Hey readers! Thanks for your reddit feedback on yesterday’s NA Infographic. I’ve done a few changes for the EU version, a simpler background image, some cleaner choices in color and arrangement, but kept the overall look and feel the same. I’ve had some requests for data like KDA and some other statstics here and there, I’m looking at the right way to implement that information for our next LCS infographic. Let us know what you think!
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.
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
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.
(VODs: Full Game)
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!
This is for you.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
With Gambit Gaming on their bye week and in international competition at MLG Dallas for week 5, the other 7 EU teams had a week to shake things up without the dominant Russian squad around to spoil things. Without the competition of Alex Ich and his team, Fnatic took advantage in a big way, picking up wins in all 3 of their matchups, propelling them to a first place spot in the EU division. Former CLG.eu squad Evil Geniuses continued to toil with mixed results. Almost mirroring their former sister team’s struggles in the NA division this week, EG continues to play close games which seem to get away from them in the end. Froggen came out in an interview recently, expressing frustration with his team’s performance and stating that the playstyle which brought EG past success is no longer effective in the game’s current state, and that his team would have to adapt to survive. Froggen’s comments seem eerily similar to Doublelift’s frustrated remarks about the ADC role after CLG’s disappointing start to the NA season.
With some of the top teams in the world struggling to adapt to new strategies and team comps in Season 3, it would stand to reason that newer teams have an edge and should be rising; and yet like the bottom 4 NA teams, the bottom half of the EU standings continues to be populated with newer, less decorated teams. Wolves, GIANTS!, Dragonborns and Against all Authority all maintain sub .500 win percentages by continuing to trade wins with one another while consistently losing to the senior teams in the division (only bottom 4 team to beat a top 4 this week? aAa over SK). If top teams are still trying to adapt to Season 3 and new teams can’t seem to take advantage, what will it take to unseat a top pro team – and can whoever adapts best this season compete with the top Korean teams who continue to dominate on the international stage? Come back to allMIA later this week as we look ahead to week 6 EU and NA action and discuss some practical methods for western viewers to catch games in the top Asian leagues whose seasons begin soon.
ARAM fans! Riot has heard your cries. Ever since the debut of The Proving Grounds, players have had the ability to play fan-created “all random all mid” rules on a dedicated one lane map in custom games. Since ARAMs have been limited to custom games, the chief problems with ARAM have been players dodging when they don’t get a champion they’d like to play (defeating the purpose of ARAM) and the skill gap which can plague a mode where anyone can play with anyone else. In one fell swoop, Riot seeks to snuff out these problems by introducing a matchmade ARAM queue on a whole new map: The Howling Abyss.
If you have a PBE account you can go give the new map a spin. It is unclear at this moment when the map will hit live servers, and if it will support blind and draft pick (ABAM/ADAM) modes when it does. Excited for a new ARAM map? Tell us in the comments or by tweeting to us @ill_monstro_g and if there is enough interest we will sponsor an ARAM tournament with RP prizes to celebrate the release of Howling Abyss!
Today, Riot revealed the details of upcoming champion Zac, and he’s as cool as we thought he’d be! Check out his abilities:
- Cell Division (Passive): When any of Zac’s abilities hit an enemy, a piece of him falls to the ground. Zac can pick up fallen pieces to recover health. When Zac dies he splits into four blobs. These fragments will attempt to reform over a short duration. If any survive, Zac revives with a percentage of his maximum health based on the number of remaining blobs.
- Stretching Strike: Zac throws a two-handed punch that deals damage and slows targets in a line.
- Unstable Matter: Zac’s body explodes outward, dealing flat damage to surrounding enemies. Enemies struck also take damage based on their maximum health.
- Elastic Slingshot: Zac is immobilized as he charges up a dash toward the target location. The range of Elastic Slingshot increases up to a cap as Zac charges the ability. Zac then fires himself towards the target location, damaging and stunning all nearby enemies upon landing.
- Let’s Bounce: Zac bounces into the air, immediately knocking up, slowing and damaging nearby enemies. Once airborne, he bounces three times, dealing damage with each impact.
