Showing posts with label League of Legends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label League of Legends. Show all posts

Saturday, May 9, 2015

MSI Day 2 Review

MSI Day 2 Features Unexpected Victories, Stunning Eliminations 

Day 1 of MSI 2015 was by most accounts an unexciting affair, with nearly no upsets outside of whether or not you thought EDG under-performed against SKT or that they are simply that much worse than SKT. However, the Saturday picture had become pretty clear after a single day of games, with seeding and which western team would get a shot in a best-of series being the only major storylines on the day. Day 2 opened up with an important piece of the latter plot with EDG and Fnatic squaring off.
Game 1: Edward Gaming vs Fnatic

Yellowstar and his rookies looked towards EDG on Day 2 with a hopeful mindset. Technically, losing this game didn't put them into any worse of a spot to get themselves into Saturday’s knockout games, but pulling off the upset would put Fnatic firmly in control of their own destiny, and the possibility of any tiebreaker games nearly out of reach for TSM. But things got ugly really fast for Western squad, which would become a recurring theme on the day, as Yellowstar burned his flash to steal Gromp from the EDG bot lane, only to end up on the receiving end of Clearlove and his all-but-patented early aggression out of the jungle. Shortly afterwards, Koro1 would get a retribution kill turning a top lane dive from Fnatic into a nightmare start for the European champions. Koro1 added another couple hundred gold to his pocket after baiting Huni into a close trade, with Clearlove roaming top to help Koro1 secure the kill. By seven minutes, EDG had seven kills, a 3k gold lead, and a choke hold on the remainder of the game. Fnatic’s hopes of putting TSM into panic mode were thwarted by the aggressive Chinese side, with EDG’s strategy of poetic chaos proving to be entirely too much for Fnatic to handle. Statistically, EDG had over a kill per minute, and Fnatic’s nexus would topple over in quick fashion.

Game 2: AHQ eSports Club vs Team Solomid

The drama for TSM was at a crescendo, as not only would a win here put the boys from California (and Denmark and Korea) into a powerful position to force tiebreaker games and reach the semifinals, but a loss would see them at the mercy of either beating EDG, a tall order regardless of the team’s form so far at this event, or rooting for Besiktas to officially take the hand-off from Kabum, and save yet another North American team from elimination at an international event. TSM began the game shifting back to their traditional tactics, successfully initiating a lane swap and beginning their early game. Unfortunately, the past 3 games for TSM were not the proper instructional tools they required, and Dyrus once again gave up first blood from a gank, with TSM’s jungler Santorin nowhere to be found. AHQ would continue to dominate the early game, culminating in a fight near baron that would result in a three-for-one for AHQ, with Wildturtle being the only carry for TSM to pick up any gold from the fight. TSM would continue to fight, however AHQ would lose precisely zero team fights the entire game, and almost like clockwork, another Asian team secured a victory over a western team before the 30 minute mark.

Game 3: Besiktas eSports Club vs Edward Gaming

As we progressed through day 2 and it became more and more clear just how much stronger the eastern teams have been than the western teams, this game promised to be absolutely terrifying for the Turkish wild card invite. EDG would secure first blood on mid laner Energy, before dual 6 minute fights bot lane and top lane would result in several EDG victories, and the beginning of one of the most heinous snowballs in competitive League of Legends history. With EDG looking for wins simply to keep pace with SKT, and with how bloody the first 12 minutes of this game ended up being, I was honestly surprised this game lasted long enough to give Besiktas the option to surrender. To their credit, they didn't, but they would lose shortly afterwards.
Game 4: Fnatic gaming vs SK Telecom

The midway point of Day 2 in Tallahassee would provide us with possibly the closest and most exciting game of the tournament, potentially soured by the fact that SKT was clearly goofing off for about 20 minutes. Fnatic jumped out to an early lead on kills, and would maintain it, stretching their lead to as many as 11 kills at one point, but their gold lead would remain close. Almost as if the Kings of Asia were simply playing with their food, the kills continued to go in Fnatic’s favor while the gold stayed identical. SKT would begin clawing back, and while they would never take the gold lead, it was a controversial Sejuani bug that would cause the beginning of the end for Fnatic.

The Sejuani bug in question, as seen above, was originally waved off as a spectator glitch, but has since been replicated by various players on Reddit. However, with the transparently obvious trolling SKT did for 20 minutes, and the absolutely explosive way the game ended, with SKT marksman Bang getting a pentakill on his Lucian, it seems to me that Fnatic simply opted against remaking. No other team came as close as Fnatic did at seemingly dismantling SKT’s defenses, why not shrug off your inevitable loss to a bug rather than remake and have SKT end the game at 25 minutes, as they most likely would have done. Overall, it was the correct decision to avoid remaking, for player and viewer sake.
Game 5:  Edward Gaming vs Team Solomid

TSM entered their last game with one option: Win, otherwise Besiktas decides their fate. Unfortunately, for the fifth consecutive game, Dyrus was on the receiving end of an early gank that had no support from Santorin. And, again, Dyrus would be the victim of a second, and a third gank, giving EDG a three kill to zero lead before TSM had reacted in any capacity. TSM’s uninspired performances continued well into this game, with virtually no signs of life anywhere to be seen. What was once seen as the glimmering hope of NA, a mechanically strong TSM team with a superstar mid laner and an ultra-innovative support, saw what would potentially be their final nexus of the tournament fall as EDG embarrassed them at every corner of the map. Like Cloud 9 half a year ago, TSM was now at the mercy of the underdog, this time from Turkey.

Game 6: Besiktas eSports Club vs Fnatic

TSM would see their hope dissipate within minutes of the penultimate group stage game’s start. Fnatic forced two early kills for themselves, as a gank mid would end bot lane with both Energy and Thaldrin succumbing to Fnatic’s pressure. Fnatic would wrangle their early pressure into a dragon and plenty of early turret pressure, while a Rek’sai Thresh combo gank bot lane would result in 4 kills for Fnatic and the first turret of the game. Fnatic’s early gold lead would never be truly tested by Besiktas, and while the game was a bloody affair that lasted a few minutes longer than it maybe should have, Fnatic would topple Besiktas’ nexus, and TSM’s hopes of advancing, at the 25 minute mark.

