Rough Drafts “Guess the Lines” podcast: EU LCS Week 1 (with power rankings)

The time has arrived. After weeks of anticipation, the moment European fans have all been waiting for has finally arrived. While most regions had their top teams maintain the course as the spring split’s weaker teams scrambled to catch up, the European League of Legends Championship Series decided that no team was too sacred. Every roster made changes between splits, ranging from the G2-Origen bot lane shuffle that makes their rivalry even more tantalizing, to two Korean imports who formerly called themselves Moon, one of which is now responsible for the greatest Twitter account in the European scene. Truly, everything old has been made new and exciting again.

One could say the same about the Rough Drafts Podcast. A new split has brought new beginnings to the Guess the Lines show that Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar have been doing for nearly two years. The premise is simple: two friends break down each matchup for the upcoming week and attempt to pick who will win and by how much they are favored in the casinos by their plus/minus score. Whoever is closest to the correct answer gets a point: most points wins the week, most weeks wins the split, and the winner of the split gets bragging rights and the ability to change the loser’s social media pictures. The two are incredibly excited by their new partnership with Slingshot and what lies ahead for what should be an incredible summer split.

Here is the first episode of the Rough Drafts Guess the Lines Podcast, breaking down the opening week of the EU LCS, as well as the most interesting futures bets available on Unikrn. They’ve also included their predictions for the upcoming split for those of you who love that kind of thing.

It’s finally time! In the first episode of the Guess the Lines Podcast presented by Slingshot eSports for the 2016 EU LCS Summer Split, Chase “RedShirtKing” and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk take the time to welcome their new audience and explain how the plus/minus system works. They delve into each match-up for the opening week, including the intense grudge match between Origen and G2, whether ROCCAT can make a big statement in Week 1, and why Giants Gaming has been thrown to the proverbial wolves. They close with their smart money recommendations and a quick look at the futures bets currently available on Unikrn.

Time Stamps:

0:00: Introduction

2:40: How “Guess the Lines” Works

5:50: Origen v. G2 Esports Preview

12:20: H2k v. Team ROCCAT Preview

16:40: Schalke04 v. Unicorns of Love Preview

22:25: Splyce v. Team Vitality Preview

27:55: Fnatic v. Giants Gaming Preview

32:25: Splyce v. Team ROCCAT Preview

36:15: Unicorns of Love v. Origen Preview

40:00: Giants Gaming v. G2 Esports Preview

43:50: Team Vitality v. Fnatic Preview

49:05: H2k Gaming v. Schalke04 Preview

52:25: Smart Money Bets

55:45: Futures Bets

58:40: Closing

Special thanks go out to Christine Frapech for the new logo for the podcast and Michael Fedczuk for the new intro song. They both put in a ton of effort to make an end result that we’re incredibly excited about, and we hope you enjoy the new look as much as we do.

Go to www.unikrn.com today to bet alongside all your favorite eSports matches for the chance to win awesome prizes.

Walter’s Picks:

1. G2 Esports

Vacation memes aside, the European champions upgraded their bot lane with the addition of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy”  Aguirre Rodriguez to go alongside spring MVP Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and Rookie of the Split Luka “Perkz” Perković. Adding Europe’s best bot lane duo only makes it more dangerous.

2. H2k-Gaming

Despite his namesake, the addition of AD Carry Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek should warm the chemistry of this roster. Freeze has shown his ability to dominate the laning phase with lesser supports than Oskar “Vander” Bogdan, while the rest of the roster boasts the talent to contend with the best Europe has to offer. Look for jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski to bounce back after a rocky spring playoff run.

3. Fnatic

Much like Clark Kent, Fnatic — and ADC Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, in particular — shine under the presence of a yellow star. Support Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim’s return to Fnatic was one of the offseason’s worst-kept secrets, but the move should help ease the shot-calling duties of the squad’s star players. We’ve seen what happened the last time Rekkles and Yellowstar reunited, but can lightning strike twice?

