Golden Guardians may need to replace Hai in the mid-season

Potential mid-season targets for NA LCS teams

Jacob Wolf of ESPN recently reported that FlyQuest has signed Santorin as a starting jungler for the 2018 Summer Split. This is the first mid-season roster report for the NA LCS so far. Since this is the first year of franchising, it is unclear how much each organization will shake up their teams after one split.

This time last year, North America saw several roster changes, including the Dardoch-Xmithie trade, Doublelift’s return to TSM and Ssong joining Immortals. This year is different, though, because teams are not under threat of relegation from the league. No one wants to finish towards the bottom of the standings, but the risk of losing is much lower.

The 2018 mid-season will probably be quieter than past years. However, with the Santorin report, it is clear that teams are looking to make changes. Here are some of the most likely updates for Summer Split.

FlyQuest: mid-jungle

FlyQuest may need to replace Anda and Fly in the mid-season

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Considering ESPN already reported Santorin to FlyQuest, jungler change is a given. In Wolf’s report, he also mentions FlyQuest possibly promoting Keane as starting mid laner. These changes make sense, considering FlyQuest’s issues visibly stemmed from mid-jungle synergy and pressure.

FlyQuest finished the Spring Split in eighth place with a 6-12 record, so they are not in desperate need for roster changes. Flame has proved himself an elite solo laner for the past three splits. Wildturtle put on several carry performances this spring, and rarely felt like FlyQuest’s loss factor. Stunt had a fine split, although JayJ got to start two games. Anda and Fly were the key starting members to FlyQuest’s losses.

Anda showed strong ganking and engage throughout the split, with picks like Zac and Sejuani. He did not seem to play well around the rest of the team, especially on Jax and Jarvan IV. Anda frequently invaded the enemy jungle without lane priority and initiated fights without back up. These issues were most prevalent regarding mid lane. Fly’s Galio pick helped cover up their lack of coordination, which is why most teams banned it. It remains unclear if this discord stems from playstyle differences, communication issues or lack of skill.

FlyQuest had the most roster experiments during the Spring Split. They started eight different players, including substitutes Shrimp, Keane, and JayJ. FlyQuest Academy also won the Academy League, which shows roster depth and organizational strength. Simply bringing in a decisive, experienced jungler like Santorin, and promoting Keane could help solve some of FlyQuest’s nuanced problems. As Wolf later mentions, a support like KonKwon could be valuable to organization, as “he is one of the few North American resident supports who speaks both English and Korean, and FlyQuest’s top laner and mid laner (even if it moves to Keane) would be Korean native speakers.” It is not surprising that FlyQuest may be scouting him.

OpTic Gaming: Top-Support-Coach

OpTic Gaming may need to replace Zig and LemonNation in the mid-season

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Finishing ninth place in the Spring Split with a 5-13 record, OpTic Gaming may look to make changes in the mid-season. Most analysts pegged OpTic as a low-tier team in the NA LCS, due to its patchwork roster and lop-sided map strength. These predictions turned out to be true, as the team rarely achieved leads in the early game or coordinated well in the mid-game.

Akaadian and PowerOfEvil held up well in their respective roles, generally going even or ahead individually. Arrow and LemonNation frequently fell behind in lane, but Arrow almost always showed up in team fights and skirmishes. OpTic’s glaring issues revolved around top lane. Zig had his worst split yet, and substitute Dhokla was not an answer. These two never got leads, even in winning match-ups, and opponents pigeonholed OpTic in the draft because of it.

OpTic need to upgrade top lane if they want to compete in Summer Split. With PowerOfEvil and Arrow filling import slots, OpTic is restricted to North American talent, though. V1PER and Allorim are the only players from Academy League worth trying on the big stage. So unless TSM, CLG or Cloud9 are interested in trading, this weakness may carry over into summer.

The support and coaching positions may need tinkering, as well. LemonNation felt outclassed by many other supports in the league this year, and OpTic’s team did not visibly improve much over the course of the split. Moving Lemon to an analyst or coaching to assist Zaboutine, while bringing in Winter or another North American Academy support, could be the best move. OpTic should try out players with Arrow and find one with the best laning synergy. Fans questioned whether Zaboutine would translate his casting background into proper coaching, and it is hard to tell how much of OpTic’s issues revolve around their coach. OPT may need to make some staff changes for next split.

