The EU LCS is kicking off its Summer Split in less than 24 hours, and there are a ton of interesting storylines to follow. Here are 15 wandering thoughts, opinions, and questions I’m mulling over going into Week 1.
These are all opinions and speculations, and I welcome discussion, criticism, harassment, naysaying, and gifts of chocolate cake.
I like cake.
1. In the clash of Spring finalists between the Unicorns of Love and Fnatic, how will the first 15 minutes play out? FNC loves to build snowballs, especially for Huni, but if UoL survives the onslaught and just keeps things close going into the mid game, I give them the edge in team fights and map movement.
2. Before FNC vs. UoL even begins, I’m super curious about what the heck Kikis will play. This guy pulled out jungle Gnar, Shaco, and five games of Udyr in the Spring playoffs. Unpredictable doesn’t even begin to describe his champion pool. For all I know, he could be prepping a jungle Taric this week. He’s made more outrageous choices than that in the past!
3. How will Elements’ new lineup work together? Froggen’s team was heavily criticized last split for a lack of cohesive team play. Will it really help to change four out of five players? Though I guess it can’t really make things worse at this point. Elements can be forgiven if it takes a few weeks to get on the same page, but they have to make sure they adjust quickly, or they’ll dig a hole they can’t climb out of.
4. More on the Elements front: I really want to see what kind of carry identity the team is planning to build around. Are they going to adopt the standard EU approach Kelsey Moser described, with their main carry focus in the mid lane and a safe clean-up ADC, or are they hoping PromisQ and Tabzz will increase the aggression and threat level of their bottom lane, to take some pressure off of Froggen’s shoulders?
5. Speaking of Elements’ brand new Support player, which rookies will adjust best to the spotlight? Every solo queue star who joins the LCS gets plenty of hype treatment. Will PromisQ, G0dfred, and Steve seize their opportunities, or fizzle out? Week 1 is their first chance to get a taste of the spotlight and find out what playing on LAN is like. They’d better not drop the ball…
6. Shifting from rookies to veterans, I wonder how Forg1ven‘s personality will mesh with Edward (sorry, Gosu Pepper or whatever) on Gambit. The GMB coaching staff may have a big challenge keeping everyone working together harmoniously, especially after they experience their first loss or two. At this point I think it’s up to Forg1ven to prove that he can be a positive influence on his team and not an emotional anchor.
7. More veteran talk: I’m not sure Origen‘s team play is at an LCS level. In the EUCS games I watched I wasn’t impressed with their decision making and map play. Maybe I just watched the wrong games? They seemed to outclass their opponents role by role in the laning phase and earned big leads to sit on, but too often things turned sloppy after that, and they allowed unnecessary team fights to happen and gave up advantages. Sure, they won every game but two, but they didn’t do it as convincingly as I think they could have. Taking your foot off the gas pedal is a sure way to welcome bad habits and poor communication into your game. Players as experienced as xPeke and Soaz shouldn’t be letting that happen. I want to see how much tactical discipline and focus Origen can muster now that they’re up against the next level of competition.
8. H2K has some exciting players to watch, but I’m most interested in their Head Coach. What does Prolly have prepared for his team this split? Over the break he’s implied that he wants to shift his team’s strategic approach somewhat, and he’s had a few weeks to cook up some real craziness. I can just picture him sitting at his desk with his fingers steepled, eyes bulging a little, cackling quietly to himself and muttering something about American fast food and how they’re all going to pay for this. Hmm. Am I the only one who can imagine this? Yeah, I prolly am.
9. The Copenhagen Wolves were decent but unexceptional last split. Who is going to step up to push them over the top this split? To me it doesn’t seem like Freeze can do much more than he has been. My eyes are on Airwaks.
10. As a team, the Wolves need to improve their early game objective control. In their 0-3 playoff loss they only took one First Dragon and gave up the First Tower all three games. Their first Tower kill came at an average time of 15.8 minutes. That’s way too slow. They’ve probably been working on the early part of the game during the offseason, so let’s see what kind of improvements they can bring out.
11. SK Gaming‘s core identity was completely uprooted this offseason. It used to be a given that their duo lane would be hard pushing Towers for the first chunk of every game. Now they need to rebuild their entire early-game strategy, preferably into something more nuanced. Their ability to do that will come down to how creative their coaching staff is and how willing the players are to buy into a new team philosophy. Based on the way last split ended, I think they’ll be ready to try something new.
12. Just GIANTS Things: Werlyb, please play Jax. Please play Jax, please play Jax, please play Jax, I don’t know enough about GIANTS, please play Jax, I’m so sorry GIANTS fans, I’m a bad person, please play Jax.
13. Okay but really, I’d love to see Werlyb carve out a strong niche for himself. There’s room in the EU for more Top lane uniqueness and personality. The EU Mid lane and Jungle are packed with standout talents, styles, and personalities–have I mentioned that Kikis played five games of Udyr in the Spring playoffs?–but when I think of EU Top laners outside of Huni, it’s hard to find real differentiators in style and star power. But maybe that says more about me than about the actual players. Please call me out on this!
14. Eh, Steve! Roccat’s new rookie has the least inventive nickname since Tom joined joined SK Telecom T1 last split. If those two can convince Hai to come out of retirement, get Kev1n to role-swap to Support, and add in SBENU Sonicboom’s sub ADC Dan, we’ll have a complete All First Names Team. And if we can poach EDG’s coach, Aaron, it’ll be too perfect to fail!
15. Finally… Krepo the Caster! I’m really looking forward to seeing Mitch rock the color casting role. He’s got knowledge, personality, and credibility, and he’s good at getting his ideas across in understandable ways. He’ll be a great addition to the EU broadcasts, and I already had a soft spot for the EU team because they make way better use of stats than the NA broadcast does. Shoutout to Spellsy and Optimus Tom!
What are some of the storylines and players you’ll be following closely this split? Do you have a suggestion for how to improve the First Names Only team? Please please please can you teach me to be a better GIANTS fan!?
P.S. I’m so sorry, Werlyb. Please forgive me. And please play Jax. I’m asking for a friend.