Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Support Lanes 101: To Dive or Peel

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

Choosing when to dive or peel is probably one of the biggest mistakes made in low ELO support. A lot of supports have kits that function well for both diving the enemy and keeping their carry safe. Doing the wrong one at the wrong time can cost your team the game. The full answer isn't as simple as “Oh, you’re Leona, you dive.” It requires an analysis of your own team, the enemy team, the status of both team's carries in terms of power and what cooldowns are available.

First, take a look at your own champion before anything else. What kind of support are you? Tanky supports have a better time diving the enemy than mage supports, but that alone doesn't decide it. Keep in mind, just because it is easy to dive doesn't mean you should. There are champions like Leona and Alistar that are great at diving into the fray and being a huge nuisance, but they sometimes have to sit back and peel. That being said, there are mages that can effectively “dive” or at the very least use their spells to interrupt the backline. Janna is great example of someone who fits that bill. She can throw tornadoes back deep and even flash ult if she wants to sacrifice herself to disrupt a fight in an extreme way.

Once you’ve established what your champion is best at, look at your team composition. Every decent team comp will have an ADC, the same one you helped grow and feed. Is this an ADC that needs to be protected and, if free from enemy interference, can win the game for you? An example of this kind of ADC would be Vayne or Kog Maw. These ADCs absolutely require help from somewhere if they want to stay alive long enough to output damage during a fight. Others, like Caitlyn or late game Tristana, are a bit safer in their range and escapes. They still are the backbone of damage on your team and need to stay alive.

Of course you could make the same argument for any ADC, so it’s kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of it all. What is more important is looking at your solo lanes and junglers. Do you have an assassin or traditional mage in mid? Keep in mind that you’ll have a larger backline to keep safe in a fight if you have a mage, while assassins will need help creating picks and killing off the enemy. If you look over at top lane, you can have a multitude of different champions, and the same goes for jungle. There’s hyper tanks, bruisers, assassins, mages, supports, etc. Overall as a general rule, the more big bodies you have to clog up the middle of a fight, the more reasonable it is for you to dive. At least when looking purely at your own team's comp.

The reason for this is that you’ve got a much more cluttered area going on in the middle of the scuffle and as each of the team's tanks and bruisers are trying to get past each other, both ADCs will be outputting damage.

Next up, you want to take a similar look at the enemy composition. Pick apart what their strengths are. Have they got an assassin like Zed that can jump into your team? That’s a point towards peeling in that case. If they have an Anivia, however, you can go in the other direction and try and get in her face.

Finally, what I could consider the most crucial part is evaluating the gold distribution. Once the teams have gotten into game a bit it’ll become clear who on the enemy team is a threat, and who on your team is dangerous as well. Going back to the Zed example, if the enemy Zed jumps on to your ADC in a fight, but he’s 0/4/1 and doesn't have any of his spike items(brut/botrk) he isn't going to do anything. If the carry is someone like Lucian or any other ADC with mobility, they can just kite him around and be fine. If the same Zed jumps in but instead of 0/4/1 he’s actually 3/0/2, then he is a problem and kiting him out most likely won’t be enough. You’ll have to sit back on your ADC and keep them safe.

You still want to do the same for your own team, too. If the enemy team wants to dive deep into your team to kill the 1/6/2 ADC while your solo laners go to town in their backline, don’t make the mistake of trying to help the ADC. While it’d be nice to have that ADC get back in the game, they are currently your weakest link and you need to play to your strengths. If you help the ADC rather than helping your solo lane bruisers/assassins you run the risk of having a lose/lose situation where both the ADC die and your solo laners didn't do enough. It’s a similar concept as when a jungler ganks a lane that’s already winning but a little bit. You put your eggs in the basket that looks like it’s gonna win.

As you can probably tell, trying to do this decision making on the fly is pretty hard. It’s one of the things that makes the professionals a cut above the average player. After you break it down a few times it gets more and more doable, eventually to the point that it becomes second nature. Learn your matchups and use them to help you understand what to do when, and don’t flounder in making your choice.

Look at your champ’s skills (Better at dive or peel?)
Look at your team’s skills and needs (Need lots of peel? Can dive free?)
Look at the enemy team’s skills and needs (They have a lot of protection? Want all over your carry?)
Look at how gold is distributed (Assassin fed, Carry not? Vice-Versa?)

Be sure to check out my other articles:

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Giants Join H2k and 8 other teams in the EU LCS!

H2k and Giants breach the gates of LCS after a successful expansion tournament for both teams.

By Anel “Musinlol” Musinovic

H2k - Miles Ahead of any Challenger Team
Odamne, loulex, Febiven, Hjarnan & Voidle

H2k goes completely undefeated and therefore sweeps their way into the LCS. They have been trying for a long time and with their poor performance vs CW they failed the first time around. Everybody was expecting H2k and Millenium to swoop their way into LCS, but only H2k deserved their faith.

Strengths: H2k showed next to no weaknesses. Febiven, especially, was extremely strong but also Odamne was looking promising. Febiven was even impossible to ban out. We saw Reason Gaming try but they ended up getting 3-0’d due to Febiven going big. 

When you win every single game it is hard not to look good but loulex also did fine. In the whole of Expansion tournament we only saw him pick out Lee Sin, Jarvan & Kha’zix. Despite the Lee Sin being banned out often, no one tried to ban out all three of these champions which I would have loved to see. Questions might be made around his champion pool, but he has some time to work on it for the LCS if that is the case.

Weaknesses: With all games won, weaknesses might be hard to find but Giants botlane did seem to dominate H2k’s botlane of Hjarnan & Voidle. Being a challenger team previously they might struggle against the better LCS teams in laneswaps or wave management. They will scrim the LCS teams coming into LCS so they might have fixed some of it.