Golden Guardians: Top-Mid-Coach

Golden Guardians may need to replace Lourlo and Hai in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Golden Guardians finished last place this spring with a 4-14 record, but their highs felt much higher than FlyQuest or OpTic’s. GGS took games off of 100 Thieves, Team Liquid, CLG, and Echo Fox over the course of the split. However, it is clear that they need to make changes to be competitive this summer.

Hai and Lourlo account for most of the early game deficit. They both average significantly behind at 15 minutes, while Contractz and the bottom lane go even or ahead. Professional teams have a severely hindered chance of winning with weak solo laners, so Golden Guardians should prioritize those positions. Lourlo has five splits of LCS experience, but only really stood out in one. Hai has five and a half years of LCS experience, but feels underwhelming on stage.

Golden Guardians could make a case for keeping Lourlo and further developing him, but Hai seems forced at this point. Like LemonNation on OpTic, Hai would probably serve best as an analyst or coach outside of the game, while GGS brings in a new mid laner. Coach Tyler did seem to help the team when they released Locodoco, and Hai could supplement that development.

The bad news–Golden Guardians’ Academy team finished last place in the Academy League this spring. They cannot really look there for upgrades. The good news–their LCS roster still has both import slots open. Golden Guardians’ options are unlimited. Mickey, Damonte, V1PER, Goldenglue, and Allorim are available in Academy League, if GGS can buy them out. Europe and other regions have plenty of options to choose from, if GGS can import them. This organization seems to need the most change, from starters to subs, but Jurassiq and Jenkins are the only players released so far.

Everyone Else

CLG may not need any changes in the mid-season

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The rest of the teams will probably keep their LCS rosters for at least another split. CLG, TSM, Cloud9, Clutch Gaming, Echo Fox, 100 Thieves and Team Liquid all have strong players and staff. They each showed moments of brilliance and adapted throughout spring. CLG suffered most from individual shortcomings week-to-week and a lack of decisiveness since Aphromoo left. However, Darshan, Reignover, Huhi, Stixxay and Biofrost all had strong individual showings at different points.

TSM and Cloud9 showcased sheer dominance at certain points in the split, but could not maintain their highest levels of play every week. Clutch Gaming made it way farther than anyone anticipated, including themselves, and out-macro-played most of their opponents regularly. Echo Fox maintained first place most of the split. 100 Thieves finished second in their first ever split, and steadily improved week by week. Team Liquid won their first ever LCS title, never sinking below fifth place. The players and coaches on these teams are solid. They just need more time to develop synergy and consistency as units. They may change up some Academy rosters, but their starters will probably stay the same.

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Images: LoL Esports Flickr

The Game Haus covered the NA LCS finals LIVE. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for articles, pictures, videos, interviews, and more content from Thomas and other contributors!

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

An Echo of Immortals in the 2018 Spring Split

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

A Brief History of Immortals

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

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

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

EX-IMMORTALS IN 2018

Immortals traded Dardoch to CLG in 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

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

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

Immortals Echoing through the LCS

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

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

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Images: LoL Esports Flickr

The Game Haus covered the NA LCS finals LIVE. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for articles, pictures, videos, interviews, and more content from Thomas and other contributors!

Doublelift thinks Olleh can play anything

TL Doublelift on what makes Olleh unique: “Well, first, he’s Korean.”

Team Liquid won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split on Sunday, becoming the fourth organization to do so. They took 100 Thieves 3-0 in a best-of-five series to cement their victory. Every member contributed powerful performances, between Xmithie’s Baron steal, Impact’s gank resistance, Pobelter’s Shurima Shuffles and Olleh and Doublelift’s bottom lane dominance.

Particularly stand-out, this win presents Doublelift with his third title on a new organization. He won with CLG in Summer 2015, TSM in Summers 2016 and 2017, and now with Team Liquid in Spring 2018. No other player has accomplished this feat in the NA LCS.

Doublelift has won with three different supports, as well. He paired with Aphromoo on CLG, Biofrost on TSM and now Olleh on Liquid. Finding success with so many different players is impressive, because the AD carry and support positions are so intertwined in League of Legends. One cannot succeed without the other, and some marksmen have risen or fallen because of bad supports, and vice versa. Doublelift is one of the only players to remain consistent, regardless of  the teammates that surround him.

Finals press conference

Doublelift and Olleh won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split finals with Team Liquid

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

After their win on Sunday, Team Liquid held a press conference. Each individual fielded questions regarding their year as a team and how they found success in playoffs. Here is what Doublelift had to say, when asked about what makes Olleh unique compared to his past supports:

Well, first, he’s Korean. (laugh)

I think the main thing is just, every support is totally different actually. Every time you play with a new teammate, you realize they have a different point system. And I think for Olleh, his point system is really play-making and looking to engage–looking to make a big, risky play.