Game 7: SK Telecom vs AHQ

The final game of the group stages of MSI 2015 would provide a potential finals matchup, with AHQ potentially pushing for a tiebreaker game to decide first place for the group stage. This game would also prove to be the most satisfying game of the entire tournament so far, regardless of whether or not it truly meant anything other than seeding position. AHQ looked to prove themselves once and for all, being harshly underrated coming into the event, having finished fourth in their league before their tremendous playoff streak. However, AHQ put themselves into an early hole as SKT would get first blood on AHQ jungler Mountain, and a roam top from Bengi would cost AHQ top laner Ziv his flash. However, a restitution gank would come from Mountain, getting AHQ marksman AN an early kill on his Sivir. AHQ would wrestling the gold lead from SKT, pushing objectives and gaining ground on kills with their crisper rotations. As the game progressed, Westdoor’s Cho’gath continued to spike in power, with several team fights ending almost as they began after Westdoor’s feast would nearly one shot Bang’s Urgot. With SKT losing team fight after team fight, it looked like we were heading towards tie breakers as SKT’s armor looked to finally be cracked, until Easyhoon decided he’d had enough. An engagement near Baron in the blue side jungle allowed Easyhoon’s Azir to shred through AHQ’s entire team with perfect positioning, ending in an outrageous flash Emperor’s Divide to secure the ace. With a 10k gold deficit, SKT would march through the front door of AHQ’s base, obtaining a perfect 5-0 group round record and the number 1 seed.

As we bid farewell to Besiktas and Team Solomid, we’re forced to wonder just how big the gap between the West and the East is right now. Fnatic look to be the last bastion of hope for western fans, as they match up against SKT to start off Saturday’s semifinal matches. EDG and AHQ will round out the day, in a series that promises to be significantly more entertaining than its opening act, but maybe Fnatic can surprise us?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Who Can Take The Heat in Tallahassee?

MSI 2015: Stage of Champions

Image courtesy of Riot Esports

Regional champions from around the globe will gather from May 7th-10th in Florida's capital city to attend Riot's new international competition, the Mid-Season Invitational. The four day tournament will feature six champion teams, who'll battle with the hopes of being crowned the MSI Champion 2015. Will it be a Western or Easten team that takes the fame and glory home? Let’s take a look at all the contenders and I'll give my prediction for this wonderful tournament!

By Michael "Tribble" Godani

AHQ E-Sports Club(LMS)

The last time we saw AHQ was in Group A at Worlds 2014, together with Dark Passage, Edward Gaming and current World Champions, Samsung White. Since then some roster changes have occurred. Their jungler, Albis, moved to the support position and former TPS jungler, Mountain, took his place in the jungle. These changes are still very recent, taking place right before the playoffs.

Having dropped only one game in their three Bo5 series to obtain the MSI spot is sure to give a lot of confidence to the team and their fans. They're a team that doesn't seem to struggle with the changes and immediately picks up the title, just like Fnatic.

AHQ's strengths are also their weak points. Westdoor enjoys playing the assassin champions such as Fizz and Zed but has also shown the ability to adapt to the current meta with Karthus and Cho’gath. AN has had impressive results on the likes of Urgot, Jinx, Sivir and Kalista and is able to join Westdoor in carrying the game to good results. Westdoor loves to roam and apply pressure across the map, so his mobile assassins are very important for his playstyle.

But despite being able to carry their team together, they rely too heavily on disengage/peel from their teammates. Once champions such as Janna are taken away from them, they're suddenly incredibly vulnerable. Teams like EDG will be able to punish them for their one-dimensional tactics. Also Westdoor, who is strong inlane, will have it rough against the likes of Pawn and Faker who are easily the top two midlaners in the world.

AHQ are still a very mechanically talented team, and with a couple of outplays and picks they can take control over any game. How will they do at this tournament? I would call it a 4/5th spot team. This all depends Fnatic, the 3rd team that placed themselves for the MSI.

Besiktas E-sports Club(Turkey, ICWI)

The second team to have qualified for the MSI are Turkish representatives Besiktas E-sports Club. Besiktas is a known name in the international sports world when it comes to Football(soccer) and Basketball, and now they've managed to qualify their League of Legends team for one of the biggest events in E-sports.

They haven’t had an easy road to obtain that invitation. They finished first in their region which qualified them for the IWCI tournament, and then they first had to take on the Champions from several other regions including Brasil and OCE. In a nail-biting final, after being down 0-1, they managed to sweep INTZ e-Sports and get their ticket to the tournament. 

We don’t know much about Besiktas, but what we know is that their main carry is in the AD role. He is a strong Lucian player who is both good in a regular lane and in laneswap situations. He is able to impact games as long as he has the sufficient resources to do so. Also, once Besiktas grabs hold of a game, their lead is invested into vision control to be able to deny the enemy team from making plays or grabbing objectives.

This all is relatively strong against the “weaker” opponents in the scene, but Besiktas will meet the likes of EDG, SKT and TSM, teams who have been playing at the top level for many years and who house world champions, so don’t get your hopes up too high. Besiktas will not be able to pull off a trick against any of the competitors that will give them a shot to qualify for the semi-finals.

Fnatic (EU-LCS)

Xpeke, Cyanide, Rekkles and Soaz left Fnatic. The only remaining member was the best European support player, Yellowstar. The addition of Huni, crowned as Spring Split rookie 2015, and Dutch talent Febiven in particular, did the team well. Their naive way of playing has brought them a lot of success and points to work on which they will most likely improve over the next couple of months.

Fnatic made their fans proud by taking down newcomers UoL in the finals of the EU LCS Spring Split in a five-game thriller and regaining the crown they dropped the split before to Alliance (Elements).

Fnatic's (overly) aggressive playstyle has won them the Spring Split 2015 title and their ticket to the MSI and we should all respect them for that. They're a joy to watch with early tower dives, aggressive laners and a bloodthirsty jungler. The entire Fnatic team is a threat in the laning phase. They can get kills and snowball themselves without help, which is what makes them so dangerous. 

For picks, some would say Fnatic has a deep champion pool, but I strongly question the effectiveness of that pool. Their champion mechanics might work against their European opponents, but it will most certainly not go as easy in their favor on the international stage.

A tournament like the MSI is where we compare the players/teams of each region to each other and mechanically, Fnatic has got a long way to go. Meta champions have been of better use in the hands of players from other regions. Still, having won the Spring Split with such a young and inexperienced team shows a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Huni and Febiven do against such superstars as Koro1, Faker and Pawn.

My expectations for Fnatic is that they will battle it out with AHQ for the 4th spot which will qualify one of them for the semi-finals.

Team SoloMid (NA-LCS)

Summer 2014, IET 2015, Spring 2015; they won three of the last four competitions they participated in. They are the uncontested Number 1 of North America and house the best midlaner that can be found in the western region.