Giants - Avoiding Relegations
Werlyb, Fr3deric, xPepii, Adryh & Rydle 

Giants 3-0 Reason Gaming twice in a row and sends themselves into LCS! The Spanish side surprised everybody with their 2-1 win over Millenium and made themselves serious contenders. Many wonder if Giants are really LCS level, and they will be trying to avoid that last spot and the relegations.

Strengths: Definitely the botlane in Adryh & Rydle. Rydle landed some amazing skillshots and Adryh had an exceptional performances on Jinx. Rydle is definitely a quality Thresh but it will be interesting seeing him on other champs as well.  They seemed like an LCS-level botlane but we will have to see how they do going up against stronger botlanes. Rydle will definitely be happy that Gamers2 decided to released him. 

Weaknesses: The three other players, Werlyb, Fr3deric & Pepi has shown that they can be shut down, especially against better teams as H2k. They are really aggressive but sometimes when they shouldn't be. They will have to fix a lot of team problems if they want to have any chance of avoiding relegations. They will be trying to avoid finishing last so they can choose not to face Origen in the relegation matches.

By Anel “Musinlol” Musinovic

Saturday, December 20, 2014

EU LCS Expansion Tournament: H2k vs Giants Gaming

By Reece "Sabrewolf" Dos-Santos 

With the demons of past failed LCS attempts behind them, H2k took to the stage against Giants Gaming; both teams coming off back-to-back 3-0 sweeps against their first round opponents.

Pick/ban phase

Interestingly, because of how the teams chose to be set up, Giants remained on red side for the whole series. What they aimed to get out of this strategy, however, will remain an enigma.

H2k was relentless in their ban strategy of taking out the threat of xPepii by removing Xerath, Leblanc and Syndra in all three games. Giants, on the other hand, opted to try and adapt their banning to remove one key component of what dismantled them in the previous game: banning Febiven’s game one Jayce in game two and Voidle’s game one and two Janna in game three.

Pick-wise, both teams displayed good variety of picks and compositions. H2k played a poke strategy with Corki and Jayce in game one before moving on to more team fight orientated compositions in games two and three. The only person that played the same champion in all three games was Rydle on Thresh, a champion that worked quite well for him in the series, especially in game three.

Into the Games

One thing that was noticeable to me across this series was the performance of the bottom lane of Giants. While the action in the bottom lane was often overshadowed by the standout performances of H2k’s top half, Adryh and Rydle put up a very good laning phase in all 3 games. Adryh’s Sivir in game one had a 20 minute CS lead six minutes in, in game three they also heavily bullied out the bottom lane of H2k to the point where Hjarnan’s Sivir only managed to get back into the game off the back off the performance of the rest of his team. Despite the consistent lead in Giants’ bottom lane, there was simply nothing the pair could do when faced with the absolute demolition that Loulex, Odoamne and Febiven put up.

Game one saw three consecutive counter ganks from Loulex on the middle lane as Fr3deric tried his hardest to shut down Febiven but subsequently he ended up just pushing himself and xPepii further behind. Giants made a little comeback with 4 kills and the first dragon but the next three went to H2k and Febiven and Loulex slowly choked the Giants out. 

Game two saw a similar story of Giants’ falling behind on a solo lane early on. Odoamne took complete control of the game on Irelia getting a huge cs lead and 4 kills early on. Febiven’s Orianna also played a heavy part in their team fight presence in backing Odoamne who went nuts decimating the Giants in any way possible. One thing that was a slight let down for H2k was Loulex’s tendency to over commit and go in to deep without the proper protection in order to set things up for his team.

While these attempts proved non detrimental in any way, a team in a better position than Giants would have been able to easily pick on these small positional missteps. The biggest error for H2k in game two was over chasing a good fight they could have used to push into the base, gifting two unnecessary kills to xPepii’s Ahri.

Similarly in game three, Loulex’s presence across the map in the early stages was heavy and the H2k solo lanes quickly took control of the map. Odoamne’s Irelia had Werelyb’s Maokai in his back pocket for the whole game and Febiven’s Ahri was a huge threat; however due to H2k’s tendency to make missteps and positional errors, particularly on Loulex’s front, the game took a lot longer to close out than it  should have. H2k’s dragon control was also very lax allowing Giant’s to pick up three, but the fact that this simply did not matter at all proved how far ahead and how oppressive the solo lanes of H2k were throughout this series.

If I had to pick an MVP throughout this series I’d have to give my vote to Febiven, he had a super commanding series knocking xPepii down and keeping him down across all three games. He remained a constant deadly threat and made team fighting very difficult for the Giants.

With this H2k finally live up to their growing hype since the days being Cloud 9 Eclipse and earn their way into the EU LCS as its 9th team.

by Reece "SabrewoIf" Dos-Santos

Breaking Down IEM IX Cologne and Looking at Semifinals.

By Anel “Musinlol” Musinovic

With Cloud9 winning IEM San Jose, it is soon time to start IEM Cologne. Here is a bit about the teams that have the potential to win, the casting crew, what is at stake and when it’s going to be played.

Gambit Gaming - The IEM Legends
Cacochard, Diamond, NiQ, P1noy & Edward

A new Gambit at IEM will be trying to replicate the previous success of the old five players from Gambit. The former five: Darien, Diamond, Alex Ich, Genja & Edward, were also under the name Moscow 5 and won IEM Season VI Global Challenge Kiev & World Championship. IEM Kiev was the first LAN event Diamond ever had attended. After coming under the Gambit Gaming organization, the team followed up by winning IEM Season VII Global Challenge and placing 3rd-4th in the World Championship. The next IEM would have the exact same outcome for Gambit, IEM Season VIII Cologne was won with a 2-0 over Fnatic & again they placed 3-4th in the World Championship. Therefore, there is a lot of pressure on the new guys to perform.

