definitely solidify ourselves as a top team.”

P – Does the memeing and flame from the community or whomever propel you forward or is it just something you want to die off?

D – “It is something I just wish would die off, but really I am numb to that banter already. It’s been going on for so long, but I know what is going on inside my organization and I know how my teammates feel about me, and I’m really happy about how they feel about me and our relationships. So I don’t really care about the public’s wrong perception of me.”

P – You present as a very emotional player, and I’d say a number of LCS pros are – you can just see the passion when they play. How do you use that emotion? And is it something you actually think about, or does it just exist?

D – “It’s 100% natural onstage. My adrenaline pumps so much in these really high intensity games, when it’s almost entirely on me to get the engage – especially in that game when legitimately no one else on the team could engage the fight – every time it goes correctly, my heart is just racing. It’s so fun! It’s really an awesome experience playing onstage.”

Image provided by Riot Games

P – What changes do you expect to happen in the jungle in competitive play going into patch 8.2?

D – “I mean, we are going to see a lot of Nunu bans. That is probably one of the dumbest balance changes I have ever seen come out of Riot games and it is just actually baffling that they haven’t reverted it yet. And I hope that is the quote of this interview, because it is absolutely ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous for them to buff Nunu that absurdly. The champion needs a rework. He is just boring. He needs a rework he doesn’t need a buff. I just needed to say my 2 cents on Nunu. But I think most changes are just from lane matchups. Targons gone from adcs, spellthief’s gone from other laners and junglers. We’ll see the most change in [lanes] due to the change in targeted spells changing minion aggro.”

P – Lastly, I’m starting up a segment called Everyone Else is Trash, where I encourage players to engage in some friendly banter with their opponents. Do you have anything fun you’d like to add?

D – “I actually don’t really want to bm, but I could give some words of encouragement to MikeYeung. Just directly to Mike, ‘Mike I think you’re a really good player and I think you have a lot of potential. You’re going to get a lot of hate because you are on TSM and you’re losing. But just keep your head down and keep working. You have really good players around you, and I think you guys will be fine.’”

Wholesome Dardoch provided by Riot Games

 



Thanks for reading! Shoutout to @Dardochlol for being an amazing interviewee. Stay tuned here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Smite. Gank. Dive.

Meteos and Svenskeren talk Jungle Meta

Call of the Wild: A Boar, a Blob, and a Demacian Standard!

Cool Rammus

Gone are the days of spiders falling from the sky and monks roundhouse kicking you into your enemies’ awaiting arms. No, for quite a while now, we’ve been graced with the same chicken killers game after game. While there were a plethora of offseason changes, with entirely new runes, rosters, and a franchise to boot, the jungle stayed practically untouched.

In the NA LCS Week 1 games, Sejuani and Jarvan IV each had a 50% presence, with Zac right behind at 40%. While this number may not seem too incredibly high at first glance, those champs won 80% of their games when opposing any other jungler. It seems clear that the tank/utility junglers have a much bigger impact in competitive play than some of those solo queue freelo junglers (Evelynn, looking at you).

League of… Jungle Diversity?

Most of the pros I spoke with define the current jungle meta as tank + utility dominant. Those specific few champs are just a clear cut above the rest. However, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen completely disagrees, stating,

“The jungle meta is pretty fun… Even though there are a lot of memes about Sejuani and Jarvan … you can counter them as well.”

Not ironically, Sven was the ONE  jungler to pull off an upset against these top tier tanky champions, playing Evelynn into Juan “Contractz” Garcia’s Jarvan IV.

But don’t get too excited! Even though he is having a bit of fun picking from a more diverse pool of junglers, he isn’t planning on playing Lee Sin any time soon.

“I’ve been trying Lee Sin in scrims … but I have to play twice as good as my opponent… It’s not really worth the effort.”

So if you are looking for some Insec’s in 2018, head over to the LPL (who happen to pick Lee pretty often and play 6 days a week)!

Defining the Meta-os

William “Meteos” Hartman is less impressed with the current viable jungle options, even though Zac is an old Meteos special.”The meta now is looking still pretty similar to how Worlds was with Sejuani, Jarvan looking good.” He hopes “more junglers get balanced into the mold that champions need to have.”

Meteos HeadshotHe simplifies this jungler mold down to champs that “have some level of early game pressure and then transition into a more vision control, tanky, utility champion as the game goes on.” He backs this up explaining that “jungle just doesn’t have the guaranteed income that other roles have.”