Bjergsen is the foundation on which TSM relies, but he is being backed up by Dyrus and Lustboy. Bjergsen is the playmaker, the splitpusher, the ganker, hell you might even call him the carry who supports himself.

Dyrus might not always get the credit that he deserves, whereas he is the black sheep in TSM who will be the first one to be sacrificed when needs be. Dyrus does play to his fullest potential in every match with the limited amount of resources being handed on to him. He is the veteran who survived all the meta changes that you can think of and still sits comfortably in that top lane.

Lustboy was a much needed addition to the team, as Bjergsen doesn't have to carry the games alone anymore. Lustboy is a playmaker. He loves to roam as most Korean supports do and apply pressure on the map. Lustboy's strength lies not only in his mechanics but also in his wide champion pool. If you want a heavy disengage composition, he will be able to play top notch Janna but still make the aggressive plays that he does on the likes of Thresh - but in the Janna way. Lulu, Thresh, Braum, Kennen, he will play whatever is needed for the team.

TSM can play a lot of different styles. For North American teams, they can be a pain in the rear when it comes to team fighting, rotations and split pushing but will this also be the case for the top Asian teams? How well will TSM perform with Wildturtle? A very peel dependent ADC who will have a tough time when guys like Koro1 and Clearlove all of a sudden jump onto the back line. And how will Dyrus, Bjergsen and Lustboy protect their newest member, Santorin, from junglers like Bengi and Clearlove? These are questions we can only speculate about at this point but they will be serious points of interest for TSM and their opponents. 

TSM will continue their dominance this tournament and will fall to either EDG or SKT in the semis. I think that they have a lot of potential but will be mechanically and tactically outplayed by the Chinese and Korean powerhouses.

Edward Gaming(LPL)

Considered by many to be the best team in the world with at least three positions that are filled with the best players in the world for that position. Koro1 in the top lane, Clearlove in the jungle and Deft as ADC.

EDG has always been a very promising team when it comes to international tournaments but for some reason they always failed to deliver. The last chokepoint was Worlds 2014 where they fell short after being hyped to grab the title.

With the addition of Pawn, world champion and Deft, best ADC in the world, EDG have showed a different playstyle during the Spring Split. Their three men gank squad, Clearlove/Koro1/Meiko, have been carrying the team throughout the laning phase into numerous dominant victories over their regional opponents. Their "late game teamfighting and baron" playstyle has changed to a more skirmish based style. EDG is the master in showing up with multiple members, unexpected, in any lane and taking multiple kills followed up by objectives. Does this mean they have left the teamfighting / baron just to be remembered? No, EDG might be the best team to utilize the baron buff. Out of all the teams, EDG makes the best use of the baron and often ignores dragons just to obtain that one baron to turn the game around. They make sure that their side lanes are pushing so that when the baron is slain, they have no problem in applying pressure in all three lanes.

In terms of teamfighting, Deft's positioning and Clearlove/Koro1's ability to disrupt and neutralize the opponent's carries, leads them to very one-sided teamfights in favor of them. Pawn deals in on this too, as he knows exactly when to jump in and out of fights to maximize his damage and disorient the enemy team's focus.

EDG will not be banned out in the picks and ban phase by any means. Though, if you want to have a chance to make a chance to have a chance, be sure that Gnar and Kassadin are banned. Pawn and Koro1 hold incredible win rates on these champions and will be able to turn games in their favor.

As for Meiko, Deft and Clearlove, these players are just as their other two teammates - unbannable. Their champion pools are gigantic and will perform equally on any of their top five picks.

Applying pressure on Clearlove and Pawn is the only way that teams might be able to get some sort of a chance to win games against this team. Also the dragon buffs are not always on top of EDG’s priority list.

My prediction for EDG’s final result might already be clear. I expect them to win and only drop a max of two games throughout the entire tournament.

SK Telecom T1

After missing out on participating at Worlds 2014, a couple of roster changes brought this team back on top of the Korean standings. 

Impact, Poohmandu and Piglet left the S3 World Champions and got replaced by SKT T1S members. Easyhoon is the most valuable player to mention from the roster changes that SKT made in S5. The midlaner, who was often swapped in to give Faker some rest or to let him grow as a player, has made a huge impact on everyone worldwide. Whereas EH started in the semi-finals against CJ but got swapped for Faker, he did not get swapped in the finals. GE Tigers got swept with Easyhoon and Tom in the starting line-up in all three of the games.

EH's Xerath, Ziggs, Azir and Cassiopeia are world class and the diversity of styles that he has shown as a player is remarkable to say the least. Aggressive or passive, EH can deliver, and the scariest fact of this all is that he isn't even the starting midlaner.

Faker, “The Unkillable Demon King” as OMG’s Cool called him, is the starting midlaner for  SKT. There is not much I have left to tell you about Faker; perhaps that his Leblanc is unbeaten and was released in the CJ series in the fifth game. How about the fact that some players want to win titles, while others are satisfied if they can kill Faker in lane.

The man is the best League of Legends' player of all time and the entire team revolves around him. Faker gets the ganks and the resources and with that, he makes the plays and carries his team.

Their jungler, Bengi, has been performing a bit inconsistently but Tom on the other hand has been looking fantastic. A very young and eager player with the right amount of aggression regardless of the jungler that he plays. Tom is giving Bengi a run for his money, but what will SKT do at MSI? Will Bengi or Tom start?

SKT is mechanically very strong and their rotations and teamfighting is on spot, just their toplaner is not always as good as we want him to be. Marin is a very limited player when it comes to champions like Gnar for example. Multiple times his positioning as mini Gnar has been bad but for some reason he is not being punished by teams for it. His Gnar and Hecarim need some work if he want to compete with the world class toplaners but I guess he is aware of that. His Maokai, on the other hand, is of huge value for his team. Marin loves to rush the homeguards and his teleport plays can be devastating, often surprising the enemy team.

How will SKT perform at MSI? I think they will have a hard time against teams like Fnatic and EDG, who will apply early pressure and try to exploit their toplane weaknesses. A final spot will most likely be obtained but if they're against EDG, they shall not be able to take the glory.

These are my predictions for MSI:
1.     Edward Gaming (LPL)
2.     SK Telecom T1 (LCK)
3.     TSM (NA LCS)
4.     Fnatic( EU LCS) / AHQ E-Sports Club (LMS)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Trouble with Hai

Is it Time for Cloud9's Mid to Move On?