A quick mention that their previous organisation won’t be participating in the tournament, Moscow 5 again sadly has Visa problems for their new five players. So Diamond & Edward sadly won’t have the chance to face their old organization.

Toplane - Cabochard : Since the departure of Darien, Gambit has been trying to to fill the toplane role with Kubon but, after a relatively short stay, they switched him out with Cabochard who had previously subbed for them when Darien couldn't get a visa to play. He quickly got picked up by NiP after subbing, but after they failed to qualify for LCS, Cabochard got picked up by Gambit. Cabochard is known for his confidence through laning phase, which makes him vulnerable for ganks. If they can play well with his style of play, he should be one of the better toplaners going into the next season.

Jungle - Diamond : Diamond has been with Gambit for a long time and experienced their IEM success and he'll be trying to replicate it with new teammates. Diamond is known as the innovator and has been one of the players to look at when you define how to play jungle. He is still considered as a elite jungler of EU and will hopefully, for the spectators, come out with something new again. He joined the old Gambit boys by Edward knowing him, despite being 1800 elo which was low for professional players. He is known for exceptional Lee Sin play and for popularizing Evelyn jungle with various builds, most notably the old bluepot start which would allow him to have insane early pressure.

Mid - Niq : NiQ spent several years playing for multiple Polish teams, but after failing to qualify for LCS EU with Denial he himself approached Gambit after Alex Ich's announcement of leaving the team. He had big shoes to fill and has shown himself to be a solid player for Gambit despite having a bad split. He seemed to favour Nidalee in the midlane in the EU LCS. Also, expect to see his favorite champ, Fizz.

ADC - P1noy (Krislund) : He is mostly known under the name Krislund, but changed his name after being confirmed for Gambit because he wanted to have something that represented himself since he is half filipina. He ddidn'thave a good relationship with his father so he changed the name to p1noy because it meant that he was filipina which came from his mothers side.

He is an versatile adc who has played a ton in the Challenger Series, but he's also subbed for Gambit in the Relegation Tournament. He can play both play aggressive and passive well and will most likely be aggressive with his support, Edward. He also shown that he doesn't fall under pressure; he played his first match with Gambit in the Relegation Tournament and showed up big.

Support - Edward : Edward, the man who was previously known as Gosu Pepper, is a huge playmaking support. He is known as the “Thresh Prince” for good reason. He has always been the player to flash in for a kill or for trading the flash of the opposite adc. He would often do this on Sona as well. He has previously been praised as the best Sona and was picking her very often. He describes his playstyle as “see hero, kill hero” which we have seen in the EU LCS multiple times. He has also been trying to innovate the support champions, spamming Vel’koz in soloq and busting out Gragas in competitive play quite a few times.

Roccat - The 5 players with a storyline for IEM
Overpow, Jankos, Ryu, Woolite & VandeR

Roccat are here because Fnatic couldn’t participate without a full lineup. Despite that fact, Roccat are seen by many as the favorites of the tournament and with new strong additions, they are likely to win. They have been praised by many for being good in scrims which has lead to a lot of hype around them at the moment.

Toplane - Overpow : Overpow was for the early of the EU LCS split highly praised and hyped but did not perform exceptionally well in the midlane in the split. He was good at times but really passive in the midlane with many strange picks such as Mordekaiser. He has been praised for being aggressive & having instant tp’s since his role swap to toplane. Many didn’t feel like the removal of Xaxus was a good idea, but Roccat seems to feel happy about putting Overpow top. The question stands if he will be living up to the hype and showing dominance in his lane.

Jungle - Jankos : Jankos was praised as the best jungler in Europe after a good summer split. If you go back and look at his games when he was in the challenger series he wasn't a good jungler, but he's really developed a good understanding of the jungle and mechanical skill over time. He has immense early pressure every single game and has an incredibly high rate of first bloods. He also prefers champs such as Lee Sin & Elise who has great kits for early pressure.

Mid - Ryu: This IEM tournament is going to be an important one for Ryu, with LCS soon coming and teams locking in their rosters. This “tryout period” at IEM for Ryu will be the dealbreaker, with players like Nukeduck waiting in the wings if he doesn't perform. He is known for Ahri and Fizz but mostly for his Orianna which he has mastered completely. He is so good at holding his ultimate in fights so he can zone out the enemy. Despite Roccat consisting of four Polish players they talk in English so Ryu can have a chance of understanding them. It will be interesting to see how Roccat will cope with the language barrier.

ADC - Woolite : Replacing Celaver will be the former Copenhagen Wolves' adc, Woolite. He is one of the products of Copenhagens continuing adc production. He was the shining light for CW and, with a strong support, they could be contesting for the strongest botlane in EU. Woolite is an aggressive player and will suit VandeR well. He'll be a strong replacement for the underwhelming and defensive adc, Celaver.

Support - VandeR : Vander can also be called VandeRlife, because he was definitely a playmaking support who was top two in the LCS. His Thresh is his best champion and was often banned away from him. It will be interesting to see the pairing of Vander and Woolite vs Doublelift and Aphromoo in the semifinal. He has been on the show First Blood and seems to be a really smart player.

Dignitas - Addition of two Koreans 
Gamsu, Crumbzz, Shiphtur, CoreJJ, KiwiKid

Dignitas are going into this tournament despite being behind CLG, Curse and EG, but Curse and EG didn’t have the opportunity to show up so Dignitas, with the depature of Scarra, ZionSpartan and Imaqtpie, have the chance to show off their two new Korean players.