With his revive passive, Zac can take more risks for his carries than some other tanky/CC heavy champs might be able to because he can get back up from high-threat pick off moves like Caitlyn’s ult. How will turret aggro work in conjunction with his passive? If the turret “gibs” Zac, does the aggro switch? If so, his abilities as a tower-diver will also be impressive. With a CC-heavy kit and an interesting gap closer, Zac will likely be a powerful jungler. His HP regen mechanic is interesting, and might be more easily leveraged in the jungle than in lane. When a neutral creep camp attacks Zac, he can just wiggle in the camp to pick up HP as opposed to in lane where he will have to watch where he steps to avoid taking more damage in a trade.
Want more details? Check out the skinny over on the official Riot forums.
Really, this article is a reflection of a prevalent issue facing all communities from really enclosed ones like the League of Legends community to much broader communities like Reddit or television viewers. At times, fans forget that just because a sentiment or idea is popular or high profile doesn’t mean that other people don’t have contrasting ideas. Moreover, for those who claim gamers are “fickle”, the reality is that we’re all unique and have different tastes and opinions. While the term “hivemind” is often leveled at gaming or online communities, in reality the popular opinion of a group isn’t always as consistent as we’d like to believe.
What do you think about the Dorkly article? Leave a comment and let us know!
Game 3 of the IEM Hanover Grand Final between CJ Entus teams Blaze and Frost was the rubber game of a 1-1 tie for the two Korean sides whose play in the first two games was ferocious. At first it seemed as though these teams were backing off of their early aggressive play-style until Frost revealed the first trick up their sleeve. MadLife – still on his Lulu – buys an early red potion and sits in the forward bush in top lane with Woong’s Ezreal and Shy’s Singed. Flame, playing the Elise that Shy played so well in game 1 wanders into lane when the trap is sprung for First Blood. Not one to let a gank go unanswered, Helios – on Vi – hooks around the bottom side of middle lane and with one well placed Vault Breaker brings the kill score even onto RapidSTAR’s Lux. Almost simultaneously though, MadLife, Woong and CloudTemplar – on Volibear – secure a second kill on Elise again bringing Frost ahead on kills. With the First Blood gold, Frost looks very good early up 500 gold on their sister-team. Given the previous two games ending predictably after fast starts by each team, game 3 looks grim for Blaze already at just 4 minutes in-game-time. Frost’s advantage increases when MadLife and Woong, pushing bottom tower, stay a little too long. Blaze manages to catch MadLife and bring themselves just a bit back into the game until in turn Helios stays just a bit too long, leading to a highlight reel worthy play in which Frost lands not one but two flips on Cpt Jack’s Tristana giving Frost yet another kill. Frost, having timed the play very well gets to take the game’s first Dragon without a contest from Blaze.
After a rough early game for Blaze, they begin playing very cautiously and puts the focus on farming minions, a strategy which will pay dividends in the late game, especially with a Tristana who is so strong in the late period of the game. Blaze’s first big play to help climb back into the game comes with the second Dragon spawn. Frost manages to take down dragon but gives up 3 kills to Blaze, who close the gold gap a little. After the clash at the objective, Blaze continues to push lanes and carefully farm. It still appears that Frost has an enormous advantage as they manage to pick off two members of Blaze, increasing their gold lead to 3000. There is no further aggression from Blaze until Frost reaches out to flip Ambition’s Kha’Zix. At first it appears that Frost will take yet another kill off of Blaze, until Ambition quickly crushes Ezreal and leaps over the jungle wall to safety, leaving Lustboy’s Sona to Crescendo Frost, giving a double kill to Cpt Jack. It’s at this point in the game that it’s clear that Blaze’s wait and CS strategy has paid off, as Ambition has an 80 cs lead over his lane opponent, RapidSTAR. Additionally, Cpt Jack is – at this point – 20cs over opponent Woong. The disparity in gold for the key damage dealers in this matchup gives Blaze the advantage they need to run Frost over. The farm disparity is so great that the once 3000 gold advantage for Frost has completely melted away, giving Blaze a nearly 1000 gold advantage which helps lead to another team fight in which Blaze cleans up Frost 2-0.