Photo courtesy of Riot Esports

by Patrick Garren

Since the acquisition of Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi from Quantic Gaming on May 23rd 2013, Cloud9 have had the exact same roster. They didn't actually "acquire" Sneaky from Quantic either - they WERE Quantic. Sponsorship issues led to their reformation as Cloud9. Founder and Team Captain, mid-lander Hai “Hai” Lam, chose the name Cloud9 because he believed that professional gaming should be about being happy. But Cloud 9 is the last place they were at the beginning of the 2015 Spring Split, when they saw themselves in a spot they hadn't seen since they made it into the LCS: last place. Read more...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week 11 LPL Preview – League of Trolls & The 8th Place Seed

by Michael "Tribble" Godani

The last three days of the regular Spring Split in the LPL. Traditionally, this week is a huge trollfest, and we shouldn’t expect much different from this precious competition except that Master3, Team WE and SHRC are still in the race for a playoff spot. We will discuss a few interesting games, the ones that are most likely to be troll free and the games for that eighth place playoff ticket. Read more....

Saturday, March 21, 2015

EU LCS Possible Relegation Scenarios

by Reece "SabrewoIf" Dos-Santos 

Remaining Games:


Approaching the final week of the EU LCS, not everything is set in stone. There is a variety of situations that can still entangle the Copenhagen Wolves, Elements, Roccat, Giants and Meet Your Makers. Before I break down what could happen, I can explain that it’s impossible for Copenhagen Wolves to be auto relegated and Giants Gaming or Meet your Makers to reach playoffs.

Here are three I picked out:

Scenario 1: What I think will happen: CW (2-0), EL (1-1), ROC (1-1), GIA (0-2), MYM (0-2)

This clinches at least sixth and playoffs for CW on 9-9 while Elements and Roccat fight out a tiebreaker for seventh which I believe will be won by Roccat judging by the standard of play of both teams currently. Although I wouldn't put it past Elements to surprise us, while Roccat have been consistently below average, Elements have been fluctuating between showing signs of hope and being completely broken. This also leaves the bottom two in a scrap for auto relegation, one I actually favour MYM for at the moment. The latter having shown improvements in synergy and survivability while Giants have failed to secure any kind hold on their split.

Scenario 2: Three-way tiebreaker for Sixth: EL (1-1), GIA (1-1), ROC (1-1), MYM (1-1 or 2-0), CW (0-2)

For this to happen, Elements would need to pick up Giants and lose to Fnatic, Roccat take down CW and lose to MYM and Giants also need to take out CW. This will leave all three on a score of 7-11 and force the most important three way tie for the last playoff spot, the LCS safe zone and the promotion tournament. Also in this scenario, the auto relegation spot is decided by if MYM beat SK to go 2-0. If not they also get a tiebreaker for tenth. EU love tie breakers and this is definitely one that could change a lot.

Scenario 3: Four-way tiebreaker for Seventh: GIA (2-0), MYM (2-0), CW (1-1), EL (0-2), ROC (0-2)

This scenario seems wild and really far-fetched but it’s still a possibility. Under this scenario the Wolves get the last playoff spot and the bottom four all finish on 6-12 opening up the biggest tie breaker possible for the safe zone, the promotion tournament spots and the auto relegation zone. While this opens up the biggest storyline comeback for the bottom two, it’s a scenario that can end ugly for Roccat and Elements who cannot afford to tilt at such a crucial time. It's also not too hard to see this happening considering that GIA are 1-0 up against both their opponents and MYM have been looking better as of recent.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gambit Gaming vs CJ Entus Frost : Coming Full Circle

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis 

It’s been two years since the original match-up and now everything is coming full circle. Two years ago on March 8th, 2013, Gambit Gaming took on CJ Entus Frost in the IEM World Championship. A lot has changed over the years between both teams, and while they may not sit in as high a throne as they did previously, they are starting make their way back to the top. IEM Katowice could take either of these teams back towards their former glory.

Two years ago the IEM World Championships during Season 3 were held. At the time Gambit and CJ Frost were some of the most highly touted teams. Gambit were dominating at the end of Season 2, having all of the original members of M5: Darien, Diamond, Alex Ich, Genja, and Edward. Frost had a legendary lineup including current CJ stars Madlife and Shy along with Woong, Rapidstar, and CloudTemplar.

While times have changed, I think there’s a few things that we can pull from the previous match-up that might still hold true. First off, Diamond is still Diamond. What I mean by that is, Diamond still wants to innovate in the jungle and bring in unexpected strategies and picks. Just this past week we saw Diamond pull out Evelynn probably the first time since her nerfs. It didn't work out too well, but it still shows that Diamond will pull out anything regardless of what is considered meta at the time.

Second, while Gambit’s lineup has changed quite a bit, they still have the same “See Hero, Kill Hero” mentality. Gambit has always and still does thrive when the game is put into pure chaos. As soon as a team loses control of a situation, Gambit will get rolling and it’s hard to stop them.

CJ knows how to counter this pretty well though as they showed. In 2013, CJ tried to beat Gambit at their own game and swapped their bottom lane into the mid lane in order to starve out Alex Ich on Kha’Zix. The combination of Lulu and Ezreal zoned Kha’Zix out from getting any kind of farm. Similarly to how lane swaps work in today’s meta. The difference here being, no one had really tried doing this, it was completely new and out of the blue and caught Gambit by surprise. CJ gave Rapidstar (on Gragas) blue buff to start and sent him bottom to just grab what farm he could with barrels while they zoned out Kha mid.

Looking towards this years match-up, Gambit lacks a lot of the star power they used to have. Alex Ich left and Gambit have yet to find anyone that can replace him consistently. P1noy has been doing well and so has Cabochard, but it’s pretty apparent that Gambit is still adjusting in some ways. Diamond is going to have to really pressure the map well in their game.

CJ, on the other hand has been a dark horse that came bursting out of the pre-season hot. Both CoCo and Shy have been having MVP like seasons and with Space finally getting his act together, and Madlife looking like he’s heading back to his old self, they've shown that they are no longer just a shell of their former selves.

I think the early game will play a huge part in what this game ultimately turns into. CJ has a much more in-depth strategic mind that shows in their games, but they have the tendency to fall apart if their early game goes south. Space can tilt and Ambition has his games where he doesn't do a whole lot. If Gambit can take advantage of these weaknesses they might pull an upset.

On the other side of the coin you have two of the strongest solo laners in the scene at the moment in Shy and CoCo. Both are having MVP seasons and while Cabochard has been doing well in his own right, I’m not sure if he can handle Shy on his own, and I can say pretty confidently that I think Betsy will be having his on issues in the mid lane. CJ needs to play up the fact that their top and mid are incredibly strong by comparison and have Space and Ambition just play supporting roles as CoCo and Shy carry.