Top - Gamsu : Gamsu is a Korean who has played with Alienware Arena in OGN Winter and also been a sub for Samsung Blue. Without knowing much about Gamsu, I am looking forward to seeing what this new player can offer to the Dignitas lineup. He has also been playing under the name loopercorn in SoloQ in NA. 

Jungle - Crumbzz : Crumbzz, for me, is an very underrated jungler in NA. He is often solid and is extremely versatile since he has played top, jungle & mid competitively. He has also been great on the analyst desk the few times he has been there. He is trying to become the shotcaller for Dignitas which is a very underrated skill. Shotcalling is very important but many seems to forget it when they rate the player. He has previously shown good performances on Elise, Vi and Lee sin. Something I think he has under his sleeve is a Kayle and maybe a Nocturne jungle pick since he has played it once before.

Mid - Shiphtur : Shiphtur came to Dignitas as a “star signing.” People had enormous expectations and in his very first game he did get a pentakill on Leblanc. This was followed by many good performance and Dignitas climbed the ranks. Their performance dropped as the split went on and they didn't do too well in play-offs. He shines on assassin champs and Ziggs.

Adc - CoreJJ : CoreJJ has been streaming a lot on twitch while playing under the name DubuKiD. Many have said that he hasn't been doing too well in soloq but that obviously isn't a big deal when you look at competitive which is a different environment. If you haven’t seen his stream I would suggest it. He is, in my opinion, a very entertaining streamer.  He previously played on Bigfile Miracle with Fusions' new midlaner, Huhi. Other than that, I don’t know much about him but will be watching him closely at IEM.

Support - Kiwikid : With the news that Dignitas was not going to be fielding Imaqtpie, people speculated if Kiwikid was still going to be on the roster. With his roleswap from toplane, he has been kind of underwhelming so far. If he could show up at IEM with huge plays on champions like Thresh, he would minimize the backlash from the community next split.

Counter Logic Gaming - Mystery
ZionSpartan, Thinkcard, Link, Doublelift, Aphromoo

Counter Logic Gaming with the most votes are going to be looking to please their fans. Fan favorite Scarra will be leading the team as head coach. 

Toplane - ZionSpartan : ZionSpartan was also one of the new signings. He is this carry style toplaner who could even pull out a Nasus pick against a Maokai for instance. CLG has a history of turning toplaners into how they want them to play though, but let's hope we can see Zion in a sidelane doing what he does best. He has, in recent vlogs, seemed really happy and has had a great attitude so it seems like he is getting along with the other players.

Jungle - Thinkcard : He has previously subbed for CLG when CLG was bootcamping in Korea. This time he is subbing as well because Xmithie had visa problems. He tried to qualify for LCS with LoLPro but wasn’t showing up in the series at all himself. He isn’t really about fancy Lee Sin kicks or anything like that but is warding the map and being the second support in that sense.

Midlane - Link : Link has been under a lot of criticism and a great way to shut them up would be to come out strong at IEM. He has also been trying to roleswap to jungle but CLG felt like keeping him mid would be the best solution available for them. He will probably be playing farm/poke heavy champions despite of a lot of assassins being strong right now.

ADC - Doublelift : Doublelift is the front of CLG and the one CLG fans value most. He also has a unique story behind him. He was kicked out from home at age 16 because he wanted to be a pro gamer, and had to live with Travis Gafford. The glory days of Doublelift seem long gone and retirement has been an area which has been discussed. He often has Vayne bans against him but always plays the meta adc otherwise. Often he can get caught off guard and be in a bad position in teamfights. With that said, he does make a good botlane with Aphromoo. He has a reputation of trash talking opponents, but for himself, I hope he doesn't trash talk Woolite because I see Woolite getting the better of him.

Support - Aphromoo : Aphromoo is the star of the botlane but often doesn’t get enough credit because his duo partner has such a big name. He is one of the most lovable guys in the scene and has grown as a player since his role swap from ADC to Support. Rush hour as the botlane pairing is called, will have a hard time against the new botlane of Roccat I believe.


Semi-finals are going to be hard to predict since we haven’t seen many of the teams in action and all of them have new players, but I believe that we might see an EU final here.

I don’t dare to predict the scores but I think that Roccat and Gambit are going to be in the final. Roccat has been sounding strong and will be trying their best to win IEM while on the other hand CLG weren’t sure if they were attending the event and have a sub as well. It wouldn’t be IEM Cologne without having Gambit in the final at least, and Dignitas took a while to get going against Aces High, which could be worrying sign.

IEM Casting line-up

Krepo, Deman, Deficio, stvicious, JoeMiller, Dexter & Sjokz

When to watch?

Saturday - December 20th

13:00 to 18:00 CET - LCS EU expansion winners match (BO5)

18:00 to 21:00 CET - Intel Extreme Masters Cologne Roccat vs CLG (BO3)

21:00 to 0:00 CET - Intel Extreme Masters Cologne Dignitas vs Gambit (BO3)

Sunday - December 21st

13:00 to 18:00 CET - LCS EU expansion decider match (BO5)

18:00 to 23:00 CET - Intel Extreme Masters Cologne final (BO5)

The IEM Cologne prize pool is 30.000$ and every team gets a bit of the cut obviously more for the higher placed teams. 

Teams that didn't make it: Also Dolphins of Wall Street & Aces High eSports Club participated in IEM but didn't make the semifinals.