Now with a huge gold lead, Ambition begins absolutely controlling the game by himself, soloing dragon. Blaze follows up on Ambition’s success by contesting and taking Baron. Frost is wise enough to back off of the Baron fight while they have the chance, taking no deaths but giving up a turret and red buff to Ambition. With these few plays, Blaze’s gold lead suddenly swells up to over 8000. By slowing the game down, farming and picking their fights Blaze has written the book on how to play from behind. Frost, now desperate to claw their way back into a game they once controlled begins to press Blaze’s inhibitor turret in middle lane, but over-commits and ends up losing a team fight they had no real chance of winning 2-4. Blaze proceeds to press their advantage, taking the match’s second Baron and an inhibitor. The final nail in Frost’s coffin comes when Frost double-flips Ambition which only pushes Kha’Zix past Frost’s front line where he easily picks up a triple kill and ends the game, demonstrating that Blaze’s gold advantage is just too much.
For us summoners who are trying to learn important lessons from the pro scene, we’ve learned two important things from Blaze’s play in this game:
1) A great way to counter a “flip” team composition like the Singed/Volibear comp Frost was running is to play a champion with great escapes and high burst damage like Kha’Zix. Ambition consistently positioned himself in front of his team, making him the only viable target for CloudTemplar and Shy to engage on. Once he was flipped, Ambition made short work of the carries he was being tossed into and jumped away before he could be killed himself. Ambition’s play of Kha’Zix not only shows why the void-bug is such a popular choice in pro-play right now, but also easily makes him the game’s MVP.
2) When playing from behind, as Blaze was early on in game 3, it’s imperative to stay calm, disengage and try to farm as much as possible. Once Frost was ahead, Helios showed none of the massive aggression which was so key to Blaze’s game 2 victory, instead Blaze forced nothing, farmed up and became so strong that by time team fights began mid-game, Frost had no chance to defeat them.
With the victory, Blaze sets up a 2-1 match point in this best-of-5 IEM Grand Final.
The fourth game of this best-0f-five is an elimination game for Frost who must win in order to force a game 5. The dire nature of their situation does not seem lost on Frost who begins the match by setting up a 3-man ambush in tribush on bottom lane. At first they back off of a potential fight at Blaze’s Elder Lizard camp, but then put a gank on Lustboy’s Sona in lane where Shy – on Singed – grabs First Blood. Frost appears ready to come out very aggressively, wanting to put this game away quickly as they did game 1. Blaze, realizing how aggressive Frost is playing and remembering their success in slowing down and controlling game 3 begins to play very defensively, focusing on farming and positioning. The first action we see after First Blood is when Flame takes top tower with very patient poking. Frost, wanting to speed the game back up with their aggressive strategy sends CloudTemplar to bottom lane to mirror some of the aggressive Vi play we saw from Helios earlier in the series. With a well executed, patient lane gank on Lustboy Frost picks up a 2-0 edge on kills. Almost simultaneously on top lane, Flame tries to chase and kill Shy who proves why rule number 1 is “don’t chase singed” as he escapes unharmed and nearly kills his lane opponent in the process.
Despite the 2-0 lead on kills, Blaze is farming better than Frost at 10:30 in-game-time with Flame up 25cs on Shy and Ambition up 15cs on RapidSTAR. Blaze’s patient, focused farming which was the key to their victory in game 3 and 1-0 turret advantage is once again paying off as they maintain a 1000 gold lead. Blaze – continuing with their patient strategy – drops a pink ward on Dragon and takes it uncontested, further increasing their gold lead to 2000. Frost – again needing to pull themselves back into contention from behind – starts playing even more aggressively with Shy teleporting to bottom lane for a gank, but a well timed Crescendo from Lustboy assures that Frost’s plans are foiled and Blaze can continue to farm safely with top lane now 30cs in favor of Blaze, mid and bot lane 10cs in favor of Blaze a piece. Frost, seeming frustrated by the cautious play of their sister-team responds to the failed gank on bottom lane by trapping Flame between RapidSTAR and CloudTemplar for the only the game’s third kill. It appears as though all of the roaming and waiting Frost is doing to set up these ganks is costing them in farm as despite the kill score being 3-0 Blaze is now up 2.5k gold.
