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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.

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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 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.


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.