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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

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.

credits

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.

credits

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!

Typical League of Legends statistics oversimplify the game

Standard League of Legends statistics oversimplify the game

Just like traditional sports, esports analysis is full of statistics which are meant to succinctly represent teams’ and players’ strengths and weaknesses. Professional League of Legends is no exception. League analysts use numbers and percentages regarding creep score, jungle proximity, gold difference, and kill-death-assist ratio to understand each match and to judge each individual over time.

However, the standard League statistics more often oversimplify the game. KDA, CS difference, damage per minute, and other typical measures cannot fully represent a team or a player. Most fans understand that these numbers have their limitations, and are insufficient for understanding the game.

The EU LCS stats team created a complex damage metric.

The EU LCS stats team created a complex damage metric.

The Stats Science series from last year’s EU LCS covered most of the major shortcomings of standard League stats. Kills and assists are affected by team playstyle, champion pool, and game time. Poke champions have higher damage per minute than tanks. Some carries more frequently die while dishing higher damage, while others prioritize survivability over damage to champions. The variables go on and on.

KDA

For example, look at FlyQuest’s Flame in the NA LCS. His 3.4 KDA is tied for second among top laners. Flame only averages 1.8 kills and 4.2 assists per game, but his 1.8 average deaths per game is third lowest. These numbers paint Flame as a conservative player–middle of the pack offensively, but knows how to stay alive. His numbers align closely with CLG’s Darshan (2.1 kills, 5.3 assists, 2.2 deaths, 3.4 KDA).

NA LCS top laners’ statistics after eight weeks

But look at FlyQuest’s team statistics compared to CLG’s. FlyQuest has the lowest kill:death ratio in the league–8.2 kills to 12.1 deaths for a .68 K:D. Meanwhile, CLG rank three places higher with a .98 K:D (11.1 kills, 11.3 deaths). All of FlyQuest’s players have lower KDAs than Flame, but Darshan has the lowest on CLG. These factors provide context for comparing players’ KDAs.

Laning Stats

CS difference, gold difference, and XP difference make up the three primary laning phase statistics. All three of these numbers are tied to one another, as longer laning provides higher XP, which allows more opportunity for farming CS, which allows for more gold. Global gold from dragons, turrets, and other objectives can contribute to the gold difference, as well.

However, several outside factors affect a player’s laning phase. Continuing the comparison from above, Flame averages ahead 190 gold (2nd), 63 XP (3rd), and 4.8 CS (3rd) at ten minutes. Darshan starts behind 49 gold (6th) and 0.4 CS (5th), but ahead 2 XP (7th). But, like KDA, laning statistics require more context to properly judge.

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Out of 16 total games this split, CLG and FlyQuest drafted so that Darshan and Flame both locked in their champion before their laning opponent in six games (37.5 percent), while choosing their champion after their opponent in ten (62.5 percent). Also, their champion pools are similar. Gnar and Gangplank have been the power picks of top lane, so it is not surprising to see them as Flame and Darshan’s most played. Both have a couple of Cho’Gath games, some Camille and Ornn. However, Darshan played Vladimir and Maokai twice each, and Fiora once, while Flame had one Sion game. Flame may have a slight advantage in laning strength champions, but not by much.

Jungle proximity is another variable that might contribute to their laning phase disparities. It is possible that Flame or Darshan gets more early attention from their jungler or the opponent’s jungler. The additional pressure could help them to fall behind or get ahead in the first 15 minutes. These statistics are not publicly available, so it remains unclear whether Reignover or AnDa more frequently pressures top lane. 

Team success can help contextualize an individual’s contributions, as well. CLG generally gets ahead by 135 gold at 15 minutes. FlyQuest starts 1,242 gold behind, on average. According to OraclesElixir.com, FlyQuest carries the lowest Early Game Rating of any NA LCS team (38.1), while CLG sits sixth (51.1). This team-to-team comparison allows analysts to understand each player’s individual contributions within the five-man roster.

Damage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Damage is usually the final metric for top laners. DPM (damage per minute) is the typical calculation, which just divides a player’s total damage to champions by the number of minutes in the game. Again, Flame and Darshan occupy similar territory compared to other top laners. Flame averages 463 damage per minute (4th), while Darshan averages 450 (6th).

Of course, champion pool probably has the largest effects on a player’s damage, especially in top lane. It is common for tanks, fighters, mages, ranged, and melee champions to rotate through the meta. Gangplank, Jayce, and Vladimir average much higher damage per minute than Ornn, Cho’Gath and Maokai, for obvious reasons.

