After a first week of mostly smashing victories — with a couple surprising victors — the EU LCS gears up for an exciting Week 2. Only two teams, frontrunner Fnatic and challenger Origen, emerged from the first week untouched by defeat. At the bottom of the standings, SK and Gambit will struggle to determine what went wrong and fix it before their seasons run away from them. In between are a host of hopes and stories: a resurgent Elements, riding on an array of talent and incredible teamfighting; Roccat, GIANTS!, and the Wolves fighting to pick up leads and angle for eventual playoff contention; and strong teams H2K and UoL looking to build strong beginnings to their summer season.
(In this article are brief discussions and predictions of how EU’s Week 2 will play out for each team. As anything can happen in a game, emphasis is on the analysis. Nonetheless, I stand by the predictions below.)
Results: A one-sided loss to H2K and a hard-fought, convincing win over Gambit showed both high points and low points for the Roccat squad. Steve, ruthlessly focused in his first LCS game, rebounded well in the win against Gambit. Jankos (with good counterganks and a Baron steal against Gambit) and VandeR delivered powerful performances in the victory as well. Pressure falls onto Woolite (who died way too much in Week 1, with only 1 death fewer than his heavily-focused top laner) and Nukeduck (whose performances were less than stellar) to improve if Roccat is to stay competitive. There’s promise in this squad — while the win against Gambit was less than decisive, it showed that Roccat still has claws.
Prediction: Unfortunately, their upcoming week is not a pretty one. In their first game against 2-0 Fnatic, Jankos will have to take advantage of the reigning split champs’ unimpressive (by Fnatic’s standards) Week 1 early game just to prevent a stomp. Their second match against Unicorns of Love will require Nukeduck and Woolite to step up their game to remain competitive, especially in early dragon fights. While their decent Week 1 has me excited for what the season will bring for Roccat, this week is unlikely to help them out. Expect two losses. 0-2.
Results: At first glance, SK’s 0-2 start hints at the effects of FORG1VEN’s absence. Certainly the Wolves’ early game snowball was made easier without the spring MVP’s dominant lane aggression. On the other hand, would SK have been able to hold off this improved version of Fnatic? Besides, CandyPanda put up excellent numbers in game two — Fnatic simply took crucial teamfights, yet even then Fox was often able to pick off a survivor. Given a couple more weeks, SK could turn into a force equal to (or better than, despite what the record says) their spring selves.
Prediction: They don’t have that long, but this week is still SK’s opportunity to put numbers on the board. Their first match against Origen features exciting matchups across the board: Fox and Svenskeren will be called upon to carry with dragon pressure and roaming in the enemy jungle. Fox on Leblanc and CandyPanda on a hypercarry like Jinx or Kog’maw (two of his best champions in the 2014 split) might be one answer. Their second match against GIANTS! may become season defining: they hold the upper hand in talent and proven record, but PePiiNeRo’s squad put up good fights (and a win) in the first week. A steamroll will give them confidence, but I lean toward expecting a more hard-fought win. 1-1.
Results: If SK’s losses hint at the absence of FORG1VEN, Gambit’s hint at the absence of FORG1VEN. After a powerful laning phase on Lucian against Elements, FORG1VEN disappeared for the rest of the week, accumulating a shockingly low 2.17 KDA (among ADs, higher only than Woolite’s 1.54 and CandyPanda’s 1.5). More worrying to see was how often he was separated from the team for no gain on the map, suggesting a serious lack of communication. Betsy’s KDA (0.75) is the lowest among mid laners in the entire LCS, both EU and NA; he will need to become much more relevant in teamfights.
Prediction: These numbers do not bode well for what looks to be one of Gambit’s hardest weeks. They play their first game against H2K, whose surge last split snapped Gambit’s own 7-game winning streak and whose objective-based mental game runs circles around disorganized opponents. To beat H2K, Diamondprox will need to vastly outplay his counterpart and get his lanes ahead early — a difficult prospect, especially against an ominously strong Ryu. Their second game comes against Fnatic, who easily outmatch Gambit in every role. To stand a chance, I’d want to see FORG1VEN and Betsy on champions they’ve done well with, perhaps Graves and Ahri. Barring an incredible upset, though, Gambit’s looking at a repeat of their slow spring start. 0-2.
