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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)

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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!


If You’ve Ever Said “GG” Before The Nexus Fell…

This is for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVwA4vuXZ3E

 


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


America’s New Pastime: Our Generation’s Sport

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Growing up, I was a baseball fan. My father – in his childhood – was a fanatic. My father did it all: Collecting cards, scoring games, playing elaborate statistics games at home on his bedroom floor while the Yankees played on the radio; or playing stickball in the street with his friends. For our fathers’ generation and many before; baseball was life – America’s Game. As I got older and began to understand and appreciate the game, I watched my father’s love of baseball erode before my very eyes. As I grew to enjoy the sport, my dad seemed to lose interest. I asked him once why his childhood passion was no longer a source of happiness for him, and he grew wistful in his response. He recounted that even though he and his friends liked other sports – they were all big football, hockey and basketball fans too – baseball was special because it was the only sport where kids and adults alike could look down on the field and think: “I could do that”. Baseball players were not the enormous superhuman athletes who dominated other sports – they seemed like average guys; some were short or fat, some wore glasses and had names like “Mick” and “Ernie”. Baseball was on every day and night, it was a sport where 30% success is considered all-pro. Baseball was the most accessible sport, the closest thing to ownership that a fan could feel for a game.

Time passed, and in 1998 I watched my Yankees win 114 games. I held my breath with the rest of the country as two superheroes competed to break the holy grail of sports records: the single season home run record. Though it’s 15 years in the past now, more than any other summer I feel like I can remember every day of 1998, watching news reports and catching front page headlines to see if McGwire or Sosa had pulled ahead.

10 years later as I watched these heroes stand accused of cheating on the floor of Congress,  I understood why my father lost his love of baseball. Baseball was no longer the pastoral, blue-collar game he grew up watching and feeling a part of. Today’s players were now like those from other sports – gigantic finely tuned super athletes. Gone were the Babe Ruths and the Joe DiMaggios who reminded starry eyed kids of themselves, replaced instead with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and  Barry Bonds: guys with multi-million dollar contracts and crates of steroids. Baseball was no longer a game for average men and boys, and that fact killed the love of the game my father and his generation previously held on to.

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Mark McGwire testifies before Congress about his alleged steroid use.

When Season 3 of League of Legends began this winter, I was struck by the synergy of the ranked ladder system for average players who wanted a tangible measurement of their improvement relative to top-level professional competition. Suddenly I found myself queuing for ranked matches on weekdays and tuning in to pro games on the weekends – two things which I’d never really done before. I saw guys just like me playing my favorite game at the highest level and found myself thinking: “I could do that”. Just like the kids in the street playing stickball and dreaming of being Ted Williams, professional League seemed accessible to me, I felt a greater connection to the game than I do with say, football. With League of Legends attracting record numbers of viewers, even mainstream media outlets are wondering: is this America’s new sport? MLG Dallas saw 2.6 million unique viewers, not a record high for e-sports, but what’s impressive is the “engagement time” – the average viewing time for MLG Dallas was around 150 minutes, much higher than the Super Bowl averages.

In some ways, the inter-connectivity provided by the web and the forward thinking team at Riot have created an environment in which a competitive spectator game can be enjoyed by fans all over the world in new, unprecedented ways. While traditional sports struggle to move into the 21st century weighed down by massive T.V. contracts and blackout restrictions, League and games like it enjoy a much more open experience for fans. Games are streamed all over the world for free. Replays are available on demand the moment the game begins – for free, and most importantly, Riot and other major games manufacturers encourage fans and sites (like allMIA) to cover their pro leagues. When we post match highlights, we’re able to bring you links directly to key moments in the broadcast in a way that a Hockey or Football blog simply can’t, due to NFL and NHL restrictions.

Our pros stream every day, connecting with the fanbase in a way that major sports just can’t. The game we play is the same game our pros play, and the dream that one day we’ll work our way up to the “challenger” tier, and qualify for a pro team is real and tangible, and it drives us ever closer to the game we love. As major American sports continue to alienate themselves from fans with bloated contracts, blackout restrictions, endorsements and lawsuits, companies like Riot offer a more attractive alternative. Consider this: 10 years ago, would you have ever pictured a scenario where you watched other people play video games with the enthusiasm that you watch “real sports”? I know I didn’t. Imagine where we might be in 10 years from now. We’re witnessing history, and even better – we can be a part of it. The NA and EU LCS first-half seasons wrap up in a few short weeks, will you tune in to see the future of competitive sports? Leave us a comment or tweet to us @ill_monstro_g – tell us what you think about the growth of e-sports and where we’re going as a community.


Choose Our Next Contest While We’re AFK!

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See those RP cards? A photo taken by your’s truly and uploaded this very day. We’ve got a bunch of RP, and we want to give it away to our readers! Since we’re going to be away this weekend (not at PAX East, but at a wedding!) we’re looking for your input. While allMIA goes on a short hiatus from March 22-26, tweet your contest ideas, or leave them in the comments of this post. We’ll choose the best option, run the contest, and give out RP prizes!  Our last contest was a huge success and we anticipate this one being even bigger!

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This Is Why We Ward

via reddit