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European Spring Playoffs Infographic: Picks & Bans, Win % and More!

Hey readers! Thanks for your reddit feedback on yesterday’s NA Infographic. I’ve done a few changes for the EU version, a simpler background image, some cleaner choices in color and arrangement, but kept the overall look and feel the same. I’ve had some requests for data like KDA and some other statstics here and there, I’m looking at the right way to implement that information for our next LCS infographic. Let us know what you think!

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NA Spring Playoffs INFOGRAPHIC: Picks/Bans/Wins

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LCS Spring Playoffs Preview: ROUND 1

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The LCS Spring Split finished up last weekend; but North American and European teams are still battling it out for Summer Split spots and cash money as 6 NA teams and 6 EU teams participate in separate tournaments with the top teams from each tourney grabbing 50,000 dollars. The tournaments will run concurrently with Quarterfinals tomorrow, Semifinals on Saturday and Finals on Sunday. If you came here looking for an overview of the tournament brackets and format, or want to know what happens to the teams who lose in playoff competition, check out our NA and EU guides to Playoff & Relegation.

European Quarterfinals – Friday 4/26/13 – 6am Pacific/9am Eastern/3pm CEST

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Match 1: 3rd Place SK Gaming (17-11) v. 6th place AgainstAllAthority (10-8)

Riot’s Spring Playoff kicks off with a contest between two teams who met just recently in week 10, giving us what might be a good idea of what to expect in round 1. Against All Authority  who came into their game with SK hot off of two victories earlier in the week looked poised to ride their streak high into the playoffs, but SK had other plans for the 6th place team as SK AD Carry CandyPanda played out of his mind, controlling Top in a lane swap which would help lead SK to decisive victory over their Round 1 opponents. Like AaA though, SK split their games in week 10, winning a pair but dropping 2 including the season’s final match against EG Raidcall. Though their last match was not closely contested, Round 1 matches are in a best-of-3 format which could allow a little more leeway for either team as each come into this game cold off of final game losses in the Spring Split. Look for SK to be favored in fan voting, but watch for AaA to come into this game prepared to take revenge for their week 10 loss. Both SK and AaA will have their backs against the wall as the winner of this Best-of-3 proceeds to the Summer Split, while the loser will be forced to compete for their LCS slot in the upcoming Summer Qualifier. wolvesegplf

Match 2: 4th Place EG Raidcall (15-13) v. 5th Place Coppenhagen Wolves (13-15)

In a match that the whole world will be logging on to watch, two huge crowd favorites in Evil Geniuses and the surging Coppenhagen Wolves will meet to decide who moves on and who will have to fight for survival in the Summer Qualifier. EG, who like their former sister team CLG over in NA, have played at a very high level all season despite constant struggles and inconsistency. Coming into the Spring’s final Super Week, EG found themselves in a position whereby they could be jumped by Wolves in the standings and fall to 5th place for the first time all season; but after 3 amazing victories (including 1 over powerhouse Gambit and 1 over their playoff opponent Wolves) EG cemented their 4th place spot and proved to the world that they can still hang with the league’s top teams. Wolves began the season very slowly, losing game after game until their name became synonymous with defeat. After a mid-season roster swap put newly anointed LCS superstar Bjergsen in the mid lane Wolves went on an absolute tear, crushing teams left and right, lifting them in the standings to 5th place and earning them a playoff berth. Despite their middle of the pack ranks, EG and Wolves each feature top ranked mid laners in Froggen and Bjergsen whose lane will certainly be a major focus in this Best-of-3. One thing about this match is certain: whoever loses will give some poor team a very rough matchup in the Summer Qualifer next week.

North American Quarterfinals – Friday, 4/25/13 – 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern/Midnight CEST

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Match 1: 3rd Place Team Dignitas (17-11) v. 6th Place Good Game University (11-17)

Like American fans who will be up at the crack of dawn to see the best European teams fight it out for top honors, European fans will have to prop their eyelids open with toothpicks to stay up for North American LCS action later that same night. Match 1 features a Best-of-3 which pits two very different teams against one another in a contest that is anything but already-decided. Dig has played at a high level consistently, enjoying a brief stay in the top spot mid-way through the Spring Split. After a ravenous Team Solo Mid – reinvigorated by the addition of WildTurtle – turned the corner late in the season and went 5-0 in Super Week, Dig saw their team fall back to 3rd place in the standings. With their LCS future on the line, Dig is facing off against GGU who, like Wolves, struggled early in the season, had a roster swap and surged back into contention. In GGU’s case, dropping top-rated support Bloodwater and picking up new star Daydreamin lead NintendudeX and the boys to a late-season win streak and a 6th place playoff slot. With All-Star mid Scarra bearing down on them, can GGU fend off former first place Dig and move on to the Summer Split? Look for Dignitas to pull out all of the stops in this one as they do not want to fall in the first round after earning a permanent top-3 stay in the standings all season long.

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Match 2: 4th Place Counter Logic Gaming (13-15) v. 5th Place Vulcun Command (12-16)

Bloodwater’s landing place after leaving GGU was Vulcun, who have also enjoyed great success following the transaction. Bloodwater’s timely ults and great shotcalls enabled Zuna and company to rise in the standings, almost overtaking a reeling CLG – the only team in LCS competition to earn top 4 honors while posting a winning percentage under .500. Like the EU games, both CLG and Vulcun came out of Super Week bloodied, trading wins with other top and bottom teams, and like the EU playoffs the NA games look cloudy behind inconsistent play on all sides. Vulcun and CLG’s week 10 clash gives viewers a small preview for this Best-of-3 contest; a match that CLG took convincingly despite a  relatively small gold gap. CLG who traditionally play very well in Best-of-X format tournaments, but have struggled in the LCS Round Robin format may have a small edge over Vulcun who, while playing much better of late, will have to beat All-Star AD Doublelift and the rest of CLG in 2 games to move on.

Round 2 and Beyond

The 4 winners in Round 1 will move on to compete with Curse, TSM, Gambit and Fnatic in the Semifinals on Saturday, but all 8 of the semifinalists will be competing for cash only at that point; all having earned their ticket to the Summer Split. With Finals on Sunday and next week holding the Summer Qualifier, these previewed teams will see a lot of action in the next week so keep coming back to allMIA for continued coverage of both the NA and EU LCS Playoffs.

Want to follow the action on Twitter? Here are some feeds to follow:

@ill_monstro_g (allMIA Editor, game commentary/discussion)

@EsportsDailyLoL (LoL Updates – Live stats/scores)

@LeaguepediaLive (Leaugepedia’s Live stats/scores)


All You Need to Know: EU LCS Playoffs, Promotion & Relegation

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Elementz out at Curse, Brunch U Retires

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While the NA playoff picture came into focus this weekend, the future of some key NA teams became clouded in uncertainty as Twitter lit up with rumors of an unnamed player retiring following the Spring split. Initial rumors circled around maligned Curse support Elementz, who has recently and publicly been clashing with his teammates – particularly All Star Jungler Saintvicious. A little background – following week 9 Elementz posted this vlog to his YouTube channel commenting about his doubt in Saint’s leadership abilities. Saint naturally retorted in the same venue, stating that Elementz does not take professional gaming as seriously as he ought to, and that his play was an exploitable weakness in Curse’s lineup that other teams had identified and began pressuring. The friction between Saint and Elementz is nothing new, and reaches back as far as season 2, as evidenced by this now-famous video in which Saint alleges that Elementz does not take his job seriously, and unsurprisingly Elementz does not appreciate Saint’s criticism. The trouble between Saint and Elementz was publicly dormant during the first half of the Spring split while Curse enjoyed huge winning streaks and a number 1 spot in the LCS standings. Unsurprisingly, once Curse began to struggle later in the season, dropping game after game in the last 3 weeks until they fell to 2nd place, old wounds were re-opened and the two clashed again.

It was revealed shortly after the NA LCS’ final Spring game that it was in fact not Elementz retiring, but CompLexity’s ADC Brunch U who was leaving. The rumors and speculation about Elementz was not too far off however as just minutes later it was announced via Twitter that Elementz would be stepping down to a bench position for the Spring playoffs and would depart the team and become a free agent once the playoffs concluded. Since, CompLexity has announced that former mid-lane Chuuper (replaced weeks ago by Pr0lly) would step in to fill for Brunch “temporarily”. It’s not clear at this time if CompLexity is planning to sign a new ADC or if they will continue with Chuuper if he excels in the position in the upcoming qualifier tournament. Curse has announced that they are bringing up Rhux from his position on the bench to fill Elementz’s spot. What potential impact could these changes have on the playoff and qualifier tournaments beginning this weekend? Let’s take a closer look at each new player.

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Chuuper Returns to CompLexity

Chuuper’s return to the team that benched him will see him in another carry role, but in bottom lane instead of mid. A look at his match history reflects a lot of practice in the ADC role and interestingly about half of his recent matches are as Ezreal – a champion that Brunch U did not play very much of in Season 3. It looks like Chuuper has had mixed success with Ezreal, sometimes carrying and sometimes losing with big crooked scores. Chuuper has also put in some work on more popular ADCs such as Vayne and Caitlyn, again with an assortment of results. Of course, performance in solo queue is not indicative of his potential performance at a professional level with his team, but it offers a glimpse into what Chuuper is doing to prepare for his new spot on CompLexity. Because coL has been careful to say that Chuuper’s tenure in the ADC role is temporary, I am lead to believe that he will either carry his team to victory in the qualifier tournament or find himself on the bench again following the tourney. As far as meshing with his team goes, the bottom lane synergy is less of a concern than it might otherwise be, Chuuper has the benefit of having played with the team for a significant amount of time. Look for Chuuper to go the extra mile to distinguish himself in this second chance at the first string team; there will surely be a lot of focus on his play in the coming weeks.