Results: Was 1-1 how H2K — among the most synergistic squads in the EU — expected to start the split? An easy game against Roccat and a devastating loss to Origen gives us little to work with, but we can surmise a bit from the games. The first is that Ryu has shown his fangs, dominating Roccat with map aggression that even his own team didn’t fully expect (see his first gank on Roccat’s Steve). The second is that against a bot lane like Origen’s, kaSing and Hjarnan were simply outmatched. In situations like that (which they may face again in Tabzz and promisQ), a brief lane swap is not enough — fast-pushing multiple towers and quick excursions into the enemy jungle to build an early lead will be vital. The third is that when losing, H2K (apart from Ryu) continued to get picked off. If faced with a deficit, they need either smarter map movement or multiple disengage champions.
Prediction: Facing Gambit and Elements offers a solid test of H2K’s individual talent. Both opponents feature strong bottom lanes and aggressive junglers, which arguably target H2K’s individual weaknesses. Betsy is no match for Ryu and Odoamne outclasses Jwaow, but in both games the struggle for early game dominance could go either way. H2K’s map control should see them rise over a disjointed Gambit. Against a revitalized Elements, they’re likely to struggle. As an unabashed H2K fan I’d love to see them take two wins (and they yet might), but chances are that at least one of these teams will give them a run and possibly hand them a loss. My money’s on Elements. 1-1.
Results: Don’t let Elements’ quick (but not one-sided) loss to UoL overshadow the impressive steamrolling of Gambit the day before. The teamfighting synergy is there; the numbers are impressive, with all but Froggen breaking a 6.0 KDA (Tabzz and dexter died three times between them in two games). If anything, Froggen is dying too much, falling to enemy focus (admittedly the focus of a strong UoL). Fix that concern and Elements might be ready to challenge the top tier.
Prediction: Elements look forward to what should be one easy win (GIANTS!) and one extraordinary struggle (H2K). In the former, dexter and the bot lane should be able to force early map control and snowball from there with Elements’ teamfighting potential. In the latter, pressure will be on Elements to contain Ryu (who will probably play an assassin, and roam, against Froggen) and shut down H2K’s strategic playstyle. My bet is that Tabzz and promisq can lock down the bot lane, allowing dexter to pressure loulex and countergank if he tries to get mid and top rolling. A very hesitant 2-0.
Results: Pegged as the back of the pack, GIANTS! put up decent results. Their loss to Origen included a couple brief flashes of brilliance (including a strong teleport out of Werlyb to force a trade out of first blood, leaving sOAZ flatfooted), and their win over the Wolves (in what could only be an upset victory) told us they’re not ready to be counted out. Adryh, surprisingly, may become something of a dark horse carry against weaker teams, if only because he was never a serious threat in the spring. With PePiiNeRo (whose flanking assassinations against Origen will work far better against worse teams) and Werlyb drawing most of the enemy fire and new support G0DFRED putting up a surprisingly respectable performance in the first week, Adryh’s poor positioning might not matter as much.
Prediction: Since SK is (so far) one of those “weaker teams”, it’s against them that GIANTS! have their best chance in Week 2. If nothing else, PePiiNeRo will severely limit Fox’s snowball potential, while G0DFRED should be enough to keep CandyPanda (who is less of a lane carry than FORG1VEN) under control in the laning phase. Elements’ synergy and numerous threats will be a harder team to break, and Froggen’s scaling with Tabzz’s careful positioning will restrict PePii’s assassination potential. I expect two losses, but taking a game off of a frustrated SK would be an impressive and not-impossible feat. 0-2.
Results: Ah, Wolves. They needed that win against GIANTS! — what a statement a 2-0 start would have made for a summer underdog. Still, their first two games show a lot of potential. Freeze has proven once again that he is the Wolves’ carry with a KDA equal to Niels’, good for 4th overall in the EU. Putting him on Urgot, as good as his numbers were, is a dangerous waste. In my previous article I said that the Wolves needed stronger tower-pushing and dragon control coming into the summer, and they’ve certainly moved in that direction. CW’s early map control threw SK entirely off their game. It looks terribly sloppy right now (a wasted early teleport against SK and a shoddy tower dive against GIANTS!, just to name two examples), but this fast-objective style holds a lot of promise farther down the split.
