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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' Fran├žois, 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.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

NA LCS Summer Split Preview - Team SoloMid

Side note - I won't be posting these daily anymore, I will try to release one every 2/3 days

Moving on to part 2 of this series of articles, I move on to the current North American LCS champions, TSM. With no changes to name, it's going to be same old TSM from the last split. Nevertheless, let's take a look at what will be the keys of success for them in the upcoming split.

TSM ended the Spring split with 1st place in the ladder, and after the play-offs. It may have been a little harder than expected, but TSM came out on top in the finals vs GGU ( Now Team Coast ). Their roster at the end of the season, and their current roster remains the same :

Dyrus - Top
TheOddone - Jungle
Reginald - Mid
WildTurtle - ADC
Xpecial - Support

Here's the part where I explain what has changed for TSM over the course of the break, but nothing really changed. Well, maybe something.

The only benefit I can think of that TSM gained from the break is Dyrus and Xpecial's experience in China for the All-Stars. North America put up a brave performance during the All-Star tournament, playing well in both games against China, defeating the favourited Europeans, and then being schooled by Korea. Dyrus did relatively well, one of the more consistent members of the NA All-Star team, not performing amazingly, but not doing badly either. It is however Xpecial I wish to focus this section on. Xpecial played phenomenally during the All-Star tournament, him and Doublelift where the shining hopes in a side plagued with inconsistency. One must only look at how NAs bot lane fared up against the others. It was a rare sight to see XpeciaLift get thoroughly beaten in lane. Hopefully Xpecial can take this experience, build on it, and consolidate his spot as the best support in North America, and one of the best in the world.

How each member contributes to TSMs success

Dyrus - The best thing about Dyrus is how consistent he is. He rarely goes on tilt and always plays to LCS champion standards, occasionally even better. This is why enemy bans are almost always focused on him, if Dyrus get's one of his comfortable picks ( Malphite, rumble, Shen, etc ) it is very unlikely he is going to lose to the opponent top laner, even if a lane swap is enforced. With bans and constant ganks headed his way, he draws pressure away from the rest of the team, whilst still generally winning/tying his lane and using his teamfight awareness to swing it in TSMs favour. For Dyrus to contribute to TSMs success he simply needs to continue doing what he is doing. I struggle to find an area in which Dyrus struggles in. He used to be very susceptible to early pressure and would often give up early deaths, however since then he has improved drastically in minimizing his losses while the enemy camp him and attempt to dive.

TheOddone -  Ahh what to say about my favourite jungler in all of League of Legends. Well, not anything new really. TheOddone initially struggled to adapt to the carry jungler, having to relinquish his beloved maokai. Since then however he has transitioned perfectly into the current state of the game, dominating on champions like Nasus and Jarvan IV. Not quite carrying but doing more than supporting. His Nasus and J4 games total 11 played, with 11 wins, not something to ignore. For Oddone to continue to be a key factor in TSMs success, he has to continue adapting to whatever the meta throws at the junglers. The jungle seems to be the role that changes the most, and as long as Oddone can keep ahead of the curve, he will continue to strive a sturdy member of TSM.

Reginald - As owner and captain of TSM, reginald has taken on a sort of Dark Knight role in TSM. I refer you to the quote " He is the hero TSM deserves right now, but not the one it needs " ( Swapped TSM for Gotham ). Regi does a fantastic job of playing very well, yet taking every piece of criticism TSM ever receives. he does have a habit of making 1 or 2 glaringly obvious mistakes during the big games, but aside from these mistakes ( that usually lead to nothing ) he wins his lane more often than not. On top of this, he is the main shotcaller for TSM, and is regarded by most of the North American LCS players as one of the best shot callers/Captains in the game. Reginald could work on trying to minimize the errors he makes, generally they consist of bad TF ults or whiffed skill shots, but by minimizing these tiny mistakes he may be able to finally win some fans so he can stop taking flak for very little reason. Aside from this, Reginald is a solid leader, and one that TSM is very lucky to have.

