Showing posts with label tsm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tsm. Show all posts

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The LCS Returns May 28th

2015 Summer Split Predictions

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

1. Cloud 9

A bit surprisingly, I’ve got Cloud 9 back on top. Hai retired, which is a huge loss for their team, but he’s still going to be around providing insight, meaning his contributions will still be felt. The question becomes, will they have Incarnati0n be a shot caller or transition someone else on the team into it. We have yet to see what Incarnati0n will bring, but he’s kept himself up on the top of the solo queue ladder all this time while he was banned. If that doesn’t say he’s been preparing for this moment, I don’t know what does. The rest of the team is still as strong as ever, and with Balls moving past his slump from the early part of the season and Sneaky putting himself in the running for best ADC in NA, Cloud 9 looks like they’re ready to take back their crown from TSM.

What to Watch:

Incarnati0n is back for the first time since LCS’s inception.
Sneaky needs to keep his success up

2. TSM

There really isn’t much to say here for TSM, everyone knows how dominant they’ve been this season and they haven’t had to change a thing. Their one point of competition was Cloud 9 and Hai just couldn’t perform in addition to some early season slumps from Balls. Lustboy was a monster and Bjerg was Bjerg. Santorin was a surprise to me, as watching how other teams have had promising players come in and proceed to trip their way down the split, Santorin looked very comfortable after the first few weeks. Teams kept trying to tilt Dyrus and it just didn’t work. He kept himself on champs like Lulu and Maokai, who don’t need to get as much gold to be useful, and did his thing. If there’s one chink in the armor though it’s WildTurtle. He has a habit of getting very aggressive and sometimes puts himself in a bad position. The rest of the team has been able to cover that, but this split looks like it’s got even more competition than last.

What to Watch:

Dyrus Dying
WildTurtle positioning

3. CLG

Ahh CLG, always looking great until the end of the season. This might finally be the split to break that though. Link has retired and he’s being replaced almost SKT style by bringing in two different mid laners that CLG plan on swapping back and forth. It’s going to be interesting to see how NA teams handle trying to strategize around 2 possible players. The player to watch here is going to be Xmithie, he had a few chokes late in the split in the spring and it’s going to be on him to try and fix those mistakes coming into the home stretch for worlds. I think finally we’ll see the team start to pull themselves together and make a run for Europe.

What to Watch:

Xmithie needs to step up a bit
How will Swapping of mid laners work for and against CLG

All Photos courtesy of Riot Esports

4. Team Impulse

Impulse started off last split in complete disarray. The dirty laundry of LMQ had been aired out and the only remaining player was XiaoWeiXiao. Impulse pulled in Impact of S3 World champs SKT, which everyone thought would be the big pick up. The player that has really shown up though has been Apollo( formerly WizFujiin). His play really solidified Impulse as a threat to other teams. While they needed time to understand their calls, the team speaks 3 different languages, they seemed like they were going full force at the end of the split and they will most likely be keeping that trend up moving into the summer.

What to Watch:

Continued success from the end of last split
XiaoWeiXiao farming

5. Team Liquid

Liquid looked really strong at the end of the split, finally breaking the Curse curse. The real question now is going to be, “will they keep the momentum or start back from the beginning?”. I’m leaning more towards them keeping it up. Piglet looked more like a former world champion than we had ever seen from him in NA at the end of playoffs and while Quas and Dominate will be the backing veterans lead by Xpecial, Fenix has shown how he can be an up and coming threat and brief Mcmoments from Keith have been great signs on where the team is heading.

What to Watch:

Piglet is looking back to his old form
Fenix keeping heat up in mid

6. Enemy Esports

The new kids on the block, we don’t know that much about them, especially because they got a free pass into the LCS. Innox is back and will most likely be trying to lead the team with his previous LCS experience. Otter and Trashy have substitute experience, so they aren’t going in blind. They absolutely stomped the NACS and I think they will hold their own against the lower tier teams in the league.

What to Watch:

Innox back in a new lane
How will Otter stack up against other ADCs

7. Team 8

Calitrolz is the leader of this team. Which is actually unfortunate for two reasons. One, he’s leaving after this split and if Team 8 survives they need to find a new top laner and they most likely won’t find one with the same level of leadership and knowledge as Calitrolz. Two, the meta just doesn’t favor top lane carries at the moment. Maple and Slooshi are usually behind and Cali can only sometimes even it out Usually a win depends on how Porpoise shows up

What to Watch:

Calitrolz pulling his team up as far as he can
Porpoise needs to make an impact

8. Gravity

Saint is retiring and while his mechanical strengths weren’t all too great his shot calling was what made him the right fit for Gravity. He has a lot of game knowledge and I’d love to see him be a coach one day. Regardless he won’t be on Gravity next season. This is a really crushing blow and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gravity making some bad calls this split. Keane is very volatile and he can pull out some weird picks that either make plays or just lose hard. Hauntzer is very underrated, but he don’t play champs that can carry if other lanes fall behind really hard. Bunny is amazing if you put him on Thresh, but he stumbles a bit otherwise, and of course Cop is just Cop.

What to Watch: 

Who’s going to make the calls in game
What will Keane do next

9. Team Dragon Knights

The team that Alex got into the league, whether you agree with what happened or not, they’re here now. It’s gonna be hard to pinpoint these guys since we don’t even know who their mid laner is going to be. Seraph is here, and he seems a lot more comfortable than he was in CLG, and he’s being put in a position that he is more familiar with not only with his team, but the way the meta is shaping up as well. Altec is rumoured to be in talks to join the team, and if that happens in addition to getting a good mid laner, I could see these guys shooting up. For now though I’ve got them in 9th

What to Watch:

Seraph on smite tele hyper tanks
Mid lane and ADC changes

10. Team Dignitas

I was legitimately surprised that Dignitas beat Fusion. Fusion once again flopped out and choked. This doesn’t really mean much other than one more split. dignitas made no roster changes, and have little to offer outside of great engages from KiWiKiD. Both Gamsu and Azingy have been disappointing as well as CoreJJ and Shiphtur has never lived up to his potential.

What to Watch:

KiWiKiD engages
Surprises if someone steps up


1. H2K

H2K were almost the ones to go to MSI because of a very close best of 5 at the end of the Spring Split. While Fnatic makes their plays by engaging and forcing fights, H2k has a much more tactical approach. With their coach Pr0lly at the helm, they went from being a lower tier team to almost champs in a split. I can only imagine how hungry they are after their small taste of the top and are busting their butts to try and get 1st this split. Their macro game strategy is top notch and a step above other teams in Europe and this is what’s going to take them to number 1.

