What an exciting and crazy week it has been for the European LCS. Each team played five times over three days for a total of twenty matches and things are heating up with some teams getting into their grooves while others are stumbling a bit after terrific starts. We are now more than a third of the way through the Spring season and the standings remain as uncertain as ever.
Gambit Gaming claimed the top spot for the first time after going through the Super Week undefeated. Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses perpetuated the EG Curse by going a disappointing 1-4. The main story of the EU Super Week, however, was the resurgence of the Copenhagen Wolves and their winning record during Super Week. Bjergsen led the the charge by getting a quadra kill, a penta kill, and going legendary in the Wolves' victories, dominating the mid lane when given Syndra and Kassadin. After such a grueling week, every team will have time off from the LCS before coming back to the regular schedule of eight matches in two week. Several teams will play in the IEM World Championships while others will get to use this time to train even harder. Riot posed the question "Who will rise?" in their LCS trailer and we will find out who has risen to the challenge at the midway point of the season.
Table of Contents
#8 - 5
#4 - 1
With Overwhelming Force:
All-Star EU Team
Wards in the Brush:
Week 5 Preview
Power Ranking: #8 - 5
GIANTS! Gaming was the team to look out for after their victory over Gambit in Week 1. Since then, they have stumbled a bit with poor showings against aAa in Week 3 and four losses during Super Week. GIANTS haven't had a break yet in the LCS and are tied for second for the most games played. Perhaps they've played too much and the other teams have figured out how to take advantage of their tendencies. Things are not all doom and gloom for GIANTS though since they've been able to earn a win every week and they have a reputation for upsetting titan teams such as Gambit and EG.
The main factor for GIANTS' poor record is that they lack the ability to farm minions. They have the ability to take leads in the early game even against the top teams like Gambit and EG. However, they always seemed to be behind in CS whenever the mid game came around and the team as a whole fell behind in gold to the opposing teams. Even in the games where they won, the GIANTS players tend to have similar minion kills compared to their opponents. This is a common problem for a lot of younger teams where they focus their efforts on ganking and team fighting to get an advantage rather than just farming. Sometimes it's not their fault due to the overwhelming pressure exerted by the likes of Alex Ich or sOAZ, but they must learn to find opportunities to farm. This is especially important for GIANTS' two main Carries, Exterminare and Jimbownz. These two have shown that they are capable to compete at the highest level with the display of skill with Twisted Fate and Kennen. They are truly the core of this team but they also have good support from their Jungle Morden, who had the best KDA Ratio in the EU LCS for Week 1.
The main issue going forward for GIANTS will be the number of remaining games in the season. Right now they have even or losing records against every team and they need to step it up if they don't want to fall directly to relegation. Another major concern raised by the casters was that the team did not train seriously for Super Week and it showed with some underwhelming performances from their AP and AD Carries. It is certainly possible for GIANTS to avoid relegation and they have the potential to do it as one of two teams to take a game off of Gambit. All it takes is solidifying their game plans and living up to their name of giant killers.
VII)against All authority
against All authority has been a bit of an enigma in the LCS until the Super Week. They played four games in the first three weeks and their only game that stood out was their victory over the GIANTS in Week 3. Their three other games were one-sided affairs with losses to Fnatic and Gambit Gaming and a victory over the Copenhagen Wolves. Their performance in Week 4 left a lot to be desired, going 1-4, but they had a tough schedule having to face off against the top four teams along with the Wolves. On the one hand, they lost against the eighth place Wolves, but they also surprised everyone by defeating Evil Geniuses. There are many games left for aAa and it will be a tough road ahead if they want to stay in contention for one of the playoff spots.
One of aAa's biggest strengths so far has been their ability to plan and execute set plays, especially in the early game. This sort of crisp execution also carried over well to their team fights where they catch the enemy by surprise. The team knew how to react when they saw enemies retreating after being hit by Nidalee's Spears or locked under Sona's Crescendo and those moments were crucial to aAa's successes against EG and GIANTS. However, like most young teams, aAa has not been able to make full use of their advantages in the majority of their matches. aAa brought out something unexpected both times they faced Gambit; one game they took down turrets extremely early and the other they used Teleport right at the beginning of the game to place a ward at Gambit's Blue so their Jungle Volibear could Teleport onto the ward to steal the buff. aAa pulled each of these strategies off with success but they couldn't accomplish anything with the lead they created. This was also apparent in their victory over the Wolves since they took forever to finish the game even after taking a 17K gold lead. On the one hand, aAa could be applauded for playing intelligently to ensure the win but they seemed like they were lost on how to close out a game before the advantage they built became trivial.
Individually, there is still a lot that is unknown about aAa's players. fredy122 and Karalius relied heavily on Renekton and Sona, respectively, in their games and showed some success with them. However, their performance were average when Renekton or Sona were banned. Their AD Carry, Nono, is also quite unique in his play style. It always seemed like he loves damage, both dishing it out and taking it. He would often jump right into the thick of things do deal damage for a potential kill but that also meant it was easy for the enemy to focus their crowd control on him. He would also tank several turret hits in an attempt to take them down faster but that has left him in some precarious situations where he had to return to base while the rest of his team were still on the map. With that said, the team seemed to be built around ShLaYa and his performance can be directly correlated to a match's outcome. ShLaYa was able to use Nidalee to great effect against GIANTS, where he almost single-handedly pushed away from map objectives with several Spears. His Orianna was also a key factor in their win against the Wolves because the shield from Command: Protect mitigated the burst damage from Syndra in every engagement. Unfortunately he was bested by Bjergsen's Syndra in the rematch against the Wolves and the team fell with him. It is unfair to put the blame on ShLaYa for the teams losses but it is his job to keep the opponent's Mid in check. Unfortunately for ShLaYa, there are plenty of extremely skilled Mid players in the EU LCS and he will need to become even stronger and take control of the game for his team.
