EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 8 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

August 10th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

ESports Betting: A revolution in competitive computer gaming

Long gone are the days when Friends would converge via Local Area Networks (LAN) to play video games late at night. It is because the eSports industry has undergone rapid changes that today, apart from being a fully fledged network of professional gamblers making real money online, it is valued more than 900 million dollars. We can only expect these figures to keep soaring and that more games are set to debut on wager platforms.

The game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive became the first known skin betting in the early years of the computer gaming revolution. However, others like CS:GO have changed the narrative with more valuable skins (making it possible for players to change the look of their weapons) coming into the picture in August 2013. But today, when information of all sorts is available to almost anyone, those who wish to get started on eSports betting Canada dont have to struggle to find a foothold in a fantasy world of high-octane gaming.

Winner: Splyce, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Skins betting: A facelift to eSports

Skins are now popular in other games such as Dota2. Players who win skins can trade them for real money on eSports platforms. League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Smite, Starcraft and other games have equally picked momentum, and in the process, pushing betting on real money to a new high. The rising popularity of these sports is hard to ignore with most, if not all, making it to the mainstream gambling arena. The same way bettors have been waging on sports like basketball, baseball, soccer and hockey, they can now put real money in eSports gaming outcomes like CS:GO tournaments and events on bookies websites.

Winner: Misfits, 1.20 (odds @ Betway)

When it comes to choosing a good sportsbook, it is important to take into consideration, the following factors:

  • Reputation of a betting site. Some sites have a bad name for one reason or the other and waging on such sportsbooks may never count for anything because of the shoddy way in which it is done. Thus, players must do their research well before settling on the best gambling site.
  • Ease of access to funds and security features. You should also make sure to wager on sportsbooks that provide quick deposits and withdrawal of funds. Sites that want to hold on bettors’ money for as long as they please are not worth the risk.
  • Availability of games. Of course, you have to choose a platform that has in its array of games, many eSports tournaments. It helps you spread risks while also having fun at it.
  • Types of betting markets and odds. While different bookies provide varying odd lines and that prevailing circumstances can influence the market value of an event, variations across sites should not be so huge that it raises suspicion.

Some of the best sportsbooks include:

  • Bet365, which is not only the largest platform in the world but also ideal for players looking for lucrative odds and many markets.
  • Betway provides a wide array of betting markets. ESports games on this platform include Dota2, CS:G0, League of Legends, Heroes of The Storm, Hearthstone and World of Tanks.
  • Unibet: Provides a friendly betting environment for eSports gamers.
  • Mr. Green: After launching Kambi sportsbook in 2016, Mr. Green has gone ahead to set up many reward systems such as the man, the legend in green and the myth.
  • #OneHash: On this site, those who sign up can earn up to 1BTC in bonuses, and the thrill that comes with competing against others in the house makes it a great site.
  • Pinnacle: Pinnacle focuses on odds value and not the margin, which makes it one of the best betting sites for eSports lovers.
  • GG.Bet: Know for transparent, quick cash out process and is also a mobile-friendly platform.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

Photo: Riot Games

It feels like saying that the last week of the EU LCS was upset-heavy is becoming a bit of a cliche, but things have really gotten out of hand. Whether it’s Vitality taking down Fnatic or Splyce droping a game to H2K (their first win of the split as well), heads are still buzzing after an action-packed week of games. There’s no time to waste however, as there are only two weeks of regular season play left, and the standings are in complete chaos.

While Fnatic should, by all means, be able to secure a Top 2 finish and get a playoff bye as well, how the rest of the standings will pan out is anyone’s guess. There shouldn’t be any huge surprises when all is said and done, however the order in which teams will end up is completely up in the air. Now, while that does make for a far more exciting and competitive viewing experience, it’s a complete nightmare when you add betting to the equation.

Betting on the EU LCS became increasingly hard as the weeks went on, and right now we’re probably at an all-time high when it comes to unpredictability. That said, we do have a ton of detailed statistics to help us out in the process of making our choices, so we can have at least some confidence going into this week’s matches.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2018 – DAY 1

ROCCAT vs. Splyce – To start off the day, we have a somewhat interesting clash between two teams that are quite literally fighting for the very last playoff spot. Splyce have the upper hand in every way, shape, and form, but perhaps most importantly they have a better win/loss record. They’re just above ROCCAT and if they manage to take them down they will create a gap that could prove to be insurmountable.

Last week wasn’t a good one for Splyce overall. Sure, they beat the Unicorns of Love but that’s not really an achievement worth bragging about. Their Saturday game against H2K was an absolute shocker. Losing to the tenth ranked team – that was winless – isn’t really a good look if you’re aiming for playoffs. Splyce were completely out of sync, they were reactive and scared to make any plays. To make matters worse, their individual play wasn’t up to snuff either. With the meta shifting back towards traditional marksmen, Kobbe should be able to improve on his play and have a much bigger impact.

ROCCAT, on the other hand, failed to keep their 1W-1L per week streak going, as they ended week seven without a single win. That’s quite a problem when it comes to their playoff chances. They’re currently sitting with six wins and eight losses and while that isn’t exactly an abysmal record, they didn’t show anything worth mentioning over the last couple of weeks to warrant anyone’s benefit of the doubt.

Make no mistake, there could be fireworks. Or, at worst, since Splyce are involved, it could be an absolute bore. You never really know, as it depends on the day. The winner of this game comes one step closer to clinching the last playoff spot. If ROCCAT take Splyce down, they could come closer in the standings and perhaps even overtake them if everything goes in their favor. But there are a lot of “what ifs” in that scenario, and they would have to play much, much better than they did over the last couple of weeks. Sure, Splyce aren’t better by a lot, but at least when they’re all on the same page they look and play like a top-tier team.

We’re going with Splyce on this one, but not with full confidence.

Winner: Splyce, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. Misfits – For the second match of the day we have a fairly uninteresting game, however after last week you actually might want to tune in. It’s a pretty insignificant clash, but Misfits could really use a win after going 0-2 last week. They need some momentum, they need to get back into action as soon as possible if they want to stand a chance in the playoffs. You’d think that

We’re obviously going with Misfits on this one, but not with full confidence. The image of Splyce losing to H2K is still fresh in everyone’s mind. They’ve gotten that elusive first win, they don’t have anything to lose so they’re just playing for fun. If they can upset a top-tier team they will surely aim to do so as well, and Misfits could be the perfect candidate. They’ve been dropping games left and right, and they finished Week 7 without even a single win – pretty shocking considering just how dominant they were at the start of the Summer Split.

Betting on this game, as unexpected as it might sound, is really unadvisable. Sure, Misfits are predicted to just come in and wreck house, and by all means that could happen, the chances are astronomically high. But H2K does have a chance. They’re the underdogs, and they’re looking to play spoiler. Larsson has been playing extremely well, especially for an LCS rookie, he was able to go blow-for-blow with Perkz and Nisqy, and with Caedrel performing relatively well in the jungle, they’re actually playing like a solid team.

Predicting this one is extremely hard, but we’re going with Misfits. They’re fully aware of their slump and they know that this is perhaps their last chance. While H2K might come out gates swinging, Misfits should have the edge in every stage of the game. They have more experience as well as better laners. That in itself should be enough. While it might not be clean nor dominant, they should be able to get the win. If they draft comfort picks and play things slowly, they should have the upper hand.

That said, stranger things have happened, and if you feel like a huge upset is in the making, then by all means go for H2K.

Winner: Misfits, 1.20 (odds @ Betway)

Unicorns of Love vs. G2 eSports – Next up we have a clash between the former kings of Europe and the fan favorite Unicorns of Love. While this isn’t really screaming “high-quality League of Legends”, it does have a lot of potential, especially after seeing Unicorns’ play last week. While they’re out of the playoff picture, they still want to end the split on a high note, and taking G2 down would be exactly that.

Throughout the split, their level of play has been pretty mediocre. They don’t excel at anything right now, and that’s a shame. To be fair, they were able to draft some fantastic engage last week against Vitality and execute almost to perfection, but overall they’re lacking in every department. For some reason, they decided to start with Neon instead of Samux over the last couple of weeks and it’s a decision that didn’t pan out well. Without Samux’s late game consistency, they have one less tool at their disposal, and against better teams that’s a problem.

As for G2, they’re currently tied for third along with Team Vitality and Schalke, and they know that this game is easily winnable. They’re aiming for that Top 2 finish as they know just how important a playoff bye can be. Unfortunately, the competition is really stiff right now and G2 as a whole hasn’t been performing that well – at all. Ever since funneling team comps went out of the meta, they’ve been struggling in almost every single game. You still get to see their prowess from time to time, but they’re far too inconsistent. Hjarnan in particular wasn’t able to have any kind of impact in the last couple of games, and with the meta shifting back to standard AD carries, we’ll have to wait and see how well he’ll perform.

G2 should have the edge in this game, but it all depends on which G2 comes out to play. If we get the reactive, slow, and frightened G2 then this could go into the late game. If, however, Jankos comes to play and doesn’t feed in the early game, then they should be more than able to dominate from the very get-go.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. Giants – This is where things get extremely interesting – and that’s not exactly something you’d expect. Two weeks ago, Giants were thought as a bottom three team – and with good reason. Their play was incredibly inconsistent, and even when they did get on the same page and play some of their best League of Legends people still weren’t too impressed. Last week, however, things changed. They were able to replicate the level of performance from their scrims to the stage and it showed.

They took down both Misfits and ROCCAT in the same week, and they’re two teams that are not only deemed better than Giants but they’re also playoff material. They want to go for a miracle run and if they have the tools to do – starting with confidence. While it’s going to be incredible hard they do have a chance of getting a tie-breaker.

While it’s pretty hard envisioning Giants taking down Fnatic, in the current meta anything is possible – especially if Fnatic draft a poor team comp.

This game also marks the (probably triumphant) return of one of the best Western AD carries of all time – Rekkles. The 2018 Spring Split MVP – who completely demolished G2 in the finals – is coming back after a lengthy break. Since the pros will be playing on patch 8.15, the meta will slowly but surely shift back towards traditional marksman, and even though Bwipo played incredibly well throughout his bottom lane stint – you just don’t skip on the opportunity to get Rekkles back into action. He’s incredibly consistent, and has been Fnatic’s best performer for quite some time now.

How the break will impact his play – less scrim time, perhaps some stage rust – remains to be seen, but he’s been through all kinds of twists and turns throughout his career, so you can expect Fnatic to look as good as they ever did.

We’re obviously going with Fnatic on this one. Regardless of the draft and the starting line-up, their level of play is head and shoulders above the rest of the region. Or, at the very least, above Giants. They’re far too strong in the current meta, they can draft a plethora of different team comps and execute almost anything to perfection.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. Team Vitality – The best for last. This might not be the most exciting, or entertaining game of the day, but it carries a ton of significance for both teams, as well as the overall standings. Both Schalke and Vitality are tied for third with G2, and the winner of this match comes one step closer to securing a higher spot.

Both teams won’t be satisfied with third place – they want the playoff bye, and they want to have an extra week to recuperate and strategize. Both teams are on some pretty impressive winning streaks and this is the moment when one of them will continue their rise whereas the other falls – at least for a little bit.

Predicting the winner is next to impossible. Vitality looked a bit better overall, they showed more versatility over the last two weeks with Kikis, but you can no longer overlook Amazing and Schalke. They’re drafting comfort picks and the shift in the meta will favor them immensely – but it’s not like Vitality don’t have an extremely talented ADC themselves.

Vitality have the far superior early game, and even though they do fall off a bit in the late game that shouldn’t be too big of a problem if they create a solid lead early on.

Speaking of leads, they’re Top 2 when it comes to their gold differential at fifteen minutes, they have much better objective control when compared to Schalke as well – faster to get first blood, first turret, as well as better Herald and Dragon control.

When you add everything up they should be favored, but there’s always that constant fear of Vitality making an incredibly dumb play that costs them the game. Hopefully, they prepared a ton for this match-up as they’re surely aware of it’s importance.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.95 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, 2018 – DAY 2

Photo: Riot Games

While we didn’t get any big surprises yesterday when it came to results, there were a couple of interesting tidbits that could impact the remainder of the Summer Split. First of all, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in Akali’s popularity – Caps, Perkz and Nukeduck all played her on Blue side, and they all emerged victorious. Now, it’s no shock that the reworked Akali is somewhat overpowered – especially when she gets level six – but the amount of damage and outplay potential that she brings to the table is absolutely insane.

When placed in the hands of a top-tier mid laner, you get an insanely strong pick. Problem is, right now she’s a must ban for teams that are on Red side, and since Riot released her so recently, no one really has a thought-out strategy on how to best neutralize her strengths. It’ll be very interesting to see how the second day pans out, and whether or not we’ll see some serious strategic changes in the pick and ban phase.

Also, with yesterday’s games, there are now multiple teams locked in for playoffs – Fnatic, Misfits, Schalke 04 and G2. The last two spots are almost certainly going to Team Vitality and Splyce, however the order is still an uncertainty.

Team Vitality vs. H2K – For our first match of the day we have a somewhat uneventful clash, but it could turn out to be quite the barnburner. Both teams have a tendency to throw macro “out the window” and just group as five and push mid, and that could lead to some incredibly exciting teamfighting. For Vitality, this is a must win if they want to secure a spot in the playoffs, and they know it. H2K doesn’t have any reason to tryhard, other than to play spoiler and perhaps get some redemption after getting demolished throughout the Summer Split.

We’re going with Vitality on this one. They didn’t play that well against Schalke, they drafted a worse team comp and didn’t execute well enough, they made too many mistakes that were punished heavily, and even though H2K have the tools to make this into a highly competitive scrap, Vitality should have the edge.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

ROCCAT vs. Unicorns of Love – Unfortunately for ROCCAT, they failed to take down Splyce yesterday, and by proxy reach the playoffs. While they still do have a chance, it’s quite literally below 1%. For this match, there’s absolutely nothing on the line. They’re surely crushed after not being able to fix their issues throughout the split, and right now they’re simply not looking like a top contender. Unicorns, on the other hand, brought back Samux to their starting roster and immediately looked a lot better. They went blow-for-blow with G2 and their teamfighting was on point.

Because of that, we’re going with the Unicorns on this one. While they did lose to G2 eSports yesterday, they displayed far better teamfighting and decision-making against a top-tier team, whereas ROCCAT fell prey to their classic playstyle – strong early game, huge blunders in the mid and late game. While this match could go either way, the Unicorns should have a slight edge.

Winner: Unicorns of Love, 2.20 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. Giants – This is where things get interesting. The next three matches of the day all carry some significance in regards to the playoffs. Schalke are coming in hot after their key win against Team Vitality, and they’re fighting to get a playoff bye. They outplayed Vitality in almost every stage of the game. Whatever Vitality had in mind, Schalke not only had a response but they always punished incredibly hard. They were more proactive, more aggressive and in-sync in key moments. They all played incredibly well, and perhaps most importantly drafted an incredibly strong team comp while at the same time punishing Kikis’ champion pool.

Giants, on the other hand, failed to show much against Fnatic. They were picked apart from the very get-go by Broxah and Caps, and it didn’t take long for Rekkles and Hylissang to come online as well. While they do have the tools to make this somewhat close, they shouldn’t be able to punish Schalke’s mistakes – if they even make any.

Betting on Schalke would be the better and more logical choice.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Misfits – Another incredibly interesting and important match. Misfits are currently tied for first with Fnatic, however their level of play is currently absolutely abysmal. They’re playing like a bottom four team and it’s almost painful to watch. They subbed in Jesiz yesterday in hopes to bring another shot-caller into the line-up and perhaps get something going but they looked perhaps even a bit worse than with Mikyx. G2 on the other hand weren’t perfect against the Unicorns, but they were able to clutch things out when it mattered the most.

Hjarnan was, surprisingly, the man of the hour. Not only was he deathless throughout the extremely chaotic game, but he dished out the most damage in the entire game. His Varus was a thing of beauty, and if G2 manage to clean up their individual play as well as some mid-game calls, they should be getting back to their pre-Rift Rivals form.