What to Watch:

Wins from map control rather than brute force

2. Fnatic

Fnatic showed themselves as a top tier team at MSI almost being the first team to take down SKT in a best of 5, despite that they’re being placed 2nd. They made an interesting swap in picking up Rekkles again after he left Elements. Once again messing with the synergy, which in my opinion was one of Fnatic’s strengths, and swapping out Steelback. Steelback was doing pretty well for himself, so I’m pretty surprised about this. Febiven looked like a monster at MSI and was able to solo kill Faker a few times. Huni is still Huni and Yell0wStaR is always going to be flash Tibbers stunning people all day. Rekkles is a much safer ADC though and I don’t know how well he’s going to handle the aggression

What to Watch:

Rekkles and his ability to mesh with the new team
Huni being cute

3. Origen

I’m probably gonna get a lot of flak for this one. I think Origen is going to end 3rd regardless. xPeke is still very good and Amazing is solid. Niels is also really good at ADC, but I’m too split on S0az. He’s very tilt happy and I’ve seen it cause his teams losses many times in the past. When he’s on, he’s very very good, but he’s prone to just throwing himself at the enemy if he starts to fall behind.

What to Watch:

S0az tilt and how he handles it
Bot lane is relatively new to pro play, Mithy hasn’t played for over a year

4. Unicorns of Love

I love the playstyle, as it’s exciting and unique, but I don’t see Unicorns of Love making it past 4th this split. Their style is inherently risky and can cause them to get stomped sometimes because it doesn’t work. They know what they’re doing but we’ve seen them falter at points. Not only that but this split there are a lot more competitive teams coming in. Hylissang also has some work to do on supports that aren’t Thresh.

What to Watch:
Lots of weird picks
Bot lane camps since it’s their weakest lane

5. Elements

If you can still call them that. The super team that turned out to be a mess and a half. Froggen is the only remaining member. While I think The move to Jwaow is an upgrade, Wickd is from an era gone by, Tabzz is about even, and Dexter is around the same. PromisQQ is a brand new player to the LCS so we don’t have a lot to go on. There’s a lot of team building that needs to happen, but these guys are all, with the exception of PromisQQ, guys who’ve been in the LCS and around the block for a bit, so I don’t see it as being too much of an issue.

What to Watch:

How will the new guy, PromisQQ handle the big stage pressure
Will missteps happen with little time to prepare

6. SK Gaming

Obviously SK didn’t have the end of the split they had hoped for, but they have moved towards a more team oriented approach now. An approach I feel will be better for them. CandyPanda is a much more selfless ADC and that lets players like Fox and Freddy carry more. The only problem this might cause is that it leaves a very open weak spot in SK where they used to have none. SK needs to understand how to play from behind because they might have to with the mechanical downgrade

What to Watch:

Weaker bot lane than last split
Have they learned to play from behind

7. Gambit Gaming

The addition of FORG1VEN is huge for Gambit, but I don’t believe it’s a purely positive huge. While the “See Hero Kill Hero” strategy of Gambit is a better fit for FORG1VEN I don’t believe they have had enough time to mesh and this can cause, and has caused, teams to melt down. Gambit also only barely got going near the end of the split after making a bunch of changes. While it’s possible they can keep that going, it’ll be hard with a new ADC. The biggest questions are going to be how well Gambit can handle strife as they could very easily spiral down quickly.

What to Watch:
Gosu Pepper and FORG1VEN synergy
If things go sour early in the split, how will they handle it?


The way the split ended for ROCCAT a few weeks ago was disastrous, but that really defined the split for ROCCAT. Small mistakes becoming huge problems. They came into the year as huge favorites to be top 2 and then blew leads or just didn’t show up. There isn’t one person to blame here either, which is why they’ve hit the 8th spot here. I don’t think the past few weeks were enough time to really solidify their issues.

What to Watch:

Woolite tilt
NukeDuck tilt
Everyone tilt

9. Copenhagen Wolves

The Wolves have a lot of improving to do this split as their counterparts in the EU have all gotten extremely good. AirWaks is usually a non-factor, and as a jungler that’s a problem, Unlimited also lacks a lot of pressure as well. Youngbuck has been falling off the past year or so and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. They’ve always been the bottom side of the bracket, but this might be the time they fall out

What to Watch:

Freeze is a very strong ADC
Pressure on Airwaks to show up

10. Giants Gaming

PePii and Werlyb have shown flashes of great play, but even when they show these great sides, it’s usually not enough to pull up their slow macro game. Noxiak was a great addition mid way through the season and his Leona helped snowball their carries past a point where strategy was a big deal, I don’t think they’re going to be able to get away with that this split.

What to Watch:

PePii and maybe Werlyb trying to carry
Flashes of great engages from Noxiak

Friday, May 8, 2015

MSI 2015 Day One Proves Painfully One-Sided.

The Mid-Season Invitational promises to answer many of the questions that have been asked for months. Is SKT or EDG the best team in the world? Has the west really closed the gap between themselves and the Asian teams? Will someone lose to the wild card invite this time? Thursday’s games brought some lucidity to these questions with half of the group stage games being played.

by Patrick Garren

All photos courtesy of Riot Esports

Game 1: Fnatic vs Team Solomid

Game 1 promised to be a fireworks show as the first ever Mid-Season Invitational opened with a classic showdown (from one of the events it replaced, the Battle of the Atlantic.) Fnatic entered picks and bans with a string of methodical Meta picks from their previous games, which they then threw out of the window, instead picking up as many TSM-favored champions as possible while banning out three top laners. Fnatic’s Huni brought Cassiopeia into the top lane for the first time of the season, and Marksman Steeelback and mid laner Febiven took Urgot and Leblanc respectively.

TSM failed, or rather, chose not to initiate a lane swap and paid the price early. Marcus “Dyrus” Hill gave up an early first blood, and from there the game was never in TSM’s control. Fnatic continued to push the early advantage they gained, strangling TSM out in a relatively short, largely uneventful 32 minute game.

Game 2: SK Telecom vs Besiktas eSports 

Besiktas came into this tournament as the winners of the International Wild Card Invitational, and they entered this game as enormous underdogs.  On the other side of the table, SK Telecom entered the tournament as massive favorites to win the entire event, and are in the argument with EDG for the best team in the world. The game started out with a bang in BJK’s favor, though, as a pre-3 minute, 4-man gank squad showed up in Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s lane for an early first blood for BJK. However, the true mark of a great team comes in their reaction to diversity, and SKT reacted in the best way they could. Top, bot, and jungle all got advantages over their corresponding lane partners, with several towers and a dragon falling for SKT as a direct result of BJK’s attention mid lane. The game was pretty much defined at 5 minutes when SKT top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-Hwan dove under BJK’s top tower, killing their support Mustafa “Dumbledoge” Gokseloglu, who was still Level 2 due to the early roam, while a skirmish mid lane gave SKT jungler Bae “bengi” Seong-ung a double kill. A dragon fight at 14 minutes that eventually led to a 3 for 0 for SKT as well as a second dragon kill gave SKT a 6k gold lead and dominant control of the game they would end only 12 minutes later.