Overall it should be a good match and I’m looking forward to how both teams try and handle each other since they’re not from the same region and don’t have the experience fighting each other. A lot of unique and clashing strategies could be pulled out.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

League of Legends, a Cultural Phenomenon?

by Louis "Guichex" Lemeillet

This a bit late, but I wanted to react to the recent release of Riot Games' official music album, which features eight tunes centered around the universe and lore of their unique game, League of Legends. Riot's music passion didn't start with this album, as they normally create unique tunes for each new champion or event, and even co-created an “eSports anthem” with the popular band, Imagine Dragons, for the Season 4 World Championship. Nevertheless, Smite & Ignite is truly a unique product and it's the first “album” made by Riot Games. If you consider this, in addition to their short animated movies, the growing in-depth writing of the lore of the game's universe, and the production of endless drawings for each champion, you can say that League of Legends contains several different art forms: cinema, literature, visual arts and so on.

Can a Videogame be Considered a Form of Art ?

Taking the words of one of the biggest figures in the videogames industry, Hideo Kojima, famous creator of the Metal Gear Solid series, videogames are a type of service and not a form of art. Game designers, since they seem inspired by countless artistic pieces, can be considered “museum curators,” arranging those pieces in a way that displays their artistry. But one can say that the line is really thin, and some other games designers and people in the videogame industry often consider videogames as a “greater” art - since they gather several forms of art in one piece. One art to gather them all, and in the darkness (of an attic), join them.

This debate, of course, comes along with the technological prowess of our current gaming devices which allow the display of stunning realistic graphics, long and intricate stories, and the face recognition which translate human emotions on a whole new level. Beyond Two Souls, of the famous Quantic Dream studios, was so presented in the Tribeca Movie Festival last year as a piece of art alongside several “real” movies. 

Personally, I believe Kojima is the one on point: the main goal of a videogame is definitely entertainment. With the economical landscape, you have to appeal to the masses if you want to make some revenue out of your work, potentially restricting the artistic desires of the game designers. We play videogames for various reasons, but the one that is always here is: we want to entertain ourselves. You could put all the artistic views you want in a game, but if the gameplay sucks, it will not live on as a masterpiece.

League of Legends cannot be considered a piece of “art,” but it has reached a level of deliverable entertainment possibly never reached before by any other cultural product. With the combination of several arts, the entertainment and the cultural “potential” of the sports world, League of Legends might become something which children will learn about in history books someday.

League of Legends, the Legacy

I might be getting ahead of myself with that previous statement, but it is also true that we've never experienced something similar before. Of course, eSports and videogames have existed for decades, but never have we seen a game reach the level where LoL stands right now. Even if you consider all of its franchises, Starcraft - maybe the most popular eSports game before LoL - has not reached Riot. Yes, Starcraft is truly a pure and very successful videogame with astounding storytelling, a strong universe and powerful cinematics (Blizzard's cinematics are on a whole other level and I don't think any other game developer reached it.) But as amazing as Starcraft is, they've never reached the popularity of League of Legends, at least in our Western regions. League of Legends' global viewership reached the level of traditional sports first, with spectators outnumbering the NBA finals and other extremely popular sporting events.

Moreover, eSports is the first and will probably stay the only sport which will be shared on approximately the same level of passion throughout the world. Of course, we're seeing disparities in the games watched depending on the countries, but League of Legends draws in viewers from almost every region of the world.

If you consider this from the “artistic” viewpoint, League of Legends has the potential to reach more people than anything or anyone before. Videogames are worldwide, eSports are worldwide, and League of Legends tops the scores in both those fields in terms of active players and viewership. It is also a game that is designed as a “durable” thing and not a “one-time” story like many “artistic” videogames. So, potentially, its music, drawings and short animated movies (one can dream of an extended movie of the Shurima past,) can reach hundreds of million of people and try to touch their inner sense of “art.” I've rarely seen a single product or person get on this level.

When I consider cultural phenomenon, which billions of people might know or have heard of, there's truly just a few things that stay on my mind: Michael Jackson, Star Wars, Mario, Banksy... and you can be sure that such pieces of culture will go down in history. Can League of Legends do so?

History is being made here, kid.

As we all know, history is written by the winners, and as successful as League of Legends might be today, you can't avoid the possibility of the product drowning in the mud with the course of the years. It's really hard nowadays for a cultural phenomenon to stay away from the potentially insane amounts of money that can be made. The Lord of the Rings franchise might have gone too far, for example, in the minds of many. If Peter Jackson stopped with the first trilogy, it would 100% have gone down in history as a “masterpiece.” The Hobbit trilogy, though, will never do that, and for a lot of people, it stands as a stain on the glory of the first movies.

Nevertheless, those things happen every time. You can see how people tried to make money after Michael Jackson's death, surfing on his popularity and drawing his legacy into the mud. But for such a phenomenon, it will not matter: Michael Jackson is one of the greatest musical artist of the modern times and will probably be remembered as such for ages.

Can League of Legends reach that point? I believe so. They might not produce real art, but they surely can produce massive entertainment and offer a cultural content close to the most popular traditional sports in the world. Moreover, they share a worldwide popularity that almost only videogames can reach. They were the pioneers of “mainstream” eSports and will be going down into history as much as the first eSports games and tournaments like the period described in the wonderful Smash Bros documentary when a bunch of high school geeks created the basis of what is today one of the most popular eSports scenes.

It's weird to think about kids learning about League of Legends in school and it will surely not happen anytime soon. By going down into history, you have to wither first and I don't think Riot is ready to let its franchise die this soon. But do you believe too that it has the potential? Or do you simply believe it will be overwritten by the global eSports phenomenon? I always will want to show my future kids what I played when I was little (Zelda, Smash, ChronoTrigger, Warcraft, etc.) I always thought it would be fun to see them come back to me and talk about videogames they learned about during their school days. 


by Louis "Guichex" Lemeillet

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

OGN Recap Week 5 : Coco Breaks World CS Record!

by Pieter "antdriote" Cnudde

Week 5 of OGN had only four series and were all one-sided but still exciting to watch. Short version: Faker’s Ezreal dumpsters Samsung, giving Xerath to GBM should be illegal, the Najin brawl match went to GE and IM keeps climbing the ranks. Kalista finally gets good quality showing in Korea and RobertxLee lost his CS record to Coco. My name is antdrioite and I’ll go over the highs and lows of this weeks' OGN Champions.