WildTurtle - Remember when Chaox left? and everyone thought the same thing ' Gah, there's no way WildTurtle will ever be nearly as good! Chaox was the best, and Regi is a tyrant! '. Hell, even I thought that, until he played his first week in the LCS that is. WT has been a breath of fresh air for TSM. Before his arrival they were stagnant, performing below average and sitting in 3rd/4th of the LCS standing, after him, TSM went 12/2. An outstanding record, which led them to the top of the LCS. the worry now however is that the initial shock factor of WT has worn off, people have figured out how he plays and how to counter his hyper aggressive style. I believe that TSM have too many threats to pin down WT. For every ban thrown at him, it opens up another champion for Dyrus, or Reginald, this is where TSM shine above other teams. It is simply impossible to ban out 2/3 players, whereas Chaox would not command any bans and simply be a member of the late game team fight, WT brings early game domination.

Xpecial - So I'll elaborate on my thoughts of Xpecial from earlier on in the article. it was made obvious at the All-Star event that Xpecial/Doublelift was probably the best bot lane partnership in America. I strongly believe that Xpecial/WildTurtle is the best bot lane partnership of an LCS team, and that they are only going to grow stronger. Xpecial is a veteran of the game, it is known that his game knowledge allows for him to play any role he wants with almost guaranteed success to a certain degree. If you really watch Xpecial alone when TSM play, it is rare you will see him make a mistake. It is the supports job to carry the AD Carry into the late game, and Xpecial does that to the highest standard.

So how will they do?

It is mine, any many others opinion that TSM will continue to dominate the North American LCS during the Summer split. The real question is whether or not TSM can challenge at an international level. If they continue to improve at the rate they are, the gap will close, there's no doubt about that. I do however feel that Regi needs to swallow his pride, and bring in an analyst for TSM. Dan Dinh is already transitioning into a sort of manager role, with Dan as manager and someone else on board to analyze opponents/Scrims, I think TSM will have a chance at competing with the best in the world.

Pros -

  • All members are consistent performers
  • reginald is an amazing leader/shotcaller
  • WildTurtle growing into a leading AD Carry

Cons -
  • Lack of coach/analyst
  • Difficulty performing internationally

Thanks for giving this a read, and remember...

"Baylife bro, dude baylife, bro, dude, bro, baylife" - Reginald

Wise words.

@Howspiffing



Monday, 3 June 2013

NA LCS Summer Split preview - Counter Logic Gaming

I thought I'd start off with the most changed team in the North American LCS. Quite the break that CLG have had, with retirements, benchings, old players returning and players switching roles. Let's take a look at how CLG may fare in the Summer split of the LCS.

At the end of the Spring LCS split, CLG were sat in 4th position, after defeating Azure Cats to retain their place in the LCS. their roster looked like this :

HotshotGG - Top
Chauster - Jungle
Link - Mid
Doublelift - ADC
Aphromoo - Support

And just a few short weeks later, one of the most influential characters in Esports has left his post as the starting top laner and captain of the oldest League of Legends organization, while others have joined, and some have changed places. The roster going into the Summer split looks like this :

Nientonsoh - Top
Bigfatlp - Jungle
Link - Mid
Doublelift - ADC
Chauster - Support

Only 2 positions in the CLG starting lineup have the same players, and even stranger, all 3 new members will be playing in a different position than they played last season. Arguably the 2 most consistent players, Doublelift and Link keep their spots, while HotshotGG and Aphromoo depart. On top of this, Chauster has relinquished his position as Jungler, and will return to the bottom lane to revive the former ChausterLift partnership. The final changes on the CLG roster are the controversial additions of Nientonsoh as the starting top lane, and the re-addition of Bigfatlp. So let's take a look at how these changes will affect CLG.

The departures of HotshotGG and Aphromoo

I think I speak for most Esports fans when i say that HotshotGG will be missed as a professional player. he is one of the pioneers of League of Legends as an Esport. As the founder and owner of CLG, he is stepping down to focus on the business side of things. Although he will be missed, one must believe that Hotshot knows what he is doing, and took a long time to deliberate his decision to step down.

The other player who has decided to leave CLG is Aphromoo. Towards the end of the Spring season, Aphromoo seemed to be finally getting into the groove of support after a shaky start of season. It has come to light that Aphromoo was offered the chance to play in the top lane, and despite spending weeks practising the role, he decided his heart wasn't in it. As a final kindness he was offered a spot as support, which he also declined. It would've been interesting to see how far he could've developed as a support player, as he was definitely improving as the weeks went on.

