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LCS EU Season 4: The teams

By Daniel 'd1dx' Yordanov
Jan 13, 2014 23:31


ImageThe elite 8 have been determined, the battlefield is ready and the cameras are set. The action begins in just two days...

The Christmas holidays are on their way and the exciting start of the second installment of the LCS is about to begin. The best of the best in Europe have gathered and are eagerly awaiting to face each other once again. After an incredibly turbulent week not only for the qualified teams, but also for the organisations behind them, the dust has settled and all eyes are on the calendar as we count the hours to 14 January.

In this preview we will present the participants of Europe's highest competitive League of Legends echelon and highlight their strengths and point out possible interesting story lines which may develop during the course of the spring split. Of course, what is a preview without just a pinch of trivia? In addition, the piece is split in three parts as each is centered around a different group of teams.

Without further ado, let us dive right in and see what awaits us once the summoners enter the Fields of Justice...


Table of contents:

1.) Chapter One: Top Dogs (EU fnatic, RU Gambit, EU Alliance)

2.) Chapter Two: In the Shadows (EU Copenhagen Wolves, PL Roccat, EU Millenium)

3.) Chapter Three: The Challengers (EU Supa Hot Crew, EU SK Gaming)


Chapter I: Top Dogs

A friend of mine recently tweeted that "this will probably be the most competitive LCS split so far!", a statement I fully agree with. The mix of quality new comers and veterans of the scene will most likely treat the viewer to an explosive cocktail of flashy plays, strategical depth and a giant dose of entertainment (not to mention the drama). However, three out of those eight stand out as solid candidates for the title - Season 3 fourth place finishers EU fnatic, the all-rounders of EU Alliance and Season 3 top eight finishers RU Gambit Gaming.

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All of the aforementioned possess an all-star line-up with contrasting qualities, amazing back stories and an unbelievable amount of skill. Some may consider the Alliance mention a bit far fetched given that they have no official tournaments under their belt, but given the sheer amount of experience each player in that team has, it would be outright crazy not to consider them as favourites. The "top dogs" in Europe have a tough road ahead of them, but also all the necessary players to overcome any obstacle in their way. In the most competitive season so far, will power, strict practice and hard work will determine the one, true king.



Fnatic

The kings of Europe from last season are back and have set their sights on Season 4 with the lengthily discussed addition of star marksman SE Rekkles. After a very successful World Championship performance, the fanatics took their time with a well deserved break. It seems, however, that the break left its mark on them. A highly anticipated rematch with US Cloud9 which had Europe's reputation at stake, took place and a few would have guessed how much of a one-sided affair it would turn out to be. Adding insult to injury, US Hai "returned the favour" by instantly picking Kassadin, the trademark champion of ES xPeke, and proceeded to dominate, avenging his poor performance months earlier.

This should not bother the team all that much. Despite having a rather turbulent start to the Summer split (2-3), they got their act together and after a very hard-fought battle, ended up winning it for the second time in a row. Bringing in a new AD Carry has caused a significant stir within the team. In a recent AMA on reddit FI Cyanide explained that despite contributing the right skill set for the current meta, SE Rekkles plays mostly non-CC champions which, in turn, will affect the Finn's ganking approach to bot lane.

Trivia time!
- In a recent "Reflections" interview, Yellowstar says that fnatic couldn't take one game off KR SKT during practise at the World Finals.
- FI Cyanide began competing at the age of 16.
- FR sOAZ was introduced to the competitive scene by FR YellowStar.
- SE Rekkles's first competitive team was actually SK Gaming, although for a very brief spell.
- The team has never changed their jungler(not to jinx Lauri or anything).


On the bright side, the pressure will be off ES xPeke's shoulders once the Swedish marksman enters beast mode. Often during the Summer split it seemed that the mid laner's performance was a barometer as to how the game would end. Now, the youngster will not only share the load, but will possibly chip-in as a shot caller. During his time with EU Copenhagen Wolves, Rekkles was actually the shot-caller and had with him all the times a little black book, where he diligently wrote down different strategies or aspects of the game he wished to explore. Being one of the best marksmen in Europe, his addition will most definitely elevate the performance of the team.

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With a new season come new numbers, champion combinations, team compositions and so on. Given the fact that FR sOAZ is in the house, we should definitely expect a hidden ace up his sleeve. The Frenchman is notorious for bringing out new top laners and setting standards on the Summoner's Rift. Along with FI Cyanide's immense champion pool, the fanatics, at least on paper, are one of the best line-ups of this split.

Undoubtedly, once the team syncs up, EU fnatic will be a dominant force in the European LCS.

Player to watch: FR Bora "YellowStar" Kim
The veteran ex-marksman has been hailed as one of the best transitional players ever, along with former support turned jungler CN LoveLin. Backed by his solid mechanics and approach to bottom lane dynamics, the Frenchman is always there if you need action. His ability to create a play or force the enemy team to react helped his team to a top 4 finish during the Season 3 World Championships. With his trusty Leona, Bora is a force to be reckoned with. In a team full of Europe's best why should we follow him? Simple! The Season 4 changes altered the support role in a very interesting manner and his ability to utilize the "buffs" to the role will definitely dictate the team's bot lane performance, not to mention the fact that he is paired up with one of the best marksmen out there.




Gambit Gaming

The Russian overlords are back with a bang! Ever since the reunion with the iconic "support-carry" AM EdWard, the team has racked win after win, dispatching their opponents with the same grace as shown almost two years ago. Seemingly nothing of note has changed in the line-up, but the competitive flame is once again strong within. For a good amount of time RU Gambit seemed lost. The line-up switched between RU Darker and then EE Voidle, but ultimately it was EdWard who brought back "the magic".