Rhux in at Support for Curse

rhuxRhux is something of a solo queue All Star, known for his success on the solo queue ladder in Season 2 where he hovered around the top 3 spots for almost the entire season. Likewise in Season 3, Rhux has been a mainstay at the top of the Challenger tier, but mostly as a Solo Top. Like Chuuper, a look at Rhux’s recent match history reveals mixed success practicing his new role in solo queue. Unlike Chuuper though, Rhux has been playing mostly champions that his predecessor is known for playing – more than half of his recent games coming as Sona with a few on Blitzcrank and Thresh. While this may mean that the overall strategy for Curse might not change, it will be an excellent litmus test for the validity of Saint’s Elementz criticisms. One of the big points made by Saint during his clash with Elementz was that opponents had recognized the Cop/Elementz team as weak in 2v2 lane scenarios. Early in the season Curse pulled frequent lane swaps to allow Cop to farm safely in a 2v1 lane, but once teams began forcing Curse to 2v2 during the lane phase, the Curse duo began to struggle. If Rhux and Cop have success in upcoming 2v2s it will appear to vindicate Saint and prove that it was the right move to bring Rhux in.

The Intangibles

The question remains: is the individual skill of Rhux the only factor which will decide his success on the team? Consider this: by many accounts, former GGU support – now with Vulcun – Bloodwater is one of the best Supports in North America, and yet when he left GGU and was replaced, GGU began to play much better, clicking together and winning games on a consistent basis. Bloodwater’s move to Vulcun also helped his new team, who began a run which carried them into the playoffs behind excellent shot calling and high level play from the new support. Rhux’s skill then, is only part of the consideration for the future success of his team. Luckily for Curse, Rhux and Saint get along very well, and in fact Rhux has been living in the Curse gaming house since the team moved in before this season’s LCS competition began. It is possible that Elementz’s departure will spell success for Curse simply by eliminating internal arguments and distractions. The relationships among the rest of the team appear to be holding strong – Cop remains passive and quiet, Saint remains close with Jacky and Rhux and Voyboy continues to be one of the nicest guys in eSports. The good news for eSports fans is that we won’t have to wait very long to see the conclusions to these storylines resolve – LCS action resumes in North America this Friday when top teams face off for bragging rights and to stave off a trip to the qualifier tournament which could see some LCS teams drop out of the Summer Split.

edit: Thanks to redditor /u/alexwilder for pointing out some factual inaccuracies about Bloodwater in this article.


LCS Playoffs, Relegation & Summer Season EXPLAINED

Salutations, Summoners! Are you a little confused about the format of the LCS in the upcoming weeks? I was, so I learned about it and put together a fairly comprehensive graphic which should quickly explain in detail what you should expect to see from the LCS Spring Playoffs, Relegation Tournament and upcoming LCS Summer Season. It’s a BIG IMAGE, so click it to see its full size. You won’t be able to read the text in the thumbnail preview below. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or ask me on Twitter: @ill_monstro_g

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CompLexity Won’t Be Held Down (WK10 SPOILERS)

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Wednesday’s week 10 matchups included two key games involving 8th place Team CompLexity. coL, who saw a small boost in their performance after picking up star-mid laner Pr0lly began the week in a situation where they would have to win all of their week 10 matchups and get some help from losses on other bottom 4 teams in order to make the Spring playoffs. With their backs against the wall, coL played like a team with something to prove; in the first game of week 10, coL faced the then-second-place Team Dignitas (VOD here) and dominated Scarra and co. Pr0lly played out of his mind, posting up a 3/0/6 line and averaging around that golden 10 cs/min standard by crushing whole waves with the impressive AOE damage of Gragas. Not to be outdone, Pr0lly’s teammates all brought their A-game with coL support M eye A coming out as the game’s MVP. M eye A’s play on Thresh was so on point that he seemed to create plays out of thin air; for example it was not one but two consecutive hooks from M eye A that grabbed First Blood and a double kill bottom lane to begin the game. A few amazing things made the doublekill on Patoy and Iamaqtpie possible: first, perfect support positioning and a timely flash from Brunch U grabbed the kill on Patoy, but the second kill comes almost entirely from M eye A who begins the animation on Death Setnence, flashes over the minion between he and Qtpie and flies in managing to secure the kill for his ADC all while giving up a kill to the turret and not to Qtpie.

coL seemed to have a plan going into their Dig match, exploiting displacement and high mobility to create otherwise impossible plays. Besides Lautemortis and Brunch U playing the J4/Miss Fortune ult combo to perfection, Pr0lly continually used his ult to control the pathing of the enemy team while Nickwu used Jayce’s interrupts to prevent Dig from abusing Shen’s ultimate. coL knew they had to come out aggressively against Dig to win, so they ran 4 Fortitude Potions and made gutsy plays early to gain an advantage that they never really gave up for the remainder of the game.

Their rousing success against Dig was repeated against GGU (VOD here) as coL ran a slightly similar team composition (including a repeat performance on Gragas from Pr0lly, much to the chagrin of the casters who wanted to see him continue to try new champions) and again picked up 4 Fortitude potions to begin the game… including one on M eye A’s Sona. This time around coL again got excellent performances out of all 5 players with Nickwu’s Kha’Zix play clearly standing out as top-notch against GGU. Grabbing first blood in a straight up brawl and continuing on to eventually post an awe-inspiring 6/1/5 line, Nickwu controlled GGU backed up by excellent supportive plays from Pr0lly, M eye A, Lautemortis and another crazy score from Brunch U who posted a 7/1/5 line of his own.

While coL has shown their teeth on the first day of Super Week, they will have to stay sharp as they have 3 remaining contests including a game a piece against the number 1 and 2 teams in Curse and TSM. While Curse looks to be stumbling a little in the latter portion of the season – dropping 2 games to TSM and their first “bottom 4” loss yesterday to GGU – TSM is on top of their game, having suddenly surged into 2nd place just 1/2 game behind Curse for first place and MRN (coL’s other remaining matchup) is just as desperate and dangerous as Lautemortis and Co. With Curse looking for a little redemption, TSM spiking in power and MRN with their backs against the wall, can coL maintain the momentum picked up from yesterday’s wins? TSM and coL’s game kicks of today at 2pm PDT: tune in to find out, and follow me on Twitter: @ill_monstro_g to share your opinions, cheers and jeers during the game.


Spring LCS Going out With a SUPER WEEK Bang!

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Wednesday, April 17th 2013. Day 1 of the final week of the Spring LCS. Today, the North American branch of the LCS begins their final push to the finish line, in games that will determine playoff seeding and possible relegation from LCS competition. Before we take a look at what matches will help decide the fate of the eight North American LCS teams, let’s see where they stand as we move forward into week 10.

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Starting at the top, Team Curse stands firmly 2 games ahead of 2nd place team Dignitas. Dig has not looked as sharp of late with a replacement for regular jungler Crumbzz, but with Crumbzz back in the lineup for week 10, it’s actually Team Curse whose roster might be in peril. Following last week, Curse’s starting support Elementz had some critical things to say about “team captain” Saintvicious over a screencap of a Skype conversation between Curse’s jungler and CLG’s ADC Doublelift in which the two criticized Elementz, even going so far as to call him “trash” and blame him for recent Curse losses. In his response video, Saint continues the “Elementz doesn’t take the job seriously” narrative that he has been speaking about since before Season 3 began. It’s hard to say how much of this rift in the Curse lineup is genuine strife between Saint and Elementz and how much might be for show, or just normal Curse antics, but it will be interesting to see how the recent scuffle in the Curse ranks impacts their performance. In the time since the flareup between Saint and Elementz, Curse has played poorly in scrims (not uncommon for a team known to lose in practice and win in tourney play) going 0-9 against CLG in one stretch. Of course, Team SoloMid is right behind Curse as well and have been playing quite well with Chaox replacement WildTurtle and are in just as good of a position as Dig to overtake Curse and grab 1st place.

None of these top 3 teams have games against one another on the first day of Super Week, and instead are playing the likes of CLG, Marn, CompLexity and GGU. Some of these lower-ranked teams have made huge changes, and seem hard to predict in week 10. CLG has been playing very well in scrims, but find themselves in a position where they could be in 5th place behind GGU if they drop both of their Wednesday games and GGU wins theirs. GGU, who went on a tear last week winning all 3 of their matches, looks much improved after the departure of Bloodwater – a move many did not predict panning out for the former last-place team. The important thing to remember about the standings here is that only 3 games separate the 5th and 8th place teams, meaning every single game played this week could  be the game that decides who will move on to the Summer season and who will be left behind.

Some key matchups in NA Week 10 for you to keep an eye on:

coL vs GGU: 4/17 3pm PDT

CRS vs GGU: 4/17 5pm PDT

CLG vs TSM: 4/17 4pm PDT

DIG vs CRS: 4/18 5pm PDT

TSM vs GGU: 4/19 3pm PDT

GGU vs CLG: 4/19 5pm PDT

DIG vs TSM: 4/19 6pm PDT

coL vs MRN: 4/19 7pm PDT

Remember, you can see all of the games live via Riot’s streams on Twitch.TV, Azubu and Youtube. All links available on na.lolesports.com. If you can’t watch live, follow me on twitter – I tweet live during many of the LCS games, and will be bringing you up-to-the-minute commentary on all the LCS action.


NA Doesn’t Have Monopoly on Weird Picks: EG/GMB Week 8 (SPOILERS)

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(VODs: Full Game)

Snoopeh.

