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.
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.
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:
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.
(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.
Shh. Don’t speak. First watch this video.
That was CLG.EU (now Evil Geniuses) playing Moscow 5 (now Gambit Gaming) at Dreamhack 2012 this past summer. The kill spread may not seem like much to us average players, but take a look at the gold lead the Russian team has on CLG.EU – over 24,000 gold. Thats 7 and 1/2 Bloodthirsters. That’s 850AD (with max stacks). GG. Except… not. CLG sticks together, makes a play and takes the nexus for the win, down 24,000 gold.
It’s funny that these two little letters have so many different meanings and applications to gamers, yet usually we can tell exactly what they mean given context. Of course “good game” is meant to be a sportsmanlike affirmation of a friendly competition – the equivalent of a Baseball team shaking hands with their opponents after a game. Despite its intended meaning, GG has come to mean so much more to the summoners of League of Legends. Over time, it has morphed into shorthand for “the game is over” as a frustrated imperative. Players say “gg” after a bad team fight, following first blood or sometimes as early as champion select when – for example – a summoner doesn’t get the role they want to play.
“gg i cant play support”
“gg mid feeding”
“gg no jungle help”
“gg support KS”
These are all uttered by summoners around the Rift every day and has become a continually growing problem in League of Legends. “GG” said to teammates before a nexus is destroyed signals that a summoner has given up and will not play as effectively – or worse – when attached to a slew of insults (“gg top is noob, uninstall kthx”) demoralizes a teammate who is already (presumably) behind and in need of help, not insults.
Sometimes, a summoner will spout “gg my team sux” in [ALL] chat which is perhaps the most destructive abuse of the term. If signaling to the team that a summoner has given up is bad, imagine what happens when the enemy team sees that their opponent has given up.
To me, abusing “gg” is one of the most destructive habits exhibited by League of Legends summoners. Some summoners argue that the game they’re playing is hopeless, but saying “gg” prematurely accomplishes absolutely nothing except upsetting others, which should never be your goal. If you find yourself wanting to hurt another player, if you want to make someone else feel bad because they aren’t good at the game, or because they make mistakes; you are the reason you lose games. A player who is making mistakes can be taught to make smarter plays. A summoner with a mean streak who is so competitive that they berate their team at the slightest misshap can’t be taught to behave like a human being and will always reduce their team’s chances of success.
If you think of yourself as super competitive – and use that as an excuse to play angry – consider that truly competitive players always want to give themselves the best chance to win the game; this means never doing anything that reduces their chances of winning. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to improve your chances to win… but you can always make it worse. Don’t. Every game you play has something to teach you. Look for the lesson – even when your team throws – and you might just learn how to play from behind.
If you want to learn how to win a game that seems lost, take a look at our article covering game 3 of the IEM Hanover 2013 Grand Final (VOD). CJ Entus Blaze’s play in game 3 shows how a team should play when losing the early game if they want to make a comeback. While the rando-pubstars you’re matched up with in Silver III solo-queue may not exactly be Korean mega-stars, every game you’re losing is a chance to practice the kinds of plays and strategies which help turn around losing games. Don’t give up. Don’t blame your team. Don’t say GG until it’s really GG.
Just quick post to let you know that RiotLyte is having a discussion about “fixing” champion select right now over on the official LoL forums.
The player behavior and experience teams at Riot are tackling some of the biggest problems in not just League of Legends but indeed all of online gaming and beyond. When a company employs people who ask questions like this one:
1) Real-Life Context | This scenario really illustrates how context outside the game can influence behavior inside the game. Traditionally, game studios don’t design or solve for context. Or can they?
You know that they are pushing the boundaries of what it means to play games socially and anonymously. As a community, we’ve got to do our part to support Riot’s attempts at manipulating player behavior as it directly benefits the entire player-base Fewer games lost because of toxicity, less frustration and anger over a recreational activity – these are the net benefits which we all reap when Riot innovates in the social interactivity space. Check back with allMIA later for a closer look at RiotLyte and the plan to fix champion select.