Oct 14 2016 - 7:18 pm

Another early exit from Worlds: Where does the problem lie with TSM?

It’s that time of year when TSM is knocked out of Worlds and everyone clamors to find a reason why North America has once again failed to live up to the hype
Josh Raven
Dot Esports

It’s that time of year when TSM is knocked out of Worlds and everyone clamors to find a reason why North America has once again failed to live up to the hype. We can tick off jet lag, as the tournament was hosted on home soil. Best of one's in the LCS? Not anymore! Yet there must be a reason that TSM underperformed internationally yet again, despite a promising regular season.

It certainly is confusing. While the belief in TSM heading into the World Championship was a little overzealous, there was reason to believe that this was in fact the best side North America had ever sent to compete on the world stage. The team had been almost unstoppable in their own region. Just one loss in the regular season proved their dominance, which was compounded further when the side rolled over fellow Worlds competitors Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9 in the playoffs. And yet it’s another group stage exit.

In fairness, rather than the embarrassing one-win campaign of 2015, TSM took it right to the wire this time. Three wins and three defeats was very nearly enough to get them through. Failing to overcome Royal Never Give Up, however, meant the Chinese side had the head-to-head advantage. This caused a lot of outrage among the fans, even though the rule has featured at previous tournaments.

So where does the problem lie? TSM is an almost perfect mish-mash of veteran experience and young, hungry talent. The youngsters even managed to hold up against the world's best. Vincent “Biofrost” Yang looked like a natural in his debut international event, while Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, admittedly boasting more experience, had ups and downs throughout the group stage. Biofrost had one outstanding poor performance on Nami against RNG but aside from that held his own better than most of his teammates. Hauntzer on the other hand disappointed on both Jayce and Kennen, though not enough to hold the blame for their downfall.

Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg was of course the ever-present superhero that TSM needed. No fault can be put on the shoulders of the Danish superstar. In fact, quite like his countryman Chres “Sencux” Laursen on Splyce, Bjergsen is often the only shining light when the team collapses around him. Statistically, he was the best mid laner in the tournament during the group stage, so Bjergsen takes a pass on this one. Keep up, you European maestro.

Bjergsen’s other half in the Danish duo is jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, who took the leap over to North America at the start of the current season. It looked like buying the jungler that cost the team over ‘5.5 fucking K dude’ was a mistake, but after a lackluster Spring split Svenskeren finally kicked into gear. 

But then sometimes he also drops down into reverse. One day he’s dominating the game with Lee Sin, and the next he struggles to keep up. It’s certainly a problem, and quite like his fellow inconsistent member in the top lane it can be attributed to TSM’s recent failure, but there is one more player who shoulders more of the blame than the rest.

Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng is undeniably a fan favorite, yet simultaneously is often singled out and berated when he doesn’t live up to the hype, which nowadays is just about every single tournament he attends. It’s not necessarily entirely his fault, though his persona throughout the years hasn’t helped him. A cocky attitude, calling almost everyone else “trash,” is obviously not how Doublelift actually feels about his talent, simply just part of his confidence building routine. Unfortunately for him, this means increased expectations to deliver, and when he doesn’t, it hits him hard. In a double dose of irony, he seems to struggle to perform when he doesn't let his inner diva out.

Perhaps it’s a confidence issue, or maybe it’s just a coincidence, and his time at the top is drawing to a close. He’s already publicly admitted to thoughts of retirement, and who could blame him? Most of the stars of his era are all gone; Steve “Chauster” Chau, Marcus “Dyrus” Hill. Shan “Chaox” huang, and many more. Yet he clings on in hope of finally taking North America to the promised land.

Well, I’m here to break the bad news. Realistically, North America is never going to win Worlds. In 2016, TSM trained harder than they ever did before, focused less on streaming, hired more and better backroom staff, and yet still failed to pass their first test. I fear that Doublelift will never reach his ultimate goal, and that he will find that extremely hard to accept. He’s already given up the unshakeable ego that let him believe he actually could be the best in the world, and hanging on at this point will likely see him continue down the path of mediocrity.

After the Worlds disappointment, the player took to Twitter to announce a change in his mentality, that he will stop taking things for granted. This doesn’t clarify whether he’ll be returning next season, but knowing Doublelift, he will. He’ll keep coming back and trying to be the best, and while admirable, one has to wonder if it’s just a little too late.

Today - 12:04 am

The new LCK meta: Singed top?

LCK Season 7 kicked off last night, giving us an early look at the new 10-ban meta.
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Image via Riot Games

Competitive League is back. Most professional leagues kick off the Spring Split later this week, with League of Legends Champions Korea getting the ball rolling last night. After a crazy offseason, we finally get to see what the pros make of the meta, how they’ll play around overpowered tanks, and what they’ll do with jungle plants.

