Wednesday, January 21, 2015

EU LCS 2015 Spring Predictions

                While I haven't watched as much challenger scene this season as I did last year I'll still march out my predictions for EU LCS for this split. These predictions are how I believe the season will end.

#10 - GIANTS! Gaming

Starting Roster: Werlyb, Frederic, Pepinero, Adryh, Rydle

                I actually don't know a single one of these guys other than Pepinero who I barely know anything about. There's something to be said for being all one country and one language (hell look at Roccat last year). It's also worth noting that the EU LCS is relatively shallow this year with a lot of teams in transition and new teams all over the place which will yield and overall weaker field but I just don't see this ending well for Giants. Hopefully they prove me wrong.

#9 Copenhagen Wolves

Starting Roster: Youngbuck, Airwaks, Soren, Freeze, Unlimited

                They're back!! I doubt anyone is that excited. Freeze can be good and traditionally the new young Danish mid laner is usually good but I'm not so sure Soren continues that tradition. Youngbuck and Airwaks have been around for awhile but never seem to do anything impressive. This team is just unexciting to me. They have the savvy veterans to steal some games but there's just not that much going on here.

#8 Fnatic

Starting Roster: Huni, ReignOver, Febiven, Steelback, YellowStar

                The beginning of the era for Fnatic. With Xpeke and Soaz off starting Team Origen, and Cyanide retired (?) the core trio that were together for years and multiple worlds appearances is finally disbanded. As if that wasn't bad enough, their young ADC prodigy that they groomed for over a year had finally come to the big stage and performed very well only to be frustrated at the changes and moved to rivals Elements (Alliance). This is a new team. They may not be as bad as I think with potential stars in Febiven and Freeze as well as Korean imports Huni and former Incredible Miracle player ReignOver but until I see it I'm just not sure. Late changes, language barriers, and previous lack of coaching infrastructure (the old Fnatic kinda just did things the way they wanted) mean that a lot of things need to go just right for this team to even be average and I just don't see that happening.

#7 H2K

Starting Roster: Odoammne, Loulex, Ryu, Hjarnan, Voidle

                Four challenger scene veterans with time on and off LCS teams and a Korean who used to be one of the best in the world. Sounds like a weird sitcom. On paper this actually looks like a decent enough team to be relevant. H2k stormed through the challenger scene most of last season but it's still just the challenger scene. Odoammne was one of the names tossed around by a lot of LCS teams in both EU and NA to replace top laners that were struggling like Innox and Seraph and was considered by many to be one of the best non-pros in Western League of Legends. Loulex and Voidle had their times on and off various LCS rosters with varying levels of success. Hjarnan has been in the challenger scene for awhile looking for his chance at the big time. The big question here is Ryu. The former KT Bullets superstar known by most people as "the guy that lost to Faker in a Zed duel" was actually one of the best players in the world during Season 3 and has had a long and storied career in Korea. But since then he and Horo attempted a move to Europe and were unsuccessful in getting into the EU LCS with Millenium. Ryu didn't look like the same Ryu and while I want to say he's washed up, something tells me that the whole Millenium situation was a bit of a wake-up call for him. If Ryu can channel even a fraction of what he used to be he'll be one of the best mid laners in Europe especially during this currently weak split and if he and Odoammne can perform well then H2K will have a leg up on the bottom tier teams in EU LCS.

#6 Gambit Gaming

Starting Roster: Cabocharg, Diamondprox, NiQ, P1noy, Edward

                I might be underrating this roster but I tend to think that off-season LAN tournaments are not a good indicator of LCS success. They're usually on unbalanced patches, teams can get hot, and in the case of this split, it was in Europe for Gambit. I think this roster is perfectly fine. NiQ had huge weight on his shoulders to replace the legendary Alex Ich last year and performed admirably enough to earn the respect of most players. He's well rounded and solid. Edward is still an excellent support and Diamondprox apparently has a renewed passion for the game after suffering what seemed to be a bit of burn out last season during a lot of their roster changes. Cabochard is unexciting but P1noy was extremely exciting at IEM. Now let's be real here. He's not as good as he played there. At least I don't think he is. That being said there's the possibility that his high risk, high reward style could prove beneficial. Overall Gambit is somewhere in the middle. Not a high tier team but one that could be coming in hot off their off season performances. They'll probably come out strong and fade as the season goes.

#5 Meet Your Makers

Starting Roster: Mimer, H0R0, Selfie, MrRallez, Nisbeth

                I don't know much about Nisbeth but I do know that MrRallez is a savage. Maybe the 2nd best ADC in Europe. Mimer while unexciting is an EU veteran. Selfie looked outstanding for a majority of last season. Now it comes to H0R0. From SK Telecom T1 S to Millenium (with Ryu) to MYM this guy has had one hell of a tumultuous offseason. He was one of the stronger junglers in Korea when the "Great Exodus" happened and it was rather strange that a Korean team didn't pick him up from SKT but to Europe he went and, well, it hasn't been good so far. I think with time to settle down and just focus on playing, he'll find his old self. He's still an excellent player and likely the best jungler in Europe if he can play up to his previous level. He could be the catalyst that propels this team into a higher ranking but for now I'm going to assume he'll still be adjusting during this split. If he remains on this roster for the Summer than I could see them progressing.

#4 ROCCAT

Starting Roster: Overpow (top), Jankos, Nukeduck, Woolite, Vander

                These guys are a blast to watch. Last year they were an aggressive, innovative, grab life by the balls kind of team. Now I'm not sure how Overpow is going to work out in the top lane but with the champion pool for top beginning to grow pretty large I'm sure he'll be fine by season's end. He's a great individual player and he'll find a way. Jankos is a first blood machine and the best jungler in Europe and if H0R0 doesn't live up to his previous self. Nukeduck's return to the professional scene will be interesting. His former champion pool (a year ago...) looks fine but a lot of things can change between then and now. Just remember he was a former worlds competitor. Vander and Woolite, while unexciting are serviceable pros and together form a formidable duo for the laning phase. If Nukeduck pans out then this should be a solid roster and with Europe as weak as it's been since I can remember, they shouldn't have any trouble finishing in the top 4.

#3 Unicorns of Love

Starting Roster: Vizicsacsi, Kikis, PowerOfEvil, Vardags, Hylissang

                These guys are EVEN MORE FUN to watch. Innovative, ruthlessly aggressive, willing to experiment, and a very "nothing to lose" kind of attitude can combine to form a lethal combination. PowerOfEvil is the real deal and is potentially the only person that can challenge Froggen this season. For my money, he was the best non-pro in the West and it's going to be exciting seeing him for a full split after brilliant performances in the qualification tournament and at IEM. Vizicsacsi is another game changing playmaker in top lane and in a meta where more and more champions are becoming viable. Kikis gets things going consistently for his solo laners in much the same style as Lovelin of OMG and the bot lane function as role players. Hylissang will have to show some proficiency on champions other than Thresh but overall I really like this lineup. They're fresh, exciting, and they themselves are excited to be here.

#2 SK Gaming

Starting Roster: Fredy122, Svenskeren, Fox, Forgiven, nRated

                I'm still convinced that if Svenskeren didn't get banned that SK would've made it out of groups over TSM at worlds this year. They're an outstanding strategic team and are very well coached. The loss of Jesiz could make an impact here as his ability to maintain control of the game by slowing it down was noticable however, Fox brings an aggressive side to things that Jesiz was inconsistent at and overall could provide a more well rounded player for SK to build strategies with. Svenskeren is right there with Jankos as one of the best junglers in Europe and Fogiven is immensely talented if he can keep his head in the game and focused. nRated, while unexciting, is another seasoned, solid veteran and apparently Forgiven likes. This is a solid roster of veterans plus new comer Fox to bring some energy and diversity which is a great combination that I believe will lead to a top 2 finish.

