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Taking the Pulse of the LCS - Weeks 1 & 2 - Summer Split

I am Adel Chouadria, aka: Hype Algerian - a passionate Frenchman who is on a mission. My passion is for anything connected with League of Legends: the game, the tournament scene, the name it. My mission, and I choose to accept it, is to elevate the heart rates of my fellow LoL fans by dishing out the skinny, the dirt, and the hype on last week’s fait accompli and this week’s fates in the balance of the North American and European LCS.

This time, exceptionally, I will be Taking the Pulse of the last two weeks of competition.

A new sun has risen over Europe: Team Alternate

Upon barely squeezing themselves into the European LCS, Team Alternate seemingly had a lot to show to the public. However, their performance during the first two weeks left many people wondering where this team was during the last split.

With five of the top solo-queue players in tow, this team was one of the strongest on paper. Upon going through growing pains (due to trial by error) and some roster changes (Jree for Leofromkorea, Araneae for Kottenx, and Creaton for Metalx), they started gelling, combining their strengths to form a solid mountain that only Gambit Gaming has conquered.

ForellenLord’s appearance in the professional scene plays a huge part in the German team’s ascension. While one of the strongest solo-queue players (and the first to break several milestones), he often lacked in execution when it came to tournaments.

The shortcoming served him (and his teammates) well as a motivating goal to improve their team play. They already have crowning moments of awesome to show for it, too. For example, the “3000-Elo Shockwave” lined ATN up for an LCS berth, whereas the “Icy Freight Train” showcased the fruits of their team-building labor.

He can now count on four players of the same caliber to help dominate Europe. Their recent acquisition, Creaton, has had impressive numbers so far. An alarming amount of gold per minute, as well as his difference-making positioning, attest to his capacity as a professional player.

It certainly helps that if he gets caught, his team will instantly back him up. This heterogeneous unit’s motto is “leave no man behind, no matter what happens”.

Velocity eSports: A positive outlook despite growing pains

While some teams are thriving in the LCS thanks to extensive training and mileage, others are still learning the ropes of competitive League of Legends. Such is the case for Velocity eSports. Some defeats could have been averted if the team was more experienced.

“A lot of it is inexperience against more experienced teams,” said Brian ‘Guitar’ Cordry, the manager of team Velocity. “A lot of it was positional or communication errors.” There are always areas where the team can improve on, and some of those areas concern the technical side of the game. The Northern American servers were defective during the first week, which made it exceptionally hard to have scrimmages. Additionally, practice was plagued with Internet problems and housing issues. Nevertheless, getting a win right off the bat is a feat the players and the organization are proud of. The team is ironing out the final details towards providing a stable training environment for its players, which will hopefully pay dividends in the short term.

PanDan's unity at stakes: Ninjas in Pyjamas overhauled

PanDan, the original roster for Ninjas in Pyjamas, may not have expected events to turn heartbreaking, yet here we are. The former Copenhagen Wolves’ lineup has undergone drastic changes upon experiencing a shaky 2-6 start for its first two weeks in the Summer LCS.

The Ninjas in Pyjamas organization has done what the Copenhagen Wolves have not: They have shaken up the roster, adding two players to break free from the losing ways that plagued their team during the first two weeks. Unlike the Wolves organization, which allowed its roster to flourish despite a 0-8 start, NiP has pulled the trigger. One of the moves that the organization made was to bench Godbro. This move has led to Svenskeren’s decision to step down as the main jungler out of both loyalty and comfort with his partner’s playstyle. As if benching two members of the core lineup was not enough, TheTess was considered a liability by the organization and subsequently benched. That left Bjergsen and Deficio as the only original members of the PanDan roster operating for NiP.

NiP’s decision also affected a challenger team, leading it to disband. Extinkt, Malunoo and Freeze, three players of Heimerdinger's Colossi, were solicited by NiP for their services at the Top Lane, Jungle and AD Carry, respectively. This has led to the team's dissolution, despite being widely considered as one of the best Challenger Circuit teams in Europe. This bold move has led some select people to raise eyebrows. EG Wickd was left wondering whether such a move was actually allowed, given how 60% of the roster that qualified for the Summer Split was no more. Vulcun Gnomesayin provided more insight as far as what this move meant. She left us all asking a question both to ourselves and to Riot Games’ eSports staff: Who does the LCS spot belong to? The organization or the lineup that made it through? The answer will leave one of them at the mercy of the other, bar some solid regulations from Riot.

