New York Excelsior undefeated in week two

New York Excelsior Perfect in Week Two

Perfection in week 2 for the New York Excelsior. The return of Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong to the starting lineup carried the squad to a 8–0 map score earning the support player of the match honors. Their Saturday night win over the Houston Outlaws was among the highest level of competition we have seen to date. With two victories in the second week NYXL sit alone atop the standings one game ahead of the Seoul Dynasty. Life must seem a bit brighter for the Excelsior compared to only a week ago where the team was short one of their star supports and suffered defeat to the rival London Spitfire.

Boston Uprising Match Recap

New York was certainly in control of their matches but it was a close fought affair on both occasions. Against Boston on Hanamura NYXL quickly captured point A only to be beaten back consistently by the Boston defense on point B. New York tried adjusting their strategy swapping to Lucio and trying to place Soldier 76 on the high ground but to no avail. Similarly, Boston caught the Excelsior off guard with a fast paced attack on point A featuring Sombra. Boston’s strategy worked initially but was held on the second point ultimately losing out to NY’s superior capture percentage.

Hae-Seong “Libero” Kim struggled to find effectiveness on Pharah during the control map played on Nepal. Fortunately while Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez may have outshone the Excelsior projectile DPS, Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park buoyed the damage battery with suffocating play on Tracer and Soldier 76. The result a 2–1 victory. Libero still performed at a high level throughout the majority of the match. His patient play on Genji was essential to the Excelsior’s defense on Hanamura as well as their attack on King’s row. Some powerful nano-boosted play on Genji and short reinforce times on the final checkpoint was enough to clinch the series for the NYXL 3–2 on King’s row.

NYXL Struggle against Tank Lineups

Houston challenged New York with Zarya, Reinhardt Rodhog composition.

New York has shown weakness to tank heavy compositions and the trend continued in week two. Reduced effectiveness of their preferred mobile dps front-line: Tracer and Genji has seen opponents winning the war of attrition. The meta has not yet swung from the dive play prevalent in stage 1 but should more teams find room for Reinhardt and Zarya in their lineups the Excelsior could struggle to maintain their dominant form. The Houston Outlaws exploited this weakness best winning the first round of Lijiang Tower. You can find the replay of that map here: NY v HOU Lijiang.

Anti dive compositions on which the Outlaws are so comfortable appear to be narrow but effective. Triple tank so far being fielded on only a few maps and only on specific sections. With the success Houston has had teams should only expect to see the composition played more frequently. If triple or quad tank play becomes the norm teams who have relied on dive compositions will struggle. Boston and Philadelphia are teams hungry for a place amidst the league’s best who could be hamstrung by a meta-shift.

Houston Outlaws Match Recap

New York won 4-0 over the Houston Outlaws. Defeating a top team demonstrates how effective the Excelsior are with their roster made whole. The Outlaws played great against New York on Lijiang Tower. Houston’s trademark anti dive thwarted NYXL on point one. Houston made strategic adjustments on both the second and third points. Despite executing to a high level the Koreans were simply a touch better. The level of play on Lijiang’s Control Center and Night Market was especially high but, the crown jewel was King’s Row. Prior to their contest both the New York Excelsior and Houston Outlaws were undefeated on the map at 3–0. Houston’s stocky front line of Reinhardt, Zarya and Roadhog pushed the Excelsior’s defense to the breaking point.

Map of the Match: King’s Row

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The Excelsior defense was not able to withstand Houston’s tidal offense. The three tanks all synergized well together and the entire team could readily follow up on graviton surge. Austin “Muma” Wilmot one of the few tanks to play Reinhardt on a regular basis showed their is room for the hero in the meta. New York’s defense has seemed beatable in both matches and has so far been bailed out by incredible attacking. Repeated earthshatters and graviton surges rebuked the Excelsior for what seemed an eternity. Eventually though New York’s dive broke through the gauntlet and Houston was unable to manage a consistent defense. Both the second and third point were taken in an almost unbroken series of play.

Who needs defense?

NYXL went with an older style two sniper offense designed to create an impossible crossfire and eliminate the enemy Widowmaker. The opening maneuver was successful with Libero taking the scalps of both Widowmaker and Tracer. With the opposition damage down New York cruised to an easy point A capture. King’s row finished 6–5 in favor of New York and it was only a lesser time bank that finally put the hopes of Houston out of reach. The Outlaws second attack once again showed extreme potency however they entered overtime just prior to the second checkpoint.

New York was unfamiliar with the Outlaws compositions as they are not played by the majority of the rest of the league. While the health of the team should only increase as Ark’s wrist mends I would look for many teams to take inspiration from Houston’s performance. Despite not winning a map few teams have played the Excelsior so closely and made them look so uncomfortable.