He’s one of EU’s top Junglers. He’s Scottish. His Blue Steel is the stuff of legends.

Perhaps it was PR0LLY’s unconventional Annie and Ziggs picks, or maybe it was the A-Z Jungle series Snoopeh ran on his stream which gave him the inspiration for his Week 8 pick against Gambit Gaming. Initially, nobody was surprised when EG grabbed Malphite, Malzahar and Akali since Wickd plays a great Akali, Malz is a solid mid at the moment and might be interesting on Froggen and Malphite is more than competent in the jungle as an initiator.  A last second roster swap however, gave EG the following lineup:

Top: Wickd (Malphite)

Mid: Akali (Froggen)

ADC: Varus (yellowpete)

Support: Lulu (Krepo)

Jungle: Malzahar (Snoopeh)

Late in the Spring season, EG – who has been struggling by their standards, (4th place) – made several moves in this week 8 matchup, beginning in champion select, to shake things up and try to catch their Russian opponents off-guard. Unfortunately for the innovative Brits, the former Moscow 5 was still playing at the top of their game in week 8. 

First Blood came out against Froggen behind a gank from Diamondprox on Nasus, giving Gambit an early lead that they would never really lose. Smart counter-warding from Gambit limited Snoopeh’s ganking potential, while lane-swaps allowed Alex Ich to free farm against Wickd, who simply did not have the damage to kill Kha’Zix.

In perhaps EG’s best played fight in the game, Snoopeh managed his first gank on Darien’s Shen. If you came here looking for evidence of the power that an AP jungle Malzahar can bring to the game, this gank is a good example. It is, however, the great timing and turret-aggro control that allows Snoopeh and Froggen to drop Darien more than the individual power of Malz. This gank, along with a second gank top allowed EG to hang around in this game until they attempted a 4-man push down mid. While the positioning from EG may not have been ideal, the play of Alex Ich was the deciding factor in Gambit sweeping this team fight. From the time EG got eviscerated in mid lane, Gambit never let up and rolled on to yet another victory, leaving them just one game out of first place, and EG in 4th with the surging Coppenhagen Wolves within striking distance just behind in 5th. Fortunately for EG, The Wolves have no games this week, which means EG controls their 4th place destiny. Of course with a gigantic week 10 looming, anything can still happen.

Seemingly undeterred by his team’s struggles against GMB, Snoopeh has continued playing Malzahar in the jungle on his stream. Can we expect Snoopeh to pull out another unique pick in week 9? Who will be the next team to dare to try something new and interesting? As the season closes and teams look for any advantage they can find, you can expect to see some wild picks and crazy strategies in the next 2 weeks of competition.

Edit: Thanks to reader and twitter follower @jasonalanmclain for pointing out an editing error. Snoopeh is great – but only plays Jungle, not mid as well. Sorry for forgetting you, Froggen!


Anatomy of a Nightmare: A Closer Look at Week 8’s TSM vs Curse (SPOILERS)

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VODs: Recap / Full Game

While the bottom 4 teams in the LCS traded blows this weekend to stave off relegation, the top spot of the LCS was also in contention with #1 Curse facing rival TSM. Curse – who had not until this point dropped a game to Solo Mid in the LCS – went into the match with their confidence high. Prior to the match Twitter was sparking with discussion about the NA All-Star vote where TSM and Curse top lane and jungles are still trying to prove they deserve their fans’ votes. When Dyrus went head to head with Voyboy it appeared the All-Star vote might be the story of the game. The focus of the game was not ultimately top players testing their skill however, the game quickly spiraled into a study on missplays, questionable calls and champion matchups.

The first in-game mistake for Curse came early in the cast when NyJacky walked face-first into a fully loaded TSM flying in formation. Yet crushing Jacky for first blood at 40 seconds was not the first blow TSM dealt to Curse; that move came in champion select. Like some of the other highlight matches of the weekend, TSM and Curse’s picks were the subject of debate and ended up impacting the game in meaningful ways.

TSM’s lineup came straight out of their Season 2 power days, with a host of global (and semi-global) abilities coming out from Shen, Draven, Karthus and Nocturne. The advantage of controlling the game from a distance was firmly in the hands of Solo Mid, while Curse ran out a team comp which raises some questions. With Cop on Kog’Maw, Curse had hopes that their star ADC would win the late game with Kog’s superior endgame power. Of course – as with all lategame comps – it’s essential to protect the hypercarry and Curse’s lineup simply fell short. While Saintvicious’ Udyr, Voyboy’s Renekton, Elementz’ Sona and NyJacky’s Ryze all have hard CC, missplays and bad descisions created an environment where Cop could not exercise the full extent of Kog’Maw’s power.

The problem protecting Cop began with Saint’s first gank; with only the short stun from Udyr’s Bear Stance, Saint was unable to disable WildTurtle for long enough for Cop to put in the work he needed for a doublekill. After making it safely to the turret, WildTurtle and Xspecial (on Thresh) turned on all 3 attacking members of Curse and took a fight 3-0. This critical missplay by Curse empowered WildTurtle to further leverage the early-game power advantage that Draven has over Kog’Maw, resulting in a very early tower-dive kill on Cop, all without the help of a jungler.

Saint’s next gank wasn’t as painful as the first, as he and Voyboy almost managed to take down Dyrus until a quick reaction from TheOddOne stopped the ambush cold, resulting in no kills for either team.  On his third attempt, Saint finally found blood for Curse, taking down Reginald without giving up a kill to a counter-ganking OddOne. After a free dragon for TSM and tower dive on Jacky, the game began to look out of hand for Curse.

Nowhere in the midgame can you see the power advantage that TSM had over Curse better than in a team fight over Curse’s bottom exterior tower. After an R from Elementz which wiffed on all but WildTurtle, Curse put enough pressure – bringing Jacky from mid to join Saintvicious, Cop and Elementz – to wipe TSM up, but only manged to trade 2-for-1 ending in a top-plays worthy escape over a wall by Dyrus. A fight that Curse committed a lot of time and abilities to simply did not net enough gold for Curse to make it worthwhile, and TSM continud their dominance from that point.

Trying to play catch-up, Curse continued to make critical errors, getting caught out several times, including on a particularly eyebrow raising play in which Saintvicious followed 4 members of TSM into a bad fight which almost got much worse for Curse until Saint was forced to flee. After taking Baron there was nothing Curse could do to prevent the inevitable as TSM marched down each lane, dropping towers and inhibitors until they eventually felled the enemy Nexus.

In possibly the worst played game by Curse all season, we finally see the formerly invincible looking #1 NA team looking a little mortal. The huge victory for TSM would not stop Curse completely in their tracks though, as after a short break and some refocusing, Curse came back to defeat Vulcun in the day’s final match.

What can we learn about Curse following the grizzly defeat handed to them by TSM? Saintvicious must play well for Curse to win. With a more supportive midlaner like NyJacky, and a conservative-farm-first ADC in Cop, the pressure on Saint and Voyboy to succeed in the early game is paramount. In perhaps the first game all season where Saint could not deliver on early aggression, Curse folded like a cheap suit. Every member of Curse generally works together like a well oiled machine which works right up until a key component malfucntions.

How did this game affect your All-Star vote? Does Saint get extra credit for being so important to his team? Or does OddOne’s victory over Curse give him a boost? Does Dyrus’ success against Voyboy keep him firmly in first, or can Voyboy still close the gap and represent the NA in the upcoming All-Star game? Tell us in the comments or tweet to us @ill_monstro_g and check back for more LCS coverage as the Spring season comes up on its epic conclusion.


EU LCS Heats Up on GG Bye (spoilers)

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With Gambit Gaming on their bye week and in international competition at MLG Dallas for week 5, the other 7 EU teams had a week to shake things up without the dominant Russian squad around to spoil things. Without the competition of Alex Ich and his team, Fnatic took advantage in a big way, picking up wins in all 3 of their matchups, propelling them to a first place spot in the EU division. Former CLG.eu squad Evil Geniuses continued to toil with mixed results. Almost mirroring their former sister team’s struggles in the NA division this week, EG continues to play close games which seem to get away from them in the end. Froggen came out in an interview recently, expressing frustration with his team’s performance and stating that the playstyle which brought EG past success is no longer effective in the game’s current state, and that his team would have to adapt to survive. Froggen’s comments seem eerily similar to Doublelift’s frustrated remarks about the ADC role after CLG’s disappointing start to the NA season.

With some of the top teams in the world struggling to adapt to new strategies and team comps in Season 3, it would stand to reason that newer teams have an edge and should be rising; and yet like the bottom 4 NA teams, the bottom half of the EU standings continues to be populated with newer, less decorated teams. Wolves, GIANTS!, Dragonborns and Against all Authority all maintain sub .500 win percentages by continuing to trade wins with one another while consistently losing to the senior teams in the division (only bottom 4 team to beat a top 4 this week? aAa over SK). If top teams are still trying to adapt to Season 3 and new teams can’t seem to take advantage, what will it take to unseat a top pro team – and can whoever adapts best this season compete with the top Korean teams who continue to dominate on the international stage? Come back to allMIA later this week as we look ahead to week 6 EU and NA action and discuss some practical methods for western viewers to catch games in the top Asian leagues whose seasons begin soon.