As one of two teams tied for having played the fewest games, aAa's future is still up in the air. The majority of their losses in the first four weeks were to the European old guards so this trend is expected to continue. Upsets such as the match against EG is possible but those will be harder to come by as the season progresses and teams get more used to aAa's early game plans. aAa currently hold a positive record (2-1) against the other bottom 4 teams so they have a chance at moving on to the playoffs. However, they have not played against DragonBorns yet and they hey no longer have a bye week, which means they will have to play right to the end of the season. It won't be easy but they should be up to the task if they can follow through with their contingency plans when they do not gain an early game advantage.
It was hard to believe in the Copenhagen Wolves after the first three weeks of the LCS. Watching as early advantages were thrown away with sloppy play was upsetting. Seeing Wolves then win team-fights while 10k gold behind was downright infuriating. However, Wolves had found their weaknesses, done their homework and emerged looking like the team many had expected to see. It was an improved performance from everyone which changed everything.
Firstly, Wolves were not without mistakes in Week 4, despite the improved play: Seeing players get caught in no-man’s land did still happen, just nowhere near as often. It looked like TheTess and Deficio had made a conscience effort on this and while it did still occur, it was vastly reduced and still allowed Wolves to stay in the game. They were shaky against Evil Geniuses which showed a slight lack of confidence, especially when they couldn’t get the initiations they wanted. The other problem was simply not playing to their strengths. It’s undeniable that team fights are where Wolves excel, but they opted for a poke comp against SK. They looked a little lost once the team-fights started and the poke was ineffectual which gave them a one-sided loss.
One of the big things that turned Wolves into the team we saw in Week 4 was the arrival of NeeGodbro. In previous weeks he was ineffective once the laning phase was over and would be minor nuisance. That all changed – great Singed play was his trademark this week, scaring his foes and surprising other pros. Svenskeren was arguably the most effective member in previous weeks and his jungle was very strong in week 4. He pressured the lanes and was key in helping his team-mates win and come-back in the laning phase. His initiations were spot on too. Speaking of which, TheTess and Deficio’s initiations were fantastic this week. Dream Varus Ults and perfect Thresh hooks started off so many fights just the way Wolves like it. Few ADs or supports were immune to being caught by these and it was instrumental in their team-fight success. Finally, with a strong team like this behind him, it was no surprise that Bjergsen was able to hard carry this week. A pentakill on Syndra, a quadra on Kassadin and not to mention a 15-0-4 record in a game that ended with 19 kills, all the pieces of Wolves came together to for Week 4. The team were collectively strong in lane and led by Svenskeren did a fantastic job of controlling the map. Their games against aAa and GIANTS could only be described as a stomp and as for their match with Fnatic? Well it isn’t Match of the Week for nothing.
All of Wolves caught up to Svenskeren and Bjergsen in terms of play. Fewer weaknesses meant fewer throws which meant Wolves were able to get into the games before they slipped away. Their team-fights are massacres when they’re ahead and it’s hard to imagine anyone standing up to them in a 5v5. Wolves have endured some brutal fixtures in the last four weeks but now finally get to play against the other qualified teams on a more frequent basis. After their play in Week 4, things look really promising for the Wolves and if they can iron out those last weaknesses and continue on this form, we could even see them end the Spring season with a positive ratio. It’s finally time to be scared of the Wolves.
Since their appearance in the LCS qualifiers, DragonBorns have been known for their kooky strategies and their high individual skill. It never looks like their plans should pay off, but when it does, it looks so natural and even when it doesn’t, it looks more like they lost fairly than that they did something dumb. DragonBorns kept the fans guessing all weekend and pulled out an AD mid with AP/Support lane as well as an AP Nidalee/Soraka botlane with assassin mid. While 2-3 may look weak to some, DB had probably the hardest fixtures this week: Fnatic, SK, EG, Gambit & GIANTS. There are basically three types of DragonBorns games and this weekend, we got to see examples of each:
1. The plan works out but they lose it come mid-game
Opening the weekend against Fnatic, DragonBorns went for a different type of lane swap – HoSan went mid on Draven and Shushei’s Lux joined Muvert for an AP/Support lane. While Shushei/Muvert did well, all eyes were on HoSan crushing Xpeke in mid lane. It was a prime example of playing outside standard conventions and how effective it can be. The problem is, Fnatic were too smart and DB didn’t quite build correctly, got a bit greedy and didn’t properly capitalise on their advantage with map objectives. Gambit was a similar story, they got their picks, started well but Gambit were just too strong.
2. The plan doesn’t work out
Admittedly a rare type of game but it happened against SK in their final match. HoSan on AP Nidalee laned with Muvert. Kev1n and Hyrqbot weren’t having any of their trickery and knew exactly how to shut down such a line up. DragonBorns were at a disadvantage and just couldn’t win the standard lanes hard enough to overcome their opponents. Ho-hum.