In my opinion, I believe CLG have lost 2 fairly average players, but 2 amazing personalities. Neither Hotshot not Aphromoo were the best at their roles in the region, not to say there were the worst mind you. The switch of Chauster to support more than justifies the departure of Aphromoo in my eyes. Whilst we will still have to wait and see how Nientonsoh can fare in the top lane after replacing Hotshot.

Arrival of Bigfatlp and Nientonsoh

The king is back! Well, the king of cats anyway. Yes that's right, Bigfatlp is back as a starter on CLG after spending most of the season attempting ( unsuccessfully ) to guide his own amateur team into the LCS. Azure Cats, with jiji at the reins were halted at the final corner by none other than CLG themselves. Despite being a predominantly mid lane player, jiji will now be the starting Jungler. Many players and personalities have gone on record to say that Jiji will do just fine in the jungle, as his game knowledge and skill will allow for him to quickly adapt, I'm not too sure, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

I was a part of oRbit Gaming since they picked up their 2nd roster ( the one with Nien ). So I will always remember him as the farm king. He was a great AD carry, with great mechanics and he would almost certainly out cs his lane opponent every game. For me, seeing Nien in the midlane was surprising enough, seeing him playing top still leaves me asking why. After thinking about it I've come to the conclusion that Nien is an extremely good player, with immense game knowledge and sound mechanics. So although I'd rather see him in the AD carry role, I have no doubts that if given time, he will become a great top laner.

The survivors.

Doublelift, Link and Chauster all retained their starter status on CLG, not all of them kept the same role though...

Chauster has moved back into his natural support role after an unsuccessful stint in the jungle. I think most people will agree that this is a good move for CLG. Chauster didn't exactly set the LCS alight with his jungle play, and fans of the team will rejoice when the ChausterLift duo picks up where they left off.

As for Doublelift and Link, there's nothing much to say. Together they were by far the outstanding members of CLG during the Spring split, and hopefully they will keep up their good form as they are vital to the success of CLG. Ever since Link has joined CLG, they seem to have been moving slowly away from their standard ' protect Doublelift ' strategy, and with the addition or Nientonsoh in the top lane, it looks like CLG could end up having 3 threats, instead of a few months ago, where they would only ever have 1.

How will they do?

Obviously, when a team goes through a roster change this drastic, it's going to be extremely difficult to gauge how they are going to perform. The only information I have to go on at this point are a few scrims CLG streamed vs velocity, and while CLG won the majority of them, it wasn't as easy as they probably hoped.

For now, I have 2 theories on how the Summer split is going to go for CLG.

1. The roster will work and mesh. CLGs bot lane will be untested, bar maybe to that of Xpecial/Wildturtle, Link will continue to grow in the mid lane, Nientonsoh will become the 3rd threat for CLG and bigfatlp will figure out the jungle. If all that happens, CLG will be contenders for the LCS crown and a good performance at worlds.

2. The new roster doesn't work, at all. CLG will still have an immensely strong bot lane, I do not doubt the ChausterLift. Link plays as he does now, pretty good, but not the best in the LCS, Nientonsoh doesn't adapt well to the top lane and bigfatlp fails in the jungle

As we saw last season, CLGs bot lane cannot carry the team alone. For them to succeed, they need Link and Nientonsoh to become threats to alleviate the pressure on Doublelift to carry the game. I believe it's possible that CLG have a winning team, but it relies on a lot of factors.

Thanks for reading =) -> @Howspiffing


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Hiatus

Taking a hiatus from writing on this blog as I'm in talks with writing for a new website/community. Also just bought Heart of the Swarm so spending some decent time on that. Will be writing and more soon most likely for a new website, but even if that doesn't work out I'll stay active. Most likely see some new activity in a week or 2, depending on other people. I'm ready to roll.

Until then, follow me for my bitesize analysis on All-Stars, WCS, and any other League/Stacraft news. I'll also be attending Gfinity LAN in London in July which should be cool, check it out here - www.Gfinity.net

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

League of Legends All-Star Matchups : Top Lane

So I decided to switch over to blogspot because people told me it was easier to use. If you are new to my blog, or just don't recognize the name, I was the writer on www.midorAFK.wordpress.com. I have also written for oRbit Gaming, Monomaniac Esports and Leaguepedia.