Prediction: Probably not in this week, though. I would love to see the Wolves take down the Unicorns, but unless Airwaks solidly overperforms and Soren can hold off PowerOfEvil, they face a steep climb against an aggressive team. Against Origen, the head-to-head of Niels and Freeze could be a great matchup, but Origen’s veterans bring too much to the table, even with the Wolves playing stronger against better teams. An upset against one of these teams is possible (and two would mean a great deal), but the Wolves will lose at least one of these games. If they win, it’ll probably be against UoL, whose inconsistency in the regular split may work in the Wolves’ favor. 0-2.
Results: A 2-0 start doesn’t make a season; nor does it remove Origen from wildcard status. But their resounding wins showed that they have carry potential on pretty much everyone. Mithy and Niels dominated skirmishes with brilliant synergy — their test will come against teams with stronger bot lanes than those of GIANTS! and H2K. Amazing and xPeke put up good numbers in both victories. sOAZ looked a little shaky, especially against GIANTS! (I wouldn’t trust him against Huni just yet), but Origen’s dragon fights showed he fits solidly into this star-studded lineup.
Prediction: Though not an extraordinarily difficult week for Origen, it should prove to be an action-packed one. Coming off an 0-2 start, SK has a lot to prove, and eyes will be on how Fox and Svenskeren control the map against xPeke and Amazing (to say nothing of sOAZ vs fredy122, a matchup familiar from past splits). In game two, the Copenhagen Wolves (facing their own tough week) will pit the powerhouse of Freeze against rookie Niels in a duel between two of EU’s best ADs. Origen needs two wins this week if they want to prove they’re ready to challenge UoL and Fnatic later this split. Expect high kill counts in both games and don’t discount an upset from one of their opponents. Even so…2-0.
Unicorns of Love
Results: The Unicorns’ loss against Fnatic was not as surprising as the manner of it. Viewers recalling the 60-kill siege from the end of the spring split might have expected a more even score. Still, the game turned on a single baron play, and their victory against Elements was convincing enough. PowerOfEvil (posting a 14.0 KDA) remains the cornerstone of UoL’s performance and teamfighting strategy, with Viziscaci following close behind in terms of game impact. Kikis showed excellent tactical awareness on Gragas, successfully singling out Froggen for death on three occasions — similar performances will ensure UoL remains near the top.
Prediction: This is the Unicorns’ week to surge. The Wolves should be a relatively easy victory for the Unicorns, but Copenhagen showed a great deal of tenacity against stronger teams last split, so it may not be the clear-cut victory UoL had over Elements in Week 1. What should be clear-cut is the match against Roccat. A repeat of Kikis’ Elements performance would offset anything Jankos could bring to the table. Even without it, Roccat should simply be outmatched. 2-0.
Results: The 2015 Spring Split champions made a powerful statement in their first game against the Unicorns, capitalizing on small mid-game missteps to snowball a massive advantage. Their win over a struggling SK, though much closer on the scoreboard, was in some ways just as convincing. They maintained a strong front and refused to crack in a fairly close game. Huni is quieter (possibly by design, as more gold is funneled onto the standout Rekkles, the EU KDA leader), while Reignover’s kill participation out-assisted YellOwStaR’s. Frankly, though, expect every member of Fnatic’s squad to carry at some point this season.
Prediction: Roccat and Gambit do not present major challenges to Fnatic. As promising as Jankos’ performance against Gambit was, Fnatic’s talent should prove overwhelming against Roccat’s lanes. Where Gambit is concerned, their lack of strategical synergy and current uncertainty of hard carries will work heavily in Fnatic’s favor. A relatively easy week for Fnatic, as long as they don’t fall into the trap of complacency. 2-0.
Questions, comments, or critique? Post in the comment section below or email Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org