We thought Europe was supposed to be the unpredictable region...
The second week of the NA LCS proved one thing: a few teams have improved by a large margin during the offseason.
As always, there were a couple of teams that went perfect on the week. Though it might surprise you to learn that those were Team SoloMid, Gravity, and Team Dignitas. Yes, the exact same DIG that barely kept itself in the LCS just a couple months ago.
After a relatively easy Week 1 that saw Gravity beat Team Dragon Knights but drop a game to Enemy Esports, not many were sure what to expect. The group took on Cloud9 during our first day of competition. Many looked to Meteos to dominate the jungle and keep the C9 crew ahead. And they were winning at first, but some major moves by, erm, Move would propel Altec into an advantage over Sneaky. Without its ever reliable ADC to keep them in the game, C9 fell yet again.
GV then took on the then undefeated Team Liquid who had performing extraordinarily well in the new split. Picks and bans would destroy TL as Hauntzer managed to land the almost always banned Ryze and Keane carried through the early game on Urgot. At one point, where you can see here, Hauntzer takes down both Piglet and Quas who are playing to their mechanical peaks and still the Ryze can’t be stopped. For Team SoloMid it was the week of Bjergsen. Their Dane in the mid lane stepped up this week on two excellent LeBlanc games, to an overall 20/5/9 record. Against the likes of XiaoWeiXiao and Pobelter this week, that’s not something you should take lightly. That said, the TSM squad triumphed over both Team Impulse and Counter Logic Gaming on route to their current 3-1 record. Alright, so Dignitas had a relatively easy week. All things considered however, their victories were resolute against the TDK sub-squad and Team 8. Azingy has finally shown that he can earn his team victories, at least on Zac, but the potential is there. This also happened to be the strongest week Shiphtur has had in some time (and the first time DIG has won three matches in a row since this week last year). We’ll have to see if they can carry any momentum into their games against TSM and Gravity next week. Cloud9 was a marked disappointment, failing to win a single match this week. Aside from that one glimmer of hope against Gravity, they really didn’t even look like they could have claimed a victory at all. 1-3 is certainly not how the group wanted to start off the split. Outside of that, Team 8, who failed to win last week did the same with their new ADC Nien this week. Team Dragon Knights also had similar issues, missing both Emperor and Ninja. However, Smoothie did return for Sunday's game in which they lost to NME. Both will look to build synergy next week as the full time rosters should be complete.
Most Picked Champions
We touched on Ryze before and he honestly needs to be banned every single game. The chained crowd control combined with the really short cooldown on his ultimate just makes him unstoppable past the mid game. That said, teams seemed to prefer the tankiness of Maokai in the top lane while Rek’Sai burrowed her way back into the most picked Jungler. Meanwhile, the Thresh express took a back seat to our favorite squid in armor, Nautilus. Azir and Sivir are still reliable picks and remain highly prioritized but rarely banned. Guess that’s the good thing about being the second best pick.
Again, about EU being more competitive than NA...There’s a five way tie for first at the moment with NME and TiP even thus far on the split. T8 and TDK are the only teams yet to win a match.
Counter Logic Gaming (3-1)
Team Dignitas (3-1)
Team Liquid (3-1)
Team SoloMid (3-1)
Enemy Esports (2-2)
Team Impulse (2-2)
Team 8 (0-4)
Team Dragon Knights (0-4)
Fantasy LCS Breakdown
Not a single one of the leagues I'm in had someone from Dignitas starting. So I had to do some fooling around to get these graphics (to those in my Fantasy LCS, I'm sorry for the trade spam).
Top - Gamsu
Jungle - Santorin
Mid - Bjergsen
ADC - CoreJJ
Support - KiWiKiD
Flex - Shiphtur
Team - Team Dignitas
Both 2-0 this week, DIG and TSM performed impressively with an emphasis on Bjergsen who was the only one in North America to break 60 points. Needless to say, I think Europe won this week. The only member below 60 for them was Origen as a team, so congrats EU fans. NA vs. EU Standings
Last week we talked about how Europe overall was supposed to be more competitive. With the new addition of Origen, and some talent moving among teams, we thought it would distribute skill more evenly. Two weeks into the EU LCS, it looks as if we were wrong. Unlike last split, Giants Gaming came out strong in Week 1 and has continued that into Week 2. After going 1-1, only losing to Origen, the group subsequently took down Elements and SK Gaming, both of whom appear to be struggling. PepiiNeRO and Adryh have been absolutely stellar thus far with a 6.6 and 10.7 KDA this week, respectively. The addition of G0DFRED has been a boon for the Giants team much like KaSing was for H2K last season. Next week the crew gets another big test against the likes of Fnatic, so we’ll see how well they hold up against one of the two best teams in Europe. Fnatic and Origen continued their impressive streaks, remaining undefeated. The former looked a bit shaky in their win over Team ROCCAT but pretty handily beat Gambit Gaming. The latter has yet to really have a close match, stomping down SK Gaming and the Copenhagen Wolves. The two will meet in Week 4 and from what we’ve seen, Origen looks to be the stronger of the duo. The entire EU LCS either went 2-0 or 0-2 this week, helping divide a clear line in the standings. Gambit and SK are still yet to claim a win as the GMB squad tries to find its identity. SK on the other hand just doesn’t seem to have the synergy that it used to, with Svenskeren struggling to reel in these lopsided matches. H2K Gaming was among those that claimed two victories this week and did so in pretty convincing fashion. Unicorns of Love did the same but their matches were by far the shakiest as they just barely eked out victory against ROCCAT.
