G2’s Unfaltering Rule
Rarely in the history of European League of Legends has there a blockbuster roster-swap the likes of Zven and Mithy to G2.
After a disappointing MSI performance from G2, rumours of Origen’s star bot lane moving to G2 began to circulate, and shortly after the news was made official. A move of this scale has generally left people with the expectation that G2 will become one of the best European teams to have graced the rift, with the combination of a legendary bottom lane and the rising star, jungle-mid combo of Trick and Perkz. The only questions are if these two separate duos will mesh, and if weak link Mateusz ‘Kikis’ Szkudlarek will hold the team back, despite his low-econ style of top lane.
The immediate answer after a 2-0 series versus Origen appears to be that team cohesion is at high for G2 (who took 81% of dragons in their games) compared to the shambles the team was in at MSI, but that Kikis is indeed exploitable.
Whilst G2 smashed Giants (as expected), and beat Origen in a landslide victory game one, game two was a much closer affair, where G2s dragon control was the main reason for them taking a backwards and forwards game against Origen. The reason for the closeness was undoubtedly sOAZ, who went 7/1/4 as Fizz, and having enough gold to buy a BoRK, sold it for a Proto Belt, and then sold that for a Zhonya’s Hourglass.
Whilst sOAZ’s late game ultimates were generally poor, and were greatly counter acted by Mithy’s Tahm Kench, it seems likely that if Kikis continues to give enemy teams such an easy source of gold (with him going 0/4 pre-20 minutes), enemy teams will be able to exploit the early kills to snowball the game into a victory.
Origen’s task of replacing Zven and Mithy wasn’t an enviable one. However, they seemed to have performed admirably, recruiting LCS veteran ADC FORG1VEN, famous for his lane centric play style (and his outspoken personality), in addition to ex-G2 support Hybrid, who in his rookie split had given impressive Braum performances.
Surely, in a meta where FORG1VEN’s signature Lucian pick, and Hybrids powerful Braum pick are top tier, and with the two picks having immense synergy with each other, this duo-lane (provided they didn’t clash with Origen’s remaining veteran players) could bring success for Origen, even if they weren’t able to contest with the likes of G2.
Unsurprisingly, Origen were beat fairly convincingly by G2, only managing to put up a fight in the second game of the series. The much more shocking result was the thought to be washed up Unicorns of Love rosters stomp over Origen, with Exileh’s Le Blanc and Move’s Elise taking Origen to pieces.
What was FORG1VEN doing during these games? Was it the heroic performances and attempts to carry 1v5 fans had come to expect from FORG1VEN during his stays on lesser teams such as the Copenhagen Wolves?
It was not, and whilst many might assume this to be because his best champions had being taken away, such as what had happened during his stint on the ill-fated SK Gaming roster of 2015, FORG1VEN actually got his hands on his famous Lucian in 3 out of the four games. The mighty Greek seemed to be subdued compared to what fans expected, and whilst his game play was by no means bad, it lacked the carry quality that Origen needed.
All of this is without even going into the atrocity that was the Corki pick against G2, which brings FORG1VEN’s champion pool, and Origen’s coaching/analyst staff into question, with the pick bringing nothing in Origen’s first game of the series, where they drafted a poke composition, and had the option for an Ezreal pick, but instead opted for the C-tier Corki pick.
If Origen are to bounce back from these losses, FORG1VEN is going to have to perform to the standard expected of him.
Fnatic’s Growing Pains
This split has marked the return of 5-time LCS champion Bora ‘YellowStar’ Kim to Fnatic, a move that more diehard fans said would be a seamless transition and lead to a return to form for both the old shot caller (who has fallen from grace with TSM in the spring), and the team (who had failed to make the finals for the first time in LCS history). On the other hand, more critical experts were of the mind that YellowStar’s stint in NA had left him in ruin, and that Fnatic’s 2015 Worlds semifinal run was primarily on the back of the Korean duo of Huni and Reignover anyway (and they themselves had problems in the spring when it came to the playoffs, where a tank top meta reigned supreme). In reality, the result is somewhere in between.