With how badly Misfits are playing currently, it’s impossible not to give G2 the benefit of the doubt.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.70 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. Splyce – And finally, we have a clash between the number one team in the region and Splyce who are comfortably sitting at sixth place. Fnatic looked as good as they ever did with Rekkles in the line-up, and even though he needed some time before getting amped up, they didn’t skip a beat with this change in the roster. Broxah pulled out his staple Elise pick, and when paired with Caps’ insane Akali play, they hardcarried the early game almost single-handedly.

Splyce on the other hand were barely able to take down ROCCAT. They were losing throughout the game, but they were playing the long con. In classic Splyce Spring Split fashion, they waited until the late, late game. A solid teamfight later, they were able to close things out and get the win. It wasn’t pretty, in fact, it was boring but at least they got by. However, such a passive, reactive playstyle isn’t enough against an aggressive, playmaking team like Fnatic.

Because of that, we’re siding with the “Kings of Europe”.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 7 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

August 3rd, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

If week five seemed strange and filled with upsets, week six could possibly go down as the most upset-heavy week of the entire regular season. Essentially, everything and nothing went according to plan. From a betting perspective, it is perhaps a big frightening to bet when things are so volatile – mid tier teams are on an uprising, whereas the very top remains somewhat inconsistent, still strong but incredibly vulnerable at the same time.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018 – DAY 1

For today, we have a fairly mild set of affairs. The only match where you would think twice before predicting the winner would be the Schalke vs. ROCCAT one.

Every other match is pretty much a clash between a top five team, and a bottom five team. Because of this, betting should be extremely straightforward.

Unicorns of Love vs. Splyce – For our first match of the day we have a fairly uninteresting clash between Splyce and UOL. Now, both these teams are at different paths right now. The Unicorns just want to save face and accumulate as many wins as possible – their Summer Split run was far from engaging and praise-worthy. There were a couple of games when they were able to play to their full potential, but those were few and far between. They’re just not that strong in the current meta, and even if a meta shift did occur, they would still occupy the bottom of the standings. Right now, the gap between their strength and middle-of-the-pack teams like ROCCAT or Team Vitality is far too big.

Splyce, on the other hand, are coming off of their biggest win this Split. The fact that they were able to take down Misfits last Saturday is a small miracle for anyone sporting a Splyce jersey. It wasn’t pretty, in fact, it was a pretty appalling game, perhaps the worst one of the split. With just four kills in almost forty minutes, there was very little action, proactivity or willingness to engage. It was the cliche Splyce strategy from Spring – prolong the game until the ultra late game (and forty minutes in the current meta definitely falls under that category) and hope for the best.

This time around it worked, and the fact that they were able to upset Misfits might be the main reason in their path to securing a playoff spot. They know that this is a very winnable match, so they probably won’t be taking any risks. They need to win both of their wins this week in order to leapfrog ROCCAT in the standings and come one step closer to reaching the Top 6.

Winner: Splyce, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

FC Schalke 04 vs. ROCCAT – This is where things get very interesting, very quickly. It’s impossible to predict the outcome of this match with confidence, and that’s a problem.

Let’s tackle Schalke first. Last week was the perfect display of what they’re capable of. Their game on Friday against Fnatic was absolutely painful to watch – they were outclassed from minute one. It was a complete shellacking, and after Caps and Broxah pulled off an insane tower dive even before the five minute mark the game was essentially over.

It was the Schalke of old. Lost, passive, afraid to engage. Five great players overall, but no one really willing to step up and carry. They don’t have a Caps, a Rekkles or a Perkz – and they need one badly. They were destroyed on all fronts by Fnatic, and it was a strong reminder in just how big the gap between the current kings of Europe and the rest of the region really is.

But then came Saturday. Schalke – for the first time in what feels like an eternity – decided to draft aggressive, “in your face” picks. They didn’t put Vizicsacsi on a tank – something that also took everyone by surprise. The 2017 Spring Split MVP was finally getting a chance to play League of Legends – and he didn’t disappoint. Even more surprising was the fact that Nukeduck went for Zed – that’s a bold move, especially considering the fact that he was up against Perkz – one of the most lauded and respected mid laners in the world.

They decided to go for something unique, something different, a team comp that suited their strengths and virtues rather than a blatant carbon-copy of what’s meta.

But even in their sensational upset over G2, there were asterisks. Jankos had one of the worst performances of the split – he was basically inting in front of thousands of spectators. His Gragas play was downright abysmal and it cost his team the game. Schalke did really well, but how much of that came from G2’s horrendous misplays?

One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that Schalke’s potential is undeniable. They’re not a top tier team, they’re not Worlds material, but they’re solid, and it’s been quite a long time since you could actually say that and not burst into laughter.

Even though ROCCAT also had a 1W-1L week, they lost quite a lot of stock overall. They had all the momentum heading into their clash with Vitality, but they failed to capitalize. The biggest problem isn’t that they lost to Vitality, but rather the fact that they lost to one of the teams that they’re fighting against to reach the playoffs. Right now, it seems won’t be able to achieve anything more than they did in Spring. The only question now remains is – will they reach the playoffs or remain on the sidelines?

Perhaps it would be best if you’d just skip betting on this match altogether. Both teams have very high highs, but abysmal lows as well. ROCCAT was a lot more consistent throughout the last six weeks of competitive play, but right now that means very little. There are just far too many question marks regarding this match-up, so it’s best just not to risk it.

Winner: Schalke, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. H2K – After a very tight clash, we get… this. A fight between the third best team in the region, and a team that has yet to get even a single win. It’s not exactly screaming “high-octane League of Legends”, but it could be a somewhat engaging scrap, especially if H2K come out the gates swinging.

H2K did show something new last week. A double smite combo wasn’t enough to take Fnatic down, but they did catch them off guard. They’re finally starting to play like they have nothing to lose and that’s when things get very interesting. If they play without fear, they could upset – and if G2 aren’t prepared for some insane doses of cheese and off the wall strategies they could be on the receiving end of things.

They also reintroduced Caedrel to their starting roster, this time as a jungler. While they didn’t achieve success, the guy was able to reach Rank 1 on EU West in four months time with a fantastic win ratio, so he could be potentially pretty dangerous further down the road.

G2 really need this win. And not just that, they need to demolish H2K in order to regain at least something resembling momentum. They’ve not only looked vulnerable over the last couple of weeks, but at times even bad. Sure, they demolished Splyce last Friday without breaking a sweat, but their performance against Schalke was absolutely abysmal, and it’s not like Schalke is the epitome of aggressive, proactive play.

Perhaps the biggest problem was just how badly Jankos played. It doesn’t matter if you’re a great team if you have a jungler that’s underleveled and who keeps getting caught at the worst possible time. They simply had too big of a deficit when the mid game came around, and the fact that they were essentially playing 4 vs. 5 didn’t help. At all.

We’re going with G2 on this one. Even though they haven’t been playing that well recently, they have an incredibly solid foundation, and they have the basics down to a tee. That alone should be more than enough to take H2K down without much trouble. If they restrain Jankos from feeding, and play a slower, more calculated game they should have this game in the bag.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.12 (odds @ Betway)

Misfits vs. Giants – Continuing on the “uninspiring match-up” trend from last game, we have a fight between Misfits and a struggling Giants squad.

Misfits didn’t really have a solid showing last week. Sure, they demolished the Unicorns of Love but that was completely expected. When their game against Splyce came around though, the aggressive, proactive Summer Split Misfits were nowhere to be found. They were hesitant, afraid and lost. They couldn’t set up and take down an objective if their lives depended on it, and it was a crushing sight especially after watching them dominate and develop over the entirety of the Summer Split.

They just didn’t play well – neither as a team nor individually, and it’s not just that one game. They looked far more vulnerable over the last two/three weeks than anyone would have expected. Fortunately, they have some of the best players in the region as well as a stellar coaching staff, so they should be able to bounce back fairly quickly.

As for Giants, they failed to build on their recent momentum as they ended last week with two losses. They’re now no longer tied with the Unicorns, and they have sole possession of ninth place which is pretty disappointing. They had a small resurgence a couple of weeks ago, however with only three weeks of competitive play left, their regular season is essentially over. They could still upset here or there, but other than that they don’t have a reason to tryhard.

Even though Misfits didn’t play that well over the last two weeks, they’re still head and shoulders above Giants in every facet of play. They also need this win to bounce back from last week’s abysmal showing against Splyce. Fnatic is hot on their tail, so Misfits can’t afford to drop another game, especially not to a lower ranked team such as Giants.

Misfits need this win, and they need to rebuild their confidence coming into the playoffs. There entering this week with a chip on their shoulder, and an aggressive Misfits squad with something to prove is a very frightening concept.

Winner: Misfits, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Team Vitality vs. Fnatic – A very entertaining scrap to close out the day. Vitality were finally able to get back on track and actually secure both wins last week – and with an all new jungler to boot. Kikis made the best of the opportunity Vitality gave him. Not only did he play well, but he affected Vitality’s play almost immediately – they were more subdued, they took breaks and focused more on macro rather than brute force. It was a refreshing sight, as this was a completely different from what we’re used to.

It’s hard to really predict how high they’ll go, but their playoff spot is almost a sure thing. They can afford to lose to Fnatic and still not lose any stock. If this is the dawn of a new, more mature Vitality, then they could very well be a real threat in the playoffs. They always had the mechanical skill, they were only lacking in the strategic department.

As for Fnatic, it seems like they can’t do any wrong right now. Whatever strategy or team comp they come up with, they’re making it work, they’re executing some insanely complex strategies and ideas to perfection, and watching their games this split has been an absolute must, regardless if you’re a fan or not.

It doesn’t matter which Vitality comes to play, whether it’s Gilius, or Kikis, or someone else entirely. The level of play that Fnatic displayed last week was absolutely astonishing. They have an incredible grasp of the meta, they have the absolute best players in each and every single role, and they’re always experimenting and making things work, even when the odds are stacked against them.

Because of this, betting against Fnatic is simply impossible. Vitality could make this into a somewhat close game, but Fnatic should emerge victorious regardless.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2018 – DAY 2

Photo: Riot Games

Well, yesterday didn’t really go according to plan. If there is one thing that’s evident right now, it is the fact that the middle-of-the-pack teams are almost all on an uprising. That might not change the final outcome for the playoffs, but right now it’s causing absolute chaos. It’s exciting and exhilarating, not knowing how a game will turn out, but at the same time this is a very unthankful time to be betting on the EU LCS, as anything can happen on any given day.

Yesterday the two of the best teams in the region both lost – we had the number one team lost to the ninth ranked team, whereas Fnatic lost to Vitality, not such a big upset but still a surprising outcome nonetheless.

Giants vs. ROCCAT – To start things off, we have a fairly interesting clash between two teams that are fighting to reach the playoffs. Right now though, ROCCAT is far closer to that goal, but that doesn’t mean Giants won’t come out the gates swinging. In fact, after seeing Giants dismantle Misfits from the very get-go, it’s kinda hard to bet against them.

The thing is, they didn’t win through a cheese strategy, or by pure luck. They were better than Misfits in every stage of the game, and it showed. Djoko completely outclassed Maxlore, and it was yet another reminder of just how inconsistent Misfits are right now. Not to mention their individual volatility.

ROCCAT, on the other hand, went blow-for-blow with Schalke, but their abysmal drafting and highly questionable in-game decision making showed up once again. They’re currently in a very tough position. If they lose against Giants they’re almost surely out of the Top 6, and even if they win they will still be ranked seventh.

This is an incredibly hard match to predict right now, but we’re going with Giants, albeit not with full confidence. They displayed some serious confidence and team cohesion yesterday, and they’re all pumped to make a run for the playoffs. Even though they probably won’t make it in the end, they will surely cause a lot of damage to other teams in the process.

Winner: Giants, 2.20 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. H2K – Quite possibly the least engaging match of the day. However, for Splyce this is an absolute must-win. They’re coming off of their strong showing against the Unicorns of Love, and they absolutely have the tools to take H2K down as well, in relatively quick and clean fashion.

They need every single win that they can get in order to secure a playoff spot and they know it.

That said, H2K are playing better over the last two weeks. They’re playing like they don’t have anything to lose, and they at least did something right against G2. While it wasn’t enough to make it into a competitive game, they at least gave it their all.

Betting on Splyce would be the more logical choice.

Winner: Splyce, 1.22 (odds @ Betway)

Team Vitality vs. Unicorns of Love – Another pretty straightforward match-up. The fact that Vitality has been able to win three out of three games with Kikis in the line-up is a pretty big deal, and it goes to show how just a single change in the roster can make all the difference. He has a completely different playstyle than Gilius – he’s more “selfish”, focuses more on creating his own leads and counter-jungling rather than pressuring lanes and ganking.

So far, with three “Player of the Game” accolades, he’s been doing a ton of work for Vitality, and they’re almost surely locked into the playoffs. The Unicorns might be able to make this somewhat close, but they shouldn’t be able to compete with the team that took down Fnatic yesterday in such clean and dominant fashion.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Fnatic – To many, this is the match of the week, and to make matters even more interesting both teams are currently tied in the standings. G2 are coming off a win – however it was a win over H2K, hardly anything worth mentioning. And even in their win against the only winless team in the region they didn’t really look that incredible – other than Perkz who absolutely demolished on LeBlanc.

Fnatic are coming off a surprising loss to Team Vitality. Nothing went in their favor, and to make matters even more complicated, they drafted a pretty illogical draft, so they were fighting a losing battle from the very beginning. All of their lanes were losing – sOAZ, Caps as well as Bwipo and Hylissang, which meant Kikis had free reign in the jungle match-up. He was able to heavily punish Broxah and create a lead that eventually became insurmountable.

This was vintage Vitality from Spring. Aggressive, making plays all around the map, brimming with confidence. Fnatic on the other hand looked tame, and in general when they’re behind in gold they don’t really fight intelligently – they try to brute force things and hope for the best.

This is a very hard match to predict, as we really don’t know which G2 will show up. Will we see the dominant G2 from the beginning of the Summer Split, or the inconsistent, out-of-sync G2 that’s been more visible over the last three weeks? Regardless, Fnatic – barring any abysmal drafts – should have this one in the bag. It might not be pretty, but they know that this is a must win if they want to secure a playoff bye.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.70 (odds @ Betway)

Misfits vs. FC Schalke 04 – To close out the week, we have yet another incredibly interesting match-up. This time around, it’s a clash between the – statistically – best team in the region, and a serious contender that’s been on an upswing over the last couple of weeks.

It’s still somewhat strange when you realize that Schalke have been winning like crazy – in fact, they won six of their last seven games. While the level of their opposition wasn’t always that high, winning at such a consistent basis is fairly impressive, especially for a team that used to struggle so much.

This will either be a complete snooze fest, or a brutal war. Misfits haven’t been performing well at all over the last couple of weeks, whereas Schalke is currently on an upswing. The biggest problem that Misfits have right now is their indecisiveness, and that is exactly the area where Schalke is excelling right now especially with Amazing at the helm.

We’re siding with Schalke on this one, but not with full confidence. However, after seeing them play this consistently it’s hard to bet against them.

Winner: Schalke 04, 2.30 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 6 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 27th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

With the first half of the Summer Split in the rear-view mirror, we’re finally heading towards the big finale in Madrid! Last week was a fascinating one, and it had it’s fair share of upsets – G2 eSports losing to ROCCAT, most notably. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s matches in order to see which teams have the highest chance of reaching the playoffs.

Speaking of the playoffs, they’re currently wide open. The first three teams are almost a sure lock, however the last three spots are completely up in the air. Schalke were able to accrue a couple of wins against lower ranked teams so they’re in fourth, whereas we have a three-way tie for fifth. It’s perhaps a bit cliche at this point, but right now every single win matters.

This should be a good week for betting overall. No one should be experimenting and the final playoff picture should be crystallizing sooner rather than later.

FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2018 – DAY 1

Unicorns of Love vs. Misfits – For our first match of the day, we have a somewhat uneventful clash between Misfits and the Unicorns of Love. Now both these teams are polar opposites right now when it comes to the standings but their level of play as well.

The Unicorns failed to do much last week, in fact they were run over by Fnatic on Friday, and they only barely managed to stay afloat against Schalke. To their credit, not everything was bad. They secured five turrets before fifteen minutes, they had a fantastic early game showing, however when Schalke found just a single opening they didn’t hesitate. The Unicorns didn’t have an answer and they simply succumbed to the pressure.