3. The plan works out - DragonBorns get greedy and keep fighting, the game is really exciting and they win anyway.
The third type of DragonBorns game is the best, no doubt. They make their crazy swap or cool champion choice and with pure skill and sheer aggression, eke out another win. This basically comes down to whether their greed pays off or not. Against EG, their AP Nid/Soraka lane works out and the heavy poke and double heal gives them the advantage going into every team fight. It was still a scrap, but DragonBorns take the win regardless. Against GIANTS, it’s the same story with different picks. HoSan & Muvert walked over their lane while Malunoo was a threat every step of the game. It was even and tense throughout, until Malunoo turned the tides single handedly with a baron steal (27:20). From there, toppled balance and DragonBorns risky and greedy play pays off for them again.
It’s hard to imagine these strategies working for other teams. It’s undeniable that HoSan carries like nobody’s business and is looking like one of the best ADs in the league. We all know that Spontexx is a great top-lane, Muvert zones like a boss and that Shushei is looking better than ever. But the key for DragonBorns seems to be Malunoo. He keeps the team grounded – lord knows how many dives they’d make without him – and he saves the team whenever things look bad. Be it Baron steals, defending ganks or turning lanes in favour of his team, Malunoo gets an extra special mention this week for being instrumental in the DB lineup. Where they go from here is hard to say. If they learn from their mistakes and refine their play style they could turn into one of the deadliest teams in the league. How are teams to deal with DragonBorns if they don’t play greedy, or only use odd strategies that work? DragonBorns put their opponents on the back foot within the first few minutes of the match, if they can turn that into map objectives their overwhelming play just got even harder to respond to. If DragonBorns ever get to that level of consistency, they suddenly become contenders for the top spot and even if they don’t, they have a damn good shot at the top 4.
Power Rank: #4 - 1
There is no sugarcoating the collapse of Evil Geniuses during the Super Week – they faced the same schedule as SK Gaming with matches against then 3rd place Gambit Gaming and matches with the bottom half of the league. Unlike SK, the Geniuses came away with the opposite result, a dismal 1-4 performance which became painful to watch at the end. Now sitting at .500, the team atop the standings just two weeks prior must deal with speculation of an EG “curse,” weak points in team chemistry, the blame game and everything else that comes with media and reddit vultures circling a wounded team.
FridayThe weekend kicked off at the highest point for EG with a win against Copenhagen Wolves. Wolves kept the game close early, with gold essentially even for the first fifteen minutes of the match. This changes when Evil Geniuses trade their top turret to pick up both the inner and outer mid turrets of Wolves. Wolves try and catch them as they retreat, but a beautiful teamfight results in Bjergsen's Kassadin dead and Svenskeren forced to run away from mid. EG used this leverage to take the mid inhibitor turret before they retreat. This gaping hole in map control coupled with a midgame Oracle's Elixir gave EG the ability to continue to snowball the game despite gold being relatively even immediately after taking the 3 mid towers. EG never looked back, eventually forcing two inhibitors down 27 minutes into the game, despite only getting 5 kills the entire match up to that point. EG managed to take the third inhibitor before losing a fight at the Nexus turrets, but it was too little, too late for Wolves. EG took Baron after they respawned (despite Svenskeren's best efforts), and the pressure from the downed inhibitors ensured a quick cleanup for EG.
The fight against Gambit Gaming began poorly for EG as Wickd gave up first blood to EDward by facechecking on an invade into Gambit's jungle. Shortly thereafter Diamondprox catches Snoopeh's Vi coming to protect against a 3:30 dive on the 2v1 toplane. The top lane mayhem continues with Wickd dying again as the victim of excellent EDward Hook, and Snoopeh dies trying to protect him against a dive when he comes back to toplane. Wickd is repeatedly killed throughout the match, never able to crawl out of the early hole he found himself in which leads to massive pressure top from Darien's splitpushing. These advantages for Gambit come to a head when Darien flanks EG setting up a fight where Alex Ich's Kha'zix gets multiple resets leading to a 4-0 teamfight and a free Baron for Gambit, culminating in an easy finish in the next few minutes.
The Rout Is OnSaturday and Sunday did not go well after the loss to Gambit. Against aAa, Evil Geniuses suffered both from poor micro decision making giving First Blood to fredy122 in a failed gank, and from poor macro decision making exemplified by attempting to take aAa's top tower when aAa gets dragon, and unwittingly giving up their mid inhibitor turret to aAa's push. against All Authority moves onto the bottom inner turret where they dive and catch EG netting 4 kills and an inhibitor. Despite aAa making a couple big mistakes aAa never fully relinquishes their lead during the match, and a poorly executed dive onto Ezreal results in EG getting aced and aAa taking their Nexus.
DragonBorns debuted one of the most interesting compositions of the LCS thus far with no AD Carry, HosaN instead playing AP Nidalee paired with a Soraka in the bottom lane. Despite getting first blood on HosaN, EG's slight early lead is eradicated when they attempt to take dragon and are fought off by DB, conceding 3 kills and the Dragon. EG lacks waveclear when Froggen isn't present, giving DB opportunities to push and limiting Froggen's global mobility. When Froggen uses Destiny to force a 1v1 against Hosan and dies, it lets DB take a mid turret and illustrates how much EG rely on TF's presence to stall DB's AD Carryless tower pushing. The poor initiation foreshadows the rest of the match as EG engages in desperation teamfights that cost them objectives and ultimately the game.
