Sep 7 2016 - 3:51 pm

The biggest surprises of the Summer Split

The 2016 LCS Summer split was full of unexpected results in both Europe and North America
Josh Raven
Dot Esports

The 2016 LCS Summer split was full of unexpected results in both Europe and North America. A relegation candidate in Spring is now attending Worlds, one of the most dominant teams in the regular season failed to make it out of the gauntlet, and two teams funded by investors with deep pockets face life in the Challenger Series.

Splyce make Worlds

Predicting this after the Spring split would have served only to make you seem like an idiot. The Danish side scraped through relegation to earn a second split in the league, and their only roster change was to pick up an untested rookie: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. When Splyce came out swinging in the Summer split, it seemed only inevitable that their form would dip at some point and they would once again be facing a relegation battle. But it never happened.

In the Spring Split, Chres “Sencux” Laursen provided the carry potential. But in the Summer Split ,he was given some freedom, as the bot lane and, perhaps even more, the top lane kicked into gear. Martin “Wunder” Hansen obliterated memories of his poor Spring performance with a run of form that earned him a spot in the EU LCS All-Pro lineup. Splyce were runners up in the regular season, dropping to G2 Esports in the playoff finals, but managed to secure a spot at Worlds with a tight victory over Unicorns of Love in the gauntlet. While it doesn’t look like the side will be a major threat at the tournament, you’ve got to respect the Split that took them there.

Immortals fail to qualify for Worlds

While Splyce players gear up for a trip to their Korean bootcamp, the Immortals lineup will be staying home, wondering where it all went wrong. A 16-2 record in the regular season wasn’t enough to stop them from dropping to Cloud9 in the playoff semifinals. A rematch between the two in the gauntlet ended with another Cloud9 victory, and they took the third and final spot over Immortals.

What's shocking is that Immortals looked unbeatable in the regular season. Their only defeats came at the hands of TSM, who romped through the split, claiming first place. When looking at the playoff picture towards the end of the season, the question seemed to be: Who will qualify alongside TSM and Immortals? Their defeat in the semifinals, however, meant CLG pushed them out of second place, and their defeat in the gauntlet was the final nail in the coffin for the team that looked so promising. Their live-and-die-by-Huni strategy doesn’t seem to be working out, and they found themselves exploited when he was faced against former World Champion Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, who's currently in the form of his life.

There is a lot of time left until the LCS restarts next year, and while Immortals certainly still have a place in the league, it’s looking increasingly likely that changes could be afoot. The Korean duo will certainly feel the pain of not making it to Worlds, while other members would certainly receive offers if they chose to look around.

Schalke 04 and NRG Esports drop out of the LCS

Nobody was expecting either of these sides to challenge for the title in their respective regions. But relegation didn’t seem like it was on the cards either. Both sides received major investment from well established organizations. One is a major European soccer club, while the other includes backers in traditional sports, including Shaquille O’Neal. The relegation of both of these sides has kickstarted a conversation that could change the game when it comes to owning an LCS side, and will likely push Riot in the direction of franchising.

Schalke 04 took over the spot of Elements, the staple seventh place side in the LCS, which had never threatened the playoffs but always wiggled out of relegation just in time. Going into the season, despite the upgrade in funding, the side only made one improvement. Swapping out Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire for Hampus “Fox” Myhre was certainly an upgrade, but never enough to assure them survival in the league. NRG, on the other hand, should have fared better with their investments. Lee “GBM” Chang-seok from South Korea looked to be one of the better imports on paper, while bringing Diego “Quas” Ruiz out of retirement looked to be a stroke of genius. At the end of the day however, they too struggled and eventually failed to stay in the league.

Losing these two key players could be troublesome for the LCS. Major investment has only just started seeping into the scene, and after watching these two fail it may dissuade others. Both NRG and Schalke 04 have claimed that they will remain involved in League of Legends, though only time will tell if those statements remain true. NRG have already removed their entire lineup due to release clauses in the event of relegation. We’ll see if both Schalke and NRG line up in the Challenger Series next season, and whether their relegation will light the fire of drastic change to the LCS model.

Origen scrap for survival

Origen took the scene by storm when they entered the space last year. In their debut season the side qualified for Worlds and made a deep run into the semifinals before being halted by South Korean powerhouse SKT. The group of veterans players looked unstoppable alongside the revelation bot lane duo of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre. But then it all fell apart.

Losing the bottom lane was just the beginning in a chain of events that brought Origen to their knees. Newcomers Konstantinos “Forg1ven” Tzortziou and Glenn “Hybrid” failed to work together and Forg1ven left the side, causing owner and former mid laner Enrique “Xpeke” Cedeno to fill in. A drop in form from jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stuckenschneider and top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer coincided with the AD Carry mess and a barely functioning squad was left. Just two victories in the regular season meant the side faced relegation, where they were able to overcome Misfits in a five-game series to retain their spot.