Therefore, champions with high baseline values – or those that can survive placing deep wards and provide some protection and cc for their scaled up carries – do better in competitive where vision control and team fighting rule the Rift. He explains that some of the drop in the Gragas pick/ban rate is due to him receiving multiple nerfs and “it’s hard to pull him off because he just can’t kill jungle camps.” When asked about Lee Sin, he explained that while he can provide the early pressure, he doesn’t provide the same utility late game for the carries, just an ult and a couple shields.

He finishes up by explaining why the other terror of solo queue – Kha’Zix – doesn’t perform well in competitive eiter. In solo queue, the bug is constantly “going around getting a million kills … and teams aren’t coordinated… But in competitive, you’re probably being tracked most of the game. So even though they can’t see you when you’re invisible, they probably have a general idea where you are.” All in all, “not offering a frontline is pretty hard for your team.”

Final Thoughts

I have to say I side with Meteos. The highest rate of success for junglers comes when they cover for their carries in the late game. Yes, they often spend more time fighting wards than wolves, but a win is a win. Even in the one jungle upset that Sven had as Eve vs. Jarvan IV, he had more than half of the team’s deaths, while Contractz only had 1/8th of his team’s. Sven did have almost 90% kill participation, but he quite possibly could’ve had a similar impact on kills and a smaller impact on deaths by playing Sejuani, who went unbanned that game.

But, don’t take my word for it! These two masterminds face off this Sunday at 3pm PST. Who has a better read on the meta? Will Meteos focus on protecting his carries? Or will he take Svenskeren’s advice, play aggro, and betray his beloved Sneaky? Tweet me your predictions @parkeso! I want to see what you guys think. Thanks again for tuning in! See you on the Rift! 😉

Lux Thumbs up

Hey guys, thanks for checking out my debut article! Throughout the season, I’ll be attending the NA LCS and talking to all your favorite pros to bring you some inside thoughts and opinions on the meta, runes, and offseason changes. Whether you have been following the scene for years or just started recently, I hope to find some meaningful content for you! For requests, comments, or words of affirmation, please tweet me @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

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Thanksgiving Free Agents: League of Legends Edition

League of Legends is having their first major free agency period since the start of franchising in North America. As with traditional sports, free agency is going to be a major time for teams to build their rosters for LCS’ new start. Instead of just giving you who some of the free agents are and where they might go, a holiday theme has been added for your enjoyment. (Note: As of the time this was written none of these players have signed officially)

Corn “Froggen”

Froggen has been consistent since the day he entered the LCS. Never overly flashy but a major part and sometimes the best part of his team. Corn like Froggen is never flashy but it is reliable and can be the best part of a bad meal.

Last year on Echo Fox, Froggen was the unchallenged leader of the team. Echo Fox finished in eighth, just outside of the playoffs the last two splits. This was due to many things, but rarely ever Froggen. There are plenty of new openings for Froggen. As an in-game and out of game leader, Froggen will be someone who is going to be brought on to do just that. His play is consistent but his leadership skills are what gets him his next position.

For this reason, Froggen will be going to a completely new squad in NA as some of the newer teams will be looking for a leader to help guide them through their first season. He did this with Echo Fox and maybe with a better and more consistent roster around him, Froggen will finally make NA playoffs this year.  With sources saying Akaadian has been bought out by OpTic Gaming it would make sense that they add arguably the two best players from Echo Fox.

Prediction: OpTic

Cranberry Sauce “PowerOfEvil”

Like cranberry sauce you either love PowerOfEvil or you strongly dislike him. He can be an absolute legend on the rift or look like he is lost. That being said PowerOfEvil is testing the waters of free agency hoping to be picked up by a NA squad.

Misfits made a surprising run in world this last year making it out of group stages. While the team played well as a whole, in most games until the end, PowerOfEvil had looked solid. He can make the flashy plays and keep up with many of the games top mid-laners when he is on his game. If he can find consistency there is no doubt that he can challenge just about anyone while in lane. For that reason I think PowerOfEvil will be a hot commodity for NA this free agency.

A great squad for PowerOfEvil would be Flyquest. With Flame reportedly signing there and a solid bot-lane of WildTurtle and Stunt, bringing on PowerOfEvil would make a nice splash for FlyQuest. For PowerOfEvil he would be able to play with teammates who can help guide him in his first year in NA and allow for him to learn from his mistakes he will probably make early on. If they get the PowerOfEvil we saw during group stages and during Mistfits’ run in EU championships, then FlyQuest could have a very strong squad next season.