I used to play like that, too, actually, so, we’re playing together at the wrong time. But, now I’m a lot more safe, I guess. After having so many bad experiences at Worlds I play a lot more safe, so, at first, we were really bad together. And every week we just worked on it. So, I think Olleh is unique, because he is really willing to play any style, and when we talk about bot lane, or when I criticize him, he’s really good at improving and making changes.

After the end of the regular season and playoffs and stuff, I think we are really good. It was like every day, every week, we’re just talking about stuff, and he’s making changes, I’m making changes. So I think that’s what’s really unique about him. He’s a really balanced player. He can play everything.

Considering Team Liquid had a 5-1 record over the first three weeks of the split, few outside viewers probably noticed much issue with Doublelift and Olleh’s synergy. However, Doublelift describes a long process of rigorous improvement and adaptation. Winning games on stage in the NA LCS does not seem like enough for Doublelift. His aspirations go beyond North America. Doublelift wants to perform at international events, and grow to be the best. Olleh has helped him secure another NA LCS title; maybe he will finally be the key to international success, as well.

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The Game Haus covered the NA LCS finals LIVE. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for articles, pictures, videos, interviews, and more content from Thomas and other contributors!

Team Liquid won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split finals against 100 Thieves

The NA LCS Spring Split closes with 100 Thieves skunked by Team Liquid 0-3

Leading into Sunday’s match versus 100 Thieves, Team Liquid rolled into The Fillmore Theatre for a red carpet treatment. When asked about facing Meteos, Xmithie commented “it’s going to be a really tight match-up. It’s whoever the better team is, to be honest.”

The series turned out to be almost completely one-sided, favoring Team Liquid. 100 Thieves drafted advantages for every lane over the course of the best-of-three, but Liquid responded with better execution overall. Each subsequent game looked worse and worse for 100 Thieves, with compounding mistakes spelling their downfall. Here is how it went down.

Team Liquid won the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split finals by beating 100 Thieves

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Game One

Impact’s pocket pick locked in for the first game seemed to trip up 100 Thieves. A couple of failed ganks top-side allowed Doublelift and Olleh to gain the early lead in bottom lane. Getting zoned from CS and losing significant trades, Cody Sun and Aphromoo rotated top and secured First Blood. A teamfight win for Team Liquid gained them enough of a lead to Rift Herald, the first three turrets, and all three Drakes. 100 Thieves did gain momentum by picking off Doublelift and Pobelter and pressuring Baron. Xmithie made a miracle steal, which Liquid used to end the game in 29:33.

Game Two

100 Thieves opted for a strange extended level one invade onto Xmithie’s red buff at the beginning of game two. Impact and Meteos both died in the top lane around five minutes, but the real action started around 14 minutes. With Cody Sun and Aphromoo fairly low health, Liquid 4-man dove the duo resulting in a Double Kill for Pobelter’s Azir. Pobelter came up huge again when 100 Thieves collapsed onto Xmithie near the Baron pit. He Shurima Shuffled four members into his team for another Double Kill and a four-for-one. Liquid easily took the Baron at 20 minutes and closed in 26 minutes.

Game Three

Pr0lly and 100 Thieves went into game three with a top lane focused game plan. They drafted Ssumday Gnar and sent Meteos top to help him secure a Double Kill. A few minutes later, Ryu and Meteos helped Ssumday dive Impact under turret in a one-for-one. Meteos returned a third time to dive Impact all the way near his tier two turret, but Xmithie Skarner ulted him for a one-for-one again. Team Liquid then won a skirmish bottom lane, punished Ssusmday’s over-extension top lane, and took an Infernal Drake to equalize the game. Around 20 minutes, Meteos opted to camp a bottom lane brush for an extended time to surprise Impact, but got dragged by Xmithie under turret again without securing the kill. Liquid rotated and took the Baron, then dominated the last five minutes to end.

Team Liquid’s win marked the second 3-0 victory of the weekend, with Echo Fox defeating Clutch Gaming one day earlier in a similar fashion. This is Liquid’s first ever LCS split win, making them the fourth organization to hang their banner. They will participate in Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational in Europe May 3 to May 20, representing North America. Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and Echo Fox will also represent North America at Rift Rivals July 2-July 8, facing Europe’s best teams.