#1 Elements (former Alliance)

Starting Roster: Wickd, Shook, Froggen, Rekkles, Nyph


                Elements are the clear cut favorites for EU this split and likely this year. I just don't see any of the other European teams on the same level as they are. They made a slight upgrade at ADC with the addition of former Fnatic member and young prodigy Rekkles but other than that kept the same roster. On the worlds stage Wickd and Shook are weak links but domestically, this is a rock solid roster with next to no challengers. They'll dominate because they're good top to bottom and only made one change for a slight upgrade. They won't dominate because of Rekkles. The fact is that he was only a slight upgrade. Even though he's the best ADC in Europe he's really not that much better than Tabzz was so no much is changing here. More of the same means more victories for Alliance... I mean Elements.

Prop Bets and Individual Awards:
League MVP - Froggen
Rookie of the Year - PowerOfEvil
Biggest Disappointment - Ryu (I kinda think he'll get his shit together but this is the most likely disappointment option)
Biggest Surprise - Fox (Good team around him puts him in a good spot to succeed)
Best in Role:
               - Top: Vizicsacsi
               - Jungle: Jankos
               - Mid: Froggen
               - ADC: Rekkles
               - Support: Edward 

NA LCS 2015 Spring Predictions



                With LCS starting this weekend it's time for my predictions for the split for both NA and EU. I didn't follow the challenger scene nearly as much as I did for previous splits but I'll still give you my thoughts for this season. These predictions are made in the style of power rankings. I'm not going to predict records like I did for LoL Champions Korea but this is what I expect to be your END OF SEASON rankings.

#10 - Team 8

Starting Roster: CaliTrlolz, Porpoise, Slooshi, Maplestreet, Dodo8

                There's a chance that I'm not giving enough credit to roster continuity here seeing as Team 8 have been together in the challenger scene for quite some time now but that fact is that the level of skills here is just not up to par with the rest of the LCS. The only player really worthy of the higher level is top laner CaliTrlolz who is going to thrive in the current meta game where the top lane is vibrant and full of potential champion selections. They might have been good enough to get into LCS but they're not ready to compete yet.

#9 Gravity (former Curse Academy)

Starting Roster: Hauntzer, Saintvicious, Keane, Cop, BunnyFuFu

                Once again, continuity can be very valuable but there is a reason Curse Academy was a challenger team for well over a year. I think they're the superior of the two mainstays from the challenger scene in NA. Keane can be an absolute beast and while old man Saintvicious might not be what he used to be, he is the emotional leader this team needs to cause some upsets. Gravity and Team 8 will likely both end up back in challenger at seasons end.

#8 Dignitas

Starting Roster: Gamsu, Crumbzz, Shiphtur, CoreJJ, KiwiKid

                I can respect the loyalty that Dignitas has to its players but do they honestly expect people to believe that there wasn't a better option than Kiwikid? Especially with QTpie leaving it would've been a great time to just bring in a new bot lane all together. Anyway, I digress. The problem I see with this team is that they didn't fix any of their problems during the off season and downgraded at two positions. CoreJJ may end up better than QTpie but he's got to prove it to me first. He also has the language barrier/moving to NA issues to deal with. It's possible that he has stronger game sense and could be more coachable though so perhaps that was part of their considerations. Gamsu I've heard good things about from higher level players but he's not Zion. To me the bigger issue is that star player Shiphtur does not play well when behind and I just can't see this team having many early and mid game leads. Unless their new coaching staff figures out something that nobody else does this could be the end of Dignitas as we know it.

#7 Impulse (former LMQ)

Starting Roster: Impact, Rush, XaioWeiXaio, Apollo, Adrian

                If the language barrier can be overcome then this roster has the potential to finish significantly higher than this ranking but I'm speculating that that will not be the case. As great a coach as Fly can be they just don't have the time together as a team before the split starts to make a massive impact (heh!) in this split. We all know XaioWeiXaio is a beast but this just seems likea cobbled together bunch. Apollo and Adrian from NA solo queue, Impact after being cut from SK Telecom, and Rush who I know next to nothing about. This ranking is almost entirely respect for XWX to carry and for some younger, fresh talent and good coaching to come on stronger towards the end of the season even if they start rough.

#6 Team Coast

Starting Roster: Cris, Impaler, Jesiz, Mash (dontmashme), Sheep

                A lot of veterans here and while not all of them have played at the highest levels, they've all been in the scene for quite some time. It will be interesting to see how Jesiz makes the transition to NA and a new team but I really liked his performance on SK last year and his ability to play safely will allow Impaler and Cris to play aggressively which is what they are best at. Experience is the primary advantage this team will have as long as they have some sort of synergy.

#5 Winterfox (former Evil Geniuses)

Starting Roster: Avalon, Helios, Pobelter, Altec, Imagine

                Altec was by far the most underrated player in both NA and EU LCS last year posting absolutely unbelievable numbers on a losing team that was going through roster changes. He was the best in the league in average KDA in wins, least percentage of team's deaths, least deaths per minute, 2nd in percentage of team's kills, 3rd in kills per game, 2nd in minion kills per minute, and 4th in overall KDA last split. He's an animal that's just waiting to be unleashed on the rest of the league if a good roster can be assembled around him. But it's not just Altec I'm hyped about. Pobelter's journey to the upper echelon of Korean solo queue during the offseason was well documented and full of highlights against the best Korean professionals. At one point he was rank 30 with a 71% winrate. While solo queue rating doesn't always translate to great pro play, it is certainly a representation of how the individual player is doing currently. I'm not sure any of the other NA mid laners outside of Bjergsen and maybe XWX could do something like this and it's enough to earn a lot of my respect. I don't know a lot about imports Avalon and Imagine but I can say that the language barrier won't be as big an issue for this team with Helios there to smooth out the transition. Speaking of Helios, his experience, game knowledge, and aggressive play this past year could prove beneficial for emerging young stars Altec and Pobelter. Part of me wants to make a bolder prediction here and put Winterfox in the top 2 or 3 but I'm going to reserve that after seeing a season of play but they are, in my opinion, the highest upside team in NA LCS.

#4 Counter Logic Gaming

Starting Roster: ZionSpartan, Xmithie, Link, Doublelift, Aphromoo

                It carries some weight with me to see the seasoned, unexcitable veteran Doublelift completely hyped for this season. I'm not sure why he's so amped. Maybe it's the addition of Scarra to the coaching staff or a carry oriented top laner in Zion (top 2 top laners in NA?) to pull attention away from him but something is going on here. The big questions with CLG are whether or not Xmithie can re-acclimate himself to the pro game and whether Link can develope any sort of consistency at all. Maybe a change of pace in the jungle could fix both of these problems, especially with the changes to the game as a whole, new faces will benefit greatly by coming into the scene now and not later. A combination of playmakers in Doublelift and ZionSpartan and veteran presence will leave CLG in a familiar place somewhere in the upper half of the NA LCS.

#3 Team Liquid (former Curse Gaming)

Starting Roster: Quas, IWillDominate, Fenix, Piglet, Xpecial

                There' s a lot of hype surrounding this team. Team Liquids' first foray into League of Legends after shunning it for so long, the acquisition of globally popular and former world champion Piglet, the retirement of Voyboy, etc. It's really easy to overrate a team like this but I also think that people are either in one camp or the other. The believers and the non-believers. I for one am closer to believing than not but I'm going to temper my expectations a bit. If we break this team down the biggest weakness is IWillDominate who has been a veteran player for a number of years and while rarely exciting, has been effective for most of his time as a professional player. The next biggest weakness, at least in my opinion, is the potential psychological problems Piglet might have in getting used to the United States. It's been well reported that he went through a sort of depression, has been to Korea a number of times, and has voiced his feelings on stream. I for one think that he'll be a lot more comfortable once the LCS season starts and he starts whooping on the majority of the ADCs in NA. Is Piglet the best ADC in NA? No. Just because he's Korean and a former world champ doesn't mean that. He was cut because he performed poorly for almost an entire year on SK Telecom (also roster rule...) and there are a number of ADCs in NA that I feel are on a similar level such as Doublelift, Altec, and Sneaky. In my opinion, the main reason Team Liquid will be successful is that they will no longer be limited by Voyboy's shallow champion pool and narrow playstyle. Quas has been an underrated commodity, the addition of Piglet is a massive upgrade over Cop, Xpecial is still the best support in NA. All of these things add up to a solid team for me. As long as Fenix and IWD don't absolutely suck then I just can't see this team finishing any lower than top 3. Upgrades all around, early roster changes, and solid individual players in four out of five positions give Team Liquid great odds to do well. They also have the upside to come out the gates on fire and surprise a lot of teams. I could see this team winning this split if Piglet and Fenix pan out but I'll keep them at #3 for now.