Prediction: FlyQuest

Sweet Potatoes “LemonNation”

Sweet Potatoes are classic when talking about Thanksgiving dinner. They are sweet and almost like desert before actual desert. Lemonnation is a classic NA support who can surprise people by quietly being solid throughout the game. (Also both are orange/red) Lemonnation has been a consistent and overall solid support since he came into the professional league scene. He does his work and helps lead teams to being better than many people would have thought.

Last year on FlyQuest, many people felt that they would be a joke because it was made up of players who had not played in the pro-scene in awhile. They came out and surprised everyone by making playoffs their first split and barely missing playoffs their second split. Lemonnation came back with a vengeance and showed that older players in the scene can still play and has maybe changed everyone’s opinions about what a “old” player really is.

While Ignar and Aphromoo are higher on teams’ lists, there are still openings for supports especially on new teams. You could reasonably argue that once the other two have signed, whoever else has an opening would sign Lemonnation. With that in mind 100 Thieves looks like a good place for Lemonnation to end up. Ssumday and Meteos (both of whom are on this list) are rumored to be signed with 100 Thieves and Ryu has been confirmed. With Pr0lly as their coach this group could add Lemonnation and have a very reliable team.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Green Bean Casserole “Meteos”

Some years it’s there, some it’s not. Sometimes you dislike it, sometimes you love it. Like “Dark” Meteos green bean casserole comes back after missing some time at family events and you’re afraid of what is coming next. It is put on your plate against your will and you are told to try it. This time you like it and oddly want more.

Meteos was a mainstay with Cloud9 for many splits. He has a solid following and thus every time he’s filled in for a team people have been very excited. After spending different parts of the year with Phoenix1, who went from playoffs to last between Spring and Summer split, Meteos is ready to be a starter again. With the many opportunities it is likely that he will get a chance to show he is a top level jungler at the professional level.

It is being reported that Meteos will be signing with 100 Thieves. If this stands, with Ryu and Ssumday, it looks as though 100 Thieves could have a very interesting roster to start of League of Legends franchising.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Biscuit/Corn Bread/Rolls “Febiven”

Any type of bread is needed with any Thanksgiving meal. They help to fill you up and are a go to if you’re not ready to try something new. Febiven in NA would be that. He is a solid mid-laner who brings consistency to any team. He may not be the mvp on his team but he is needed and a safe pickup for any team.

Febiven brings that feeling of a stalwart in the middle of the rift for any team. For H2k this past year Febiven brought composure to an already winning team. He got his start with Cloud9 Eclipse and many speculate he is testing free agency in order to go back to NA. Febiven can bring a lot to one of these new franchising teams and it is likely that he would have a nice payday doing so.

According to sources Golden Guardians only have their coach so far, Locodoco. It is also rumored that Shiphtur might be signing with them. While Shiphtur is a good mid-laner, the Golden Guardians would be making a big time acquisition by signing Febiven. He would not only attract fans but also players. If they know they have someone like him holding down the middle of the Rift then players will feel more comfortable around him. Also wouldn’t it be fun to see Bjerg, Jensen, Pobelter, Huhi, Ryu and Febiven battling it out in mid next season?

Prediction: Golden Guardians

Stuffing “Ignar”

On the outside, if you have never had stuffing before you might think, “I dont know what to think about this”. Then you try it and realize it’s solid and brings the meal together. In many ways this is Ignar. The All-Pro support had some questions coming over to Misfits and showed this year that he is the stuffing to any Thanksgiving meal.

After a quick stay with KT Rolster Ignar found a home with Misfits. He was exactly what you would want in a support. He is able to speak Korean and getting better at English, and he is able to help get bot-lane ahead. His aggresion mixed well with his lanemate, Hans Sama, as he played champions like Rakan, Blitzcrank and Thresh. He is a playmaker and with that will come many offers from teams for a support who can do more than just keep their ADC alive.

There are rumors that Ignar is looking to head back to the LCK, possibly even with SKT. If this doesn’t happen and he heads to NA, there is no doubt that he will land a starting roll. OpTic would be a good match with Ignar. Sources say that Arrow has already signed and thus Ignar would have another Korean ADC. This would eliminate a language barrier and give OpTic another nice pickup.

Prediction: OpTic Gaming

Gravy “Aphromoo”

If you don’t like gravy, what are you doing with your life? If you don’t like Aphromoo the same question should be asked. The man is one of the best supports in NA and, like gravy, he is liked by mostly everyone. Gravy is also what you put on everything in order to help it taste better. No matter what team Aphromoo joins, he will make them that much better.

