Thursday, 23 January 2014

EU LCS (and Challenger) predictions. Week 2, Day 1.

Millenium Vs Alliance

Mechanically, Alliance should take this game with relative ease. As shown however by last weeks performance, mechanics don't mean everything. Millenium showed some great strength in their shotcalling and decision making abilities, so it is unfortunate that they slipped to a 1-3 record. That being said, Alliance did even worse, dropping down to the lowest in the LCS by hitting a 0-4 record, including a surprise loss to newcomers Supa Hot crew. For this game I still put my faith in Alliance, I believe that last weeks performance would have inspired them to work on their communication, and that they will come back strong from this point.

Roccat Vs Supa Hot Crew

Roccat have had a fantastic start to the LCS. Taking home a 3-1 record from super week, with wins over Alliance, Millenium and Supa Hot Crew. You might remember last week where the combination of Malphite/Pantheon A.K.A The Unstoppable Mandrop decimated Supa Hot Crew and their Nunu/Caitlyn fast push strategy. The key player for Roccat is clearly Overpow, and SHC would do well to deny him his favourite champions, however SHC have a weakness in Impalers champion pool, something that was targeted during the super week. If he has expanded, then SHC could take the win here, with Rengar back for Mimer and the bot lane of Migxa/MrRallez looking strong as ever. A close game, but I will be taking Roccat here, not enough time yet for SHC to come into their own, but it will be a close game.

Copenhagen Wolves Vs Millenium

Copenhagen Wolves were a bit of a surprise package last week, finishing with a 2-2 record with wins over Roccat and Alliance, and losses to Gambit and SK Gaming. After their showing in super week it is clear that both of these teams are capable of competing with the big teams, and I believe this game will be the closest of the day, however with BO1 anything can happen. If I had to pick a winner I'd have to go with Millenium, however it is a very hard choice, I just believe that Millenium didn't show their true potential last week and can do a lot more.

Gambit Vs SK Gaming

In my opinion the most clear cut match of the day. I think Gambit will be far too strong for SK and will take the win with relative ease. That's not to say SK are a bad team, they ended the super weak with a 2-2 record and showed strong performances against Copenhagen Wolves and Supa Hot Crew. The fact however remains that Gambit Gaming are probably the 2nd strongest team in the LCS right now (behind Fnatic).

Ninjas In Pyjamas Vs SK Prime

For this game I guest wrote an Article for League Central. You can find it here -

it goes into detail about the matchups, likely picks/bans and what will be the important factors for both teams.

Friday, 17 January 2014

My picks for NA LCS week 1, day 1 (Informal)

Cloud 9 vs TSM 
Winners - TSM

I think every lane of TSM should win, Bjergsen most likely the hardest. I hear Oddone has improved a lot so he won't be the weak spot anymore. C9 could easily win as well, I just think TSM could be stronger right now.

winners - EG

Eu power too strong for NA. XDG made a really dumb roleswap that EG will take advantage from. Bot lane will win along with most likely top lane. Mid will be closer as Mancloud is actually a good player.

Curse vs Coast
Winners - Coast

Don't think this Curse lineup is that strong at all in my opinion. Coast are being hyped by everyone so I think they have been doing well, they dominated challenger during the off-season so they should be coming in with confidence.

XDG vs Cloud 9
Winners - Cloud 9

Obvious choice here, Cloud 9 would probably win this anyway let alone after the terrible role swap. Meteos will dominate Zuna, Hai/Mancloud should go even, Benny/Balls should go even, and C9 bot lane will beat XDG bot lane.

Winners - TSM

Probably the closest game after TSM vs C9, but I think TSM will win here again. TSM should win bot and mid, while top could be close. Both junglers are fairly passive so whichever one can actually put in some early aggression will go a long way to carrying their respective team

CLG vs Dignitas
Winners - Dignitas

Both teams are doing pretty bad at the moment so it's kind of a choice between which team will be worse than the other, but I think with CLG missing out on Dexter, Dignitas should have an advantage and be able to take the win. Plus I hear Dignitas have pulled it together since being humiliated by the now 0-4 Alliance.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Everything you need to know about Cloud 9 EU

