With just two week left until the “hopefully” merciful end of the best-of-two experiment, the European League Championship Series has slogged its way into the home stretch. The Mid-Season Invitational sins of G2 Esports have faded as G2 quickly established itself as Europe’s top team and hasn’t looked back since. This week’s pod focuses primarily on the five teams — H2k, Giants, Unicorns of Love, Schalke 04, and Team Vitality — fighting for the middle of the pack seedings used to determine who enters the playoffs, who drops into relegation, and the sole team that just goes on vacation.
Fnatic and Splyce on the other hand open up Week 8 in firm playoff standing and meet to duke it out over an automatic bye courtesy of a top-two seed. Splyce has gradually built upon its tenuous spring split and the growth of the four returning members has been staggering. AD Carry Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup has been the prime example, rewarding the team’s faith in him with a breakout season akin to former Unicorns of Love ADC Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi’s spring. Kobbe has flourished on Caitlyn and the newly transitioned Ashe/Jihn meta.
Fnatic, on the other hand, continues to transition newly-acquired top laner Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek into the starting lineup. Kikis’ natural instincts when it comes to placement and timing of teleports have given Fnatic a wrinkle missing from the playbook since the days of Paul “sOAZ” Boyer. With an ever present finger on his “F” key, (yes I checked) Kikis’ watchful eye should provide valuable for jungle Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon’s aggression and support Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim’s propensity for getting caught out.
On the outside looking in are Origen (four points out of the playoffs) and Team ROCCAT (nine points out of the playoffs). ROCCAT’s fall from preseason grace has yet to reach its sudden stop as the replacement of jungler Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia has yet to bear any fruit. Imports Lee “Parang” Sang-won and Oh “Raise” Ji-hwan have failed to live up to expectations, and much to my podcast partner Chase’s chagrin — or perhaps feigned relief — seem destined for a date with Challenger Series runner up Millenium.
Origen also made changes leading into Week 7, replacing Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez at ADC with relative newcomer Augustas “Toaster” Ruplys. The change comes nearly three weeks too late to make an relative impact on Origen’s playoff chances, but it’s better late than never as their three point relegation-safe deficit is not insurmountable. Organizational issues have reportedly led to the departure of nearly all the organization’s staff and a poorly translated challenging of those “volunteers” claims read like a drunken frat boy. Origen may yet be able to save its season and make use of its spring circuit points in the European Gauntlet, but expectations have been squashed for the 2015 Worlds Semi-finalist.
On today’s episode of the Guess the Lines Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk play a rousing games of everyone’s favorite game show, “Who is Actually the Fourth Best Team in Europe?” After breaking down each of this split’s lovely contestants, the two argue over whether raw talent or veteran experience will pay off come playoff time, why ROCCAT fans should start getting the burial plot ready to go, and the irreversible stain that has now marked Origen as an organization. They close with their smart money bets of the week.
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