The Moo has been one of the best, if not the best, supports in NA since he arrived on the scene. His ability to get his ADC ahead by whatever means necessary has made him a lanemate that any ADC would want. While he still can go back to CLG if he wants to, it is interesting that he is testing free agency. It may help drive up the money for his contract wherever he signs, including CLG.

While it would be interesting to see another team pick up Aphromoo, it is likely he stays with CLG. They will give into giving him a large contract and that should bring him back. He is already familiar with the team as most of his teammates, Darshan, Huhi and Stixxay have all already signed with CLG.

Prediction: CLG

Mashed Potatoes “Ssumday”

Mashed potatoes are one of the best parts of the entire Thanksgiving meal. Is it really Thanksgiving without them? Nearly everyone loves them and sometimes if the other parts of the meal aren’t good you can always turn to mashed potatoes to be the best part. Ssumday will be this for which ever team he signs with. Everyone is going to want to bring him on and when others may not be as good around him, you can turn to him and know he will show why he is one of the best top-laners in the world.

Ssumday did not live up to the hype during his first full year in NA, but was still very good. Coming over from KT Rolster everyone believed Ssumday was easily a top 3 top-laner in the world. Dignitas fans were ecstatic when he signed on. Dig went to the playoffs both splits in their first full season back, but unfortunately were not chosen to go forward with franchising. Now Ssumday is again looking for his next home to show he is a top tier top-laner again.

Originally it was thought that Ssumday would be looking to go back to the LCK this season. Then sources came out claiming that 100 Thieves is looking to sign him. While the team has not confirmed it yet, if he were to sign there 100 Thieves, it would have a very nice start for their team.

Prediction: 100 Thieves

Pumpkin Pie “MikeYeung”

Pumpkin pie is what everyone wants even though they are already full, it is that good. It can be the only part some people care about. MikeYeung is the new, young jungler that everyone is going to be going after. He is the pumpkin pie at this Thanksgiving dinner, every team will be giving him a look.

MikeYueng made a splash in NA during his first split with Pheonix1 by winning Rookie of the Split. He showed that he can be an impact player at every phase of the game, especially when he got ahead. The problem was when he didn’t get ahead or his team struggled, he lacked the experience to bring them back. Now that he has played a full split he will be looking to show anyone who signs him that he is the real deal.

Sources are saying that TSM is likely going to sign MikeYeung. After a disappointing year with Svenskeren, it is not a huge surprise that TSM would be looking at someone with the potential of MikeYeung. With Bjerg and Hauntzer most likely staying, they will be able to help bring Mike along and help him to reach his full potential. Also, with sources saying that Zven and Mithy have come over to TSM, this squad could have an incredible 2018.

Prediction: TSM

Turkey “Peanut”

The main course, the bird that represents all of Thanksgiving is the turkey. Turkey is what people spend days prepping to make sure it looks and tastes amazing. Shows and movies constantly show people fighting over the last available turkey. Thanksgiving dinner is not Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. Peanut is someone people can build a team around. He is the turkey of this Thanksgiving meal.

Many people were surprised when Peanut announced that he was a free agent. He instantly shot up to the top of teams wishlists, as he is considered by many to be the best jungler in the world. Every team that has a jungle opening should be looking to sign someone of his talent level. He made his name on ROX Tigers and then signed with SKT this last season. While they didn’t win Worlds he was still a major part, along with Faker, of getting this team to Finals.

Peanut is the prize in this free agency and if he heads to NA, every team will want him. If it wasn’t likely that TSM was signing MikeYeung, it is probable that they would be in the mix. Counting them out, there are three teams who will likely be vying for his service: FlyQuest, Golden Guardians and CLG. CLG has a very good squad especially if they bring back Aphromoo. OmarGod had a solid first split after Dardoch left but, if CLG want to be a contender for Worlds, they need to sign Peanut. With him on their team CLG could easily be vying for a top spot in NA and could make a huge run at Worlds.

Prediction: CLG

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Super Regionals

Super Regionals: The NA favourites

Super Regionals are right around the corner. While normally Super Regionals is the showpiece event of a Smite Split, in the Fall Split it sort of becomes a Super Gauntlet. The big prize at Super Regionals is not winning it but qualifying for SWC. Honestly I don’t think there is a NA team out there who wouldn’t take the deal right now for a SWC spot. It’s where the biggest prize pools and by far the most prestige is.

