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Europe LCS Week Three Matchup Previews
The third week of the European League of Legends Championship Series begins on Saturday, February 23rd, at 18:00 CEST. All of the teams have officially debuted - some soared while others plummeted - and have gathered information about all of their future opponents. How well players can utilize their data to avoid underestimating their adversaries may be what separates the wheat from the chaff. The top ranked teams will want to remember that “the stronger the light, the darker the shadow”. Those in the penthouse cannot afford to be complacent as those in the basement are likely to rise as they acclimate to the pressure of top-level competition.
Week three promises to deliver dramatic matches as the contenders prepare to leap into the cracking 20-game fracas in week four. The formidable Evil Geniuses return to the stage for week three as the current team to beat. Fnatic, after a restful bye week, will take on the juggernaut EG in an epic encounter. Joining the LCS after emerging from a seven month hiatus, against All authority will aim to prove worthy of the honor as they take on newcomers GIANTS! Gaming. Meanwhile, veteran big shots Gambit Gaming have the GIANTS! in their sites for their rematch. GG have an axe to grind to confirm that they are still the same powerful team who set IEM Katowice on its ear earlier this year. Meanwhile, the GIANTS! crave validation in the form of a repeat performance of their week one Gambit Gaming upset. In each case, one team will claim venerable victory and the other disastrous defeat.
Evil Geniuses vs. Fnatic
On Saturday, February 23, at 21:00 CEST two superpowers of the EU League of Legends scene, Evil Geniuses and Fnatic, will cross swords. Both teams are heavy contenders for a top finish in the Spring LCS, so this highly-anticipated matchup should be loaded with suspense and skill. At an impressive 5-1, EG had an auspicious first two weeks with their only defeat to date coming in week two at the hands of SK Gaming – a team that Fnatic brought to their knees in week one. In contrast, Fnatic posted a 2-1 ranking after a shaky week one showing in which they denied SK the chance for revenge. They jump back into the action after a bye for week two. For both teams, this will be a must-win game. As EG’s only week three showing, a loss to Fnatic would both end their winning streak and neutralize their current momentum, leaving room for lingering doubts as they head into the critical week four. Fnatic will go for the jugular as it will be their only opportunity to prove themselves against a top-ranked team before next week’s trial by fire.
Evil Geniuses' impressive LCS performances have revealed their growing comfort with divergent tactics and their unwillingness to be intimidated. However, synthesizing these achievements may not be enough to extend EG’s winning streak into week three. They may need turn up the volume and add an element of surprise to their game plan if they want to bank on defeating Fnatic. Sudden pressure might be the only way to rob xPeke of the opportunity to dent EG’s record with his clutch playstyle.
However, Fnatic has underperformed thus far in the LCS. In their week one outing, Fnatic only demonstrated the power to gain the upper hand after their opponents were hamstringed by their own poor positioning or sophomoric coordination. Fnatic might find it impossible to out-match EG if they rely on being comeback kids who profit from opponent errors. Instead, they need to improve on their map vision and polish up their optimization of speculative champ builds so that Fnatic can initiate aggression instead of playing responsively.
In middle lane EG's Froggen will confront Fnatic's xPeke in what could be one of the most unorthodox, “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny “ battles to grace the mid lane in LCS Season 3. Both players have a history of using unexpected champs mid with Froggen’s Lee Sin and xPeke’s Caitlyn among their most notable surprises. In addition, Froggen and xPeke are CS monsters and masters of artifice. Their duel could truly go either way.
With middle lane apparently even on paper, the match could be won or lost in the other lanes, unless either Froggen or xPeke snowballs early. In top lane, EG's Wickd and Fnatic's sOAZ will throw fists, claws, or harmful projectiles at each other in what could be a bruisers' war of attrition. In the bottom lane, EG’s Krepo may get his first chance to try out Thresh in a tournament match since EG will have first pick. If he does, Thresh’s Lantern Toss could be a game changer due to its gank set-up potential. nRated will have to be on his toes if Fnatic does not ban out this new champion.