Dig/MRN Meltdowns in Week 5 – NA Shakes Up

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All week 5 NA LCS VODs here

North American League Championship Series action live from Dallas at the MLG Winter Championships brought havoc to the LCS standings this week. Dignitas – who looked poised to control the LCS standings from atop the division with 3 games against bottom 4 NA teams – absolutely imploded in Dallas with losses to GGU, Vulcan and CompLexity.  Curse, who took 3 straight games this weekend move to number 1 in the standings. One of Curse’s big match-ups was against rival CLG who – in losing to Curse – put their 4th place slot in jeopardy. With the CLG loss, it was up to 5th place team MRN to step up and win some games to close the gap separating them from CLG. Like former-first-place Dignitas though: MRN dropped all three of its games this weekend – including a crucial head to head with CLG – devastating their position in the standings and allowing Vulcan to climb over them into 5th place. After their third loss of the weekend, MRN’s team owner/manager Marn was active on Twitter and had this to say:

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MRN, like CLG had roster issues moving into week 5. Marn himself was going to fill an empty roster slot, but was notified that team managers are ineligible to compete as players (the same rule does not apply to team owners, which is why HotshotGG can play for his team). Marn’s post-game tweets are not 100% clear – will Heartbeat be moved out of the lineup? Or will he shift to another position, moving someone else off the main team?

A Korean Team An EU Team and Two NA Teams Walk Into A Tourney…

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MLG Tournament VODs here

How do you figure this one worked out? Further fueling the East vs West storyline,this weekend’s MLG international best of 3 tournament pitted the top two NA LCS teams, the top EU LCS team and Korean outfit KT Rolster B against one another for MLG honors. In the semifinal round Gambit Gaming looked to shake off their disappointing IEM showing and followed up by taking Dignitas down in two straight games. With the losses to GG, Dig’s losing skid at Dallas increased to 5 straight. With GG advancing, fans began looking forward to a preview of what may still end up being the LCS championship matchup: Curse vs Gambit. Plans for a championship preview were dashed when CRS could not translate their 3-0 LCS success into a win over KT Rolster B, who took Curse down in 2 games.

The only best of 3 to see a third round this weekend in Dallas (including the invitational games) was the GG/KTB final. Gambit struggled to keep up in game 1, matching KTB in gold for the majority of the game until the Korean team’s slight advantage proved to be too much. Game 2 was Gambit’s, but game 3 gave South Korean fans yet another victory over a Western team to celebrate after a blunderous Baron call lead Gambit into a second consecutive loss in an international event.

After Korean victories in the last two major international events you may want to know more about the Asian scene since no Asian teams compete in the LCS – no worries, Riot has you covered. Check back with allMIA later this week for a closer look at the Korean meta and how to catch games in the upcoming OGN and Tencent 2013 seasons.


Curse in First! CRS over CLG at MLG Dallas (SPOILERS)

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It all began with Dignitas: 10-2 1st place NA LCS team dropping a game in the week’s upset special against 7th place team compLexity. (VOD coming soon). coL jungler Lautemortis on his favorite champion – Cho’Gath – was unstoppable in this game, posting a 4-0-4 score by the time coL took the game’s final Baron before pushing to the nexus for the win. Meanwhile, Curse was set to play rival CLG in the rubber match of their 1-1 LCS series tie. After making critical errors in week 4 against their rivals, Curse needed to play a clean game to come away with a win.

(Curse vs CLG week 5 LCS – MLG Dallas VOD)

CLG began the game with issues, with jungler Chauster out of the lineup due to illness, CLG was forced to send in former midlaner Bigfatlp – AKA jiji. Jiji playing mid displaced new CLG solomid Link, who moved to top for the matchup, while HotshotGG shifted to the Jungle. With this setup, CLG was playing with a sub who has not been practicing with the team, and two key players out of their normal positions. Perhaps to compensate, CLG attempted an early jungle invade, which resulted in first blood after a good reaction from Curse. Aphromoo – on Lulu – got caught by Wraiths and began the tough game for CLG. CLG attempted to gain an advantage over Curse by sending their superior poke ADC lane to mid, as Doublelift‘s Caitlyn would surely fare better against NyJacky‘s Ryze than Cop‘s Miss Fortune would against Jiji’s Gragas. Curse did not allow the lane swap to throw them off their game, and sent their ADC/Support to middle lane also. Elementz‘ Sona used her sustain to help MF win the lane despite Caitlyn’s superior poke. Though CLG banned away Saint Vicious‘ favorite jungler Xin Zhao, Saint picked up Jarvan IV and dominated CLG while HotshotGG – jungling with Shen – simply could not keep up with Curse’s aggression.

The loss for CLG should have cast a darker shadow on their odds to remain in the top 4, but team MRN who was in a good position to move up the ladder dropped their first MLG Dallas game to team Vulcan (VOD) who got an absolutely brilliant performance from top laner Sycho Sid. With upsets all over the LCS, by the time Riot leaves Dallas this weekend we might see a few more shakeups in the standings. Stay tuned as the EU LCS begins and the NA games continue.


It Ain’t GG Till It’s GG.

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Shh. Don’t speak. First watch this video.

That was CLG.EU (now Evil Geniuses) playing Moscow 5 (now Gambit Gaming) at Dreamhack 2012 this past summer. The kill spread may not seem like much to us average players, but take a look at the gold lead the Russian team has on CLG.EU – over 24,000 gold. Thats 7 and 1/2 Bloodthirsters. That’s 850AD (with max stacks). GG. Except… not. CLG sticks together, makes a play and takes the nexus for the win, down 24,000 gold.

GG.

It’s funny that these two little letters have so many different meanings and applications to gamers,  yet usually we can tell exactly what they mean given context. Of course “good game” is meant to be a sportsmanlike affirmation of a friendly competition – the equivalent of a Baseball team shaking hands with their opponents after a game. Despite its intended meaning, GG has come to mean so much more to the summoners of League of Legends. Over time, it has morphed into shorthand for “the game is over” as a frustrated imperative.  Players say “gg” after a bad team fight, following first blood or sometimes as early as champion select when – for example – a summoner doesn’t get the role they want to play.

“gg i cant play support”

“gg mid feeding”

“gg no jungle help”

“gg support KS”

These are all uttered by summoners around the Rift every day and has become a continually growing problem in League of Legends. “GG” said to teammates before a nexus is destroyed signals that a summoner has given up and will not play as effectively – or worse – when attached to a slew of insults (“gg top is noob, uninstall kthx”) demoralizes a teammate who is already (presumably) behind and in need of help, not insults.

Sometimes, a summoner will spout “gg my team sux” in [ALL] chat which is perhaps the most destructive abuse of the term. If signaling to the team that a summoner has given up is bad, imagine what happens when the enemy team sees that their opponent has given up.

To me, abusing “gg” is one of the most destructive habits exhibited by League of Legends summoners. Some summoners argue that the game they’re playing is hopeless, but saying “gg” prematurely accomplishes absolutely nothing except upsetting others, which should never be your goal. If you find yourself wanting to hurt another player, if you want to make someone else feel bad because they aren’t good at the game, or because they make mistakes; you are the reason you lose games. A player who is making mistakes can be taught to make smarter plays. A summoner with a mean streak who is so competitive that they berate their team at the slightest misshap can’t be taught to behave like a human being and will always reduce their team’s chances of success.

If you think of yourself as super competitive – and use that as an excuse to play angry – consider that truly competitive players always want to give themselves the best chance to win the game; this means never doing anything that reduces their chances of winning. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to improve your chances to win… but you can always make it worse. Don’t. Every game you play has something to teach you. Look for the lesson – even when your team throws – and you might just learn how to play from behind.

Post-Rant

If you want to learn how to win a game that seems lost, take a look at our article covering game 3 of the IEM Hanover 2013 Grand Final (VOD). CJ Entus Blaze’s play in game 3 shows how a team should play when losing the early game if they want to make a comeback. While the rando-pubstars you’re matched up with in Silver III solo-queue may not exactly be Korean mega-stars, every game you’re losing is a chance to practice the kinds of plays and strategies which help turn around losing games. Don’t give up. Don’t blame your team. Don’t say GG until it’s really GG.


3 Must-See Matches: Week 5 NA LCS

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Curse vs CLG – 3/15 7pm PST

Previous Games: 

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Split in their season series at 1 game apiece, #2 Ranked Curse and #4 Ranked Counter Logic Gaming are both playing for more than just respect and bragging rights this week. Curse, who began the season 8-0, coasting in first place has fallen behind 10-2 Team Dignitas. This week, Curse has matches against 3 of the top 4 NA LCS teams and must find success if they want to climb back into 1st place. Meanwhile CLG holds on to their 4th place spot with MRN on their heels meaning CLG needs every win they can get to remain in the top half of the standings.

These two rivals met in week 1 in a game where Curse looked very comfortable and confident. Showing off the aggressive playstyle that got them ousted from the CLG roster, Voyboy and Saintvicious lead Curse to a decisive victory over their former teammates. CLG owner and top laner HotshotGG never seemed to settle in, missing a key Baron steal and getting caught out of position by a diving Voyboy several times.

The second time CRS and CLG met this season was a completely different story as Curse seemed to have abandoned the quick aggressive strategy that brought them success in week 1 in favor of a slower split-push based strategy lead by a solo-queue inspired AP Tryndamere build employed by Voyboy. CLG – responsible for popularizing the split push strat in the NA scene – responded very well, isolating Voyboy and keeping his pushes from splitting their attention.

Who will break the tie and claim bragging rights over their rivals? Both teams have previously fallen to mistakes and miss-plays like HotshotGG getting caught out of position in game 1, or NyJacky putting Kayle’s invulnerability on Voyboy’s Endless Raging Tryndamere. Whoever can clean up their game and make no mistakes should walk away with a win this week.

Prediction: Curse over CLG in a close match.

Head 2 Head Highlight: Mid Lane

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Last time they matched up, Link outfarmed NyJacky – who seemed uncomfortable and slow to react on Kayle – by 30cs at points. Curse will need NyJacky to be playing at his best if they hope to break the 1-1 series tie in their favor.