With that being said the strongest contenders for SWC from NA are eUnited, SpaceStationGaming, Luminosity and Trifecta. However, it is going to be hard for more than two of those to qualify. This is because after the Regional Semi-Finals it is going to go to cross region group play, of which only two of the six teams will qualify. We already know NRG, the back to back world champions, are going to be in that as well as two from Dignitas, Obey, Rival and Elevate. With how the regions have matched up against each other this Season I’d say we are most likely going to see four EU teams at SWC. This just puts added pressure on the B05 they will play against their own region.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of lol.gamepedia.com

 

eUnited

eUnited have to be one of the favourites to qualify from NA. They have been on a tear this Split. With the recent losses of Alexander ‘Khaos’ Greenstein and what many viewed as the teams figurehead in Louis-Philippe ‘PainDeViande’ Geoffrion, it is a shock to many how well they performed this Split. When you consider that these were two of the core players that took them to a second place spot at SWC, their current form is all the more impressive.

Ben ‘Benji’ Mckinzey has looked phenomenal for eUnited this Split and with the current importance of the Solo side of the map, this has created a great platform for eUnited in their games. This has also helped Lucas ‘Screammmmm’ Spracklin perform. He has always been considered a very talented player, but he was often seen as inconsistent, gracefully falling behind on occasion. This Split has been a different story though, as eUnited’s results will tell you he has been consistently top level.

Luminosity

Luminosity this entire season have been around the top end of the NA SPL. They are a talented roster from ADC to solo lane, but where I think their biggest strength will come from is the duo lane. The experience that John ‘Barracuda’ Salter and Rosario ‘Jeffhindla’ Vilardi have is matched by few in the SPL. They have been competing since the days of weekly’s and are both SWC Champions. What is more incredible though is that if you include Launch Tournament, Barracuda has never placed lower than third in the four World Championships we have had. Jeff is only missing the Launch Tournament placing.

If anyone understands what it’s like to play in a pressure series when it’s all on the line, it is these two very talented veterans of the Smite competitive scene. Overall Luminosity is a very solid team which I expect to do well at Super Regionals.

SpaceStationGaming

SSG is one of those teams that is absolutely stacked full of talent, but has never quite fulfilled everyone’s expectations.

The big talking point this Split was about the return of Steven ‘Zapman’ Zapas to the SPL. The verdict I think most people have reached is that although a bit of ring rust showed at the beginning, he has been good, but not great. The problem when it comes to Zapman is that because he is such a favourite among the community and has this reputation as the swashbuckling ADC, unless he is getting penta’s left, right and centre there is always a slight pang of disappointment. He is a player who is known to thrive off high pressure and LAN environments though.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of smite.esportswiki.com

A big part of their season, and something when we look back will be focused more heavily on, is the jungle role. Should Alexander ‘Homiefe’ D’Souza be the jungler instead of Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward? In all honesty I don’t know, but for me probably not. There is every possibility I’ve looked at the past through rose-tinted glasses but before there was Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross there was Andinster.

When Andinster was a jungler, he was either the undisputed best player in the world or very close. When Adapting was viewed as just unplayable, Andinster for most peoples’ money took second or third place in their power rankings. Homiefe is undoubtedly one of the stronger junglers in the NA scene, and Andister, particularly this Split, has put in some great performances from the mid lane. Both of them playing well in their respective roles isn’t the question here. Whether it is the most efficient use of resources is the real question.

While he has been great this Split from the Mid I don’t think many people are putting Andinster as one of the best mids, never mind players in the world at the moment. The same can be said about Homiefe in the jungle. Admittedly part of this may be from just how far behind NA has fallen this season, and as I said earlier it may be my rose-tinted glasses; but I don’t think Andinster in the mid lane has been the most efficient use of SSG’s resources.

Conclusion

Overall as I said at the beginning of the article, I think for NA teams to qualify for SWC, they are going to have to do it in the semi-finals. If I were putting my money on results it would be that eUnited are going to beat Trifecta. Then Luminosity are going to beat SSG, although that will be a close series and it could go either way. But I am 60-40 on LG’s side.

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Top image courtesy twitter.com/smitepro

 

north america's prophecy

Worlds 2017: North America’s prophecy

Week Two of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship brought miracle comebacks and rookie hype. While some records were broken, others remained.

North America’s prophecy rang true; The North American representatives combined for a meager 2-9 record in Week Two of groups. With a history of defeat, what can explain NA’s consistently poor showings at Worlds? Do the players and teams suffer from some mental block? Or, is NA doomed to their prophetic losses year and again?