A key play in this game 4 comes when Frost attempts to set up a fourth kill on Cpt Jack and Lustboy. Notice how Woong misses out on cs while he and MadLife wait for an opportune moment. Cpt Jack – who appears oblivious – is calmly farming, increasing his already large gold lead until the trap is sprung. A miss-play by Woong allows Cpt Jack to set up outside of the range of Bullet Time, where he can start pounding on Miss Fortune. Woong has to cancel his ult early and begin the retreat with low HP. With good communication, Blaze is able to bring Ambition – on Zed – down to bottom lane to pick up a double kill right on top of Frost’s bottom lane turret resulting in even more gold for Blaze and – crucially – even more missed farm for Woong. Frost is able to respond by catching Cpt Jack near red-side’s tri-bush and successfully chasing down Lustboy. Despite the retaliation from Frost, the double kill, extra farm, and a good response from Helios taking middle tower while Frost busily scrambles for kills, gives Blaze a now a 3000+ gold advantage over their sister team.
Frost – who was unable to play from behind previously in this series – suddenly jumps back into the game when the next contest for Dragon begins. Superior positioning leads RapidSTAR to pick up a triple kill with a fourth kill coming on Flame from Shy, giving Frost a 4-0 team fight victory and helping them close the gold gap down to under 1000 after grabbing the Dragon objective. Frost’s aggression does not end there as RapidSTAR leaps onto Ambition in middle lane while at the same time Shy and Cloud Templar pressure Flame on top lane. Blaze takes this opportunity to once again show off patience and superior positioning as Flame uses Repel effectively to shred Cloud Templar with his tower, turning the gank around into a 1-1 trade while in middle lane another tower dive goes wrong for Frost as Lustboy, Helios and Cpt Jack collapse on Ambition and CloudTemplar for a double kill and another turret. With the great response from Blaze, the gold lead once again opens up to 2.5k in favor of Blaze.
While Frost has – until now – been able to stay in the game, the balance of power tilts completely in Blaze’s favor when Frost – again trying to force a team fight with an ambush from the brush – doesn’t quite catch Blaze who successfully disengages, turning the team fight around the top corner of blue side’s bottom jungle. Lustboy – who to this point appears to be the game’s MVP – drops a perfectly placed Crescendo which leads to another 3-0 trade for Blaze, now up over 4000 gold on Frost. Unfortunately for Frost it’s late enough in the game that Blaze is also able to increase their gold lead to 5.5k by picking up Baron Nashor on the lopsided team fight.
The final team fight and win for Blaze comes when Frost tries to force another a fight they can’t win on Flame in middle lane. Flame outplays his sister team with a great Cocoon and Repel, melting RapidSTAR down, allowing Blaze to overwhelm Frost in their own base and to take the nexus for the game and series win, making CJ Entus Blaze IEM Hanover 2013 Grand Final champions with a series score 3-1.
With CJ Entus Blaze and Frost destroying the European competition in this IEM tournament, the story for the Season 3 World Championship becomes clearer. Can the North American and European teams find a way to stop the seemingly invincible stable of top Korean mega-teams? With top EU team Gambit Gaming losing in spectacular fashion to Frost in the semi-final while dominating the EU LCS it makes an e-sports fan wonder: how can a team like Coppenhagen Wolves or the under-performing former CLG.EU squad (who was shredded in the group stage at IEM Hanover) hope to compete on the international stage when the top team in the EU LCS gets pounded by a top Korean team who doesn’t even go on to win the Grand Final? How bad would it be if a team like Dragonborns (5th place in LCS) squared off against CJ Entus Blaze? For the answer, turn your eyes to Week 5 of the LCS where 5th place NA team Marn looks to climb into the top 4 and perhaps prove that “underdog” teams have a legitimate chance on the big stage. Check back this week for more coverage on professional League of Legends play when allMIA previews specific matches to watch in Week 5 of the League Championship Series!