In the first series versus Giants, YellowStar initially displayed great Braum play to take a first blood, but as the game went on, some sloppy engagements with the Kalista ultimate highlighted how whilst YellowStar may be back to Fnatic, there is still dissonance within the roster that will take time to fix. Indeed, this trend continued into game two, with an uncharacteristic 2v2 death for Rekkles despite overall cleaner play from the team, ending in less than 30 minutes with primary carry Febiven going off to a final score of 9/0/10 as Azir.
In their series against Vitality, Fnatic took a much beloved European-draw, with exceptional Zed play from Febiven in game two despite the team being completely lost in game one until the lategame. Febiven (once again on Azir) attempted to hard carry his team in fights, although the level of precision Fnatic’s team comp required to pull off wasn’t there for the new line-up, which is likely a result of either the freshness of YellowStar in the roster or lack of English skills for Spirit to correctly work with his team to disengage NukeDuck’s Lissandra with the Lee Sin kick.
Frozen at 1-1
After a disappointing 4th place finish in the spring playoffs, H2K swapped out ADC FORG1VEN for Freeze, a player who has consistently performed to an elite standard in both NA and EU despite being on some of the worst rosters. For instance, Freeze played on a failing Renegades roster and still managed to earn the second highest damage per minute out of all starting players, only falling short of Doublelift, who played for a much superior team.
On top of all of this, Freeze came without being as demanding for resources (and supposedly as demanding of his team mates) as FORG1VEN, so on paper this change should have been one to elevate H2K to their first finals appearance.
There is just one problem for H2K: whilst they made a small upgrade (though some might argue Freeze is a downgrade compared to FORG1VEN), many other top rosters in Europe made much bigger upgrades, such as YellowStar to FNC, and the OG bot lane to G2.
However, whilst some expected H2K to be left in the dust by these other top teams, no one expected H2K to struggle against what appeared to be much weaker teams such as ROCCAT and Schalke.
In their first game against ROCCAT, H2K failed to close out the game from a four thousand gold lead, something unexpected from a team whose macro game normally is their greatest strength. The next game was won by Jankos putting his team on his back with a 6/1/15 performance, and the first game versus Schalke by a baron sneak, in an otherwise uncharacteristically sloppy game. However, coming into game two against Schalke, H2K seemed to be without a plan, playing out a snooze fest of a game for thirty minutes until Schalke came alive with Gillius leading the charge with some great Gragas play.
If H2K are going to recover from this shaky start, it will take Prolly to restore H2K’s macro game to the level fans are used to and for Jankos’s aggression to be tempered into a powerful weapon at H2K’s disposal, not the double-edged sword it currently is with him normally taking first blood, or giving it up.
FC Schalke 3-1
Coming into the split, no one expected Schalke to be a top contender, and whilst it is too early to judge, they are at least part of the conversation now.
Jungler Berk ‘Gilius’ Demir was previously only ever a back-up jungler, and even after making it to LCS, continued to be a bottom-tier player. So, when Gilius carried his team to victory in combination with new signing Hampus ‘Fox’ Myhre in two one-sided games against UOL, and even managed to take a game off of H2K, many were left surprised.
With the rest of the team putting up consistently average performances at best in their history as players, the future of Schalke will come down to whether Gilius and Fox and keep up the good performances against the best Europe has to offer, although a solo kill against H2K mid Ryu is a good sign that perhaps this team can at least play in the big leagues.
Lucas ‘Cabochard’ Simon-Meslet is famous for his carry style of top lane, finding success on champions such as Morgana, Kennen, and even Lucian, and is the primary carry of Vitality.
Despite this, it finally seems that Cabochard has finally broken in, as he played Maokai in every game his team could get their hands upon the pick, playing just one non-Maokai game (where he played Trundle, unsuccessfully).
This has led Vitality to so far have achieved two draws, one of which was against Splyce, a team Vitality should have beaten handily. Perhaps, if Cabochard could have a had a more impactful carry champion such as a Fizz, Ekko, or even Trundle in these games, losses could have being avoided. Without a damage source in the top lane, there seemed to be no-one to step up to the plate when mid laner Nukeduck went for Le Blanc, an assassin that he normally is able to offer a burst damage source as, to go with Cabochard’s carry top laners, whether they be DPS or backline divers.
