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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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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.


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.


This Week in E-Sports: IPL Cancelled, IEM Rolling, LCS Bye (SPOILERS)

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With many pro teams at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament this week, there is no LCS action scheduled for the weekend of March 7th – March 11th, 2013. With IPL6 cancelled, it’s time to focus on looking ahead to next week’s LCS matchups and to take a look at what’s happening in Germany for the IEM World Championships. Beware readers who missed IEM action this week and still want to see the games they’ve missed, spoilers lay ahead. New summoners who want to learn how to see the action unfold, take a look at our guide to League of Legends pro-streams.

IEM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2013

BenQ sponsored Gambit (formerly Moscow Five) has emerged from the group stage with an undefeated 5-0 record against group A opponents. Gambit’s success in IEM is unsurprising considering their history in the tournament and strong showing at the Season 2 World Championship. Gambit’s streak includes a win over LCS rival Fnatic who did not qualify for the IEM playoffs which kick off tomorrow and wrap up Saturday. Gambit and Fnatic have been duking it out in the standings, with Gambit leading the European LCS division at 9-2 and Fnatic right on their heels at 8-3. Two of Fnatic’s LCS losses, however, come from none other than Gambit Gaming. These two teams are developing quite a rivalry as Fnatic fails to qualify for the IEM playoffs and now has to turn their attention for their next big test, a rematch against the former Moscow Five in LCS competition on March 23rd.

In group B EUW LCS favorites Evil Geniuses (formerly clg.EU) and SK gaming, have each come out with lackluster performances which has kept both teams out of the playoffs. Meanwhile Korean powerhouse teams CJ Entus Frost (4-1)  and SK Telecom T1 (4-1) – who will each make IEM playoff appearances – are vindicating commentators who contend that Korean teams are the best in the world by leading the pack ahead of other international contenders; including 3rd place group B team Anexis eSports (3-2): a European team whose victory over SK helped lead to their surprisingly strong group stage showing. Looking at the brackets, it’s possible we will see Gambit and a top Korean team in the final for a showdown to help fuel the “east vs. west” debate which has been so prominent in the e-sports scene. In fact, if Frost – recently acquired from Azubu by CJ Entus – beats French team Millenium in the first round, we’ll see Gambit square off with a big Korean team as soon as the semi-finals.

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Bracket courtesy of IEM, click the image to visit the official site for more info.

WEEK 5 LCS MATCHUPS 

Week 5 promises to be an opportunity for some major shake-ups in the North American LCS standings. While division leaders Dignitas (10-2, 1st place) and Curse (9-2, 2nd place) do not play one another next week, both teams have an interesting slate of week 5 matches which could help define the second half of the season.

Dig Rolls On

After a rocky 0-2 start with losses to Team Solo Mid and Curse, Dig went on a 10 game tear – the longest LCS winning streak to date. Next week, Dig matches up against 3 of the “bottom 4” NA teams; none of which have managed to knock off Dignitas yet in LCS contention. CompLexity (1-8), Good Game University (2-10) and Vulcan (4-9) all have a shot at proving they can hang with the top 4 by taking down number 1, but while riding their seemingly unstoppable winning streak, Dig is poised to come out of week 5 an impressive 13-2 record. Keep an eye on the March 17th matchup against Vulcan, who have proven they can take down top 4 teams after a win against perennial powerhouse Counter Logic Gaming (7-4) as they may have the best shot of ending Dig’s impressive run.

Can Curse Keep Up?

Curse, who began the season an undefeated 8-0 suddenly dropped behind a surging Dig in the standings after a startling loss to their now-first-place rivals and a second disappointing showing against former Saint vicious, Voyboy and Elementz teammates CLG. Now at 9-2 Curse looks to keep up with Dig in two big games: a March 16th clash with TSM who is looking to avenge last week’s loss to NyJacky and the gang and another round with HotshotGG and team CLG a day earlier on the 15th. Come back to allMIA later this week for a closer look at these two key grudge matches which may well decide whether Curse can keep up with a Dignitas squad who seem poised in a softer week to take a commanding lead in the standings.

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Will CLG Hold On to a Top 4 Spot?

CLG should be looking back over their shoulders this week despite claims in promotional videos that they “aren’t scared” of any of the bottom 4 teams. CLG, who are a 4th place 7-4 in LCS competition play a key rematch against 5th place team Marn (4-5) and has to back up their brave talk against a scrappy MRN who handed CLG a loss on February 27th. In the win, MRN top laner MegaZero played Renekton to 5/0/11 perfection, diving towers and playing a key role in two Baron contests which helped propel MRN to victory. MRN – lead by ADC Heartbeat’s now-ubiquitous Tristana/Blade of the Ruined King build – has a chance to knock off CLG and possibly enter the top 4, shaking up the NA LCS in a way nobody expected after a few weak showings from bottom 4 teams early on. In order to claw their way into the top half of the standings, MRN will also have to find a way to best Vulcan (3/15) and the formidable Curse (3/17) the latter of whom has not lost to a bottom 4 team yet in LCS competition.

WRAP-UP

With IEM finishing up weekend, LCS competition heating up next week and the approaching MLG Winter games, LoL’s professional scene may have never been so heated before. Check back with allMIA for previews and post game analysis for the biggest League of Legends professional contests. Leave us a comment and let us know which games you’re looking forward to and which matchups you think need a closer look.