Picks, bans, early aggression and lane swaps were all central to the outcome of the hotly anticipated IEM re-match between BenQ Gambit (undefeated in IEM) and CJ Entus Frost, who were taken down by Gambit the last time these two teams faced off in the IEM Katowice Grand Final. This best-of-3 received extra international attention as a top European team competing at the peak of the EU LCS was facing off against a top Korean team. Would Gambit remain unbeaten in IEM competition, or would CJ Entus Frost prove once and for all that the Koreans were the teams to beat in the LoL pro scene? Read on, but beware of spoilers…
GAME 1 (VOD: IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 1)
A lot of interesting choices started off the best-of-3 semifinal between Russian team BenQ Gambit and rival South Korean team CJ Entus Frost. GG support player EDWARD, known for his Thresh play saw no ban from Frost. The Korean team seemed more concerned with the top lane play of Darien as bans against Renekton and Shen both came out from Frost. Likewise, GG misses an important ban, giving CJF top laner Shy his preferred champion: Singed. Predictably, Shy stepped up in game 1 to show the world exactly why Singed is getting a nerf. GG ADC Genja elected to go with a Miss Fortune pick, which would prove to be popular in the semifinal in general, taking ghost instead of flash perhaps for the synergy with MF’s movement speed passive. Additionally we’d see MadLife’s Lulu throughout the series, and both Xin Zhao and Kha’Zix represented throughout the series by both teams.
First blood came out for Gambit on a spectacular play on top lane which turned very bad for the Russians due to a quick response by CJF jungler CloudTemplar. Diamondprox – on Volibear – swings up to top lane to assist Darien – on Jax – whose health has dropped fairly low after some early trades with Shy’s Singed. A great flip from Volibear paired with a good Jax Counterstrike lead to first blood, but not before the ever popular Xin Zhao shows up to crash the party. CloudTemplar cleans up the low health Volibear and chases Jax through the brush, burning Jax’s flash but then responding with a flash of his own followed up with an Audacious Charge and the final hit on Three Talon Strike to turn the GG first blood into a double kill for Frost, plus a refreshed double buff on Xin Zhao and buff denial for the Russian side. From there, CloudTemplar wasn’t done; picking up Boots of Mobility, Xin Zhao was flying around the map ganking every lane and playing hyper aggressively. The tenacious play of CloudTemplar helped lead to a 7:25 objective as CJF pushes and takes mid tower, increasing the gold lead to upwards of 1,500 for Frost.
The first attempt for Gambit to get back in Game 1 was an early dragon that they ended up trading for top lane’s tower. The global gold from Dragon might have helped, if not for the continued aggressive play of Frost, who proceed to rotate down the map, nearly taking the interior turret in mid lane, before rotating further down to take the first bottom lane turret, making it 0-3 on turrets at just under 11 minutes, advantage: Frost. From here, the laning phase has collapsed, leading an underpowered Gambit into a dangerous team fighting mid-game. A lot of the problems which plagued Gambit in the laning phase become very apparent by the first mid-game team fight. First, EDWARD spent much of the laning phase roaming, trying to pick up kills which left Genja’s Miss Fortune alone to farm. In fact, this becomes such a major problem for GG that RapidStar – on Gragas – outfarmed Genja by over 20-30 CS at some points, and certainly outfarmed Alex Ich – on Kha’Zix – who, unlike Gragas had to compete in a 2v1 lane. The gold advantage for Frost became too much as eventually the persistent pushing of Shy forces Gambit to over-commit 3 champions to stop Singed on top lane, allowing CJF to finish taking the interior mid turret and to cycle down and take another turret on bottom lane. In the end, the item advantage Frost held was far too much for Gambit to overcome, leading them to drop their first ever IEM game to Frost.
GAME 2 (IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 2)
With their backs against the wall, Gambit had to pull out a win in game 2 to remain in the series. Gambit, who curiously missed the ban on Singed in game 1 apparently learned their lesson, banning him out for game 2; the first of a series of good choices by Gambit who played with poise and confidence in the second clash. Like the first game, game 2 was full of hyper aggressive plays which began very early. A late invade by Gambit leads to a stolen blue buff and a series of very important advantages for Gambit which help them snowball the second contest. First, Frost tries to respond to the stolen buff by heading over to Gambit’s Elder Lizard camp, but a quick response by GG sets up first blood for EDWARD and no buff for Frost. In addition, all of the attention paid to these early invades by Shy’s Jax gives Darien’s Darius a huge advantage in lane. By the time Jax arrives in lane, Darius is already more than 10cs up with a 3-to-1 level advantage. The lane swaps from game 1 persist, but even more strangely in game 2. By 4 minutes in game time, it becomes apparent that top laners Shy and Darien would be facing off in bottom lane, mid laners Alex Ich and RapidSTAR would fight it out in top lane, and the bottom lane duos of Genja/EDWARD and Woong/MadLife would compete over creeps in mid lane. Initially, this presents a major problem for Gambit, whose Kha’Zix has limited access to blue buff on red side while all the way on top lane.