At the start of their final game with GIANTS, things appear to be looking up for EG in the first few minutes. Snoopeh starts at Red buff and parlays it into an early level 2 gank on Samux, getting first blood and a big lead for Wickd. Seconds later, Kassadin dies to Froggen's offensive Flash/Ignite/AA combo. However, GIANTS respond with amazing counterganks from Morden and Exterminare, scoring a double kill top lane and three kills for none in bottom lane. With communication failures and a lack of warding, EG's dream start is now a nightmare with 4 early kills on Exterminare's Kassadin. From here, GIANTS gets a succession of kills, establishing a massive 10K gold lead by the 22nd minute, and the ultimate result is sadly predictable.
Looking ForwardWhile clearly on tilt as the Super Week came to a close, the Geniuses seemed relatively sanguine in the aftermath. Korean BBQ and team bonding were on the menu in the break before the IEM World Championships, and EG have been one of the more stable and tight knit rosters in competitive League of Legends. As for their season, sitting 3.5 games back from the leaders nearly halfway through the LCS campaign means hopes for a 1st or 2nd place finish in the Spring Season are fading fast, but not gone entirely. For their immediate future, revenge against aAa and DragonBorns is on the menu for Week 5, as well as their second match against 2nd place Fnatic. Having lost their most recent match against all 3 teams, Evil Genisues has the potential to show that their recent bad form is an aberration by taking 2 or 3 victories out of this schedule. On the other hand, an 0-3 result would bring EG down to a place few could have even imagined a couple weeks ago. There should be no doubt that Evil Geniuses have the talent to place highly in the LCS, and despite the Super Week upsets, teams like GIANTS and against All authority will still be considered underdogs against the EG squad.
SK Gaming delivers a solid performance in the Super Week, putting away the bottom half of the LCS table without suffering an upset, and taking their sole loss from the on-form LCS leader, Gambit Gaming. With their other rival contenders stumbling in an upset filled week, SK's consistent play took them up to 3rd place, two games behind the current leaders. The keys to the successful Super Week lay in well-rounded play, as well as solid teamfighting leading to efficient and swift closing at the end of matches. Adrian "CandyPanda" Wübbelmann posted a noticable performance with a 3-0 record as Graves, a champion pick that has fallen out of favor with other teams in the LCS thus far. Despite the strong showing against the weaker LCS teams, SK's brutal defeat at the hands of Gambit shows that there's still much room for improvement to challenge for the championship.
Taking Care of BusinessFriday and Saturday contained the easy end of SK's schedule with matches against the three teams at the bottom of the LCS standings. SK's first opponents were the French team against All authority, and SK managed to eke out an early lead in the first fifteen minutes against aAa's poke-heavy composition that featured Jayce, Ezreal and Nidalee. Despite the slight lead, aAa evened the match with a teamfight at dragon, winning a 4-3 exchange and securing the kill on dragon. Despite aAa seeming to hit their stride after taking both of SK's mid turrets, SK's hard-engage oriented team composition combined the AoE crowd control of Jarvan IV and Varus' ultimates with the strong single-target CC abilities of Taric, Irelia and Kayle to lock down and pick off members of aAa. SK picked off aAa's members one by one in a fight in aAa's jungle near the dragon pit, swinging the lead back to SK. SK lured aAa into an ambush near aAa's Red buff, netting them two kills and an uncontested Baron. A positioning mistake allowed SK to take the mid inhibitor without a fight, and SK followed it up with another ambush initiated with a clutch Chain of Corruption from Varus. SK cleaned up with ease, and killed aAa's nexus shortly thereafter.
A strong early game started SK off well in their match against GIANTS Gaming. hyrQbot's Volibear picked up first blood in a gank against Shen in bottom lane, and SK took the first tower of the match in a battle of 2v1 lanes top and bottom. Despite the early advantage, the teams traded minor edges for the next few minutes, with neither team giving up towers, kills or objectives without some compensation elsewhere on the map. At the fifteen minute mark, SK won a major advantage taking dragon before GIANTS could engage. GIANTS elected to fight afterward, and the resulting skirmish did not end in their favor as SK traded Volibear and Orianna for four kills and the outer mid turret. GIANTS held on well during the mid game, slowly narrowing the lead over the next few minutes until Jimbownz and ocelote engage in a wild fight near SK's bottom inner turret. GIANTS turn to take Baron, but SK dismantle them, scoring an Ace in a 4v5 fight despite ocelote's earlier death. SK never take their foot off the gas, turning the Baron advantage into the mid inhibitor turret, then killing 4 members of GIANTS at the inhibitor leading to the Nexus falling in the 36th minute.
Flying high after both notching their first win of the LCS and then following it with an upset of 2nd ranked Fnatic, Copenhagen Wolves looked to continue their surprising resurgence against SK on Saturday evening. Wolves continued their hot streak early, maintaining a slight edge for the first 20 minutes of the match. However, SK's veteran savvy played out in the teamfights, starting with SK engaging against CW's siege of their inner mid turret. The next big team fight was beautifully played by SK, as CW repeatedly engaged on them thinking they had the upper hand, but SK get three kills for one. SK would continue to eke small advantages from won teamfights, unable to really widen the gap until they craftily snuck a 2 man baron. With Baron buff, SK finally are able to siege in earnest and win a decisive teamfight, catching and killing 3 members of Wolves at their top inhibitor, parlaying the teamfight into a quick destruction of the Nexus.