Game 3: Edward Gaming vs AHQ eSports Club

Game 3 saw an Asian clash between LPL Champions Edward Gaming and LMS winners AHQ eSports club. Edward Gaming were coming off an unimpressive playoff performance, while AHQ saw a recent resurgence culminating in their 3-1 victory over Yoe Flash Wolves during the LMS. With somewhat standard picks and lanes outside of Lie “Westdoor” Shu-Wei’s mid lane Karthus pick, the first bit of action came 5 minutes into the game with a counter gank from AHQ ending in Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu giving up first blood and Westdoor getting a kill onto his controversial Karthus pick. AHQ looked to be in control of the game until disaster struck the Taiwanese side when a gank from AHQ jungler Xue Mountain Zhao-Hong was answered by a teleport from EDG top laner Tong “Koro1” Yang, who got a double kill on his Hecarim while EDG picked up a 4 for 2 fight in their favor. The game stayed generally even from there, with EDG slowly pulling ahead into a slight gold advantage. However, AHQ engaged onto Koro1 in mid lane, with Koro1 able to escape and recall before teleporting back into the fight with homeguards to clean up for EDG, giving them a 3k gold advantage. EDG extended their lead at the 25 minute mark with a strong engage in the red side jungle, acing AHQ and pushing their lead to nearly 5k gold. From there, EDG continued winning minor skirmishes and taking objectives, choking out AHQ’s gold income before Koro1 helped lead EDG to victory with his legendary Hecarim.

Game 4: Team Solomid vs Besiktas eSports

BJK and TSM both came off of losses in their Game 1 matches and were desperate to put a check mark in the W column. TSM picked up an incredibly team-fight and wave clear oriented team comp, with BJK going for the double control mage/lane bully carry roles. This game was largely uneventful early, with the pure mechanical skill level advantage of TSM being very apparent, as Dyrus and Bjergsen gained almost obscenely large CS advantages over their lane counterparts. A roam bot lane from Santorin and Bjergsen’s Ziggs ended in two kills, a turret, and a dragon for TSM. BJK was down by 4k gold by 14 minutes, and for the second game in a row things came completely unraveled for them in the mid game. TSM systematically out-farmed, out-rotated, and out-played BJK at all facets of the game, and would end the game in a mere 26 minutes.

Game 5: AHQ eSports club vs Fnatic

Fnatic were soaring after their domination of TSM in the opening match of the event, but let’s be honest, that was hours ago, and AHQ isn’t TSM. Fnatic really did seem to be on to something with their pick ban strategy in Game 1, however they decided to completely abandon that idea and went back to their boring, predictable pick/ban selves. On the other side of the coin, Westdoor locked in Fizz, so there’s that. Karthus and Fizz on one of the biggest stages you’ve ever been on? I could be friends with this guy. AHQ started off strong and early, getting first blood at 55 seconds on to Steelback, with a 2nd kill on the Fnatic marksman coming minutes later. This game seemed relatively close all the way up until the 20 minute mark, with Westdoor’s Fizz causing Fnatic tons of problems and Huni’s Hecarim picking up the slack for Fnatic’s floundering bot lane. AHQ began to pull ahead when a team fight initiated by Fnatic and Huni’s teleport homeguard ended in Westdoor completely ruining Fnatic’s chances of victory. His massive Fizz damage cleaned up the fight, and with a 4 to 0 team kill advantage, AHQ took a second dragon and snowballed their lead into a 31 minute victory over the European champions.

Game 6: SK Telecom vs Edward Gaming

This game was the most anticipated game of the tournament for anyone who pays attention to the Asian League of Legends scene. The LCK champions and the LPL champions, former world champion Heo “PawN” Won-seok and former LCK all-star Deft facing SKT again for the first time since leaving the Korean league after Season 4 Worlds. A lot of pride was on the line for this game, as well as a considerable advantage at progressing into the knockout stages of MSI. The most notable pre-game event was Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon being substituted in for SKT at mid lane. While this is nothing out of the ordinary, I’m sure many fans would have enjoyed watching the Faker vs Pawn mid lane matchup. EDG managed to pick up first blood in the top lane on SKT marksman Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, but that would be one of their last hopeful moments of the game. SKT reacted perfectly, securing two kills on MaRin’s Rumble, with a teleport gank bot lane shortly after leading to a 10 minute dragon kill. SKT would systematically out-rotate EDG, taking 5 turrets and 3 dragons compared to 2 turrets and 0 dragons by the 25 minute mark. A 10k gold lead by 30 minutes would result in a decisive SKT victory, with many scratching their head over EDG’s poor performance.

Game 7: Besiktas eSports vs AHQ eSports

In the penultimate matchup of the night, AHQ looked to take a quick win and move to 2-1 after the first day of games against Besiktas, fresh off two harsh lessons in competitive League of Legends from the kings of east and west. This game was easily BJK’s best outing of the day, in that they weren’t completely dead in the water by the 15 minute mark. BJK managed to stay relatively close for the first 20 minutes, but their inexperience and mechanical deficiency against some of the best teams in the world continued to rear its ugly head. Unable to turn an even game with a 2 dragon lead into anything meaningful, Westdoor’s Twisted Fate began to systematically take over the game. Every Destiny resulted in a kill or an objective, often both, and AHQ took firm control of the game after the 25 minute mark. BJK can hold their heads up high going into Day 2, however, as their decision making and early game pressure looked better than it ever has in this game, and they pose a definite threat to a pre-occupied team looking past them towards a tougher matchup going into the second day. Can they take the torch from Kabum! eSports and knock a bigger power out of the tournament? 

Game 8: SK Telecom vs Team Solomid

I want to take a moment, as a genuine fan of competitive League of Legends, to thank whoever’s decision it was in the SKT management to make sure that us Western fans got the matchup we wanted to see. And while the game around it managed to be a relative shellacking, the potential was at least there. But boy was this game a beatdown. SKT held a 2k gold lead at 10 mnutes, and a 5k gold lead at 15 minutes. TSM was never in this game, and SKT continued to bolster their bid for the title of best team in the entire world, much less the MSI trophy itself. This game, almost agonizingly, lasted just over 30 minutes, with SKT rounding up almost 30 kills before finishing the game with nearly a 20k gold advantage.

Day 2 Scenarios

Day 2 poses plenty of interesting outcomes, and every team is still mathematically alive. It’s safe to say Besiktas is likely the first to be truly eliminated, and while maybe one day these play-in regions will have the resources to compete, unfortunately 2015 is not that time. Day 2 opens up with EDG and Fnatic, an enormous match-up for both sides. Both Fnatic and EDG play BJK in one of their three Day 2 matches, so a win here could see one team with a comfortable 3 wins. TSM and AHQ eSports follow up the first match, with TSM desperately needing a victory to have a glimpse at progressing into the knockout stages. Should TSM lose to AHQ, they face EDG later in the day to potentially decide their fate entirely. SKT has likely already secured a spot in the next round, but they have matches against Fnatic and AHQ to handle today. I predict a solid 5-0 for SKT in group stages, regardless of which mid laner they play, and I believe Faker could ride the bench the rest of the tournament, and SKT would likely still emerge from this tournament as the victors. They have that Season 3 World Championship aura about them.  

