Articles:Europe LCS Week Four Matchup Previews
Europe LCS Week Four Matchup Previews
Week three flew by with fantastical twists and turns for the eight teams in the European League of Legends Championship Series. However, the lofty twenty matches looming around the corner will likely bring even greater surprises. Team Fnatic starts week four at the top of the ladder after razing the competition and even bringing down the elite Evil Geniuses in a match of legendary proportions. After a disappointing premier week, against All authority began clawing their way back into the ranks, winning two matches and losing one in week three to equal the solid 2-2 record of the DragonBorns. The GIANTS! have dropped in rank after week three but are not so far gone as to be out of the race. Gambit Gaming's victorious revenge match against the GIANTS! proved that in post-Soviet Russia, Gambit plays you. SK Gaming fell to the number four spot from their previous number three ranking, but they are well-positioned to cause trouble for the top three teams.
With each team playing five matches this week, there will be room for transitions up or down the rankings. Will Fnatic and EG continue their reign at the top, or will an unexpected team swipe the lead? Will the Copenhagen Wolves be able to take advantage and make their way back into the ranks, or has their tragic fall left them permanently incapacitated? Week four (March 1st-3rd) will pave the way for a spell-binding second half of the spring season.
Fnatic vs. Gambit Gaming
First place Fnatic and third place Gambit Gaming will do battle in a promising rematch on Saturday, March 2nd at 19:00 CEST. Gambit delivered a crushing blow to Fnatic in week one of the EU LCS. Subsequently, Fnatic must have used their bye week well, because they came back and wreaked havoc against all three teams they played in week three - including the illustrious EG. This netted Fnatic the top spot in the tournament with a shiny record of 5W:1L. Similarly, Gambit have also picked themselves up after an upsetting week one. They got right back in the saddle and snagged the third place seat going into week four boasting a 4W:2L record. Fnatic will want to set themselves further apart from their close competitors with a win over Edward and associates. Gambit will not simply step aside to allow nRated and friends to pass them by. Expect these two aggressive European superstars to hit each other where it hurts.
In week one, Fnatic had trouble gaining solid leads in their matches which led to them taking both of their victories from behind--only after capitalizing on their opponents' misplays. However, by week three, there were no comebacks to be had. Fnatic steamrolled their opponents unapologetically and efficiently took out their enemies like a well-oiled machine. In week four, Fnatic may mete out some justice and repay Gambit for delivering their sole defeat thus far, in week one. Fnatic have various strengths they can exploit, but perhaps week three’s Saturday MVP, sOAZ, will have a trick or two to showcase. Everyone will be watching to see what radical top lane pick he might have up his sleeve for week four.
Gambit Gaming has come a long way from their upsetting win-loss ratio in week one. Since then, they have resoundingly defeated every team who have crossed their path, including the upstart GIANTS! Gaming. This week three rematch gave EDward the perfect opportunity to debut the newest champion, Thresh, at the EU LCS. After taking first blood, Ed confidently haunted his opponents with his Thresh hooks and Lantern Tosses. Will week four have everyone singing: “Tick, tock goes the clock – even for nRated”? Additionally, bellwether Diamondprox has demonstrated innovative jungle champs, such as Volibear or Nasus, that have caused waves in the LCS on both sides of the Atlantic. Look out for more eye-opening, meta-munching possibilities from the Gambit jungler.
Every area of Summoner's Rift will be charged with tension when Fnatic and Gambit light up the ESL venue. In the top lane, sOAZ and Darien will clash. Both players have served up wins for their teams in previous matches, and they will not want to fail their teams now. SOAZ’s contribution to Fnatic’s successes should not be underestimated. His week three top lane Blitzcrank countered Froggen’s Anivia at every turn as he dragged enemy champions through icy walls and into his teammates to help win teamfights every step of the way. However, Gambit’s Darien exhibited his skills with excellent plays on Kha'Zix, out-farming his enemy in the top lane and charging into team battles to burst down any who opposed him.
Mid lane may be a case of ”put your money where your mouth is” as two EU LCS big spenders go for broke. Fnatic’s xPeke, the overall number three income earner with 370 GPM, will try to out-CS Gambit’s Alex Ich. Alex is only a heartbeat behind xPeke’s profits and presently ranks fourth with his 369 GMP. With their farming skills so equally matched, they will both be looking for a way to tax their opponent’s CS – an unexpected pick might be just the ticket. In week one, xPeke’s unorthodox mid lane Caitlyn allowed his team to push hard against their opponents' defenses when the time came to assault the base. Alex will have his work cut out for him against xPeke’s crafty champs, but Alex may be able to once again capitalize on any questionable picks or doubtful builds--like xPeke’s week one glass cannon Wukong--with suitable counters or by letting xPeke self-destruct. However, if xPeke happens to remember that, also in week one, the GIANTS! squelched Alex by using Ryze against him, the Russian mid laner maybe be in trouble.
