After a long wait, the LCS is finally here. A lot of predictions were made about how the teams will perform, and at last we will be able to see if those predictions will be true or not.
Elements vs. Fnatic
This was undoubtedly one of if not the most awaited games in the opening week of the EU LCS. The reasons are clear: Elements have on paper the best lineup of this split, but almost nothing is known about how the new Fnatic roster will cope with playing on the big stage. In the pick and ban phase, Elements denied Febiven any kind of assassin and picked for mid and late game teamfights by prioritizing both engage and disengage. Across the stage Fnatic picked out a hard engage team full of damage and crowd control.
Elements entered the game geared up to farm and showed no fear of Reignover’s early game Rengar. The Korean import was more than happy to prove that even a pre-six Rengar can be dangerous by granting first blood to Steelback. While Reignover was ganking bot lane Shook set his eyes on Huni in the top lane to join Wickd in a dive. Huni however took Wickd’s Irelia in retribution to keep the top lane match up balanced. The early game was all about Reignover’s pressure on the mid and bottom lanes. The leads he created compensated for Elements’ superior laning CS.
All though at the 20 minutes mark the gold was almost even, the entire flow of the game was punctuated by Elements indecision and reluctance to engage, and Fnatic looked like a well-oiled machine. It didn’t matter that Fnatic had no real frontline tank, because Huni was always attracting the engages, only to neutralize them by using Lissandra’s ultimate, and the overall positioning of the entire team was such that the main carries, Febiven and Steelback, were almost always out of reach and able to deliver a lot of damage.
Overall, Element’s problems are the same as last year, and they need to fix that soon, and Fnatic, even though they had a great first game with this roster, need to keep up the aggressive style.
Giants vs. Meet Your Makers
One day prior to the start of the LCS, Meet Your Makers announced that the mid laner Selfie was no longer part of the team. With little time to find a replacement, they settled on solo queue player Blizer300. Their main priority during the pick/ban phase was getting a comfortable champion for Blizer300, Ahri. At the same time Giants focused on banning H0R0 in the jungle and putting Nisbeth on a less comfortable champion, by banning Janna and first picking Tresh.
Despite picking Renekton as a counter to Werlyb’s Jax, Mimer was practically a non-factor, losing trades and even getting killed 1v1. The entirety of the MYM team seemed lost and unable to make decisions and plays. Giants on the other hand looked like a team with a plan, playing a very controlled and strategically sound game. Good map rotations, roams, tower control and PePiiNeRO having a great time on LeBlanc made it look like a very one-sided game, in which they never lost control. However, this was a game played against a crippled team, and they have to prove themselves against other teams with no substitutes.
Copenhagen Wolves vs. H2K Gaming
CW’s entire ban phase was focused on Ryu, the player that replaced Febiven in the H2K lineup, while H2K focused more on op and comfort pick bans. Coming into the picks, CW decided on a mid/late game team comp while H2K focused more on heavy engage early/mid game champions.
With Odoamne on Sion, H2K managed to have a great early game, and by the 30 minute mark they had gathered a 5.2k lead. However, the game was not lost for CW, for, despite the gold and tower lead on the part of H2K, Airwaks had a great game on his Jarvan IV, and with good map presence kept the deficit manageable and won time for Soren’s Cassiopeia. Getting in the late game, H2K’s lack of damage was very noticeable, and little by little, following some great engages on the part of CW, H2K lead began to shrink and eventually turn into a deficit. Another important factor deciding this game was Ryu’s almost solo queue style, not really coordinating with the team during team fights, and Hjarnan’s lackluster performance, arriving late at multiple team fights.
The game was the longest game of day 1, at almost 50 minutes, and also the only game to have a comeback from a gold deficit.
SK Gaming vs. Roccat
Another awaited game, this was Roccat’s chance to get some “revenge” on SK Gaming for denying them the chance to participate at the World Championship, saw the return of nukeduck in the LCS. SK Gaming first picked Kassadin, and Roccat, or most likely nukeduck’s hubris, picked LeBlanc in the mid lane, a losing matchup, that signaled to SK Gaming that Jankos will most probably try to have a heavy mid lane presence. With Forg1ven and nRated on losing matchups of themselves, they decided on a lane swap, avoiding the pressure of Roccat’s bottom lane.
With Jankos focusing on the mid lane, SK littered the area with wards and gave Fox the upper hand, denying kills to nukeduck, and the chance to get ahead and snowball the game. The entirety of the Roccat team had a very lackluster game, with none of the players managing to have an impact on the map, and being outplayed multiple times by the players of SK. SK Gaming showed a very strong objective control, minion wave manipulation, overall map pressure and relentless aggression. The best player of this game must certainly be Svenskeren, whose ganks and counter-ganks were always on point, although all his teammates had a brilliant performance.
After a strong performance SK Gaming looks like the team to beat this split, and Roccat has yet to show us that the addition of Woolite and especially nukeduck can stand up to the hype surrounding them.
Gambit vs. Unicorns of Love
After both team had great performances at IEM, everyone expected a great match, and probably a close one. Unfortunately for Gambit, that was not to be, as Unicorn of Love completely crushed them, in an extremely one-sided game. In the pick/ban phase Gambit didn’t seem to possess a plan for the match, and created an unorthodox team composition which lacked hard CC in every position except support. UoL seemed to get everything they wanted in terms of champions from the pick phase, in particular PowerOfEvil’s signature champion, Syndra.