Looking Ahead to Week 3

New York have most of the heavy lifting out of the way with matches against Houston and London in the books. Week three will see the Excelsior battle Philadelphia Fusion and San Francisco Shock, teams lower in the standings. While the Fusion defeated New York in Stage 1 it would be a much bigger upset to see the Korean squad drop a second match. New York has yet to play the Shock but the California based squad has shown no indication they could challenge the Excelsior. The two teams will be familiar with each other though as they were frequent scrim partners thanks to the stage 1 schedule. The next big match up for NYXL will be in week 4 when they play the second place Seoul Dynasty who have strung together a successful Stage 2 despite showing weakness at the end of the opening stage.

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graduated junglers

Preseason: NA’s graduated junglers

After joining the NA LCS in 2017, three former rookies mount their return as NA’s newly graduated junglers. Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung, Omar “Omargod” Amin and Juan “Contractz” Garcia exploded onto the scene in season 7. After an exciting freshman year, these three junglers look to stake their claim on the newly franchised NA LCS. Looking back at their performances the past year, who is poised for even greater breakout performances in 2018? Let’s take a look at North America’s graduated jungler trio as they plot their return.

MikeYeung: From the Ashes

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

MikeYeung made his NA LCS debut in the Summer Split as the jungler for Phoenix1 (P1). Previously a highly rated solo-queue player, MikeYeung erupted onto the NA scene with an arsenal of carry junglers. His signature pick in “Nidalee” stunned the NA crowd and crushed his opponents. Boasting an insane 80% overall winrate on “Nidalee” in summer, this pocket pick was no joke. Following an already impressive debut, MikeYeung travelled to Germany with Phoenix1 to participate in the Rift Rivals tournament, his first international event. Mike shocked his EU opponents with some flashy plays on his patented “Nidalee,” earning himself the Group Stage MVP distinction.

After returning from a strong showing at Rift Rivals, the MikeYeung hype train was in full gear. However, with the jungle meta shifting to control-oriented tank picks, Mike’s champion pool struggled. His star champions, “Kha’Zix,” “Lee Sin” and “Nidalee” could not snowball enough advantages against more useful utility tanks. Due to these meta changes, fans did not see the dominant MikeYeung that most expected. Phoenix1 suffered a steady decline that saw them forced into the summer Promotion tournament.

After ending their summer season early, news surrounding P1’s failure to earn a spot in the new NA LCS began to leak. The question now: where will P1’s rookie sensation go to reclaim his former glory? With the recent runes overhaul in patch 7.22, carry junglers look to make a serious comeback. MikeYeung has an opportunity to showcase his improvement since the Promotion tournament at the upcoming 2017 All-Stars event. For MikeYeung, the sky is the limit. Can the graduated rookie can reclaim his spot atop NA’s jungle hierarchy?

Omargod: Breaking the Chains

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Omargod made his professional debut as a substitute jungler for Counter Logic Gaming (CLG). After internal issues involving starting jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett surfaced, Omar became the team’s starter. For Omargod, the road to NA LCS was a long climb. He first appeared on CLG’s radar at the 2016 Scouting Grounds event. Impressed by his carry performances, coach Tony “Zikzlol” Gray and veteran support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black first-picked Omar as the jungler for Team Cloud Drake. After several fantastic games on carry picks like “Hecarim,” Omargod proved why he belonged on the LCS stage.

After Dardoch parted ways with CLG, Omargod had a huge gap to fill. Dardoch established a name for himself by consistently dominating enemy junglers. But, because of meta shifts in the summer split, Omar found himself mainly on utility tanks. Criticism poured in as CLG struggled to regain their footing in the latter half of the split. Analysts pointed to the recent jungle swap as the obvious reason for CLG’s decline. After falling to Cloud 9 (C9) in the NA LCS regional qualifiers, CLG and Omargod found themselves stuck at home, instead of attending Worlds.

Because of Omar’s shaky performances during the Summer Split, fans have mixed expectations for the upcoming season. However, Counter Logic Gaming is an organization known for the coaching staff’s dedication and loyalty to players. If any coach can bring out the best in Omargod, Zikz is second to none. Now is the time for Omar to free himself of the criticism from last split and prove himself on CLG. Perhaps the preseason meta changes will encourage Omargod to dip into his champion pool and show North America the carry potential that CLG witnessed at Scouting Grounds. After all, rumor has it “Predator Hecarim” is rampaging through preseason.

Contractz: A Carry’s DNA

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Unlike the other graduated junglers, Contractz began his journey with Cloud 9 in the spring of 2017. After earning spring Rookie of the Split, Contractz stumbled a bit in summer. In the Summer Playoffs, Cloud 9 dropped out in quarterfinals against a surging Dignitas (DIG). So, C9 spent their time preparing for the regional qualifier gauntlet. There, the squad overcame CLG in a solid 3-1 finish and booked a ticket for China.

At Worlds, Contractz battled the likes of SKT Peanut, EDG Clearlove7 and WE Condi. His peerage became a group of elite, international junglers. Still, the rookie performed fantastically on the world stage. Contractz won over many fans, pulling out picks like “Ezreal” and “Graves” in the group stage. While the other NA junglers struggled against international competition, Contractz held his own against the best. After being the only North American representative to advance past group stages, all hope rested with Cloud 9. Although C9 fell to Team WE in quarterfinals, the roster made a definitive statement to the fans back home. “We are the best NA team here.”