As for Misfits, they’re surely looking to rebound as hard as possible after their abysmal performance against Fnatic last week. It wasn’t a pretty sight overall, and the level of play that they displayed was far from what we’ve been used to seeing from them. What exactly happened, and why they failed to put up much of an offensive is anyone’s guess.

The fact that they lost to Fnatic didn’t hurt their stock value too much. They’re not looking invincible any longer, and that’s a big deal, but they’re still one of the best teams in the region. The Unicorns are a pretty capable team, especially if Exileh and Kold synergize well, but they shouldn’t be strong enough to take on an angry, motivated Misfits roster.

Winner: Misfits, 1.22 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. ROCCAT – The series of uneventful matches continues here as well.

ROCCAT are coming off of their biggest of the split so far. It’s absolutely incredible that they were able to take G2 down, but perhaps even more surprising was the fashion in which they did so. It was clean, dominant, and precise. They didn’t lose any time from the very get-go and they outclassed G2 on all fronts. It was a show of just how good ROCCAT can play when they’re able to impose their own playstyle and when Memento gets ahead.

The fact that G2 started greeding out and going for bad plays and illogical invades didn’t help their case either. They were horrendously behind and they knew it – they just didn’t know how to rebound with such a huge deficit. One of the best early game teams in the entire region (second best, to be more exact) was absolutely picked apart.

ROCCAT on the other hand played a very smart game – they had the lead but they didn’t want to squander it, they played it out by the book, going for objectives and further prolonging their gold lead rather than skirmishing or full five on five teamfighting. They managed to close things out without giving up even a single kill, and it was an absolute joy to watch.

As for H2K, well, they’re still last, and they’re still winless. They did show some improvement overall, but they’re still far from competing at the highest possible level. While they shouldn’t be able to win tomorrow, they could (at best) make it somewhat close.

ROCCAT are currently tied in fifth place with Splyce and Vitality. If they take H2K down – and that’s almost a certainty, they’ll be one step closer to creating a bigger gap in the standings. They know that this is a must win and they’ll play accordingly.

Winner: ROCCAT, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Team Vitality vs. Giants – This is where things get a bit more interesting.

Neither team looked particularly good last week. But let’s start off with Giants first.

Even though they ended week five with a solid 1W-1L record, it was far from pretty. First they were able to almost take down Splyce on Friday, but the key word there is  – almost. They misplayed almost everything they could and even though they always had the lead they never made any proactive moves, they never tried to take advantage and further snowball.

The fact that Steelback seemingly did no damage in key moments and teamfights didn’t help them either.

Their game against H2K was only a bit better. Even though they had their biggest gold lead of the split, their play didn’t instill much confidence. Their teamfighting was all over the place, but at least they came through on an individual level.

They’re improving as a team, that’s obvious. However, it’s happening at a very slow pace, and with three wins and seven losses they’re pretty much out of the playoff picture for sure. The only question left is – could they upset? They already took down G2 eSports last week, so it could happen in theory.

As for Vitality, it was a strange week. They went blow-for-blow with Misfits on Friday, and they were almost able to clutch things out. But it was more a case of Misfits misplaying and giving Vitality openings. Vitality fought valiantly for every single objective, and they looked good in doing so. They were decisive and fast on the map, however after the twenty minute mark they kind of went out of sync. When key teamfights started, Vitality members weren’t on the same page and it showed.

So they looked good overall, going toe-to-toe with the best team in the region? Well, yes, but then came their game against Splyce. It was such a one-sided game that it was almost painful to watch. Whatever Vitality had in mind, Splyce had an answer – and then some. By the eight minute mark, Splyce had a staggering 3k gold lead. It only took them ten to fifteen minutes to completely dismantle Vitality on all fronts and it was an absolute masterclass in execution.

We’re going with Vitality on this one. Kikis is a fantastic player in his own right, and he should bring a ton of experience and level-headed shotcalling to the table, perhaps just the thing that Vitality was lacking. They’re carnivorous, they’re aggressive and if they don’t start off strong they’re like a deer in headlights. With Kikis in the line-up, they should be more subdued and calculated. Synergy is a big question, but Kikis never needed a lot of time to gel with any team he played for, so if he’s game in the current meta there should be no problems.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Splyce – The unofficial match of the week, without a doubt.

Let’s focus a bit on Splyce first. After three pretty abysmal weeks, they’re starting to get back to their Spring Split form and that’s perhaps a bit frightening for all teams above them. You never really know what you can expect from Splyce, as there are two very different polar opposites – a strong, cohesive Splyce that’s aggressive from the very get-go, and a passive mediocre Splyce that mostly loses.

Fortunately for all Splyce fans, the former seems to be more frequent these days. When they come to play, they’re frightening. Even though they don’t really have an obvious hardcarry in their roster, they’re making it work – they’re all stepping up at key moments and everyone is carrying their own part of the weight.

As for G2, ever since they came back from Rift Rivals things went downhill for some reason. They’re not even running funneling team comps any longer for some reason, they’re just losing when playing standard and that’s surprising. They needed a really strong showing last week in order to bounce back and yet they barely satisfied the minimum. In fact, you could argue that they flat-out failed.

They took down Vitality on Friday, but it wasn’t that good of a performance, and just when you thought they had everything under control against ROCCAT – they crumbled. It’s not a problem that they lost, but they were annihilated, outclassed and utterly demolished.

They failed to get even a single kill. A team that many pegged as the second best in the region, the former kings of Europe, one of the best funneling teams in the world, and yet they failed to get even a single kill. Perhaps their disrespectful draft is to blame – to start things off Wunder had no reason to be on Urgot. They were underestimating ROCCAT and it showed. That’s a mistake they probably won’t make again, as they’re not only vulnerable right now but they’re looking pretty bad in the process as well.

Perhaps the biggest problem that they have right now is the fact that their bottom lane isn’t as impactful as they were when the split began. They’re still playing the same champions, but it seems the opposition caught up. Now everyone’s going for mages in the bottom lane, and seeing Hjarnan and Wadid on two supports isn’t that big of a novelty any longer.

Splyce are finally finding their groove. They found the champions that work for them – Nisqy on Zoe, Xerxe on Trundle and Camille, and Odoamne on Rumble. They found some solace within this chaotic meta and they’re playing what they’re best at. They’re slow to adapt, and it sure did take them a lot of time to acclimate to the huge shift in the meta but they’re finally stabilizing and it’s pretty exciting to watch.

We’re going with Splyce on this one, we’re betting on the upset as it’s more than likely to happen. That said, it could easily go the other way as well, if G2 decide to stop fooling around and get back to basics.

Winner: Splyce, 2.40 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. Schalke 04 – To close out the day we have yet another fantastic match-up. There’s quite a lot of hype surrounding Schalke right now, but without a solid reason. Sure, they’re on a four game winning streak, but against some of the weakest teams in the entire region. And even in their wins they looked far from dominant. Mostly they were just able to punish an egregious mistake their opponents made, and even though that’s worth something, top-tier teams won’t give them so much leeway.

They’re shaping up to be a somewhat okay playoff contender, however without a solid hardcarry in their roster and with such a volatile early game, they can’t compete at the highest possible level. If anything, this is the best they’ve looked so far in 2018 so there’s at least something going for them.

As for Fnatic, it perhaps became evident last week that they’re still as good as ever. They might experiment a bit too much, but it’s only a long con. When they want to play, when they want to win and dominate they’re more than adept at doing so. Their surgical dissection of Misfits was an absolute joy to watch. To see them dominate against an early game giant like Misfits was an incredible sight, and it’s a true testament to their strength, individual talent as well as highly capable coaching staff.

With arguably the best players in every single role, it’s hard not to give them the benefit of the doubt. They’re not perfect, they still make mistakes on a fairly frequent basis, but with individual members like Caps performing so incredibly well they simply cannot be stopped.

Betting on Fnatic is really a no-brainer here. Not because they took down Misfits, but because Schalke weren’t really tested in the last two weeks. The last time they went up against a top-tier, cohesive team they were outclassed from the very get-go. Tomorrow’s game should be no different.

They might be able to make it competitive for a bit, especially throughout the early game but it shouldn’t be enough.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, JULY 28, 2018 – DAY 2

Photo: Riot Games

All of yesterday’s games went according to plan, which is somewhat of a refreshing change of pace. Mostly there is an upset or two going on, but it seems things are settling down both when it comes to the meta as well as the teams competing. So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at today’s matches.

ROCCAT vs. Team Vitality – For our first match of the day we have a very interesting clash between two teams that are currently tied in fourth place. This is arguably one of their most important matches this split as they could either win or lose their playoff spot depending on the outcome. Thing is, both teams are entering today’s match with varying degrees of success and momentum.

Vitality are coming off of a win against Giants, but it wasn’t dominant nor pretty. In fact, they probably should have lost. With Kikis as their starter, they showed both good things and bad ones – and they know it. Kikis started off very well with first blood on Ruin but then proceeded to greed out and invade when he had no business doing so. It was absolute chaos for the first fifteen minutes and even though they didn’t play well, at least they had the gold lead for the majority of the game. But when all was said and done, they escaped from the jaws of defeat.

ROCCAT on the other hand is on fire. Sure, their win against H2K wasn’t unexpected, but they were clean and their execution was flawless. Things were pretty close throughout the early game, but once H2K made just a single mistake, ROCCAT capitalized big. Their better teamfighting allowed them to nearly ace H2K and take the Baron. The fascinating part is that they were even before that fight, and just three minutes afterwards they had a ten thousand gold lead. With Baron secured, they turned on the ignition and didn’t stop. They took everything on the map and literally just closed things out.

It wasn’t unexpected, but they’re proving to be a very solid middle-of-the-pack team that’s capable of fighting at the highest possible level. They probably won’t be able to crack the Top 3, but who knows.

We’re going with ROCCAT on this one. Vitality are never an easy team to bet against as you never really know what they’re going to come out with. But over the last couple of weeks they haven’t been as solid nor as strong as in Spring, and it’s hard seeing them picking up the pace this late in the split. They might be able to make things very competitive, especially in the early game, but ROCCAT need so little to get ahead, they just need a single mistake or opening, and Vitality is often giving them out in spades.

It doesn’t matter who’ll be their starting jungler – Kikis or Gilius, they struggled a ton against Giants and if they play the same way against ROCCAT they’re going to get decimated.

Winner: ROCCAT, 1.95 (odds @ Betway)

Giants vs. Unicorns of Love – After a pretty interesting clash we get to watch two teams tied for eight. Hardly that exciting.

In essence, this is a very important game for both teams. They’re currently tied in the standings with three wins and eight losses, but regardless of the outcome neither should be able to make a miracle run and get to the playoffs. The gap is too big – both in wins and in skill. They could upset here or there but nothing more than that.

Giants were able to nearly take down Vitality, and if it wasn’t for Kikis’ more subdued jungling style and Jiizuke on a tank, they probably would have succeeded. The thing is, they often have the gold lead. They have a solid early game overall, but even when they’re ahead they freeze and don’t go for anything. They don’t force plays, they don’t go for objectives, they just essentially wait until the late game and let their opponents rebound. They’ve done the same against Splyce, as well as yesterday. And it’s a depressing sight overall, especially seeing how there’s actually some talent on this roster.

The Unicorns on the other hand failed to do much yesterday – much like last week. For some reason they decided to start with Neon yet again and his inexperienced showed on stage. To be fair, a lot of players fail to play at Hans Sama’s level, but this was particularly ugly. By fifteen minutes they were down four thousand gold, and the snowball was in full effect. When both teams clashed it was too late for the Unicorns to fight as they were down in both levels and items. Closing the game out was just a formality for Misfits.

We’re going with Giants on this one. They’ve displayed a lot more over the last couple of weeks than the Unicorns, and even though they didn’t win their close games, they were at least near victory. The Unicorns on the other hand get demolished week by week.

Winner: Giants, 1.75 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. H2K – The series of uneventful matches continues with this one. Not only did H2K fail to do… anything really against ROCCAT, but they’re up against the current kings of Europe, and Fnatic are by all means playing at the highest possible level right now. The skill and synergy disparity between both teams is absolutely staggering, so this match is essentially a case of “how long will it be before Fnatic crushes them” rather than a hard-fought clash between two strong European teams.

Obviously, betting on Fnatic is a no-brainer.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.18 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. G2 eSports – This is where things get really interesting. Now, while Schalke did get outclassed by Fnatic, they’re a lot better than how they played. The fact that they lost the game in the first five minutes really didn’t allow them to do much – it was just a matter of how much they’ll be able to fight before succumbing to Fnatic’s aggression.

G2 eSports on the other hand destroyed Splyce. This is the G2 you want to see. They were incredibly dominant – not only did they know what Splyce would do but they had no time to waste. By the tenth minute mark they were ahead by two thousand gold, and by seven at the fifteen minute mark. This was the definition of clean, and the fact that they were able to dominate a team that’s as solid as Splyce really speaks volumes about their full potential.

Even if Schalke come out of the gates swinging, they shouldn’t be able to take G2 down. That said, G2 are far from a consistent team right now. They can look pretty abysmal like last week, or incredibly dominant like yesterday. It seems though, that they’re coming back to their pre-Rift Rivals form, and that’s a treat to watch. They’re going to be fighting for a top spot along with Fnatic and Schalke are just a small obstacle in the road.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. Misfits – To close out the week, we have a fairly interesting clash between the number one team in Misfits and Splyce. Now predicting how this game will develop is pretty much impossible, but there’s one thing for sure – Misfits should be able to come out victorious.

Before yesterday’s match, Splyce might have even had a chance. But seeing them outclassed so hard against G2 was incredibly painful. They were unable to put up much of an offensive and after a while it just looked like a fight between a top tier LCS team and five randoms from solo queue.

We’re going with Misfits on this one, but you shouldn’t count Splyce out. If there’s a team that capable of upsetting, then it’s always Splyce – it just depends whether or not they’re on the same page.

Winner: Misfits, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 5 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 20th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

We are finally at the mid point of the split, and with only five more weeks of competitive play left, teams are reaching a point where every single win matters. An upset could mean the difference between reaching the playoffs or waiting on the sidelines until January. The meta has stabilized quite a bit, we’re seeing a lot less funneling comps over the last two weeks of competitive play, and with the patch 8.14 changes coming in a couple of weeks, we should be seeing standard team comps almost exclusively.

There were a couple of unexpected upsets last week, but other than that it was yet another “day at the office” for the EU LCS teams.

So without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at this week’s games!

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018 – DAY 1

Splyce vs. Giants Gaming – This is a very interesting match-up, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Splyce were able to outclass Fnatic last week on all fronts, however when it came to repeating that level of play they were completely lost.

It’s a strange time to be a Splyce fan for sure. On one hand, they displayed incredible teamwork and individual skill against Fnatic, but on the other it’s a bit like a flash in the pan. They were so fast on the map, so agile and fast to react. They dictated the tempo and started dominating from the very get-to, however the very next day – against an opponent that was deemed far less capable than Fnatic, Splyce were lost. They were passive, and after they made just a couple of bad calls in the early game they completely froze. Schalke was able to dance around Splyce and almost get a perfect game.

Giants on the other hand got perhaps the biggest upset of the split, as they were able to take down G2 eSports. It was a strange game for sure – Giants were able to be the aggressor early on, and they went blow-for-blow with one of the best teams in the region. Even though G2 took control in the mid game, Giants were able to capitalize on their mistakes and punish – hard. Within just a couple of minutes, they took out Perkz (who was horrendously out of position), took Baron, aced G2 and ended the game. It wasn’t exactly a showcase of excellence, but they did get the win, and they did make the right plays at the right time.

This week will be a true test for Splyce, and whether or not they’ll be able to contest for a playoff spot essentially hinges around their performance against Vitality. For this match however, they should be favored, but it’s best if you just skip betting on this match altogether, as if they don’t get the picture-perfect start they probably won’t be able to bounce back in the late game.

Winner: Splyce, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. H2K – For our second match of the day, we have a pretty unexciting clash between Schalke and the only team that is still winless in the region. Speaking of H2K, they did at least show some signs of life against the Unicorns of Love. Nothing too sensational, but at least it was an improvement over the first three weeks of competitive play. While no one really excelled… at anything, they at least went even for the majority of the game. They failed to keep up in the macro department, which is why they ultimately lost but at least they did something right. With Sheriff back on traditional late game AD carries, H2K might have a chance going forward. Unfortunately, that chance isn’t coming against Schalke.