On the 24th May, 5 teams comprised of the best players of each region will clash at the All-Star tournament in Shanghai. Riot put the power in the hands of the fans and you all voted en masse for your all-stars of each position. In this series, I will take a look at each of the lane matchups, compare the styles/champions/stats of each top laner to give you guys as much information as possible.

So let's take it from the top...literally.

The top lane position was by and large the closest position in regards to fan votes. In North America, TSM Dyrus and Crs Voyboy were pretty much dead even, right up until TSM defeated Curse in an LCS match. After that win by TSM, the votes started to swing in Dyrus's favour, eventually landing him the All-Star spot by 10%.

Europe was quite possibly the closest region of all when it came down to the top lane. EG Wickd and Fnc sOAz were tied right down to the 0.01, This led to a top lane BO5 1v1 between the 2 to decide who would take the spot. sOAz was able to come out on top winning 3-2 and pulling out the famous AP Nunu top.

In the south east of Asia, top laner for the world champions, Taipei Assassins Stanley absolutely swept the voting, comfortable leading the entire time. Other Asian regions were not so clear cut however. In Korea, fan favourite Maknoon was leading the voting right up until the very final hours until CJ Entus Frost top laner Shy was able to overtake him and claim the spot. Finally, in China, Invictus Gaming top laner Pdd took the All-Star spot.


North America

Let's start off with probably the most well known top laner on that list. Of course I am referring to TSM Dyrus. Quite possibly one of the most popular players in the competitive League of Legends scene, It'll be interesting to see how he can perform vs the Asian top laners. In particular, it will be interesting if North America were to meet Korea at some stage in the tournament. As some of you may remember at worlds, Shy was able to destroy Dyrus in the top lane, thanks to some phenomenal Singed play.

Dyrus key champions include :

Renekton - 7/8 winrate and 6.2 KDA 
Rumble - 3/6 winrate and 3 KDA
Shen - 4/5 winrate and 6.1 KDA




As far as Dyrus's playstyle goes, it's fairly well known that he is more than happy to sit back and farm his lane, get a slight lead over his opponent, and then wreck face in the teamfight phase.  Team NA play vs China in the first round, I expect Dyrus will be heavily relied on to survive the lane phase to ensure a transition into the mid/late game. The beauty of the All-Star game is that every member of the team is a threat, therefore it is less likely that Dyrus will be target banned or jungle camped like he is in most LCS matches. The downside of this, is that if Dyrus is target banned and forced onto a weaker pick, he will struggle against the aggressive style of Asian teams. They key for Dyrus to win in the top lane is to soak up all the pressure that gets thrown at him, and then show off his amazing team fight play and positioning. It is the nature of the North American team that they may end up having an extremely strong teamfight. Both Dyrus and DoubleLift are always good in the late game if they aren't bullied out in the early. 


Europe

Next up on the list, is the European now famous for destroying low elo solo queue by demonstrating AP Nunu solo top during his live streamed all-star 1v1 vs Wickd. I am referring to the Fnatic top laner sOAz!. Much like his NA counterpart, sOAz tops the top lane stats ( see what I did there? ). Sitting comfortably at the top of the KDA charts, his strength comes from his extremely varied champion pool. His top 3 champions played in the LCS, are 3 completely different styles ( Shen, Elise, Kha zix ) proving that he has the ability to mould his playstyle into anything the team requires.

sOAz key champions include :

Shen - 3/5 winrate and 6.6 KDA
Elise - 4/4 winrate and 4 KDA
Kha Zix - 1/3 winrate and 2.2 KDA



There is a real problem with pinpointing sOAz's top lane playstyle...he doesn't have a particular style. This could of course work in a good and bad way for the European all-star team. While it makes it nearly impossible to ban sOAz out, it also means that while he is good at playing aggressive or defensive, he is not the best. If he tries to go aggressive vs Shy in round 1, he will have an extremely tough time outplaying him. Whereas if he plays passive, he may struggle to have a large impact in the late game. sOAz is a bit of a wildcard here, but I think if he's on his game, he can match the attacking style of Asian top laners. If sOAz can keep his cool and not go too H.A.M he could be the surprise key to a European victory.


