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NA Spring Playoffs INFOGRAPHIC: Picks/Bans/Wins

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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.


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.


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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