As for Schalke, they were finally able to end a week 2-0 which is quite a big achievement considering just how inconsistent they were overall. They were incredibly proactive against Splyce and they suffocated them from the very get-go. Nukeduck on Aatrox was perhaps the biggest star, as he was able to assist his sidelanes more often than not. It was a “by the book” type of game – get a lead early, snowball through sidelanes, secure objectives and eventually with a big enough gold lead out-teamfight the opposing team.

After thirty incredibly clean minutes of gameplay, Schalke had a fifteen thousand gold lead – insurmountable for even the best teams in the region, let alone an inconsistent one like Splyce.

That said, it’s hard giving them all the praise because they just did what they could – Splyce didn’t do anything, and against such a passive opponent, it’s not hard to look good.

Regardless, they should be more than able to take down H2K in relatively quick fashion.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

ROCCAT vs. Misfits – Last week was yet another incredible showing from Misfits, who’ve now solidified their spot as the absolute best team in the region. While they did make some mistakes against Vitality, they persevered and eventually closed things out in spectacular fashion. They’re currently 8W-0L and they show no signs of stopping. This time around, they have a somewhat easier match on Friday.

ROCCAT have the tools to make this into a very competitive scrap – especially if they start off on the right foot. They didn’t look that good against Fnatic though, they were focusing more on getting kills whereas Fnatic focused on objectives. As a result, they were painfully out-scaled. Fnatic had six turrets to zero by twenty minutes, all three drakes as well as insane damage output. It wasn’t exactly a good performance from ROCCAT, but they didn’t lose too much stock.

With a fed Memento, they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the region (at least for a bit), but Misfits should be able to emerge victorious regardless.

Winner: Misfits, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Unicorns of Love vs. Fnatic – For our fourth game of the day, we have a clash between Fnatic and the Unicorns of Love. The Unicorns are still trying to find their own unique playstyle and depending on the week, they might look relatively solid or downright lost. They have a solid read on the meta but they’re far too inconsistent, and that hurts their chances of challenging for Top 6. They’re currently sitting somewhat comfortably (much better than last split) with three wins and five losses, but they have an incredibly hard schedule this time around so their record probably won’t look as acceptable as it does right now when the week’s over.

Their win against H2K was a solid one, but they didn’t really look as dominant as you’d expect against a team of H2K’s caliber. To be fair, they didn’t have Samux so that could have left a dent in their overall synergy and shotcalling.

Fnatic, on the other hand, want some serious redemption after getting outclassed by Splyce last week. They’re still a top tier team even with that loss on their record, but they need to find a way to play at a high level more consistently. It seems like they’re still experimenting a bit too much, and with Rekkles still waiting on the sidelines there are so many questions waiting to be answered. Fortunately, with the upcoming buffs to crit-based AD carries, we’ll get to see the Swedish MVP back in action sooner rather than later.

As for this match-up specifically, Fnatic should have the edge on almost all fronts. That said, the Unicorns have the tools to make this somewhat close, especially if Kold imposes his playstyle and starts off strong.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Team Vitality – This is where things get very interesting. Much like last week, the last match of the day is an absolute must watch. G2 had a slight fall from grace last week as they were handed not one but two losses back-to-back. While their loss to Misfits is somewhat forgivable – especially seeing how it was a tight affair from start to finish – their loss to Giants isn’t. They showed weaknesses and dents in their armor, but they’re still a top tier team. However, with the meta shifting a bit towards standard AD carry play, they’re going to lose a bit of their potency. Hjarnan will still be able to go for mages in the bottom lane but it’ll be a lot less effective.

As for Vitality, they’re currently sharing the third spot in the rankings with Fnatic. They’re looking fairly strong overall, and their close game against Misfits really shows what they’re capable off if they impose their own playstyle from the very get-go. It was a close back-and-forth game, with Vitality fighting tooth-and-nail for every single objective. They didn’t make a lot of mistakes overall but they weren’t on the same page when it came to teamfighting and that essentially cost them the game.

This is a hard match to predict for sure, especially after witnessing G2’s form last week. The only question is – which G2 will show up? With a week to recuperate from Rift Rivals, they’ll surely want some redemption for their 0W-2L showing last week.

we’re going with G2 eSports on this one. They didn’t lose a lot of stock last week, especially considering the fact that they were ahead in both of their losses. The mistakes that they made are fairly easy to correct in a week’s time, so they should have the edge against Vitality.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2018 – DAY 2

Schalke 04 vs. Unicorns of Love – For our first match of the day we have a fairly interesting clash between two middle-of-the-pack teams. Now while Schalke are favored (with good reason) and while they have displayed better team synergy and higher individual level of play, they’re far from a consistent team. They’re showing a lot of potential overall – if things go their way. Their win against H2K yesterday wasn’t pretty – at all. In fact, they were on the back foot for the entire game. To their credit, they did try to minimize their losses, they did have surges of proactivity and aggressiveness, but they weren’t as frequent as they should have been. It was a strange sight, seeing this 0W-8L team dictate the tempo against a 4W-4L team that many have in the Top 6.

In that sense, this was far from a good performance. That said, after Vizicsacsi’s incredible Poppy ultimate, Schalke were able to seal the deal and close out the game.

The Unicorns on the other hand failed to put up much of a fight against a game Fnatic. They were demolished from the very get-go, and with Caps going legendary before the twenty minute mark, there was only so much that they could do. It was one of those games when nothing went right for the Unicorns, and to top of it all, Exileh echoed flashbacks of his abysmal 2017 seasonn.

We’re going with Schalke on this one, but the Unicorns might be able to make it a lot more competitive than people expect.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. Giants – The second match of the day is perhaps even less engaging than the first one. That said, both teams have a knack for sloppy teamfighting so we might be in store for some exciting Summoner’s Rift bloodshed. However, without any solid macro on either side, this could sway into the fiesta side of things fairly quickly.

Giants lost a very close game against Splyce yesterday. They were ahead for a good portion of the game, they did the right plays, made the right moves, but when it came time for some creativity and proactiveness – they were nowhere to be found. They all played very well on an individual level but it wasn’t enough. Splyce found a way to prolong until the late game (longest game of the split so far), and it paid off. Whenever Giants had the lead they never took a step forward which eventually cost them the game.

H2K on the other hand went blow-for-blow with Schalke for almost the entire game, which was quite surprising. However, the very first moment they made a bad call, they were punished for it and the game was over. Overall they showed improvements in all facets of play, so betting against H2K will get increasingly harder. That said, without a win on the board, it’s impossible to give them any benefit of the doubt, especially after witnessing Giants take down the former kings of Europe last week, and nearly winning against Splyce.

Winner: Giants, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. Team Vitality – This is where things get a lot more interesting. Two teams with completely different playstyles, but both pretty strong depending on how well they start off. Vitality are in a somewhat better position when it comes to the standings, and they’ve displayed a lot more consistency over the last couple of weeks. Furthermore, these two teams already fought in week one – as a part of the Spring Split third place rematch, and Vitality got the win.

This is a tricky match to predict. Splyce probably won’t start off as well as they want to, so they’ll prolong until the late game, but Vitality on the other hand has the proactive, aggressive playstyle so they’ll push the tempo whenever they see fit.

We’re going with Vitality on this one, but Splyce have the tools to make this into a very competitive (and long) game, especially if Xerxe comes online.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Misfits vs. Fnatic – Match of the week, without a doubt. This is a clash between two of the best teams in the region, and it’ll be filled with fireworks for sure. It’s still hard to fairly gauge Fnatic’s strength right now. They looked fantastic against bottom and mid tier teams, but when it came to facing stiffer opposition they fumbled. It’s still strange seeing Bwipo in the bottom lane and even though they’re making it work more often than not, they’re not as strong nor as potent with him in the line-up when compared to Rekkles.

On the other hand, Misfits looked incredible over all five weeks of competitive play, they’re yet to lose and they show no signs of stopping. If there is one team that’s currently favored to win Summer Split it has to be Misfits. We’ve yet to see them play a Best of 5 in the current meta, but they’re so incredibly sound in every facet of the game that’s it’s impossible not to give them the benefit of the doubt – regardless of the opponent.

Winner: Misfits, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

ROCCAT vs. G2 eSports – To close out the fifth week of competitive play, we have a pretty fun match-up between the former kings of Europe and ROCCAT. Speaking of ROCCAT, they were unable to impose their own playstyle against Misfits yesterday, as the best team in the region was always one step ahead. For a good portion of the game, it was a masterclass in macro and stellar teamplay from Misfits, however they did make more than a couple of mistakes in the mid game which allowed ROCCAT to make it somewhat close.

However it’s hard seeing them do the same against G2 eSports. The former kings of Europe are fresh off of a strong showing against Team Vitality and they’re looking to further cement their position as the second team in the standings. They want to continue playing at this level and eventually take hold of the second seed playoff bye. They need every win they can get, and beating ROCCAT is almost a certainty.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 4 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 13th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

With Rift Rivals in the rearview mirror, we’re finally back to standard Summer Split competitive play. Week four is upon us, so we’re nearing the very middle of the Summer Split, and an overall power ranking is starting to materialize. With four weeks of competitive play, we can – with enough confidence – predict what’s going to happen overall, and who has the potential to reach the playoffs or even the finals.

That said, nothing is set in stone and we could still witness one of those miraculous uprisings like last split with H2K and the Unicorns of Love.

Without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at all the matches that await us in the days to come:

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2018 – DAY 1

H2K vs. Team Vitality – For our first match of the day we have a pretty straight-forward, unexciting clash between the worst team in the region (H2K) and one of the better ones.

Vitality finally got back to their winning ways in week three, and they’re looking like a very solid Top 4 team. They’re not that diverse when it comes to team comps and just ways to play the game, but the things that they do well they’re really excelling at. They also have a volatile early game – “feast or famine”, and it works for them more often than not.

The only question for Vitality this split is whether or not they have the tools to contest for a Top 3 spot.

In short, this should be an absolute masterclass from Vitality. They don’t need to do a lot of things right in order to get the win here, showing up on time might even be enough. Even on a bad day they have more than enough tools to outclass H2K on all fronts – both as a five-man unit as well as individually.

The only question is – how long will it take H2K before they make a couple of cardinal mistakes and lose the game? Will it be five minutes like against Misfits, or perhaps a couple more? Unfortunately, there aren’t any promising signs for H2K, especially not in the current meta. Shook isn’t really that impactful any longer, they’re all playing worse individually, and with Sheriff not playing hypercarries, they don’t really have a win condition.

It’s a sad sight to behold, and while they might be able to upset a team or two in the weeks to come, they’re still poised to finish at the very bottom of the standings when all is said and done.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

Giants Gaming vs. Schalke 04 -Another fairly unexciting clash overall. It’s a fight between two middle-of-the-pack teams, and winning this clash doesn’t really improve anyone’s stock value.

That said, Giants are in a need of a win. They showed some understanding of the current meta, and they’re pretty okay individually, but they just weren’t able to translate over their strengths into a consistent level of play – and that’s a problem. They only have a single win from week one, and five losses, so even though they have a grasp on the meta, they really didn’t show a lot on the Rift, and they’re just one win ahead of H2K.

Will they be able to take Schalke down? Probably not.

Even though Schalke isn’t doing much better with just two wins and four losses, they actually managed to go even with the majority of the teams they played against. They also look a lot more proactive in their games, they have a solid gameplan that they try to execute from the very get go (except that one game against Misfits, they were just utterly lost in that one) and they’re making the right plays at the right time – at least when compared to their Spring Split form.

They’re far from a top tier team, and whether or not they’ll be able to reach the playoffs remains to be seen, but they showed some promise over the first three weeks of competitive play, and that’s more than enough for us to give them the benefit of the doubt. Amazing in particular looks like the perfect kind of jungler for Schalke, and when he gets his hand on a champion that can engage and quickly follow-up, he’s able to set-up plays and teamfights the way Schalke wants, and that’s a serious edge over Giants.

Schalke should be favored in this one, and they should be able to take the win. They showed more overall, both as a team and individually.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

ROCCAT vs. Unicorns of Love – We continue the trend of unexciting games, however this time around we at least have a clash between two middle-of-the-pack teams that are often able to punch way above their weight.

The Unicorns are currently in a limbo-like state. They showed some really good things on the Rift, both as a team as well as individually, but their play is still fairly inconsistent overall. They have two wins and four losses but to be fair, they had a very, very rough strength of schedule. They only didn’t face Fnatic out of all top teams, so they should be able to pick up wins over the next couple of weeks.

ROCCAT are sitting a bit more comfortably in the standings however, with three wins and three losses. They’re also incredibly hard to read right now because the majority of their strength lies in the early game. If they start off strong, if they get the lead they need and if Memento picks up a couple of kills, then ROCCAT has quite a big chance to win.

If, however, they fail to start as well as they have to, they kind of just crumble. They have a very good read on the meta overall but they’re not always playing well enough to be competitive. So they beat Team Vitality, H2K and Giants, but they lost to Splyce, G2 eSports and Schalke. They’re looking like a fairly solid mid-tier team, and that’s perfectly fine.

This is a very tough match to predict because it can really go either way. Which team throws the least will emerge victorious, it’s as simple as that, and in the last couple of weeks, the Unicorns of Love showcased a bit more proactivity and strategy, so we’re going with the boys in pink.

Winner: Unicorns of Love, 2.05 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. Fnatic – This is where things get a bit more interesting. A clash between our Spring Split champions and the third best team – that’s a bottom three team at the moment. Both teams competed at Rift Rivals, and it was obvious that Fnatic was the stronger, more layered team – as was expected.

What wasn’t expected, was that Splyce was able to pull things together and actually win against Team Liquid on the very last day of competition. They looked absolutely incredible – determined, proactive, they fought for small leads and then quickly snowballed through all avenues. They also played incredibly well on an individual level, with Kobbe going for Heimerdinger and Nisqy one-shotting people left and right on Zoe.

It was a fantastic sight overall, and it goes to prove just how strong Splyce can be – if you give them time. They have the tools at their disposal, they just need to “re-learn” how to use them. Will they be able to do so against Fnatic this week?

Probably not.

Fnatic are currently playing at a very high level overall, both with sOAZ and Bwipo in the starting line-up, and they’re showing no signs of stopping. They’re still a bit rough around the edges, and they make mistakes from time to time but they have the edge in almost every single way.

That said, Splyce should be able to make this a fairly competitive scrap if they come prepared. Seeing how they were able to take down the best team in North America, they should have a lot of confidence and momentum right now, but it’s still too early to give them any benefit of the doubt.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

Misfits vs. G2 eSports – You could really sleep through the first four matches of the day, but you absolutely have to watch the final game – which is also the game of the week for sure. A clash between two 6W-0L teams, a fight for sole possession of first place.

This is a fight between the two best teams in the region – in the current meta. They showcased absolute superiority when it comes to the pick and ban phase, the early, mid and late game decision-making as well as individual performance.

They can play standard, they can go for funnel comps – they can do everything. G2 has perhaps shown best funnel-comp usage out of all Western teams, and it’s an advantage that they can utilize regardless of the opponent. But Misfits are no slouches.

In fact, Misfits hold the edge in almost every measurable statistic. They have an insane 4.07 kill-to-death ratio, meaning they get four kills in exchange for just one. They have the best early game rating, second best mid-to-late game, a 100% first blood rate, highest first turret and first three turret rates as well, but the moment where it becomes completelz incredible is their average gold lead at fifteen minutes – a staggering 5.1k gold lead.

That’s an incredible statistic, no matter how you spin it. They just have insane fundamentals all-around, and they’re fast to react to what’s happening on the Rift. They’re the most proactive team in the region and they’ve shown little to no errors that their opposition could exploit.

While G2 aren’t far behind when it comes to statistics – they are second. That said, their wins have been so dominant and clean, that it’s hard not giving them the benefit of the doubt. They have all been performing so incredibly well on the latest couple of patches, and they also have the best and most consistent performing top laner in the region. Wunder has been playing out of his mind lately and he made beating Impact and Huni look like child’s play.

It’s impossible to give a prediction with full confidence, as both teams look rather unbeatable right now.