NA Hopes and Memes

north america's prophecy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Each year it sounds like a broken record. “North America looks really good this year. The region is a lot more competitive this time around,” they say.

Yet, NA teams never seem to show up when it counts. At Worlds 2015, all three NA representatives failed to advance beyond group stage. Worlds 2016, only Cloud 9 (C9) moved on to quarters before falling to tournament finalists Samsung Galaxy (SSG). This year, analysts had Immortals (IMT) and Team SoloMid (TSM) as heavy favorites to advance coming into Week Two of groups. Still, the North American representatives crumbled under the pressure. Cloud 9, again, was the only team to survive.

It seems that despite the progress North America seems to make, their teams consistently fail to perform on the international stage. Domestic competition grows, but nothing translates come time for Worlds. This trend carried over the past several years, developing into a widely used meme: NA in Week Two. Week Two of group stages has often been NA’s ‘Achilles heel’. The worst part? The results do not lie.

Last week, Immortals only needed to win one of four games to secure themselves a quarterfinals spot. Instead, they crumbled to Fnatic (FNC) in an unparalleled run for the European squad. Team SoloMid fell to rookie squad Misfits Gaming (MSF) in a tiebreaker match that silenced thousands of NA hopefuls, begging the question: is North America’s prophecy a matter of fact, or has the meme grown so large that NA teams succumb to pressure on social media?

NA’s Kryptonite: Prophecies or adaptation?

north america's prophecy

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

One of the greatest benefits of participating in the World Championship is team growth. Many Worlds teams show remarkable improvement after the first week of group stage. Misfits Gaming, for example, had several clear weaknesses in Week One. Their bottom lane was susceptible to early pressure in their loss against Team WE. Transitioning into Week Two, MSF’s AD-carry Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and support Donggeun “Ignar” Lee played with a measured aggression that shined through their tiebreaker victory over TSM.

On the other hand, TSM’s most glaring weakness throughout the tournament was an inability to apply early pressure. Instead, TSM relied on a passive playstyle and scaling focused compositions. In fact, TSM’s affinity to float through the first fifteen minutes of a game led to zero first bloods in all seven of their games. Coming into Week Two, it was time to see if TSM fixed these issues. Team WE drafted an aggressive early-game focused composition meant to push TSM out of their usual scaling, late-game comfort. Team SoloMid failed to adapt as WE crushed them in 24 minutes.

TSM showed no signs of growth coming into their Week Two matches. In their games, jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and mid-laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg played uncharacteristically restrained, unwilling to take risks or pressure aggressively. This lack of proactive early shot-calling proved that TSM made little progress fixing their week one problems. Similarly, with Immortals, their opponents in Fnatic and GIGABYTE Marines (GAM) both made huge strides in improving their gameplay while IMT clung to their week one formula. These two North American teams showed little growth coming into the second week of Worlds 2017.

Can C9 Smash North America’s Prophecy?

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Unlike TSM, Cloud 9 demonstrated a clear ability to adapt to meta changes on the fly. In addition, C9 successfully indexed on early aggressive playstyles carried out primarily by rookie jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia. After seeing Team WE pull out the first “Caitlyn” of the tournament, C9 was quick and unafraid to experiment with the champion in a high-pressure match against ahq eSports Club (AHQ). With C9 AD-carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi looking increasingly in form, and Contractz overperforming at his first Worlds appearance, the momentum looks good for C9.

However, their quarterfinal opponents in Team WE also look to be rallying with the home crowd booming behind them. Both teams boast aggressive, carry-oriented junglers. So far at Worlds, we have seen Contractz and WE’s jungler RenJie “Condi” Xiang on champions like “Ezreal,” “Kha,zix” and “Graves.” These high risk, high damage junglers will define the early game between these two rosters. How will Contractz, a rookie, fair against a more seasoned jungler in Condi?

In a post-game interview, Contractz spoke to confidence as a crucial part of C9’s mindset coming into every match. With no time to worry about North America’s prophecy or endless memes, Cloud 9 is looking to show up big at Worlds 2017. As the most consistent North American team on an international stage, C9 carries the weight of an entire region coming into quarterfinals. Will this iteration of Cloud 9 be the one to break this cursed prophecy?


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

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

 

 NA

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

 EU

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

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

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

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

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

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

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

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

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

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

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

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

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

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

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

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

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

GFE versus F.3

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

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

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

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

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

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



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