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!
With LCS starting next week, Riot went ahead and opened up Fantasy LCS drafting for this split. And while some of your approach depends on how many players are in your league, there are five tips that apply globally.
1: Have a Plan
Don’t come unprepared. Do some research and find out who is good for fantasy points in each role and know who you want your first couple of draft picks to be. We’ve seen countless drafts going extremely well only to have the person pick someone who’s been significantly underperforming. (Looking at you Dyrus and Balls). Don’t fall for those traps and when it comes down to it, remember that EU > NA in point production.
2: Know What Roles Have Large Differentials
In past splits a good support has been huge. It still is, but less so unless we’re talking about YellOwStaR or Lustboy. They both have a pretty big gap on the rest of the field and the same can be said about the other positions. Huni is by far the best top-laner with Impact a moderately close second. Both of these positions have the largest differential overall. So if you can get one of those three: YellOwStaR, Lustboy, or Huni, go for it. Santorin is above and beyond the best Jungler but Reignover might come close some weeks. Bjergsen and Febiven are the two highest scoring mid-laners as they tend to carry. WildTurtle and Rekkles are probably the best ADCs, but more on that later. Also since teams are a thing, don’t forget that an earlier than usual pick of Team SoloMid or Fnatic isn’t a terrible idea. They’re the only two teams you can sit on all year long and be among the best scoring.
3: Don’t Worry About ADCs
You shouldn’t fret about not drafting an ADC early on too much, especially if you don’t get WildTurtle or Rekkles. Forg1ven is sure to be another solid pick with Apollo, Sneaky, Freeze, and Hjarnan not too far behind. More importantly there are a ton of sleeper picks including Neils, Tabzz, Altec, and Doublelift. That’s a lot of Marksman even for an eight man league. So again, don’t worry too much.
4: Adapt on the Fly
That said, you need to be able to adjust your drafting priorities on the spot. If five of the best mid-laners go in the first round, you better be ready to pick one up the next time by. Watching pick trends is extremely important and it’s even more so if you know the players you're drafting against. Know what they like, know what they’ll prioritize, and more importantly, realize how the pick order changes how you should draft. If you’re third pick and someone who likes Fnatic has two picks before your next one, you might want to consider grabbing one of them up before they’re gone.
5: Take Advantage of the New Teams
Origen is going to be a very competitive team. Regardless of what the Fantasy LCS projections have them scoring, you should realize that they’ll probably do just fine. xPeke should do just as well if not better than how he did on Fnatic. sOAZ should continue his supportive top lane role and Amazing will have a balance between the two. It’s mostly their bottom lane Niels and Mithy that are unproven, but like we said before, most ADCs score closely with each other, so Niels is certainly a sleeper pick. Team Dragon Knights and Enemy eSports are far less proven and more risky. TDK’s Seraph might be a good late draft pick and their new members, veterans from Korea, could end up scoring well.
Overall, just remember that there’s a lot unknown going into this split. We have no clue if SK Gaming will be nearly as good as they were and the new teams could start off with a bang. So as the games this week go on, keep an eye on the free agents because you might just want to pick one or two up.
Want to get a good look at some of LCS players before the split starts? Check out our replay system where you can see all matches containing players in Challenger.
It’s tough to say when Bard will become a regular pick in competitive League of Legends. He’ll never be the support you turn to when you want to stomp solo queue, and although his abilities certainly are powerful, you’re never just going to be able to pick up and play him at a very high level.