#2 Team Solo Mid

Starting Roster: Dyrus, Santorin, Bjergsen, WildTurtle, Lustboy

                Many of you know that I'm sort of a TSM hater so consider that when I make them my #2 for the Spring split. It's easy for a hater to forget that TSM got to worlds last year with a roster that underwent a late season roster change and with a jungler that could essentially play two champions (albeit well). My gut tells me that this will finally be the downtrend for Dyrus. I can't see him staying at that high of a level for much longer. It's nothing against him but time wears on you. The good thing, is that Bjergsen, Lustboy, and WildTurtle are all playing at an extremely high level and I feel that the addition of Santorin will benefit this team much more than losing Amazing hurt them. Amazing is the better player but only on Lee Sin and Elise. His narrow champion pool was what lost them matches in worlds and prevented them from pushing on to that next level internationally (also they had to face Samsung White...). With more versatility, and a fresh start in the form of the new jungle changers, I think the addition of Santorin will provide much more beneficial for TSM as an organization. This team was already towards the top, and they even defeated Cloud 9 in the Summer split. I think they made an overall upgrade and thus, deserve this #2 spot.

#1 Cloud 9

Starting Roster: Balls, Meteos, Hai, Sneaky, LemonNation


                Cloud 9 are simply the best team in the West. They've made no roster moves which gives them a level of competitive continuity unrivaled in the NA LCS. They team fight well, they play well from behind and when ahead. Strategically they're creative and efficient always finding interesting solutions to problems that are presented to them. They're well coached, organized, and humble. But what Cloud 9 does best is win. Sneaky has elevated his play from role player to playmaker in the past year and with the new jungle changes and robust top lane meta-game, Meteos and Balls are going to run wild on the rest of the LCS. Hai's champion pool is in a good spot at least right now and with the full offseason to get himself back on track and add some new tricks, I see him performing better than he did towards the end of last year. Cloud 9 always seem to know the most effective and efficient ways to play the game and adapt very well patch to patch. With the new changes and continuity from top to bottom as both a team and organization, I fully expect Cloud 9 to come out of the gate fast and not let their foot off the gas.

Prop Bets and Individual Awards:
League MVP - Meteos
Rookie of the Year - Keane
Biggest Disappointment - Impact (obviously will have unrealistic expectations on him)
Biggest Surprise - Altec (shouldn't be a surprise but will be)
Best in Role:
               - Top: Balls (or Quas)
               - Jungle: Meteos
               - Mid: Bjergsen (Pobelter and XWX are a close)
               - ADC: Sneaky (Doublelift and Altec close)
               - Support: Xpecial (Aphromoo, Lustboy, and Lemon also close)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Predictions for LoL Champions Korea Spring 2015

FINALLY it's time for OGN (errr Riot Korea?) to start up again!! With that happening it's time for my usual predictions for each of the major leagues. I'll be doing this in a power rankings sort of format as it'd be a bit complicated to do it game by game like I did for worlds.

LoL Champions (Korea) Spring 2015

#1 - SK Telecom T1

Starting Line-up: Marin, Faker, Bengi, Wolf, Bang         Notable Subs: Piccaboo, Easyhoon

                The legends appear to have weathered the exodus of talent better than a most of the Korean teams and after a stellar preseason in which they absolutely dominated the competition with a 4-1-0 record (9-1 in games) they seem poised to retake their throne. To me, the major part of the success is the consistency they've brought to the previously inconsistent bot lane. Wolf and Bang almost never lose lane even against premium opponents and against the lower end bot lanes they're able to win. This will allow Bengi to focus primarily on Marin and Faker. Speaking of Marin, he finally appears to be living up to the hype. He was a huge disappointment for a lot of people during his time on SKT T1 S but I think the majority of his problems came from passive teammates. Marin and Faker will feed off of each other and Bengi will have a field day working with them. Combine that with a rock solid bot lane and a downtick in the strength of most of their opponents and I just can't see SKT T1 doing anything but rampage through LCK.

Final Record: 12 - 2 (one best of three loss to each Najin and Huya)

#2 - Najin e-mFire

Starting Line-up: Duke, Watch, Ggoong, Ohq, Cain      Notable Subs: Zefa, Pure

                Assuming Najin rolls with this starting line-up they're the clear cut number two behind SKT. With that said, they ran an awful lot of Zefa during the preseason which means that either they like him over Ohq which I feel is a massive mistake, or they were just trying to get him some reps during the preseason with no stakes. Najin was the other team that maintained a relatively stable roster through the Chinese exodus. Ohq and Cain could end up being the top bot lane in Korea, Ggoong has shown everyone how much of a savage he can be, and Duke is likely the best top laner in Korea. Watch will do what he always has, never shine, occasionally blunder, but usually just do his job. The veteran presence and overall talent of this line-up will be their strength.

Final Record: 11 - 3 (Losses: SKT, Huya, Samsung)

#3 - HUYA Tigers

Starting Line-up: Smeb, Lee, Kuro, Pray, Gorilla

                One of the big stories this preseason was formation of this mostly ex-Najin team by Chinese company YY. They struggled at times to qualify but did so and have since been performing up to their high expectations. Kuro has been solid throughout his career. Pray and Gorilla are the other candidate for the new best bot lane in Korea (especially Gorilla who probably is the top support in the region now). Lee, while inexperienced has shown a lot of promise and if he can add some depth to his champion pool then he'll surely be a threat. Smeb drew bans and performed way above any level I've seen him at during the pre-season. If he can keep that up then this team will have an even higher chance of success in LCK. The biggest weakness will be whether or not they can remain consistent. If they perform like they did during the preseason they'll be in good shape, but if it's more like the qualifiers then they could end up worse.

Final Record: 9 - 5 (Losses: SKT x2, Najin, Samsung, misc other)

#4 - Samsung Galaxy

Starting Line-up: Cuvee, Eve, Bliss, Fury, Wraith

                The world champs released every single one of their players (or lost them to bigger contracts from China) and had to start from scratch with a brand new roster of solo queue super stars. My first experience with these guys was this preseason and they did nothing but surprise me with individual outplay after individual outplay. Mechanically every one of these guys is at the professional level and they even managed to steal games off of veteran line-ups like Najin and KT Rolster. Bliss is known as a Fizz only specialist and he was 1v1 killing the likes of Najin and Ggoong on the normally harmless Morgana. He also punished Faker in an early duel when he did get Fizz (although Faker took the later game). These guys are scrappy, skirmish incredibly well, and while their strategic side isn't quite there yet (and I trust the historically excellent coaching and infrastructure of Samsung to help with this) these kids really pack a mean punch. They seemingly just play solo queue and are capable of winning. Imagine what a couple of months of learning and experience will get them. I expect them to be the new upstarts and proof that Korea doesn't have the best players but PRODUCES the best players through their system. That being said, I'm not sure they really come into full force until the Summer season so I'll leave them at a respectable fourth for now.