In bot lane, YellOwStaR and nRated will have their work cut out for them against Genja007 and EDward. Each duo comes armed with one current top five KDA collectors. EDward is now ranked in second place with a KDA ratio of 6.3. YellOwStaR is not far behind with a KDA ratio of 5.6 These deadly hitmen are forces to be reckoned with and will surely provide much eye-catching carnage in bot lane. A strong gank from either side of the jungle could sway the balance of power in the early game which would give the surviving players the push they need to take objectives. If CyanideFI can get his paws on everyone’s favorite ursus, he could bear down on Gambit’s bot lane and bring them to a grizzly end.
The two teams will be fighting for their place in the top ranks, but only one will take away the prize. No matter which champs Fnatic ban, they will face an endless Russian Roulette of possibilities - but nixing Thresh might mean one less bullet in the chamber. Gambit will face a similar challenge insomuch that it is nearly impossible to hamstring Fnatic on picks and bans alone - although Gambit might consider banning Volibear given Cyanide’s teleport junglebear 2.0 upgrade. Will Fnatic be able to keep grasp on the number one spot, or will Gambit Gaming get a lucky roll and throw the mad kings off their thrones? The outcome may depend on which team has more ingenuity.
GIANTS! Gaming vs. SK Gaming
GIANTS! Gaming and SK Gaming will face off for the first time this week in the Season 3 EU LCS on Friday, March 1st, at 16:00 CEST. There is a lot on the line in this prodigious clash as this game could push or drag these two middle children around the scoreboard. SK come to week four fresh off a bye week three and a couple of hard losses in week two, which left them with an overall 3W-3L record. GIANTS! step into week four with a nearly identical overall 3W-4L record. However, the lion’s share of GIANTS!’ wins have come against teams who are still getting their feet wet. For SK, this game likely means the difference between treading the floor of the top of the rankings or knocking on the ceiling of the bottom. For GIANTS, this game is a chance to prove that their victory over veteran Gambit Gaming is not the only upset they can produce. Neither team has a history of a stable roster, although SK has proven slightly more stalwart than the GIANTS!. Whether team stability will be a deciding factor in determining the winner of this showdown remains to be seen. No matter the final result, this skirmish is sure to be an emotional conflict of ambitions.
With a staggering five matches in three days, SK will have many opportunities to wind up and knock down the competition and possibly regain a presence among the top three teams. Compared to many of their opponents, SK’s team members have a great deal of experience and knowledge in the League of Legends tournament world, and they will want to effectively utilize their veteran sensibility to ensure the GIANTS!’ defeat. Under ocelote’s keen leadership, the team could flex their mastery of the meta-game to demolish their foes. However, SK will need to make sure they convert their advantages into power plays in order to avoid throwing the match. SK’s roster is the more stable of the two teams, although both have been tempestuous. Watch for SK to leverage their familiarity with each other and craft a strategy especially suited for the GIANTS!.
The GIANTS! are one loss behind SK in the grand scheme of things, but a victory over their august opponents would boost the GIANTS!’ confidence and add to their legacy. In week three the team saw a hard-fought victory over the DragonBorns, who trampled SK in week two. While the GIANTS! are not as seasoned as some of their competitors, their team fight coordination is especially skillful; JimB0wnz has impressed by regularly harvesting quadrakills in the middle of brawls during his tenure in the LCS. Their united five-man front is slightly surprising given the short time available to perfect their synergy, and it may swing the game into their favor. The GIANTS!, who tend to put the pedal to the medal in the early game, will need to conserve their fuel with a hybrid strategy if they expect to shift short-term goals into long-term victories to dislodge SK.
Keep an eye on the mid lane: fan-favorite ocelote may have two-and-a-half years of experience cached in his cute orange notebook, but he will still have to keep a keen eye on newcomer, Exterminare--a key player in many of the GIANTS!’ victories. His intelligent plays and counter-picks with Ryze and other AP champions have left an Exter-shaped mark on the EU LCS mid lane. Nevertheless, if ocelote can use his rapid roaming talents (like he did against the Copenhagen Wolves) he may starve out his opponent. However, if Exter applies teleport tactics to pick up kills across the map, then being out-farmed may not be a problem for him when push comes to shove.
