As the halfway point of the League of Legends Championship Series spring split approaches, it’s an appropriate time to ponder our preseason predictions. How did Elements and Team Impulse win a game? (Editor’s note: Walter has spent plenty of hours and rambling emails trying to answer that question). Why are both of Europe’s 2015 world semifinalists struggling? Did we underestimate Immortals and G2? And seriously, how did Team Impulse win a game?!?!
Unfortunately, the real questions, like who would win in a hypothetical game that will probably never happen, have gone unanswered. But fear not, because I’ve decided to revive the “Battle of the Atlantic” to add a little flavor to the middle of this spring split.
The Battle of the Atlantic was a preseason tournament Riot Games made in Season 3 for the top five North American and European teams. The tournament was a friendly competition playing off the “animosity” between the two regions. North America won based off a points system Riot used, even though Europe won three of the five matches (because Riot). The tournament was a cute occurrence that was discontinued after one year.
This will replace Week 4 power rankings, but the matchups have been determined based on my ranks in each region. As always, the “results” are based off of my views of the teams’ play and how they would interact with one another.
And one last time: HOW DID TEAM IMPULSE AND ELEMENTS WIN A GAME?
(Stats courtesy or Oracle’s Elixir
Giants Gaming (0-8) vs Echo Fox (1-7)
The first match is a lukewarm bite to prepare our palates for the smorgasbord of games ahead. It pits last summer’s European darlings, Giants Gaming, against NBA legend Rick Fox’s Echo Fox. The two teams have had a tumultuous spring amassing a lone win among them.
Giants’ biggest story has been the abrupt downswing of mid laner Isaac “xPePii” Flores. The once promising star has turned into one of the worst team fighting mid laners in the LCS. PePii was praised last summer for his ability to use long range poke mages to chip away at opponents, but Giants’ picks in the mid lane have limited poke, effectively neutering its star. AD carry Adrián “Adryh” Pérez has picked up some of the slack, dealing more damage and using his meta-perfect champion pool to his advantage.
Echo Fox, on the other hand, has been hit hardest by “Visageddon,” losing star mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Korean top lane prospect Park “Kfo” Jeong-hun. In their place has been Colin “Solo” Earnest and Greyson “Goldenglue” Glimer, members of the Challenger Series team Ember, and Echo Fox has gone as far as playing the entire Ember lineup sans jungler Jaun “Contractz” Garcia in Week 4 against Team Dignitas. Starting AD carry Yuri “Keith” Jew has been the lone bright spot as the Challenger subs have had trouble adapting to the LCS stage.
How Giants Win: xPePii is finally given poke style champions like Corki, and Adryh’s limited champion pool is protected by the numerous power picks Echo Fox is forced to ban.
How Echo Fox Wins: Ember Fox is able to successfully merge together and exploit Giants’ weak solo lanes.
Results: Echo Fox wins the series 3-1. Giants’ refusal to place xPePii on poke champions will allow Echo Fox to create multi-AD carry compositions which pull champions from Adryh. Corki will be a priority ban and Giants jungler Joachim “betongJocke” Rasmussen may get a chance to catch Echo Fox off guard, but Keith is the most consistent team fighter on either squad.
Team ROCCAT (1-7) vs Renegades (1-7)
In a matchup of early game aggression, this has an equal chance of being the quickest or longest series of the tournament.
ROCCAT has continued to be one of the best early game teams in Europe, but its lack of mid-to-late game macro strategy has turned multiple leads into heart-breaking losses. Mid laner Felix “Betsy” Edling and jungler Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia have put pressure on opponents through lane and invade control. Betsy has out-farmed and out-traded most mid laners helping build ROCCAT’s early leads, while Airwaks’ invades and counter ganks have led to early objective and jungle camp control.
Renegades has played primarily through its AD carries, primarily Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek, through early roam squads. The departure of support Maria “Remi” Creveling has limited the three-person gank squad Renegades used early in the year, but jungler Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo has used his vision to create opportunities for skirmishes. Visa issues hampered Freeze’s integration to the team, but he’s already shown the type of player he is a few times.
How ROCCAT wins: Blitz Renegades in the early game while getting Betsy and top laner Simon “fredy122” Payne strong enough to establish a 1-3-1 split push.
How Renegades wins: Mid laner Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin can control Betsy in the mid lane and limit his roaming while Crumbz’s vision control creates opportunities for Renegades to collapse on mis-positioned ROCCAT members.
Results: ROCCAT takes an up and down series 3-2. Freeze and Alex Ich have their individual stand out performances to win a few games but ROCCAT’s early advantages hold as Renegades, the worst mid-to-late game team in North America, is unable to capitalize on ROCCAT’s late game deficiencies.
Splyce (2-6) vs Team Dignitas (3-5)
Tournaments like this lead to weird matchups. Splyce vs. Team Dignitas might just be the oddest. Both teams have had momentary brilliance dulled by mostly mediocre performances.