 

MRN vs CLG3/16 7pm PST

Previous Game:

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The last time these two met, the result was one of the best games of the season; the game took 3 separate contests over Baron to decide. While MRN held a significant gold lead later on in the game, CLG made good plays to remain in the match until the final team fight near Baron proved to be too much for HotshotGG’s team. Last time, CLG banned out Tristana as an answer to the recent success found by MRN ADC Heartbeat – but Heartbeat just picked Kog’Maw and carried anyway. With Heartbeat showing flexibility and MRN top lane MegaZero at the top of his game, can CLG adapt and find another way to shut MRN down? If not we may go into week 6 with a new 4th place team.

Prediction: CLG over MRN in a drawn out split push contest.

Head 2 Head Highlight: Top Lane

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With their last match being so drawn out, the split-push style of CLG might be where this game is decided. Can MegaZero beat Hotshot at his own game? If he does, MRN might pull out another win over CLG.

Any Game Dignitas Plays (3/15 6pm: vs coL – 3/16 5pm: vs GGU3/17 2pm: vs Vulcan – all times PST.)

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Dig is a first place 10-2 in the NA LCS, and this week they face off against 3 of the “bottom 4” NA teams – none of whom they have lost to on the LCS stage. For Dig, this is an opportunity to put greater distance between them and 2nd place team, Curse (who have 3 tough matches this week). Until Dig is knocked off the first place throne, every match they play is must-see-TV, especially this week where any of their 3 games could be the week’s upset special. Worth noting: the only “bottom 4” team they aren’t facing? The best looking of the bunch – 5th place MRN.

Player 2 Watch: Iamaqtpie

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Team Dignitas’ ADC Iamaqtpie is giving de-facto “#1 ADC” CLG Doublelift a run for his money recently with incredibly consistent and explosive play. If  QT can keep up his dominance against his opponents this week, chances are Dignitas will still be #1 when we preview week 6.

Wrap-Up

Any match you’re looking to see that we didn’t cover? Leave us a message in the comments and check back tomorrow for our week 5 EU LCS “3 Must See Matches” preview. Need to know how to watch the games? Check out our article on watching professional League of Legends. Plus, later today check back for the results of the #sorryliam Twitter contest where 3 lucky winners will take hope 1380RP each!


IEM Hanover Grand Final 2: Frost vs Blaze For the Title (SPOILERS)

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GAME 3 (VOD: IEM Hanover Grand Final Frost/Blaze Game 3)

Game 3 of the IEM Hanover Grand Final between CJ Entus teams Blaze and Frost was the rubber game of a 1-1 tie for the two Korean sides whose play in the first two games was ferocious. At first it seemed as though these teams were backing off of their early aggressive play-style until Frost revealed the first trick up their sleeve. MadLife – still on his Lulu – buys an early red potion and sits in the forward bush in top lane with Woong’s Ezreal and Shy’s Singed. Flame, playing the Elise that Shy played so well in game 1 wanders into lane when the trap is sprung for First Blood. Not one to let a gank go unanswered, Helios – on Vi – hooks around the bottom side of middle lane and with one well placed Vault Breaker brings the kill score even onto RapidSTAR’s Lux. Almost simultaneously though, MadLife, Woong and CloudTemplar – on Volibear – secure a second kill on Elise again bringing Frost ahead on kills. With the First Blood gold, Frost looks very good early up 500 gold on their sister-team. Given the previous two games ending predictably after fast starts by each team, game 3 looks grim for Blaze already at just 4 minutes in-game-time. Frost’s advantage increases when MadLife and Woong, pushing bottom tower, stay a little too long. Blaze manages to catch MadLife and bring themselves just a bit back into the game until in turn Helios stays just a bit too long, leading to a highlight reel worthy play in which Frost lands not one but two flips on Cpt Jack’s Tristana giving Frost yet another kill. Frost, having timed the play very well gets to take the game’s first Dragon without a contest from Blaze.

After a rough early game for Blaze, they begin playing very cautiously and puts the focus on farming minions, a strategy which will pay dividends in the late game, especially with a Tristana who is so strong in the late period of the game. Blaze’s first big play to help climb back into the game comes with the second Dragon spawn. Frost manages to take down dragon but gives up 3 kills to Blaze, who close the gold gap a little. After the clash at the objective, Blaze continues to push lanes and carefully farm. It still appears that Frost has an enormous advantage as they manage to pick off two members of Blaze, increasing their gold lead to 3000. There is no further aggression from Blaze until Frost reaches out to flip Ambition’s Kha’Zix. At first it appears that Frost will take yet another kill off of Blaze, until Ambition quickly crushes Ezreal and leaps over the jungle wall to safety, leaving Lustboy’s Sona to Crescendo Frost, giving a double kill to Cpt Jack. It’s at this point in the game that it’s clear that Blaze’s wait and CS strategy has paid off, as Ambition has an 80 cs lead over his lane opponent, RapidSTAR. Additionally, Cpt Jack is – at this point – 20cs over opponent Woong. The disparity in gold for the key damage dealers in this matchup gives Blaze the advantage they need to run Frost over. The farm disparity is so great that the once 3000 gold advantage for Frost has completely melted away, giving Blaze a nearly 1000 gold advantage which helps lead to another team fight in which Blaze cleans up Frost 2-0.

Now with a huge gold lead, Ambition begins absolutely controlling the game by himself, soloing dragon. Blaze follows up on Ambition’s success by contesting and taking Baron. Frost is wise enough to back off of the Baron fight while they have the chance, taking no deaths but giving up a turret and red buff to Ambition. With these few plays, Blaze’s gold lead suddenly swells up to over 8000. By slowing the game down, farming and picking their fights Blaze has written the book on how to play from behind. Frost, now desperate to claw their way back into a game they once controlled begins to press Blaze’s inhibitor turret in middle lane,  but over-commits and ends up losing a team fight they had no real chance of winning  2-4. Blaze proceeds to press their advantage, taking the match’s second Baron and an inhibitor. The final nail in Frost’s coffin comes when Frost double-flips Ambition which only pushes Kha’Zix past Frost’s front line where he easily picks up a triple kill and ends the game, demonstrating that Blaze’s gold advantage is just too much.

For us summoners who are trying to learn important lessons from the pro scene, we’ve learned two important things from Blaze’s play in this game:

1) A great way to counter a “flip” team composition like the Singed/Volibear comp Frost was running is to play a champion with great escapes and high burst damage like Kha’Zix. Ambition consistently positioned himself in front of his team, making him the only viable target for CloudTemplar and Shy to engage on. Once he was flipped, Ambition made short work of the carries he was being tossed into and jumped away before he could be killed himself. Ambition’s play of Kha’Zix not only shows why the void-bug is such a popular choice in pro-play right now, but also easily makes him the game’s MVP.

2) When playing from behind, as Blaze was early on in game 3, it’s imperative to stay calm, disengage and try to farm as much as possible. Once Frost was ahead, Helios showed none of the massive aggression which was so key to Blaze’s game 2 victory, instead Blaze forced nothing, farmed up and became so strong that by time team fights began mid-game, Frost had no chance to defeat them.

With the victory, Blaze sets up a 2-1 match point in this best-of-5 IEM Grand Final.

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GAME 4 (VOD: IEM Hanover Grand Final Frost/Blaze Game 4)

The fourth game of this best-0f-five is an elimination game for Frost who must win in order to force a game 5. The dire nature of their situation does not seem lost on Frost who begins the match by setting up a 3-man ambush in tribush on bottom lane. At first they back off of a potential fight at Blaze’s Elder Lizard camp, but then put a gank on Lustboy’s Sona in lane where Shy – on Singed – grabs First Blood. Frost appears ready to come out very aggressively, wanting to put this game away quickly as they did game 1. Blaze, realizing how aggressive Frost is playing and remembering their success in slowing down and controlling game 3 begins to play very defensively, focusing on farming and positioning. The first action we see after First Blood is when Flame takes top tower with very patient poking. Frost, wanting to speed the game back up with their aggressive strategy sends CloudTemplar to bottom lane to mirror some of the aggressive Vi play we saw from Helios earlier in the series. With a well executed, patient lane gank on Lustboy Frost picks up a 2-0 edge on kills. Almost simultaneously on top lane, Flame tries to chase and kill Shy who proves why rule number 1 is “don’t chase singed” as he escapes unharmed and nearly kills his lane opponent in the process.

Despite the 2-0 lead on kills, Blaze is farming better than Frost at 10:30 in-game-time with Flame up 25cs on Shy and Ambition up 15cs on RapidSTAR. Blaze’s patient, focused farming which was the key to their victory in game 3 and 1-0 turret advantage is once again paying off as they maintain a 1000 gold lead. Blaze – continuing with their patient strategy – drops a pink ward on Dragon and takes it uncontested, further increasing their gold lead to 2000. Frost – again needing to pull themselves back into contention from behind – starts playing even more aggressively with Shy teleporting to bottom lane for a gank, but a well timed Crescendo from Lustboy assures that Frost’s plans are foiled and Blaze can continue to farm safely with top lane now 30cs in favor of Blaze, mid and bot lane 10cs in favor of Blaze a piece. Frost, seeming frustrated by the cautious play of their sister-team responds to the failed gank on bottom lane by trapping Flame between RapidSTAR and CloudTemplar for the only the game’s third kill. It appears as though all of the roaming and waiting Frost is doing to set up these ganks is costing them in farm as despite the kill score being 3-0 Blaze is now up 2.5k gold.