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...

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 NA LCS Spring Split Predictions

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure and the LCS FanZone Staff 

If there's anything that can be taken away from EU's crazy start, it's that you can be certain of absolutely nothing when it comes to the NA LCS. Teams have a way of surprising even the most knowledgeable of fans, so take our staff predictions with a grain of salt and probably don't bet your kid's college funds on them. To further cover our asses, we have done this in a Top Three – Middle of the Pack – Bottom Three format.



Cloud 9  The Princes of the NA LCS have no real reason to -not- be listed first. They've had no roster swaps and looked stronger than ever in IEM. Meteos played great, and the rest of the team looked solid. The only potential weak link on the team is Hai, but with such a stable team around him he can take his time getting back to form. Expect at least a top 3 finish from these guys

Team Liquid  Falling under new management and getting new players in the big carry positions, including world champion Piglet, the team appears very strong despite the loss of Voyboy. Fenix is a bit of an unknown, but the rest of the team should be very solid. Quas and IWillDominate are two of the more underrated players at their positions in the LCS and this roster more than any other should be able to challenge Cloud 9 for the top spot. This may be the year that the "always 4th" curse is broken for this team.

Team SoloMid  Santorin and Turtle still don't look their best but unless the lesser teams up their game, TSM should stay nice on top of their throne. While not showing up super strong at IEM San Jose (dropping a series to a team that had never played in LCS), TSM still has a strong lineup and the experienced coaching it needs. If they can become more adaptable in-game, they can keep themselves afloat for another split at least.


Team Impulse  Known as LMQ last year, Impulse's roster does look strong with farming machine XiaoWeiXiao. They brought former SKT 1K top laner Impact over to replace the departed Ackerman and Apollo takes over for Vasilii in the bottom lane, which is likely the biggest concern for this new roster.

CLG   CLG has a really solid lineup and good coaching backup, but from what we saw at IEM Cologne, they didn’t look like the best team. Zion Spartan and Xmithie have both gone a while since being consistently standout players, but they both seem driven to get back on top. Doublelift and Aphromoo will need to be on point this split for CLG to have a shot at finishing in the top 4.

Winterfox  Altec has shown he is as good an ADC as there is in North America. Pobelter has been playing very well in solo queue and he is entering his prime right now. Helios's brother moved into the top lane, and it remains to be seen how he performs in competitive play. May possibly be the surprise team of the split.

Team Coast – Very nearly did not make the LCS but showed some resiliency in getting out of the expansion tournament.  Have not been able to play much together lately, expect Coast to struggle out of the gate this split and likely further into it.


Gravity  Curse Academy did well in the Challenger scene, and under the name Gravity, features several ex-LCS players. If they can keep improving, they can probably climb the ranks, but they also may well continue to be plagued by the same issues they have always been.

Team Dignitas  Very shaky performance at IEM Cologne that almost saw them fall in a massive upset to Aces High. At the same time, Shiphtur showed how good of a player he is as he just about single handedly carried Dignitas to victory in that series. With Crumbzz and KiWiKiD both underperforming at the end of the last split, the magic 8 ball would say "Outlook not bright." If they can pick it up, things will be different, but they left little evidence of that before the off-season began.
Team 8   Whilst Team 8 is a very fun team to watch, they remain the weakest team in the NA LCS at the time. Calitrolz might be a solid top laner, but every single team has a better player in every other respective role. If they want to have a chance of making worlds (or even the summer split) They will have to practice. A lot.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Unicorns of Love Rout Team SoloMid to Reach IEM San Jose Finals

By Matt “It’sPure Luck” Lee

When the lineup for the Intel Extreme Masters San Jose was originally announced some people seemed to feel that the fans voted in Unicorns of Love simply for their name. Or maybe it was because of the Poppy pick in a do or die games versus Millenium in the EU LCS Spring Promotion Tournament. It simply didn’t seem to fit that a team who recently rose up from the Challenger Series should be voted in to a tournament as prestigious as IEM over a long time standout such as SK Gaming.
Yet in the end it was UoL who proved all doubters wrong as they managed to 2-0 tournament favorite Team SoloMid. The victory earns them a berth in the Intel Extreme Masters Grand Finals to take place later today where they await the winner of Cloud 9 versus Alliance. Using a combination of off-meta picks to catch Team SoloMid by surprise and seemingly impeccable team fighting, Unicorns of Love looked much sharper in this set than they did in their previous series against Lyon Gaming.

It didn’t take long for the mind games by UoL to begin. They caught TSM unaware in the pick and ban phase of game one by baiting Bjergsen into a Xerath pick when Twisted Fate had been taken the previous turn by UoL. The only problem was that it wasn’t Twisted Fate mid; it was going to Kikis in the jungle.  Power of Evil responded by last picking LeBlanc and it was a selection that worked out brilliantly for UoL. Only three minutes into the game, Bjergsen was caught pushed out a bit too far and we saw the first successful Twisted Fate jungle gank off a flash plus gold card combo. The game would calm down for a few minutes until the first Destiny attempt from Kikis came with an attempt to catch Dyrus out in the top lane. It was unsuccessful but it put more pressure on Dyrus who already had a tough matchup as Rumble against Gnar.
Kikis would try his luck top lane again a few minutes later but Dyrus escaped with a sliver of health. However, while this was going on, we saw something that seems to be incredibly rare as Power of Evil was able to pick up a solo kill on Bjergsen. UoL was able to pick up their first dragon a bit after this and they had control of it almost the entire game. TSM was able to pick up a kill on Vizicsacsi in the top lane off of a gank by Santorin, but Power of Evil responded by grabbing a solo kill on Bjergsen again in middle.  Kikis was also able to answer back for UoL in the top lane with a pick on Dyrus with a use of Destiny.
From there the game seemed to snowball out of control for Team SoloMid. UoL would make a few mistakes; including an over aggressive play by Power of Evil trying to zone Baron. But the gold difference was simply too much to overcome and the Unicorns would close the game out in 38 minutes.
Game two would start off slightly better for TSM, but Bjergsen continued to have trouble with Power of Evil in the mid lane. The UoL mid laner was able to pick up yet another solo kill just after the sixth minute mark as Syndra on Bjersen’s Azir. Power of Evil wasn’t shy about using his ultimate whenever he wanted to. Even if he was not picking up kills, he was forcing Bjergsen to return to base constantly.