Multiply each champion’s average damage per minute by the number of times each player drafted them, and we get which player is expected to have higher damage statistics. Flame’s champion pool averages 15 more damage per minute (471) than Darshan’s (456), which makes up the discrepancy between their individual stats. However, CLG has the second highest team damage per minute (2,188), while FlyQuest only has the fifth (1,884), even though FlyQuest games are generally longer (39:36) versus CLG’s 39 minutes.

It is not surprising that Flame contributes 24.5 percent of FlyQuest’s damage (6th), but Darshan only contributes 21.3 percent (9th). But, as GamesofLegends.com founder, Bynjee, explains, “I don’t like when people use DMG% to compare 2 players. If you want to compare their damage, just use DPM. DMG% needs to be used from a team [point of view].” Comparing these two players is a perfect example, as their damage per minute is roughly the same, but their team-wide damage is different. Therefore, Flame’s percentage of damage is higher than Darshan’s.

Conclusion

NA LCS top laners’ statistics after eight weeks

Gold, vision, and other statistics exist that can help judge between players. Baron, dragon, and objective control can help judge between teams. But keep in mind how shallow these figures are, and what they represent. More importantly, figure out what shortcomings they have. Is a low gold percentage necessarily bad if a top laner is playing mostly tanks? Is vision score connected to game length and number of Barons or Elder Dragons? For example, OraclesElixir.com’s founder, Tim Sevenhuysen, commented, “I don’t trust vision score because I don’t really understand it, and because it makes subjective judgments that are disguised as an objective measurement.” 

Balancing all of the data presented above, Flame appears to be the superior individual top laner. Despite FlyQuest’s downward tendencies as a team, and as individuals, Flame maintains mid-high performance compared to other top laners. Opposing top laners usually get to counter-pick Flame in the draft, and his team has the worst early game in the LCS, yet he averages ahead in all laning stats. Flame also outputs the expected damage, while staying safe enough to keep a high KDA. All things considered, Flame is likely a top three top laner in the NA LCS.

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Featured Image: Reddit Post-Match Discussion

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Statistics Screenshots: Oracles Elixir

Other Statistics: Games of Legends

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Please Sing for Sneaky

Zach “Sneaky” Scuderi – “I make up for it in other ways, like just screaming randomly.”

Parqueso – Are the changes to 8.2 going to be a buff to Cloud 9’s bot lane? Is this playing towards your strength? Are you more excited for the changes that are coming?

Image provided by Riot Games

Sneaky – “I’d say personally I always enjoy changes, basically no matter what they are. The only time they’re sad is if they nerf all ADCs, so I just lose power overall rather than compensation nerfs. I really enjoy those, where they hit something on a champion’s kit but then they buff something else to compensate. So it’s not like ‘Yeah your champion is just worse, no matter what.’

With any patch, changing up the starting items, it’s always fun to figure out what you’re supposed to do because it kind of feels like it opens up more picks. With Targon’s and triple pot it was so hard to push people out of lane, but now you can’t really buy it – I mean you can, but nobody buys it right now – you buy dorans blade or shield usually as the starter for ADCs. So it’s just a whole lot less sustain… You can get knocked out easier. It’s pretty fun to play.

I enjoy my time! I am not sure if I can say it’s beneficial for the C9 bot lane, because it’s always a learning experience for every patch, even if they don’t change anything [bot lane specific]. There’s always things changing around like new picks or small meta changes.”

 

P – Speaking of new picks, have you seen much change in the scrims? Are there any more interesting picks coming out in scrims that we haven’t seen yet?

Image provided by Riot Games

S – “It’s been a little bit different. I haven’t seen too much Ezreal because, you know, they nerfed Klepto AND Ez. I mean, Targon’s is removed too… Besides that, the pool has been pretty similar to last patch for ADCs. And supports too. I mean there are some things you could play. Like Brand got buffed, you could potentially play him support. Jinx got buffed too, she could be pretty good. I play her in solo queue, and she feels pretty nice. So there could be some people that will come out a bit more in this patch, but just not the first week. Usually in the first week people are still playing what they’re used to rather than ‘Oh, Jinx got a huge buff, she’s really good into this!’ That kinda takes a while to figure out.”

P – Smoothie said he was expecting to see a lot of range supports, but then it’s been mostly tanks still. Do you expect that to continue? Or is that something that is maybe just people continuing that playstyle from the last two weeks?

S – “I think that is for sure one of the things that was looked at when the patch notes came out, like those supports coming in. I think there is still a possibility of them coming in, but it’s just figuring out what you have to remove from the game to make those picks viable. Like say Alistar kills the ranged supports, no matter what… If you ban it, does that open up all the picks? And people will test that kind of thing. And maybe sometimes people just won’t pick the Alistar and then they’ll play into it and they’re like ‘Wow, that was really stupid.’ I don’t know about one week, because generally those things kind of take time… I think that stuff definitely comes out, but I think it might take a while.”

