With the regular season rounding out, Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser spoke with “Kingslayer” Team ROCCAT head coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohman and casters Andrew “Vedius” Day and James “Stress” O’Leary about how the major games will shake out.
GrabbZ, Vedius, and Stress all gave their predictions of Fnatic/G2 Esports, H2K Gaming/Unicorns of Love, and next week’s European League of Legends Championship Series promotional tournament.
Kelsey Moser: Pretty long and exhausting day of games. More upsets than we could have expected or hoped for. Do you think it has to do with these teams having nothing to lose or G2 and Fnatic coming in a little unprepared?
Andrew “Vedius” Day: I think an aspect of it was a lack of preparation. My understanding was that NiP and ROCCAT hadn’t been practicing that much recently. Their goal was just “we’re safe” and NiP were preparing for the Promotion Tournament, but they just came into this week with “We’ll just do our best,” right? “We’ll just play and see how things go, and hope for the best.” And they performed extremely well.
I think a part of it was ROCCAT and NiP were over-performing and seeming to have rectified a lot of their issues kind of randomly. And G2-Fnatic were not really prepared because when you go up against a team that has been playing the same way for a really long time, you kind of — I guess — fall into habit, and part of me feels like they just really underestimated — they weren’t expecting what they were able to bring out.
Pridestalker had a really good game. I was not expecting HeaQ to play that well. I think they just got caught completely off-guard.
James “Stress” O’Leary: I think it’s hard to pin it down onto lack of preparation from top teams. I think always, when you have the likes of a Fnatic-G2 matchup later on in the week, historically, teams will prepare a little bit more. But I think, in this one, I think we’ve seen out of Fnatic and G2 before that there is a bit of hubris when it comes to facing off against the likes of ROCCAT, the likes of NiP, where they assume they’re already going to win.
G2, speaking to Joey, he said that they had already anticipated being in quarterfinals, which I believe — but not fully. I think any team that still has that opportunity is still likely to be playing for it, and I think that’s where ROCCAT get a lot of respect from me on because they played very well. ROCCAT actually beat G2 when G2 were trying, and that’s impressive. I don’t know whether that was about preparation on G2’s side of things.
For Fnatic, even before the series, they tweeted that “Hey, we don’t want to pick troll picks, but we’re going to try some things that are a little different,” and I think that that’s an excuse for Game 1. That’s not an excuse for Game 2 in the series. And I think, looking at Game 2, again, you have got to give credit to NiP for actually playing well around HeaQ, and this was one of those standout performances for HeaQ where a lot of people don’t think he’s done too much in the split, and finally he comes up with a series against Fnatic and showed the strength of the Tristana and the Kalista.
I don’t know if it’s preparation as such, but I definitely think it’s underestimating their opponents at the wrong time.
KM: Looking forward to the rest of the week, even though G2 and Fnatic won’t determine playoff seeding, it’s still a pretty exciting matchup. Do you have any predictions for this best-of-three?
Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann: Comparing both teams, I think Fnatic relies a bit more on moments of individual brilliance whereas G2 seems to have a better read on how the game should be played on a fundamental level. Therefore I think G2 has higher chances the longer the series goes. Everything can happen in teamfight meta, but assuming both teams go all out I predict a 2-1 for G2.
AD: I did, but after today’s performance, I’m not entirely sure. I think that, right now, G2 are more likely to win it than Fnatic are — purely because I think that they have — their weaknesses were like an underperformance from Trick. He had a really bad day, and I think that he can fix that through other means.
Whereas, I think that Fnatic, they’re still experimenting with things. They’re still trying stuff out. I feel like, even in Game 2, I said a lot in the cast that these are comfort picks, but at the same time, they drafted a little bit risky in the sense that they drafted no engage, so I think that they were experimenting with different things and different styles because they realized that their pool is still a little limited to what it can do, and if they play meta, that’s something that G2’s been doing for a really long time.
And given the recent performances of G2, if you play meta and standard and scaling into G2, usually in Europe they’re always going to be the better team. So if they both play meta, and they both play standard, I still expect G2 to perform, assuming Trick doesn’t have a bad day.
Probably 2-1 to G2. I definitely expect three games, usually just because G2 kind of sucks in Game 1 and stuff.
JO: I don’t think we’re going to get the fiesta everyone is expecting when it comes to — I know there’s a lot of talk about the Yasuo pick that Fnatic and G2 have been talking about. I don’t think we’re going to get that. I think we’re actually going to get a competitive series. Both teams are unlikely to be happy with the loss yesterday, so they’re likely to come out and, again, speaking to YoungBuck between the games on the analyst desk, he’s very focused about how much this match actually means, to still prove that G2 are better than Fnatic, and I think that’s why we’re still going to get a competitive series.
I actually think G2 will take it 2-1. And the reason is, I think G2 showed yesterday in Game 2 of the series against ROCCAT that they still have the ability to adapt within a series. I myself still don’t know how much extra depth Fnatic has and whether G2 can play around that. I don’t say that to take it away from Fnatic. I’m now interested to see, if G2 can adapt in Game 2, can Fnatic re-adapt? That’s the one thing that they haven’t been challenged on this split so much.