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The Game Haus covered the NA LCS finals LIVE in Miami. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for articles, videos, pictures, interviews, and more from Thomas and other contributors!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Game One

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

Game Two

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

Game Three

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

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

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Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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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

Team Liquid win the regular season Academy League

Team Liquid finish first in Academy; Cloud9, FlyQuest and Echo Fox to playoffs

The inaugural North American Academy League finished its first split last night. Nine weeks of competition ended with Team Liquid in first place, followed by Cloud9, FlyQuest, and Echo Fox. These four teams move on to the playoff stage of the Spring Split to battle for bragging rights.

Week Nine

The final week of the Spring Split shook up the standings quite a bit. Coming out of week eight, Cloud9 and FlyQuest were tied for first. Team Liquid followed in third with Echo Fox fourth. CLG sat fifth, while 100 Thieves and TSM tied for sixth. Clutch and OpTic tied for eighth, and Golden Guardians rounded out the league in tenth.

Day One

Cloud9 finish the regular season Academy League in second place

Image from Leaguepedia

C9 and FLY faced off on day one of week nine, which would determine who would solely hold first place. C9’s “bouncy house” composition finally came through, despite FLY’s accrued gold lead. FLY’s 8,000 gold lead crumbled quickly after C9’s Baron call around 38 minutes. Two major team fights, and C9 took the Nexus, as well as first place. The rest of Thursday’s matches went to the expected victors (Liquid, Clutch, FOX, and CLG).

Day Two

Team Liquid took their shot at Cloud9 on Friday, hoping to challenge the top spot. V1PER’s snowballing top lane Olaf went berserk, finishing 9-3-4 with the most gold in the game. With the win, Team Liquid tied for first, which would later force a tiebreaker.

The following match, Clutch versus 100 Thieves, was another crucial head-to-head between tied teams. These two, along with TSM, sat tangled in sixth with a 7-10 record. The match remained relatively even through 23 minutes, but a big Baron take for Clutch blew it wide open. Piglet’s Twitch finished 8-1-3. Linsanity’s Ryze went 0-5-2. The loss bumped 100 Thieves out of sixth.

Echo Fox finish the regular season Academy League in fourth place

Image from Leaguepedia

Echo Fox defended their playoff spot by upsetting FlyQuest in Friday’s showdown. Three early kills to FOX’s carries set them up for an easy snowball. Damonte’s Anivia, OddOrange’s Sejuani, and Allorim’s Sion combined for an incredible amount of crowd control, which FLY was unable to overcome. Erry’s Jinx never came online, and FOX closed out the game with only a single tower lost. This victory solidified FOX’s fourth place finish, as well as FLY’s third place finish.

To finish out the day, Liquid and Cloud9 rematched to tiebreak first place. Risky Riven and Kog’Maw picks put a lot of pressure on TL throughout the mid-game. C9 racked up a 4,200 gold lead by 19 minutes, winning skirmishes around Goldenglue’s Ryze. However, like the rest of the matches, TL’s Baron capture and teamfight win put them back in the saddle. C9 looked shaken, as V1PER’s Riven and Mickey’s Swain broke the team up and pushed them back. Liquid ended just under 37 minutes with nearly 10,000 gold over Cloud9.

Playoffs

Unlike the LCS, only four teams enter playoffs in the Academy League. The semifinals consists of Team Liquid versus Echo Fox, and Cloud9 versus FlyQuest. These teams will play a best-of-five to see who moves onto the finals. Team Liquid beat Echo Fox in both of their regular season face-offs, while Cloud9 and FlyQuest went 1-1.

Team Liquid v. Echo Fox

Team Liquid win the Academy League regular season

Image from Leaguepedia

Team Liquid seems the most explosive team in the league. They average .76 combined kills per minute, more than any other team, while Echo Fox averages .57, third lowest. Look for Joey and Hard to force plays, while Damonte and Lost do their best to carry. Mickey does some of the highest damage in the league, so FOX should do all they can to hold him down. According to Oracles Elixir, Echo Fox has the stronger early game, while Team Liquid have the superior mid-late game.

V1PER played 14 of 17 games on carries, such as Riven, Camille, and Yasuo, while Allorim played almost exclusively tanks, like Sion, Ornn, and Maokai. Mickey’s champion pool has been all over the place, while Damonte has mostly drafted Cassiopeia and Ryze over the second half of the split. TL and FOX’s AD carry position is probably the most unbalanced. Lost consistently outputs more damage, more kill participation, and higher KDAs than Shoryu. He is also unafraid to draft Ezreal or Kog’Maw, where Shoryu leans on Tristana and Xayah much more. This offset could be exploited over a series.