Game 2 was about even trades early on, as Shy, trying to tower dive Darien gets taken down, leading to a dragon-for-tower trade, resulting in GG coming out with a slight gold advantage. So even were these early trades that by around 14 minutes in-game-time the game is deadlocked on kills at 4-to-4. It took a huge play by Gambit to force the game in their direction. A successful Hook/Box combo from EDWARD leads to a massive team fight that starts off looking great for Gambit until Frost responds leading to an intense chase through the jungle. RapidSTAR in pursuit of Darien barely misses a few barrels due to great jukes and a timely flash from Darien. Gambit comes out one kill ahead as Darien’s long chase results in an execute on Frost’s bottom lane inhibitor turret – not a kill for Frost. That one fight cost Frost much more than it looked at first, as GG was able to extend their gold lead by taking dragon, now up over the Koreans by 3000 gold.
The gold advantage for GG shows itself in the next contest for Dragon in which at points it seems like Frost has superior positioning, but thanks to a tight formation from GG, effective zoning from Genja with Bullet Time and a straight up better complement of items, Gambit takes the team fight 2-for-0 plus the game’s second Dragon. From here, the game settles down a bit until the next major team fight in which Gambit decimates Frost, takes down Baron Nashor and rolls on to a win which was predictable since First Blood. With a final kill score of 20-to-7, Gambit takes game 2 with ferocity.
GAME 3 (VOD: IEM Semifinal GG/CJF Game 3)
Game 3 was decided in champion select – a sentiment we here at allMIA generally try to avoid, but look at the lineups: Gambit picks late game hyper carry Kog’Maw in response to Woong picking up Genja’s MF. The Frost picks of Kha’Zix and MF come seemingly in response to Gambit first picking Xin Zhao – a decision that Gambit made undoubtedly before considering they would end up running Kog’Maw. Because of these picks, Gambit ends up playing “protect the Kog’Maw” with a team who is simply unsuited to protect the ADC. With patchy CC here and there, Gambit’s team composition leaves them with no reliable way to peel for Kog’Maw, which – in the end – costs them the game and the series.
First blood comes out in flashy style, as EDWARD jumps in on a low-HP Lulu at the top lane tower at just level 1. Just like the previous two games, both teams trade kills fairly quickly in the early game, resulting in 3 total kills by 3 minutes in-game-time. The game heats up after Frost takes the game’s first Dragon nearly uncontested, resulting in a 1-for-1 trade that ends up favoring Frost who get the extra global gold from Dragon. Until the first Dragon, Gambit’s curious champion select choices haven’t been a problem. The first time it becomes apparent that “protect-the-Kog’Maw” will not succeed for Gambit is this teleport play in which Genja gets caught and killed. This would happen to Genja too many times in this contest, leading him to a 2/4 score by 21:00 in-game-time.
The advantage Frost builds early shows itself in the first major team fight of game 3. The play starts with Kog’Maw caught by himself again, this time by the Skarner played by Frost jungler CloudTemplar. In his first game of the series away from his preferred Xin Zhao, Templar shows off why Skarner is still a viable choice out of the jungle; dragging Kog’Maw to his death. Templar starts a fight which would continue up river and end on Gambit’s mid lane turret with kills on Diamondprox and EDWARD for a 3-0 “trade”. From this point, the game has swung so firmly in Frost’s direction, that Gambit cannot mount any kind of a comeback. By 25 minutes, Frost is over Gambit by 10,000 gold. With Shy and RapidSTAR continuing their dominant play, both summoners begin the game’s last team fight with 7/1 scores.
With the small advantages Frost was able to build – starting with smart picks and bans in champion select – Gambit was simply unable to overcome the might of one of Korea’s top teams. Frost, who avenges their IEM Katowice loss to Gambit moves on to the IEM Hanover Grand Final to face CJ Entus teammates Team Blaze, leaving the e-sports community with several questions: how will Gambit respond to the tough loss next week in LCS competition? Does this mean that Korea does truly have the best League of Legends teams in the world? Was Azubu wrong to lose Blaze and Frost? These two teams simply dominated at Hanover to the point where the only challenge they end up facing is one another.