4. Origen

I personally can’t wait to watch the potential sparks fly on the reality show that will become Origen. Combining the personalities of Paul “Soaz” Boyer, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider and Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou could be one of the most explosive lineups on and off the rift. Their talent can match even the best Europe has to offer, but if things start to go south, which viper tongue lashes first.

5. Team Vitality

A disappointing finish in the spring playoffs created much-needed roster changes for Team Vitality. The core of Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm and Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet is a formidable pair of solo laners, while support Raymond “kaSing” Tsang is always in contention as one of Europe’s best. The addition of jungler Kim “Mightybear” Min-su has added some much-needed pizazz to Vitality’s social media game, but if he can’t make a similar impact of the rift, the team’s heartbeat might quickly fade.

6. Team ROCCAT

It wasn’t enough for ROCCAT to boost one of Europe’s most improved players of the spring split in Felix “Betsy” Edling, so they went out and signed Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi. The addition of two Challenger-level Korean players in Lee “Parang” Sang-won and Oh “Raise” Ji-hwan with improved jungler Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia shows similar promise to last split’s lineup, but if the late game shot-calling hasn’t improved, similar results could follow.

7. FC Schalke 04

The investment of German Bundesliga soccer team FC Schalke 04 has brought not only money but the consistent approach of a tenured sports franchise. The former Elements roster followed a similar path in the spring by leaning on Etienne “Steve” Michels and Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm, pillars of consistency. The constant mid-table finishes might be something longtime Schalke fans are used to, but will esports fans truly appreciate the long con?

8. Unicorns of Love

Last split, the Unicorns defied expectations by picking previously underperforming players and getting the most out of them. This split, fans would love for them to pull of the same miracle, but the talent ceiling of this summer’s players doesn’t quite match that of the departed. At the core of the argument, top laner Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss and support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov’s influence on the roster remains, yet even with all that happened, the roster only finished in sixth place. Did they actually do anything to dramatically improve?

9. Splyce

Splyce was one of my dark horses in the spring split, and unfortunately that didn’t quite pan out. The shock of playing in the LCS hampered the growth of ADC Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and ultimately led the the replacement of support Nicolai “Nisbeth” Nisbeth for Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. Mid laner Chres “Sencux” Laursen showed glimpses of the talented mid laner who styled in the Challenger scene. The real question is whether head coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi can actually grow talent or if he’s just another pretty face for Riot’s caster desk.

10. Giants Gaming

Gone are the Spanish giants of old and in comes a ragtag group of players that leaves much to be desired. The shining light may come from the jungle and mid lane duo of  Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian and Na “Night” Gun-woo. If the two can create any sort of synergy they may be able to steal some games from lower tier teams and make a run to avoid relegations. Or not.

Chase’s Picks:

1. G2 Esports

The reigning champs deserve the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise in most situations, and G2 managed to hammer that point home by going out and grabbing arguably the best bot lane in the EU LCS. While the inner WWE fan in me loves this move for the sheer heel move this must feel like to Origen fans, the analyst in me is just excited to see the MVP of last split and the previous two Rookies of the Split all on a roster with a great innovative mind in the top lane and the best engage support in Europe. This team will be a must-watch every time they hit the Rift, and I can’t wait to see just how far they can go.

2. Fnatic

Fnatic somehow found a way to make a more exciting homecoming than the new Spider-Man movie poised to come out next year. In a match that seems stupidly obvious in retrospect (and, honestly, was pretty obvious at the time to those who did a better job holding off on the Team SoloMid super team hype train than we did), YellOwStaR has come back to Fnatic to help secure its rightful place atop the European standings. While I don’t think they quite get there, this team is going to be a terrifying threat to watch now that Febiven and Rekkles won’t have to carry out any shot-calling duties.

3. H2k-Gaming

Don’t call it a comeback. Freeze did very well for himself on Renegades last split, putting up incredible numbers despite being on a team that was otherwise a bit of a mess. When he ends up putting himself in the conversation of “best EU ADCs” within the first couple of weeks, no one should be surprised. There’s a lot of potential at play for this team, but to win a title, it’ll have to shake off the playoff demons that have haunted Jankos and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu throughout their careers. This may very well be their best chance to do so.