In the jungle, SK’s HyrqBot will face off against the GIANTS!’ Morden in what is likely to be a bloodbath. HyrqBot’s 6.1 KDA ratio is currently the third highest in the EU LCS, while Morden is on his heels in the number four position with a 5.6 KDA ratio. Their prowess for prowling the lanes to make effective ganks should make this head-to-head matchup quite a thrill. HyrqBot is one of the masters of the early ganks among the junglers of the EU LCS. Moreover, Morden boasts an 80% win rate on his jungle Lee Sin. Their meeting could be a series of ganks and counter-ganks and counter-jungles. Count on no lion sleeping in HyrqBot and Morden’s mighty jungle.
CandyPanda and Nyph will challenge JimB0wnz and Babeta to a game of "Whose Lane Is It Anyway?" Both bot-lane duos have the potential to be highly destructive to their opponent's line-up by terrorizing each other with exploitative plays and capitalizing on each other’s mistakes. However, a few ganks from the jungle or a strong roaming top or mid could be the leverage either side needs to carry their team. The renowned CandyPanda and Nyph are thick as thieves since their recent reunion in the bot lane. Their synergy and synchronicity will outmatch that of the GIANTS!’ newest addition, JimB0wnz, and his partner, Babeta, who are still sorting out the sticky wickets.
Both teams will bring their best to the table, but only one will walk away with a victory--who will it be? The teams have had ample study time: the GIANTS! are early birds while SK tend to roll out of bed around noon. Knowing this, Kev1n might out-tank the GIANTS’ early aggression and make it moot, or Samux may try to burst down SK before they have a chance to bulk up. However, if ocelote and company opt to abuse the GIANTS!’ strengths by way of abnormal picks they may have a Spanish Inquisition on their hands. The GIANTS! already proved that they could tackle unorthodox team comps in their week three game against the DragonBorns. SK should take care if they decide to bend the meta, because nobody expects the…yeah.
DragonBorns vs. Evil Geniuses
DragonBorns and Evil Geniuses will take each other on, once again, on Sunday, March 3, 19:00 CEST. For both teams this will be their fourth match of the week. DB will face GG, Fnatic, and GIANTS! in the two days beforehand. As for EG, they will battle it out against Wolves, GG, and GIANTS! leading up to this game. After running the gauntlet, DB will be ready to serve some revenge to EG after their February 16 match. On the other hand, EG will have a chance to see if their early aggression practice is paying off.
DragonBorns is heading into week four with a solid 2W-2L ratio. According to Shushei, his team will not always be an underdog because their EU LCS experiences are making them stronger. Despite their loss to the GIANTS!, DB shows signs of maturity as seen in their new-found patience to set up a gank while hiding in a bush. They seem to realize that to beat the top teams, they have to play like a top team. DB has room for further growth and better focus during team fights is a good place to start.
Evil Geniuses slide into week four after their winning streak was ended in week three by another EU juggernaut, Fnatic. They were unprepared for a creative counter by Fnatic, and were outplayed in the end. Even so, EG egress from week three in second place with a strong 5W-2L record, giving them a fighting chance for atonement. If the team stick to the tried and true, they gain an advantage of experience over DB.
Shushei and Froggen will race each other for farm and kills in mid lane. Shushei could benefit from dialing down his innovation to concentrate on becoming a more reliable player when dealing with his experienced opponent. Froggen’s amazing knowledge of his lane is evident in his total 15k gold stash, the third highest EU LCS. Yet, even his farming talents did not keep him relevant in last week’s match against Fnatic, when he was thoroughly shut down by clever counter picking. DB will regret if they try neutralize Froggen with bans, but if EG ban out Shushei’s mid lane Vi, he may revert to his highly successful Lux and score another final spark double kill.
Bot lane could be an especially interesting something if Krepo picks Thresh while HosaN takes up his debilitating Draven. Should Krepo gather souls as well as his carry, Yellowpete, gathers farm, he could possibly defend against Draven’s damage output, and drag him around in chains until his death. However, if Malunoo lines up well-timed ganks, HosaN could get out of hand. In turn Krepo’s Thresh effectiveness will be directly affected by his interaction with EG jungler, Snoopeh--who will hopefully be playing a champ that he is more familiar with this week.
DB’s signature dive-bomb blitzkrieg could shake up an EG who may still be nervous of bursty damage after their run in with Fnatic--if DragonBorns can focus on a single target in their dives. DB’s sound and fury team comps, which are designed to pick off opponents one at a time, have been confirmed to be vulnerable to solid team fight skills like those of EG. Anything could happen in this amazing match-up, when the Dragons lift their wings for flight and the Evil Geniuses prepare for a showdown.
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