A key play in this game 4 comes when Frost attempts to set up a fourth kill on Cpt Jack and Lustboy. Notice how Woong misses out on cs while he and MadLife wait for an opportune moment. Cpt Jack – who appears oblivious – is calmly farming, increasing his already large gold lead until the trap is sprung. A miss-play by Woong allows Cpt Jack to set up outside of the range of Bullet Time, where he can start pounding on Miss Fortune. Woong has to cancel his ult early and begin the retreat with low HP. With good communication, Blaze is able to bring Ambition – on Zed – down to bottom lane to pick up a double kill right on top of Frost’s bottom lane turret resulting in even more gold for Blaze and – crucially – even more missed farm for Woong. Frost is able to respond by catching Cpt Jack near red-side’s tri-bush and successfully chasing down Lustboy. Despite the retaliation from Frost, the double kill, extra farm, and a good response from Helios taking middle tower while Frost busily scrambles for kills, gives Blaze a now a 3000+ gold advantage over their sister team.

Frost – who was unable to play from behind previously in this series – suddenly jumps back into the game when the next contest for Dragon begins. Superior positioning leads RapidSTAR to pick up a triple kill with a fourth kill coming on Flame from Shy, giving Frost a 4-0 team fight victory and helping them close the gold gap down to under 1000 after grabbing the Dragon objective. Frost’s aggression does not end there as RapidSTAR leaps onto Ambition in middle lane while at the same time Shy and Cloud Templar pressure Flame on top lane. Blaze takes this opportunity to once again show off patience and superior positioning as Flame uses Repel effectively to shred Cloud Templar with his tower, turning the gank around into a 1-1 trade while in middle lane another tower dive goes wrong for Frost as Lustboy, Helios and Cpt Jack collapse on Ambition and CloudTemplar for a double kill and another turret. With the great response from Blaze, the gold lead once again opens up to 2.5k in favor of Blaze.

While Frost has – until now – been able to stay in the game, the balance of power tilts completely in Blaze’s favor when Frost – again trying to force a team fight with an ambush from the brush – doesn’t quite catch Blaze who successfully disengages, turning the team fight around the top corner of blue side’s bottom jungle. Lustboy – who to this point appears to be the game’s MVP – drops a perfectly placed Crescendo which leads to another 3-0 trade for Blaze, now up over 4000 gold on Frost. Unfortunately for Frost it’s late enough in the game that Blaze is also able to increase their gold lead to 5.5k by picking up Baron Nashor on the lopsided team fight.

The final team fight and win for Blaze comes when Frost tries to force another a fight they can’t win on Flame in middle lane. Flame outplays his sister team with a great Cocoon and Repel, melting RapidSTAR down, allowing Blaze to overwhelm Frost in their own base and to take the nexus for the game and series win, making CJ Entus Blaze IEM Hanover 2013 Grand Final champions with a series score 3-1.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With CJ Entus Blaze and Frost destroying the European competition in this IEM tournament, the story for the Season 3 World Championship becomes clearer. Can the North American and European teams find a way to stop the seemingly invincible stable of top Korean mega-teams? With top EU team Gambit Gaming losing in spectacular fashion to Frost in the semi-final while dominating the EU LCS it makes an e-sports fan wonder: how can a team like Coppenhagen Wolves or the under-performing former CLG.EU squad (who was shredded in the group stage at IEM Hanover) hope to compete on the international stage when the top team in the EU LCS gets pounded by a top Korean team who doesn’t even go on to win the Grand Final? How bad would it be if a team like Dragonborns (5th place in LCS) squared off against CJ Entus Blaze?  For the answer, turn your eyes to Week 5 of the LCS where 5th place NA team Marn looks to climb into the top 4 and perhaps prove that “underdog” teams have a legitimate chance on the big stage. Check back this week for more coverage on professional League of Legends play when allMIA previews specific matches to watch in Week 5 of the League Championship Series!


IEM Grand Final Wrap: Blaze and Frost Represent CJ Entus for Title PART I (SPOILERS)

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After Frost avenged their Katowice Grand Final loss to Gambit Gaming in the IEM Hanover semifinal round and former Azubu “B-Team” Blaze tore up Anexis, these CJ Entus teammates face off against one another in the IEM Hanover Best-of-5 Grand Final. Which team will emerge from IEM Hanover as champions? Read ahead, but beware of spoilers!

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GAME 1 (VOD: IEM Grand Final Frost/Blaze Game 1)

Game 1 kicked off with former Azubu “A-Team” Frost showing why they were considered superior to their teammates Blaze as an early First Blood turns quickly into a 4-0 kill advantage for Frost. Before long, Frost holds a 1000 gold advantage for ADC Woong – on Ezreal – alone. By 7:30 in-game-time, Frost holds a total gold advantage of over 3000. The early advantage created by the tight play of Frost is not let up as an excellent play by MadLife – on Thresh – leads to another kill, bringing the total to 5-0 and the game’s first Dragon. From here, the game slows down a little as Blaze scrambles to protect what they have left. The next team fight results in 2 kills for Blaze… but 4 for Frost. As Shy – on Elise – chases Flame – on Nidalee – down to the Blaze interior turret on top lane, MadLife swings around from the top jungle creating a very loose fight full of chasing and late ignites. The tough fight for Blaze leads Frost to pick up yet another Dragon, further increasing their lead which by 15:30 in-game-time is over 7000 gold. Shy, who absolutely dominated Gambit in the Semifinal forcing Gambit to ban Singed in the last two games, was able to pick Elise (who was banned in all 3 contests with Gambit). With very accurate skillshots on Elise’s Cocoon and timely uses of Repel, Shy controlled game 1 very effectively, pushing top lane and drawing a ton of attention from Blaze. From this point in the game Frost continues to roll over Blaze, catching them out of position and forcing them into terrible situations, but it’s not until a very early uncontested 20-minute Baron Nashor that Frost puts the final nail in Blaze’s coffin who nearly immediately surrender after a completely dominant performance by Frost.

blazeGAME 2 (VOD: IEM Grand Final Frost/Blaze Game 2)

Blaze, now on blue side for game 2 starts by curiously not banning the Elise which so plagued them in game 1. After seeing Shy dominate the previous series and starting the Grand Final so effectively, it comes as a major surprise that Blaze chooses to skip on the Elise ban. Blaze does, however, pick two of Frost’s favorites in Singed and Lulu, leaving Frost to pick up Elise – but not for Shy. Instead, with Thresh banned and Lulu picked by Blaze, Frost elects to send the Elise pick to support player MadLife, while Shy picks Rumble for top lane. Like the final  game of the semifinal, CloudTemplar ends up playing Skarner as a response to the Xin Zhao ban. These interesting picks and bans would end up having a major impact on the outcome of game 2, and eventually the entire series.

The game begins on a fairly typically with none of the crazy invades and tower-diving plays we’ve seen so frequently at Hanover this year. The only noteworthy development in the first 5 minutes is a lane swap where ADC and Supports for both teams face off in top lane with top laners in a 1v1 situation on bottom lane. The bottom lane 1v1 ends up being the stage for First Blood just around the 5 minute mark. A timely Vault Breaker and Flip from Helios and Blaze on Shy is quickly followed up by another kill from Blaze, putting the former “B-Team” up 2 kills to 1 early. The aggression on bottom lane doesn’t end there, when just moments later, Helios returns for a second gank on Shy who is more ready this time. Turning on Blaze, Shy secures the first kill of the game for Frost but eventually goes down to Helios’ Assault/Battery leaving the score 3-1 in favor of Blaze.

The story of game 2 ends up being the very effective play of Helios on Vi, who secures a third consecutive successful gank on bottom lane, killing Skarner after being pulled onto Frost’s tower. This play, more than any other might just prove that while Skarner is viable, Vi continues to be picked over him for the jungle role because her kit – while somewhat similar – simply packs more “punch”.

At 12 minutes in-game-time, Frost makes a move to close the kill gap, but remains several thousand gold behind. It’s at this point, as Blaze responds with a kill bottom and a tower dive and a second kill in mid lane that the game begins to look very grim for Frost.

Two consecutive fights over the Dragon objective help bring Frost back even with Blaze in kills, but after the second fight Blaze still maintains a nearly 5000 gold advantage, which proves simply too much for Frost who lets Blaze take Baron around 25 minutes nearly completely uncontested. It’s not until the second Baron of the game in which Frost pushes back, seemingly coming out ahead, when Flame crushes the Nexus turrets by himself with a full complement of super minions to end the game, evening the series up at 1-1. At the end of this game, I’m forced to wonder about the champion select choices of giving Elise to MadLife and not Shy who played the Spider Queen so effectively in game 1. Shy’s Rumble was simply not on par with the dominance he showed in game 1 as he was continually ganked and abused by Blaze jungler Helios.

SERIES TIED 1-1

After a spectacular performance by both teams in games 1 and 2, the series stands tied at 1 a piece. How did the series wrap up? You can check out the VODs here, or wait for part II of our full IEM Grand Final analysis tomorrow morning.