4. Origen

This is as high as I’ll put Origen until FORG1VEN proves he can actually win a playoff series. I have no doubt that the regular season will go incredibly well, as Origen’s bot lane dominance should be nearly impossible for most teams to match, and the Origen system has proven itself to find ways to win games even when veterans like sOAZ are struggling. But we don’t do predictions for just the regular season, and I can’t in good conscience pick Origen to do better than fourth given the personality clash that will inevitably befall this team.

5. Team Vitality

Woop, woop! It’s the sound of the Police…nearly dropping this team down even further in my standings than I’d originally thought. It’s certainly not the team’s fault that Hjarnan reportedly asked for a break this split, nor can they be blamed for wanting to replace an inconsistent Shook with an actual live bear (if his twitter account is to be believed) — a bold strategy to say the least. That still leaves Vitality with two big questions marks that the teams above it simply don’t have. The core of this team is still incredibly talented, but time will tell if that is enough to get deep into the playoffs given the quality of the other teams.

6. Team ROCCAT

As a hardcore fan of the team since it first beat the Ninjas in Pyjamas to enter the EU LCS back in 2014, I really wanted to put ROCCAT higher on my list. But it turns out this is as high as you can put a team that still has Airwaks on the starting roster. I love what Steeelback was able to accomplish last split on a tumultuous UOL roster, and Parang and Raise both have a ton of upside after their time in the Korean Challenger scene. Still, they’ll need time to carve out a team identity that doesn’t involve giving me heart attacks every time the team tries to make a play after the 15-minute mark. In Betsy we trust.

7. Unicorns of Love

I’m slightly higher on this team than my co-host. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming levels of optimism I see across the UOL subreddit, or perhaps it’s the lingering memories I have of Move being the best jungler in North America for a brief period of time. Regardless, Unicorns of Love has a system that uses aggression to keep enemies on their toes and grab wins that you wouldn’t expect. Sadly, I don’t have much faith in Exileh or Veritas being the next great young talent, but there’s just enough optimism here for me to see the potential upside with the roster and make them the Mendoza line for this split’s playoff spots.

8. FC Schalke 04

The seventh best team in Europe last split made a significant upgrade to Fox in the mid lane and still managed to drop in my predictions for the upcoming split. Some will point out that I’ve always managed to underestimate the roster formerly known as Elements when doing these power rankings. I’ll point out that going from a bad to middle-of-the-road mid laner in a region packed with talent at the position isn’t all that relevant when one of the teams below you last split got significantly better. Schalke will do enough to retain its spot for what one can’t help but expect will be a big push in 2017, but don’t expect much more than that.

9. Splyce

I find Splyce to be the most boring team on this list, but “boring” does not meant “worst”. What makes them a lower-tier roster has nothing to do with its stubborn refusal to play through Sencux in the mid lane or the insistence on winning games by making fewer mistakes than their opponents (rather than going for more aggressive paths to victory). No, it’s the lack of carry potential in Kobbe and an over-reliance on the inconsistent Wunder that leads them to the ninth place spot on my list.

10. Giants Gaming

Every rose has its thorn, every night has it’s dawn, and every region has one team that looks destined to remain a bottom dweller for the foreseeable future. Okay, maybe that last bit doesn’t quite fit the rhythm, but Giants doesn’t quite fit my expectations for what a European LCS team should look like, so I suppose it’s only fair. Thrown together as a combination of former Challenger talent no one wanted, a top laner that wasn’t good enough to keep his spot on the North American LCS last place finisher, and a mid laner whose upside means very little in a region already crawling with talent at the position, this team looks poised for another disaster of a split unless NiGHT is secretly a savant capable of single-handedly saving this team. Let’s say I don’t have my hopes up.

Photos courtesy of Riot Games.

Chase "RedShirtKing" Wassenar is a free agent League of Legends head coach/analyst and the co-host of the Rough Drafts Podcast.

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