With Kikis and PowerOfEvil in top form, UOL quickly snowballed the game, never allowing Gambit to have map control, and denying them all objectives, and despite a great Cassiopeia ultimate from Cabochard towards the end, UOL won the fastest game of the day. Most importantly, UOL played standard, not relying on odd picks, showing that they can perform even when playing the meta. As in their match against TSM though, we must not forget that as a team Gambit underperformed (and that could be an understatement), and it’s not likely that UOL will have an easy time against other LCS teams.
Meet Your Makers vs. SK Gaming
Coming into this match SK Gaming were the clear favorites. The ban phase of SK Gaming focused on removing two mid lane assassins, leading Blizer300 towards the same champion he played a day before, Ahri. Early into the game SK took the lead, first with the incredible plays of the bottom lane of Forg1ven and nRated that managed to get a kill in a 2v2 situation and then with Svenskeren’s ganks in the mid lane, giving Fox an early advantage on Cassiopeia.
Unlike yesterday though, MYM managed to regroup and formulate a strategy for the comeback, with H0R0 at the center of it. With a great play in the mid lane and a successful counter-gank in the top lane, H0R0 managed to equalize the kills and reduce the gold deficit. SK Gaming’s focus were the dragons, and not managing to get that objective, MYM tried to punish each dragon SK took by trading it with a tower. The game dragged on, with both teams playing cautiously and only a small gold advantage in the favor of SK. At around 35 minutes into the game, with four dragons already taken, SK were looking for that so important fifth dragon, and managed to take it just before the team fight began. With the extra power provided by that fifth dragon SK easily won the fight, acing MYM and only losing one member. With no one defending SK rushed down the mid lane and quickly ended the game, finishing the week with two victories.
Giants vs. Copenhagen Wolves
Already with a win this week, Giants and Copenhagen Wolves looked to make it a perfect week. With 3 junglers banned, neither team picked the standard Lee Sin, and instead chose Vi and Hecarim. Giants bet again on Werlyb’s Jax, while CW picked Kalista for Freeze. The game started well for Giants, with only the bottom lane under heavy pressure from their counterparts. At 10 minutes they had already picked the first blood and 4 more kills, while CW managed to get one kill on the ad carry and a dragon. CW looked to do the same as they did in the match against H2K and stall the game while looking for the perfect engage that could propel them in the lead.
Having a moderate lead Giants pushed on, pressuring the entire map and by the 30 minute mark they had 6 towers and 3 dragons under their belt and a good lead, despite CW managing to sneak a baron. From that point they took it easy, concentrating on getting baron, by warding, clearing wards and getting big minion waves in the top and bottom lane. Once they saw the opportunity they quickly got baron and pushed straight down the mid lane and got the win.
Roccat vs. Gambit
Recovering from hard losses, both teams wanted to end the week on a good note coming into this match. With Azir being left open, Roccat took the opportunity to first pick him for Overpow and create a siege/poke team composition by putting nukeduck on Xerath, a long range mage. With Azir in the bottom lane against P1noy’s Corki, they pressured the top lane Irelia and managed to get the first blood and start building an advantage. At the end of the early game, they already had one kill, three towers and one dragon advantage.
At that moment Gambit started to pick up some steam getting some kills and towers, at one point almost canceling the gold deficit and managing to get the first baron of the game. What followed though was a series of engagements at wrong locations for their team comp, which allowed Roccat to once again take the initiative. Even if they didn’t have a traditional frontline tank, Roccat was able to position themselves in such a way that Gambit were unable to lock down priority targets, leaving enough time for Roccat to apply damage, win fights and eventually win the game.
The Roccat from this game looks much better than the one that lost to SK Gaming, and in a way Gambit also looked better. Both teams seem to have coordination issues, and a lack of understanding of in-game strategy, and will have to work hard to fix them if they want to succeed.
Fnatic vs. H2K
Following the win over Elements, Fnatic came into this match having high expectations. In the pick/ban phase they first picked Zed for Febiven and built a pick/engage composition around him. H2K had a similar idea, opting for engage champions like Rengar, Irelia and Sivir.
The game started well for H2K, Odoamne managing again to get early kills. This however made him overconfident, and after a bad timed teleport engage Fnatic managed to get the upper hand and start to build an advantage in dragons and towers. The whole game was punctuated by H2K trying to get picks only to find the entire Fnatic team in position to re-engage and win the fights. Fnatic looked more coordinated, confident, they had better map rotations and seemed to have better synergy.
An interesting aspect of this game was Steelback’s performance. He looked more aggressive than he was in the game against Elements and had very good positioning in team fights. H2K presented themselves badly and looked like a team with no idea of what to do when the laning phase is over, an aspect they will have to work on if they are to gain wins.
Unicorns of Love vs. Elements
In need of a win, Elements settled for a pick/engage team composition, while UOL picked a late game oriented team. For the first part of the game both teams were close in objectives and gold, with UOL having more towers and Elements leading in dragons. Elements however had better map rotations and were able to capitalize on positioning errors, giving them the edge in team fights. This, combined with a poor Orianna play on the part of PowerOfEvil, allowed Elements to develop a lead. With two barons on the course of the game, Elements were able to crack UOL’s defenses and eventually win the game.
One of the biggest factors of the game was PowerOfEvil’s performance. After a great show in the game against Gambit, the team decided to not give him an assassin type champion. His Orianna play was sub-par to say the least, as he missed at least 3 important ultimates that could have made the difference. Also, this pick did not give him an edge over Froggen’s Kassadin, and put him behind in the early game.
Elements had a much improved team coordination compared to their last game and did not solely rely farming for a late game win, showing that they have what is necessary to adapt. They were more inclined to take risks, and this uncharacteristic aggression gave them the edge over UOL.