Read Like A BookThe low point of SK's weekend came in the form of a brutal thrashing at the hands of Gambit Gaming that only lasted 25 minutes because Gambit wanted to run up the score. Gambit team captain Alex Ich gave an unusual amount of insight into Gambit's pick strategy in the post-match interview. Gambit banned Graves to force CandyPanda onto a vulnerable, escapeless ADC like Varus or Kog'maw, aiming to run an assasin to counter it. Complimenting this strategy, Gambit banned Shen and Kayle because they knew it would lead to a Sona first pick, setting the table for Gambit's aggressive engagements to pick off the squishy targets.The Kassadin pick for ocelote was baited, with Alex betting that SK would be willing to first pick it to deny it to Gambit and leaving Alex open to counterpick with Kha'zix.
The match started according to Gambit's plan with Diamondprox coming to tower dive at 3:30 in an unexpected position – the mid lane. hyrqBot had headed up to top lane to butress Kev1n's Darius in the 2v1 lane top, but ocelote died mid giving First Blood to Alex Ich as Diamond came from behind SK's mid turret to set up the kill. Even an early bottom turret and dragon only set SK ahead by a paltry 300 gold, and the gap was made up with CS within a couple minutes. The early kill set up midlane to snowball hard, with Alex repeatedly sending ocelote back or killing him. Using his Teleport merely to avoid missing farm in his lane after retreating, Kassadin's complete lack of map presence shuts down SK completely. Gambit take towers and dragons uncontested, as SK cannot fight them outright at any point in the game. Gambit takes an extremely early Baron at 19 minutes completely uncontested as hyrqBot used his smite to steal his own blue away from an invade. The Russians siege the mid turret, poking SK down with Kha'zix's Void Spikes. Gambit seems to be able to ice the game around the 22 minute mark after diving onto Darius and killing Kog'Maw and Sona as well, a move that allows them to take an inhibitor and both Nexus turrets. However, the Russians back off and Alex Ich admits after the game that their sloth in finishing the game wasn't concern or conservatism, but rather an opportunity to repeatedly kill CandyPanda to dethrone him from the top of the Kill/Death/Assist ratio leaderboard and install EDward and Diamondprox in the number one and two positions.
Holding it togetherDespite the crushing defeat, SK held together well for their final match against the resurgent DragonBorns. DB was coming off a crafty victory over Evil Geniuses in which they ran an AD carry free composition, utilizing ADC player HosaN on Nidalee to provide exceptional poke, coupled with a Kha'zix pick in mid lane for physical damage to balance the team out and avoid SK stacking magic resistance. DragonBorns opted to go with a very similar comp in the match with SK, giving SK little time to react as they picked Nidalee/Soraka last with an otherwise standard group of picks.
When the game began, SK took control from very early on. hyrqBot picked up first blood helping Kevin's Irelia turn around the top 1v2 lane, and SK's bot lane of Taric/Graves racked up two quick kills diving both Spontexx' Xin Zhao and Malunoo's jungle Elise at bottom tower in succession. SK lept to a 4000+ gold lead by the 9 minute mark and never looked back. Being substantially behind is especially hard to come back from with a poke composition, and SK's well coordinated and daring dives allowed them to shut DB down before they could get going.
Unlike Evil Geniuses who melted down as Sunday progressed, SK was able to bounce back solidly from their defeat at the hands of Gambit and finish strong with a win. Looking forward to next week, SK has Saturday rematches with aAa and DragonBorns capped off on Sunday with a tough matchup against Fnatic as last pick. While Fnatic's stunning comebacks have been the story of their recent matchups, SK's ability to get a lead they can throw in the first place means that they can't be considered massive underdogs. On the other hand, Gambit demonstrated exploitable holes in SK's drafting process, and expect teams to take a shot at banning CandyPanda's Graves and attempt to take advantage of SK's bottom lane champion picks.
II)FnaticFnatic had an interesting time in Week 4. On paper the results may look poor, but when you see the games, it hardly seems so bad. When they won, they won well. When they lost, they looked a little lost. They’ve carved out a reputation as a smart team who will go straight for the base given half the chance and that continued this week – sometimes it works and sometimes it didn’t. They deserved their wins and losses this week.
Smart FnaticFnatic as a team have existed for a long time and is full of veteran players. This shows the most against the less experienced teams and when Fnatic pull counter plays. Against DragonBorns, Xpeke was shut out in mid lane so what do Fnatic do? They gank the other lanes and scare DragonBorns so much that they can’t push out. When DB push mid, they counter push other lanes and come out better. Simple control of map objectives and snap decision making are their keys to victory. Backdoors were on special offer this week and they were mostly effective. A genius move against Wolves after a Baron bait was barely shut down but it shows how dangerous smart play is, especially when backed by play as strong as Fnatic.
