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NA Spring Playoffs INFOGRAPHIC: Picks/Bans/Wins

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LCS Spring Playoffs Preview: ROUND 1

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The LCS Spring Split finished up last weekend; but North American and European teams are still battling it out for Summer Split spots and cash money as 6 NA teams and 6 EU teams participate in separate tournaments with the top teams from each tourney grabbing 50,000 dollars. The tournaments will run concurrently with Quarterfinals tomorrow, Semifinals on Saturday and Finals on Sunday. If you came here looking for an overview of the tournament brackets and format, or want to know what happens to the teams who lose in playoff competition, check out our NA and EU guides to Playoff & Relegation.

European Quarterfinals – Friday 4/26/13 – 6am Pacific/9am Eastern/3pm CEST

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Match 1: 3rd Place SK Gaming (17-11) v. 6th place AgainstAllAthority (10-8)

Riot’s Spring Playoff kicks off with a contest between two teams who met just recently in week 10, giving us what might be a good idea of what to expect in round 1. Against All Authority  who came into their game with SK hot off of two victories earlier in the week looked poised to ride their streak high into the playoffs, but SK had other plans for the 6th place team as SK AD Carry CandyPanda played out of his mind, controlling Top in a lane swap which would help lead SK to decisive victory over their Round 1 opponents. Like AaA though, SK split their games in week 10, winning a pair but dropping 2 including the season’s final match against EG Raidcall. Though their last match was not closely contested, Round 1 matches are in a best-of-3 format which could allow a little more leeway for either team as each come into this game cold off of final game losses in the Spring Split. Look for SK to be favored in fan voting, but watch for AaA to come into this game prepared to take revenge for their week 10 loss. Both SK and AaA will have their backs against the wall as the winner of this Best-of-3 proceeds to the Summer Split, while the loser will be forced to compete for their LCS slot in the upcoming Summer Qualifier. wolvesegplf

Match 2: 4th Place EG Raidcall (15-13) v. 5th Place Coppenhagen Wolves (13-15)

In a match that the whole world will be logging on to watch, two huge crowd favorites in Evil Geniuses and the surging Coppenhagen Wolves will meet to decide who moves on and who will have to fight for survival in the Summer Qualifier. EG, who like their former sister team CLG over in NA, have played at a very high level all season despite constant struggles and inconsistency. Coming into the Spring’s final Super Week, EG found themselves in a position whereby they could be jumped by Wolves in the standings and fall to 5th place for the first time all season; but after 3 amazing victories (including 1 over powerhouse Gambit and 1 over their playoff opponent Wolves) EG cemented their 4th place spot and proved to the world that they can still hang with the league’s top teams. Wolves began the season very slowly, losing game after game until their name became synonymous with defeat. After a mid-season roster swap put newly anointed LCS superstar Bjergsen in the mid lane Wolves went on an absolute tear, crushing teams left and right, lifting them in the standings to 5th place and earning them a playoff berth. Despite their middle of the pack ranks, EG and Wolves each feature top ranked mid laners in Froggen and Bjergsen whose lane will certainly be a major focus in this Best-of-3. One thing about this match is certain: whoever loses will give some poor team a very rough matchup in the Summer Qualifer next week.

North American Quarterfinals – Friday, 4/25/13 – 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern/Midnight CEST

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Match 1: 3rd Place Team Dignitas (17-11) v. 6th Place Good Game University (11-17)

Like American fans who will be up at the crack of dawn to see the best European teams fight it out for top honors, European fans will have to prop their eyelids open with toothpicks to stay up for North American LCS action later that same night. Match 1 features a Best-of-3 which pits two very different teams against one another in a contest that is anything but already-decided. Dig has played at a high level consistently, enjoying a brief stay in the top spot mid-way through the Spring Split. After a ravenous Team Solo Mid – reinvigorated by the addition of WildTurtle – turned the corner late in the season and went 5-0 in Super Week, Dig saw their team fall back to 3rd place in the standings. With their LCS future on the line, Dig is facing off against GGU who, like Wolves, struggled early in the season, had a roster swap and surged back into contention. In GGU’s case, dropping top-rated support Bloodwater and picking up new star Daydreamin lead NintendudeX and the boys to a late-season win streak and a 6th place playoff slot. With All-Star mid Scarra bearing down on them, can GGU fend off former first place Dig and move on to the Summer Split? Look for Dignitas to pull out all of the stops in this one as they do not want to fall in the first round after earning a permanent top-3 stay in the standings all season long.

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Match 2: 4th Place Counter Logic Gaming (13-15) v. 5th Place Vulcun Command (12-16)

Bloodwater’s landing place after leaving GGU was Vulcun, who have also enjoyed great success following the transaction. Bloodwater’s timely ults and great shotcalls enabled Zuna and company to rise in the standings, almost overtaking a reeling CLG – the only team in LCS competition to earn top 4 honors while posting a winning percentage under .500. Like the EU games, both CLG and Vulcun came out of Super Week bloodied, trading wins with other top and bottom teams, and like the EU playoffs the NA games look cloudy behind inconsistent play on all sides. Vulcun and CLG’s week 10 clash gives viewers a small preview for this Best-of-3 contest; a match that CLG took convincingly despite a  relatively small gold gap. CLG who traditionally play very well in Best-of-X format tournaments, but have struggled in the LCS Round Robin format may have a small edge over Vulcun who, while playing much better of late, will have to beat All-Star AD Doublelift and the rest of CLG in 2 games to move on.

Round 2 and Beyond

The 4 winners in Round 1 will move on to compete with Curse, TSM, Gambit and Fnatic in the Semifinals on Saturday, but all 8 of the semifinalists will be competing for cash only at that point; all having earned their ticket to the Summer Split. With Finals on Sunday and next week holding the Summer Qualifier, these previewed teams will see a lot of action in the next week so keep coming back to allMIA for continued coverage of both the NA and EU LCS Playoffs.

Want to follow the action on Twitter? Here are some feeds to follow:

@ill_monstro_g (allMIA Editor, game commentary/discussion)

@EsportsDailyLoL (LoL Updates – Live stats/scores)

@LeaguepediaLive (Leaugepedia’s Live stats/scores)


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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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.


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.


EU LCS Heats Up on GG Bye (spoilers)

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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.


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.