Roccat Waltz Into IEM Cologne Semifinals With Decisive Victory Over DoWS

                    Matt “It’s Pure Luck” Lee

It was far from the hardest test they will face this year, or even this tournament, but the new look Roccat lineup was dominant today versus the Dolphins of Wall Street in the first round of the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne. Coming into IEM Cologne as the likely favorite to win a spot in Katowice in March, Roccat was crisp and efficient in the two game sweep. The second round will see them draw stiffer competition as they square off against NA LCS representative Counter Logic Gaming but based on today’s performance it’s hard to not like their chances to move through to the finals.
Game one started off fairly slowly but for a bit of early action down in the bottom lane that saw former Millenium AD carry Creaton (Ezreal) nearly pick up an early kill on Woolite (Corki) only to be thwarted by a nice Aqua Prison by Vander (Nami) in the middle of an Arcane Shift. The game would see its first attempted gank just after the five minute mark. Lasagna (Pantheon) went to the top lane in an attempt to pick off Overpow (Irelia) who would quickly flash to safety but almost immediately reengaged as Jankos (Elise) was arriving on from river.  The level two Equilibrium Strike from Overpow would prove crucial this fight as not only was the stun long enough to use the ability twice, it helped lock down Lasagna as it was chained with Cocoon from Jankos. The Roccat jungler picked up first blood as we have seen so many times before and with a little help from Ryu (Jayce) roaming up top Overpow picked up the second kill on Meziljie (Gnar) while just barely surviving himself.
Roccat would find a pick on Lasagna a few minutes later courtesy of a deep ward placed at the red buff of DoWS. The game started to snowball out of control at this point. Roccat would pick up a dragon just after the ten minute mark while Overpower would simultaneously pick up a solo kill in the top lane as he tower dove Meziljie. Ryu, Jankos and Vander would find a kill on Bebe (Xerath) on the edge of the jungle near the mid lane as he was caught trying to steal dragon with a Xerath ultimate only to be Aqua Prisoned himself. The only lane that hadn’t gone horribly wrong for the Dolphins this late into the game was bottom where Creaton and Masterwork (Karma) were trading with Woolite and Vander fairly effectively. It simply wasn’t going to be enough for the Dolphins to get anything done. The vision control and map pressure were too stacked in Roccat’s favor and so was the gold advantage. At just over the fifteen minute mark Overpow was already 6/0/2 on a very snowbally champion and closing out the game was merely a formality for Roccat and it would mercifully end for the Dolphins in twenty-two minutes.
Game two started off quite slowly much as game one did and it was at the five minute mark again that the game would see someone take a trip back to base via a grey screen. It was played brilliantly by Vander (Thresh) landing a hook on Masterwork (Nami) who erred by venturing into his bushes instead of staying in his minion wave. Jankos (Lee Sin) took the lantern from river into the fight and would make a nice play on a ward hop to slow Masterwork down and allowed Roccat to pick up first blood. However, DoWS would answer back a few minutes later as Jankos was caught being a bit  greedy as he seemed to favor stealing the enemy blue buff away. He would pay for it as Bebe (Syndra) picked up the kill and secured his own blue. But Jankos would get revenge shortly after that as he and Ryu (Fizz) would team up to take down the Dolphin’s mid laner and the blue buff would be turned back over to Jankos.

The lead for Roccat stood at one thousand gold at ten minutes with neither team yet to take a dragon. The two teams would exchange kills on a Roccat invade that stole away the DoWS red buff. Masterwork was caught by Jankos and Ryu but was able to flash away. Lasagna (Kha’Zix) and Bebe were then able to close in on Jankos and Ryu with Bebe once again taking Jankos out with another Unleashed Power. A teleport bottom from Overpow (Gnar) sent the Dolphins scrambling away with Masterwork being killed for the second time in the game. But while this was happening, Bebe found another victim as a straggling Vander was picked off in the river close to mid lane resulting in a two for one in favor of the Dolphins of Wall Street. Meziljie (Jax) took down the top tower just after all of this ended and it brought the gold between the two teams to dead even just shy of twelve minutes into the game.
Bebe played well up until this point but would make a mistake of face checking a bush in his own jungle that resulted in a kill for Jankos and a dragon being picked up for Roccat.  They would continue to hang close with Roccat for the next few minutes but little mistakes would begin to add up. Meziljie went for an engage in bottom on Vander in what appeared to be a 3v2 in favor of DoWS but they never saw Ryu enter the brush and it was quickly turned back around on the Dolphins. Woolite picked up the kill on Meziljie and would get another on Masterwork on the ensuing chase by Roccat. The fight would be extended long enough for Lasagna and Bebe to attempt to get involved but their efforts were in vain as they both were killed and it was a 4-0 for team Roccat. The lead was suddenly commanding for Roccat as it surged to four-thousand gold at sixteen minutes; as noted above, it had been dead even just four minutes prior. 
With sightstones completed for two members, Roccat began to find picks as they wanted. They would catch Creaton out near his own red bluff and took their second dragon of the game. Overpow would defeat Meziljie in a duel and the deficit grew to almost seven-thousand for DoWS twenty minutes into the game. It took a bit longer this time but now it seemed to be a repeat of game one. The Dolphins seemed dazed as Roccat would take objectives and turrets as they pleased as the game progressed. A great hook from Vander onto Bebe would initiate the team fight that all but signaled the game was over as Roccat would ace DoWS without losing any of their own members. Roccat would pick up the Baron before winning one final team fight in the opponent’s base and pushing through for the win in twenty-six minutes. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

EU Expansion Tournament: H2k going up against Giants for LCS spot

By Anel “Musinlol” Musinovic

With the first two days over, we head into the third day of Round 3 to see Giants and H2k face off against each other.

H2k vs Giants
Odamne, loulex, febiven, Hjarnan & Voidle vs Werlyb, Fr3deric, xPepii, Adryh & Rydle

Both H2k and Giants are this one series away from entering the EU LCS, and H2k are once again coming in as favorites for a LCS spot. Last time against Copenhagen Wolves they did fail miserably but I think they have learned their lesson. They should be showing up strong and not choking.