Misfits were always Fnatic’s kryptonite, but not G2’s. Whenever they went up against G2, they failed to put up much of an offensive, and that’s a stylistic thing. We’re going with G2 on this one, but in reality it can go either way. G2 have always been able to clutch things out against Misfits, and they’re coming in with a ton of hype and momentum after wrecking North America at Rift Rivals.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, JULY 14, 2018 – DAY 2

Unicorns of Love vs. H2K – UOL started off yesterday’s game with one of the worst invades of the split. It was intense for a few seconds, but after they couldn’t really get the start they needed, they refused to back off and in doing so they essentially threw the game from minute one. Ten minutes later, they were already down two thousand gold, and Memento was getting the kind of lead he needs to smurf and hardcarry ROCCAT to victory. It wasn’t a pretty sight overall, and to make matters worse the Unicorns were trying to funnel resources into Exileh. Playing funneling comps requires an incredibly solid base, a stable foundation on which they can build upon. The Unicorns of Love don’t have that, so what they were doing experimenting is beyond anyone’s comprehension.

That said, H2K showed even less. The Unicorns at least did something right overall, and they showed some signs of life. H2K was simply outclassed from the very get go.

Betting on the Unicorns would be the better and more logical choice here.

Winner: Unicorns of Love, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. Splyce – Even though Schalke looked a lot better yesterday, it’s still too early to give them the benefit of the doubt. For every thing they did right, they made a dozen mistakes as well. It was far from a clean and dominant showing, but seeing how they’re still meshing as a five man unit, they’re surely satisfied to at least get the win. They’re coming into their own groove, but Splyce looked so damn impressive – it’s actually shocking.

Sure, they demolished Team Liquid on the last day of Rift Rivals, but that could’ve been just a one-off thing. It wasn’t. It seems like they’re getting back to their Spring Split form sooner rather than later, and then some. They all played at an insanely high level, and it’ll be very interesting going forward to see if they can sustain this level of play and challenge the status quo.

We’re going with Splyce on this one. Even though it’s still too early to predict their success further down the line, it’s hard not to be aboard the hype-train after they demolished Fnatic.

Winner: Splyce, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Giants Gaming – While it became obvious that G2 aren’t the best team in the region when not playing funneling comps, they didn’t really lose a lot of stock in their loss to Misfits. They had control of the game, they had the lead, they were more proactive and aggressive but a couple of individual mistakes sealed their fate. They also had a pretty iffy draft, not a lot of engage, Wunder couldn’t really do anything on Gangplank and Hjarnan’s poke wasn’t that influential either. Overall, they were lacking in their composition, and had they went for a different set of champions the outcome could’ve been different.

As for Giants, it was yet another day and another defeat. They had some success, you have to give them that, they had the upper hand in the mid game but Schalke’s superior teamfighting eventually took over. Much like G2, Giants didn’t really move in any direction after their loss. They’re still an okay middle-of-the-pack team that has some potential, but they’re eons away from being able to compete with G2.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. ROCCAT – This is where things get a bit intense. Fnatic were heavily favored going into their clash against Splyce (a team that barely managed to scrap two wins in week three), and yet today they have another tough task – ROCCAT. Now, ROCCAT aren’t exactly world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re extremely solid, and if they have a gold lead at fifteen minutes, they’re yet to lose this split.

ROCCAT are fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They know they can play standard meta without any crazy cheese comps or funneling strats, and they’re doing what they can in order to win – and that’s playing to their strengths. Getting Memento ahead is objective number one, and they’re succeeding more often than not.

Fnatic on the other hand failed to adapt to an aggressive, proactive Splyce yesterday. The way they played the game was a bit too fast for Fnatic which is pretty ironic. Everything went wrong for the Spring Split champions, their plays were sloppy and highly telegraphed and when they failed to impose their own playstyle they kind of just shut down and became incredibly reactive. Fnatic gave them an inch and Splyce took a mile.

They’re still a very capable, highly dangerous team overall, but their play yesterday didn’t instill any confidence going forward. That said, they should still be more than able to take down ROCCAT, even on a bad day. They have the better players all-around and Broxah was always more than fit enough to counter Memento’s aggression.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

Team Vitality vs. Misfits – For our final match of the day, we have a repeat of the Spring Split third place match, and even though Misfits are heavily favored (and with good reason), it should still be a highly entertaining scrap, especially if Vitality come out of the gates swinging as they’re prone to do.

Does Vitality have a chance? Not really. They’re very solid overall and they have the tools to make this into a very competitive scrap, but Misfits really showed no actual weakness. Sure, they’re not perfect, they make individual mistakes, but their drafting is excellent and they also have mental fortitude and resilience in spades so even if they make a couple of cardinal mistakes, they always have the tools to mount a comeback – like they did against G2.

It was a slow and calculated game, but the fact that they were able to bounce back and beat G2 at their own game is exceptional. They never surrendered, they never let go, and they were fighting for any objective they could take on the map, waiting patiently for the time to strike.

Misfits should have the edge in tomorrow’s match without a doubt.

Winner: Misfits, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

Rift Rivals 2018 – Europe vs. North America – Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 4th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

We are just days away from the sophomore Rift Rivals tournament that’s being held in Los Angeles at the NA LCS studio. But before we delve deeper into our preview, what’s at stake for the six teams that will be competing?
Nothing much, realistically speaking. There is no prize pool, there are no obvious benefits other than the fact that teams get to have some practice against other top tier teams and regions. That’s nothing to scoff at, but in reality it’s highly questionalbe how much effort each and every single team will be invest seeing how they’re more focused at competing on home soil.

So at the end of the day, Rift Rivals is a fight for regional pride and some serious bragging rights. This time around, we’ll be focusing exclusively on the Western clash between Europe and North America.

Without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at each region and team that will be competing in order to see who has the highest chances of lifting the trophy!

Europe

European teams carry quite a big chip on their shoulder ever since the inaugural Rift Rivals tournament last year. It was being held in the EU LCS studio in Berlin, and a lot of people were hyping up Europe as a surefire region to win the whole tournament – and yet it backfired completely.

Not only did Europe fail to emerge victorious, but they didn’t even have a solid top tier team competing. In all fairness, the entire region was in shambles when it came to Rift Rivals.

G2 eSports were in a serious slump during the first few weeks of the Summer Split, and it was arguably their worst split yet – even though they were able to pick up steam as the finals came around. They just weren’t playing that well, and their regular season win-loss record reflects that as well.

Fnatic were getting hyped up beyond any logic, especially seeing how they were only barely able to rebuild after introducing Broxah and Caps to the roster. They barely ended third in Spring after beating out Misfits in the third place match. When Summer began, they were relying on just a single strategy – getting Rekkles fed through the sidelanes on Kennen or Twitch.

There was no backup plan, no alternative. Other members did their job, and they were always very skilled mechanically however they were obviously a one-dimensional team. The fact that they were able to get wins with just a single strategy speaks more about Europe as a region – and how much top heavy it really is – rather than Fnatic’s playstyle and dominance.

The fact that they were unable to win at Rift Rivals was somewhat expected in hindsight – they were up against the very best teams in North America, and a top tier team with a solid coaching staff shouldn’t have that much trouble taking down a one-dimensional team. Not to mention the fact that TSM, Cloud9 and Phoenix1 all had the mechanical skill that was necessary to compete at the highest possible level.

And lastly there were the Unicorns of Love. They were slumping the least in general, but they were far from a strong cohesive team. They mostly focused on getting to the late game when their superb teamfighting could decide the outcome of the game. They were very inconsistent and if certain members of the team didn’t perform that well a loss would be guaranteed.

This time around, things are different. Fnatic and G2 eSports are going to compete once again, however instead of the Unicorns of Love we get to see Splyce.

Let’s focus on each team for a bit:

Fnatic

After dominating the region in the Spring Split, Fnatic started Summer off on a mediocre note. They ended week one with a 1W-1L record, and they tried their hand at the latest trend – funneling comps. To say that they had average results would be an understatement.

With Caps on Kai’Sa, Fnatic were barely able to clutch out the win against Schalke 04 after a great Baron call. They were behind in gold and objectives in both games and you could argue that they had some of the worst funneling games in the region.

For week two however, they made an unexpected roster change. Instead of fielding Rekkles on support champions like Janna and Karma, they went with Bwipo instead. Solid logic all-around, why should Rekkles learn all these new mages and bruisers when Bwipo can already play them.

That’s when all of a sudden Fnatic looked absolutely amazing.

So we know they’re the best team in the region right now, but it’s highly questionable whether or not they want to play standard ADC team comps. They certainly didn’t look like it in the weeks leading up to Rift Rivals.

So overall, they’re looking pretty good, they have a lot of tools that they can win with and individually they’re all performing at a very high level. The only problem is, if they’re starting with Bwipo then their whole team comp is telegraphed from the very get go and their opponents can draft accordingly.

When we look at their stats, they rank in the top five in almost all important categories, however the real shocker comes when you see that they have the absolute worst warding stats in the entire region. They place 2.53 wards per minute on average which is well below the average and the fact that they’re dead last in the region tells that perhaps there’s an underlying problem that has yet to get fixed.

Fortunately, they have some of the best players in the entire region so a lack of vision shouldn’t impact their play too much – even though it’s still a very serious handicap. Bwipo has a fantastic champion pool and the confidence to boot – perhaps even too much confidence. He’s not going to be afraid of going toe-to-toe with the likes Ssumday, Impact or Huni. (presuming he plays top lane)

They have a very solid chance of making Europe proud, and they’ll be very dangerous if they clean a couple of things when it comes to their in-game decision making.

G2 eSports


Without a doubt, the European team that has the biggest chance of causing some serious damage at Rift Rivals is G2 eSports. Now while this is built upon the immense amount of hype behind the team’s current level of play at the EU LCS, they’re still a top tier team with some incredibly talented players regardless.

Without a shadow of the doubt, G2 eSports are playing the current meta at the highest possible level out of all the teams that are currently competing. According to many coaches and pros, if a team is playing the funneling team comp correctly – and they don’t make any egregious errors in the early game – they will eventually become unbeatable.

Whenever G2 played the funneling strat, they completely dominated the opposition. Because of this, seeing them go up against the likes of North America – a region that hasn’t adopted the funneling strat in it’s entirety yet – will be extremely exciting. It will be a clash of style, and while North America can play standard – Europe can do bothl.

The meta benefits G2 on all fronts. Wunder is no longer on tank duty, he no longer just has to frontline but he can dish out damage as well – as he should as he is arguably the best and most consistent top laner in Europe right now.

Jankos showed that he can be extremely versatile as his Braum and Tahm Kench play could shame a lot of EU supports, and Perkz is as strong and mechanically dominant as he ever was, especially when you funnel the majority of the team’s gold into his hands.

Finally, we come to their bottom lane.

This has essentially been the best Hjarnan and Wadid looked ever since they joined the G2 roster. Hjarnan isn’t playing standard AD carries any longer and while he isn’t a bad ADC by any means, he can be a lot more impactful in the current meta when playing either mages or supports.

We’ve seen his staple pocket Heimerdinger do a ton of work on the Rift, but he was very strong on Morgana and Karma as well. With Wadid by his side, they’re a very tricky duo to prepare for as they can essentially pull out any combo in the current meta and still be fairly successful.

Along with Misfits, G2 has been absolutely crushing it on home soil and they’re favored at Rift Rivals with good reason. If they draft well and play like they do in Berlin, they can essentially beat any North American team. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen though.

There is just one doubt. They’re almost never matched in Europe neither mechanically nor in macro. Sure Misfits and Fnatic can go toe-to-toe but they’ve built all of this momentum through beating teams that are obviously worse than they are.

What happens when G2 goes up against stiffer competition? Will they still be able to accrue such big leads or will their “micro” mistakes be punished a lot harder? We’ll find out on Thursday.

Splyce


This is where things a bit more complicated. By all metrics – both visual and statistical – Splyce are not a top tier team right now. In fact, they’re far from it. You could really create a parallel between them and Phoenix1 from last year’s Rift Rivals as both teams were at the bottom of the standings when they went to represent their region.

To put things into perspective, they have an abysmal 0.50 kill-to-death ratio, meaning that for every kill they make they give up two. That’s not good. At all. On average, when they reach the fifteen minute mark they’re already at a gold deficit (around 1.6k gold), they’re not that focused on taking objectives down nor contesting for Baron (17% control rate), and their early and mid games rank as some of the worst in the entire region.

What really happened to this team in such a short time span? According to multiple team members, they just had a bad read on the meta. They’re still (re)developing team cohesion, and with the huge shifts in the meta they just weren’t fast enough to adapt. Right now, they’re at least coming in with something vaguely resembling momentum – they were able to beat both H2K and ROCCAT last week which is at least a good start, but no matter how you spin it they’re not playing at a high level right now.

The question then isn’t whether or not Splyce will make Europe proud, but whether or not they’ll be able to win even a single game.

In short, this is just unfortunate timing. If they had a couple of additional weeks to get back to their Spring Split form then they could have stood a chance against the three North American teams, but right now – judging by their level of play – they really don’t have any chance.

They’re a great team overall, they have the right individual players, the mechanical skill and leadership – they’re just not utilizing it well enough, and they’re not playing well as a five man unit.

North America

What a strange sight to behold. No TSM, no Cloud9 and no Counter Logic Gaming. The times are a changing, and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Unlike Europe, it’s really hard creating a power ranking with confidence. They have four teams tied for first – each of whom showed a lot of weaknesses over the last three weeks of competitive play, they have three teams tied for fifth all of which are capable of stepping up and beating the upper echelon, and lastly three teams at the very bottom.

There isn’t really a “best” team. You could argue that its Team Liquid, and you’d probably be right, but even they showcased some glaring problems.

Let’s focus primarily on the last week of compeptition.

Team Liquid


The Spring Split champions look as strong as they ever did. Even though they’re not exactly the epitome of consistency, they’re still an incredibly sound team, they have the fundamentals down to a tee and they’re the best that North America has to offer, without a doubt.

They’re mostly playing standard ADC-centric team comps, but they also showed a lot profficiency in shutting down funneling comps. They’re all playing at an incredibly high level individually, and their shotcalling and team cohesion is nothing to scoff at.

But then again, they’re not consistent. They absolutely destroyed Echo Fox in their game on Saturday last week, and then proceeded to get outmacroed by Clutch Gaming. They were passive, not willing to make the first move. Clutch, on the other hand, was all over the map. They made the proactive calls, the turret dives and Baron calls. When it came to the mid game, even though they didn’t have a big lead it was more than enough for them to engage with confidence.

So just how strong they are remains to be seen. They’re without a doubt a force to be reckoned with, but how well they’ll play this week is a mystery. However, if North America is to win Rift Rivals, then Team Liquid surely has the highest chance of being the team that lifts the trophy.

100 Thieves


Next we have the second best team from Spring – 100 Thieves. They’re a completely new organization, and the fact that they’ve already established themselves as one of the premier organizations in NA is a highly commendable achievement.

That said, so far over the last three weeks of competitive play they were far from dominant, and they simply didn’t instill confidence with their play, even though they’re obviously a strong team. They started off with two losses in the first week and even though they were able to get back to their winning ways and string four victories in weeks two and three, their play was far from top tier.

To make matters more even worse, they sold Meteos’ contract over to FlyQuest which is a baffling move no matter how you spin it. They’re losing an experienced veteran who’s been a consistent performer ever since the Spring Split.

They’re bringing over Brandini in the top lane and Levi in the jungle for Rift Rivals and while they’re two capable players – Levi in particular – they’re far from Ssumday’s and Meteos’ level and synergy. They’re essentially going to play with a weakened roster that’s also bound to have more gaps and issues in the communication department.

By doing this they’re essentially telegraphing their strategy from the very get go. They tried out the funneling strategy in week three and had moderate success but they didn’t look as proficient at it you’d expect – Cody Sun failing to smite Baron was just the highlight.

For 100 Thieves, this Rift Rivals is just a chance to give some of their players international experience as well as work on their synergy. With that in mind, they probably won’t tryhard too much.

In short, it seems like they’re getting back to their Spring Split form, but at the same time they didn’t show a consistent level of play throughout the last three weeks, and they’re coming into Rift Rivals with Brandini and Levi instead of Ssumday and Meteos.