Cloud9 v. FlyQuest

Flyquest finish the regular season Academy League in third place

Image from Leaguepedia

FLY and C9 will be a much closer match-up, on paper. Their team-wide statistics generally line up, with FlyQuest looking slightly better overall. Baron and Elder Drake control are their widest gaps. C9 only takes 54 percent of Barons, while FLY takes 72 percent. On the flip-side, FLY takes 33 percent of Elder Drakes, while C9 has taken 100 percent. These trends could result in divisive games.

Keith topped the Academy League in virtually every stat. He has the highest KDA, kill participation and damage per minute, while also maintaining the lowest death share. Zeyzal and he will most likely win Cloud9 the series, matching up against Erry and JayJ. However, Keane and Shrimp will get things going early, maintaining some of the highest First Blood and kill participation rates of any jungle-mid duo. Shiro appears to be C9’s weakest member, and his reliance on Gnar could get exploited.

The rest of the league

The other teams enter the off-season for a much needed break. CLG finished fifth, only one win from fourth place. TSM and Clutch tied for sixth with 8-10 records. 100 Thieves kept eighth for themselves, while OpTic concluded their season ninth. Golden Guardians bottomed out the league at 2-16.

Without the immediate fear of relegation or promotion tournament, it is difficult to predict what this mid-season may be like. The Academy League is supposed to center around developing rising talent, so losing is not necessarily cause for change. Team pride will most likely win out, resulting in plenty of recruitment for fresh new talent. A few players may even get scouted for low-level LCS teams.

Golden Guardians and OpTic Gaming should probably make sweeping change with their rosters, as their Academy and LCS squads failed to really pull together. Xpecial, Hai, Contractz and PowerOfEvil are probably the most safe candidates for rebuilding around, but anyone is fair game at this point. Coaches and support staff may also be considered for replacement. These new organizations most likely learned a lot in their first Spring Split, which they will utilize in off-season decision-making.

credits

Featured Image: LoLesports.com

Other Images: Leaguepedia

Statistics: Oracles Elixir, Games of Legends

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international

Locations revealed for LoL’s 2018 international tournaments

The locations for the international League of Legends tournaments for the year have been revealed.

Last year saw the game go to locations across the world. The first Rift Rivals tournaments were held in Germany, Chile, China, Russia and Taiwan. For MSI, we visited Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil. Worlds took place in China and went across the country at huge venues in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

This year’s events will be just as spread out across the world, giving people the chance to see the best every region has to offer on an international level.

 

MSI

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • Play-ins and Groups at the LCS Studio in Berlin, Germany – May 03-06 | 08-09 | 11-15
  • Knockout stage at Zenith Paris La Villette in Paris, France – May 18-20.

 

RIFT RIVALS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • North America vs. Europe hosted in North America.
  • China vs. Korea vs. LMS hosted in China.
  • Brazil vs. LATAM North vs. LATAM South hosted in Brazil.
  • Oceania vs. Southeast Asia vs. Japan hosted in Australia.
  • Vietnam vs. Russia vs. Turkey hosted in Vietnam.
  • The events will take place during the week of July 2-8
  • Venues will be revealed in the coming months.

 

WORLDS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • The 2018 League of Legends World Championship will be held in South Korea.
  • Dates and venues will be revealed in the coming months.

 

ALL STARS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • This year’s All-Star event will be hosted in North America.
  • The event will take place from December 3-9.
  • Venue to be revealed in the coming months.

 

CREDITS

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

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EU LCS and NA LCS have slightly different champion prioritization in the 2018 Spring Split

A detailed look at EU and NA LCS champion preferences in 2018

While North America and Europe share a similar meta so far in 2018, the two regions do exhibit slightly different preferences in champion select. Differences in positional strengths and in-game strategies caused different champions to rise and fall in draft priority. These two regions mirror each other in certain shifts between patches 8.1 to 8.2, but they have diverged in certain respects, too.

By looking at the draft history of EU and NA, analysts can extrapolate information about these two regions. Does one region prioritize a certain position over the other? Are there any champions that appear frequently in one region, but not the other? Champion select can answer these questions, and more.