Giants have shown themselves to be a strong team and yesterday they 3-0’d a underwhelming Reason Gaming. Many will expect H2k to 3-0 but Giants can, in my opinion, take a game and that is why I have given it 3-1 for H2k. Giants' Fre3deric did an amazing job of snowballing lanes yesterday, but against H2k it is going to be a very hard task. H2k has superior solo lanes but the botlane of Giants can match the H2k one, therefore Adryh & Febiven are my featured players to watch.

Giants should not be focus their bans on Febiven, n!fac tried that but that failed since Febiven was dominating no matter what champion he was on. They should maybe be focusing on trying to ban out loulex and especially his Lee Sin.

Player to watch from H2k Gaming: Febiven

Febiven is the star of both the team and the whole challenger scene, so he's the obvious pick for the player to watch. He is an extremely strong midlaner and is considered one of the best in Europe. He has multiple accounts in high challenger and will be coming out strong against xPepi. xPepi has shown himself to be a good midlaner so far but he will maybe have too much on his hands this time.

Player to watch from Giants: Adryh

Adryh has had exceptional games on Jinx so far, which he seems to prefer. No other adcs seem to play Jinx at the time but Adryh definitely makes it work. It might be a champion to ban for H2k. If the Jinx is banned he often falls back on Ezreal or Lucian. In the first round of the expansion tournament, he went 9-0-8 on Jinx & 7-4-10 on Lucian when the Jinx was picked away from him. He also had great games against Millenium. Against Reason he was 7-1 twice on Jinx, and 5-4-10 on Ezreal in the last game of the series. If he can pull out these performances against H2k they might have a chance but it seems very unlikely.

Predicted score: H2k 3 - 1 Giants

The game will be played December 19th at 7:00am EST, 13:00 CET

An Old Challenge for the New Gambit

by Kranthi "SnowKid" Kumar

Season-4 has been a nightmare for Gambit Gaming. Due to VISA issues and a lot internal issues, Gambit suffered a lot. Gambit Gaming finished 7th Place in 2014 EU - LCS Summer split and got relegated.

Gambit Gaming faced SK-Gaming Prime in 2015 EU LCS Spring Promotion and managed to win the series 3:1, earning back their LCS spot.

Recently, Gambit Gaming  has revealed their starting line up for upcoming tournaments:

* Cabochard - Top
* Diamondprox - Jungle
* niQ - Mid
* P1noy - AD carry
* Edward - Support

-> Cabochard : Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet originates from France. He replaced Darien as a top laner. He previously played for NiP Gaming as a top laner. He is known for his confident laning phase.

-> Diamondprox : Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov originates from Russia, He is one of the most experienced players in the organization. He often refers to ex-Gambit players Darien and Genja as his best friends. He is known as an 'innovator' due to his innovative jungle picks. He revolutionized Counter Jungling and played a crucial part in Gambit's journey.

-> niQ : Sebastian"niQ" Robak originates from Poland. He was named as temporary mid laner when Alex Ich departed. He quickly became a permanent member as the season progressed. He previously played for Denial eSports as mid laner.

->P1noy : Kristoffer "P1noy" Pedersen  originates from Denmark. He played a crucial role in helping Gambit Gaming to make their way back to LCS. He changed his nickname 'Krislund' to 'P1noy' after he got picked up by Gambit. He often states that 'Corki' is his favourite Champ. He replaced Genja as the ADC for Gambit Gaming.

-> Edward : 'Edward' Abgaryan originates from Armenia. He was previously known as GosuPepper. He was named ' Thresh prince' due to his excellent Thresh skills. Sona is the best support according to him. He left Gambit due to misunderstandings with Genja and team atmosphere. He joined Curse briefly before returning to Gambit in November 2013. His aggressive play style often picks him up kills on his lane which earned him the title of  'Support Carry.'

Gambit Gaming has been voted for IEM Cologne 2014 Dec 19 - Dec 21. As Gambit's new line-up make their way to Cologne, it will be a great challenge ahead of them. Gambit will be facing Team Dignitas or Aces Full on Dec 20th. Gambit has historically done great in previous IEM's, let's see if the new Gambit can make a mark. Good Luck Gambit !!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

EU Expansion Tournament Day One Recap

By Reece "Sabrewolf" Dos-Santos 

EU kicked off their double elimination expansion bracket with Giants Gaming, who eliminated the hyped up Millenium, vs Reason Gaming who are made up of previous LCS players.

Giants executed their pick/ban strategy flawlessly removing Zed and Irelia in all 3 of the games rotating the third ban each time. For games one and two they stuck to the solid 4 champ combo of Pantheon, Jax, Jinx and Thresh while using Leblanc in game one and Azir in game two. The true key to this composition was the sheer dominance that their Pantheon pick displayed in controlling the early game and moving the game to his pace.

First bloods went to Giants in both games and Reason’s Lulu jungle pick in game one was completely steamrolled in its attempts to be relevant, often being blown up before even able to execute an ultimate on a teammate. It was particularly interesting to watch how much Kubon struggled against Werelyb at top and how much extra effort Giants invested into ganking and keeping him down. Most people expected that the giveaway of Gnar to Reason would spell trouble for Giants but they proved this doubt wrong many times throughout the course of games one and two.

Game three of the series showed a bit more life from Reason Gaming who secure first blood on Fr3deric, Kubon on Jax even manages to take a 1v1 kill on Werelyb. However the game once again snowballed out of Reason’s control as Kubon again struggled to maintain any kind of relevance.

The MVP of the series in my opinion is Giants Gaming’s Fr3deric who really set his team’s strangleholds into motion and demonstrated a map wide presence that simply couldn’t be handled by their opposition.

If the series against Millennium wasn’t enough to turn some heads towards Giants as favourites to qualify, I’m sure there will be some heads turning now.