UoL simply seemed to be one step ahead of TSM the entire way. The gold deficit didn’t grow as fast as it did in game one, but SoloMid just could not cut the gap as much as they needed to. It was Santorin’s steals of dragon that helped ensure they were in this game at all as it progressed. TSM did a better job this game of trading objectives with UoL, but team fighting from the Unicorns was a notch higher than that of the North American Summer champions. The gold lead slowly grew to just shy of 10k after the thirty minute mark and it seemed as if TSM could see the writing on the wall. In a desperation play they opted to try and base race UoL but it didn’t work out in their favor and the Unicorns would take the game in thirty-three minutes and the series two games to none.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Importance of Coaching

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

Coaching is rapidly becoming a huge thing in LoL, especially since the start of this season as teams move players from their starting roster and pick up brand new people. Riot actually officially announced that they are recognizing coaches as a part of a team now. You can’t deny that coaching is as big a part of the game as the players themselves at this point.

Coaches play a very large role, albeit behind the scenes, although every team uses their coaches differently. Some are purely for strategizing while others will have duties like analyzing games and keeping morale high. Either way, they are extremely important in guiding a team to a win.

The best example and probably the most prominent coach is Locodoco from TSM. Locodoco joined the team around Week 4 of the Summer Split. TSM had just come off a great Spring Split, but they still faltered in the playoffs. Early on in their Summer Split though, things were going rough. They had already lost over half as many games as the last split. With Loco's arrival, there was an almost immediate change in the general feeling of the team. They ended up winning all of their games the next week.

From an outsiders standpoint, over the next few weeks, it seemed as if TSM made no large progress, but when you took into account the amount of roster swaps and drama TSM had going throughout the year, one could easily make an argument that Loco was an integral part in keeping that team moving forward. Also, once Loco was able to finally take some time and meet with his team for a bit without the added pressure of upcoming games, look what happened. They won the NA LCS Playoffs and did extremely well in Worlds.

I can see a lot of teams making moves this off-season to pick up analysts and coaches. Not only that, but I think coaches will obtain highly increased recognition this upcoming season. This past season showed that strategy can change week to week, not only in champion picks, but in prioritization of objectives and lanes. Riot is adding a lot of map changes and it’s going to be hard for players to keep track of strategizing for their team as well as try to lane and win in the game.

Shotcalling is a different aspect, but quite similar. The main difference being that shotcalling is done in the game whereas coaching is done outside of the game. Coaches look more at theoretical picks and situations and how those things relate to each other. Coaches are a lot less reactive in what they do. It’s actually why someone can be an amazing coach and not be all that great at the game. It’s a lot different strategizing the game and playing it, especially if in-game you don’t recall your strategies.

Being able to see the game as a whole rather than just your champion is a major part of being a coach. You have to run almost every situation in your head and play it out from picks and bans onward. It can be an amazing aspect to add to your team and pull yourself from mediocre to great and I’m excited to see how teams handle this possibility in the coming months.


by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Worlds' Bracket Picks : Quarterfinals

Quarterfinals Picks

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

  • SSW vs TSM

Samsung White is just plain out scary. They dominated their group and they weren’t even satisfied with their play in the group. They know how to play the Pick/Ban phase and then control you afterwards. Dyrus’ Rumble and Bjergsen as a whole have been great throughout Worlds for TSM, but I think Samsung White would be out of their minds not to ban Rumble, as Looper hasn’t really shown a liking for Rumble. PawN vs Bjergsen is the match-up to watch, but PawN doesn’t even have to win, just not feed. I think he can manage that over the course of a five game series. TSM has been the best adapting team in Worlds, so I think they could take a game away. White will dominate otherwise.

SSW wins 3-1

  • SSB vs C9

This could go either way really. Samsung Blue is a team that is cohesive beyond belief. I like to think that C9 will be smart enough to go around this and avoid teamfighting at any point, at least when it wouldn’t be obviously advantageous. Hai will be looking to play Zed, and Balls may actually avoid his Rumble, since teamfights are not what they want. Look for Ryze to be highly contested and Dade to try and shut Hai down early in every game to keep him from trying to split. Lemon and Sneaky have a hard match-up against Heart and Deft, and things could go spiraling out of control if they get a lead. Basically this series is going to come down to how well prepared C9 are for Blue. I think C9 will be able to play around Blue smarter and pull out a slim victory.

C9 wins 3-2

  • SHRC vs EDG

Two Chinese teams duking it out. These games will be a bloodbath for sure. Edward Gaming had a very disappointing group stage and NaMei has been hearing criticism of choking this entire time since Group A finished and I think he’ll be sick of hearing it. He’s going to come out swinging and StarHorn will be in their sights. Not only that, but EDG is familiar with SHRC and knows how to play against them. They took two Number One finishes in the LPL for a reason, I don’t see a reason for them to lose to StarHorn now.

As far as Starhorn themselves go, they did win their group, but they really only had TSM as competition. Basically all that they had to do was get a lead and run with it. They had messy wins and against more complete teams like EDG they’re going to have those weak points exposed. Even at Worlds we’ve seen communication issues with InSec and the rest of the team. Uzi would have to carry the team hard, and I’m not sure he’d even consistently win lane against NaMei.

EDG wins 3-0

  • NJWS vs OMG

Najin White Shield is an interesting team for me. I feel like they are very overrated purely because of being a Korean team. They showed how wishy washy they can be in Groups by losing hardcore to Alliance after dominating most of the games. Watch has been underwhelming, but Save and Ggoong have picked up the slack with some occasional help from Zefa. I’m not saying that Najin is a bad team, but they are most obviously the lower of the Korean team and probably the easiest to knock out.

OMG is the black sheep of China. Strong laners, good jungler, and weak ADC/Support duo. Cool has been lackluster compared to what people built him up to be. He’s made his fair share of mistakes, one of the most notable that I’ve seen was his over-tanking of tower shots in the infamous FNC vs OMG match near then. If OMG wants to win they need Cool to snap out of whatever’s been messing with him and wake up. Gogoing on the other hand has been an absolute monster and put the team on his back. His Ryze has been dominant all Worlds long, he’s shown mechanics on a champ that people don’t even think has mechanics. His KDA is easily the highest on the team. LoveLing has been hit or miss, and he can have a good impact, however I’m not sure if he can have a substantial impact all 5 games. It may depend on which Watch shows up. Overall, don’t judge OMG by their record. They made it out of the group of death for a reason.

Despite that I’m taking NJWS to win 3-2

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Season 4 World Championship Quarterfinals Preview : Samsung White vs Team SoloMid

by Nathasha Ng

Now that the group stage in Taiwan has come to an end, it’s time to take a look at the teams from Groups A and B that will be advancing to the quarterfinals. After a weekend full of exciting games, here are the final seedings :

With their perfect group stage, Samsung White will be advancing as the first seed of Group A into the quarterfinals to face off against North America’s Summer Champions, Team SoloMid. StarHorn Royal Club, Group B’s first seed, will battle it out with their regional opponents Edward Gaming, second seed from Group A.