NA LCS from 8.1 to 8.2

North America prioritized Zoe, Ezreal, and Kalista on patch 8.1 in the 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

NA LCS prioritized Gangplank, Gnar, and Zoe on patch 8.2 in the 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

At the start of the 2018 Spring Split, NA LCS teams spent most of their bans on Zoe, Kalista, Ornn and Tahm Kench. Pick-wise, Ezreal and Gangplank sat at the top, due to their synergy with the new Kleptomancy rune. Tanky protector supports, Braum and Taric, had top-10 presence, as well as Gnar, a generalist top laner.

Once 8.2 hit professional play, Ezreal, Kalista, Ornn, Tahm Kench and Taric drop from the top 10. Sejuani, Azir, Galio, Ryze and Zac took their places. Two extra mid lane champions jumped into the top 10 with two extra junglers. Priority on AD carries and supports dropped, in response. Most of the champions that fell in priority was due to direct nerfs, changes to support itemization and nerfs to Kleptomancy. Zoe remains the most perceived overpowered champion, with high ban rates and a low average ban turn.

EU LCS from 8.1 to 8.2

EU LCS prioritize Kalista, Tahm Kench, and Azir on patch 8.1 in the 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS prioritized Sejuani, Kalista, and Zoe on patch 8.2 in the 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

Across the pond, EU LCS teams showed less priority on the Kleptomancy users (Ezreal and Gangplank) in patch 8.1. Instead, they banned Jarvan IV and Sejuani much more frequently, while leaving Tahm Kench, Ornn and Zoe available more often. EU teams drafted Ezreal, Tristana, Caitlyn and Varus with almost equal frequency to one another.

Transitioning into patch 8.2, Sejuani skyrocketed in priority, Jarvan IV dropped out of top-10 presence and Zac took his place. Azir and Gnar fall from grace, but Camille and Caitlyn jump to 90 percent presence. None of these champions had much changed on the patch update, so most of the prioritization changes are adaptations from the first two weeks of play. EU teams only had one top lane champion with top-10 presence in both patches, while the other roles had an even spread.

NA LCS and EU LCS top lane comparison

NA LCS teams prioritized Gangplank, Gnar, and Ornn in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Gnar, Ornn, and Camille in the top lane in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

Gnar and Ornn have been clear favorites over the first three weeks of gameplay between NA and EU LCS. North America is showing favoritism towards Gangplank and his interactions with Kleptomancy, while Europe has less than half as much priority. Instead, EU teams are happy to pick Camille as a counter to Gnar, and still draft Cho’Gath as a scaling AP tank.

Ban turn is another interesting regional difference. NA teams ban Gangplank and Ornn around turn four or five, while EU teams do not ban any top laners that early in the draft. The other prioritized top lane champions are banned around turns six and seven in NA. EU teams average one to two turns later to ban top laners. This could indicate that EU teams save counter picks for top lane more often than NA.

NA LCS AND EU LCS Jungle COMPARISON

NA LCS team prioritized Sejuani, Zac, and Jarvan IV in the jungle in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Sejuani, Jarvan IV, and Zac in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

It is obvious which champions have been dominating the jungle pool across both regions: Sejuani, Jarvan IV and Zac. These junglers provide early ganking, scaling tankiness and multiple forms of crowd control for teamfighting. Sejuani, Jarvan IV and Zac make up 60 to 90 percent of jungle picks in NA and EU.

Beyond those three, NA and EU show similar trends. Rengar, Kha’Zix and Evelynn represent the assassin class, which provides stealth, mobility and high early damage. NA junglers won three games of three games with Evelynn, while losing three of four with Kha’Zix. EU junglers have shown the reverse–winning four of seven with Kha’Zix and zero of two with Evelynn.

EU junglers have been experimenting with more jungler options than NA. Kold played Kayn, Xerxe played Ivern, Jankos played Skarner, Maxlore played Lee Sin and Memento even played Camille. Meanwhile, MikeYeung’s Shyvana has been NA’s only unique pick so far. Europe’s junglers may be willing to take more risks, but, unfortunately, only the Ivern pick resulted in a win.

NA LCS AND EU LCS mid COMPARISON

NA LCS teams prioritized Zoe, Ryze, and Azir in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Zoe, Ryze, and Azir in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

Similar to the jungle pools, the mid lane pools for NA and EU have been very similar. Zoe, Ryze and Azir dominate the draft with the current scaling AP meta. Galio and Malzahar are high-engage options that follow the S-tier picks, but their presence really falls off.