Indeed, if Cabochard continues to pick these more team-orientated picks, Korean import ADC Police is going to have to become the DPS source his team requires, or Nukeduck is going to be severely constrained to picking high DPS mid laners that can carry in the team fights that Vitality tends to rely upon, when Cabochard isn’t on a split pusher.
Live by Exileh, Die by Exileh
0/9 and 0/7 to 1/0/7 and 8/0/2, Move and Exileh seem to be some of the swingiest players to have graced EU. In their 2-0 victory over Origen, Move completely punished Origen’s laners for over-extending, and Exileh capitalized off the same over-extensions to snowball to a victory.
In their 0-2 defeat against Schalke, Move was solo-killed by Gilius, and Fox had Exileh’s number in the mid lane. Whilst unlikely given the competition, the only way UOL gets a top 6 seed it needs for playoffs will be because Move and Exileh are able to perform at their peak level consistently, which in combination with UOL veterans Vizicsacsi and Hylissang should be enough for UOL to scrape a playoffs spot.
Betsy’s Big Break
In seasons past, Felix ‘Betsy’ Edling has always being a talent left unexplored and untested. He played for the 2015 Gambit squad that was plagued by inconsistency, and later ‘toxicity’, and despite some good performances, Betsy was never the star of the team.
In the ROCCAT roster of spring 2016, Betsy had a more pivotal role, but was the only player of any real note at that point on the lineup, with NoXiAK and Tabzz being the only other players that performed at a level consistently above trash. However, with the acquisition of Steelback, Korean challenger talent and Jayce main Parang, in addition to his ex-Star Dust teammate Raise, ROCCAT are now more than just Betsy and friends, and may now be able to challenge for a playoffs spot.
If ROCCAT are to take a playoffs spot, it will take Airwaks playing his best every game, as in their victories he had great early game impact, but in their losses (particularly against H2K) he found himself out jungled and having little to no impact.
Sencux’s Splyce Succeed
Some would argue that a 2-2 record shouldn’t be called success, but drawing against a much better on paper Vitality and a greatly improved ROCCAT line-up is a big achievement for a mediocre team that’s only roster change was bringing in a no-name support in Mikyx.
But unlike the previous split, where all of Splyce’s victories could be attributed to Sencux hard carrying, Splyce’s other members have stepped up: Trashy having some beautiful Gragas games, Wunder’s performances so far have had a consistency previously lacking (although we are only one week in), and Kobbe putting up the third highest DPM for ADCs, and has the highest damage % of all ADCs, at over 31% of his team’s damage.
It seems unlikely this roster makes it to playoffs, but they have the potential to upset teams if not prepared for now, if Trashy and Kobbe continue to perform to this standard.
Giants Going Gently Into That Good NighT
Coast. Kongdoo Monsters. DragonBorns. Velocity.
Some of the all-time worst W/L ratios seen in professional LoL, all deserving of any ridicule they receive, and it seems likely Giants will join them.
SmittyJ is a top laner that once had some hype built up around him, but that is all quickly vanished for given his variance in performance, which peaks at promising, and at the worst is getting beat by a washed-up Wickd.
NighT is a no-name Korean that so far has been one of the only positives for the team, but isn’t exceptional by any stretch of the imagination. Their support Hustlin is a Nautilus main, and his games so far highlight why he is the only support still picking Nautilus (baring one odd game by IMAY in China) in meta filled with Braum, Bard, and mage supports.
With two unproven EU rookies, one unproven KR rookie, and an ex-IM player that was low-tier in Korea, this team is almost a reflection of the 2015 FNC roster. Except FNC had a legendary veteran in YellowStar. Giants have SmittyJ. This is a significant downgrade, and I highly doubt Giants will get as lucky as FNC did with their rookies.
Overall, the only way this roster should be able to pick up wins is underestimation followed by NighT carrying, and SmittyJ having one of his good games, which is such an alignment of the stars, at best I imagine Giants managing a couple of ties, in what is otherwise a league stocked full of good teams that each posses a large enough amount of talent to be competitive with all but the very top teams.
Get used to score lines like this.
Images courtesy of lolesports and esportspedia