Lost FnaticSo while Smart Fnatic picked apart their opponents nicely, the other side of Fnatic appeared from time to time in Super Week – Lost Fnatic. Lost Fnatic is a rare creature, but it shows up in the following circumstances –
1. There’s a good play from Fnatic that they expect to work
2. The other team shuts down the play with either great skill or smarter play
3. Fnatic is dazed for a bit and needs to gather their bearings.
This happened in a lot of Fnatic’s games this weekend, most noticeably against Wolves & Gambit. Wolves defended sublimely against Fnatic, which led to these periods of confusion. Fnatic were desperately thinking of a plan for what to do but in the meanwhile, looked scared. Eventually they would recompose and start again. Against Gambit, it was the same thing. They started off winning their lanes and were five turrets to zero at one point but Gambit had a plan – building heavily for team-fights – and overcame the Fnatic plan. Again, Fnatic were stunned and lost confidence while they formulated a plan to come back. It was a weakness in their play that these two teams exploited all the way to the bank.
When it comes down to it, Fnatic did well in Week 4. The whole team is playing well and sOAZ put on a Lee Sin masterclass against aAa. When they won, they proved their strength individually and as an experienced team but when they lost, they reverted into a Fnatic we haven’t seen in a long time. They usually recovered after a few minutes, but as long as that period exists, teams can exploit it. But therein lies the comfort for Fnatic, it’s up to their opponents to win, not for Fnatic to lose. If the opponent isn’t playing their absolutely best they don’t seem to overcome Fnatic, they’re just too smart and consistent. Let’s not forget that Fnatic don’t even need to play their best to be world beaters and when they do step it up, they make some of the best teams in the world look like children. The only way to put it, is that Fnatic look safe, even in the tumultuous world of the LCS.
Gambit Gaming came into the EU LCS with a slow start losing to both Evil Geniuses and GIANTS in Week 1. However, they have since gone undefeated for eight straight games to sit on top of the standings. This seems to be a common theme for Gambit as they went through the group stage at Katowice with a 1-2 record but tore through the playoffs against both Azubu (now CJ Entus) teams. They are an innovative team that brings in untested ideas into the game and somehow make them work. The prime example so far in the LCS is the introduction of Jungle Volibear or Nasus by Diamondprox. However, Gambit is more than just innovation for the sake of innovation. They can also use tried and true strategies like Protect the Kog and play it to such perfection that Kog'Maw only died once at the 10 minute mark in a 41 minute game.
Gambit as a whole probably has the best team chemistry and coordination in the EU LCS. They know when they can use their advantage to split up the enemy and when to group together and take down map objectives. This is led by the pressure Alex Ich places on the enemy's Mid player and the amazing map presence Diamondprox provides with his ability to counterjungle and predict enemy ganks. They are also a team that often itemizes with the rest of the team in mind. There are many times where Gambit has a Locket or an Aegis ready while their opponents are still focusing on individual stats. This is also true when Gambit gives Edward more gold so the Support's items can be accelerated without making the rest of the team fall behind.
As the top dog of the EU LCS right now, there isn't too much they need to do to continue their winning ways. That's not to say they are without fault. As mentioned earlier Gambit tends to give Edward some early gold but sometimes he takes it too far and takes all the kills for himself. This created a strange situation against aAa where Edward's Lulu had the most gold on the map until the eighteenth minute and Ashe's Infinity Edge was delayed by a significant margin. Gambit also look to have a problem underestimating their opponents, especially during the bans and picks phases of their two losses. Gambit left Anivia open for Froggen while they picked Udyr and Olaf in their game against EG and Crystallize's terrain manipulation shut down both of their effectiveness throughout the game.
Gambit showed that they have returned to the top of the European scene with their dominating performance over the last three weeks. However, they will be away from the LCS for two weeks with a bye in Week 5. That's not to say they will have some time off. Gambit played at the IEM World Championships during the break week and they will travel to Dallas for the International Exhibition at the MLG Winter Championships. What kind of Gambit will we see when they return to the LCS? Will they have another slow start after all the travelling or will they continue their winning streak after practicing for the international competitions at IEM World Championships and MLG Dallas?
With Overwhelming Force
Spotlight Game: Fnatic vs. Copenhagen Wolves
Fnatic vs Copenhagen Wolves
21 Fnatic 62.2K
28 Copenhagen Wolves 65.2K
28 Copenhagen Wolves 65.2K
+ Show Spoiler +
FNC sOAZ CW NeeGodbro
FNC Cyanide CW Svenskeren
FNC xPeke CW Bjergsen
FNC YellOwStaR CW TheTess
FNC nRated CW Deficio
The spotlight match for the first EU LCS Super Week is none other the intense back-and-forth match between Fnatic and Copenhagen Wolves. The two teams first met in Week 3 and Fnatic took that game easily off of a legendary Katarina by xPeke. Fnatic came into this game with four of the same picks and the previous game and hoped to have a repeat performance. On the other hand, the Wolves picked a completely different team composition and hoped to use the momentum from their first win in the EU LCS to give them the edge against Fnatic.