As mentioned earlier, EU’s mid laners seem to prefer picking or banning Ryze over Azir or Zoe. NA teams ban Zoe earlier and more frequently, while EU teams ban Azir. Thirteen unique champions have been picked and banned in North America, while Europe only has seven. Huhi, PowerOfEvil and Jensen are well-known for having deep champion pools, which could explain the variance. Pocket pick fans will be happy to see Nisqy and Betsy win games with Veigar, who has not seen EU LCS play in over four years.

NA LCS AND EU LCS Bot lane COMPARISON

NA LCS teams prioritized Kalista, Kog'Maw, and Tristana in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Kalista, Kog'Maw, and Tristana in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

The AD Carry position has fewer options to begin with, so most regions will see play on the same champions. Kalista, Kog’Maw, and Tristana are currently the scaling options of choice, as they synergized with the Fleet Footwork-Relic Shield-Overheal meta. However, EU teams are much more likely to take Kalista off the table than NA.

Ezreal saw higher play rates before his nerfs in patch 8.2, with NA teams showing a higher preference than EU. NA also prioritized Varus just below the S-tier picks, while EU has gravitated towards Caitlyn. Xayah is really only picked when paired with Rakan, and Sivir is a last option for deep scaling compositions.

NA AD carries have been much more successful with Kalista than EU AD carries. She carries a 56 percent winrate, 4.8 KDA, and +12.7 CS difference at 15 minutes in the NA LCS. In the EU LCS, she is 0-4, carries a 0.7 KDA, and -10.8 CS difference. This could be reason for EU teams to lower their priority on her in the coming weeks.

NA LCS and EU LCS Support Comparison

Na LCS teams prioritized Braum, Tahm Kench, and Taric in the first three weeks 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Tahm Kench, Braum, and Alistar in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

Bulky support champions with protective abilities and engage or disengage are the cream of the crop, currently. Tahm Kench reigns supreme in this “protect the AD carry” meta, and Braum is a close second. Both EU and NA prioritize these two champions far above any other supports. Alistar is the third option they share.

NA also has Taric just below the Kench-Braum tier, but he only has 17 percent presence in EU. Ornn support has also been played in NA, but not in EU, and all three games were wins. Thresh, Janna, and Shen have been pulled out a few times each, but the support pool has to be pinched first. Zilean is just under Rakan in EU’s prioritization, thanks to Kasing on Splyce. NA teams have played Zilean mid, instead.

Putting it all Together

NA LCS teams prioritize Zoe, Gangplank, and Gnar in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring SplitImage from GamesofLegends.com

EU LCS teams prioritized Kalista, Tahm Kench, and Braum in the first three weeks of 2018 Spring Split

Image from GamesofLegends.com

Over the first three weeks of the NA and EU LCS, over both patches, most champions overlap. Kalista and Braum average the highest prioritization between the two regions. The other top 10, while the same champions, are in very different places relative to each region.

Zoe and Tahm Kench are the most obvious diverging champions. Zoe is NA’s highest-presence champion at 97 percent, banned 26 times, picked three times. In EU, Ryze, Azir and Zoe all sit around the same level in fourth through seventh. Tahm Kench, on the other hand, is at the bottom of NA’s top 10, while being 100 percent pick or ban in EU.

One defining difference between the regional priority lies with top lane. Gangplank and Gnar have been 90 to 93 percent present, while Gnar is all the way down at number 10 in EU and Gangplank is down around 43 percent presence. In EU, they have higher priority on the supports and jungle champions. Tahm and Braum are virtually pick or ban, while Sejuani and Jarvan IV sit 10 to 20 percent higher in EU than NA, and NA is prioritizing Zac over Jarvan IV altogether.

Finally, NA teams pick or ban Kog’Maw much more, relative to the rest of the top 10 in EU. Both regions show an 83 percent presence for the marksman, but he falls sixth highest presence for NA, while only ninth highest in EU. Overall, EU teams cycle through the same champions more frequently than NA, causing them to show six champions with 90 percent or more presence.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images and Statistics: Games of Legends

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

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Golden Guardians enter week three in last place in NA LCS Spring Split

According to history, LCS teams finishing 0-2 this week will miss Spring Split Playoffs

Following two weeks of European and North American LCS Spring Split, many fans and analysts will jump to conclusions. Some sites placed Echo Fox as a top 10 Worlds contender, G2 as the sixth best in Europe, or FlyQuest as ninth in NA. While anyone will say that the rest of the season will be unpredictable, LCS history can help temper expectations.

