May 6 2014 - 10:14 pm

The European 'super team' just won its first tournament

The new European “super” team played in their first League of Legends tournament today, cruising to victory in this month’s Solomid invitational, a low-level pro tournament series, under the moniker Rest in Pepperonis (RIP)
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

The new European “super” team played in their first League of Legends tournament today, cruising to victory in this month’s Solomid invitational, a low-level pro tournament series, under the moniker Rest in Pepperonis (RIP).

The squad, filled with former League Championship Series (LCS) players, had little competition from the Challenger level field, but still pulled in $1,200 for their effort.

“Rest in Pepperonis” was a phrase uttered by support Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez during Ninjas in Pyjama’s (NiP) League Championship Series relegation match against Millenium. Rodriguez used it to memorialize the death of his mid laner Erland “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm to a tower after a successful dive. The team seems to have adopted it in lieu of an official roster and organization.

But the tag RIP is also a play on words, an homage to the three former NiP players and, perhaps, a grim evaluation of the team's failed Challenger bid. For fans, it may be a different kind of death knell: seeing RIP Alex Ich in-game and on a Challenger team signifies the end of the LCS career of one of League’s greatest superstars.

Former Gambit Gaming mid laner Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin has indeed switched to the top lane, though his champion pool remained familiar. In the first game against Mousesports, he pulled out his signature Kha’Zix, rarely seen in the top lane, and posted a team leading 8/1/5 KDA mark.

RIP nearly fell in the first map of the final series against Invaders, suffering disaster during an aggressive level one invade that saw RIP lose three players. Invaders took a huge lead and even secured a 15 minute Baron, giving them a lead so insurmountable many teams would have surrendered.

But RIP managed to swing the game their way in just a few minutes.

A fateful Baron battle at the 24 minute mark saw RIP’s marksman Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek exit with a quadra kill on Twitch. RIP still faced a six thousand gold deficit after taking Baron, but they secured another team fight win as Invaders extended to greedily grab an inhibitor turret. RIP would push back and ended the game at the 28 minute mark.

The team was a bit sloppy at times, but they could afford to be, playing an aggressive style because they simply outskilled their opponents. It was a perfect environment for young jungle phenom Tri Tin “k0u” Lam to shine, making plays around the map at a frenetic pace. In the second game of the final series Lam posted an 11/2/7 KDA on Nocturne and showcased solid synergy with top laner Ichetovkin throughout the tournament.

While the future of RIP is up in the air, the tournament showed that yes, they are a thing, and not some myth. And they’re pretty good, too. If not yet "super."

Photo via Gamepedia

Jan 15 2017 - 10:31 pm

Kinguin and Fnatic Academy secure spots in European Challenger Series

The two teams made short work of the opposition.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Riot Games

Fnatic Academy and Team Kinguin qualified for the European League of Legends Challenger Series, taking themselves one step closer to the game's premier competition.

In rather emphatic fashion, the two teams completely decimated their opposition. Both teams were able to secure quick 3-0 victories, and will now be competing in the upcoming season of the EU CS league.

While both teams fell short of first place in the qualifiers group stage, the teams made up for it in spades in the tournament finals. The Polish Kinguin roster were the first team to qualify for the league, as the team completely decimated opponents on Nerv.

Despite featuring former EU CS players such as mid laner An "SuNo" Sun-ho, as well as support Christophe "je suis kaas" van Oudheusden, it seemed as if Nerv weren't able to find any opening against the Polish team.

The final series of the day saw Fnatic Academy, in equally as dominant fashion, defeat Team Forge.

The academy team's display in the three games was incredible impressive, in particular the performances of mid laner Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer and former FC Schalke AD carry Rasmus "MrRalleZ" Skinneholm, as both players only died once throughout the entire series.

With the qualifiers over, Kinguin and Fnatic Academy now join FC Schalke, Paris Saint-Germain, Millenium and Misfits Academy in the 2017 Spring Season of the EU CS.

The 2017 League of Legends season gets underway next week, when all regional leagues begin their spring seasons.

Jan 15 2017 - 5:53 am

NA LCS: 5 players to watch in 2017

Can these players help break the NA Worlds curse this year?
Xing Li
Dot Esports

2016 was a year of unfulfilled dreams for NA fans.

Hopes were high after Immortals poached two of Europe’s finest, Team SoloMid assembled its own super team, and highly-regarded import players dotted rosters from Echo Fox to NRG Esports.

All of those teams failed in their grand ambitions. Echo Fox had a season to forget. Immortals choked in the playoffs. TSM made it to Worlds but exited the Group Stage with a whimper. Sure, Counter Logic Gaming made the finals of the Mid Season Invitational, but few took them seriously as title contenders against South Korean behemoths SK Telecom T1.

But a new year is a time to hope, and NA teams can look forward to seeing a group of new players trying to close the gap. This is not a list of best players, or even most crucial ones. But they are the ones we are most curious about and want to see the most.

Starting off the list is NA’s most frustrating player—and quite possibly its best.


The drama between Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Team Liquid was a strange side note to the 2016 Summer Split. Initially suspended for feuding with teammates and coaches, the team could never survive the conflict between him, star AD Carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin, and coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub. Dardoch’s talent is unquestioned, but his failure to communicate and support his teammates led to a late-season swoon that eliminated Liquid from Worlds contention.

Now Dardoch is with Immortals, quite possibly the organization best suited to add him and not combust due to their strong management philosophy. But the players still have to find a way to communicate and play together, and the coaches will still have a monumental task ahead of them.