Both teams mirrored each other's actions at the beginning of the game with the ADC/Support taking the gold and experience from the Double Golems and leaving Shen and Renekton to fight in 1vs2 situations. The Wolves' duo in top lane were very aggressive in the lane by constantly pushing the minions to the turret, but this was counteracted by some timely Teleports by Fnatic to help them secure a kill on Ezreal. Bjergsen thought he could save his teammate with his own TP but he came too late and was jumped on by Katarina and Volibear to give Fnatic the edge early in the game. However, the danger of Kassadin loomed over Fnatic and they did not use their early lead to shut him down further. The first big moment for the Wolves was a 3vs3 skirmish by the Dragon pit where they got the Dragon and gave Kassadin a double kill. This sudden burst of gold and experience skyrocketed Kassadin's damage output and he posed a risk for everyone on Fnatic. This was especially apparent when the teams converged around Dragon for a second time where Fnatic felt that they had to initiate for a big fight because they did not want to be slowly poked down by Null Sphere and Mystic Shot. This did not end well for them since they lost Sona almost immediately after she used Crescendo and subsequently the Dragon as well.
In contrast to the Wolves' reliance on Bjergsen's Kassadin, Fnatic used their teamwork and strategic planning to great results. They made a good snap judgement call to go straight for a base race against the Wolves and managed to take down the Wolves' bot Inhibitor while only losing their own mid Inhibitor Turret. Not only that, they also used a double Teleport strategy with Katarina and Volibear to take advantage of gank opportunities and to cut off the enemies' escape. The inhibitor and numbers advantage after Katarina's mid Inhibitor defense gave Fnatic the opportunity to take Baron easily. They then used this advantage to siege the Wolves' base but unfortunately they were caught out by a perfect initiation from Thresh and Xin Zhao. It all started with a simple Death Sentence on Sona under the Wolves' mid Inhibitor Turret, which forced Fnatic to use Crescendo and Bullet Time right away. Both were rendered useless by Crescent Sweep because the knockback made Crescendo face the opposite direction and stopped the channeling of Bullet Time after only one wave of damage. Once Fnatic's main sources of crowd control and damage were gone, it was just a matter of simple clean up for Kassadin, who racked up a quadra kill for his efforts. Kassadin then finally took down Fnatic's mid Inhibitor but they could not end the game because the rest of his team had to defend their base from taking down both Nexus Turrets.
The next few minutes featured the Wolves falling for a simple bait from Fnatic, who had three players hiding in a brush while Miss Fortune was farming in the bot lane. This forced Kassadin, who was split pushing in the top lane, to Teleport into the fight to scare Fnatic away from the rest of his team. The Wolves lost only Ezreal in that engagement thanks to the intimidation from Bjergsen's Kassadin and a timely Dark Passage from Deficio to pull Renekton out of danger, but that was all Fnatic needed to take out the bot Inhibitor again. At this time the game stalled out a bit while both teams were defending their base from the Super Minions and waiting for Baron to respawn. Everyone was ready for Baron Nahor's reappearance and they had an extended dance around the Baron pit with both teams knowing that a successful engagement could give them the victory. Since the Wolves were still down an Inhibitor, they designated Kassadin for base defense while the other four members delayed Fnatic's Baron attempts as much as possible. Eventually the Wolves saw a chance for an initiation with Death Sentence landing on Sona right as Fnatic committed to taking down the Baron, which led Renekton and Xin Zhao to jump right into the Fnatic team. Kassadin had to Teleport to a ward by the Wraiths so his team was fighting 4vs5 for the majority of the encounter. Fnatic took down Thresh and Renekton right away before Kassadin could change the fight around for the Wolves. Fnatic did not want to give Kassadin a free penta kill since they were already low in health from the fight so Katarina and Volibear took a chance and Teleported into the Wolves base to try and destroy the Nexus while the other Fnatic players distracted the remaining Wolves players. Alas, victory was not in the cards for Fnatic as the Wolves' delaying tactics paid off in a spectacular fashion - their Inhibitor respawned right as Volibear was attacking the Nexus so it became untargetable.
After everyone respawned, the Wolves marched straight down the middle of Summoner's Rift to take out Fnatic's base. Fnatic had no options but to fight since they could not use their Teleport again so soon so they took it on themselves to initiate the fight with Shen's Shadow Dash. The ensuing fight went from the mid Inhibitor all the way to Fnatic's Fountain with the Wolves finally coming out on top. Only Renekton, Kassadin, and Thresh were left standing and they laboriously took down the Nexus Turrets and Nexus before anyone on Fnatic could respawn to defend. Once again Kassadin was the key to victory in a backdoor attempt by Fnatic, but this time he was on the defending team.
TeamLiquid's All-Star EU Team
The best Europe has to offer.
With the first four weeks of LCS action wrapped up, we want to present our top performers in each position for this first month. Whether their contribution was carrying a lower ranked team, making big plays or just turning in a reliable performance as one of the best in the world at their role, here is the Team of the Month:
Top Lane: Kev1n
Signature Games: Week 1 vs. EG, Week 4 vs. GIANTS
Signature Champions: Irelia and Shen
Picking a Top Laner to make the Team of the Month was probably the hardest choice. All inhabitants of the top lane island know the lane snowballs quickly on the slightest mistake, and at the competitive level these players must be masters of the 1v1 lane as well as the 2v1 lane. Against Evil Geniuses in Week 1, Kev1n desmonstrated resiliency after he died to a gank from Snoopeh early on, but not before managing to salvage a kill in the 2v1 fight. Despite the early setback in lane, he rallied in the midgame to have the massive impact on teamfights that Wickd's Akali didn't. Against GIANTS, he survived a 2v1 lane handily to emerge into the midgame with a 2/0/3 score. After ocelote was caught out and killed in SK's jungle, GIANTS hurried to Baron, but Kev1n led the charge to stop it
Signature Games: Week 1 vs Fnatic, Week 4 vs SK Gaming
Signature Champions: Volibear, Nasus, and Xin Zhao.