East vs. West: European and Korean Titans Clash in IEM Hanover Semifinal (SPOILERS)

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Picks, bans, early aggression and lane swaps were all central to the outcome of the hotly anticipated IEM re-match between BenQ Gambit (undefeated in IEM) and CJ Entus Frost, who were taken down by Gambit the last time these two teams faced off in the IEM Katowice Grand Final. This best-of-3 received extra international attention as a top European team competing at the peak of the EU LCS was facing off against a top Korean team. Would Gambit remain unbeaten in IEM competition, or would CJ Entus Frost prove once and for all that the Koreans were the teams to beat in the LoL pro scene? Read on, but beware of spoilers…

GAME 1 (VOD: IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 1)

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A lot of interesting choices started off the best-of-3 semifinal between Russian team BenQ Gambit and rival South Korean team CJ Entus Frost. GG support player EDWARD, known for his Thresh play saw no ban from Frost. The Korean team seemed more concerned with the top lane play of Darien as bans against Renekton and Shen both came out from Frost. Likewise, GG misses an important ban, giving CJF top laner Shy his preferred champion: Singed. Predictably, Shy stepped up in game 1 to show the world exactly why Singed is getting a nerf. GG ADC Genja elected to go with a Miss Fortune pick, which would prove to be popular in the semifinal in general, taking ghost instead of flash perhaps for the synergy with MF’s movement speed passive. Additionally we’d see MadLife’s Lulu throughout the series, and both Xin Zhao and Kha’Zix represented throughout the series by both teams.

First blood came out for Gambit on a spectacular play on top lane which turned very bad for the Russians due to a quick response by CJF jungler CloudTemplar. Diamondprox – on Volibear – swings up to top lane to assist Darien – on Jax – whose health has dropped fairly low after some early trades with Shy’s Singed. A great flip from Volibear paired with a good Jax Counterstrike lead to first blood, but not before the ever popular Xin Zhao shows up to crash the party. CloudTemplar cleans up the low health Volibear and chases Jax through the brush, burning Jax’s flash but then responding with a flash of his own followed up with an Audacious Charge and the final hit on Three Talon Strike to turn the GG first blood into a double kill for Frost, plus a refreshed double buff on Xin Zhao and buff denial for the Russian side. From there, CloudTemplar wasn’t done; picking up Boots of Mobility, Xin Zhao was flying around the map ganking every lane and playing hyper aggressively. The tenacious play of CloudTemplar helped lead to a 7:25 objective as CJF pushes and takes mid tower, increasing the gold lead to upwards of 1,500 for Frost.

The first attempt for Gambit to get back in Game 1 was an early dragon that they ended up trading for top lane’s tower. The global gold from Dragon might have helped, if not for the continued aggressive play of Frost, who proceed to rotate down the map, nearly taking the interior turret in mid lane, before rotating further down to take the first bottom lane turret, making it 0-3 on turrets at just under 11 minutes, advantage: Frost. From here, the laning phase has collapsed, leading an underpowered Gambit into a dangerous team fighting mid-game. A lot of the problems which plagued Gambit in the laning phase become very apparent by the first mid-game team fight. First, EDWARD spent much of the laning phase roaming, trying to pick up kills which left Genja’s Miss Fortune alone to farm. In fact, this becomes such a major problem for GG that RapidStar – on Gragas – outfarmed Genja by over 20-30 CS at some points, and certainly outfarmed Alex Ich – on Kha’Zix – who, unlike Gragas had to compete in a 2v1 lane. The gold advantage for Frost became too much as eventually the persistent pushing of Shy forces Gambit to over-commit 3 champions to stop Singed on top lane, allowing CJF to finish taking the interior mid turret and to cycle down and take another turret on bottom lane. In the end, the item advantage Frost held was far too much for Gambit to overcome, leading them to drop their first ever IEM game to Frost.

GAME 2 (IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 2)

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With their backs against the wall, Gambit had to pull out a win in game 2 to remain in the series. Gambit, who curiously missed the ban on Singed in game 1 apparently learned their lesson, banning him out for game 2; the first of a series of good choices by Gambit who played with poise and confidence in the second clash. Like the first game, game 2 was full of hyper aggressive plays which began very early. A late invade by Gambit leads to a stolen blue buff and a series of very important advantages for Gambit which help them snowball the second contest. First, Frost tries to respond to the stolen buff by heading over to Gambit’s Elder Lizard camp, but a quick response by GG sets up first blood for EDWARD and no buff for Frost. In addition, all of the attention paid to these early invades by Shy’s Jax gives Darien’s Darius a huge advantage in lane. By the time Jax arrives in lane, Darius is already more than 10cs up with a 3-to-1 level advantage. The lane swaps from game 1 persist, but even more strangely in game 2. By 4 minutes in game time, it becomes apparent that top laners Shy and Darien would be facing off in bottom lane, mid laners Alex Ich and RapidSTAR would fight it out in top lane, and the bottom lane duos of Genja/EDWARD and Woong/MadLife would compete over creeps in mid lane. Initially, this presents a major problem for Gambit, whose Kha’Zix has limited access to blue buff on red side while all the way on top lane.

Game 2 was about even trades early on, as Shy, trying to tower dive Darien gets taken down, leading to a dragon-for-tower trade, resulting in GG coming out with a slight gold advantage. So even were these early trades that by around 14 minutes in-game-time the game is deadlocked on kills at 4-to-4. It took a huge play by Gambit to force the game in their direction. A successful Hook/Box combo from EDWARD leads to a massive team fight that starts off looking great for Gambit until Frost responds leading to an intense chase through the jungle. RapidSTAR in pursuit of Darien barely misses a few barrels due to great jukes and a timely flash from Darien. Gambit comes out one kill ahead as Darien’s long chase results in an execute on Frost’s bottom lane inhibitor turret – not a kill for Frost. That one fight cost Frost much more than it looked at first, as GG was able to extend their gold lead by taking dragon, now up over the Koreans by 3000 gold.

The gold advantage for GG shows itself in the next contest for Dragon in which at points it seems like Frost has superior positioning, but thanks to a tight formation from GG, effective zoning from Genja with Bullet Time and a straight up better complement of items, Gambit takes the team fight 2-for-0 plus the game’s second Dragon. From here, the game settles down a bit until the next major team fight in which Gambit decimates Frost, takes down Baron Nashor and rolls on to a win which was predictable since First Blood. With a final kill score of 20-to-7, Gambit takes game 2 with ferocity.

GAME 3 (VOD: IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 3)

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Game 3 was decided in champion select – a sentiment we here at allMIA generally try to avoid, but look at the lineups: Gambit picks late game hyper carry Kog’Maw in response to Woong picking up Genja’s MF. The Frost picks of Kha’Zix and MF come seemingly in response to Gambit first picking Xin Zhao – a decision that Gambit made undoubtedly before considering they would end up running Kog’Maw.  Because of these picks, Gambit ends up playing “protect the Kog’Maw” with a team who is simply unsuited to protect the ADC. With patchy CC here and there, Gambit’s team composition leaves them with no reliable way to peel for Kog’Maw, which – in the end – costs them the game and the series.

First blood comes out in flashy style, as EDWARD jumps in on a low-HP Lulu at the top lane tower at just level 1. Just like the previous two games, both teams trade kills fairly quickly in the early game, resulting in 3 total kills by 3 minutes in-game-time. The game heats up after Frost takes the game’s first Dragon nearly uncontested, resulting in a 1-for-1 trade that ends up favoring Frost who get the extra global gold from Dragon. Until the first Dragon, Gambit’s curious champion select choices haven’t been a problem. The first time it becomes apparent that “protect-the-Kog’Maw” will not succeed for Gambit is this teleport play in which Genja gets caught and killed. This would happen to Genja too many times in this contest, leading him to a 2/4 score by 21:00 in-game-time.

The advantage Frost builds early shows itself in the first major team fight of game 3. The play starts with Kog’Maw caught by himself again, this time by the Skarner played by Frost jungler CloudTemplar. In his first game of the series away from his preferred Xin Zhao, Templar shows off why Skarner is still a viable choice out of the jungle; dragging Kog’Maw to his death. Templar starts a fight which would continue up river and end on Gambit’s mid lane turret with kills on Diamondprox and EDWARD for a 3-0 “trade”.  From this point, the game has swung so firmly in Frost’s direction, that Gambit cannot mount any kind of a comeback. By 25 minutes, Frost is over Gambit by 10,000 gold. With Shy and RapidSTAR continuing their dominant play, both summoners begin the game’s last team fight with 7/1 scores.

WRAP UP

With the small advantages Frost was able to build – starting with smart picks and bans in champion select – Gambit was simply unable to overcome the might of one of Korea’s top teams. Frost, who avenges their IEM Katowice loss to Gambit moves on to the IEM Hanover Grand Final to face CJ Entus teammates Team Blaze, leaving the e-sports community with several questions: how will Gambit respond to the tough loss next week in LCS competition? Does this mean that Korea does truly have the best League of Legends teams in the world? Was Azubu wrong to lose Blaze and Frost? These two teams simply dominated at Hanover to the point where the only challenge they end up facing is one  another.


This Week in E-Sports: IPL Cancelled, IEM Rolling, LCS Bye (SPOILERS)

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With many pro teams at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament this week, there is no LCS action scheduled for the weekend of March 7th – March 11th, 2013. With IPL6 cancelled, it’s time to focus on looking ahead to next week’s LCS matchups and to take a look at what’s happening in Germany for the IEM World Championships. Beware readers who missed IEM action this week and still want to see the games they’ve missed, spoilers lay ahead. New summoners who want to learn how to see the action unfold, take a look at our guide to League of Legends pro-streams.

IEM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2013

BenQ sponsored Gambit (formerly Moscow Five) has emerged from the group stage with an undefeated 5-0 record against group A opponents. Gambit’s success in IEM is unsurprising considering their history in the tournament and strong showing at the Season 2 World Championship. Gambit’s streak includes a win over LCS rival Fnatic who did not qualify for the IEM playoffs which kick off tomorrow and wrap up Saturday. Gambit and Fnatic have been duking it out in the standings, with Gambit leading the European LCS division at 9-2 and Fnatic right on their heels at 8-3. Two of Fnatic’s LCS losses, however, come from none other than Gambit Gaming. These two teams are developing quite a rivalry as Fnatic fails to qualify for the IEM playoffs and now has to turn their attention for their next big test, a rematch against the former Moscow Five in LCS competition on March 23rd.