Final Record: 8 - 6 (Losses: varied but probably SKT x2, Najin x1, HUYA x1, KT x1, misc others)

#5 - KT Rolster

Starting Line-up: Ssumday, Score (I think?), Nagne, Arrow, Hachani  Notable Subs: Edge, IkSsu, 

                I'm not quite sure what I think about Score jungling but it appears that KT likes the idea. He performed decently considering he was brand new to it (on the pro level). Score is a talented player but history doesn't treat role swaps well and this seems sort of desperate to me and for no real reason. Arrow and Hachani form a solid bottom side of the map and with Nagne's reinvigoration and Ssumday playing the best I've ever seen him KT appear to be... average. The fact is that only Arrow and Hachani really stand out to me on this team and I'm not entirely sure just how much the solos and jungle can affect the rest of the game. KT is another historically well coached team so perhaps they'll develop an edge with that and their veteran presence. Still, I see them as somewhere toward the bottom of this years pool. This is a bit of a hunch for me seeing as a lot of people have this line-up winning a lot more and while they may perform better than this record prediction, I stick by it.

Final Record: 5 - 9

#6 - Jin Air Greenwings

Starting Line-up: Trace, Chaser, GBM, Cpt Jack, Chei

                Oh Jin Air, I had such high hopes for us this season. After an impressive showing last season it appeared that Jin Air had finally found a playoff worthy team but, alas, it was too good to be true. Trace was an exciting player to watch last year but he seems to have lost something since then. GBM seems to be playing well on the solo queue ladder but just can't translate it to professional play on champions other than Orianna and his small champion pool is killing him. Chaser is good but nothing exciting, although the jungle scene in Korea has taken a hit for sure so maybe this won't be that big a deal even with the new jungle changes. The bright spot for Jin Air is bottom lane Cpt Jack and Chei (unless they run Pilot which I disagree with). This Jin Air team needs too many things to happen to go anywhere. Trace has to get his act together, GBM would have to make massive improvements, and Chaser would have to show a mastery of the new jungle. If things go right for Jin Air I could have them around 4th, making the playoffs and with a winning record but I just don't see it all happening.

Final Record: 4 - 10

#6 - CJ Entus

Starting Line-up: Shy, Ambition, Coco, Space, Madlife      Notable Subs: Trick, Roar

                This is the end for CJ Entus. They've slowly been falling off as an organization that seems unwilling to move on from players. Their loyalty is to such an extreme that it's a fault if you ask me. Shy can still play, Coco is one of the better mid laners in Korea, and Madlife is still Madlife, but what in the hell are they thinking putting Ambition in the jungle? Keeping Space and letting Emperor go to Brazil? Really? I think it's time for Ambition and his ego to hang up the mouse and keyboard, see if Trick develops into anything, and if not, fork out some money to a premiere prospect because if this line up has shown us anything it's that it's boring, unexciting, and incapable of winning games outside of tremendous outplays from Shy, Coco, and Madlife carrying their heavy teammates.

Final Record: 4 - 10

#8 - Incredible Miracle

Starting Line-up: Lilac, Wisdom, Frozen, Sonstar, Tusin

                I really want to believe that IM will be more than this but they're just too inconsistent. Frozen is one of the best players in Korea but he just can't do it himself. Sonstar has had a few good games but the rest of this line-up is just so bland. I salute Lilac for maintaining a professional level of play for literally years now (since League's competitive scene's inception) and while I admire his moderate champion pool he's just not that good. Wisdom might be good but I'd never know from all the focus he has to put toward the top. Sonstar and Tusin probably don't deserve this bad a rap as they've performed well. Honestly the bright spot is on Frozen but it's another case of whether or not he can do this all himself and I don't think he's quite that good yet.
Final Record: 3 - 11

Misc. Predictions:
League MVP - Faker - The obvious choice here if you ask me.
Rookie of the Year - Bliss
Biggest Disappointment - Ambition
Biggest Surprise - Marin or Smeb
Best in Role:
                - Top: Duke
                - Jungle: Bengi
                - Mid: Faker
                - AD Carry: Ohq
                - Support: Gorilla
First Player to Return to Korea before end of season: KaKao (outside shot at Emperor)


Well that's about it for this one. I'll be doing more when it comes time for LCS season. Enjoy the FREE HD (no subscription required anymore!). 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Worlds 2014 Predictions - Season 4 Finals

We've finally arrived at this years League of Legends Super Bowl and the World Cup stadium in Seoul is sold out for possibly the biggest e-sport event in history. Before I go on I'd just like to advise everyone to just enjoy the marvel that is the production and organization it takes for these kinds of events and to just have fun watching the games!

Samsung White vs Starhorn Royal Club
Match ups:

Looper vs Cola
                - Looper is a solid but relatively unexciting player in the context of some of the other legendary top laners in Korea but man oh man does he show up on the Worlds stage. Last year, as a rookie getting his first starts in some time, he was one of the only players to perform well on an otherwise disappointing Ozone team. He has a knack for finding these niche picks for certain scenarios and, as always, has been one of the better users of teleport (maybe the best?) in the world. Cola has mostly just been filler for his team if he's not on Irelia. As usual, SHRC is all about Uzi and Zero and to a lesser degree Insec so Cola and Corn often fall by the wayside. Looper is just the better player here and he's red hot to boot. There's a big disparity in champion pools here as well which gives White a big advantage in the draft.  ADVANTAGE LOOPER

Dandy vs Insec:
                - I'd call this an old rivalry as I'm sure the two have a lot of respect for each other but at this point in their careers Dandy is just miles ahead of Insec. He's likely the best jungler in the world (I tend to think KaKao is better but that's a different discussion) and Insec, while he has performed significantly better this Worlds than he did in LPL this split, just isn't on the same level. On the plus side for Insec, at least he's shown some proficiency on champions that aren't Lee Sin a Dandy is the superior overall player here. ADVANTAGE DANDY

Pawn vs Corn:
                - Pawn showed everyone exactly what he's capable of and why he's one of the few to compete on a level with Faker, Dade, and Rookie. He's also playing out of his mind right now. I was wondering just how long it would take to see his Jayce in action and it certainly didn't disappoint during Semis. Pawn has a massive champion pool and the ability to adjust his style to what the team needs. He's extraordinarily difficult to ban out especially on patch 4.14 where you need to consider Maoki and Alistar bands for Looper from purple side. Corn has done well but is just outmatched here by a player in Pawn that is playing the best League of his career. SEVERE ADVANTAGE PAWN

Imp/Mata vs Uzi/Zero
                - Once again we get to see two of the best bottom lanes on the planet face off, this time for the World Championship. Imp and Uzi are both extremely aggressive, playmaking AD carries that are the the focus for a lot of their teams. Zero has been arguably the most important addition to SHRC during the off season and has performed incredibly well this year at Worlds but let's be real here. Mata is the best support and possibly the best player on Earth right now. This will be a battle for the ages and maybe the best lane match up at this tournament with both bottom lanes running red hot. I think the difference maker here is White's willingness to lane swap while Uzi and Zero tend to opt into the duo vs duo lanes. I think White's bot lane is very, VERY slightly more well rounded and multi-dimensional but this is going to be an awesome standoff.  SLIGHT ADVANTAGE IMP/MATA

Picks and Bans:

                Much like the White vs TSM series, this is more or less already decided before the games even begin. Hypothetically if you were to factor out individual player and team skills and just look at the champion pools this series is very close to over. Unless SHRC have come up with a miracle fix to Maoki and Alistar which is something that Chinese teams have yet to show a willingness to adapt to, they will be must bans in every single game on purple side. That leaves Ryze and Irelia for both Looper and Cola but also leaves up Looper's now famous Akali, his old school Singed, and his standby Dr. Mundo picks as well as Kayle and Rumble all at his disposal. The Chinese teams have all picked or banned Rumble every single game as well as they don't seem to know how to fight around it that effectively. So just out of the top lane we already have more than 3 bans and a number of "must pick" champions available. The mid lane is going to revolve around this Jayce pick that Pawn has completely obliterated this knockout stage on. You can't forget about his Yasuo and Zed either but Corn can play both of those. Jungle is likely a place that Samsung White will focus some bans to knock out Lee Sin and Rengar in some order to either pick what's left away from Insec or ban both. As I said earlier, I don't trust Insec's small sample size on other champions as he hasn't really been that effective on them over a period of time. Bottom lane will be interesting too. Most people perma ban Thresh against Mata and you could make an argument for a Janna ban since Chinese teams have been tending to take that pick out as well. You could argue for Twitch and Lucian bans for Imp and Uzi but I'm just not sure we'll see that with all of the other possibilities here. 
               This is a nightmare for Royal Club. There isn't really much you can do in draft against White and it's my belief that they just need to come up with a team comp that they sincerely feel they can defeat White with and just ban the comp counters, not the lane counters or the player. There's simply too much to deal with. I would think their best case scenario is to get some combination of Rumble and Janna on first rotation as Chinese teams have no shown proficiency in playing against either and to get Uzi on an AD carry that can win lane, whether that be Corki, Caitlyn, or Lucian. They need to ban what they play poorly against and not get caught up in banning the players on White because that's next to impossible. Barring and incredibly strange pocket counter or strategy this series is already over.
 MAJOR ADVANTAGE SAMSUNG WHITE

Overall Prediction:         Samsung White wins 3 - 0

                White is possibly the best team League of Legends has ever seen. I've been saying this since OGN Summer. SK Telecom T1 K as miles ahead of the next best team at worlds last year. This year, there was some debate coming in and you could make an argument for Blue being the best or possibly even Edward Gaming but White took that chatter and made sure to promptly shut everyone up by completely demolishing their sister team in Samsung Blue, the only team since January to defeat White in a best of five. The draft is a complete nightmare for SHRC, their playstyle is predictable and unadaptive, and White has shown a proficiency with a variety of team comps and styles to a degree where I'm just not sure what you can even do against this team. While SHRC has shown a propensity to be a huge momentum team, White has shown that they can quickly silence and momentum and really punish you both in the game and psychologically (see game one of White vs Blue). White is a team that will straight up embarass you.  The only way a game is taken off of White is if White defeat themselves because I severely doubt SHRC can defeat them straight up. Then again this Worlds has proven full of upsets and I'm sure a number of fans will be hoping for a close series but the fact of the matter is that this Samsung White team is a juggernaut. A dynasty. And they're finally going to get their Championship.     

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Worlds 2014 Predictions - Semi Finals


Samsung White vs Samsung Blue
Match ups:

Looper vs Acorn
                - Recently Acorn has been getting the better of this duel but overall they both perform the same roles for their team. Acorn is maybe slightly more well rounded and plays better in lane swaps while Looper has his pocket Singed. Overall pretty close with a very slight (like 55-45 split) to Acorn. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE ACORN

Dandy vs Spirit:
                - Dandy has been the best jungler in this tournament and while Spirit has played excellently this year Dandy is just one of the few true elite junglers in the world. ADVANTAGE DANDY

Pawn vs Dade:
                - You could make an argument that Dade is the best player in this tournament. His career has been incredible and rivaled only be the games all time best players. Pawn is an incredibly talented player as well that has made a name for himself by stepping up against the World's best mid laners and playing the best games of his career against them. While I think this is another close match up and it wouldn't surprise my if Pawn solo killed Dade like he's done to Faker a number of times, I can't knowingly predict that to happen. Money goes to the tried and true (except at last years Worlds) player and that's Dade. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE DADE

Imp/Mata vs Deft/Heart
                - Arguably the two best top lanes in the world facing off. Each have a very unique and contrasting style even though they share a number of the same champions. I tend to give advantages to consistency over aggression but I just feel as if Imp and Mata are going to go down as the best bot lane ever and they're performing at a ridiculously high level in this tournament. I expect the aggression and psychological game to favor the duo from White ever so slightly.  SLIGHT ADVANTAGE IMP/MATA

Picks and Bans:

                This series will come down the draft. These two teams are so evenly matched and know each other so well that somebody is going to have to break out something completely different or trap the other into a bad pick. Considering White's larger champion pools and willingness to take risks I see it being them. Maybe it'll be a Looper Singed pick or even something as extreme as banning out most of Dade's pool to force him onto a narrow pick like Ryze. Or maybe it'll be something really bizarre. Regardless, the team that wins the draft is probably going to win this series and I think White has the ever so slight unpredictability factor over Blue (not to say Blue isn't unpredictable). SLIGHT ADVANTAGE SAMSUNG WHITE

Overall Prediction:         Samsung White wins 3 - 1


                This could go either way. I actually think there is a really good chance this goes to five games and I sure hope it does but I'm going to give this series to White. They're playing extremely well and with a certain bravado that I'm not sure Blue can handle this time around. While Blue has been the only team to defeat White since January, I sincerely think that White finally conquers their demon and defeats their sister team to move on to finals. I predicted this semi final and I also predicted White to win the whole thing. I'm sticking with it. This time White takes down Blue.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


OMG vs Starhorn Royal Club

Match ups:

Gogoing vs Cola
                - Gogoing has been an absolute beast in these World Championships and while Cola has performed admirably he's simply outclassed here. SEVERE ADVANTAGE GOGOING

LoveLing vs Insec:
                - Two junglers with long and illustrious careers within their regions (and Insec in two!). Multiple worlds performances and a solid quarterfinals performance from Loveling would lead one to think he's coming into this rivalry showdown red hot but Insec was up to his old tricks on Lee Sin in the quarterfinals and has been the man setting up a lot of Uzi's rampage throughout this tournament. I actually feel as though this matchup is relatively even but Insec has the higher ceiling and lower floor while Loveling is pretty steady with his play. A lot will depend on the champions these two opt for. I expect the Lee Sin to be a primary pick once again to either take it away or ban it.                            NO ADVANTAGE

Cool vs Corn:
                - Historically speaking, Cool is just the better talent. There are only a few champions in common and I'm not entirely sure Corn is the kind of dynamic player to shut down Cool. Best case scenario for Corn is that he gets on one of his roaming assassins and doesn't have to deal with laning for an extended period of time against Cool or he gets a lot of help from Insec which would be uncharacteristic of Starhorn Royal Club. There is the off chance that Corn's experience against Cool gives him a potential silver bullet but you could argue the same for Cool as well.          ADVANTAGE COOL

San/Cloud vs Uzi/Zero
                - Although Cloud was a huge upgrade over Dada777 and seems to have invigorated this team they just don't stand a chance against the red hot Uzi and Zero. San and Cloud are simply outclassed and I'm not sure any previous experience will be as much of a factor now that Cloud is in the picture.   SEVERE ADVANTAGE UZI/ZERO

Picks and Bans:

              This is a tough draft to predict. I expect the majority of the bans and priority first rotation picks to be spent on the top lane in the series. Gogoing has been playing out of his mind and it would behoove SHRC to shut down his Ryze and Irelia. Perhaps Maoki and Rumble will escape bans and see some play but if I'm SHRC I'd be banning out three and taking what's left. Another potential conflict point is the Lee Sin pick. While OMG has Gogoing to scare out bans/picks, SHRC has Insec's Lee Sin to do the same. I full expect it to be picked by Loveling or banned from purple side in each game leaving the junglers to battle for the Jarvan and Khazix picks. In the mid lane I simply think there are too many champions they are each proficient on and OMG will likely allow Cool to play whichever matchups he wants and not restrict him with bans but SHRC may throw out a Syndra or Yasuo ban. The Zilean, who has been pick/banned in over 90% of the games at World's this year, is another possibility to join Alistar in permaban prison. Much like the showdown between the Samsung sister teams I believe that this series could potentially be decided on who is willing to be more versatile or take risks in the draft. Historically OMG has been the more strategic and innovative team while SHRC has been predictable. Both teams possess relatively deep champion pools but the requirement by SHRC to concern themselves with Gogoing AND Cool in bans is certainly going to provide a bigger challenge than OMG having to worry about AD carry bans for Uzi or any single particular threat from the solo lanes and jungle of SHRC. ADVANTAGE OMG