Team SoloMid vs Samsung White

Samsung White are the clear favorites in this match up. They are considered by many to be the best team in the world, or second best behind their sister team Samsung Blue. This year, unlike last year where they got overconfident, they actually lived up to the hype. In the six games they have played so far, they have shown no weakness, and have easily beaten Dark Passage, AHQ and Edward Gaming to go undefeated in Group A.

On the other hand, Team SoloMid, the fan favorites, have gone 4-2 in their group, losing to China’s StarHorn Royal Club and Europe’s SK Gaming. TSM have had mixed results so far. During group stage, they have shown dominating performances, but have also shown weaknesses, such as being unable to close games and doubtful shot calling . For example, in their last game of group stage, which could have potentially put them at a tiebreaker with Royal Club for the first seed, TSM finally lost after a bad team fight in SK’s base.

Who has the edge?

Without a doubt, Samsung White will take this series.

TSM usually wins games where they mechanically outplay their opponents, or just get ahead during laning phase, which will be almost impossible against Samsung White. First of all, everyone on White is mechanically equal or better than the players on TSM.

Samsung White’s bottom lane, Imp and Mata, are probably one of the strongest duo lanes in the world, while WildTurtle and Lustboy are still trying to build up their synergy. Dandy is also widely considered to be the best jungler right now. While Amazing has had moments of brilliance, he struggles to find consistency and efficiency on champions other than his famous Lee Sin and his reliable Elise. Dyrus has been playing phenomenally thus far at Worlds, and his Rumble is definitely a big threat, but he can easily be put on tilt. Samsung White will know that, and they will definitely try to take him out of the game by camping top, or even lane swapping and 4-man tower diving him. The only lane that could potentially go in favor of TSM is the middle lane. Bjergsen has really shown proficiency on multiple champions, from mages like Orianna and Xerath, to assassins like Syndra, Zed and Fizz. He has a wide champion pool, and could most likely hold his own against White’s Pawn.

Another thing that sways this match-up in favor of White is their tremendously-wide champion pools. For example, their ad carry Imp has played five different champions in six games: Lucian, Corki, Tristana, Vayne and Twitch. If we take a look at the top lane, Looper has also played five champions: Maokai, Ryze, Rumble, Kayle and Alistar. What’s even more impressive is that their mid laner, Pawn, has played six different champions during group stages: Talon, Katarina, Fizz, Zed, Yasuo, and Zilean. Not only are they able to bring out so many champions, they have also shown us how solid they can be on all these champions. Their wide champion pools give them the ability to play different team compositions, and use different strategies every game. The ability to adapt between games and switch up your strategy in a best of five is crucial.

This situation is scary for TSM because they will never be able to ban out Samsung White, as well as banning the ‘’OP‘’ champions, such as Nidalee and Alistar. TSM is known to do well in games where the pick and ban phase goes their way, but they struggle immensely when they are surprised by the other team’s composition, or are forced into a composition they don’t necessarily want to play. The preparation coming into this best of five will be very important. Not only do they have to prepare different team compositions for pick and ban phase, they also need to be able to adapt quickly as the series goes on. Little adaptations between games can easily be the difference between victory and defeat. Luckily for TSM, they have shown in the past that they are able to adapt throughout best of fives, and they do not let losses bring them down. For example, during the North American playoffs, they always bounced back after defeats and even though they were often a win down in the beginning, they persevered and won all their series.

While the odds are in Samsung White’s favor, it will all come down to who shows up on game day when it really matters. Anything could happen, and all the teams can beat each other on any given day, and this is what makes eSports so exciting.

Friday, September 19, 2014

One Too Many Shots Fired?

by Sam "PikaPea"

At exactly 1:51 AM pst on Sep 18, 2014, TSM's Andy "Reginald " Dinh posted what I would consider to be a highly unprofessional post.

Followed by TSM's current coach Yoonsup "Locodoco" Choi posting:

Watching LCS and all the related pro scenes in League of Legends, I understand there has always been bickering and trash talk, but sometimes teams take it too far. How far can this go before they come to realize that, as professionals, they have a fan base, and their decisions and comments can reflect poorly on their organization.

League of Legends might just be an eSport, only known well by the gaming community, but for those that devote their time and make League of Legends their religion, we hear all about these things, especially the drama. As outsiders, we might not know all the details or facts, but this appears to be hate directed at MonteCristo based on his comments on a very public show.

Summoning Insight, in my opinion, was created for personal input and reviews. So many teams have been talked bad about as well as pointing out their good factors. And yes, it's obvious individuals from TSM took it to heart. Understandable, but even so, Monte (and Thorin) does this to many. This childish behavior from two individuals of TSM can make the entire team seem unprofessional, especially coming from the coaches. Why sink to someone’s level?

What Reginald and Locodoco don't seem to understand is that in NA, and even the world, TSM has a wide fan base, and when they say things like this, the fans that look up to their team might not look at them the same. Or, they might think this is okay behavior - trash talking in return for trash talking, and it shouldn't be that way. Everything has its own effect on the whole situation. I don't know who's in the right or the wrong. But it’s becoming childish, and just a mockery that needs to flame out.


*Both Locodoco and Reginald have since issued apologies which can be read here:

Locodoco = Apology to Monte and Community 
Reginald = Apology to Community

Friday, August 1, 2014

NA LCS Week 11 Power Rankings

by Ethan “AkeyBreakyy” Akey and Matt “It’s Pure Luck” Lee

First it was Europe’s turn, now we turn our attention to the North American scene before super week gets under way!  Just a reminder, here are the criteria the teams will be judged on; it is no different than Europe.

• It’s not just your record that determines your ranking. Just because you have a better record than another team does NOT necessarily mean you are better in my eyes.  The proverbial “eye test” is incredibly important. Are you winning games narrowly or convincingly? Did you go 2-0 in a week where you trailed in both games but the other team made massive mistakes and it allowed you to come back? How a team looks is very important.
• Results from the past few weeks.
• General trends of a team’s performance vs upper-echelon opponents in the league. Playing well vs the top tier teams is obviously more impressive than crushing the bottom three constantly.
• A team’s performance historically. This will weight a bit less, but a team like Fnatic will get more of a pass when they are struggling a bit than someone like the Copenhagen Wolves will.

So let’s get right down to it!

1) Cloud 9 (15-9) – Not much room for debate here. Their win over current top-of-the-table LMQ on Sunday was as dominating a performance as we have seen from any team this entire split. Currently sitting at 5-1 in their last six games and 7-3 in their last ten, Cloud 9 seem to have gotten over the middle season slump they had been in. One other impressive thing to note about Cloud 9 is their record vs the other teams in the top six of the standings. The only teams they do not have a chance to grab a 3-1 record versus are compLexity and Team SoloMid. LMQ has been good and currently hold first place, but everything points to Cloud 9 still being the team to beat in North America.