Can Fnatic wreak havoc and break EG’s stride before EG undermine Fnatic’s efforts with a calculated scheme? If Fnatic follows the pattern of allowing their opponent an early lead, they may regret it. EG is much better at making a lead pay off than the teams that Fnatic upset in week one. However, if EG drags out the match to their 50 minute standard, they will give xPeke ample time to make his hallmark miraculous plays. It remains to be seen whether both teams' notorious patience will be a hindrance or a help. No matter the outcome, being number one in the LCS rankings comes with a sword of Damocles. Depend upon it; anything could happen.
GIANTS! Gaming vs. against All authority
GIANTS! Gaming and against All authority collide on Sunday, February 24th at 21:00 CEST. Despite their disheartening 0-1 week two debut, against All authority will continue their quest to restore their former glory with an all-new roster for Season 3 after being body checked by the Russian dynamo, Gambit Gaming. GIANTS! Gaming show up for week three with a 2-2 record after circling in a 1-1 holding pattern in weeks one and two. Their most notable win was over aAa’s week two nemesis, Gambit. Even so, the results of the GIANTS!-aAa pairing may not be transparent - aAa have their opening night jitters out of their systems and the GIANTS! have not yet replicated the wham, bam, thank you ma’am performance which upset GG. The GIANTS! versus aAa matchup will be the final game of the week three for both teams; the outcome of this game will either haunt or vaunt these underdogs as they head into the demanding 20 game series in week four
Team aAa will need to tighten up their game in order to once again dish out upsets against the titans of the League of Legends tournament world. Their streak of past overthrows eventually ranked them equal to big baddies themselves. However, numerous entire roster revamps over the past two years have left doubts as to whether the team has enough stability to pull themselves together. The current team members only joined forces as of December 22 after a seven month hiatus and even that roster changes in January of this year. Team aAa may perform better in week three if they can create some solidarity among their members. They also need to work out the kinks in their game play (like coordinating team fight entrances and exits) if aAa want to go toe-to-toe with the GIANTS!. If aAa can address their weaknesses and overcome their first loss, then perhaps they can defeat the GIANTS! and find a path to the top.
With three games this week, there will be no 1-1 win-loss ratio to be had for the up-and-coming GIANTS!; they will either pull ahead, or fall behind. In week two, they suffered a devastating defeat to Evil Geniuses that ended with the GIANTS! at the wrong end of a perfect game. Nonetheless, GIANTS!’ team members Morden and Jîmß0wnz respectively top the KDA and GPM rankings in the EU LCS Season 3 at this time. This seems to indicate that the team has a mastery of the basics of the game, but they have lacked the certain something to convert their skills into wins. AP Exterminare opined that their missing ingredients may be an adequately deep champion pool and sufficient level one team fight skills. If the GIANTS! synergize improvements in those areas with their stellar basic skills, they may be able to recapture that impressive all-out playstyle that they employed against GG in week one and make some serious waves in the rankings.
The bottom lane will be the pivotal lane to watch as GIANTS!’ Jîmß0wnz and Babeta face off against aAa’s Nono and Karalius. Nono and Karalius will have their work cut out to reign prevent a farmed Jîmß0wnz. Team aAa will not want to grant JimB0wnz the opportunity to convert into a late game team fight monster as he did in week two when Jîmß0wnz game-changing quadra-kill-turned-ace sent his opponents packing as they pushed GIANTS!’ nexus turrets. If aAa can create a strategy to smother Jîmß0wnz' CS with the help of their jungler, ViRtU4l, then Nono and Karalius have a chance at wining out the bottom lane which could, in turn, mean a victory in the game.
Will week three see the GIANTS! stomp out their competition or will anarchy reign supreme for aAa? If aAa’s chaotic week two showing was not their norm, they will be coming to the table armed with surprise. However, it could behoove aAa to remember that Spanish Inquisitions are also unexpected.
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