Echo Fox


North America’s third seed is as volatile as a team can get. With Echo Fox, you never really know what you’re going to get – and that’s one of their biggest strength. They’re all insanely talented mechanically and their “kill or be killed” playstyle is extremely fun to watch.

That said, they’re wildly inconsistent. They tilt easily and they can be easy targets. Other than Huni and Dardoch, you can argue that neither Fenix, Altec nor Fang belong in the Top 3 or even Top 5 of their respective roles. That doesn’t stop them from winning more often than not. They’re currently tied for first place along with Team Liquid, 100 Thieves and Team Solo Mid with four wins and two losses each.

However, they don’t look that good in general. They’ve experimented a lot with role swapping and you’ll see Dardoch on a support champion more often than not these days – they often decide to swap Fenix down to bottom lane and funnel all resources into Altec which hasn’t worked that great in general.

Their bottom lane is extremely vulnerable as Fenix has zero synergy with Feng, and the holes in their game were on full display last week. Team Liquid completely and utterly demolished them from the very get go and ended the game with 28 kills to 7. Echo Fox didn’t look any better against Cloud9 either as they were losing for the majority of the game.

In short, they haven’t looked nearly as good when playing funneling team comps when compared to standard AD comps, and why they’ve been focusing on funneling almost exclusively is anyone’s guess.

Huni is arguably their biggest asset, but he can tilt easily, especially if you sit his lane long enough. Experienced, top tier teams realized this fairly early on and if they invest enough resources in shutting him down he’s not the kind of player to come back through strong mental resilience.

Echo Fox is the dark horse of the tournament. They could come in and do some serious damage, or they can crash and burn. They’ll surely pick up a couple of wins but they should be able to play at a consistently high level.

Verdict

The only problem with gauging just how strong Europe as a region right now is the fact that it’s really hard to see the two or three top tier teams get challenged on home soil. There simply isn’t any other team in the region that can compete at G2’s, Misfits’ and Fnatic’s level and that’s a problem. Sure, they can look incredible at times but the level of oposition is also to blame.

Until we see the first day of Rift Rivals, it’ll be very hard to give out any concrete prediction with confidence. So which region is stronger right now? By the looks of it, Europe has the edge but ever so slightly.

There’s no money on the line. There’s the prestige, and the bragging rights, but seeing how the regular season is so long and exhausting the players surely aren’t looking to tryhard. They just want to have some fun.

Rift Rivals – DAY TWO

Team Liquid vs. Fnatic

Winner: Fnatic, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Echo Fox

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. 100 Thieves

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. G2 eSports

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.72 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Splyce

Winner: 100 Thieves, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 3 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 29th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

After two weeks of play, things are finally starting to get a bit more clear when it comes to defining a preliminary power ranking. Some teams rose to the occasion, other fumbled a bit whereas we still have two teams that are yet to show anything worth mentioning on the Rift.

So without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at this week’s games!

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018 – DAY 1

ROCCAT vs. Giants Gaming – The first match of the week isn’t particularly engaging. It’s a fight between two middle-of-the-pack teams and it carries no significance overall. For ROCCAT, this is a good match to continue building up hype and momentum after getting smashed by Schalke 04 last week. They’re a very capable team overall and the fact that they were able to maintain their level of play from Spring over to Summer is very commendable. That said, if they don’t manage to get Memento and Blanc going, they’re all out of tools and win conditions.

As for Giants, they’re still a mediocre team by all metrics. They’re not bad, not even close, but even in their highs you don’t really see a top tier team in the making. It’s always a bad call made or an engage gone awry. They were close to taking down the Unicorns of Love but after a botched Baron call they were aced and subsequently lost the game. Will they be able to pick things up in the weeks to come? Perhaps, but ROCCAT is currently head and shoulders above in almost all facets of play.

Tomorrow’s game should be yet another good example of Memento’s shotcalling and dominant play and paired with the rest of ROCCAT, they shouldn’t have too much trouble in taking Giants down.

Winner: ROCCAT, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. Misfits – This is where things get a lot more interesting. Schalke is still inconsistent. They were absolutely demolished by G2 last week, it wasn’t even a competitive game overall. Things started off with Vizicsacsi inting in a tank match-up even before level six. That started off a snowball and it didn’t take for long before Perkz was leaving a mark (a quadra and a pentakill) as a fed Kai’Sa. It was a stomp from start to finish and it served as a reminder of just how strong G2 really is right now.

Fortunately, Schalke was able to rebound very nicely against ROCCAT. Essentially, they did exactly what G2 did to them just a day prior, albeit with a different team comp. Both games serve as perfect examples of the duality that exists with Schalke. They either impose their own playstyle or crash and burn almost immediately. They were proactive and were always willing to engage – attack first ask questions later, and outperforming a solid team like ROCCAT at such a degree is not something to scoff at.

That said, Misfits are arguably the hottest team in the region right now. They’re one of two 4W-0L teams – the other being G2, and they’ve been looking absolutely insane overall.

Sencux was absolutely insane on both Irelia and Yasuo, and he is one of the biggest reasons as to why Misfits are dominating right now. With a fantastic midlaner that’s killing people left and right, Misfits don’t really have a weak lane – in fact they have some of the best players in every single position. Where was this Sencux throughout the entirety of 2017? No one really knows, but he’s finally echoing his 2016 Worlds performance, back when he was able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Bjergsen and Xiaohu.

Not to mention their top tier coaching staff and fantastic versatility when it comes to the pick and ban phase. They can play any pick and go for any team comp which gives them a huge upper hand regardless of the opponent.

While Schalke is looking fairly good right now especially when Amazing gets to engage and set up plays, it’s impossible not to give Misfits the benefit of the doubt. They’re all performing at an incredibly high level and there’s no reason as to why they wouldn’t keep their winstreak alive. That said, this could be a bit closer than most people expect.

Winner: Misfits, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. Splyce – Now while this match is as far from exciting as you can get, it’s still an incredibly important match for both teams. H2K, even though they were able to reach the Top 6 in Spring look like a completely different team right now. They’re completely oblivious to what’s the most optimal way to play the game right now and it shows on the Rift. To their credit, they didn’t really have an easy schedule for the beginning of the Split, but you’d still expect a somewhat solid team in Spring to show up and do some damage.

That’s only wishful thinking as they not only failed to put up a worthy offensive, but they essentially just rolled over and surrendered. They’re able to keep up in the early game, but it’s always a botched engage or an illogical play that seals their fate. Looking ahead, it’s really hard to find a team that they could win against. The Unicorns have essentially taken their Top 6 spot right now, and even Giants have more cohesion and synergy to stave off any H2K offensive. Sheriff is no longer able to dish out insane damage in the current meta and Shook’s experience and shotcalling isn’t as effective as it once was seeing how every team developed and improved over the mid-season period.

As for Splyce, well, they’re not much better. They’ve been trying their hardest and you can see that on the Rift, but it just wasn’t enough. They had a tough strength of schedule, but still – they were Top 3 in Spring. This is an unacceptable level of play from a team that’s going to be representing the region at Rift Rivals next week. They don’t have a good read on the meta and they’re not fixing their mistakes in time. That said, they’re still a team filled with experienced veterans and shotcallers. They have the mechanical skill, they have the knowledge, it’s only a matter of time before they’re able to step up and improve.

We’re going with Splyce on this one but not with full confidence. They showed some signs of life against Misfits – arguably a Top 2 team right now – even when they had a serious gold deficit, so they should be able to take down H2K and secure their first win of the split.

Winner: Splyce, 1.75 (odds @ Betway)

Unicorns of Love vs. Team Vitality – Another fantastic match-up, even though it’s probably not that alluring to the masses. The Unicorns have cemented themselves as a very solid middle-of-the-pack team, and even though they’ve been able to upset fairly frequently in the Spring Split, the fact that they’ve been able to enter the Summer Split and continue playing at a fairly solid level is a great testament to Sheepy’s coaching.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. This meta is absolute chaos, and if there was ever a team that could thrive in such an environment then that’s the boys in pink. They’re more focused on objectives and their early and mid games are far better. They’re no longer focusing on late game teamfighting exclusively which is a very nice sight to see – it’s rare to see the Unicorns change things up and actually evolve as a team.

Perhaps the biggest reason why they’ve been able to play at such a solid level is the fact that Exileh has been playing far better than most people expected. He’s still far from a top tier midlaner but at least he’s not inting – as we’ve become accustomed to over the last two years. (give or take) He can actually create a solid amount of pressure in the mid lane and his Irelia and Aatrox last week were actually very solid. If he manages to maintain his current level of play then UOL can actually become a threat.

Totoro was also an unexpectedly big factor in their wins. He has some of the cleanest Pyke play in the entire region, and he was constantly roaming to the mid lane, trying to get Exileh ahead – and succeeding more often than not.

Vitality on the other hand had a pretty abysmal week two.

Their second game against Fnatic was almost sad even. They tried their best and yet not only was it not enough but they made multiple egregious errors and the game completely snowballed in Fnatic’s favor. “Snowballed” is perhaps even an understatement. It was over even before the tenth minute mark. It was a classic display of Vitality’s playstyle – kill or be killed, there’s no in between. That said, they have a fantastic grasp on the meta, and they could have won their game against ROCCAT had they not made a couple of bad calls in the late game. They’re a strong team, but they just need to tidy up a couple of things.

Whether or not they’ll be able to return back to form in time for this week’s matches remains to be seen.

We’re going with the Unicorns of Love on this one. While it is an upset, they’ve proven to be worthy of such a challenge. If they’re able to survive Vitality’s early onslaught, they should be able to take the win. That said, this is far from a safe bet, and it’s best if you simply skip this match if you’re not willing to risk it.

Winner: Unicorns of Love, 2.20 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. G2 eSports – And finally, the epitome of top tier League of Legends and the match of the week. If you only have the time to watch a single game this week, make sure it’s this one. This is also a match that will decide which team belongs in the Top 2 along with Misfits.

G2 eSports are without a doubt one of the strongest teams in the region right now. The level of play that they’ve displayed over the last two weeks was absolutely insane, and the fact that they were the only team that pulled off the funneling strategy to perfection twice last week really shows how good they are in the current meta.

Everything is going in their favor. Wunder can finally get off of tanks and get on some bruisers and carries, Jankos displayed incredible versatility as he was able to play Braum to perfection and assist Perkz against both Schalke and H2K, Perkz is… Perkz and their bottom lane can finally play without pressure. They don’t have to carry – they can help out on picks like Karma, Fiddlesticks, Heimerdinger and so on. The current meta is perfect for a team like G2 eSports and they’re entering this week’s matches with a ton of hype and momentum.

As for Fnatic, both of their wins last week weren’t just clean – they were absolute dominations. It wasn’t even pretty to watch, it was like a clash between a top tier LCS team and five solo queue strangers. Substituting Bwipo in the bottom lane paid off in spades, as he was able to dominate regardless of the match-up. He also displayed fairly solid synergy with Hylissang as they were able to take on not just Sheriff and promisq but Attila and Jactroll as well.

They’re all performing at such a high level and the fact that they can swap between Rekkles and Bwipo from game to game is an incredible advantage.

We’re going with Fnatic on this one. They know the importance of this match, it’s not just for the bragging rights but for settling the rivalry as well. It would also improve their position in the standings. They know G2 inside and out and they showed it in the 2018 Spring Split finals. With a solid read on the meta, they should be able to take down G2, however it won’t be easy.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 2018 – DAY 2

Misfits vs. H2K – What a stark difference just a couple of months can make. Misfits went from barely missing the playoffs in the Spring Split, to being the best team in Europe (or at worst Top 2) in Summer. They’re currently sharing the number one spot in the rankings with G2 eSports, with five wins and zero losses. Their latest win against Schalke yesterday was an absolute masterclass. It was slow, calculated and above all – clean. It took them a while to get first blood – fifteen minutes, but they weren’t idling on the map.

They were getting objectives down left, right, and center. With four turrets to zero and two elemental drakes in their pocket, they went for an uncontested Baron and eventually just closed out the game. There wasn’t a lot of bloodshed, as both teams focused on macro instead. That said, it was far from a boring game.

As for H2K, they remain the only team in the region without a single win and by the looks of it, they’re ending week three with six losses in total. There’s really nothing positive to say about this squad at the moment. To make matters worse, they’ve shown absolutely no progression over the last three weeks and there really isn’t an opponent that they can take down as every single team is playing at a much higher level right now.

Betting on Misfits would be the more logical choice.

Winner: Misfits, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Team Vitality vs. Schalke 04 -Vitality were able to come back to their winning ways yesterday at the expense of the Unicorns of Love. Their aggressive early game was too much for the Unicorns to handle. By the fifteen minute mark, Vitality were up over ten kills and almost ten thousand gold. They were constantly rotating around the map, going for turret dives left and right and it paid off.

It was a demonstration of just how strong Vitality are when they start off on the right foot, and it’s a frightening sight to behold.

As for Schalke, well, you could argue that yesterday’s game was their worst so far. They were so afraid and reactive against Misfits that it’s hard giving them any benefit of the doubt going forward, especially against the likes of Vitality who play the “feast or famine” playstyle. If they get just a small lead early on they’ll snowball out of control.

While it’s very possible for Schalke to make this into a highly competitive scrap, Vitality should be more than capable of emerging victorious.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

Giants vs. Fnatic – Even in their loss to G2 eSports yesterday, Fnatic really didn’t lose any stock. They still went with their comfort picks, it just turns out that G2’s funnel comps are currently unbeatable, even by the likes of Fnatic. They started off well with first blood on Wunder and later on to Jankos, but the moment G2 decided to pull the trigger, there was nothing that Fnatic could do. They also displayed some abysmal decision making and positioning, with individual members getting picked off on a fairly frequent basis.

Their twenty minute Baron call was arguably the worst one of the Split. Not only did they get the Baron down to two thousand health for G2, but they were also aced in the process. In short, it was far from a good performance as they were outplayed on all fronts.

As for Giants, they did improve from last week. They almost took down ROCCAT which is nothing to scoff at. That said, they have too many holes in their game overall, and any top tier team will have no trouble in exploiting them. They’re playing fairly well on an individual level, but there’s always a bad call that seals their fate. That said, if they continue improving they might be able to upset sooner rather than later.

Betting on Fnatic would be the more logical choice here. They want to get back to their winning ways, and they need any momentum that they can get coming into Rift Rivals next week.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. ROCCAT – This is where things get a bit spicy. Neither team looked particularly dominant nor strong yesterday, however ROCCAT should have the edge in every way, shape, and form. Their win against Giants was a solid one, however the fact that Giants were able to go blow-for-blow for the majority of the game isn’t such a promising sign for ROCCAT. Even though they were able to pick off Giants members on a fairly frequent basis, they were unable to really get anything going for the majority of the game.

Things could have gotten either way – until Giants decided to go for a very unfortunate Baron call. It seems like their Baron calls go from bad to worse each week and the fact that they’re losing games because of just a single decision is a pretty big bummer.

Splyce on the other hand were just a smidge better than H2K yesterday. They were more proactive and a lot faster on the map, and their superior teamfighting eventually took over – as was expected. They’re far from a top tier team, but at least they have the basics down to a tee. It was a refreshing sight, seeing the Splyce boys finally smile on stage after two weeks of absolute mediocrity. That said, they have a long road ahead of them if they want to contest for the playoffs.

Prior to yesterday’s match, we were leaning towards Splyce, but that was just wishful thinking. Sure, they beat H2K, but there really wasn’t a winner after that game. It only served as a decider for who gets to be tenth. This is in many ways a must win for Splyce, but ROCCAT are no slouches. They seem kind of mediocre at first sight, but when you delve a bit deeper you can see that they’re all playing at a fairly high level.

While it probably won’t be that clean nor dominant, ROCCAT should emerge victorious.

Winner: ROCCAT, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. Unicorns of Love – We have a fairly interesting clash for our final match of the week.

The Unicorns were unable to emerge as a true contender yesterday as they failed to mount a worthy offensive against Vitality. It was a shellacking from start to finish, and even though Vitality were favored from the very get go, it was still surprising to see just how weak the Unicorns looked.

As for G2 eSports, it seems like they can go for any kind of draft right now and still get away with it. Putting Jankos on Tahm Kench and Wadid on Rakan is yet another crazy team comp that they pulled off to perfection. When the mid game came, they were incredibly proactive, always at least one step ahead of Fnatic on all fronts. The fact that they won isn’t surprising, but the way in which they won is. They outclassed Fnatic from start to finish.