Despite the bumpy Summer split affair, the Russians made it all the way to the finals where they narrowly lost to their kryptonite EU fnatic. A very impressive finish considering all the problems and rotations the players had to endure. Their World Finals adventure marked the first time that the Russians placed outside the top 4, which needless to say, was disappointing for them.

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Luckily, the CIS machine is far from obsolete. We were already given a sneak peek at the Battle of the Atlantic where an Ammumu support was showcased to a decent degree of success. Eddy, days before, hinted at a couple of more "viable champions" which we will see at the bottom of the Summoner's Rift.

Trivia time!
- Alex Ich was initially a top laner and in the early days of LoL was asked to join SK Gaming.
- Both Alex and Diamond are married(Sorry ladies).
- Diamond is a very good chess player. In a few tweets he stated that he was actively following the IN Anand vs. NO Carlsen championship game.
- A lot of people laughed at Genja's Ashe tear build, but rumour goes that Riot actually considered the build "broken" and nerfed it.
- Gambit have fallen victim to a Nidalee in their World Championship games twice. In Season 2 (then Moscow 5) against TW TPA who utilized a top lane Nida and in Season 3 against the poke composition of KR Najin Sword, led by KR Nagne's spears of death.
- Diamond has stated in an interview that "if you want to call yourself a jungler, you must master Lee Sin".


The rise of Shyvana has lit the path of both RU Darien and RU Diamond as both favour her and have reaped immense success on the champion. Speaking of the Season 4 changes, we saw an absolute monster in Diamond's Evelynn and I personally expect her to be a must ban against Gambit in all of their matches. Danil has been keeping his top form without any noticeable drops and after their boot camp, I am convinced that a reborn, S4 savvy team will emerge to dominate Western Europe.

Unfortunately, the biggest drawback to the Russian overlords would be the fact that they will stick to their plan of flying prior to the matches as German laws prevent them from staying on German territory longer than a fixed number of days. In addition, given their marital status and other factors (distance in Russia), the team will not be getting a gaming house.

Player to watch: RU Alex Ich
Alexey Ichetovkin is and always has always been the driving force behind the squad. Possessing a seemingly never-ending champion pool, he has time and time again solidified his position as one of the best mid players not only in Europe, but worldwide. In Season 3, Alex did give way to the young hotshots, but as the fellowship reunites, it is time for him to once again lead his comrades to victory through solid calls, monstrous farm and jaw-dropping plays.




Alliance

ImageWhen the EU EG split was announced many fans were heartbroken. Some reminisced the good old days of Season 2 when the five lads seemingly came out of nowhere to become the only team to stop the Russian threat. Others welcomed and embraced the change as it gave both parties what they wanted most. Regardless of all this a truly amazing team emerged - EU Alliance. With their latest addition, former DE SK Gaming support player DE Nyph, the team put their final piece into place and is now ready to prove to everyone that a new power is arising.

After the dissolution of the fabled "Super Team", DK Froggen's future seemed uncertain. The dubbed "best white player to play League of Legends" by UK Thorin, started to assemble a new team, given that his former line-up had other plans for their future. Being a major part in the "Super Team" he once again asked NL Shook to partake in his new endeavor. As SE Jwaow had contract obligations to EU TCM Gaming, a logical choice was country mate DK Wickd and last, but not least marksman ace and former World Finals competitor NL Tabzz.

Trivia time!
- If the LoL division of Alliance wins or at least becomes a top 3 contender, we could safely say that the organisation holds the two best MOBA teams in the world (the other one being the Swedish DotA 2 champions led by SE Loda).
- Tabzz used to be one of the biggest talents on mid lane. What is more, he was considered the best Fizz player in the world by far, many months before Fizz actually gained popularity.
- Shook was the first jungler to receive a praise from a then demigod Diamond in an interview (Season 2).
- DK Froggen and DK Wickd were part of the only foreign team to make KR The Champions final.


After a spectacular debut at Battle of the Atlantic with substitute CZ Kazmitch, the team quickly completed the move of DE Nyph to Alliance and completed a very, very scary, all-round roster. On the one hand, we have Nyph, Froggen and Wickd whose experience and knowledge will rub off on the newcomers which, in addition to their immense skill as separate players, will boost the team's league performance. On the other are Netherlands' finest - Shook and Tabzz. Both have impressed everyone with their solid play throughout the Challenger League and LCS respectively. The Dutch duo has proven their worth and their champion mentality. Their hunger for silverware is shared within the team and this is one of the many reasons why this composition is so scary.

Season 4 has been very generous to Alliance. Shook is an excellent mechanical jungler and as carry champions rise at that role, his excellent play paired with Froggen's genius will leave their opponents fleeing in terror. If they sync up properly, the only other Jungler-Mid duo who could potentially rise up to them would be RU Diamondprox and RU Alex Ich. Ironically, the Alex - Froggen match-up is a duel which has been going since Season 2 and also, Shook is the first jungler to be praised by Diamond in an interview.

As a possible downside of this new line-up, only one thing comes to mind - format. The five players need to become a single unit and adapt quickly as the best of one format of the LCS could be very unforgiving to stubborn teams or those who are not willing to learn.

Player to watch: NL Shook
The Dutch jungle maestro has been a star in his own right since the start of the Season 3 LCS. Then, toxicity issues and a one year suspension got in his way. Due to lucky circumstance another countryman of his, NL YoungBuck seemingly jump started Illyes' career (hence the Shook v2) and he become a fabled machine in the European challenger scene. If Shook brings his A-game to the super week, I easily expect a 5-0 scoreline from Alliance.


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