Overall Prediction:         OMG wins 3 - 2


                  Both of these teams are coming into this series playing their best games of the tournament. While they're both Chinese clubs that thrive on skirmishes and team fights over the more cerebral and strategic game they're both built much differently. OMG is built around the jungle and dominant solo lanes. Their jungler Loveling focuses a lot of energy in getting his solo lanes rolling. SHRC is built entirely around their AD carry Uzi and they invest a lot of resources into him. It seems as though nobody has been able to stop SHRC's predictable game plan but I think OMG has the tools to do so. I simply place more value in dominant solo laners than I do in dominant AD carries. OMG has won the overall historical match up between the two with a total of 12 wins to 6 losses and while OMG was struggling mightily in the playoffs and early going in this tournament it seems they've finally hit their stride. This has the potential to be a blowout as both teams rely heavily on momentum and especially within the Chinese scene the team with it in their favor usually wins. But I get the feeling that we'll have a close, five game slugfest in this series and I think that in a long series, OMG has the advantage. A more maleable and open draft phase, the introduction of Cloud to improve on their greatest weakness, and the historical advantage lead me to believe OMG have the edge in this one.

(Realistically I'd say this is only like a 55-45 or less split. It's really close)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Worlds 2014 Predictions - Knockout Stage

**** I'll be editing this as I get time to write it, for now my thoughts on the first quarterfinal match***

                Before I begin I'd like to quickly discuss some thoughts about the different regions, progress, and some general thoughts regarding group stage results as it's worth mentioning before we dive into predictions which can be rather polarizing:

-          We can now see how much infrastructure matters to the progress of the Western professional scene. The Western teams showed excellently this year taking multiple games off of top Korean teams and overall exceeding expectations.

-          While we all love international tournaments, you're seeing the benefits of league based play to create competition within a region to up the level of play. The primary example here is LMQ who also overachieved in groups this year taking games in the "group of death."

-          It's all fine and good that the West has progressed and while I do believe the gap has closed I think it's important to take a step back and look at things as a whole. Just because Western teams took games off the Koreans in group stages doesn't mean that they're now on an even playing field. Group stages in competitive gaming are often about having a good, generic, one-style-fits-all strategy that doesn't show your hand unless you have to so that you have hidden weapons/strengths for the knockout stage. The Korean league, OGN Champions, copies the World's format almost exactly. A 16-team point system group stage (best of 2, 2-0 is 3 points, 1-1 is 1 point, etc.), top two from each of four groups advance to a best of five playoff bracket. Korean teams rarely show much in group stages unless they have to and their true strength lies in versatility and adaptation in a best of five series. They do this three seasons a year while LCS is a significantly different format. In many ways they are built to win Worlds and will take shortcuts to get through group stages without revealing much. With this in mind, the Korean teams still went a combined 15 wins - 3 losses (16 wins if you count the tiebreak between Shield and C9) and for the most part dominated in the games that mattered. Just because Western teams managed to take some games in the relatively meaningless group stage (to the Koreans who are confident they'll advance) doesn't mean jack when it comes to the adaptation and depth of strategy necessary to win best of fives. All I'm saying is to have both realistic expectations as well as analysis before you jump on the "Those Koreans aren't that much better than us anymore!" bandwagon.

-          KABUM!!!!!!

Knockout Stage Predictions:

OMG vs Najin White Shield
Match ups:

Ggoing vs Save
                - The two best top laners in the entire tournament by a long shot. With that said, Save is arguably the best top laner on the planet and to me is just an edge above Ggoing from a gameplay perspective. Ggoing, however, has worlds stage experience, and has been playing absolutely out of his mind this tournament. The obvious but still impressive highlight of his tournament thus far was the marathon game between Fnatic and OMG where he went the entire 71 minutes without dying and made the game clinching play on a crafty teleport flank with Ryze. Both of these legendary top laners have the pedigree, results, and are widely considered the last remaining vanguards of the "carry" top laners. You could make an argument for either but I personally think Save has straight up embarrassed superior Korean competition and Ggoing will have his hands full with the challenge.  SLIGHT ADVANTAGE SAVE

 Lovelin vs Watch:
                - Watch has received a lot of criticism this tournament after raising his expectations to an absurd level with the best play I've ever seen from him in the Korean qualifier tournament for the third seed. He's still a solid jungler in a scene where he frequently has to compete with the likes of Dandy, Kakao, Spirit and many others. Watch has also been on the international stage before with Najin Black Sword and was a professional Brood War player before his career in League. While the criticism is real and often justified, I remind everyone once again that strength of competition matters A LOT. China has long been ridiculed for their lack of solid jungle play. ClearLove and Lovelin have long been considered the two best by a long shot in the region and both were usurped upon Insec's introduction to the region with Starhorn Royal Club. Lovelin is a special player. It's not easy to play at the highest professional level in two different roles. He also has world stage experience. I simply think Watch is the better jungler due to success against superior competition but his tendency to be inconsistent could provide a potential weakness for Shield. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE WATCH

Cool vs Ggoong:
                - This is the match up to keep your eye on! Cool is considered by many to be one of the premier players in the entire tournament and some even have him as the second best mid laner in this tournament. While I don't agree, you could make a pretty solid argument for this with consistently dominant showings in his region and an MVP award for his play in the LPL this Summer. The really interesting thing about this match up to me is that much like Dade vs Hai, there is quite a bit of overlap in champion pools. Both players top champions include Yasuo, Zed, Ahri, and Orianna which leads me to believe that there will either be a lot of competition over this pool (the Zed and Yasuo inparticular) or a lot of counterpicking due to familiarity with match ups. On the surface I feel that most people give the advantage to Cool simply because his name commands a lot of respect but I'm again going to reference strength of competition and give Ggoong the slight edge seeing as he frequently plays against the likes of Faker, Dade, Pawn, Rookie, and other premier Korean mid laners while Cool has significantly less competition within his region (that's not to say he doesn't have any).  SLIGHT ADVANTAGE GGOONG

San/Cloud vs Zefa/Gorilla
                - The battle of inconsistent bot lanes! The strength of both Shield and OMG is primarily derived from their solo lane and junglers. Historically the bot lanes for both teams have been the biggest question marks and both tend to play a passive, safe style to cause the least amount of damage while their solo lanes do the heavy lifting. After an abysmal group stage performance by Dada777, OMG has opted to replace him with Cloud. As a player Cloud prefers to play more aggressive support champions like Thresh, Sona, and Leona but I've never seen him on champions other than these so I'm not entirely sure how well he plays the current meta support picks like Janna and Nami. In my personal opinion, barring an massive synergy problem, this substitution can only be an upgrade. Dada777 is widely considered one of the worst professional players on any of the Chinese teams and he honestly had no business being in this world championship in the opinions of many. That being said, Gorilla is one of the top support players in the tournament and if Shield is able to get Zefa on his best champions like Corki and Lucian then I can't see this ever going in favor of OMG. It becomes slightly closer with Cloud replacing Dada777 but Gorilla is a world class support player and creates the biggest mismatch in this match up even with Cloud playing now.                               SLIGHT ADVANTAGE ZEFA/GORILLA

Picks and Bans:

               There is a lot of overlap in champion pools between these two teams and much like Samsung Blue vs Cloud 9 I expect some interesting drafts. Both teams have dominant solo laners that will undoubtedly want premium champions for their match ups. However, while in most cases I feel the blue side has an advantage in the draft in situations like this, I feel that the counter play options are there for Cool and Ggoong as well as Ggoing and Save and I fully expect a lot of the draft to be focused around this. Expect a high priority or ban to be placed on Zed and possibly Yasuo as well. I wouldn't be surprised if this game turns into Ahri vs Orianna or Zilean in the mid lane the majority of this series. The Ryze pick will also be highly contested as many people consider Save's Ryze to be the absolute best right now, Expect the Ryze to be first picked or banned. Personally though I feel that Shield gains a huge edge in the draft with their pocket Kassadin pick. Save's top lane Kassadin has proved time and again to be effective even in seemingly terrible match ups. This leaves OMG's hands tied in the draft as they'll be forced into playing or banning Ryze to take the pick from Save and either banning or finding some way to deal with Save's Kassadin pick. So from purple side I feel that OMG MUST BAN Ryze which gives Shield a lot of leverage to take either Lee Sin, Thresh, Zed, Yasuo, Zilean, Lucian, or Tristana. This flex pick Kassadin (even though it's usually top lane for Shield) is going to cause of lot of problems for OMG during the draft. I also feel that Shields ability to play the Twitch/Kayle combo successfully provides another wrinkle for OMG to deal with. The combination of this pocket pick, overlapping champion pools, and Shields ability a variety of comps including their unique 3 or 4 carry skirmish comps that excel at separating traditional AoE comps will provide an edge to Shield in the draft.  ADVANTAGE WHITE SHIELD

Overall Prediction:         NAJIN WHITE SHIELD 3 - 1 

             I feel that this will be a relatively close series but over in four games. Shield are very good at tooling teams around the map and winning with minion wave management and a team like OMG hasn't had to really deal with that in the LPL (closest would be LDG). If you consider that superior map management alone can win Shield the game even when they're out drafted I just can't see OMG taking three games off of Shield even if they're not as solid as they were during their qualifier run. Shield also has the advantage in the draft with the ability to play a variety of compositions. Their patented divide and conquer comp with double, and sometimes triple, assassins plus Janna, Nami, or Thresh excels at separating traditional team fighting compositions into smaller, more digestible pieces with the added bonus of split push possibilities. Shield has also shown the ability to run a successful Kayle + Twitch combination which I've yet to see OMG cleanly execute. OMG do have an incredible amount of individual skill in their solo lanes and I could see their brutish Chinese play style powering through the sometimes inconsistent Shield. Shield is just the better team here folks. They're more versatile and I again reference the strength of competition in Korea but they are the most mortal of the Korean teams in this tournament and are the most inconsistent. With time to research, inconsistencies in Shield's game, and OMG's high skill ceiling, I could see them snowballing one and possibly two games to a victory but I can't justify giving them the series win.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Edward Gaming vs Starhorn Royal Club
Match ups:

Koro vs Cola
                - Admittedly I haven't watched nearly as much Chinese league as some experts but from watching playoff performances of both EDG and SHRC in the last two splits I can evaluate that the Chinese top lane meta is dominated by Ryze and Irelia (and Maoki to a lesser extent because he's banned frequently). Because of this I often consider the top players on these champions similar to how I do for other roles. I personally don't know who the better top laner is, only that they both pale in comparison to Ggoing. Koro has impressed from time to time, Cola really hasn't to me. I'm going to call this a wash but it might be slightly in favor of Koro. I could be wrong. NO ADVANTAGE

Clearlove vs Insec:
                - This goes to Insec. Clearlove is known for passively farming and there are very few LPL junglers that punish that, Insec does. Clearlove is, however, much less likely to make a game ending error. ADVANTAGE INSEC

U(nstoppable) vs Corn:
                - .U has played 7 different champions ranging from utility mids like Orianna and Zilean, to assassins like Zed and Kassadin, and even a Jayce pick. He's shown how deep his champion pool can be but has been known, much like his jungler Clearlove, to play much too passively and not take advantages when given to him. U is closer to a traditional mage player. Corn, while not the opposite, is closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. He tends to roam a lot more with Insec and try to get his world renowned bottom lane going. He prefers to play assassins and lane bullies like Yasuo, Fizz, and Syndra but has also shown a willingness to adapt to his teams needs playing Orianna to a 3 - 0 record as well as Zilean. Both are role players for their teams and while U has been touted as an incredibly gifted mechanical player he has yet to really show me that in this tournament. When it looks like a tie I tend to give the advantage to the play maker and that's Corn.  SLIGHT ADVANTAGE CORN

NaMei/Fzzf vs Uzi/Zero
                - Historically NaMei has been the only Chinese ADC to be able to bend but not break to Uzi's incredibly aggressive laning phase but make no mistake, this is going to be a battle that could define this entire series. I completely expect lane swaps to happen and for EDG to get NaMei on a champion that will allow him to abuse his superior positioning and efficiency in the mid and late game team fights. That being said, Uzi has proven time and time again to outplay even the worlds best. Unlike the mid lane, I tend to give the advantage to better positional play and decision making in the ADC position but let's be real here, this is going to be close to even. NO ADVANTAGE

Picks and Bans:

                In their previous series and matchups in LPL, EDG has always seemed to have the perfect solution to solve SHRC's aggression. I expect Maoki bans in every game for purple side as both Cola and Koro are highly proficient on the tree. This will make the top lane a battle of Ryze vs Irelia (and maybe Lulu) until somebody takes one of these picks away with a ban. Zilean bans will likely be another staple of purple side leaving the final ban choice between something like Tristana, Lucian, Alistar, and Yasuo. To me this series is going to be about baiting a pick and counter picking. That might be baiting the Tristana and taking a Corki or Lucian, or perhaps Alistar and taking a niche top laner like Swain or Mundo.  In other words, whoever breaks serve during the drafting phase is going to win. To me that's EDG. They've shown time and time again that they can more effectively use their depth of champion pools to gain an edge in the draft against other Chinese teams.   ADVANTAGE EDWARD GAMING

Overall Prediction:         Edward Gaming 3 - 2


              This is by far the closest quarterfinal match up we have this year. These teams have played each other a number of times in their own region with EDG coming out on top most of the time. Consistently the stronger strategic team and significantly more patient than SHRC, EDGs advantage has shown in all of their playoff series where they've seemingly had SHRC's number. You could pick this either way. I feel that it's roughly 55-45 in favor of Edward Gaming due to their historical dominance of Starhorn Royal Club. The primary argument against EDG is that they haven't looked as solid as people assumed they were but take a step back and remind yourself that many people considered EDG the 3rd or 4th best team in this tournament before it started. They've gone on record saying that they didn't practice for group stages or research for groups at all and were looking blindly forward and preparing for their possible quarterfinal match ups. Combined with the fact that they've now had a couple weeks to digest their mistakes and refocus I just can't see them losing this series. But I do think it will be close and go to 5 games. I also feel that it's entirely possible that Royal Club rides their high energy group B performance and uses that momentum to take this series but I'm taking Edward Gaming to win this in 5 hard fought games.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Samsung Blue vs Cloud 9
Match ups:

Acorn vs Balls
                - While I feel very strongly that Acorn is severely underrated Balls is one of the better top laners in this tournament as well and has a champion pool that is in a really good spot right now, Acorn has just accomplished so much more in a competitive region. He is also arguably the best top laner on the planet at managing lane swaps correctly. You just don't see him decide incorrectly on those kinds of decisions. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE ACORN

Spirit vs Meteos:
                - This is pretty even but again just quality of competition I give the edge to Spirit. The Rengar pick will prove problematic to Cloud 9 and it's not something NA teams have had success playing. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE SPIRIT