  The (albeit brief) history of Cloud9 EU

Around 1 month ago, a group of very talented solo queue players grouped up and formed a ranked 5 ladder team. Odoamne, K0u, Febiven, Hjarnan, and Voidle made up the spots of the team 'Apples is Sour'. With nothing to lose and CokeZero qualification around the corner, these 5 players mostly abandoned their solo queue top 15- challenger spots in an attempt to break into the top 10 challenger teams in Europe. Despite possessing 5 of the best mechanical players in the European amateur scene, I don't think anyone expected Apples is Sour to rise from nothing, to the #1 spot on the ladder in less than 2 weeks. They then maintained that spot for the days leading up to the ladder lock, fighting off teams like tricked esport (now Reason Gaming) and Gamers2YO (Oceloteworld,lololol). here is a snapshot of the ladder 1 hour before the lock. (note - the top 6 did not change from this point to the lock 1 hour later)

With a record of 47/7, it is clear to see why Apples is Sour attracted some big attention from various different organizations. I can't say for sure who else was in for them, all we know is that in the end, the Apples is Sour lineup decided to accept an offer from reigning NA LCS champions, Cloud 9. Since joining, C9 EU have romped to victory in the SCAN invitational, defeating Reason gaming, MYM, and lololol (Ocelotes team) only dropping 1 map over the course of the tournament, in the final BO5.

The Team

The Top Lane - Odoamne

Not a complete stranger to competitive League of Legends, Odoamne was part of a roster that briefly played under the Absolute Legends tag. This roster managed to reach the finals of EUW challenger series #4, defeating TCM and British Tea Time (Dignitas UK) on the way. they eventually lost 3-2 in the finals to Heimerdingers Colossi. In which Odoamne showed great versatility, by playing a different champion in every game of the 5 game series. Since that fleeting success, Odoamne seemed to fall off the radar, not showing up in any competitive teams until this point. A very solid player with a wide champion pool, Odoamne is the kind of top laner that is capable of picking up whatever is the FotM. Having plenty of experience on the AP tops, like Kennen and Lissandra, the assassins, like Jax, or as it is right now, the mega tanks, like Rengar, renekton or Shyvana.

The Jungle - K0u

Easily the player I know the most about, having worked with K0u in the past. When I was with Benched Gaming/Reason Gaming and we recruited K0u, a fairly unheard of young player known for only playing Lee Sin I will admit I was a little worried. I may have been mistaken. K0u is quite possibly the best mechanical jungler in the European amateur scene, possessing unreal abilities that have been praised by many LCS players, as he's been seen as a duo queue partner of choice for Alex Ich and Wickd in the past. Originally only threatening on Lee Sin/Elise, K0u has expanded his champion pool to include the popular picks of the current times, as well his favorites - Lee Sin, Elise and Evelynn.

The Mid Lane - Febiven

Febiven, formerly known as Fabiantje, is another solo queue superstar on the EUW server. Having hit the #1 spot on numerous occasions, febiven is known for causing many high elo mid laners to coil in fear at his mechanical ability, especially on his main, Riven. Still favouring the assassin champions, such as Ahri and Zed, Febiven has quickly been able to master the most effective champions in the current meta. Just don't leave Riven open...for your own good. As far as competitive history, this will be Febivens first real shot in the spotlight, having appeared for a few minor teams in his past, C9 EU, like many others of this team, is his first team that looks like it could be a #1 (amateur at least)

The Bot Lane - Hjarnan + Voidle

Hjarnan and Voidle make up the duo lane of C9 EU. Starting with the more well known member of the duo, Voidle has come to light ever since his 'substitute' performance for Gambit Gaming during the latter half of the LCS Summer split, and the season 3 world finals. Considered by many to have choked under the pressure at the world finals, I for one believe he did reasonably well considering the circumstances, and the calibre of teams Gambit were up against. Whilst before possibly lacking in champion pool, he has now transitioned to inlcude the very effective all in champions Thresh and Leona, while maintaining his skill on the more traditional supports.

Hjarnan is another fairly new face on the European LoL scene, competing under the name 'Infinity', he was briefly the AD Carry for Team property, which included 2 LAN trips to Dreamhack Winter and Dreamhack Bucharest, both time losing out to H2k, the team now known as KMT/Roccat. Although not known by the majority of Esports fans, Hjarnan is known by all in EUW solo queue. Favouring Ezreal with a 66% winrate, Hjarnan is solid on a number of AD champions, including a 35/7 ratio (83% winrate) with Ashe!