H2K vs FAC
The second series of H2K vs N Faculty displayed the same result of a clean 3-0 crushing any hope of a reverse sweep like seen we’ve commonly in the NA expansion bracket. Unlike Reason Gaming, N Faculty had next to no sign of any kind of life during the series, LCS veteran Xaxus was unable to do anything about his team’s systematic take-down.

H2K went into the series with no particular pick/ban strategy other than removing Syndra and Leblanc from every game. N Faculty banned Xerath, Jayce and Lee in games one and two and Jayce, Ahri, Zed in game three.

The games themselves weren’t kill filled thrill rides and didn’t show off anything too flashy or special, the whole series gave off the impression that N Faculty were playing not to lose rather than to win. Barring game three with dragons, H2K displayed a heavy objective control and slowly drained out N Faculty in all areas before taking the series. There was one point where H2K took two completely uncontested towers in middle in game two, N Faculty were simply nowhere to be seen. Soz Purefect had next to no impact and paled in comparison to Febiven who took the carry seat across the series for H2K.

At times it seemed like H2K were taking the games too slow as they never really made any dynamic decisions or rushed plays. The chessboard takedown of N Faculty showed that H2K never really felt any pressure.

As mentioned above, the MVP of the series would have to go to Febiven who lived up to his hype and completely obliterated his opponent.

Giants vs H2K in the winners match looks to be an exciting series but N Faculty and Reason have a lot to work on in their series if they want to stand a chance against the loser of the winner bracket for the second LCS spot. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Amazing, Niels & Mithy announced for Origen (xPeke’s newly formed team). Contenders for Top Lane Position Here!

By Anel “Musinlol” Musinovic

xPeke’s dream of creating his own team and brand is finally coming to life, and with the new announcement of Amazing, Niels & Mithy, the team is looking promising.

Origen announced the new players via Twitter but has not announced their toplaner yet, therefore the rumor mill is still producing names such as Alex Ich, SoaZ, Kev1n & Zorozero.

Looking at Alex Ich as the first contender and the most talked by the community for Origen’s toplane. 

Alex Ich has been a great midlaner over the years and was a dominant force in the EU LCS for Gambit. After leaving Gambit he joined NiP as their toplaner since NiP already had Nukeduck midlane at the time, but despite a star-studded team they failed to qualify for LCS. Him as a toplaner for NiP didn't seem like the biggest success, which was why he later played midlane. Since then, he has tried to form a team with players such as Kev1n, Impaler, Creaton & KaSing, which again left him to play midlane, but sadly the team disbanded after some shaky ranked-5’s performances which were streamed.

Alex recently signed with the Russian team, RoX.KIS which leads me to believe that he will have a hard time leaving them. Overall, I don’t think he is the best toplaner available, and fits way better in the midlane. xPeke also might see a problem in Alex Ich needing a place to stay with his wife & child. He is really liked by the community and still a decent player but I don't see it happening.

Possibility of happening: 3/10

Looking at the second contender, Kev1n.

With the recent failure of re-qualifying for LCS, Millenium decided to disband. Without a team, the possibility of Kev1n is likely. Kev1n has been in the scene for a long time with teams such as SK Gaming & Millenium and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Trying to form a team with Alex Ich & trying to re-qualify with Millenium means that he certainly still has the drive for it.

Kev1n has always been at the top with high KDA even when his teams weren't placing high. I think that he is the most likely contender of the four and if he doesn't get picked I would be surprised. With that said, they have been playing ranked 5’s under the name “ORIGEN” on the client, the toplane account is completely new and I don’t see a reason for hiding it if it was Kev1n since he is without a team right now.

Possibility of happening: 8/10

sOAZ, the third contender.

Soaz, as we all know from Against All Authority & Fnatic, is a toplaner with a great champion pool and he knows xPeke very well. They have been together in Fnatic for a long time and that could be a crucial factor. Rumours have been flying around that xPeke doesn't like sOAZ and therefore doesn't want him in Origen.

sOAZ still seems to be on Fnatic and there is question to be made of whether he wants to take the chance of going through challenger or sticking with his secure Fnatic spot. This could explain the mystery top lane account Origen have been playing ranked 5’s with, since sOAZ is most likely still contracted to Fnatic. Also, the unknown player is presenting quite innovative picks in the toplane - such as Morgana and Ezreal. On the other hand, he has changed his name to sOAZIZSALTY in soloq, which could mean he is salty for being left on Fnatic while three of its five players have left.

Possibility of happening: 7/10

Looking at the last contender, Zorozero.

Zorozero is well known for playing for Lemondogs and NiP, and he was also praised as being the best toplaner in EU. No doubt that he was a great player, but he left for school and he surely couldn't have finished school yet unless he did some of it already. Personally I wish it would turn out to be Zorozero just for the sake of getting him back into the scene. Sadly, I think it is unlikely because of school. If he is finished, he could very well be looking for a team and they are hiding the name of the player under the name “touchmytagada.”

Possibility of happening: 5/10

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why a Ten-Team LCS is an Improvement

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

          Now that the expansion tournament has finished up and we have two new teams added to the LCS (Congrats to Curse Academy and Coast), we have ten teams in the LCS. Having ten teams is a huge step in the right direction for E-Sports and the LCS in general. Whether or not these teams succeed is irrelevant, and to be perfectly honest, without a substantial growth in strategy both in game and picks/bans, neither team will make playoffs. Still, there’s a lot more to gain here than just some new teams added to the split.

