One of the biggest surprises of the League of Legends Championship Series through four weeks came when European club Unicorns of Love lost legendary jungler, Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov because of visa issues for likely the remainder of the spring split — if not further. UOL looked like a top team, and having a new jungler was going to a be a huge change.
“From now on I’m not allowed to play LCS in regions I’m not work eligible in,” Diamondproxposted on Facebook. “German government doesn’t recognize playing LCS as some kind of job they’d give working visa for, so until it changes I can’t be a part of EU LCS.”
After Charly “Djoko” Guillard substituted in Week 3, UOL looked for a permanent replacement.. UOL looked at over 140 profiles and selected Rudy “Rudy” Beltran, a relative unknown whose most recognized feature was introducing himself in games by saying “Hi it’s Rudy” in chat. After his first two games, it looks like the move has paid off.
Rudy showed no stage nerves whatsoever, constantly invading the enemy jungler, and out-playing him constantly. There is a big leap from being a solo queue player to entering a central role on an LCS team. The lane swap meta is complicated, and teams spend weeks trying to master it. Rudy seemed to have no problem at all.
Team ROCCAT was UOL’s first opponent with Rudy on Thursday, and he was met with a challenge early in the game. ROCCAT lane swapped and sent its support to invade UOL’s red side jungle. There, Rudy and teammate Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás fended off the opposition, not losing any significant experience. The game went even for a while, but eventually UOL would push ahead around the 8-minute mark, taking control of ROCCAT’s red side jungle.
Later, at 12:20, Rudy would force both summoner spells from ROCCAT’s AD carry, Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert. He continued to take red side jungle monsters, securing the gold advantage over the enemy jungler for the rest of the game. With the enemy jungler constantly preoccupied with securing his own jungle, UOL initiated a siege on mid tower, eventually winning a team fight, destroying two mid towers and essentially making the game-winning play.
Similar confident plays were made by Rudy the next day against Team Vitality. After the lane swap, Rudy took out the enemy blue side jungle, making a great counter gank helping his top laner survive what would have been a lethal gank. Later on, Rudy predicted the enemy jungler to pass on its blue buff to the mid laner. As it happened, Rudy invades the enemy red jungle, stealing red and attempting a gank on the opposing top laner. While the gank was unsuccessful for Rudy, the play led to the enemy top laner having low HP, allowing UOL’s Mid laner, Hampus “Fox” Myhre, to clean up, making a great 2-v-1 outplay for a double kill.
Confidence is the key factor in Rudy’s play. It seems to be a natural trait, as he is known for starting every solo queue game with typing in all chat, “Hi it’s Rudy.” Before UOL, Rudy was a high-ranking streamer known for locking in jungle no matter the pick order. It seems to have paid off, as he rolls into Week 5 with a 11.5 KDA in the European LCS.
Speaking of rookies…
Team Liquid’s new support, Matt “Matt” Elento, and jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, are stepping up. After a rough first couple weeks, Team Liquid made some roster moves and has adopted players from its extremely successful Challenger Series team, Team Liquid Academy. Dardoch is The NA prodigy, with his own manager, Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet, claiming Dardoch will win an MVP award before Dardoch had even played a game in the LCS . Dardoch starred for Team Liquid Academy, which was exceptionally good for a Challenger team, and before that put together possibly the most insane solo queue Lee Sin play I’ve ever seen.
In season three, Cloud 9 was the last team coming from North America to be an actual contender on the world stage, led by star jungler, William “Meteos” Hartman. Might Team Liquid be next?
Although Dardoch is supporting impressive stats, he is not the best player in the LCS.
Right now, that’s easily Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin. Immortals is undefeated, and there is an obvious reason for this: the top and jungle duo from last year’s undefeated European champions, Reignover and Seong “Huni” Hoon Heo. These guys are world class players, and it has been evident in their play so far.
Meta still needs work
North America is interesting, as the “ARAM” (All Random All Mid is a popular game type for casual players) style of play isn’t happening. In other regions, most of the time there are lane swaps that result in both outer turrets in top and bottom lane going down. Then eventually the top laners try and split push, while the other team members dance around in mid lane, trying to take the turret for an extended amount of time, resulting in a ARAM style of game.
What sets NA apart is that most of the games are decided by small mechanical outplays and team fights. The team fights are long and drawn out and result in some sort of mechanical outplay. Looking at any game this week will reveal how prevalent team fights are. The game state right now needs to change.
The reason that most games in NA are like this is because the skill gap is the largest from any other region. Teams like Counter Logic Gaming, Immortals, and Team Liquid have vastly superior players from the lower teams. They’re able to initiate team fights they know they’ll win. The overall team skill is much tighter in Europe, hence the more prevalent “ARAM” style of play. It’s problematic because towers are paper and fall way too easily.
Games are decided with one team fight, and early team fighting is discouraged. Lane dominance is also heavily encouraged. Scaling carries like Jinx and Vayne are never picked, and the overall strategy is universally the same: create good siege compositions and win lane. It not only is boring for the spectator, but frustrating as the player, when losing a single team fight costs you the entire game.
Dragon is basically nonexistent, and Rift Herald is only taken when there is nothing else to do. There have been some drastic changes to the game this season, and a few tweaks would restore the balance that has made past splits so exciting.