  • Voidle has a smurf in Challenger that is just his nickname backwards 'Eldiov'
  • K0u was once targeted by a DDOS attack, whilst duo queuing with Alex ich on stream to try and help Alex to Challenger on the day of ladder lock
  • 'Odoamne' translates into " Oh my god " in Romanian
  • 'Hjarnanbakomallt ' translates into ' The mastermind behind it all ' in Swedish. ( according to google translate! )
  • The team is from 5 different countries, as listed below -
          Odoamne - Romania
          K0u - Norway
          Febiven - The Netherlands
          Hjarnan - Sweden
          Voidle - Estonia

Cloud 9 Europe will be participating in the CokeZero play-in Bo1s, where they are placed in a group with Atrox Gaming, Tiki Kurie Tiki, and Heavy Botlane. Despite a challenge from Heavy Botlane, myself and most others believe that C9EU should take this group with relative ease.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

EU - Amateur teams to watch

Hey everyone, keeping this post fairly short and informal as it is a huge opinion piece and I'm currently writing another article at the same time. I've been spectating the EUW challenger ladder and speaking to several players that are tangled up in the race for 1 of the illustrious top 10 spots for CokeZero League qualification, and I've decided to finally weigh in with my thoughts on 3 teams that I find interesting. Note - Only talking ladder teams, NOT any of the 3 that already have spots (SHC, MYM and NiP)

Apples Is Sour

Apples Is Sour is most likely a team you've never heard of before, even some/most of the players are relatively unknown, so how come they are my highest rated team going into the CokeZero qualification?

Simple really, they are currently sat on 43 wins, and 5 losses in the EUW ranked 5 ladder, beating a variety of top class amateur teams, including Ocelotes new startup. On top of this, 3/5 of these players are currently top 10 in challenger solo queue, 4/5 are top 15, and the one that isn't in challenger, is a former Gambit Gaming support player. We all remember Voidle from the Summer split and his role as the short term replacement for EDward, after he left for Curse Gaming.

Having worked with K0u and Febiven before it is crystal clear to me that these 2 are mechanical gods. K0u is appraised highly by Alex Ich himself, probably because K0u follows a very similar playstyle to Diamondprox himself, very assassin style champions with an emphasis on Lee Sin/Eve/Elise. While Febiven possesses a large champion pool aswell, it is worth noting his favourite champion is Riven in that mid lane.

As for the bottom lane, Voidle and the player who's name I will shorten to Hjarn, I can't say too much as Hjarn is a player I have never seen before in a competitive match. What I will say is that they, like the rest of the team, have been dominating various other duo lanes in EUW challenger, including the Freeze/Dioud combo on Gamers2 YO.

My prediction for this team is to finish 1st on the ladder, win qualification to the CokeZero tournament, most likely finish in the top 3, and earn a spot into the LCS qualifiers. Provided they don't change the roster.

Gamers2 YO
Gracias Merci (Ocelote)

I'm sure most of you have heard the rumours about Ocelote forming a new team to challenge in the amateur scene, and head for LCS promotions. For a while Gamers2 (the original team) were struggling not only to get results, but also to get Chaox into the region. When he had visa troubles, time was running short, and there was a complete change of the bot lane, with Dioud and Samux coming in. For the last couple of days however, Gamers2 have been running with Freeze/Dioud in the bottom lane, suggesting that Samux has been benched, or was a temporary addition to the roster.

1 thing to note about this team...Every player except Jwaow has played in the LCS. Even Jwaow is considered 1 of the best top laners in Europe, as shown by his involvement in the alleged 'super team' that was planned to go ahead. Dioud played with aAa during the LCS Spring split, Morden for the GIANTS in the same Spring split, and of course Freeze for NiP and Ocelote for SK Gaming.

At first I wasn't sure about this team. Ocelote had/has been on the decline as a top player, and when Gamers2 started they were losing to some not so great teams. However it seems the tides my have turned for Ocelote and the gang, as they have risen to 5th (at the time of writing) in the challenger ranked 5s league. The roster if packed with experience, I especially believe Jwaow to be a very strong top laner. I think Gamers2 YO will have no problems qualifying for the CokeZero league, and with the backing I believe they will have, I suspect to see them challenging for the LCS promotion spots.

Heavy Botlane
Swaglord Hiiva

My dark horse of the CokeZero league is Heavy Botlane. A team not known to many, and once again the players themselves may be unknown to most. Heavy Botlane have been slowly climbing the ranks in the 5s ladder and have managed to sneak into the top 10 as of right now. despite a slightly rough start, they now boast an impressive 65/24 record, which includes wins against the reformed rosters of STO and Supa Hot Crew xD.