 

Image provided by Riot Games

P – So, just for a random switch up, who is the best singer on your team? Or who sings the most?

S – “Personally, I cringe when I hear people sing to songs. It’s not like it’s terrible but…”

P – What if they’re a really good singer?

S – “Yeah I still cringe. Like have you seen Darshan’s videos? He has made a few videos with CLG doing covers of songs. I just can’t watch them. There is something about them that makes me not able to listen to people just singing along to a song.”

P – What if they’re singing just lyrics, like not along to a song?

S – “It is not necessarily as much a cringe but… *laughs* Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t enjoy it that much so I don’t sing much myself, but I make up for it in other ways like just screaming randomly. Similar noise levels I guess.”

 


Thanks for reading! Find Sneaky on Twitter @Sneaky to sing him the prettiest of lullabies. Check in soon 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. =)

Players to Watch on Every Overwatch League Team

The era of franchised esports leagues begins with the opening of the Overwatch League at Blizzard’s Arena in Burbank, California. The team-based, first-person shooter, with millions of players and fans worldwide, throws its hat into the competitive arena, but I’m not here to talk the business side anymore.

It’s finally time for the players to suit up and actually find out who the best is on the battlefield. 120 of the top Overwatch players from across the globe are competing for that title at the end of the season. Each team is crammed with firepower, but here are THE players to watch on each Overwatch team.

Shanghai Dragons: Diya, Hitscan main

Lu “Diya” Weida, a Chinese DPS-main, took the preseason by storm. The Dragons, while talented, had a relatively unknown roster for Western Overwatch fans heading into season one. Diya quickly made an impression with incredible precision on McCree. On a Dragons team lacking solid supports, Diya will have to carry the offense. He’s certainly talented enough to do so.

Boston Uprising: Gamsu, Tank

See? It’s not all damage-mains. The bulk of talent actually seems to bleed into the tank line. Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the famous League of Legends player, now headlines on the Uprising as their consistent tank. In the preseason, Gamsu played a major role in the attack. He sets up for the Uprising damage-duo to do work on the backend.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock: Babybay, Hitscan/Flex

The Shock will be getting much-needed reinforcements with Jay “Sinatraa” Won, but in the meantime, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty will be carrying the Shock offense. This is similar to what he had to do in the preseason. A strong force as a hitscan player that can also flex onto tank roles. Babybay’s damage output could decide games.

Florida Mayhem: Manneten, Tank

Throwing out a curveball here. Everyone knows Kevyn “TviQ” Lindstrom can ball, but analyzing this team, Tim “Manneten” Bylund comes away as the most important player on the roster. In a rather lackluster preseason showing from the Mayhem, Manneten was the only player putting up any sort of fight. His hero pool, as a tank main, is more versatile than most.

Houston Outlaws: LiNkzr, Damage

The Outlaws are a team stacked with DPS-depth, but one player looks on the verge of a breakthrough: Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin. Sure, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio might set the tone for this team, but LiNkzr is the player who’s going to separate the Outlaws. If Widowmaker is as popular in the meta as it was in the preseason, LiNkzr could be even more dangerous.

London Spitfire: Fissure, Tank

The most stupidly, ridiculously stacked team in the Overwatch League is the combination of two of the best Korean teams. Every position is filled with 2-3 players that would be possibly the best player on another team. So, who stands above as the essential personnel? Well, that would be arguably the best tank main in Korea, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. He will spearhead the entire Spitfire attack.

New York Excelsior: Saebyeolbe, Hitscan

Possibly the most exciting team to watch in the preseason, a combination of explosiveness and solid team-fighting. Until Hwang “Flow3r” Yeon-oh arrives, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol will have to carry the reigns of this spectacular DPS-duo. His Tracer play is near the top for one of the most talented characters in all of Overwatch.

Dallas Fuel: Taimou, Damage/Flex

It’s simple for the Dallas Fuel, get Timo “Taimou”  Kettunen sightlines or pave the way for this player. Yes, Félix “xQc Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson are a phenomenal tank-line, but Taimou will make or break maps. In terms of aim, Taimou can destroy pushes with Widowmaker. His hero pool allows plenty of versatility as well, I mean did you see that Roadhog?

Los Angeles Gladiators: Shaz, Support

A support main? What?

