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.
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
Rhux 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 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.