Better Strategic Planning

          First off, having two more teams means more diverse and well planned games. No longer will one team have to end up playing twice in one week at times. Each week will be even for every team in terms of strategizing. There were many times last split that we saw random upsets in super weeks, and most of those upsets were from lack of preparation for the “perceived” lower team. Now with ten teams, super weeks are gone from the schedule and teams have a full week to prepare for their games. This will help teams that struggled with consistency at times due to splitting their efforts. Of course, this may or may not be the actual issue that some teams had.

More Pro Players = More E-sports Money

          Having more players in the LCS will mean the overall economy of the LCS will improve. There are more opportunities for sponsors, more players getting paid, more games to watch. The list goes on and on. If as a whole we want E-Sports to expand, it’s integral that we add more teams because it gives more opportunities. More chances for players, but also more chances for all other areas like support staff and such. Hopefully these new teams will be able to bring more people and consequently more money to E-Sports and the LCS.

Expansion Brought Hype to Challenger Scene

          The 4 team double elimination bracket was a great success. No series was a sweep and there were even a few teams that were down 0-2 that pulled out a 3-2 win. The games, while sloppy, were also extremely entertaining and exciting. They got us interested in teams we didn't know before and we watched as some people had dreams come true and others had theirs crushed. While two of the teams didn't make it, they were guaranteed a spot in the challenger series that is on after the LCS every week. The challenger series had always been lackluster in views. Now that people were able to see some of the teams that are involved, it should boost the viewership and fans of the series.

More Teams Creates a Larger More Diverse Fan Base

          One of the large issues with the LCS currently is that with only 8 teams, the choices of what team you want to root for are limited. As the LCS expands, different teams will come in and it will give fans a much richer choice on who they want to support. Whether it’s because of champions that they play or strategies or even if it’s just their personalities. Higher population means higher chance of relating in some way or another.

Better Chance for Players to Grow on LAN

          Finally, the players themselves will have a greater chance to grow on a LAN setting and on stage. There’s always been a large difference between playing on-line and playing live on LAN. Some players excel at it and some players flop. Getting more players to experience it though is great. A lot of players find that they excel in LAN and on stage setting and it’s possible we see that from one of the Curse Academy players. It will also be easier to grasp which players are really able to handle being on stage and playing live and under pressure. Some people just can’t handle being in front of so many people when playing and living in that kind of environment.

          While adding more teams may not immediately enhance the level of play, it will improve the overall outlook of the LCS. We’re a long way from anything the size of the NFL or Premier League, we’re growing and making progress. All great things come in small steps and this is probably one of the most integral steps we've taken so far.


By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Looking At the Gold Efficiency of the Patch 4.21 Dragon

With Riot increasing their “strategic diversity” in terms of objective control, dragon now gives non-monetary rewards instead of the global gold it gave in Season 4. The most widely-appreciated of these rewards is the bonus percentage AD and AP. However, the balance team at Riot decided that the 8% bonus given in Patch 4.20 was a bit overtuned, so it has been changed to 6% in 4.21. For those not familiar with gold efficiency, it is the idea that champion stats have a certain gold value based on the basic items for that stat. In other words, it is a ratio of your benefit to your cost of buying an item.

This idea of gold efficiency can be extended to the dragon changes—a team can be thought of as forgoing the old global gold of the dragon (190 gold for each team member when dragon is level 7) to “buy” this 6% increase in AD and AP. For example, if someone got 190 gold worth of stats from the dragon, then they could be said to have 100% gold efficiency compared to the old dragon. Note that this is a sort of “scaling” gold efficiency, since we’re comparing a percentage AD/AP bonus (which increases over time) to the constant 190 gold a player would have received in Patch 4.19.

So let’s get into the numbers. An average time for first dragon (as computed by random games from various solo queue elos, IEM, and OGN) is something like 10-13 minutes. On Patch 4.20, the dragon bonuses would have been (roughly) as follows:

AP Champions
Approximate AP@10
Bonus AP
Worth of Bonus AP
Gold Efficiency@10
AP laner/jungler
139 gold
Negligible        ------------------------------------------------------>

AD Champions
Approximate AD@10
Bonus AD
Worth of Bonus AD
Gold Efficiency@10
AD solo laner
346 gold
288 gold
AD jungler
310 gold

These approximate AD/AP values are estimates based on the base values of popular champions, common rune and mastery pages, and a few “normal” builds for those popular champions.
On 4.21, here are those same values with the 6% bonuses:

AP Champions
Approximate AP@10
Bonus AP
Worth of Bonus AP
Gold Efficiency@10
AP laner/jungler
104 gold
Negligible        ------------------------------------------------------>

AD Champions
Approximate AD@10
Bonus AD
Worth of Bonus AD
Gold Efficiency@10
AD solo laner
260 gold
216 gold
AD jungler
227 gold

It is also important to understand the changes to the vales from 4.20 to 4.21, so here they are:
Change in Bonus Value@10
AP laner/jungler
Lost 35 gold
AD solo laner
Lost 86 gold
Lost 72 gold
AD jungler
Lost 83 gold

This effectively means that champions which scale with AP were hit less by the 4.21 dragon changes—buying AP is cheaper than buying AD, after all. The dragon buff is still typically “gold efficient” on AD champions, but is just barely halfway to being gold efficient on AP champions (until they get 146 AP, when they “break even” compared to the old rewards). It is worth noting that since AP champions tend to amass much more AP later on in the game than AD champions buy AD, the scaling gold efficiency is better for an AP champion. An Orianna with 650 AP, for example, gets 39 AP, which is around 850 gold. That makes it 447% efficient, whereas a Zed with 330 AD gets only 375% gold efficiency.

To conclude, dragon in Patch 4.21 still benefits AD champions more than AP ones in the early game, and this reverses as the game goes on. Until AP champions get enough AP to break even with the old dragon gold, they aren’t too happy about the changes; once they hit 146 AP, though, they think maybe it’s not so bad after all.