While the Unicorns might be able to make things a bit complicated from a stylistic stand-point, G2 should have no problem in taking them down.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 22nd, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

With the first week of the EU LCS behind us, what have we learned after watching ten teams duke it out on the Rift? Well, not a lot, essentially.

We got a good read on how strong each team is and how they’re adapting to the evolving meta, but before we go deeper on each and every team, let’s focus a bit more on what’s meta right now.

The chaotic meta

A lot of games were played and we’ve seen a plethora of fascinating picks and team compositions however nothing is really set in stone. It became evident that almost every single pick and every single strategy has a high chance to work. On one hand this is the most exciting the LCS has been in quite some time, but there isn’t always a method behind the chaos and the frantic action. While it’s refreshing to see a pick like Darius in the bottom lane, it’s also crushing to see staple veteran AD players like Rekkles be relegated to Janna or Karma duty. They’re being forced into playing champions that have relatively low skill ceilings and they’re not able to fully flex their mechanical prowess.

So while it is engaging to watch, it’s a bit too chaotic.

Over the last week, we’ve seen teams try their hand at the meta and certain rosters did better than others. It’s obvious that some teams revel in the chaos while others are just plain lost. It’s a rough time in general as everything got turned on it’s head but there were still a couple of teams that emerged as clear cut winners. G2 eSports and Vitality in particular showed a fantastic understanding of the meta whereas others like Fnatic are still trying to figure out what’s the best and most optimal way to play the game.

For betting, this is essentially the absolute worst case scenario. You don’t have a clear idea on whom to bet on in general as anything can happen at any given time.

Without any further ado, let’s focus at Friday’s games in order to see which teams have the best chance of emerging victorious:

WEEK 2, DAY ONE

Giants vs. Unicorns of Love

For our first match of the day we have a fairly unexciting clash between Giants and the Unicorns of Love. Now overall, neither of these two teams are world beaters right now by any stretch of the imagination. They have a pretty solid read on the meta but nothing too extraordinary.

Giants were really hot and cold last week and not just because they ended 1-1. They played some solid League of Legends against H2K but things got very strange very quickly. After a complex teamfight ensued in the mid lane, Betsy decided to completely abandon his team and go for a quick push as Azir. Fortunately, due to a lot of attack speed and ability power, he was able to brute force through the mid lane and essentially back door.

Against Vitality on the other hand they failed to put up much of an offensive. Because of this, it’s still too early to give them any benefit of the doubt after just a single week of play.

The Unicorns on the other hand showed some signs of live overall. They displayed a very strong early game and some very solid team cohesion. They were leading against Schalke for the majority of their game however they were out of sync when it mattered the most and Schalke’s late game potential took over. Their game against Misfits however was a lot worse, so essentially they’re sitting in the exact same position like Giants. Some good signs but overall too early to give a verdict.

We’re going with the Unicorns on this one but in reality it can really go either way.

Team Vitality vs. ROCCAT

You can argue that Vitality is one of the rare teams in the region that completely revels in the current meta. They have the flexible players and the mentality to go for any pick, team comp and strategy that’s available and because of this they’re a very formidable opponent. Fortunately for all Vitality fans, they shouldn’t be tested too much by ROCCAT. They’re simply too fast, too cohesive and they’re not afraid to experiment. Attila (formerly Minitroupax) in particular played both Ziggs and Lux to perfection and even though he’s an AD main you can only imagine what he has in his pockets.

They have a chip on their shoulder after losing to Splyce in the semifinals and they want to go to Worlds.

As for ROCCAT, they displayed some clean gameplay last week. They were on point in their teamwork and macro overall and Memento remains their biggest catalyst. That’s not a problem though as he’s a consistent performer when it matters the most. While they did fumble against G2 you can’t really blame them as the former kings of Europe are currently playing the best League of Legends in the region.

Betting on Team Vitality would be the better and more logical choice, even though ROCCAT has the tools to make this into a highly competitive scrap.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs Schalke 04

We’ve come to the match of the week. G2 eSports are currently performing like the best team in the region – by far. Their two games were an absolute masterclass in every way, shape and form and by the looks of it they won’t stop any time soon. They’re hungry, they want to retain their throne and they’re on the right path for sure.

They’re so adept at the current meta and they’re fully utilizing their strengths in every way imaginable. Wunder – who is one of the more capable top laners in the region is finally on carries and bruisers, Perkz is almost always sensational when it matters the most and their bottom lane is finally able to carry their own part of the weight with picks like Heimerdinger and a plethora of different supports.

Schalke on the other hand continued their hot and cold streak from the Spring Split. They did some things well and others not so well. In short – it was a confusing performance to say the least. You could see their potential but also the fact that they’re far from reaching it. They have a questionable early game in general and even though they were losing for the majority of the game against the Unicorns of Love, they managed to rebound as the game went on.

Their game against Fnatic was the exact opposite. They dominated early on and they succeeded in shutting down Caps from the very get go. However even though they had a huge gold lead for the majority of the game, they let a Baron slip through for Fnatic and then they essentially shut down within a couple of minutes and just flat out lost the game. It was confusing and a sign of indecision, to say the least.

We’re going with G2 on this one and with good reason. They’re simply too strong right now with the meta changes and everything, and if they survive the early game without making any cardinal mistakes they should be able to close out the game without much trouble.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. Fnatic

Even though Fnatic started off the Summer Split with a 1-1 score overall – which isn’t that bad, their level of play was nothing short of abysmal. They tried essentially the same team comp twice last week and they succeeded once – arguably. They’re not tryharding, they’re testing their limits and testing things out – and that’s highly commendable. They know they’re one of the best teams in the world and that just brute forcing things in the first couple of weeks won’t allow them to develop and prosper in the long run.

As for H2K, they failed to do much in both of their games. They were outclassed by Giants in the second game of the split and their game against ROCCAT wasn’t much better. Their drafts aren’t that good and it just seems like they’re not at home with the meta.

To make matters even more complicated, they’re putting Sheriff on picks like Karma so they’re essentially losing their primary carry. Sheriff had some of the best damage stats out of all ADC last split and not having him on late game hypercarries will seriously hinder H2K’s chances, regardless of the opponent.

We’re going with Fnatic, but it could be a confusing game overall. With Fnatic’s latest drafting choices, they’re not an easy team to predict and they might not want to tryhard when you’d expect. That said, they have the tools to come back into the game and emerge victorious even if they don’t start as well.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. Misfits

The last game of the day is quite the exciting one. Splyce didn’t start off the Summer Split as well as they had hoped. They lost both of their games against Vitality and G2 and while that’s not such a big shock, their play was far from perfect. They have a solid read on the meta but it seemed like they were playing certain picks and team comps not because they wanted to but because they had to.

With time they’re going to improve and be a solid threat overall, but that time isn’t right now.

As for Misfits, they’re looking like a Top 3 team for sure. Their flexibility and deep champion pools were on full display last week. Their play and drafting was on point and it was a delight to watch. They always had a fantastic early game but they were often outscaled and out-teamfought in Spring. If they manage to fix their late game shotcalling they have a very concrete chance of reaching the very top.

Winner: Misfits, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

WEEK 2, DAY TWO

Giants vs. Misfits

Giants were unable to build on their win from last week against the Unicorns of Love. While they did make a couple of solid moves on the Rift, they were slower and less proactive than the boys in pink from start to finish. The Unicorns were always faster on the map and were focused on taking down objectives rather than going for quick trades.

Giants continue to be a middle-of-the-pack team with some solid potential, but right now it seems like they’re trending more towards the bottom of the standings. They have a pretty good read on the meta but they’re just not playing that well as a five-man unit.

Misfits on the other hand remain one of the best teams in the region. They’re one of the few teams that are still playing standard team comps and with a top tier AD like Hans Sama you can see why. They’re so cohesive and aggressive as a team and perhaps most surprisingly – Sencux has been stepping up considerably. His Irelia yesterday was a thing of beauty. They’re finally coming into their full form and right in time for Worlds. If they continue this level of play throughout the next couple of weeks then we could be in store for a very exciting finish of the Summer Split.

We’re going with Misfits on this one and with full confidence.

Winner: Misfits, 1.33 (odds @ Betway)

H2K vs. G2 eSports

For our third match of the day we have a fairly unexciting clash between the former kings of Europe and H2K.

G2 continued their incredible run yesterday after demolishing Schalke 04. It wasn’t clean early on but once Perkz got online as Kai’Sa – which wasn’t too hard seeing how he was protected by Karma, Braum and Tahm Kench – it was game over for Schalke. He was so strong in fact that he was able to score both a quadra and a pentakill. G2 aren’t just winning games – they’re dominating, and it’s a refreshing change of pace for the former four time champions.

H2K on the other hand were on the receiving end of a very game Fnatic yesterday. They were completely outclassed on almost all fronts from start to finish. They weren’t really able to do much and the game was over even before the thirty minute mark. It wasn’t a promising sign for H2K but at the same time they were up against one of the best teams in the region so the outcome was somewhat expected.

G2 shouldn’t have any trouble taking H2K down, regardless of the team comp they go for.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. Unicorns of Love

This is where things get a bit complicated.

Splyce are simply trying too much. They’re experimenting and it’s not working – with Nisqy going with Camille and KaSing with Zoe in the bottom lane. Odoamne is still spending the majority of his time on tank duty and while he isn’t a bad tank player, they’re not utilizing his full potential.

While they didn’t exactly roll over and surrender against Misfits yesterday, their play really didn’t inspire any kind of confidence. Are they a good team? Absolutely. Do they have a lot of potential? For sure – but they’re not reaching it right now and the problems that they have aren’t really solvable in a week’s time.

We’re going with the Unicorns of Love on this one, but not will full confidence. While they’re far from a top tier team, they showed more over the last two weeks. They were more in-sync, they displayed a better understanding of the meta, not to mention their drafting versatility. That said, things got a bit heated in the mid game and they could have lost as well if it wasn’t for an insane Baron steal from Kold. With Baron in their possession, they managed to ace Giants and close out the game.

It wasn’t clean by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a win nonetheless. If they focus as come out full force against Splyce then they actually might have a solid chance of scoring quite a big upset.

Winner: Unicorns of Love, 2.30 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. Team Vitality

For our last match of the day we have a very exciting clash between Fnatic and Team Vitality.

This is by no means an easy match to predict. Fnatic are the better team overall but how well they will perform remains a mystery. They’re willing to experiment with their shotcalling as well as drafting so you never really know what’s going to happen before the game begins. They completely outclassed H2K yesterday but then again they were up against a bottom tier team.

Vitality are a different kind of beast, and even though they haven’t been that consistent overall they’re still a force to be reckoned with. They were unable to best ROCCAT yesterday so they’re currently sitting at a pretty solid 2W-1L record. The beginning of the game was like a nightmarish scenario for Vitality as they gave up multiple kills in the mid lane. That quickly snowballed to a pretty solid gold lead. ROCCAT had the upper hand until Vitality took the reins once again.

It was a hectic, back and forth game and we saw multiple throws. In the end, ROCCAT had more damage and a better late game team comp which was more than enough to secure the win.

Vitality are a very dangerous team when they’re playing their best League of Legends. Unfortunately, we rarely know when that will be the case. Regardless, we’re going with Fnatic on this one. Their mental resilience and experience should be the determining factor – given that they don’t go for an illogical team comp like last week.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.5o (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

EU LCS 2018 Summer Split – Week 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 13th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

With only a couple of days left before the start of the 2018 EU LCS Summer Split, let’s take a closer look at this week’s matches! We’re entering Summer with the exact same ten teams from Spring so we have more than enough intel on all competing teams.

There are a couple of key factors that you should have in mind if you’re going to bet this week:

The meta
Coming into Summer there are some really big and pretty confusing meta shifts. With Riot’s balancing still being fresh, we’re witnessing a lot of “off-meta” picks and changes especially in the bottom and perhaps even mid lane. Some teams (as we’ve seen in the Chinese LPL a couple of days ago) are experimenting with picks like Mordekaiser mid and non-AD carries in the bottom lane.

Depending on how all of this goes over, prepare to see a lot more Yasuo/bruiser-centric picks in the bottom lane than before which is pretty exciting overall.

Once all of a sudden all these ADC players have to change their playstyles and adapt to a completely different type of champions in order to play the game at the most optimal level.

It’s also important to highlight that these teams don’t have a consensus on what’s the best and most optimal way to play right now. Because of this the first few weeks of play will be absolutely bonkers since every team will be trying to figure things out for themselves and perhaps even carve out a specific niche strategy.

With Riot’s changes to critical hit items like Infinity Edge, there are only a couple of ADC champions that can still be played at the highest possible level like Lucian, Kai’Sa and Ezreal. In other words, the ADC role has been blown wide open and every pick is fair game.

Be prepared for absolute insanity.

Off-season practice
The very first week of both Spring and Summer splits are almost always carte blanche. We only get the chance to see the very best team in the region go to the Mid-Season Invitational and battle it out with the strongest teams in the world. However for the other nine European teams we know next to nothing on how well their practice is going, how much improvement they made (if any) during the mid-season period and whether or not they’re entering the Summer Split with more or less confidence when compared to Spring.

Because of this when the split begins we will probably witness a ton of huge upsets and overall inconsistent play. After a couple of weeks go by though, things should stabilize.

Without any further ado let’s take a closer look at this week’s matches!

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018 – DAY 1

Team Vitality vs. Splyce
An incredibly exciting clash for sure, also a repeat of the third place match in Spring playoffs. Even though Vitality had the upper hand it was Splyce that adapted faster and showcased incredible mental fortitude. (as well as better drafting)

Splyce are entering Summer as the third best European team from Spring and they have a lot going for them. An insanely talented roster that has yet to reach it’s potential and some of the best players in their respective roles. However just how strong they can get remains to be seen as they were often inconsistent when it mattered the most. (that said they did pick up the pace as the split came to an end)

We’re going with Splyce on this one but not with full confidence. With no intel on how these teams prepared for the Summer Split we can only go by what we know from Spring and that’s the fact that Vitality doesn’t adapt that quickly to big meta swings whereas the Splyce boys have a very capable support staff, as well as many veteran players that will be able to clutch things out.

Winner: Splyce, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Giants Gaming vs. H2K

This is where things get complicated. Giants were quite a strong team last split however you could argue that the only reason why they were able to even contest for the playoffs was because of their strong late game teamfighting, and while that isn’t anything to scoff at, once the meta changed they essentially crumbled. Hard.

H2K on the other hand though improved with each passing week and when all was said and done they were a Top 5 team without a doubt – as surprising as that might seem. They put up a good fight against Vitality in the quarterfinals but it wasn’t enough. That said they’re entering Summer with a lot of momentum. The fact that they were able to improve so much over the course of just a couple of weeks is a testament to their work ethic and coaching staff and with a couple of changes to their playstyle they could pose quite a real threat.

The addition of Shook completely revitalized this roster so it will be exciting to see just how well they’ll play in Summer now that they had a couple of months to further gel and develop synergy.

Winner: H2K, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Unicorns of Love vs. Schalke 04

If someone told you that Schalke would be near the very bottom of the standings after Spring Split concluded, you probably wouldn’t have believed them. And with good reason – there’s so much talent on that roster. They were supposed scrim beasts, but when it came to playing on the EU LCS stage in Berlin, they fumbled and failed almost every single time.

They were able to show glimpses of brilliance here and there and caused a fair share of upsets but it was never consistent. Coming into Spring they made just a single roster and that is in the jungle position – Amazing will be starting instead of Pride. Is that the change that will help Schalke turn things around?

Unfortunately not. Amazing simply isn’t playing at the highest possible level right now and we’ve seen what he can do during his short stint with Mysterious Monkeys. He brings a ton of experience and shotcalling but those virtues aren’t permanent and they degrade with time. Pride wasn’t really the shinning star on Schalke but he did good, even better than expected. In the end it seems like this roster will be one of those “super teams” that never really gelled that well.

As for the Unicorns they’re a different kind of beast. After an abysmal start to the Spring Split they were able to carve out a unique identity (as they almost always do) and quickly started playing like a Top 6 team. Unfortunately their start was way too bad and they couldn’t contest for the playoffs but at least they showed a lot of promising signs. They’re a fairly capable roster with some potential but if Exileh doesn’t step up then they’re destined to remain in the middle of the standings – at best.