One of the key questions going into this season was what the new draft phase would look like with the implementation of 10 bans (5 per team). We saw some of the effects of that last night. The first match involved a fascinating storyline with the ROX Tigers facing former top laner Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho for the first time.

But from a meta perspective, the more interesting match started after Smeb and KT walked off with a win. That’s when Longzhu Gaming and Samsung Galaxy both busted out pocket picks.

Wait, what? Singed top?

The craziness started in game one, when Samsung, playing on the red side (and picking second), inexplicably left Rengar available. That allowed Longzhu to first-pick the terrifying jungle assassin. In return though, they got Ezreal, Poppy, Zyra, and Viktor, strong picks themselves and ones that Samsung is familiar with.

Then with the last pick, top laner Gu "Expession" Bon-taek went with Singed.

Singed is fun and unique champion who can push minion waves in a way few champions can match. His mechanics have led to some pretty ridiculous strategies. But he’s not known in professional play because of his low overall damage and uselessness in team fights. Singed players typically play with a one-versus-five mentality, something that usually doesn’t agree with the typical Korean focus on team cohesion.

For Longzhu, Singed was honestly an afterthought for most of the game. That’s because Rengar took over. Lee "Crash" Dong-woo was all over Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong’s Lee Sin from the start, taking over the blue side jungle and enabling his bot lane to push with impunity.

That can be risky against Samsung’s strong solo laners, but it paid off as the Longzhu duo roamed around for turret after turret. Kim "PraY" Jong-in’s Jhin was absolutely incredible, pushing people off turrets and sniping them from range.

Samsung tried to turtle and defend, but that’s where Singed came in. Having built Zz’rot portal, he made life hell for Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin’s Poppy. Poppy wants to teamfight, but with Singed constantly pushing, CuVee had no priority and Longzhu romped.

We are not sure that Singed will continue to be a popular pick; he’s too easy to camp if there isn’t pressure elsewhere. But we’re also excited to see more team strategies being built around previously off-meta champions. 

More pocket picks to come

Image via Riot Games

Samsung responded in game two with a new champion: Camille somehow made it through the first ban phase. But then Longzhu came back with a counter pick of their own: Jax.

This game was what 10 bans was all about. It was incredibly fun watching these two top laners duel. At first, Camille had the upper hand, taking on Jax and then Song "Fly" Young-jun’s Ekko, beating both. But after Jax got a couple items, he became the stronger bruiser, getting a solo kill back. Stuns, dashes, and ults combined in a terrific dance. It was an incredible display of skill from two players and everything we hoped 10 bans could be.

Game 3 was a more straightforward Samsung win, but we got even more champions. New jungler Kang "Haru" Min-seung picked Kha’zix, and a level one invade got him first blood. In the mid lane, Lee "Crown" Min-ho picked Corki, someone we hadn’t seen in a some time. His range advantage kept Fly pushed in and Samsung played a steady game to win.

Three games, full of creative strategies and pocket picks. This is likely what Riot envisioned when they moved to the 10 ban system. But of course, these are the highest skilled players in the world—can players in Europe and North America, perhaps with smaller champion pools, recreate the success we saw last night?

In just a few days, we’ll find out.

Jan 17 2017 - 10:33 pm

These are the first four teams confirmed for the IEM World Championship

Eight teams will be competing at one of the largest international League of Legends events.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Riot Games

Half of the teams slated to compete at one of League of Legend's largest international events in 2017 have been announced.

The IEM World Championship will once conclude at IEM Katowice in Poland in March after roughly four months worth of competiton across three international events. Eight teams in total will be attending the event. Earlier today ESL revealed the first half that are slated to compete at the event.

The first four teams that will attend are Europe's H2K and Unicorns of Love, North Americans Cloud9 and lastly the Eastern European M19 squad, which was formerly known as Albus NoX Luna.

A majority of teams attending the event have been invited based off of their performance in the 2016 League World Championship. Additionally the victors at IEM's events in Oakland and Gyeonggi, which were won by Unicorns of Love and Samsung Galaxy respectively.

Reigning world champions SKT T1 and Chinese supersquad EDward Gaming have also secured invites to the event after reaching the quarterfinals of the 2016 World Championship, but have not confirmed their participation yet.

Eight teams will be competing at the event in total, though the final contestants are yet to be decided. None of the competitors representing the East Asian League Master Series were able to advance from the group stage. They also failed to qualify through IEM Oakland or Gyeonggi.

The IEM World Championship will take place from Feb. 22 to 26.