Yes, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara will be the key to the Gladiators success this season. Only a few other players impressed me more in the preseason than Shaz. He was involved in every situation and worked in tandem with Benjamin “iBigG00se” Isohanni. Shaz finds a way to stay alive and gives the Gladiators DPS-mains the push needed to take points. The support main to watch this season? Shaz.

Los Angeles Valiant: uNKoe, Flex-Support

Benjamin “uNKoe” Chevasson isn’t the most talented player on this team, but a player who can switch off Ana, Zenyatta, and Mercy is invaluable in any meta-game. Valiant have a load of work to do before this team is a real contender, based on the preseason, uNKoe will be one of the few consistencies on this team. The French player has the most experience on this team.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty: Zunba, Flex-Tank

For my money, Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk is going to be the player that pushes this team over the top. The Dynasty have 10 players to keep an eye on, but it feels as if their biggest advantage is in the Flex-Tank spot, and Zunba being a versatile and strong option in that regard.

Philadelphia Fusion: Carpe, Damage

The remains of the FaZe clan team of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok, George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano will be the core of the Fusion. The experience from these three will be important, but the dynamic DPS-duo of Carpe and Shadowburn will be what this team will lean on.

With the Overwatch League going on this week you can decide who you think the player to watch on each team will be. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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i-League, Star Ladder, Dota 2, The Aftermath

SL i-League Invitational: The Competition

After a two month lull in competitive DotA 2, the first ranked tournament of the season is now only a week away.  While qualifier games have been plentiful lately, victories there do not translate into TI8 Qualifying Points.  The Star Ladder i-League Invitational will put the first of these points on the board for the competitive season, and set the tone moving forward.  What teams are going to be lucky enough to participate in this tournament you ask?  Well lets take a look.

Invited Teams

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

It comes as no surprise that the previous winners of The International received a direct invite.  Even before they claimed the Aegis this year, Liquid was taking first place at tournaments like EPICENTER and DreamLeague.  Their roster has also maintained impressive stability over the last year, with GH being the latest edition in January of this year.  This stability means these players are well practiced when it comes to playing with each other.

Unfortunately, Liquid’s upcoming direct invites mean that the rest of us have not seen them play since August.  What they have been doing since then is anyone’s guess.  Hopefully they’ve been practicing, because the rest of the competition is bound to be fierce.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

Newbee had a similar run to Liquid leading up to The International this year.  In the span of just a couple of weeks they took first place at ZOTAC Cup Masters and Galaxy Battles.  But there is only room for one at the top, and Liquid forced Newbee to take second place at TI7 after defeating them in a 3-0 sweep.

Since then Newbee has been just as quiet as Liquid themselves.  We’ll have to wait until the opening games to see if this storied team has stayed fresh after a competitive hiatus.

Qualified Teams

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is on a tear that hasn’t been seen since their glory days in 2015.  So far they have taken first place at all three qualifiers they have participated in, guaranteeing themselves a chance at each tournament’s pool of Qualifying Points.  If they can maintain this level of performance through the actual tournament brackets, the points they earn could kick start their competitive season in a big way.

It is possible the performance increase is due to recent roster changes within Secret.  After TI7, Team Secret promptly parted ways with Pyo “MP” No-a and Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann.  Replacing them were Ace and FaTa, and it seems they were the final pieces in a winning combination.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

Na’Vi is in the middle of a resurgence of it’s own this season.  The past few competitive seasons for the first ever TI champions have been rough.  After being eliminated in the first round of both TI5 and TI6, Na’Vi failed to even qualify for the main event at TI7.  A string of disappointing performances and a few roster shuffles later, we have the lineup you see before you.  A lineup that has qualified not only for Star Ladder i-League, but also the PGL Open Bucharest Minor tournament as well.

The Na’Vi brand is legendary in professional DotA 2, and it’s high time their luck turned around for the better.

compLexity

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin

Position 2 – Linus “Limmp” Blomdin

Position 3 – David “Moo” Hull

Position 4 – Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman

Position 5 – Kyle “melonzz” Freedman

2017 was a turbulent year for compLexity.  Numerous roster changes plagued the organization throughout the year, including the departure of Chessie back in January.  Now, for the first time since August of 2016, the brothers Blomdin are playing together again.  The team states in an announcement on their website that these two players helped them achieve some of their best results in 2016.  However, while compLexity placed well at the Frankfurt and Shanghai Majors that year, the rest of their tournaments that season were middling at best.

That being said, the team looked strong in the North American qualifier.  The team looked so strong in fact they beat out teams like Evil Geniuses and OpTic Gaming.  Doing well at this i-League Invitational could give compLexity some much needed momentum this season.  On the other hand, a poor showing could very well do the opposite for the team’s morale.