This split feels less predictable

Spring Split generally feels more chaotic at the start, because teams make more dramatic roster changes in the off-season after Worlds. This off-season, in particular, introduced several new organizations into the LCS and many keystone players changed rosters. With so many questions of synergy, cooperation and communication in the air, it is clear why analysts are left scratching their heads.

CLG enters week three tied for seventh in NA LCS Spring Split

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The best-of-one, single group format of EU and NA LCS this year is a large contributing factor to everyone’s perceived unpredictability of results. Placements have felt more stagnant over the past few splits, thanks to best-of-threes, best-of-twos and Europe’s two-group format. However, these leagues have not always used those formats. In fact, EU and NA used their current format in the 2015 and 2016 Spring Splits: best-of-ones, a single group, ten teams.

Revisiting past splits

Spring Split standings seemed unpredictable in 2015 and 2016, too. In 2015, NA and EU expanded from eight teams to ten. Huni and Reignover just joined Fnatic. Elements, one of the first super teams, entered the EU LCS. In NA, four new organizations stepped onto the scene. Imaqtpie left Dignitas.

Elements entered the LCS Spring Split 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Origen, G2 and Splyce played their first Spring Splits in 2016. H2K picked up Jankos and Forg1ven. In 2016, NRG, Echo Fox and Immortals had their inaugural Spring Splits. Cloud9 got Jensen, and ZionSpartan changed his moniker to Darshan. These were times of massive change and adjustment, which left analysts with the difficult task of predicting team strengths.

Maybe reviewing the results of these previous splits can help predict the results of the 2018 Spring Split. The trajectories of different teams from week one to week 10 in 2015 and 2016 could reproduce themselves this year. Starting the season at the top may not have a history of panning out to success by the end of the split.

Emerging patterns

Some teams that started in the top six EU LCS Spring Split 2015 did not make playoffs

1. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six EU LCS Spring Split 2016 did not make playoffs

2. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six NA LCS Spring Split 2015 did not make playoffs

3. Image from Leaguepedia

Some teams that started in the top six NA LCS Spring Split 2016 did not make playoffs4. Image from Leaguepedia

Some patterns emerge when looking at the standings over time. In 2015, two out of six EU teams, and two out of seven NA teams, finished the second week as a playoff team, but dropped out by week 10. In 2016, one of the six EU teams, and two of the seven NA teams, fell under the same circumstances. Seven out of 26 teams across these years and regions failed to qualify for playoffs, despite starting the split in the top six. That amounts to a 27 percent rate of failure.

2015 saw Elements and Giants fall from third and fourth to seventh and ninth. 2016 Elements finished their second week tied for first, but dropped to seventh again. In 2015, Team 8 and Winterfox finished seventh and eighth, despite being tied for fourth in week two. In 2016, Team Dignitas and Team Impulse ended at the bottom of the standings, falling from their third place tie in week two.

The 2018 week two results do not quite match up with those of the past. North America has a three-way tie for second and a tie for fifth. Europe has a four-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fifth. However, broad trends have happened in the past that could repeat themselves this year.

For example, other than Elements in 2016, every team that started first or second in week two qualified for playoffs. That statistic bodes well for the European teams currently tied for first, Echo Fox and the North American teams tied for second. More importantly, 10 out of 12 teams, regardless of rank, that had a 0-2 week three did not make playoffs at the end of Spring. If that trend continues, then organizations that finish this week 0-2 have an 83 percent chance of missing playoffs.

Looking to the rest of the Spring Split

While these reviews of the past can help contextualize the present, history does not always repeat itself. There are exceptions to every rule. Notice how nothing mentioned above came out to 100 percent. Picking up trends can help predict certain parts of the future, but it can also become unsettling.

Analysts are left to predict the rest of Spring Split 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Will Huni help 2018 Echo Fox be 2016 Immortals reincarnated? Is TSM destined to replace Clutch Gaming or FlyQuest, like Cloud9 did Team 8 in 2015? If H2K goes 0-2 in week three, then are they blocked from playoffs? What are the odds that Team Vitality fall below sixth place?

These and many more questions remain unanswered by historical data alone. But it is interesting to watch each split unfold, while looking for the parallels. With the return of best-of-ones and single groups, the EU and NA LCS are returning to 2015 and 2016 form. The chaos of competition has most fans and analysts trying their best to make sense of everything. Looking to other Spring Splits, and studying the patterns, can help create expectations moving forward. The 2018 Spring Splits will either reinforce, or buck, the trend.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Historical Data: Leaguepedia

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

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