2) LMQ (16-8) – While LMQ clings to the top of the LCS standings, their devastating loss to Cloud 9 last week has dropped them to our #2 spot. Like Cloud 9, LMQ has a 5-1 record for their previous six matches  - their only loss coming from Cloud 9, who hold a 3-1 record against them. The only other teams LMQ has a losing record against are Curse and Dignitas, both of whom face them in Week Eleven. If LMQ can pull wins off in both matches, C9 will be their only losing record.

3) Team SoloMid (15-9) – Week Ten was a very good week for TSM as they went 2-0, including a big win over slumping arch-rival Counter Logic Gaming. It wouldn't have been surprising if TSM had instead struggled the final two weeks of the season while they adjusted to their roster change, but it turned out not to be an issue. One knock against them is that they have been awful vs the top teams in the league, but I’m not sure that is entirely true. Against the top six, they sport a record of 7-10 which isn't great, but neither is it as terrible as it’s been made out to be. They are also the only team in the top six (and one of only two in the league) to have winning record vs Cloud 9. The major blemishes are the current 0-3 marks vs LMQ and Dignitas, and they will get a shot at both of them this weekend. A bye into the semifinals would be perhaps more important to TSM than any other team; the more time Lustboy and WildTurtle have to play together, the better off they are.

4) Counter Logic Gaming (13-11) – After falling 0-2 in Week 10, and losing to their rivals, TSM, we have CLG sitting in the fourth position. Entering Week Eleven, CLG currently only holds positive win records over three of the four  bottom ranked teams. With their most recent loss to TSM, CLG now sits with a even 2-2 record against them. With their starting roster sitting out Week Eleven in order to attend boot camp in Korea to prepare for playoffs, it is highly likely that CLG will land in the fourth or fifth place semifinal spot. We can’t really judge CLG on how well their substitute roster will play, but from recent showings, CLG has fallen to our fourth spot.

5) Curse (10-14) – Curse is one of the more bizarre teams in the North American LCS. They currently sport winning records vs each of LMQ, CLG and Dignitas respectively. And yet at the same time, they are 1-2 vs Complexity and 1-3 vs EG.  Curse have been playing fairly well since they had a poor 3-7 start with a 7-7 streak since then. While nothing amazing, it’s at a level of what you would expect from a team that’s in the middle of the pack in the standings. Despite the fact they are two games behind Dignitas, Curse gets the nod in this spot with the free fall Dignitas are currently in.

6) Dignitas (12-12) – While Dignitas does hold the better record over Curse,  they are another bizarre team that holds winning records over top teams such as LMQ and TSM. At the same time, Dignitas is also 1-3 vs Complexity and 1-2 vs Curse. Dignitas opened the Summer Split with a stunning 7-2 record into Week Five. Since then, Dignitas hasn't had a positive win record from any week. Even though they have two games on Curse, by going 1-5 in the past 3 weeks of the LCS, Team Dignitas falls down to our sixth spot.

7) Evil Geniuses (7-17) – EG had a rough super week back in Week Seven when they went 0-4. But since then they have played to the tune of a .500 record, winning three out of their past six games and beating Curse twice and CLG once. EG also seems to be the team who lose more heartbreaking games than anybody else (Curse might argue that point though), often giving some of the top tier teams all that they can handle. More often than not, it seems that Altec is the catalyst for this team, especially if he gets his hands on Twitch or Tristana. It will be interesting to see how the Evil Geniuses finish the season as they draw both Cloud 9 and LMQ this week.

8) compLexity (8-16) – Now that we have reached the bottom of our rankings, it’s hard for fans to not expect compLexity to sit at the eighth spot. The difficult decision of whether coL or EG should be at the bottom was decided by the potential that EG shows against top-tiered teams, compared to what compLexity has to show. The only glimpse of light that compLexity has shown this season is the winning record they have over Cloud 9, although one of these wins was coming out of a Super Week when it's easier to snipe a top tier team. In the past six games, compLexity is 2-4, and they haven’t had a winning week at all this split. It will be interesting to see how they fare against Evil Geniuses this week, as they could potentially can finish the season off with a draw.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who’s on Track for Season 4 Worlds?

by Reece "Sabrewolf" Dos-Santos

This season is shaping up to be the first season of NA where the three spots for worlds are not completely predictable. The NA LCS, by the half-way point, has already seen a good share of upsets, turnarounds, and explosive matches. By week six, the usually dominant Cloud 9 have already picked up their most losses in a split and appear to mirroring their European counterparts, Fnatic, in putting up inconsistent showings that vary from world class dominance to frighteningly average slumps.  When looking at the NA LCS with an objective view of only this split, it’s hard to deny that the three teams currently in pole position look to be the ones that push for the three NA spots.


CLG have consistently shown superiority in rotations, and mid to late game clarity in their game play.  They know what they’re working towards in almost every game and cleanly achieve their goals. The only team CLG cannot seem to overcome at this moment is Cloud 9, who delivered two of their four overall losses. LMQ got off to an electrifying start in the NA LCS, and while there were concerns about their ability to hold it up, they have been addressing the critics with particularly strong performances from Vasilii and three time "MVP of the Week," XiaoWeiXiao. Performances that are being backed up more and more by an improving Ackerman. Meanwhile, Dignitas have shown that they mean business with their additions of ZionSpartan and Shiphtur, and they have honestly shocked many watchers with their overpowering form in the first half of the split. However, like the other two front runners, Dignitas show signs of cracks. These cracks were clearly evident in their complete decimation at the hands of compLexity. Dignitas, out of the three, has had the best showings, but also put out one of the worst. The key to securing the Worlds' spot for them is simply consistency.

Despite being the favorites and the biggest NA names, Cloud 9 and TSM have had some substandard performances and only recently began clawing their way back. TSM, in particular, have begun to find some sort of form since the addition of Locodoco as a coach, but their main problem as a team is their inability to take games from the top teams in NA. They have a clean 6-0 record against the bottom three but are 0-5 against the top three. If TSM can work out how to challenge the top teams, they can push their way in for one of the spots at worlds, but unfortunately, a perfect record against EG, COL, and CRS won’t get TSM anything more than a mid-table finish. In almost a complete opposite regard, Cloud 9 are 2-0 against CLG, yet they haven’t been able to pick a win against the two bottom teams in the NA LCS. Whether it’s an issue with underestimating the lower tier competition or simply a bad clash of match-ups, Cloud 9 are sitting in fourth place solely because of their inability to take games from the lower tier competition. Both Cloud 9 and TSM can make it to Worlds, but only if they look at each other’s weaknesses and learn from them. The NA LCS is no longer their playground - it’s a battleground.