Most Picked Champions
Ryze came out of the blue this week as his 5.10 buffs were enabled. His seven bans were enough to earn him the titled of the most banned this week. He was picked in the other three making him one of the most contested champions. Maokai overtook Gnar as the most selected top-laners, appearing in six of ten matches. Gragas cemented his position as the best jungler at the moment, narrowly beating out Evelynn who’s easily worse than our fat man. Gragas is so great because he fits into the tank meta, unlike Lee Sin, but keeps all of the early game pressure that comes with the blind monk. On top of that, the short cooldown on his Explosive Cask allows him to make repeated ganks once he hits level six. Azir remains the go to pick for the mid lane, mostly because LeBlanc is banned so frequently. Sivir too is still the most picked as Kalista now finds herself frequently eliminated from selection. The pros have finally realized that Alistar is a little over powered at the moment and as a result he has found himself banned out half of the time. With him gone, the remaining supports are Morgana and Thresh, the former of which was prioritized more highly.
The top five EU LCS teams have set them apart from the rest of the league. Though we thought it would be more competitive this split, there’s actually a clear line drawn in the sand.
Thanks to their dominant victories, in which they certainly took their time winning, Origen scored a ton of points. xPeke, believe it or not, has taken a back seat, preferring to play a supportive role rather than that of a carry. While that’s bad for those that own him, it’s fantastic for OG who still have that card in their pocket. Giants too did incredibly well with their dominant victories over Elements and SK. Europe improves its score from 379.29 to 454.94 points! Looking very good for them this week as that tops what North America put up last week.
Compared to Europe, North America underwent radical changes in the offseason. New teams Enemy Esports and Team Dragon Knights were set to see their first LCS competition. The latter would have to do so with three emergency substitutions, forfeiting all of their bans.
And those that were well established frequently had roster changes. Cloud9 dropped Hai and added Incarnation, its first move since joining the LCS. Counter Logic Gaming is now fielding Pobelter in the mid-lane (in combination with Huhi, who wasn’t in NA to play this week). Gravity lost Saintvicious, replacing him with Move, while Cop stepped down with Altec coming in. At this point, perhaps it’s easier to list who didn’t change: Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Team Dignitas, Team Impulse, and Team 8. The latter though has noted that next week Nien will be taking Maplestreet’s position as ADC. Needless to say, not many knew what to expect this week. Our first look at these changes was with the season opening match between TSM and C9. Incarnation was destroyed in CS by Bjergsen, but allowed himself to be carried by the rest of his team. Balls on Rumble, specifically, helped make tremendous plays, increasing his record on the champion to an astounding 17-0 in regional play. After that performance, many became worried for TSM and thought C9 was back in proper form. However, while WildTurtle and friends would bounce back with a win against Enemy Esports, Cloud9 would suffer a shutout by Team Dignitas, failing to claim a single tower. For the first time in its history, Team Liquid (and formerly Team Curse) did not have a roster change during the offseason. Last split was notorious for their successes with substitute KEITHMCBRIEF, but Piglet has finally cemented himself as a crucial part of their team. His 13/3/16 record was enough to earn him the fourth highest scoring fantasy point total in North America and led TL to victory over both TDK and T8.
Most Picked Champions in NA
The TDK sub squad didn’t have much luck. With only Seraph and Kez from the starting roster, it felt more like a solo queue game. Though it was nice to see Bischu, who played alongside Altec and Gleeb on Cloud9 Tempest, this probably wasn’t the way we wanted to see him return. The full group should have their visa issues worked out by next week if the management is to be believed. Counter Logic Gaming went undefeated with wins over Dignitas and Impulse. It's clear that Pobelter replacing Link has added another huge threat to the team and it's one that the rest of the league will have to solve quickly if they want to keep up. Doublelift went 17/5/20 with his mid-laner simultaneously going 13/2/20. That's pretty scary stuff when you consider that ZionSpartan can carry equally as hard. As we mentioned before, Team 8 had a tough week without their planned starting ADC. The team as a whole underperformed and suffered a couple of grueling losses. Hopefully they can turn it around next week. Enemy Esports looked really good, taking down Gravity and putting up a surprisingly good fight against Team SoloMid as Flaresz got fed off of Dyrus. NME will be interesting to keep an eye on as the split progresses. tl;dr We gave Europe a lot of credit for having an overall more competitive group of teams but if Week 1 is to be believed, North America could be just as interesting. For now CLG and Team Liquid sit atop the standings as the only undefeated teams whith Team 8 and TDK yet to earn a win. Everyone else is tied for second at 1-1.