With a great Worlds performance behind him, Contractz looks to dominate in the upcoming split. As carry junglers rise both in power and viability in preseason, is this the split for Contractz to stamp his name as the best jungler in NA? A Top 8 finish at Worlds means the onus is on C9 to reclaim their former glory at the top of North America. With changes coming to NA LCS, Cloud 9 look poised to gun for first place. Of the three former rookie junglers, Contractz may be the one to surpass them all. Still, only time will tell which graduated jungler will break ahead of the pack.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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NA LCS Finals Analysis

2016

The unexpected appearance of TSM in the finals after taking down the heavy favorites of Immortals, coupled with the CLG victory in the other semifinal points towards that this could be the best final of any NA LCS split ever.
There are many story-lines converging in one single event . TSM makes the final once again as an underdog. This is the seventh LCS split and the seventh final that TSM plays, meaning that they have made top-2 in every LCS split. There have been splits were TSM was heavily underrated and for good reasons, yet they always perform in playoffs. It is not the first time that TSM was expected to lose in the quarterfinals or the semifinals, and this is the reason why for many people TSM is the best team in the world preparing for a tournament, because they always perform better than expected in playoffs or international competition.

The off-season was plagued by trash-talk between the CLG and TSM organizations. It all started with the Doublelift transfer from CLG to rival TSM, followed by a few less than ideal PR statements, the arguments got heated between both sides igniting the oldest rivalry in League of Legends more than ever before. CLG seemed dismantled with the loss of Doublelift and Pobelter, whereas TSM looked like one of the strongest teams in the league before the split started. As the season developed, CLG showed that they were the team that had a better grasp of the meta and could work between the different personalities on the team. On the other side, TSM struggled to understand the meta, to establish and follow a leader and to win games. When the regular split came to an end, to the surprise of many, CLG was stronger team than many people had expected.

TSM can accomplish something that has never happened before and that it is unlikely to happen very often. They beat C9, the third seed in the quarterfinals. Then they beat Immortals, the number one seed. And they will play against the number two seed from the regular split in the finals (CLG). Meaning, if they are the North American representative heading into MSI, they have to have beaten the top three teams from North America in a bo5. TSM has proven that they are a team worthy of the title, and many could argue that they already beat the final boss, but the stage of Las Vegas awaits and the monster of CLG is waiting for the best revenge in League of Legends history.

Why TSM will win:

They have more talented individuals. Before the split started, many people credited TSM because they were the superior team in terms of talent. However, the regular split showed that talent alone does not win games. It is a fair point that CLG has shown for a longer period of time that they play as a cohesive unit with little internal disagreement on the shotcalling. On the other side TSM seems to have gotten past the point where the internal issues should be worrisome any longer. They beat C9 and Immortals, if there are any doubts that these is a different team than the one that played in the regular split, those should be deleted. TSM is a more talented team that seems to have finally understood the meta and be able to execute strategies that are optimal. TSM improved tremendously in playoffs, something that can play to their advantage is that no one really knows what to expect. Although they will surely play good League of Legends, it is uncertain as to whether they have more strategies that did not need to showcase because of the standard way they needed to play to beat the multiple ADC comps that Immortals tried to play . TSM seems to have an advantage in Tank metas and this is surely a final where tanks will be played. TSM has the unpredictability factor, which will probably not win them the series, but it can tilt the tie in the crucial first game which they have historically been terrible at.

Why CLG will win?

They want to win more than TSM does. Despite having won the last split at MSI, neither Stixxay nor Huhi played there, and before that CLG had not been a successful organization since season 2. They failed to qualify to worlds multiple times with very unsuccessful playoffs runs. At one point they almost got relegated. CLG not only has accomplished less than TSM has, but it was basically insulted by Doublelift with all the statements he made about the organization, and how they mistreat their players, etc. From the management to the players it seems very evident that CLG cannot afford the embarrassment of losing to TSM one more time in such a big stage. CLG also has been a solid team for a longer period of time. They played very well during the regular season and even though they did not improve tremendously heading into playoffs, they are a team that knows how to play the map and does not get impatient even in close situations, an asset very important heading into Las Vegas.

maokai

My prediction:

I think Maokai will be the deciding factor in this series. The jungler position is at one of the strongest points it has been in a while shifting the power away from top lane. CLG was successful in summer of 2015 because Darshan was the best top laner from NA on carry champions. With the meta shifting towards tanks, CLG has lost too much of an advantage because Hauntzer showed proficiency on Maokai against Immortals. Whereas CLG has never looked great when Darshan is not carrying in some way. Therefore, the mismatch in the top lane that could give CLG the advantage has been reduced enough so that TSM carries can outshine their counterparts. I predict that TSM will comfortably win the series

 

 

courtesy of youtube.com and gameinfo.na.leagueoflegends.com