The Xerath hype toned down a little bit this week but he was still picked or banned in 6 out of the 8 games. At least SKT stopped first picking it for Faker and he could show his skill on Ezreal, totally dominating Samsung. He survived many times on near to no health and his skillshot timing and accuracy was as expected, godlike. Samsung tried throwing another curveball by going Morgana mid and Rengar top. CuVee got an early kill but went full tank Rengar and could not pressure Marin enough to shut him down. Samsung got a dragon and gold lead, even picking up an early baron. Marin and Faker were too big, however, and cleaned up all the fights after the baron, resulting in a quick 32 minute game.

Game 2 was overall better for SKT. They had good dragon control and got an early lead with a turret and cs advantage. In spite of that, they still had issues closing out the game even, with the baron buff. Samsung was able to win some teamfights and even take an inhibitor. The next baron became the end of Samsung, Fury stole it but SKT won the fight 3 for 0 and ended the game after that. Cuvee didn't even die in that game and Samsung showed they can fight with a standard comp, although their strategy is still lacking to take a win off the other teams. SKT should be glad with the win but not really with their performance. They still need to improve on their midgame play. At least their P/B phase was better this week. (Please use Faker more.)

Friday had only one series but it was the most hyped one of the week. Four ex-Najin players against the current Najin lineup. Duke had already trash talked GE the week before so the expectations were high. GE Tigers responded with bunny ears and pinks costumes during the series. Najin wants to keep me happy by putting in Ohq and Cain in Game 1. But even if they do well, they're still put on the bench afterwards, because they think Zefa and Pure will magically make Najin win.

Game 1 started poorly for the Najin botlane with Cain giving up two easy kills to Gorilla. The game was quiet in the early game with GE being in control over the objectives and getting a small gold lead with turrets, some kills and CS. They were able to pick up a baron after getting a double kill on Ggoong and Watch. Sieging up with baron it seemed like the Tigers would close out the game but a good bubble on Kuro and Ohq getting reset after reset got Najin an ace and some room to breath. GE Tigers’ lead was too big however and with no additional catches, closed out the game with the next baron buff. One poor fight but overall a very clean game from the GE tigers. Ohq played very well that game not even dying once but it wasn't enough to win the game or avoid the bench.

Game 2 was a perfect stomp, Najin was able to get some kills early but they never got a lead. GE only lost one turret and dragon and snowballed great with Kassadin and using Kalista to get an early baron. The game ended at 32 mins after two aces and a second baron. GE showed great strategic play and that they have a big champion pool on all roles (except jungle cus jungle). Najin showed that Ohq and Cain still perform better than Zefa and Pure. GE won the grudge match in a dominating fashion.

Saturday was a long day even with only four games. I’m convinced CJ didn't care much about Jin Air or the coaches are completely oblivious how to do P/B. Jin Air is the one team you never want to give Xerath so if you don’t want to play it just ban it. Shy’s inability to play Gnar is also costing them a lot. 

Jin Air started the game a bit ahead with 2 early dragons and some turrets but the game swung rapidly after the third dragon. Ambition got the dragon and CJ was able to get a baron afterwards as well. Their gold lead grew rapidly with continuous tower destruction and kills. CJ tried to break down the inhibitor line with their 2nd baron but GBM’s poke and Captain Jack’s Kalista thought otherwise. Jin Air held CJ off and were able to take an inhibitor in response. After that CJ was never able to get back into the game. Even with a lead they were incapable to pressure Jin Air hard enough. GBM had flawless positioning and Coco could not trade with him in poke on Jayce. Jin Air eventually won after a 79 minute game with Coco breaking the world CS record.

The teamfight impact of Gnar and GBM’s Xerath play were too impactful for CJ and that should be blamed on their P/B phase. Coco is a great Jayce player but he got nerfed recently and he isn't a great matchup against Xerath. What surprised me the most in Game 2 was CJ’s unwillingness to adapt. They let the same picks through and only banned the Gnar. They picked up the Jayce again, let GBM have Xerath and Cpt Jack got Kalista again after his great Game 1.

That is pretty much all I want to say about the second game. Coco was useless in all the fights and Jin Air stomped CJ in a “quick” 47 min game. Shy was good on Mundo but not gamebreaking. TrAce's Rumble survived laning phase and did so much work in teamfights with the Equalizer, zoning out Coco and dealing massive damage on all of CJ.

KT vs IM had the same issues in P/B. IM nearly gets a perfect Game 1 against KT only losing a few turrets and one dragon because of a steal. They get an ace in return though and snowball the game to a great ending. Arrow never got a kill on Draven just like the rest of his team. Then we get to Game 2 and KT just picks the same things, except a Vayne, and they switched junglers with IM. I don’t get why they think it would change anything?

Two series in a row the losing team failed to see the weakness in their comps and just didn't adapt. And again the losing team loses even harder in Game 2. KT is really falling down and is the 2nd worst team in OGN at the moment after Samsung. Their lack of playmaking and understanding the meta is really hurting them as a team. IM had a funny BM with ZZ’rot portal Thresh but they aren’t at the top yet. They look better but I need to see good results against top teams before I’m sold on them.

Thanks for reading if you have questions or comments leave them below or on twitter.

 by Pieter "antdriote" Cnudde 

Dignitas Capitalizes on Liquid's Mistakes

Review : Dignitas vs Team Liquid W3D2

by Chris "Aaro" Mouton

     Team Liquid faced off against an almost entirely revamped Dignitas last Sunday in what was one of the most intense showdowns of the week. Liquid had started off the split with an incredibly strong 2-0 record despite having KEITHMCBRIEF filling in for former world champion, Piglet. Since Piglet’s return, however, Team Liquid has struggled, not showing much signs of synergy or high-level decision making. Dignitas started off this split with a disappointing 0-2 and they were 1-4 coming into this matchup. Longstanding jungler, Crumbz, had just stepped down and was being temporarily replaced by CloudNguyen.

     Before we jump into the actual gameplay, I’d like to take a moment to talk about these team comps because they played a large role in the outcome of this game. Team Liquid ran a double AD carry composition sporting Maokai in the top lane, Vi in the jungle, Ezreal in the midlane, Vayne in the traditional ADC role, and Annie for support. This composition had a massive mid-game power spike. Around the time that Vayne finished her Botrk and Ezreal finished his Manamune and Triforce, they were putting out an incredible amount of damage.