Origen have a lot of work to do if they’re to bounce back from their torrid season. Hybrid has already departed the lineup, meaning that the side needs to acquire at least two more members in the off season—assuming that no one else leaves, of course. They still house veterans in the top lane and jungle, and a bright but underwhelming talent in the mid lane. Their problems are solvable, but it will take some top-tier acquisitions to take them back to the top.

Jan 21 2017 - 10:20 pm

G2 Esports and H2k-Gaming on top after EU LCS opening weekend

Last year's top teams haven't missed a beat.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Riot Games

G2 Esports and H2k-Gaming picked up exactly where they left off as the 2017 European LCS season got underway.

Both G2 and H2k, who had the most championship points in Europe in 2016, won both of their first two matches of the 2017 Spring Split as they look to win out in their respective groups.

In the biggest match of the weekend on paper, G2 beat Fnatic 2-1 in a thrilling series to the delight of the crowd in the LCS studio. The first game was a cagey affair, with G2 securing all of the objectives and getting a relatively comfortable win, but the second game was far closer.

The game was level for most of the first thirty minutes, until Fnatic managed to take Baron. From there the team's advantage slowly developed despite G2's best efforts. Fnatic broke down G2's defences and left the Nexus exposed, before this daring flash play let Fnatic in the backdoor to win the game.

Fired up by the audacious play, G2 Esports fired back in game three. Though Fnatic were able to secure more kills than G2, 20-14, G2 once again took almost all of the objectives. They wore down Fnatic with repeated attacks on the Nexus until Fnatic could no longer withstand the pressure.

G2 also defeated Roccat 2-0, finishing the week top of Group A.

H2k-Gaming went just one better than G2 in Group B—not only did they win both of their initial matches, they also did without dropping a game. The 2016 World Championship semifinalists defeated Origen in the first game of the season, before knocking off fellow World Championship competitors Splyce.

Misfits and Unicorns of Love were the only other victorious sides on the opening weekend, over Giants Gaming and Vitality respectively.

Jan 21 2017 - 10:55 pm

Contractz shines as Cloud9 topples TSM

Cloud9’s rookie jungler made a big splash in his LCS debut
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Cloud9’s Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia didn't just make an impression in his LCS debut. He blew away all expectations, and showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Contractz was the last cut from the Players to Watch list we wrote before the League Championship season. We weren’t sure how much priority Cloud9 would give him, especially with so much talent elsewhere on the roster. Still, we felt uneasy--someone not on the list was almost guaranteed to break out.

We just didn’t know that it would happen in the very first series.

In a rematch of last summer’s LCS Finals, Cloud9 and TSM clashed on the rift. And despite the star power that this matchup brings, much of the focus was on Contractz. He was a major focus for C9, almost a win condition in themselves.

Let’s see how he did it.

Jungle Priority

Due to the changes Riot made to the jungle in the offseason, priority has risen for junglers. More experience and more ganks means a good jungler can more easily carry a game. Cloud9’s coach, Bok “Reapred” Han-gyu talks about priority all the time.

Priority is a League term that indicates which lane has a strong matchups and should be a focus for jungle ganks. The player or lane with priority gets earlier picks and more attention from the rest of the team.

In a bit of a role reversal, C9 picked jungle to have priority in game one. That meant C9 players actively played around Contractz’ Kha’zix and made plays to get him ahead. In one telling instance, AD carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi burned his Ashe ult so that Contractz could invade and secure red buff.

Contractz rewarded that allocation by killing TSM ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran for First Blood. Cloud9 picked a risky comp that required Contractz and mid laner Nicolaj Jensen (playing Fizz) to snowball. Aided by some questionable team play from TSM and baffling itemization from WildTurtle, they accomplished that.

How would TSM react in game two?

A Lee Sin God

Cloud9 continued to give Contractz priority by first-picking Lee Sin for him (only one jungler, Rengar, was banned). This time, he lived in TSM’s red side jungle, playing around pressure from Jensen and top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

A well-executed gank gave C9 First Blood again, this time on Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. C9’s duo lane kept their own red-side safe, allowing Contractz to clear and run to the top lane to kill Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell.

For much of the series, Cloud9 exhibited superior team play and coordination, and Contractz was at the center of big plays. He is an aggressive, carry-oriented player and C9 enabled that aggression extremely well. Even when TSM jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and the rest of the team was there, it was often C9 making the right moves, faster. Following a decent TSM dive in the bot lane, Contractz responded with kill after kill.

It’s still very early in the season, but this team has come together very fast. Their communication was superb as was the shot calling. TSM had poor performances from Turtle and Svenskeren, but this victory was still more about C9's macro-oriented team play, rather than individual performances. They will have chances to come back, just like C9 will have to keep their play high by continuing to aid their jungler.

Contractz just dominated what was the best team in NA. Keep this performance up, and he’ll find himself on another one of our lists: the end of split awards.