NA LCS Dark Horse: Evil Geniuses

The Evil Geniuses were mediocre at best last split and looked to repeat that form this split until they swapped out Snoopeh and Yellowpete, who honestly were well past their prime. The additions of Altec and Helios have completely revitalized the team and seem to have brought out the best in Pobelter, Krepo and Innox. Their performances have suddenly become fluid, calculated and hard-fought, and they only look to get better and better as they become more adjusted to each other - which is a scary thought when considering how good they looked in Helios’s first week. EG may sneak their way into playoffs and could be the team to upset the war between the Top Five.

The EU LCS: 

EU, however, isn't as much of a tight contest compared to NA.  Alliance are already an almost guaranteed spot with a completely dominant 10-2 record, with losses against SHC and GMB which honestly seemed like they had simply removed their foot from the gas pedal. Alliance was a team created by Froggen to go Worlds, and honestly it seemed shaky at the start of the Spring Split, but then the team grew used to each other and almost perfectly synergized. We have to give it to Froggen, he knows how to create a top tier team. At this point, the only plausible way Alliance could not make it to Worlds is through a monumental internal explosion between them, the chances of that are highly unlikely. But EU have shown that any team can slump their way out of first place in the blink of an eye. Alliance’s test now is merely breaking that stereotype, which shouldn't be hard for them.

The other team that looks jet set for Worlds is SK gaming who, like Alliance, completely shot out from the bottom of the table into complete bliss in the second half of spring. SK has shown complete dominance in their team-based game play and map rotations, and clarity in ending games where they are comfortably ahead. Jesiz, in particular, has blossomed into a hero that SK Gaming can rely on in almost every game, along with consistent performances from CandyPanda and Nrated, with Freddy and Sven rarely making mistakes themselves. Two of SK’s four losses are against Alliance and  that's perfectly understandable considering the depth of Alliance’s dominance in the first few weeks of summer.

The third EU spot for worlds is where things heat up as there is no clear team that looks set to take it. The main battle seems to be between Supa Hot Crew, Fnatic, and Millenium, all of whom have put up good performances but still have consistency issues that hold them back. The one thing that unites all three teams is the talent of their mid lane: Kerp, Selfie, and xPeke are all world class mid laners who can easily carry their teams on a good day, but have also shown that they are not exempt from being shut down. Similarly, all three teams also have standout ADC’s in Creaton, Mr RalleZ, and Rekkles, who are complete monsters when left unchecked. The battle between these three teams is where EU playoffs will become interesting, as SHC and MIL have mirrored Alliance and SK’s resurgence from the bottom two teams into top of the table powers, but Fnatic are three split champions for a reason. They always find a way to weasel themselves into pole position when it matters, but this split will be their hardest test yet.

EU LCS Dark Horse: Roccat

Roccat are undeniably talented. They are one of many teams to deny NiP a space in the LCS and showed overpowering form in spring that led them to finish third place overall. They, however, inherited the “first place slump” that so greatly affected Fnatic, and have only recently begun to recover with two back to back 2-0 weeks (partly due to one of the matches being a forfeit). Roccat’s point to work on is simply closing out games and playing with more of a passion rather than playing not to lose. Their overly passive game play was the main catalyst of the ward chanting and Mexican waves from the London LCS crowd that sought entertainment.  

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Esports Memorabilia : The HOT Collectible of the Future.

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Collectors love to imagine a magical scenario where they can go back in time and buy some incredibly rare piece of memorabilia. Baseball card enthusiasts might seek out an original Honus Wagner card. Football fans might purchase an original team jersey or a banner. Star Wars fans would ransack toy stores, buying out Luke Skywalker figures, mint and still in the box. And then, all these collectors would do something extremely important with those items, but I'll get to that in a minute. 

First, let's jump forward in time instead.

It's 2054, and a gray-haired man is sitting in a rocking chair outside his nursing home. Between his stiff, gnarled fingers, he clutches the gilded edges of a framed poster. To his side, his great grandchild stares through the glass in wonder. "It was signed by Reginald," the child says, his voice filled with the kind of reverence we reserve for uttering names like Ruth and DiMaggio. 

"I got that a week before he announced his retirement." The old man smiles at the memory. "It's worth half a million now, and I'm giving it to you." 

Lucky kid. 

Some people buy collectibles as an investment while others buy them for the pleasure of displaying them in their homes. Their value is based purely on what someone else is willing to pay for them, but generally, the rarer and more sought after the item is, the more it is worth. So what makes me think eSports memorabilia will grow in value? Let's take a look at some facts:

1. eSports' popularity is growing at a fantastic rate, and the more fans there are, the more demand there will be for fan items. When eSports explodes into the mainstream, demand for certain items (like early signed posters) will multiply tenfold. Also, the more popular pros become, the less interactive they can be with their fans, which will further limit supply.   

2. Right now, teams are small and there's not many of them. Rosters frequently change and evolve, making many team-signed items extremely unique. Seasons and splits further break up items (Like...Is it signed by the S3 Dignitas or the S4 Dignitas?) Because of player turnovers, oddities like a TSM poster showing Xpecial - but signed by Gleeb - are exactly the kinds of things that collectors love.

3. People wanting memorabilia of the most popular players will look to acquire their signatures on anything they can get. Players signed a TON of stuff the past four years, between the LCS, tournaments, conventions and personal appearances, so fans will believe these items to be obtainable and actively seek them out. Just like in other sports, a collector might want items from different points in a player's career. Perhaps a rookie card or a stand-out year.   

4. We already know the demographic that follows eSports has money to burn, and they are highly passionate about their teams. When eSports hits the mainstream, they're exactly the kind of guys who'll spend big bucks on these items JUST to have something to show off to their friends. It's not enough to tell all these new fans that you've been a long time CLG supporter. You've got to prove your devotion.

5. Sports memorabilia is the Number One most commonly traded collectible.  

The most important factor, though, is that human fault will be in play, and it's the reason certain items will become ridiculously valuable. Yes, players signed tons of stuff. But what will the average person do with that stuff? They'll take that poster home and stick it up on the wall in their computer room with a  push pin in each corner. And that poster will sit up there for years. Slowly, the paper will grow brittle and crack. Perhaps one corner will tear. The poster will be exposed to dust, smoke, and moisture, and over time it will yellow slightly. It may become creased. It may be folded. It stowed away in a box and eaten up by mildew. Only a sparse few of those posters will be put in a frame under glass. And those are the ones that will be truly worth the big bucks. 

That Honus Wagner card our collectors went back in time for? That football jersey and the Star Wars figures? They're gonna treat those with kid gloves, ensuring that they are kept in immaculate condition until the future comes. They'll be framed or kept in dust free mylar bags, and they will never see a push pin or a damp basement.

So take care of your eSports memorabilia if you're lucky enough to get it. Time and interest will do the rest. Even now you can do a search on ebay and find people selling signed posters and other eSports items, which is a very good indicator that the interest is already there. Keep it in mint condition for a few dozen years and who knows...maybe someday you'll be that wealthy gray-haired old man!

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