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
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.
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.