SG e-sports

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Guilherme “FuckinEh” Costábile

Position 2 – Adriano “4dr” Machado

Position 3 – Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos

Position 4 – Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro

Position 5 – Lucas “Bardo” Bardosa

SG e-sports hails from Brazil in South America, which is arguably one of the most underrepresented regions in DotA 2.  Even so, this fledgling team’s recent results speak for themselves.  In the past few weeks, SG e-sports has qualified for three Minors and ESL One Hamburg, the first Dota 2 Major of the year.

One could of course argue that the players are simply big fish in their small pond of a region.  Can their apparent dominance over their fellow South American teams translate into winning tournament performances?  Right now it is difficult to say with any certainty, as this roster is barely even a month old.  Regardless, this new squad is hungry to prove themselves, and they could be the underdogs to root for at i-League.

Vici Gaming

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun

Position 2 – Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang

Position 3 – Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei

Position 4 – Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng

Position 5 – Lu “Fenrir” Chao

Vici Gaming’s roster is completely different from the team we grew accustomed to last year.  However, that doesn’t mean you haven’t seen these players before.  eLeVeN, LaNm, and Fenrir are seasoned vets that once played together on EHOME’s roster in 2016.  At the time they went from the Wild Card team to placing 5-6th at TI6.

During the Chinese Qualifier they got off to a shaky start by losing to LGD Gaming 0-2.  Despite being immediately pushed to the losers bracket, they fought on, eventually winning their runback against LGD 2-0.  The talent on this team can’t be disputed, but will it be enough to overcome the rest of the competition?

Mineski

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng

Position 2 – Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung

Position 3 – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang

Position 4 – Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong

Position 5 – Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

Personally, I was excited back in March of this year when Mineski announced they would be building a brand new team with Mushi as the centerpiece.  As a player Mushi has played in five of the seven Internationals, and has placed in the top four in three of them.  Before making his move to Mineski, Mushi captained Fnatic for nearly two years, and had some success.  The announcement that iceiceice would be joining the team in the offlane was just icing on the cake.

Mineski proved that they are a force to be reckoned with by going undefeated in their qualifier for SL i-League.  We’ll see if they accidentally used up all their luck before the true battles begin.

Star Ladder i-League Invitational Season 3 will be held in Kiev, Ukraine from October 12th – October 15th.


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OWL Contenders Week 5: Finals preview

The finality of finals finally. We made it. Back to the bracket (no more group stages!), eyes on the prize, $25,000 to first place plus an invitation to Season One of Contenders, $10,000 to second and so on. But we don’t know who’s going to be featured on the weekend streams and there are only three matches to be shown nightly. The catch? They’ll be the best teams in those games so it’ll be a good series regardless. Capping it off, every match is a best of five which gives teams a lot more time to feel each other out.

Who’s ready?!

Europe Predictions

Eight teams are ready to annihilate one another for the top spot. Forged in the fire of groups, these eight are eUnited, Movistar Riders, Singulairty, Laser Kittenz, 123, Rest in Pyjamas (NiP), Misfits and Bazooka Puppiez.

eUnited vs Movistar Riders and 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas would be my two must see matches. eUnited has been a force of nature within the European portion of the tournament but Movistar Riders has been resilient, to say the least. Their records combined are nearly identical in groups with only Movistars sporting a loss. Add in that they supplemented their team with Destro and replaced Finnsi, and this would be a show match for sure. At the same time, eUnited losing seems farfetched but they had a rather easy group stage.

eUnited beats Movistar but it will go the distance. Five matches played out to the tune a jumping Winston slamming carts, points, backlines, jams, hoops. Counting out Logix, Cwoosh and Destro for Movistar is harsh but seeing Vallutaja’s Tracer chew up teams match after match begs to temper such enthusiasm.

As for the 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas match, it may be upset city. Pyjamas have been on the major stage a long time. High-risk games where mistakes cost matches, they’ve shown their composure. Remember they were a pro-team until a week ago. They gutted out their matches and fought through groups despite the possible blow to their confidence. The problem is that 123 makes matches look as easy as their name. They play aggressive but have their hand on the shifter, knowing when to reverse when necessary. In the matches that were streamed they showed incredible poise in group fights, a mastery of good dive mechanics. The match may go in 123’s favor but Pyjamas likely wins out in a best of five. For 123 to win out over Pyjamas it will hinge on if Pyjamas runs out of steam. They went the distance getting into the final bracket but maintaining such a push? That’ll be harder than getting there. Sprinting is difficult but there’s a reason tournaments can be called marathons. Well managed tempo for Pyjamas and stifling 123’s Snillo and Mistakes will be the keys to the match.