China

Moving across the world to the home team now, let's take a look at how Team China top laner Pdd will fare. Similar to a few other players in the all-star tournament, Pdd qualified because of the rule allowing only 3 players from 1 team to attend. Many casual fans may not recognize the name, despite iG defeating both CLG and SK Gaming at worlds. Since then iG have gone on to win StarsWars season 2 ( similar to the LCS but involving multiple Asian teams ) which includes defeating World Elite 3-2 in the grand finals. certainly no easy feat, iG were always the 2nd team in China up until very recently, where they now challenge World Elite as the number 1. There's no doubt that Pdd's incredible top lane play has been a key factor.

Pdd key champions include : ( struggled to find actual figures here, but looking through recent matches I gathered his most played )

Renekton
Jarvan IV
Zac

Pdd is known for unpredictable champion pool and style. He often plays champions that are good for both laning phase and the mid/late game. The problem with Pdd is that if he is allowed the freedom to control the early game, he will completely dominate the late game! I expect some target bans and/or a laneswap against Team China to try and keep Pdd down. In game 1 he will find himself up against TSM, I expect a laneswap here and unless China decide to counter the swap and force a 1v1, DoubleLift and Xpecial will try to bully Pdd as much as possible in the lane phase.

South East Asia

When you're the top laner for a team that wins the regional competition 27-1, you're going to be a large contender for the all-star vote. That is exactly what Stanley and the Azubu taipei Assassins have done. Almost every fan of Esports no matter how hardcore or casual has almost definitely heard of the Taipei Assassins. The reigning world champions had been on exquisite form, and of course top laner Stanley had a huge contribution to that. Recently they've had an ever so slight downturn, but it's still clear to see they are one of the best teams in the world. 

Stanleys key champions include :

Shen
Rumble
Nidalee


The difficulty when playing against Stanley, is that it is quite possible he will pull out any of the 112 champions. For example, in his last 10 games with TPA, he has played ; Nunu, Rumble, Jayce, Kha Zix, Gragas, Renekton, Zac and Elise. South East Asia get a bye in the first round as reigning world champions, in round 2 they will face either North America or China. I feel like a Stanley vs Pdd match would result in a crazy weird 1v1 with unconventional champions and crazy aggressive play styles. Whereas if Stanley ends up against Dyrus, they may just let Dyrus soak up the pressure and play passive right into the mid/late game. Bottom line? Stanley is a freaking beast.



Korea

The Korean top lane all-star vote went down to the very last minutes. For a long time, fan favourite Maknoon was in the lead. After Shy was able to claw it back and make the votes tied, he then finally took and held the lead on the final day. This might be down to Maknoon and his lack of social media awareness shall we say. I'll just go ahead and link you To this reddit thread . The Korean voters seemed to find it disrespectful. The good news however is that Shy is also an amazing top lane player, and I know of 1 particular hawaiian top laner that might be out for some revenge.

Shy key champions include :

Jayce
Rumble
Singed




It's worth noting that for the last spot on that champion list I could've easily put Elise instead of Singed, as Shy seems to be leaning towards the former more often, but no one can deny that Shy is an absolute god on Singed. Ever since Shy dominated Dyrus at the season 2 world championships, he has been regarded as one of the most skilled top laners in the world. Shy currently sits at 6th place in the OGN MVP standing with 300 points. In terms of playstyle, look for Shy to go aggressive on his lane opponent, while ensuring that he remains comfortably ahead in farm to make for a cushy mid/late game. He just loves drawing attention to the top lane and either dominating his lane opponent or forcing the jungler to camp him and alleviate pressure elsewhere. In game 1 Korea play against Europe, and I honestly expect Shy to beat sOAz unless the latter is on a good day, or the former is on a particularly bad day. Depending on the strategies and the strength of the rest of the Korean all-star team, I expect some target bans and possibly a lane swap vs Shy.


Thanks for reading everyone! You can find me on twitter @Howspiffing , I tend to tweet about either League of Legends or Starcraft 2. If you find a spelling, grammar, or factual mistake PLEASE do not hesitate to let me know. I have an issue when it comes to checking my own work where I always miss out the small mistakes I've made. =)