Splyce relies solely on star mid laner Chres “Sencux” Laursen and its ability to play around him. His 88.3 percent kill participation and 33.1 percent damage share are among the highest in Europe, though his laning metrics are among the worst for mid laners. The remainder of the team is below-average LCS players, and their limited experience pigeonholes Splyce into simple team compositions and macro strategies.
Where Splyce relies on its star, Dignitas prefers a more free-flowing dynamic, distributing resources to all three of it laners while jungler Thomas “Kirei” Yuen and support Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen dictate the game plan. Kirei has had an up-and-down rookie split, though his early control allows his weak laners the time to gradually catch up in experience, either through extended laning phases or multiple ganks.
How Splyce wins: Sencux is able to kill Dignitas mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le multiple times in lane, while Dignitas’ weak lanes are unable to take advantage of Splyce’s inexperience.
How Dignitas wins: Kirei is able to abuse Splyce’s limited warding, and veterans Shiphtur and AD carry Apollo “Apollo” Price are able to turn minor laning leads into multi-item and level advantages.
Results: Dignitas is clearly the more experienced team, and while it might not have a superstar like Sencux, its team cohesion should be more than enough for the young Danes. Dignitas wins 3-1.
Elements (3-5) vs Team Impulse (3-5)
The consensus worst teams in preseason projections, Elements and Team Impulse, have surprised analysts and fans alike. Elements’ success has been a function of snowballing off of mid-game team fights, and Impulse has relied on teleport flanks and early jungle control.
Elements has relied on former ROCCAT teammates Etienne “Steve” Michels and Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm to carry its team fights. One of Elements’ largest weaknesses has been its limited laning phase, but the team fights that Elements picks are typically five-man dives on two or three opponents. Steve and MrRalleZ have excelled after gaining massive amounts of gold and experience off of these team fights, using them to draw even with their lane matchups. Mr RalleZ has long been regarded as a safe, well-positioned, team fight-oriented AD carry, excelling on champions like Corki and Kalista, the latter earning him MVP honors during Week 2.
Impulse has suffered from a hodgepodge roster of substitutes before finally unleashing its full starting five in Week 4. Since arriving in the U.S. for Week 2, jungler Kim “Procxin” Se-young has flexed his muscles as an aggressive early game jungler, invading and ganking with purpose. His sometimes reckless invasions have opened up the map, drawing pressure away from mid laner Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik, allowing the competitive rookie space to farm in 1-v-1 situations.
How Elements wins: The early-season strategy of mid game multi-man tower dives and MrRalleZ’s smart team fight positioning allows Elements to exploit Impulse’s over-aggression and inconsistent team fighting. Jungler Berk “Gilius” Demir’s low-economy style is able to withstand numerous invades from Procxin and Steve is able to actually win a lane.
How Team Impulse wins: Procxin runs away with the early game, allowing his laners to amass a lead before the first major objective team fight. Impulse are able to constantly force Steve to teleport to top lane to counter slow pushes and the passive laners of Elements are unable to catch up.
Results: Team Impulse is definitely on the rise after playing NRG Esports tough in Week 4. Elements has shown its early-season success against weaker competition was unsustainable once the skill level of the opponents rose. Team Impulse sweeps 3-0.
Origen (4-4) vs Team Liquid (4-4)
With a 3-1 lead going into the end of opening weekend, North America trots out the new-look Team Liquid against the fourth place finisher in last year’s world championships. The two teams had rough starts to the season, and as Liquid has used roster changes to turn its season around, Origen’s inconsistencies have been harder to fix.
With the rest of his team regressing, Origen AD carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen has continued to build upon his Rookie of the Year success. The unlikely star made a name for himself amid the legacy and star power of his teammates Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martinez and has continued to grow. His 35.4 percent damage share and 27.8 percent gold share are the second and third highest in the world and shows a team reliance that places him in the same sentence as Cj Entus’ Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun and SK Telecom T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in Korea.
Team Liquid is similar, as rookie jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett has stood out among its stars, Kim “Fenix” Jae-hoon and Season 3 world champion Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. Dardoch has impressed since his first game and statistically has turned into one of the three best junglers in North America. His confident play has given Liquid the flexibility to shift into scaling siege and kite style compositions, relying on Dardoch to provide enough pressure earlier in the game to protect Fenix and Piglet as the scale.
How Origen wins: The early-season funk Zven’s teammates have shown disappears on the international stage, and sOAZ in particular returns to his IEM San Jose form. Zven continues to be the primary focus, and Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider is able to contain Team Liquid’s rambunctious rookie.
How Team Liquid wins: Dardoch is able to get into Amazing and sOAZ’s head allowing Samson “Lourlo” Jackson to beef up and provide the front line tank the Liquid carries need. The peel and kite composition is able to drag Origen’s front line away from Zven, leaving him exposed to danger from Dardoch and Fenix.
Results: A back and forth series sees massive games from sOAZ, Zven, Piglet, and Dardoch and in the end, the veteran Origen is able to capitalize on minor positioning mistakes by Liquid’s trio of rookies. Origen wins 3-2 and closes North America’s lead to one match.
Come back tomorrow to see which region wins the proverbial trophy for hypothetical regional superiority.
All photos courtesy of Riot Games.