Laser Kittenz takes out Singularity in a roll because they want to rematch with Misfits. Destiny and magnets are the two strongest forces in the universe and that will win out eventually. Singularity is an amazing team and their matches deserve a real look into.

Misfits handles Bazooka Puppiez and this one is not going to be close by any means. Puppiez is staring down the barrel of Misfits who only want to fight Laser Kittens to the death. Puppiez tied eUnited but ultimately had to make a tiebreaker to win out over Team expert.

That leaves us with eUnited vs Laser Kittens and 123 vs Misfits. That’ll be a hell of a lot of good matches till the end of the evening for the Euro crowd. Everyone gets to see eUnited (with Boombox playing out of his mind hopefully) going ham against the rest of the bracket. 123 surprising the world with their out of the woodwork storyline. I’m sure deep down a rematch between Misfits vs Laser Kittens would arguably be the best possible outcome for their fanbases.

North America Predictions

(Quietly hopes the matches don’t go late. Yep, WOOO!)

Half the teams are breathing a silent relieving sigh. Immortals aren’t in their bracket. FaZe will likely fall to Immortals in a rout but discounting ShaDowBurn, the best Genji in the tournament, seems cruel. FaZe clutched out wins in a ridiculous stacked group. The thing is that meta feels a bit tilted after the Reaper buff and Sombra has been rearing her head in the matches, especially on defensive holds. If FaZe play smart they may take a match off Immortals but their chances are slim.

In the meantime, LG Evil with (Big) Jake who’s Soldier is the stuff of true fear, is matched against Kungarna. You’ll remember Kungarna for robbing every one of their good night’s rest and flipping the table against Cloud9 in the wee hours of a Monday morning street fight. Are upsets on the horizon for Kungarna? LG Evil is an amazing team and deserves their credit but Kungarna showed they talk smack and back it up, which means they deserve the respect as well.

I’d take FNRGFE over Renegades simply over the fact that they survived a group of death for two weeks. They lost three games in a group with Immortals who were nearly perfect. They beat Arc 6 (Yikes) so handily Twitch might have to submit the VOD to the police for abuse. Renegades post a similar record as Immortals but lack the same fatalistic feeling. This would be the match of the day for sure with upsets as a high serving.

Team Liquid vs Envision may not look like much on paper and to be fair, it may be the best match. These two teams will take it to overtime in a battle but I feel Liquid got a pass. They’re not as great as their record and Envision’s isn’t much better in the scope of things. Their group performances look eerily the same, winning close to the same number of maps. The difference is that Envision dealt with LG Evil and Liquid dealt with FaZe who’s not in the same bracket as far as teams go. Liquid wins but it’ll be a coin flip.

That leaves the winners with Immortals, LG Evil (despite Kungarna putting up a hell of a fight), FNRGFE and Liquid. Immortals for LG Evil becomes a ridiculous topic of discussion which deserves an article better written than this author can produce. FNRGFE may well cruise into the finals and get routed but it falls essentially on their ability to beat Renegades and maintain momentum in the win.

Conclusion

This should make for a great weekend of European and North American Overwatch. The tournament thus far faced criticism for some of the wild things that have occurred but has shown tremendous potential to highlight the non-Korean scene. This may be in part to Alex “Gillfrost” Gill and the Carbon series he ran months prior that featured many of these teams. All the same, it’s about the games and the players more than anything. A tournament is just a marquee hanging over a bunch of people doing their best to be the best


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“From our Haus to yours”

Applying Team Sports To The Real World

I’ve said it before: Sports are a metaphor for how the real world functions. More specifically, team sports. The amount of applicable lessons you take away from playing sports is extraordinary. Now, if players on a sports team can love each other and reach victorious fulfillment, why can’t the whole human race do the same?

You hear it a lot from teammates – no matter the sport – that they love each other as brothers. More often than not, this type of bond is essential for a team’s success. However, to understand the significance of love in sports, we must understand the root of love in sports. In other words, why does loving your teammates as brothers precipitate success?

Image result for sports brotherly love

Photo from www.thescore.com

I’ll take a stab at answering this. First off, there needs to be a mutual goal that all members are trying to achieve. In the context of team sports, the ultimate goal is usually to win as many games as possible, or something along those lines. You can’t just group together a bunch of people and expect that everyone is going to get along immediately; there needs to be something that everyone is working towards. This way, teammates become dependent on one another.

If teammates are dependent, they rely on each other and value the efforts of each other. This leads to trust, trust leads to team cohesion, and team cohesion leads to team success (aka wins). With all this beneficial time spent with each other, love for your teammates should come easily. A win/loss for one player is a win/loss for the entire team, and vise versa.