Since his release, Bard has only been played five times in the professional scene. LGD Gaming’s Pyl seems to be particularly fond of him, opting to utilize him twice during the early days of April. Aside from that, only three other players have chosen to bring the Wandering Caretaker to the Rift. His two and three record leaves much to be desired with a combined 7/29/60 KDA, but it’s not like Bard himself is a bad champion. Instead it’s his skill cap that leaves teams hesitant to pick him. “He’s one of those champions that’s going to take a long time for teams to actually adopt, because playing him in solo queue gives you some experience, but he’s a champion that you really have to ramp up in scrims,” explains Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, OGN caster and former Counter Logic Gaming coach. Granted teams are consistently striving to improve, whether that be by playing solo queue or scrimming with their teams, it’s tough to dedicate time to Bard alone. In interviews, various LCS players have described their issues with scrims: people remaking when one team is too far ahead, tilting, etc. There are a ton of ways for one to go wrong and without the limelight on them, sometimes it’s easier to just start over. Of course many coaching staff members are now against this sort of thing, but when Supports could be improving their mechanics or touching up on their coordination, just starting to solve the complex equation that is Bard is quite a commitment. If the plan suddenly goes wrong and Bard is making a mess of things, that's valuable time wasted on both team's parts. As far as abilities go, his Cosmic Bindings are no problem, it’s his Magical Journey and Tempered Fate that start to cause issues. There are a ton of possibilities with Bard tunnels. Flanking the enemy from directions they thought impossible, making a narrow escape, getting everyone into the Baron pit quickly. The same can be said for his ultimate, saving towers, teammates, or stalling the Dragon take. All of these are immensely valuable, yet we never see Bard played. Why? Because for each of these there’s a tunnel that ends up getting everyone killed, an ultimate that stops your own Jungler from stealing Baron, or saving an enemy’s life. “When Bard was released it almost seemed like he was made for competitive play and specifically lane swaps…,” Riot Games’ caster Joshua “Jatt” Leesman continues in the same MSI match. And Jatt’s absolutely correct on that mark, at some point I think we’ll see Bard as one of the most highly prioritized supports in the game. Even some of the most experienced teams in the world have had issues playing him correctly. He’s just so radically different than everything that’s been released thus far and that means a ton of practice is needed before he can be utilized effectively. Perhaps once the offseason rolls around we'll start seeing professional supports pick him up some more. Even with less time constraints between splits there's too much improving to be done before the next match starts. This is the equivalent of overhauling your entire playbook, that's how different a team composition is with him in it. Sadly for fans of Bard, that means we might not see him very often until the next Spring Split.
Learning with LolKing
Still want to play Bard even though we warned you?
Here's a guide from a Platinum II player that should help.
If you'd rather watch than read, we've also got a slew of replays from Diamond IV+ players. You can see everything from itemization, to skill order, and mechanics.
Today, Riot Games released the official LCS 2015 Summer Split schedule. Beginning Thursday, May 28 for Europe and Saturday, May 30 for North America, the tournament pits the best teams in their respective regions to determine who will qualify for the upcoming World Championships.
New teams Origen in EU, Team Dragon Knights (TDK) in NA, and Enemy Esports (NME) in NA will be making their debut after proving themselves by either winning the Challenger Series or earning their spot in the promotion tournament. Europe opens with a rematch between Unicorns of Love against Fnatic and just after that we'll get our first look at Origen as they take on GIANTS GAMING. As always, NA is a showdown of Team SoloMid and Cloud9, the latter of which is now sporting Incarnation in the Mid lane, their first roster change since joining the LCS. TDK will take on Team Liquid following that and the day will close out with NME and Gravity.
Unicorns of Love vs. Fnatic
H2k Gaming vs. ROCCAT
Gambit Gaming vs. Elements
Copenhagen Wolves vs. SK Gaming
GIANTS GAMING vs. Origen
Elements vs. Unicorns of Love
Fnatic vs. SK Gaming
ROCCAT vs. Gambit Gaming
GIANTS GAMING vs. Copenhagen Wolves
Origen vs. H2k Gaming
Miss any roster swaps? Here's the gist of it.
Top - Jwaow
Jungle - Dexter
ADC - Tabzz
Support - promisQ
ADC - Rekkles
Mid - Incarnation
ADC - Forg1ven
ADC - CandyPanda
Counter Logic Gaming
Mid - Huhi/Pobelter (Yes, two Mid laners)
Of course there are still more developments to come. Gravity's Jungler Saintvicious recently announced his retirement and his replacement is yet to be revealed. Make sure to watch this split's first episode of Primetime League (Wednesday, May 27 at 4:00 PDT) for a recap of all the changes! It's worth remembering that whichever team claims first place automatically punches a ticket to Worlds. The team that has the most cumulative Championship Points over the two splits combined (currently Team SoloMid) will also earn a spot. The third and final seed will be determined based on the results of a bracket seeded by Championship Points. Who's excited to finally get started again?