The Unbeatable vs The unphasable
Wolves in Sheepy’s clothing
Two titans of the European League Championship Series travel to Hamburg, Germany this weekend after a long and hard fought battle through the play-offs. The two teams that have wrecked havoc in Europe all season, and both of whom fought against international opponents at IEM Katowice. G2 Esports vs Unicorns of Love.
But this was not a match-up that was guaranteed. It’s been a long split for the Unicorns of Love, coming into the season with a very untested roster.
The addition of Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, who joined after winning the Turkish championship with Dark passage, was a sure-fire success. Xerxe didn’t die once in his final match for Dark Passage, the players stats spoke for themselves. A last minute scramble saw Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort join the side in the ADC position. A questionable decision at the start of the split, sheepy’s foresight saw samux grow into a stabilizing factor for Unicorns. His performances were never a par below reliable, with some dazzling flashes of carry potential when it mattered the most.
The Unicorns have a long history in the EU LCS, always seem to be made up a ragtag bunch of rookies and veterans alike, never the most polished team, yet this year more than ever they look like a team that can contend for the title.
Kings of the Game
It cannot be overstated how dangerous G2 have looked all split.
Almost everyone expected a dominating split from the side, especially considering that the squad made zero roster changes heading into 2017. It was almost a perfect split for the side, who only fell at the last hurdle, just dropping their last game to a resurgent ROCCAT.
G2 traditionally outclass their opponents in almost every role. Mid lane carry Luka “Perkz” Perković has shined throughout playoffs so far. He has the highest damage per minute while still maintaining the staggering statistic of having the lowest death share of all players in playoffs.
This is worrying for Unicorns, since G2’s traditional carry is from its Bottom Lane in the form of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre. Although not quite as dominant in the recent series against Fnatic, they will have an easier time against the Unicorns botlane, and this will be the place where G2 try to pull ahead.
The worrying part for G2 will be Kim “Trick” Gang-yun’s performance. One of the pinnacle of Jungle talent in Europe during the regular season, his performance in the playoffs can be described lackluster at best.
This is a matchup we’ve seen three times so far this season, each time going in G2’s favour, but things aren’t as clear cut this time. G2 have looked mortal, while Unicorns seem to be on a run of form. Expect a close wrought finals with the possibility of five games. If UOL wins it will almost certainly come from snowballing the top side of the map, with Tamas “Vizicsacsi” Kiss in impeccable form, while G2 bring the heat from mid and bottom lane. This could be the Unicorns chance of victory, or G2 could be claiming their Hat-Trick.
The Titans Clash- TSM v Cloud9
A lesson in sandbagging from TSM
TSM has a long history of being top tier talent in the NA LCS, having been one of the first successful organizations in professional League of Legends. Owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh has stated in no clear terms that anything short of a first place finish is a disappointment. A win here would cement them back-to-back trophies.
Losing AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng did not spell doom and gloom for TSM as many had predicted. Instead, TSM have gone from strength to strength from the start of the split. The traditionally reliable rock of the team, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, broke out of his shell to become a formidable carry top laner. Combined with the continued outstanding mid lane performance from Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, backed up by a bot lane of Jason “Wildturtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang which grew into being a formidable duo. TSM look much improved from the start of the split.
They had a few early game hiccups notably in their semifinal match against Flyquest. Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s predilection of making overly aggressive plays without proper lane pressure lost TSM one game, and made others closer than they needed to be. If Svenskeren can reign in the stallion under him TSM stand a good chance against Cloud9.
Flyin’ on Cloud9
Cloud9 Arguably won the pre-season roster shuffles and came into the beginning of split quietly confident and likely favourites to win the league.
Their 8-0 debut in the first half of the split did nothing to dissuade this Notion, with Rookie jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia being the flair that lifts the rest of the cloud with him. Not to be outshone, Support Andy “Smoothie” Ta has had a breakout year, finally coming in as one of the premier supports in the North American scene. With some questionable performances under Team Liquid and TDK, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi’s lane experience has allowed Smoothie to truly find his groove with the C9 roster.
But cracks have been appearing under the team. After the undefeated first half of the split many teams started to exploit Cloud9’s lack of early game, falling behind early spelt the quick end to many of Cloud9 mid-season games. With another split with the coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, Cloud 9 looked like they had once again peaked at the halfway point. As teams around them improved, they stayed the same, and dropped games because of this.
But two weeks break saw them revitalised against Phoenix1, leaving the possibility of another Historic clash of Cloud9 and TSM.
Cloud9’s Macro and decision making seemed crisper and more on-point compared to an overly aggressive TSM in the Semi-finals, who occasionally played a see-hero kill-hero early game. In the end, the sheer amount of veteran talent on TSM, may be the deciding factor when the teams meet in front of the roaring crowd at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.