It’s almost as if the end goal is distracting us from all of our preconceived notions and judgmental tendencies. There’s no time to judge others when there’s a potential win in your sight.

We’re able to apply what we know about team sports to the much larger conflict in the real world.  I say “real world” to make the point that a sporting event is a stripped down version of the rest of our lives; there are laws (rules), punishments (penalties), and rewards (points). I say “conflict” because people don’t always get along – with our families, with our co-workers or with other countries.

Sports are also a terrific gateway to discipline, a trait that can rarely hurt an individual.

Team sports, by nature, call for us to empathize with each other. Learn from your teammates. What are their thoughts on how to defend the blitz, or how to hit a line drive, or shoot a penalty shot? An empathetic approach, as opposed to a judgmental, stubborn, or self-centered approach, is the only way to find out what others think.

Image result for sports empathy

Photo from www.dailymail.co.uk

One more final thought. A lot of people think that competition is what builds a team and molds players into the best they can be. While competition does cause you to strive to be the best player you can be, cooperation is equally, if not more so, important to a team’s success. If players are getting to the point where they are yelling at each other and getting into fights at practice, that negative energy can rub off into a team’s performance on game day. That is competition at it’s worst – destructive, not helpful.

Cooperation on the other hand tells us that working with each other is more constructive.

Human behaviorist, Alfie Kohn, explains that it is “not at all true that competition is more successful because it relies on the tendency to “look out for number one,” while cooperation assumes that we primarily want to help each other…(cooperation) sets things up so that by helping you I am helping myself at the same time.” Despite initial motives to compete, Kohn claims that after time, “our fates are now linked. We sink and swim together.”

Furthermore, psychological research has shown that cooperation is highly conducive to our health, not just in sports, but at work and other settings as well.

Sports have always demonstrated that our differences are irrelevant if we are to love one another. Your race, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other background groups are thrown out the window when you play on the same team. Maybe world leaders will realize this someday and try a new approach to conflict resolution, one that involves teamwork and communication like in sports. It might take something like global warming to unite the planet, since it affects everyone, but that’s for another article.

 

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When I Met Bjergsen

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

In the summer of 2015, my sister and I traveled to Europe to visit our cousin. We stayed in Paris for a few days knowing we also wanted to explore other places in Europe. Interestingly enough, one night we had a conversation about whether we would wait in a line to get a picture with someone. We unanimously agreed, that no one came to our minds for whom we would wait in a line to ask for their autograph, or to take a picture with them. Later that summer, we decided to go to Los Angeles to visit the NA LCS studio.
I had been a follower of Bjergsen ever since he arrived in NA. I thought he was the best Western player, funny, confident and humble. Since the moment we booked those tickets to Los Angeles, I had my eyes on Bjergsen. I jokingly repeated to my sister if she was ready to meet “Senpai”, obviously referring to Bjergsen.
Weeks of anticipation finally arrived on that Saturday morning. I woke up at 8 AM, which is pretty unusual for me, but with all the excitement, I ran downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, the studio did not open until twelve, and those were the three longest hours of my life. My sister finally woke up and I accompanied her for breakfast. I talked all the way through and my excitement was probably felt miles away until we got to the studio at 12:30.
As a Sports fan, I have been to many sports events. I have been to the largest sports stadiums around the world, but visiting the LCS was different. I was in the place where the broadcast of a show that I had watched religiously for a few years took place. To be in a place so special to me was completely surreal.  It was the realization how far I have come along into accepting Esports. It was the convergence of a lot of people I looked up to, with the realization that they are very down to Earth.
At the end of every match the winning team would step outside and take pictures with audience members. We took pictures with all the teams that showed up, but one stood out. As we waited until the line got shorter, the members of TSM looked annoyed by the fact that they had the longest line. When the line got short enough that we did not have to stand under the Sun, I whispered to my sister, “are you ready to meet Senpai?”
There were only two groups of people before it was our turn when we realized that Santorin and Bjergsen did not have their jackets on. At that point, we jokingly proposed each other to ask them if we could put them on for the picture, which we quickly dismissed thinking it was “too much” to ask. As the last group stepped out and it was our turn, I immediately asked them if we could use their jackets, to which Bjergsen replied, “as long as you do not steal them” in his usual sarcastic tone. I tried saying a few other things, but quite honestly, words did not come out of my mouth and I do not remember what else I said. I have never been in love, but I assume that the way that minute played out with Bjergsen is pretty similar. Time stopped, words did not come out of my mouth as I made several attempts, and he seemed like the funniest person on Earth. We put the jackets on, took the picture, and in a moment, they were gone.
Going to the NA LCS taught me a few things. Never think that you have complete control over your body. The best memories we will have are ones that initiated by stepping out of our comfort zone. Finally, League of Legends is the best video-game in the world.

