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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.

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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.

NA LCS Week 8: PR0LLY Makes a Splash for coL

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Salutations, Summoners!

Week 8 was a wild one with upsets, come from behind wins and razor thin margins of victory. Roster changes were the story this week as many teams were sending out lineups with some new faces. When asked what the most significant roster recent change was by NA casters, the overwhelming Twitter response was the changes at TSM, and while WildTurtle has been playing very well in place of the ousted Chaox, player swaps for team CompLexity and Vulcun have made immediate and measurable impacts for two teams battling it out to stave off relegation at the end of the Spring season. Vulcun has a new shotcaller, imported from GGU: Support Star Bloodwater, while Chuuper stepping down has made room for new coL mid laner PR0LLY. In some of their first matches with their respective teams, fans got to see these two new transplants head-to-head in LCS competition on Friday. PR0LLY distinguished himself by making plays with an unconventional pro-level pick: Annie. It was PR0LLY’s late flash/stun combo which allowed coL to push down the remaining towers in mid lane and roll on to victory. More impressive was when we learned in a post game interview that prior to gameday PR0LLY had never even really played Annie, proving two things: 1) Annie is easy to pick up and 2) PR0LLY is a gutsy, flexible player who is going to make a big difference for his new team.

Of course, the game which may henceforth be called the “Annie Game” wasn’t the first big game for coL this week. In a match CLG expected to win, PR0LLY brought out Ziggs – another champion rarely seen in pro play of late – and popped off, ending the game with a score of 5/2/14, leading his team to a victory in a ridiculous back and forth match that you really need to see to believe. PR0LLY’s success with unconventional picks has NA summoners and fans alike wondering how much of the meta is really set in stone. PR0LLY – by picking champions that his opponents have not practiced against recently – is really making a statement about how teams prepare for games. With over 100 champions – most of whom are viable – how can a team prepare for a mid laner who is just as likely to play one champion as any other? PR0LLY’s success in week 8 will likely not go unanswered. Expect to see other pros experimenting and bringing new champions to the table as everyone races to the end of the Spring season, looking to adapt and rise above the competition.

Despite picking up two impressive wins, coL is stuck at the bottom of the standings looking up. Luckily for coL, they don’t have to look too far as only 2 wins separate everyone in the bottom 4 of the NA LCS standings. Next week’s games are crucial in determining who will move on to the Summer season, and who will be relegated in favor of two new LCS teams. Is it too late for CompLexity, or can PR0LLY’s unconventional style carry them to wins over GGU and the mighty first place Curse? With every team in competition next week except Vulcun Command, coL is in a position to advance in the standings. Games kick off at 1pm PST this Thursday; with only two weeks left in the season now is the time to tune in and watch the climactic matches of the Spring.

Customize Your Rift!

Summoner’s Rift is a beautiful map! But for those of you who have played thousands of games, and miss the variety that the winter map from S2 gave to the game, LoL Forums user Yurixy has your back. Check this thread for a selection of visually interesting and diverse skins for Summoner’s Rift, including a beach map and a sci-fi futuristic alien planet look!

For those of you worried about violating your TOS or getting banned for custom skins and models, fear not: Associate Technical Artist Riot Drachis has made several encouraging posts in Yurixy’s thread, so if you want to shake up your game visuals a little, follow Yurixy’s guides, and if you have any other great visual LoL tweaks you want to share, make sure to leave us a comment or tweet a link to us @ill_monstro_g