With the European League Championship Series quarterfinals — finally — over and done, four teams have punched their tickets for Kraków, while two of the region’s “giants” look toward the regional qualifiers for one last chance at a worlds berth. The figurative giant Fnatic and literal one Giants Gaming collapsed under the pressure of substantial strategic play shifts and their own narratives. For Fnatic, the departure of its head coach and analyst hampered the squad’s ability to accurately adapt to the standard laning format. The decision to continually place jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon on low-CC ranged champions Nidalee and Graves will continually haunt my dreams and must be corrected before the regional qualifiers. As for Giants, no one expected them to make it this far, and their surprise third place regular season finish had as much to do with the underperformance of regional staples as it did with Giants’ improvement.
The first semifinal match pits Splyce against H2K, and despite the delayed opening round series, H2K was able to successfully acquire tickets to Poland’s premiere vacation hotspot. The key matchup will lie in whether the return of the “First Blood King,” H2K jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, will match it’s Academy Award winning namesake or if Splyce’s Jonas “Trashy” Andersen can ride alongside his fellows and hold fast inside the deep before striking back at the perfect moment. (Two Towers is better. Every trilogy’s second movie is its peak). Trashy tends to play within himself and his team, focusing his attention on CC team fight and vision-oriented junglers, while Jankos’ champion depth and early game aggression has been inconsistent until his masterful series against Fnatic. Each jungler maintains his signature style and uses his teammates to help accent it, and in the end didn’t we all want to see Rohan and Gondor duke it out?
In case the Lord of the Rings metaphor wasn’t obvious, let me make it a bit clearer: G2 is Mordor and Carlos “SaurOcelote” Rodríguez is on the hunt for the one World’s spot stolen by Prince Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez. With his army of League of Legends playing Nazgûl, the Dark Lord of “Really Awesome Trash Talk Videos” has claimed his prize and now looks to blanket Europe in the darkness of his rule. But before he can challenge the armies of Man he must first deal with who many, including myself, have written off as a little nuisance (yes that’s a short joke). Our potential, if diminutive in metaphor alone, savior hobbit roles have been casted to the Unicorns of Love. The plucky band of misfits defied the odds capitalizing on the downfall European staples and felled Giants Gaming to earn the right to enter the black gate. With the shriek of fell beasts and the ever present gaze of Ocelote, can our plucky hobbits play spoiler, or will they perish in the fires of Mt Doom?
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Guess the Lines Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk face the “glorious” success of FORG1VEN and the frustrating downfall of Fnatic. Together, they explore whether H2K’s growth is enough to stand up to Splyce’s recent rise, how the magic of Unicorns of Love manifested itself into a victory of Giants Gaming, and why none of that is likely to matter against the powerhouse that is G2. They close with their new segment, “Stats with Steve,” with Steve Caffmeyer from eSportsfanz, who helps them get a handle on their smart money bets.
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