     Dignitas had one of the most mobile comps to play in the LCS this split. Rumble in the top lane, Jarvan in the jungle, Ahri in mid (this is 5.2, Ahri does have the movement speed bonus on her Q), Sivir ADC, and Morgana Support. The team comp was incredibly well made. They had excellent pick potential thanks to J4, Ahri, and Morgana, as well as Sivir’s ultimate which allowed them to chase down their enemies. They also had the ability to blow through the Maokai and Vi and focus the majority of their damage onto those squishy carries.

     The game started with Team Liquid searching for a lane swap because Sivir/Morgana is an annoying lane. Relentless harass eventually kept Piglet shoved under his tower, which resulted in quite the CS discrepancy. This was a tragedy for Piglet's Vayne, who really needed items to be a threat early on. In fact, Vayne fell so far behind that after the first recall, Team Liquid chose to send Piglet back into the top lane, essentially gifting a free dragon to Dignitas. Then, after seeing that Dignitas kept their duo botlane after dragon, Liquid decided to match it with their duo lane again, instead of just leaving Piglet top to take this free tower. It’s almost as though they didn't realize that Piglet and Xpecial were unable to trade and were, in fact, losing the lane.

     Liquid was able to secure the second dragon despite having blown the Tibbers ultimate moments before in a trade in the bottom lane. This second dragon was right in Team Liquid's power spike so they were looking for a fight, but the lack of Tibbers really prevented them from running away with the game. They were able to trade Quas for two kills and a dragon, but Dignitas was clumped perfectly for a 5-man Tibbers while they were trying to back away. That sort of lock down and ace would have allowed Liquid to secure some additional towers, really allowing them to snowball this game while their comp was hitting hard.

     The game remained relatively even until Liquid blew a teamfight in the enemy jungle allowing Dignitas to snowball the game. Team Liquid was aggressively invading the jungle, attempting to get vision control in what I assumed would be an early baron attempt with their double AD comp. However, they played out the teamfight horribly. Gamsu was completely split from the rest of Dignitas on his Rumble and Liquid committed so much time to him. They threw down Tibbers, which he flashed out of, and then they decided to continue chasing him through the jungle. This set up a beautiful equalizer for Gamsu and allowed the rest of Dignitas to strategically flank. They were able to quickly blow up Maokai and expose the squishy carries of Team Liquid. Dignitas chased down the rest of Team Liquid with only Piglet escaping, and was able to secure the baron buff.

     Consider for a moment just how truly terrifying that situation was for Team Liquid. They had absolutely no wave clear. They had Ezreal's ultimate for one wave and they had only auto attacks and Mystic Shot to try and clear the rest of those baroned up minions. Liquid decide not to even try and defend, instead sending four people to the top lane to pick off Gamsu, resulting in the loss of two of their towers and most of the health on their bottom inhib tower. Dignitas then made one of the best tactical moves I've seen from them. They recalled and gave Team Liquid a free dragon. Liquid spent the next thirty seconds at dragon while Dignitas was able to get complete vision control of baron. What really makes me question Team Liquid as a top team is what they did next. They already took the dragon, they knew baron was up, and they knew that Dig was missing from the map. Their decision was to steal Dig’s blue buff. They invest six green wards and a pink on the bottom side of Dignitas’ jungle. There’s no dragon for six minutes and a blue buff really isn't worth that much effort. Why they think that this is where they should be investing their vision, I just can’t comprehend.

     Meanwhile, Dignitas had multiple pinks circling the baron area and had swept every other bush, and so with this incredible pick composition, they waited. And they caught a Maokai, which you think would be the last person they'd want to catch, but Dignitas was able to blow up Quas in under two seconds. Then they ran back to set the same trap again in a different bush. And they waited. Team Liquid almost looked like they were going to just push down mid and trade towers instead of attempting to contest this baron 4v5, and with all my heart I was hoping that they would. But they don’t. They face check the river bush Dignitas has been waiting in, and Dig is able to pick up two more kills and a baron. Team Liquid decided to go and push while Dig took the baron, at least getting a bottom inner tower in return. In reality, that should have been the decision ever since Quas was picked off.

     So now we’re back in this terrifying situation for Team Liquid. Zero wave clear, baroned up Dignitas and minions, and a dangerously low-health inhibitor tower that they are forced to defend. Sounds like the start of a horror story. Luckily for Team Liquid, Dignitas makes the mistake of diving this tower. Why they would dive when they have no one who’s exceptionally tanky and Team Liquid has no way to stop them from sieging it other than engaging out of tower range and forcing a fight, I have no idea. They end up trading 1 for 1. Dig takes the tower but is forced to retreat, helping themselves to dragon on the way out.

     Dig continue their exceptional vision control on their way back to siege the inhibitor tower. It’s not even exaggerating to say that they pinked or swept every single bush that they walked through. And what they do next is also quite impressive. They continue sieging bottom until about 30 seconds - when baron is up. But they don’t even try to take the inhibitor. They don’t force the fight. All they’re doing is keeping Team Liquid bottled up in their base for the next two minutes until baron spawns so that there is absolutely no time for Team Liquid to get any vision on it. Have I mentioned how incredible Dignitas’ vision control has been this game yet? Because it really is beautiful.

     Team Liquid group up as five and attempt to get vision control of this baron before they give a third dragon over to Dignitas. Fenix spots Gamsu on Rumble, and because Liquid has no other vision, they think that Rumble is alone. Fenix makes the final mistake of the game and arcane shifts forward, attempting to burst down Rumble while the rest of Team Liquid follow up. Gamsu lays down the red carpet for a completely grouped up Team Liquid and Dignitas is able to immediately follow with their extremely mobile comp. Fenix flashes back into the team, but it doesn't even matter. Ezreal and Vi are both dead before Team Liquid even has a moment to react, essentially making this a 3v5. Dig is able to quickly clean up the rest of Team Liquid, excluding Piglet who escapes, and they close out the game.

     In my book, this was the best game of the split. Coming from a 1-4 team, this level of coordination, vision control, and even awareness to pick such a good team comp and then to play out their win conditions so perfectly is just inspiring. It also makes me worry for Team Liquid. They seemed to make a lot of very fundamental mistakes, such as using six green wards and a pink on the exact wrong side of the map while their team is setting up to make baron plays. If Team Liquid wants to be a contender this split, they’ll have to seriously step up in their shot calling.


by Chris "Aaro" Mouton

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What to Watch For: NA LCS Week 3 Preview


By Matt “It’s Pure Luck” Lee

So who didn't predict that after two weeks the LCS would have these current story lines: Team Gravity is in a three way tie for first, upstart Team 8 would be in a four way tie for fourth at 2-2 and Cloud 9 would sit in last place.