In the solo lanes they have Cabochard and Istari, both very solid players with a decent sized champion pool. Not quite Faker level play...but not exactly bad either, both are capable of making plays, and both are just now starting to be feared by other teams in challenger. 

I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about jungler Vimar. What I do know is that you have to be at least pretty good to reach D1 97 points (at the time of writing), and that this guy LOVES his Jarvan... in solo queue at least. Side note here, it's been pointed out to me that they are trialing our multiple junglers for the time being. Finally we get to the bottom lane, the lane I actually first hand know something about! Nardeus is one of my favourite players ever. Simply because when I was manager of his old team, he didn't complain about anything...ever! It was great, but I digress. Nardeus and Hiiva have been beating a lot of well known duos, including Migxa/MrRallez, Kujaa/Yuuki, and Freeze/Dioud.

As my underdogs of the amateur scene, I think Heavy Botlane will claim a CokeZero qualifying spot, and with a bit more work, could even look to take one of the 3 LCS promotions spots in a few months.

Thanks for reading everyone. There may be some grammar mistakes, this isn't a formal article just a quick write up of 3 teams I expect to do well in the amateur EU scene this split. Thanks!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The EU (and some NA) amateur scene

I assume very little of you who are reading this actually know who I am, if you do, great! If not, let me take a moment to explain.

My name is Josh 'Howspiffing' raven, still not ringing any bells? I didn't think so. I've been around in the EU amateur scene for a little while now. Starting around a year ago when I managed the Myrevenge LoL team, after which I moved on to become the manager of Benched Gaming, we joined the organization 'Reason' shortly after I joined as manager.

I joined them in early June of this year, and just 3 months later the team has disbanded. Obviously I am pretty sad that this has happened, but it is the reasons of the disband that have saddened me more than the actual disband. You may think it was personal issues, performance issues, or something along those lines, but you'd be wrong. The reason ( see what I did there? ) that Reason Gaming disbanded was due to the fact that amateur League of Legends just doesn't cover the costs of real life.

2 very talented players have had to postpone or possibly completely cancel their dreams of becoming professional LoL players, because they simply don't earn enough money from playing in the amateur leagues. Don't get me wrong, there are some tournaments that are working to increase the prize money involved in the EU amateur scene. KaosTV ( EUW challenger series ), Insomnia, Dreamhack, and assuming IEM as usual. I was lucky enough to attend Insomnia49 myself, where the prize pool was £10k, the team also attended Dreamhack, which boasted the same prize pool. Insomnia we came 2nd, taking home £2.5k, whereas at Dreamhack we lost in round 1 to Copenhagen Wolves, meaning no prize money.

However this does make me think. In North America there is a tournament known as the 'MCS'. An online season for North American amateur teams that pays out an astonishing $10,000 prize pool, with $5.5k going to the winners. This online event gives the same prize pool as the 2 biggest European LoL amateur LANs of the last year. On top of this, they are also able to participate in the GgLA online invitational which pays out $1,000 each week. EU do have a similar tournament, run by KaosTV, known as the EUW Challenger Series. However this only pays out 400 per week, which begs the question...why is NA getting so much more in terms of prize money? On top of this we have the issue of viewership. I decided to approach the manager of TCM Gaming, Julien 'Ruliooz' François, and ask what he thought about these issues, here is what he told me.

"The main problem with amateur scene is there is no viewership anymore due to LCS. The schedule to organize tournaments is a problem too, and people don’t really like to watch matches during the week anymore, they get used to LCS format, and watching it is enough for them. 
I don’t really see any way to improve the amateur scene, Riot have to add a LCS B League or add more slots in the current LCS format." ( Not native English speaker, don't go criticizing the grammar )

I have to say I agree in a way that the LCS has been a blessing and a curse in terms of LoL Esports. On the 1 hand, we have a weekly competition where the top 8 teams of EU and NA are paid to perform at their finest. This also means that no one really cares about the amateur scene anymore. Who wants to watch 2 amateur teams contesting for a few hundred or MAYBE a few thousand pounds/dollars/euros when you can watch the top 8 teams face off for 50,000 in their own region, and a shot at 1 million in the world finals.

So what is the solution? As Ruliooz stated, it seems to me that Riot should look to invest in 1 of 2 options. Either increasing the amount of teams currently participating in the LCS, or creating some sort of B league with lesser prize money, and games played online rather than in studio...Aside from finals/playoffs of course.