In group B EUW LCS favorites Evil Geniuses (formerly clg.EU) and SK gaming, have each come out with lackluster performances which has kept both teams out of the playoffs. Meanwhile Korean powerhouse teams CJ Entus Frost (4-1)  and SK Telecom T1 (4-1) – who will each make IEM playoff appearances – are vindicating commentators who contend that Korean teams are the best in the world by leading the pack ahead of other international contenders; including 3rd place group B team Anexis eSports (3-2): a European team whose victory over SK helped lead to their surprisingly strong group stage showing. Looking at the brackets, it’s possible we will see Gambit and a top Korean team in the final for a showdown to help fuel the “east vs. west” debate which has been so prominent in the e-sports scene. In fact, if Frost – recently acquired from Azubu by CJ Entus – beats French team Millenium in the first round, we’ll see Gambit square off with a big Korean team as soon as the semi-finals.

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Bracket courtesy of IEM, click the image to visit the official site for more info.

WEEK 5 LCS MATCHUPS 

Week 5 promises to be an opportunity for some major shake-ups in the North American LCS standings. While division leaders Dignitas (10-2, 1st place) and Curse (9-2, 2nd place) do not play one another next week, both teams have an interesting slate of week 5 matches which could help define the second half of the season.

Dig Rolls On

After a rocky 0-2 start with losses to Team Solo Mid and Curse, Dig went on a 10 game tear – the longest LCS winning streak to date. Next week, Dig matches up against 3 of the “bottom 4” NA teams; none of which have managed to knock off Dignitas yet in LCS contention. CompLexity (1-8), Good Game University (2-10) and Vulcan (4-9) all have a shot at proving they can hang with the top 4 by taking down number 1, but while riding their seemingly unstoppable winning streak, Dig is poised to come out of week 5 an impressive 13-2 record. Keep an eye on the March 17th matchup against Vulcan, who have proven they can take down top 4 teams after a win against perennial powerhouse Counter Logic Gaming (7-4) as they may have the best shot of ending Dig’s impressive run.

Can Curse Keep Up?

Curse, who began the season an undefeated 8-0 suddenly dropped behind a surging Dig in the standings after a startling loss to their now-first-place rivals and a second disappointing showing against former Saint vicious, Voyboy and Elementz teammates CLG. Now at 9-2 Curse looks to keep up with Dig in two big games: a March 16th clash with TSM who is looking to avenge last week’s loss to NyJacky and the gang and another round with HotshotGG and team CLG a day earlier on the 15th. Come back to allMIA later this week for a closer look at these two key grudge matches which may well decide whether Curse can keep up with a Dignitas squad who seem poised in a softer week to take a commanding lead in the standings.

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Will CLG Hold On to a Top 4 Spot?

CLG should be looking back over their shoulders this week despite claims in promotional videos that they “aren’t scared” of any of the bottom 4 teams. CLG, who are a 4th place 7-4 in LCS competition play a key rematch against 5th place team Marn (4-5) and has to back up their brave talk against a scrappy MRN who handed CLG a loss on February 27th. In the win, MRN top laner MegaZero played Renekton to 5/0/11 perfection, diving towers and playing a key role in two Baron contests which helped propel MRN to victory. MRN – lead by ADC Heartbeat’s now-ubiquitous Tristana/Blade of the Ruined King build – has a chance to knock off CLG and possibly enter the top 4, shaking up the NA LCS in a way nobody expected after a few weak showings from bottom 4 teams early on. In order to claw their way into the top half of the standings, MRN will also have to find a way to best Vulcan (3/15) and the formidable Curse (3/17) the latter of whom has not lost to a bottom 4 team yet in LCS competition.

WRAP-UP

With IEM finishing up weekend, LCS competition heating up next week and the approaching MLG Winter games, LoL’s professional scene may have never been so heated before. Check back with allMIA for previews and post game analysis for the biggest League of Legends professional contests. Leave us a comment and let us know which games you’re looking forward to and which matchups you think need a closer look.


Diving Into the League – How to Watch the Pros Play

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When I decided I’d like to improve my game knowledge and learn some new skills to help me out in solo queue, the unanimous sentiment opinined by other players was to “watch the pros play”. At first I felt a little reserved; watching? Shouldn’t I be playing? How do I go about watching games? I’d seen some tutorials about how to use LoLReplay and heard some buzz about Twitch and the now defunct Own3d, but I struggled with the core concepts involved. Watching other people play League of Legends seemed like a cumbersome, tiresome ordeal that I wanted no part of. I felt like there was an experience barrier keeping me from giving it a try, so I continued to toil away in blind pick.

With the advent of the League Championship Series (LCS) and the changes to the Ranked system in season 3, watching the best-of-the-best has never been easier. The imaginary barrier keeping the average player from seeing the game played at the highest level is now, in fact, only imaginary. Any fan of professional sports knows that sometimes accessing game content can be restricted by blackouts, copyright laws and other frustrating barriers, but the burgeoning e-sports scene is largely unmarred by such obstacles.

GETTING STARTED

So what is the best way to begin catching professional level League of Legends games? The afformentioned LCS is a great option for newbies and e-sports megafans alike. Access to the content is very user-friendly and the schedule is very pro-sports-like and easy to track, there are even iOS and Android apps which track stats and provide results for LCS games.

The current format of the LCS is a round robin tournament (each team plays every other team 4 times) split into two reigional divisions: North America and Europe. North American teams play Thursdays and Fridays, while their European counterparts play Saturdays and Sundays. Interested parties have a few simple ways to access the content through Riot’s e-sports hub: LoLesports. On game day, the bulk of the front page is dominated by a Twitch.TV stream, that is to say if you log on Friday afternoon, you’re one click away from an organized HD stream with professional commentary and analysis. If you’re a little late, or missed a game you’d like to see Riot also offers a YouTube link on the main page which is on a short delay, but allows users to rewind and re-watch any part of the broadcast; this is the most useful part of Riot’s LCS coverage, the abililty to catch the important moves that your average solo queue player wants to learn. Watching a successful gank unfold on bottom lane is entertaining, but for it to be informative, you’ll often want to go back and see: what was the jungler doing right before? How did the lane set up for the gank? Where was the enemy jungler during the gank? Riot’s YouTube stream allows you to effortlessly jump to any point in the broadcast, creating your own personal highlight reel.

INDIVIDUAL STREAMS

Of course, the LCS is only broadcasting on weekends, so if it’s Tuesday, where do you go for new content? Well, the number of weekend games is sometimes massive, and all LCS broadcasts are archived on both Riot’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel for re-watching. In addition, Twitch is home to the personal streams of many top-tier League of Legends players. Streams are an excellent resource because many streamers take time to explain their thought process and descision making which can help lead new players and verterans alike to develop good in-game habits. So which streams should you watch? Most professional players and high-level streamers primarily play one role, so if you’re trying to learn a specific champion or role, you should look for casters who play that role. If you’re looking for good general game knowledge, it’s best to find the most informative streamer and follow them. I’ll break down some suggestions by topic – please drop your own personal suggestions in the comments, and I’ll append the main article to reflect community choices.

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While sivHD may not be the best caster to watch for strategy, it’s the best to watch if you want to be reminded that League of Legends is in fact, a fun game.

Top Lane

Voyboy – Team Curse’s top laner. Voy is known for his explanations and “teaching” style while streaming. A great stream to watch for aspiring top laners and new summoners alike.

Wingsofdeath – Wings is one of the most informative and teaching-oriented streamers for LoL, and a great top laner to learn from.

Mid Lane

NyJacky – very frequently duo queues with team Curse partner Saintvicious, known for his Veigar.

Scarra – funny, talented and informative. Dignitas’ mid lane phenom is one of the best AP mids to watch and learn the game from.

ADC

IAmLOD – a diamond ranked ADC who streams very frequently.

Chaox – TSM’s ADC is known for breaking down almost every play and explaining his thinking as he carries his team to victory. Highly informative!

Support

Destiny – while not on a pro team, Destiny has some great support tips to share from his diamond-ranked streams.

Tsatsulow – the high ELO support from team summon is a good watch for new supports!

Jungle

Saintvicious – one of North America’s top junglers also streams on twitch.tv and is very informative and reflective while he plays. Additionally, Saint produces a series of highly informative in-depth jungling video guides on YouTube which he streams live Tuesdays at 4pm PST.  Saint mostly plays very aggressive, carry-style junglers.

TheOddOne – TSM’s TheOddOne is also one of the best junglers in the North American scene, known for his funny and quirky comments as well as his vast game knowledge and preference for tanky, supportive junglers.

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WRAP-UP

I highly reccomend making a free account on Twitch.TV. Twitch has a very accessible system for bookmarking channels you enjoy, so you can easily see which of your favorite casters is streaming. Don’t limit your choices to what’s listed here, click the “League of Legends” section under games and browse all current streams. Some of the best streams on Twitch are aspiring summoners just like you and me trying to climb the ranked ladder. If you find one you like, follow their channel and drop me a line in the comments about it.

So why should you watch a game instead of playing it? League of Legends is a complex game with many mechanics all working simultaenously. It can be very difficult to focus on micro-gameplay and big macro map awareness concepts at once and still learn from mistakes when you make them. Watching another game allows you to focus entirely on the skill you’re hoping to work on, and get useful feedback and commentary from more experienced players at the same time. If you’re still unsure, give it a try! The only thing watching streams costs is a little time.