Team SoloMid Spring Split Predictions

(Courtesy of brainjunkfood.com)

(Courtesy of brainjunkfood.com)

TSM is coming off as one of the most disappointing teams at Worlds. Despite being known as the “Group of Death,” I believe TSM’s could have managed more than 1 win in their group (KT, OG, LGD)  LGD severely under-performed at Worlds, but still managed to absolutely crush TSM in their second game. TSM not only lost 5 of their games, but were absolutely mauled in every single one of them. However, the team going into this split is almost an entirely different squad. Bjergsen is now joined by a superstar team made up of Gravity Gaming’s Hauntzer, SK’s Svenskeren, CLG’s Doublelift, and perhaps most notable player, FNC YellOwSTaR.

So at this point the roster has two players widely considered NA’s best Mid and best ADC, a top laner who has a similar champion pool and playstyle as Dyrus, a jungler who is at least as good as Santorin, and probably one of the top 5 supports/shotcallers in the world.

(Courtesy of Twitter)

(Courtesy of Twitter)

Hauntzer came from a fairly average team, Hauntzer is a fairly above average Top laner. His KDA during the 2015 Summer Split was a decent 3.94. More impressively is his 72% kill participation. Hauntzer is most proficient on heavy front line champs like Maokai and Hecarim, and has shown himself to have a lot of potential to get better. With some positions, individual skill can easily be determined, but Top and Supports are the most likely to have their skills hidden behind an average team, and I’m truly interested to see how Hauntzer can play this season.

 

(Courtesy of thescoreesports.com)

(Courtesy of thescoreesports.com)

Svenskeren is one of the most experienced junglers in professional League of Legends, He was one of the first EU stand outs in his role. Sven also seems to prefer heavier champions. During last spring split, he played Rek’Sai in a third of his games, with Jarvan IV as his second choice. Interestingly enough, He only played three other champions last spring (Rengar, Lee Sin, and Nidalee) and had a 100% win rate with each of them. During the summer, he played a lot of Gragas, and added Ekko to his pool. His Summer performance was remarkably lackluster, but this could be marginally attributed to SK Gaming, and FORG1VEN’s suspension from LCS.

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

(Courtesy of lolesports.com)

Bjergsen is a remarkable mid. I’ve heard him referred to as the Faker of the west, and I definitely feel comfortable placing him in my top 10 mids in the world. Bjerg is most impressive on his hard assassin champs like Zed and LeBlanc, and is considered a top tier NA shotcaller. His summer performance was as golden as ever, but something just wasn’t clicking. TSM made sloppy plays, and whether that is an error of Bjerg or his team is something known only by a select few. Regardless, Bjerg has spent the past year being held back by something and not playing to his full pontential.

(Courtesy of Gamespot.com)

(Courtesy of Gamespot.com)

Doublelift is almost certainly the best ADC in North America. He’s coming off of a fantastic season with CLG, and will now have the opportunity to play with one of the best supports in the world. He favored Tristana the past season and consistently was the primary carry for his team. I feel confident that he will excel on TSM even further than he did on CLG.

(Courtesy of hbhud.com)

(Courtesy of hbhud.com)

Yell0wSTaR is my favorite player in the LCS so I’m a little biased, but I would argue he is the best support in the west. The only player I put on his level was his predecessor Lustboy. (Some may question Lustboy’s abilities [especially after an incredibly average last season] but there was a time when he was the top ranked solo queue player in Korea… as a support… So I think that more than speaks to his abilties). Yell0wSTaR is a brilliant shotcaller and is incredibly talented on a variety of champs. I feel very little needs to be said in regards to this man as a player, so I’ll leave it at this: Yell0WSTaR is probably the best player on this team.

 

Strengths: Incredibly talented double threat from Bjerg and DL, Expert Shotcalling from Bjerg and YellOwSTaR

 

Weaknesses: None of these players have played together competitively and there may be some growing pains, 2 expert shotcallers could potentially cause butting heads and bad communication

 

Expected Spring Split Record- 16W 2L.

I expect TSM to go into the spring playoffs with the 1st seed. I think they might lose a few games in the first 3 weeks, but will lock down a playstyle and become a well-oiled machine as the split goes on. If Bjerg is willing to allow YellOwSTaR to take primary shotcalling duties, then he may be able to focus more on his own individual play. With Bjerg playing at full potential and the powerhouse bot lane of DL and YS, I don’t see a single NA team with the ability to stop this train.