I admit I can’t raise my hand and say I saw this coming, but I’d argue that outside of the players on those teams, nobody really saw a start like this happening in the spring split. While I like to preach patience and a “wait and see” approach with teams like Cloud 9 (who frankly have earned benefit of the doubt with past performances), keep in mind that after this week the season will already be one third of the way through.

While I fully believe Cloud 9 can turn this around and Team 8 could plummet in the standings (the difference between 4th and last is only one game after all), the clock is starting to tick on teams like C9 and Coast who are in desperate need of at least one win this week. These games are SO crucial with the new format.

With that said, let’s take a look at three key points to look after in this upcoming set of games!

Can Hai step up for Cloud 9? – To be blunt, it has been an utterly dismal start to the season for Hai. The oft maligned midlaner for C9 must pick it up for this team to rediscover the magic it had in the past three LCS splits. The surprising factor here is that C9 looked very solid just over one month ago back at IEM San Jose. All that is forgotten now as they look completely lost. Being the main shotcaller for this team, Hai’s mental state is crucial to Cloud 9. If he can avoid tilting and keep himself calm, this NA juggernaut should be able to right the ship. C9 has two winnable games this weekend (Coast, T8) and I’d argue only winning one would be a disappointment to them.

Will the real Team Liquid Please Stand Up? – It was a great start to the season for Liquid. They managed to go 2-0 even with the absence of Piglet as IWillDominate had a masterful Week 1. Week 2 was a bit of a different story. They lost to Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid and weren't competitive in either game (they failed to pick up a kill vs TSM). I think that IWillDominate himself said it best; Liquid perhaps isn't as amazing as they played in Week 1, nor are they as poor as they played in Week 2. Now that they have had a set of real matches to play on the LCS stage with the entire roster, it will be interesting to see how Liquid try and bounce back when they take on a desperate Team Coast and a reeling Dignitas. If C9 has trouble getting their act together, I believe this is the team to beat in North America.

Always Winning Until They Lose: Can Team Coast Recover? – Since EG rebranded and multiple members of the team departed, somebody in the NA LCS had to take up the crown of “losing games that are in our grasp in painstakingly heartbreaking ways.” Team Coast have more than obliged that as they have started off this season 1-3 but I don’t think they have really played that poorly at all. In fact this is a team that is just a couple of bad decisions away from being 3-1 (one being the atrocious Baron call in the game vs Dignitas.) Yes, decision making is a crucial part of this game, but it just felt like they had all of those losses in their favor while watching. Unfortunately for Coast, it won’t get any easier this week. They take on Team Liquid in their first game and have a very crucial match against Cloud 9 on day two. 1-1 would likely be a more than acceptable result for this team this week but it’s a tough task. Maybe it’s time for a few breaks to fall in favor of this team who has played better than their record would show.

Enjoy the games this weekend everybody!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top 5 Performers During Week 1 of the LCS

by Tristan "verlashcaster" Jakobsen

The first week of the LCS is over, and it has been a rough ride for every LCS team. Huge upsets and surprising consistency/inconsistency has shown up in both North America and Europe. In this article, I will list the top 5 most impressive players of the first week.

5. T8 Slooshi8
“Don’t call my boy Slooshi a noname,” a friend of his wrote on twitter when he landed the first double kill as Orianna in yesterday’s game against TSM. Dyrus and Wildturtle fell to a fantastic shockwave + distortion, and from there he became pretty much unstoppable. He landed every single ultimate, leaving TSM without options and he let his team gracefully stomp. It looked like T8 wasn't a newly qualified team for the LCS at all, but a top contender. Even if his first game of the split didn't go as well as Slooshi would have hoped when he played Lulu against CLG, he clearly showed that his Orianna is a force to be reckoned with. His pure skill and sleeper status earns him the 5th spot on our list for Week 1.

4. FNC Yellowstar
Earning the first week MVP in EU, Yellowstar has shown that he’s still one of the (if not the) best supports in the western regions. Coming into the spring split with almost no weight on his shoulders as a leader of a brand new Fnatic team, his Annie play during the first two games was truly outstanding. Every single flash stun he executed in the games against Elements and H2K was flawless and every single one resulted in more kills funneled over to the new carries of the what-was sleeper team. His amazing stuns, vision control and ability to turn around pretty much any teamfight earned his team a 2-0 the first week and a solid 4th place in this list.

3. FNC ReignOver 
ReignOver brings his Korean prowess to the LCS scene, showing the western world that Rengar isn't useless at all. Managing to pull off two successful ganks pre-level 6 against the reigning European champions is darn impressive. His synergy with his team is overwhelmingly mind-blowing, especially when you take a peek at the top lane. Together with Huni, (who was very close to make it onto this list), they piled up an impressive combined KDA at 6.18. This guy has potential to be a top jungler in the western world.

2. TL IWDominate
Who else to take the title of the 1st week MVP other than IWDominate? He went 3/0/0 as Nunu against their first game against Team Impulse, where he faced the top ranked Korean solo queue player Rush, whom he held down perfectly. His shot calling prowess could clearly be seen shining throughout the first week as he carried his team to a 2-0 even playing with a substitute AD Carry. This was a statement that when Piglet arrives to North America to play for Team Liquid, they are expected to be a contender for the top spot in the NA LCS.

1. FNC Febiven
Everyone bashed him and criticized him for leaving the solid ex-challenger team H2K to join a newly formed Fnatic team with no expectations at all. The result was jaw-dropping. Fnatic went 2-0 in their first week against Elements and H2K. Nobody expected them to, and everyone rejoiced in the fact that Febiven not only handled Froggen with ease, but racked up a KDA of 22 against the reigning European champions. He only missed 3 out of 23 total shots with his Xerath ultimate in the game too, really striking fear into the hearts of every Elements fan. He impressed us again in his game against H2K where he racked up a KDA of 14, even if he was being the focus target for H2K pretty much the entire game. Heed my advice, fantasy LCS-players. You want this guy on your squad.


Honorable Mention: Keith
I decided not to include subs on this list, but if I had, boy would Team Liquids AD-carry sub make it on. Even though he’s just a challenger player, the team decided to play around him in their first game against Team Impulse. His Kog’Maw went HUGE, ending the game with 17 KDA. The praise came shortly thereafter, but no one could prepare anyone for what a monster Keith would be in the next game against CLG when he had an amazing 21 KDA as Caitlyn, neatly crowning his short LCS run. Let’s see if Piglet can live up to the example the young AD-carry has set on the ADC role.


  by Tristan "verlashcaster" Jakobsen

Saturday, December 20, 2014

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.