Anyway most of this article might seem like it was just rambling. I haven't been writing recently and I intend to continue so the quality of writing should only improve from here. Big thanks to Ruliooz for giving an input into the issue, and if you guys have any feedback/noted any errors, don't hesitate to let me know!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Reason Gaming LoL - Insomnia 49 and the departure of K0u.

I'll start this post of nicely, with some good news. The 49th installment of the Insomnia LAN in Telford, UK took place over the last weekend. Reason gaming came in with a force of teams spanning 4 different games, and the LoL team was determined to to perform to the maximum of our potential. In a rather succesful yet cruel ending, all 4 reason Gaming teams ended up in the grand finals on the main stage, only to finish 2nd place. Yes, all 4 teams came 2nd. 

The first day of the event was riddled with internet issues, which resulted in us only playing 2 games in the whole 12 hours we were at the venue. Seeing as a lot of other things were going on, this wasn't too bad. It was also clear to see that the admins were trying their best to fix the problems

Roll on day 2, this was where things got done, and lots of games happened. We ended the group stage 8-0 and awaited seeding for the RO32. After quickly dispatching of the first team we found ourselves in the RO16 vs LowLandLions, a game in which we expected to win, not with ease, but without too many issues. It seemed that we underestimated LLL, as they took the series right down to the wire, where Reason eventually came out as victors. 

The quarter finals started soon after. A BO3 vs Dignitas UK, a team considered the best in the UK, a team that we respected, and yet a team that we expected to beat. The pattern of underestimating teams proved to be our downfall. In game 1 we took a healthy lead, including a 3-0 fight at 30 mins+ in the baron pit, however a terrible call to baserace Dig UK left us 0-1 down in the series. After that our team spirit was broken and we lost the set 0-2, sending us down into the loser bracket.

Day 3 was the final day of the event. To win, we would have to win 3 BO3's and a BO5. Our first game was against our old friends LowLandLions. The series was once again very close, with Reason coming out as eventual winners, sending us through to the losers bracket semi final vs Animate eSports.

Animate are a well respected UK organization, however the team they sent out had only had a couple of weeks practice before the event. Considering the circumstances they played very well actually, despite the 2-0 score in Reasons favour. I'd like to give a shout out to Animate support play 'B0lt' who was particularly friendly, and very gracious in defeat.

The final of the losers bracket meant that the winner would go on to face Millenium. After our 2-0 loss the previous day, we were determined to get some payback vs Dig UK. It seemed that their loss to Millenium in the upper bracket had taken the wind out of them, while our successful winning streak in the lower bracket meant that the mentality, and the momentum was with us. In game 1 we targeted Dig UK jungler 'Impaler', where we shut down his Aatrox by killing him 3 times in the first 10 minutes. While in game 2, every lane seemed to win and our teamfight came out on top. So Reason Gaming had made it to their 4th final of the weekend!

Due to advancing from the losers bracket, Millenium started with a 1-0 advantage. Yet as we waited backstage for the introduction of the teams, our camp was brimming with confidence and excitement ( despite it being 1AM ). Game 1 was extremely close, with the game edging towards the 40 minute mark, both teams were playing at their best, however 1 bad engagement from Reason meant that Millenium were able to take a lead and eventually win the game, taking them 2-0 in the series. Game 3 started at around 2 AM, with Millenium holding a 2-0 lead, and our players having been playing non stop since 10AM, it seemed as though the energy had run out. Even so, another close game followed, however it was clear to see that Millenium had better focus, and better execution. The game ended around the 40 minute mark once again, meaning Millenium were the winners of Insomnia 49.

Despite losing in the final, the players, myself, and the Reason ownership are happy with the result.

Onto some not so pleasant news. As it has been made public, the Reason Gaming jungler 'K0u' has left the team. We were informed of his desire to leave around a week before Insomnia, and to give credit where its due, K0u showed up and tried his best for the event. As can be expected, there were some minor teamplay issues due to this, but for the most part, both K0u and the rest of the team remained professional thoughout the event. Myself and the players would like to with K0u the best with his new team.

In terms of replacing K0u, we have some players in mind which we will be talking to in the coming days. We hope to have a roster capable of participating in DreamHack Bucharest. With only a couple of weeks practice with whoever our new jungler may be, DreamHack may not be our most successful event, but we'll give it our best.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Had to postpone LCS previews

I got asked to write something for Denial Esports ( former Doublebuff ), and seeing as LCS begins in a few days I might not be able to do any more. Might try to get a Cloud9 one done if I find the time this weekend.