If he had merely brought Volibear to the competitive scene, that would have been enough to merit Diamondprox gracing this list. The innovation didn't stop there, however. While other teams (and Riot's balance squad) were playing catchup to the popularity of Xin Zhao over the beginning of the season, Diamond brought Nasus and Voli to, well, bear on the scene. And how
AP Mid: xPeke
Signature Games: Week 1 vs SK Gaming, Week 1 vs GIANTS, Week 3 vs Wolves
Signature Champions: Nidalee and Katarina
xPeke took home our Player of the Week honors in Week 1, and continued his strong form throughout the month. The Spaniard impressed from the inaugural match of the European LCS, playing Caitlyn in the nontraditional midlane and dominating his opponent. Even though Fnatic seemed to be losing despite xPeke's dominating performance, he took over the climactic fight
AD Carry: Hosan
Signature Games: Week 1 vs SK Gaming, Week 4 vs Evil Geniuses
Signature Champions: Draven and Nidalee
At 17 years old, DragonBorns' Polish AD Carry is the second youngest player in the LCS behind Bjergsen. Juggling school and a professional LoL career like Draven's axes, Hosan showed off his Draven early
All-Star Second Team (Honorable Mentions):
Top Lane: Darien
AP Mid: Bjergsen
AD Carry: CandyPanda
Wards in the Brush
LCS Europe: Week 5 Preview
[Day 1] March 16, 2013
EG vs DB
SK vs aAa
Fnatic vs EG
SK vs DB
[Day 2] March 17, 2013
Fnatic vs SK
DB vs aAa
Wolves vs Fnatic
EG vs aAa
EG vs DB
SK vs aAa
Fnatic vs EG
SK vs DB
[Day 2] March 17, 2013
Fnatic vs SK
DB vs aAa
Wolves vs Fnatic
EG vs aAa
After the Super Week lit the EU LCS alight, it’s back to normal for Week 5. Oh, except for the massive IEM World Championships in between. This is probably the biggest factor when it comes to looking at the continuing LCS.
SK Gaming, Fnatic & Evil Geniuses are all at IEM Worlds and also have three games each in Week 5. This massive load on their practice time creates a real complex net of possibilities: Will they gain momentum at IEM and ride it through to LCS? Will they get stomped and practice like? Will they even want to practice for Week 5? A huge event like IEM requires a rest period afterwards and this is one of the few times where these teams won’t get one. Gambit dodge a bullet here and have no games in Week 5, perhaps they’ll be celebrating, but whatever happens, they’ll be glad for the break.
Against All authority & DragonBorns, have two weeks each to prepare for their three games and will pounce on this opportunity to pick some wins off the worn down warriors. They’ve proven they can beat the top teams on even ground, so with the advantage of rest and not to mention getting to watch their opponents play the best in the world for free scouting, expect some deadly and creative play to come out from these two teams.
Finally, Copenhagen Wolves will have 13 days to settle into their gaming house, all the while preparing for their lone match against Fnatic. After Week 4’s epic, we’ll see if Wolves keep improving and how Fnatic plan to deal with the surging Wolves.
With two weeks off for half these teams, I expect a well earned rest for many of them for a couple of days to recharge and recuperate. GIANTS hit the jackpot here with a whole three weeks before their next matches in Week 6. Once again, the story of the qualified teams continues. Super Week changed perceptions and this is the first week of the LCS with a huge tournament affecting half the combatants.
Match to Watch - Fnatic v SK
Fnatic takes on SK Gaming to kick off Sunday's action, and the rematch of the fantastic season opener should be a good one. Fnatic deployed an unusual strategy with several offensive threats and not much tankiness, but SK overcame an early deficit to take what appeared to be a solid lead. With things looking grim for Fnatic, they managed to engage in one final fight that turned the tide, killing 4 members of SK and allowing Fnatic to snatch victory before SK fully respawned. Both teams have impressive records with Fnatic one game behind leaders Gambit Gaming, and SK two games back at 7-4. However, SK's record includes 3 victories against Copenhagen Wolves and SK is only 1-3 against teams in the top 4. A win for ocelote's squad could potentially move SK up to second in the LCS, and SK has been on form lately. The key matchup will be ocelote vs. xPeke in mid lane. Peke dominated the first matchup, taking the Spaniard's turret early and eventually having a 150+ CS advantage in the late game. In top lane, Kev1n has been solid for SK recently with very standard top lane bruiser picks, but Fnatic's sOAZ is a master of unconvential picks, having played Eve top in their first matchup and Blitzcrank top against Evil Geniuses. Should Fnatic bring out an unusual teamcomp, sOAZ's flexibility will be a huge asset. With Gambit flying to the US to compete in an exhibition at MLG Dallas, both of these teams have a chance to eclipse the leaders' mark of 9 wins. How will this match shift the balance of power in the EU LCS? Tune in at 15:00 CET/7:00 PST to find out!
Art by ~tunako (Deviantart)