Teams of the Start

  • Atnlogo std.pngTeam ALTERNATE (6-1): Allying the powers of solo-queue with solid team play, they have engineered an almost unstoppable bulldozer. Fending off any attempt at taking them down is even more so. It took a Russian armada with ten thousand people cheering to make them stumble.
  • GambitLogo std.pngGambit Gaming (5-2): A shaky start is apparently what the Russians needed to trigger their competitive edge. Two defeats led to them controlling every single game they played since the second day of DreamHack Summer. Their solution for the support vacancy created by the departure of Edward has flourished, and Darker has been named the full-time support for Gambit.
  • Cloud9logo std.pngCloud9 (6-1): This team is only new to the American LCS on paper. The experience they have acquired through scrimmages during the Summer Split has allowed them to seize the region’s top spot. Their approach to the game includes studying Korean gameplay, picking champions with strong laning phases (such as Draven), a knack for taking objectives, and excellent teamfighting mechanics.
  • Counter Logic Gaminglogo std.pngCounter Logic Gaming (4-3): This team was suspected to click at some point during the season, but they chose to click very early instead. It was a colossal challenge to overcome, as neither bigfatlp nor Nientonsoh had competitive experience at the positions they are currently holding (Jungle and Top Lane, respectively). Yet these two players managed to transition fast enough to allow HotshotGG to rest easy. His team is second in the standings and is the only one that derailed the Cloud 9 “hype train,” if only for a moment.

Casualties of the start

  • SK Gaminglogo std.pngSK Gaming (2-6): Beginning the season on a slump is not the best way to go about making an impact during the Summer Split. Their CEO, Alex Müller, rang the alarm – only to find relief in his team’s strong performance against Ninjas in Pyjamas.
  • Ninjas in Pyjamaslogo std.pngNinjas in Pyjamas (2-6): Their start cost them 3/5 of their roster. The remaining two, Bjergsen and Deficio, will be hard at work trying to mesh with the three new arrivals from Heimerdinger's Colossi. Whether this gamble will pay off remains up in the air.
  • Velocity eSportsLogo std.pngVelocity eSports (1-6): This team needs time to get stronger. The challenges they face inside and outside of the game need to be conquered in order for them to show their true power. This team will have to work hard to not lose games where they have a serious lead over their opponents.
  • Team Curselogo std.pngTeam Curse (2-5): The team is dissonant at best. The lack of synchronization in the actions of its members leaves little to wonder about the existence of communication issues. The work environment had been highlighted in a rather bad spot. Fortunately, Edward is more than happy to work with Cop, and the two remain in permanent communication to work on their chemistry.

I’m feeling

  • TSM WildTurtle from way downtown... connects!
  • ATN vs Fnatic is easily one of the best games of the Season 3 LCS so far. Here is to hoping you didn't blink too much - you might have missed a play. The whole game is a highlight reel.
  • There is more that we haven't seen yet from Fnatic xPeke. Yet, here's a peak at what he does best: Playing League of Legends.
  • This write-up from Jatt explaining why CLG won against Cloud 9 is a must-read piece for everyone.
  • CRS Edward having Cop's back, especially in light of the team's results and atmosphere around it.
  • This massive play from VUL BloodWater. It did not win them the game, but it sure threw a massive curveball at Cloud 9's direction.
  • Almost in the same vein, CLG's two insane and simultaneous plays brought TSM to their knees.
  • Tough ordeal for the PanDans / NiP. NiP Svenskeren's gesture, however, is like nothing seen before in the LCS.

Not feeling

  • No love lost between CLG HotshotGG and CRS SaintVicious ... Curse Gaming didn't need the additional drama.
  • Here is to hoping you ate your words, CLG Doublelift. One of the rules of competing is to never look down on an opponent.
  • NiP's move was a bit too bold; fanbases had no time to prepare themselves for that. On that regard, there's a lot of work that has to be done.

Comedy Central

Under the Spotlight

  • GambitLogo std.pngGambit Gaming: How well will they do without Darien, who is on a leave of absence due to medical issues? Here is to hoping Spontexx fills in the gap. At least the two players have a very similar playstyle, meaning less effort to adapt for the Russians.
  • Ninjas in Pyjamaslogo std.pngNinjas in Pyjamas: They have taken a massive risk. Here is to hoping that their performance will improve. Otherwise, their fanbase’s existence may be endangered.
  • SK Gaminglogo std.pngSK Gaming: How will they react to their slow start?
  • Team SoloMidlogo std.pngTeam SoloMid: Dyrus and Reginald are swapping positions during MLG Anaheim. Will that move pay dividends?
  • FXOpen std.pngFXOpen e-Sports, Curse Academylogo std.pngCurse Academy, Complexitylogo std.pngcompLexity Gaming and TSBlogo std2.pngThe Salad Bar: Which one of these teams will earn the right to challenge a professional team for a Season 4 LCS berth? Whichever wins the Challenger event will have the certainty of being in the Spring Promotion Circuit more than six months in advance; depicting a far neater picture than the other three teams.

Written by Adel Chouadria
Edited by Darin Kwilinski

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