Dade vs Hai:
                - There is a lot of champion overlap here but lets face facts. Dade is the best mid laner and possibly the best player in this tournament. Multi-OGN Champions tournament winner, veteran, and most importantly, a man on a mission to prove that last year's humiliating early defeat is not what his legacy will be. MAJOR ADVANTAGE DADE

Deft/Heart vs Sneaky/Lemon
                - One of the top bot lanes on the planet in Deft and Hear get to face off against one of the West's most consistent performing duos in Sneaky and Lemon. Sneaky has been on the rise and performing excellently, improving since his spring split. Deft, while having a rough start to the tournament righted the ship and now looks just as good as he always does. Contributing 44%+ of his teams total damage to champions, the focus of Blue is squarely on Deft and he often delivers. For what it's worth I feel that Heart outclasses Lemon as well, but not by a lot. ADVANTAGE DEFT/HEART

Picks and Bans:

                To me, there are a few ways this can go. It's either going to be Hai and Dade fighting for their premium champions (Zed and Yasuo) or Blue building around the Rengar pick. Whether Cloud 9 chooses to ban Lee and Rengar will determine how the rest of the draft shapes out. I feel their best bet is to take out the Rengar and Lee and let Dade first pick one of his premium champs blind as he always does and secure a strong bottom lane for Sneaky and Lemon. I feel like Meteos can come close to matching Spirit and Balls to Acorn so if you can keep the bot lane close to even there is a slight chance for Cloud 9 to take a game ADVANTAGE SAMSUNG BLUE

Overall Prediction:         Samsung Blue wins 3 - 1

               Blue is just the better team. Hell you could make an argument saying that they're the best team in this tournament (I feel they're 2nd). With that being said, I feel like Cloud 9 will take a game. Blue suffers from early game issues and Cloud 9 does an exceptional job at pushing leads to a strong finish. Their solid early game scripts and drafting will do them good in the slow starting Blue. I also feel that Cloud 9 is one of the few teams that could potentially tool Blue around the map and are intelligent enough with these types of tactics to steal a game if straight up fights or an early game lead aren't enough against the resilient Blue. If they take a game there is a strong chance it will be game 2 (or the first game they get blue side).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samsung White vs Team Solo Mid
Match ups:

Looper vs Dyrus
                - Looper is seldom talked about due to the star power on the rest of his team's roster but he has quietly become one of the world's best top laners. Let's not forget that just one year ago he was called upon to replace Homme for the Season 3 World Championship and was arguably the only positive thing to come from an otherwise disastrous and embarrassing performance from then Samsung Ozone. Hailed as the best user of teleport he quietly ekes out advantages without ever having to make the huge outplay. Dyrus has performed admirably this tournament and far beyond the expectations of many including myself. My gut tells me that Looper is a far superior player but both of these guys tend to just role play for their respective teams. I could see this being relatively even if they do end up in a standard one on one lane. If there are swaps however I give a large edge to Looper who has shown a great deal of success in management of these scenarios. I fully expect there to be a lot of lane swaps to hide WildTurtle and Lustboy from the legendary Imp and Mata which leads me to believe that Looper has the edge here even if individually they're similar. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE LOOPER

Dandy vs Amazing:
                - For my money, this is the single biggest disparity between two players in the same role in the entire knockout stage. Dandy is by far the best jungler in this tournament and I don't think it's even close. He's in a tier all his own. Amazing was possibly the worst jungler in his group and one of the worst of the 16 attending teams. Dandy possesses a massive champion pool with legendary Lee Sin and Rengar play and proficiency on a number of other champions as he showed in group stages with an uncharacteristic Jarvan pick. Amazing has an extremely narrow champion pool of Lee Sin and Elise followed by a massive drop off to his emergency Nunu pick and whatever else he has been working on. Amazing is predictable and Dandy has made a career on abusing predictable jungle players. It would take a miracle for TSM to overcome the gap between these two players alone in a best of five. SEVERE ADVANTAGE DANDY

Pawn vs Bjergsen:
                - Pawn is an extremely gifted mechanical player that does meticulous research on his opponents. He's one of the only players to consistently score solo kills on Faker earning him the name "Faker-Killer." While SS White had an easy group stage, Pawn still scored wins on 6 different champions including Katarina. His Fizz and Yasuo are ban worthy but he also plays an excellently on Zed, Orianna, Zilean (recently), and Talon. He also has a pocket Jayce pick that we haven't seen yet at this year's Worlds. Bjergsen has performed very well in all of TSM's games including their losses. He is a world class mid laner for sure but I'm not quite he's better than Pawn as a lot of people think. There is a lot of overlap in the champion pools here but Pawn is excellent at shutting down world class mid lane competition (Faker, Dade, Ggong) and I could see him simply picking Orianna or Zilean as a means to maintain control and let the rest of his team win. With Bjergsen having to worry about shot calling and his jungler and bot lane being completely outplayed, I can't see him having the best of games here. ADVANTAGE PAWN

Imp/Mata vs Turtle/Lustboy
                - The best bot lane in the world vs a weak, passive laning duo... This is ALMOST as big a disparity as the Dandy vs Amazing duel. Lustboy has performed very well recently in NA and here at Worlds and while Turtle has had his moments, he just isn't a world class AD carry. This is going to be a stomping if matched up 2 v 2. If TSM does decide to lane swap then they'll likely have to ban Imp's Twitch to avoid giving him free farm. There is just no profitable situation here for TSM.  SEVERE ADVANTAGE IMP/MATA

Picks and Bans:

                The major focus is going to be on Lee Sin because, as we've seen recently, Amazing is a non-factor on any other champion with the exception of Elise and a Nunu that I don't quite believe in after a few successful playoff games. Unfortunately for TSM this cripples their versatility in the draft as they have to face arguably the best Lee Sin player on the planet. But TSM's troubles don't stop there. If you consider that in patch 4.14 Alistair is a must-ban as well, you're already down to a single ban to deal with the entirety of White's massive champion pool from the purple side (assuming they're there the majority of the series). With Zilean, Maoki, Ryze, Tristana, Rumble, Twitch, and many other power picks available the options are extremely limited for TSM. I honestly have no idea what TSM is going to come up with for their draft. Samsung White is a team with so many threats, incredible compositional depth, and remarkable strategic versatility. TSM's best bet is to ban out a single player and leave multiple power picks open to secure two of them and hope to snowball off of that. Maybe ban out Dandy's Lee Sin and Rengar and try to get Elise for Amazing? That's not exactly an ideal situation either. White could honestly choose to let Amazing have what he wants and it would still be a mountain for him to climb against Dandy. Turtle pretty much has to get Lucian or Tristana as he's proven unexciting on others. Lustboy will be fighting for his Nami, Janna, and Braum with Mata who also plays those champions. And I doubt Samsung is going to give Dyrus his Rumble but if they do they're be more than willing to lane swap their more than likely un-banned Twitch to a free farm lane while completely denying Dyrus (Rumble is awful in 2v1s). Outside of some ridiculous cheese picks or a monumental error by White this series is, in many ways, over before we even enter the Rift. SEVERE ADVANTAGE SAMSUNG WHITE

Overall Prediction:         Samsung White wins 3 - 0


                Not only is Samsung White the best team in the world (IMO), but they're also a ridiculously bad match up for TSM specifically. If you were to look at the champion pools alone, completely disregarding individual skill and competitive history, this match would already be an uphill battle for TSM. Severe mismatches in the jungle and bottom lane as well as a vulnerable, one dimensional pick/ban phase make this series borderline unwinnable for TSM. One of the other major weaknesses TSM has is their inability to adapt on the fly and with the strategic versatility and depth that Samsung White possesses as well as their insanely high level of individual outplay potential I could see this 3 - 0 being over in under 75 minutes of game time. As a matter of fact, I'm so confident that White completely embarrasses TSM that I've made a few wagers on that under 75 minute number. Sorry NA but even Baylife and apple pie couldn't save you from this one. It's going to be a biblical beat down for the ages.