Diving Into the League – How to Watch the Pros Play

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When I decided I’d like to improve my game knowledge and learn some new skills to help me out in solo queue, the unanimous sentiment opinined by other players was to “watch the pros play”. At first I felt a little reserved; watching? Shouldn’t I be playing? How do I go about watching games? I’d seen some tutorials about how to use LoLReplay and heard some buzz about Twitch and the now defunct Own3d, but I struggled with the core concepts involved. Watching other people play League of Legends seemed like a cumbersome, tiresome ordeal that I wanted no part of. I felt like there was an experience barrier keeping me from giving it a try, so I continued to toil away in blind pick.

With the advent of the League Championship Series (LCS) and the changes to the Ranked system in season 3, watching the best-of-the-best has never been easier. The imaginary barrier keeping the average player from seeing the game played at the highest level is now, in fact, only imaginary. Any fan of professional sports knows that sometimes accessing game content can be restricted by blackouts, copyright laws and other frustrating barriers, but the burgeoning e-sports scene is largely unmarred by such obstacles.

GETTING STARTED

So what is the best way to begin catching professional level League of Legends games? The afformentioned LCS is a great option for newbies and e-sports megafans alike. Access to the content is very user-friendly and the schedule is very pro-sports-like and easy to track, there are even iOS and Android apps which track stats and provide results for LCS games.

The current format of the LCS is a round robin tournament (each team plays every other team 4 times) split into two reigional divisions: North America and Europe. North American teams play Thursdays and Fridays, while their European counterparts play Saturdays and Sundays. Interested parties have a few simple ways to access the content through Riot’s e-sports hub: LoLesports. On game day, the bulk of the front page is dominated by a Twitch.TV stream, that is to say if you log on Friday afternoon, you’re one click away from an organized HD stream with professional commentary and analysis. If you’re a little late, or missed a game you’d like to see Riot also offers a YouTube link on the main page which is on a short delay, but allows users to rewind and re-watch any part of the broadcast; this is the most useful part of Riot’s LCS coverage, the abililty to catch the important moves that your average solo queue player wants to learn. Watching a successful gank unfold on bottom lane is entertaining, but for it to be informative, you’ll often want to go back and see: what was the jungler doing right before? How did the lane set up for the gank? Where was the enemy jungler during the gank? Riot’s YouTube stream allows you to effortlessly jump to any point in the broadcast, creating your own personal highlight reel.

INDIVIDUAL STREAMS

Of course, the LCS is only broadcasting on weekends, so if it’s Tuesday, where do you go for new content? Well, the number of weekend games is sometimes massive, and all LCS broadcasts are archived on both Riot’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel for re-watching. In addition, Twitch is home to the personal streams of many top-tier League of Legends players. Streams are an excellent resource because many streamers take time to explain their thought process and descision making which can help lead new players and verterans alike to develop good in-game habits. So which streams should you watch? Most professional players and high-level streamers primarily play one role, so if you’re trying to learn a specific champion or role, you should look for casters who play that role. If you’re looking for good general game knowledge, it’s best to find the most informative streamer and follow them. I’ll break down some suggestions by topic – please drop your own personal suggestions in the comments, and I’ll append the main article to reflect community choices.

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While sivHD may not be the best caster to watch for strategy, it’s the best to watch if you want to be reminded that League of Legends is in fact, a fun game.

Top Lane

Voyboy – Team Curse’s top laner. Voy is known for his explanations and “teaching” style while streaming. A great stream to watch for aspiring top laners and new summoners alike.

Wingsofdeath – Wings is one of the most informative and teaching-oriented streamers for LoL, and a great top laner to learn from.

Mid Lane

NyJacky – very frequently duo queues with team Curse partner Saintvicious, known for his Veigar.

Scarra – funny, talented and informative. Dignitas’ mid lane phenom is one of the best AP mids to watch and learn the game from.

ADC

IAmLOD – a diamond ranked ADC who streams very frequently.

Chaox – TSM’s ADC is known for breaking down almost every play and explaining his thinking as he carries his team to victory. Highly informative!

Support

Destiny – while not on a pro team, Destiny has some great support tips to share from his diamond-ranked streams.

Tsatsulow – the high ELO support from team summon is a good watch for new supports!

Jungle

Saintvicious – one of North America’s top junglers also streams on twitch.tv and is very informative and reflective while he plays. Additionally, Saint produces a series of highly informative in-depth jungling video guides on YouTube which he streams live Tuesdays at 4pm PST.  Saint mostly plays very aggressive, carry-style junglers.

TheOddOne – TSM’s TheOddOne is also one of the best junglers in the North American scene, known for his funny and quirky comments as well as his vast game knowledge and preference for tanky, supportive junglers.

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WRAP-UP

I highly reccomend making a free account on Twitch.TV. Twitch has a very accessible system for bookmarking channels you enjoy, so you can easily see which of your favorite casters is streaming. Don’t limit your choices to what’s listed here, click the “League of Legends” section under games and browse all current streams. Some of the best streams on Twitch are aspiring summoners just like you and me trying to climb the ranked ladder. If you find one you like, follow their channel and drop me a line in the comments about it.

So why should you watch a game instead of playing it? League of Legends is a complex game with many mechanics all working simultaenously. It can be very difficult to focus on micro-gameplay and big macro map awareness concepts at once and still learn from mistakes when you make them. Watching another game allows you to focus entirely on the skill you’re hoping to work on, and get useful feedback and commentary from more experienced players at the same time. If you’re still unsure, give it a try! The only thing watching streams costs is a little time.