Perhaps most concerning was Liquid’s—and Dardoch’s—inconsistent play and weak mentality. They would swing wildly from beating playoff teams to losing inexplicably. And despite those baffling losses, Liquid remained a major contender in the LCS playoffs and had a chance at Worlds. But Dardoch couldn’t handle his team’s slightest failings. He would oscillate between carrying and flaming, often unpredictably.

That is the biggest risk for Immortals, that even winning may not fix things. Dardoch must realign his expectations with an eye on competing over the long term. That would fit better with Immortals’ long-term view and the length of his three year contract. It’s something that the team, including managers, coaches, and players, will need to be aligned on.

Immortals have talent, especially in the solo lanes, but this year won’t be about talent. It will be about Dardoch maturing into a leader and learning how to play the game at an even higher level. Can he be a consistent and effective shot caller? Can he work with the coaches to develop a strong macro strategy (a weakness of both Liquid and Immortals last year). And can he maintain that level even if the team faces adversity?

Answer those questions, and we could see a historic year from one of North America’s most talented players.


We know how this team likes to play. Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg unlocks the mid lane for Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen to invade and set vision. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell draws pressure and carries when he’s required to, but more often waits for someone else to initiate. His flexibility and ability to learn champions gives TSM more resources on the other parts of the map.

Even the AD carry shift from Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to Jason “WildTurtle” Tran is mostly neutral. Doublelift was a stronger laner, but that didn’t show in his performances at Worlds. WildTurtle is more inconsistent in the 2v2 but is also more apt to join fights.

That means the position with greatest potential for improvement is support: Vincent “Biofrost” Wang.

We wrote about Biofrost’s potential and how the team would handle him at the beginning of the offseason. Bringing in an experienced ADC could be a sign that he isn’t quite ready to carry that lane. Or it could that TSM thinks that the duo could be a major source of damage and they want to take advantage of Biofrost’s skills (and Bjergsen’s peak). We think it’s the latter.

Losing Doublelift’s voice will require someone to step up even more in shot calling, and that should be Biofrost. TSM’s well-oiled macro game fell apart under superior pressure at Worlds where they could not reliably win most of the lanes. Biofrost’s ability to read the map will need to improve for TSM to have proper vision and objective control against high-level competition.

It’s crazy that Biofrost has been so good in only one split of competitive play. But he needs to play at a more consistent level when faced against the best supports in the world.

Looper and Ssumday

Picking two players is cheating a bit.

But these are the two biggest import transactions in the NA LCS offseason, especially when many top Korean talents were returning to the LCK.

The addition of Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho to Team Dignitas immediately affected expectations for the team. After being relegated and re-joining the LCS by acquiring Apex’s spot, many fans now see them contending for the NA title. With a carry jungler and a utility bot lane, Ssumday should get the attention he needs to survive. And his unparalleled teamfighting could make Dignitas fearsome in the late game.

On the other hand, Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok joins Echo Fox, a team that survived relegations but still has major question marks. Mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen is a legend, but he takes a while to get going and the other positions were big weaknesses in 2016. This team will rely on Looper to carry early in order to avoid finishing in the bottom half of the table for a third consecutive split.

Both of these players were highly respected in their respective regions, but found they no longer fit. They’ve chosen the daunting task of going to a new country while putting their reputations as stars on the line. Let’s see if they can fulfill the high expectations their fans have for them.


Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun is a player for which expectations have generally been low. His job is to survive in the mid lane and pull off the odd roam to get another lane ahead. He doesn’t pressure and he isn’t a consistent carry. He just needs to not screw up.

But HuHi takes up a precious import slot, which makes Counter Logic Gaming’s decision to keep him for 2017 very interesting. Sure, CLG had a fantastic run through most of 2016, including an unexpected run to the finals at the Mid-Season Invitational. Their finals series against SKT was closer than the score indicated, but they still failed to win a single map. With clear flaws, namely their mid laner, it was a bit surprising that no roster change was made.

In the past, CLG has bet that HuHi’s unconventional champion pool combined with superior game planning and decision making will mask his mechanical mistakes. But teams have already started taking advantage of the team’s passivity in the middle. Darshan Upadyaha can split push all day, but hasn’t been a consistent carry for a while. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is smart, but very careful as a jungler. The bot lane is the strength of the team, but as we’ve seen from the state of marksmen, duo lanes require so much help from the rest of the team.

That help will have to come from HuHi. Somehow, he needs to create the pressure that unlocks the map for this team. CLG are betting that internal improvement and chemistry will supersede the addition of a new player. For them to even replicate their performances in 2016, HuHi will need to be a sharper and more courageous player.


The last player was originally going to be new Cloud9 jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia. Jungle was the weakest role on that team and Contractz was presumably brought in to inject fresh life.

Then Austin “LiNK” Shin signed with Team Liquid.

We think LiNK will eventually step in as Liquid’s primary mid laner over promising Challenger player Grayson “Goldenglue” Gillmer. Goldenglue is fine, but he hasn’t really done much with his few opportunities in the LCS. And the team is going to play aroundPiglet anyway.

Honestly, we don’t know what to expect from LiNK. He has historically played a carry style, but that’s Piglet’s role, and top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson is best on carries as well. After several years away from the competitive scene, we have no idea where LiNK’s skills are and whether he can be an effective communicator.

Still, this was a low-risk, high-reward move for Liquid. If he doesn’t work out, he’ll write an open letter and Goldenglue will go back in. If he can be a secondary shot caller to Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, it could really help this team’s communication style.

Liquid’s players are all familiar face, and yet their roster may be the biggest mystery of all, particularly concerning the man in the middle.

All photos via Riot Games