Most agree that the overall skill level in Europe is certainly a step up over that of the last split, but while new teams arrive ready to dominate, some of the more familiar faces are struggling to get it together.
The 2015 EU LCS Summer Split opened with a rematch between the Unicorns of Love and Fnatic. Unfortunately for UoL, Rekkles returned to FNC ready to win. At first glance, playing Ashe, you wouldn’t think so, but thanks to her rework she can be downright terrifying. There were no holes in Fnatic’s game plan for UoL to take advantage of and with Rekkles back in his element, the team easily took down the Unicorns before claiming the first El Clasico of the season over SK. Origen, the only other undefeated team this week, beat GIANTS GAMING as many predicted. H2K Gaming would be their true measuring stick however, and Niels would prove he’s an LCS caliber ADC. Vayne, a questionable pick in the views of many, allowed him to maneuver away from the deathball composition of H2K. With no solid way to stop a fed Vayne, H2K would drop the game. The reformed Elements came in strong. A close match with Gambit Gaming turned very quickly after a key dragon fight, and EL snowballed the game from there. In his very first LCS match PromiseQ went 0/1/20. The rest of his team followed with similar records, giving up only three kills while claiming 26. They would also close out the week against Unicorns of Love but would fail to end the game early enough, allowing UoL’s late game composition to outscale them and win. Sadly for Gambit, their struggles would continue as Woolite’s Kog’Maw went off. From the start it didn’t look good for GMB as their composition included Volibear and Jax, both champions that only appeared in this one match. Forg1ven did his duties and went positive, but he also had a crucial hand in their defeat. While trying to sneak a Baron, he used Trueshot Barrage to farm, inadvertently giving away their position. Team ROCCAT would respond and Jankos managed to steal the Baron away. SK Gaming was probably the other big story of the week. A 32 minute victory from Copenhagen Wolves would show that SK is going to have some adjusting to do. While they did keep Freeze’s Draven from cashing in his stacks for a significant amount of time, eventually he would and that would basically be the end of things. From there on out CPW had all of the power it needed to win fights with Freeze critting from the back lines. A 20-2 final killcount showed that even the most disciplined of groups still has issues from time to time. They played much better against Fnatic as CandyPanda’s Kalista threatened to hard carry everyone else, but the rest of the team couldn’t keep up with Febiven’s Cassiopeia. tl;dr After Week 1, Fnatic and Origen are the only teams that remain undefeated, Gambit and SK are the only two that haven’t won yet, and everyone else has split their opening matches at 1-1.
Though Azir may rule over all of Shurima, his subjects stand divided on one topic: should you build a Rabadon’s Deathcap or the newly minted Luden’s Echo.
It used to be a simple decision when Deathfire’s Grasp was in existence because being up close to your enemies isn’t really Azir’s thing. Now however, with the poke composition nature that he tends to exemplify, Luden’s serves as a mid-laner’s Statikk Shiv. So which should you build? Even our most popular guides don't agree. lMisteryl doesn’t even have it on their list of recommended items. WG Fanderman recommends Luden’s “if you want to have even more damage in late game and you feel rather safe during teamfights. . .This item grants you some movement speed. . .gives really nice ap and passive.” But in their opinion, it shouldn’t be prioritized over Rabadon's, “This item is not worth getting before the core because it simply doesn't give as much damage.” For 3100 gold, Luden’s nets you:
120 Ability Power
7 Movement Speed Multiplier.
UNIQUE Passive: Gains charges upon moving or casting. At 100 charges, the next spell hit expends all charges to deal 100 (+15% of Ability Power) bonus magic damage to up to 4 targets on hit. This applies spell effects (e.g., Spell Vamp, Rylai's, etc).
As you can see, Luden's is built about 15% more in Challenger than elsewhere and carries around a 10% higher win-rate. Meanwhile, the numbers for Rabadon's are remarkably similar. The biggest difference is perhaps the emphasis placed on Zhonya's Hourglass. Despite a 36% popularity among the resk of the ranked ladder, it's nowhere to be seen among Challenger players. User Olikis warns against the Luden’s Echo build however. “You have probably watched Easyhoon playing Azir and buying this after his Athene’s. That does not mean you should do the same. Azir is better off scaling if he builds Rabadon’s first and then he can think when he wants his other items.” A big factor behind your decision is your team’s win condition. If you’re in a poke composition, clearly you’ll want the Luden’s. Need an earlier power spike? Luden’s. Waiting for the late game on the other hand and you’ll probably want a Rabadon’s. So when it comes down to the time to pick between the two, think about what you can handle, what your team needs, and what your win condition is. Those three will inform you as to what you should be building. When in doubt, ask your team!