The last time these two teams met was on March 3rd and the Unicorns took the win. Going into this match however it can really go either way. We’re going with Schalke 04 however as the Unicorns of Love are entering the first couple of weeks of Summer with a substitute in the ADC position. The loss of Samux will be a big one as he was their biggest catalyst more often than not. Schalke should by all means be more than capable enough to take down a weakened UOL roster.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

G2 eSports vs. ROCCAT

Will we see the rise of the G2 dynasty once again? Only time will tell. Coming into Spring they’re automatically predicted as a Top 3 team at worst and with good reason. They’re a very capable roster with a ton of potential. They have a chip on their shoulder coming into Summer and they want to retain their throne from Fnatic.

Roccat on the other hand is no slouch – far from it. Blanc and Memento proved to be more than just a formidable duo when they played in Spring however it was the rest of the team that was slacking behind. They reached the playoffs but they were without a doubt the weakest team among the Top 6.

We’re going with G2 on this one. They’re simply too strong regardless of the meta and Roccat did little over the course of Spring to warrant any benefit of the doubt against such a powerhouse.

Winner: G2 eSports, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

Fnatic vs. Misfits

To finish off the first day of competition we have an incredibly exciting clash between Fnatic and the team that took just a single year between the Challenger Series and challenging SKT T1 to five games at Worlds – Misfits.

However if we’re going to judge from their level of play from Spring they’re far from their 2017 Worlds form.

They remain an enigma. You could never really deduce their real power level in Spring as they played like beasts in one match and then like a bottom tier team the very next day. After their sensational performance at 2017 Worlds everyone expected them to enter Spring as a Top 5 team at worst even with the two roster changes that they made.

That was far from the case as they ended the Spring Split as the seventh ranked team with a fairly unimpressive eight wins and ten losses.

That said it was always evident that they needed just a little bit more time to synergize and that their “final form” was constantly within reach.

Unfortunately regardless of their mid-season practice and hypothetical improvement, they’re up against Fnatic which is almost surely a loss barring any wild illogical drafting from the current kings of Europe.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2018 – DAY 2

ROCCAT vs. H2K

This match really depends on how both these teams perform on day one. H2K should have the edge overall but it’s too early to tell as ROCCAT are far from a weak team. That said when these teams concluded their Spring Split run they were on completely opposite trajectories – H2K was on the rise whereas ROCCAT failed to sustain a formidable level of play.

We’re going with H2K on this one, but not with full confidence.

Winner: H2K, 1.70 (odds @ Betway)

Misfits vs. Unicorns of Love

Regardless of how you spin things, Misfits should have the edge in this one. Even though they failed to leave a mark throughout the Spring Split they still showed glimpses of a top tier team, and were the only team that was able to outperform Fnatic on more than one occasion. They have a lot of work to do but the level of talent that’s present on this roster is undeniable and if they used their off-time accordingly they should be entering the Summer Split with a lot of momentum and confidence.

The Unicorns are no slouches either but we’re going to give Misfits the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Winner: Misfits, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Giants Gaming vs. Team Vitality

If there is always one thing that Vitality didn’t lack it was confidence. They never doubted their team cohesion (even when they should’ve) and individual skill and against a middle-of-the-pack team like Giants that should be more than enough. Jiizuke (Rookie of the Split in Spring) is an absolute beast and their bottom lane even though they can feed at times is very formidable, perhaps even Top 3.

Betting on Team Vitality seems like the more logical choice. They want to start Summer off with a bang and this is the way to do it.

Winner: Team Vitality, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Schalke 04 vs. Fnatic

Regardless of how well Schalke might look straight out the gates, there’s no way that they will be able to match Fnatic’s strength. With a new jungler they will need more time to fully synergize and adapt to Amazing’s playstyle and to make matters worse Fnatic has the best players in the region in essentially every single role.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Splyce vs. G2 eSports

This is where things get very interesting, very quickly. Could Splyce “upset” G2? Absolutely – there’s no doubt about it. But because they failed to play at a consistent level throughout Spring and because G2 was able to step up and reach the finals, it’s hard to have full confidence in the Splyce boys – at least right now. The former kings of Europe are favored in this one and with good reason, but Splyce aren’t lacking at all, and have in fact shown more creative drafts and strategies in general which could be their path to victory.

Make sure to watch both teams on Friday to get a better idea on their power level because this could be a match where you could win big if you bet on the underdog.

Winner: Splyce, 2.20 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

Mid-Season Invitational 2018 – Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

May 11th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

After a couple of months filled with engaging meta shifts, upsets and exciting top tier League of Legends, we are on the brink of the first international tournament of the year.

Founded in 2015, the Mid-Season Invitational serves a very concrete role in the competitive season. It’s always held in May, right after the Spring Split comes to a close and it functions as a very direct indication of how strong each region is. Throughout it’s rather short history, MSI was always a proving ground for the absolute best teams in the world. Perhaps most fittingly it serves as a mini-World Championship, without the chaos, the big stadiums and the month long marathon of League of Legends.

This time around the Mid-Season Invitational is being held in the EU LCS studio in Berlin and later on in Paris. We’re going to witness the absolute best teams in the world represent their regions and things really cannot get any more exciting. The meta is pretty flexible and teams can play through both bottom and mid lane but there is also ample space for experimentation. (Vietnam’s EVOS eSports is a good example)

Without any further ado, let’s focus on the teams that will be competing at this year’s Group Stage.

LCK: KingZone DragonX

Hailing from Korea’s LCK we have KingZone DragonX – formerly known as Longzhu Gaming. 2017 was a fantastic year for Longzhu as they completely dominated their region and went to Worlds as the clear-cut favorites. (and with good reason)

It was such a big shock then to see them get kicked out in the Quarterfinals by Samsung Galaxy in a 3-0 shellacking. Losing is one thing, after all every Top 3 team in the LCK is incredibly dangerous but losing in such dominant fashion was a sight no one expected to see. They’re entering 2018 with an improved roster as they’ve signed both Peanut (of ROX Tigers and SKT fame) and even Rush. (former Team Impulse and Cloud9 jungler) To say that they’ve been dominating on home soil would be an understatement.

They’ve only lost two matches during the 2018 Spring Split and one of those losses was without their toplaner Khan. The amount of tools that they have at their disposal is simply astonishing. They can play any style, they’re dominant and focused when ahead but when behind as well and they have some of the best players in the entire world.

Kingzone isn’t perfect, in fact they’re still essentially the same team from last year (even with Peanut being a huge upgrade) and taking them down lies in setting back Pray and Gorilla. That said – it’s far easier said than done. They know where their weaknesses lie and they’re more than able to play around them. They know what’s the best and most optimal way to play and win in the current meta and even though Pray statistically gets the least amount of resources out of any other ADC competing at MSI he still does wonders.

They want redemption for their 2017 Worlds failure which could make this Kingzone roster a highly dangerous one. They’re not just looking to win but they’re looking to make a statement.

Betting on Kingzone DragonX to win is a complete no-brainer at this point.

LPL: Royal Never Give Up

After three splits spent in EDG’s and Team WE’s shadow, this is the first time since 2016 Spring that Royal Never Give Up managed to claim the LPL throne. It was an exhilarating ride from start to finish and even though they got a bit “lucky” in certain moments of their Spring Split run they’ve still earned their right to be China’s representative at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational.

It was also the first time that fan-favorite Uzi was able to lift an LPL trophy after years of finishing second. His level of play throughout the regular season and playoffs was absolutely astonishing. He completely outclassed other world class AD carries in his region and is absolutely the most feared ADC in the world – judged by his peers. Even if he doesn’t shine to the fullest of his ability (which is hard to imagine), RNG also has one of the best midlaners in the world as well in Xiaohu.

The current meta is very bottom lane focused and RNGU’s ability to play around arguably the best ADC in the world is quite the advantage. Uzi isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes but the level of his play is simply mindblowing and it’s present both in the laning phase as well as teamfighting in later stages of the game. Paired with their staple aggression and willingness to go for insane plays and you get a team that could in theory really challenge Kingzone.

They’re also coming in with both Karsa (of Flash Wolves fame) and Mxlg, two very different but equally dangerous world renown junglers. Depending on the opponent they could by all means swap junglers and force a completely different playstyle.

Overall they’re an incredibly capable team however it’s still too early to realistically predict whether or not they will be able to contest for the finals or not. LPL champions have been hit or miss over the last couple of years but their potential should never be overlooked. Their aggression and high level teamfighting is something not a lot of teams can contain which is one of the main reasons why we’re putting them second.

If last year’s Worlds is any indication (two representatives in the top 4), LPL is as strong as it ever was.

EU LCS: Fnatic

Representing the EU LCS we have the former (and current) “Kings of Europe” – Fnatic. After a pretty satisfying 2017 season they entered 2018 willing to regain their long lost throne. After an insane regular season they completely and utterly dominated G2 eSports in the finals, clean sweeping them in 3-0 fashion. They’re the absolute best team Europe has to offer and this will be the first time since 2015 that they will be attending the Mid-Season Invitational. (the year when Fnatic almost took down SKT T1 in a Best of 5)

They’re an incredibly talented team that has already proven it’s worth on the international stage. They’re also incredibly dangerous since they can play either through mid or bottom lane. By being a multi-threat team they can essentially adapt regardless of the opponent and go for the most optimal strategy. On an individual level they’re also some of the best players in the world and the fact that sOAZ will be their starting toplaner will surely boost their chances. Even though Bwipo did well in the finals against G2, the amount of leadership, shotcalling and experience that sOAZ brings to the table is invaluable.

Over the last year or so Fnatic proved to belong near the very top of everyone’s power rankings and while they didn’t really make a splash on the international stage just yet, they’re just getting started.

The primary reason why we’re putting Fnatic at third instead of someone like Team Liquid is because they’ve not only retained their 2017 roster but actually managed to improve as well. Everyone on Fnatic has Worlds experience and they were able to showcase incredible resilience and mental fortitude last year when they became the first team in the history of the World Championship that went from 0-4 to advancing to the quarterfinals. They’re all incredibly skilled and perhaps most importantly they have a fantastic entourage within the coaching staff so they should be very prepared for this year’s Mid-Season Invitational.

They have some big shoes to fill after watching G2 challenge SKT T1 last year, but they absolutely have the tools to make their region proud.

NA LCS: Team Liquid

For the North American representative we have Team Liquid. It’s strange not seeing the likes of TSM or Cloud9 represent the NA LCS but at the same time this is a breath of fresh air. TSM couldn’t really do their region justice so perhaps it’s time to give someone else a try. Fortunately for all NA fans this teams is as good as it gets on paper. Unfortunately they didn’t really get that challenged in North America. Echo Fox had an insane dip in performance mid-split, Cloud9 couldn’t really compete at the highest level near the end, TSM had more than a fair share of problems regarding synergy and overall team play, etc.

Regardless, Team Liquid has a lot of things going for them. When you break down the roster on an individual level you realize that this is an absolute all-star cast consisting of some of the best players in each and every role. Impact still hasn’t lost his touch and the meta currently suits him perfectly (not to mention his international “buff”), Xmithie is one of the most intelligent and experienced junglers in NA and to top it all off he has a ton of synergy with Pobelter and Olleh back from their Immortals days (they also competed at Worlds 2017) and last but not least we have Doublelift, one of the best AD carries the West has to offer. He didn’t always play to the fullest of his ability on the international stage, but his leadership and sheer mechanical prowess cannot be ignored.

While they’re all incredibly skilled and experienced individually they’re still fairly fresh as a five man cohesive unit. Dominating your region is one thing but performing on the international stage is another – and that has been the biggest pitfall of North America as a region. TSM dominated for years, in fact this was the first year in NA LCS history that we didn’t see TSM in the final. Regardless of their level of play on home soil – facing the upper echelon from Korea, China, Taiwan, Europe etc. is a different story.

Because of this we’re placing Team Liquid at number four. (ironic) That said they’re incredibly skilled all-around and it’s highly possible that this is the year when North America breaks the curse and actually performs as expected on an international stage.

LMS: Flash Wolves

The only team returning from last year and the de-facto representative from the Taiwanese LMS. After winning five straight LMS titles in a row they’re entering the Mid-Season Invitational with a fair amount of hype. There is a fair number of people who are expecting less from the Flash Wolves this year as they have two new members in the roster – Hanabi in the top lane and Moojin in the jungle, however after seeing them play and dominate against Gambit Gaming this Wednesday it became clear that they’re still a force to be reckoned with primarily due to the fact that they retained the Maple-Betty-SwordArt core. They’re all incredibly skilled individuals

The Flash Wolves are always a hard team to bet on. They have flashes of brilliance regardless of the team they’re up against (also known as the “Korean slayers” due to the fact that they held a positive record against SKT T1 in their prime) but they also stumble and fall at the most random of times. They’re incredibly dominant and strong in the early stages of the game however as time goes on they begin to make critical mistakes at the worst possible times.

Their skill and overall potential is obvious and their aggression is much similar to that of the top LPL teams – probably due to the fact that they consistently scrim the Chinese cream of the crop throughout the year. However they rarely played their best when it came down to those clutch games and moments so we’re ranking them fifth.

VCS: EVOS

Last but not least we have the Vietnamese representative. Even though they weren’t favored to win and proceed to the Group Stage they showed the world that their region is not one to scoff at. Turkey’s SuperMassive was favored not only to dominate in the Play-In stage but perhaps even make a splash throughout the tournament as they were coming in with quite a lot of hype. (mainly due to their high profile imports GBM and SnowFlower) However it was EVOS that proved to be the better team on almost all fronts in their Best of 5 clash on Tuesday.

Without a doubt the biggest performer on the team was their jungler Yijin who almost single-handedly demolished SuperMassive with some of the best (and cleanest) Graves play we’ve seen in quite some time.

After an insane game three (+40 [email protected], 27.3% of his team’s damage) he went for a repeat in game four and performed even better. It’s fitting that the entire Vietnamese region is becoming feared primarily for their junglers and style of play – incredibly aggressive, “in-your-face” with a sprinkle of mechanical prowess.

Vietnam’s biggest strength is undoubtedly their unfiltered aggression and willingness to play the game in a different way. While others are playing through the mid and bottom lane, EVOS’ main strengths lie in their jungle and top positions. They fight from the very beginning and if they manage to dictate the pace of the game they become quite unstoppable.

After witnessing just how big of an impact Yijin as an individual has, it will be exciting to see how well he fares against the like of Xmithie and Broxah who are more controlling, cerebral junglers. He shouldn’t be able to dominate as much against the likes of Peanut and Mlxg but Fnatic and Team Liquid could in theory be vulnerable.

In other words they have the potential to upset. It’s still far too early to predict anything concrete but if their level of play is any indication it’s very possible for them to have a repeat result like the Gigabyte Marines a year prior. (when they kicked TSM out of Groups)

Again, they’re not going for the “most optimal way” to play League of Legends, they have their own playstyle and they’re doing what works for them – to much success so far. They completely overwhelmed SuperMassive and gave a ton of resources to Yijin expecting him to carry – which he did.

They’re entering Groups as the underdogs but knowing how wild Best of 1’s can get, this might be the perfect chance for EVOS to shine and shock the world.

Verdict

As always, betting on the Korean champion to win is always a fool-proof strategy and it pays off almost every single time. (with the very first Mid-Season Invitational being the rare exception when EDG bested SKT in the finals) That said it doesn’t mean other teams won’t be able to contest and perhaps even upset. Royal Never Give Up in particular looks like a very formidable opponent and while Fnatic and Team Liquid didn’t really have the toughest of opposition in their respective regions they’re still highly skilled and experienced teams.

Much like every year the power rankings are pretty obvious. Korea at number one, then a couple of empty spaces then China, Europe and North America. Taiwan is always a wildcard region when it comes to performance – they can either shine and dominate or completely fall flat. Regardless, they’re currently an unknown quantity but they did show quite a lot of potential in their Best of 5 against Gambit Gaming.

As always, if you’re betting on the Mid-Season Invitational try to watch as many games as possible to get a better grasp on the overall power rankings. Things change from game to game and since it’s a volatile Best of 1 format anything can happen at any given time.

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