Can I quantify that? Within a series. They showed us that after Rift Rivals in changing their playstyle.
And then, of course, there’s been a little less spotlight on UoL vs H2K even though it could potentially have more impact on playoff seeding. Do you have any predictions for that as well?
FL: Continuing the thought of [the G2 and FNC series], I think H2K has a way better grasp of how pressure/tempo works in League and therefore has an advantage. Every team drafting for team fights also makes it harder for UOL to execute their strengths. UOL has always a chance to turn tables surprisingly, but I think H2K will take it 2-0.
AD: I think that that will arguably be more exciting than the G2 vs Fnatic one, purely because last week we saw a completely different UoL where we saw a major focus on macro and utilising the win conditions of their comp, and not trying to force fights with a composition that’s not designed to do it. Really good vision control, good play through the individual laners. If they can maintain that style, I have really high hopes for the Unicorns of Love.
But H2K have always been high in terms of my expectations, and then they never meet them. Because they have really good understanding of how to play the game. If you speak to any of the players, they’re extremely smart. They understand their champions really well. But something just happens to them, and they get affected by it, and when they need to perform, they don’t.
So consistency is something I’m looking for from both teams, and that’s why I think it’s more exciting because I think there’s a very clear expectation of what you’re going to get in that game. And it’s very much that both teams will try their very best to replay the performance that they’ve had in their last few weeks. And if they can’t, the other team will just destroy them, which is why I think it’s a really good series to end the split on.
I do not have a score prediction. I’m also casting that series, so I don’t want to predict it (laughs).
JO: I think H2K is gonna win that series. Every time I say that, Unicorns win, so it’s always the difficult task. I think H2K have shirked a lot of problems that they have had before, and we’re in a meta where there’s a lot of different ways of teamfighting, and teamfighting is a little bit easier than it has been before, so I think — for H2K — this is possibly the best time to have a matchup vs Unicorns.
Unicorns don’t have the strength of “Oh we’ll just team fight, and we’ll win” because H2K can either just play a disengage composition where we’ve seen a lot of Janna, we’ve seen a lot of Gragas, or they just take one of those faceroll mid lane comps and fight the Unicorns. Theoretically, I think H2K should be able to get a lead in the early game and then play the fights out the way they want them to be able to control the series.
I hesitantly would say H2K 2-0, but it’s the Unicorns, and you can never tell.
KM: If you have been paying attention to EU CS, would you mind predicting promotion next week?
FL: It’s very hard to predict as both LCS teams are on the upswing and there is a lack of direct comparison. I think we will see many competitive games for sure. Equal chances for everyone.
AD: So I watched the playoffs between Schalke and RB and Giants and Wind and Rain. Giants look really good. The only thing that concerns me a little bit is that early game, they seem like a slow team, even against a team that was below them. I expected them to be a little more proactive and a little bit more dominating. But, as I say that, all their games were super quick, so once they had a lead, they knew very effectively what to do with it.
For Schalke, I think that they’re a little bit more flexible in terms of how they draft. They seem a little bit more well-rounded, but because they’re more well-rounded and they have more diversity in play style, that means there are weaknesses that can be exposed. The thing that excites me a lot is that both teams have former LCS players on them. Memento and Gilius, I think there’s a few others — along with a lot of new talent as well. Jiizuke is someone, for example, that was in Challenger — I want to say last split or the split before — that was super talented, but his attitude and his ability to work with a team is what held him back. The fact that he’s been able to rectify that, and now he’s looking to join the LCS, is really exciting. I would highly recommend people watch him because he’s super, super good.
In terms of prediction, I actually think Mysterious Monkeys are worse off than NiP are based off of today’s performance, but I don’t know if that consistency will hold through. If anything, I think it will be — I think Giants and NiP are more likely to be in the LCS next year.
JO: I had a lot of predictions on this before yesterday’s games, but it kind of got turned on their head with watching NiP. I think the Challenger Series was interesting because we had the RB-Schalke series, which showed us that Schalke’s early game isn’t fantastic when they’re not — and, to be fair, they didn’t draft for it. I think that would be a mistake to do against the likes of NiP and MM. If Schalke take the same drafts, they might not make it into the LCS.
I think NiP, after yesterday, I can’t say will fall definitely out of the LCS. If you can beat Fnatic regardless of when and where it is, I think NiP actually made a strong case for themselves staying in, and after yesterday, I think seem like the more likely team to stay in than MM. I don’t know where to place Giants because Wind and Rain didn’t really show up, and I think that was a very disappointing series overall.
So I think, if I had to pick, I would actually say NiP and MM stay in the LCS. It depends on the draw, though. MM actually get to pick their opponents, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick Giants and try and avoid Schalke because they look like the stronger team — at least when you look at how competitive that series was.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games