The LCS kicked off on Thursday with North American teams beginning their road to a shot at the Season 3 championship. We saw some truly terrific games and new things out of old teams, but North America isn't the only region playing. Europe has been resurgent in recent months and might just be the best region in the world. Their LCS starts on Saturday with their very own grudge match, SK vs Fnatic.
The rest of the matches in Europe this weekend only get better from there, and our friends over at Leaguepedia have written a wonderful article previewing them all. ReignofGaming and Leaguepedia will be partnering all season to provide exciting new e-Sports content, so let us know what you think of what we are doing and what you would like to see more of in the comment section!
SK Gaming vs. Fnatic
SK Gaming and Fnatic will star in the flagship match of the much-anticipated European League Championship Series at 18:00 CEST on February 9th. These longtime rivals qualified for the LCS as a result of their superior Season 2 performances, which means that both teams are equally experienced at handling the pressures of professional competitions. SK and Fnatic tend to favor daring playstyles. On any given day, a matchup between them could go either way.
Their most recent exchange at IEM Katowice illustrates this tension perfectly. XPeke single-handedly reversed Fnatic’s fortunes in their day two best of one match against SK by attempting the LoL equivalent of a Hail Mary: he went all-in with a desperate backdoor counter, while SK Gaming raced toward Fnatic’s base. His unexpected tactics chipped away at SK’s Nexus and confidence. With the memory of this dramatic episode still fresh, SK will look for revenge in Saturday’s encounter while Fnatic will try to prevent SK from taking away their initiative.
Fnatic look to be the favorite is this first LCS clash. They have experienced a recent spurt of success, finishing in the top four at every event they have attended since DreamHack in the summer of 2012. To keep their momentum, the team will need to make sure that they synergize with their bot lane addition, YellOwStaR. He recently left SK Gaming to join Fnatic, so this match is undoubtedly significant to him. YellOwStaR’s efforts to assert himself over his former teammates make him one to watch on Fnatic.
The recent reunion of SK’s notorious bot lane duo Nyph and CandyPanda means that YellOwStaR will have his work cut out for him. Meanwhile, SK’s team captain ocelote will be one to watch in una confrontación épica against fellow Spaniard xPeke in the mid lane. To advance his quest to become the best mid player in Europe, ocelote will need to take charge of this game and initiate decisive plays which balance the risks and rewards. He may also need to synergize with his “lucky scarf” to guarantee an SK win in what is sure to be a hotly contested showdown.
Gambit Gaming vs. Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses (formerly Counter Logic Gaming EU) and Gambit Gaming (formerly Moscow Five), two titans of European gaming, share numerous entries in the League of Legends annals. Some of the best moments in the history of LoL have featured these two teams, such as: EG's mesmerizing comeback during last summer's DreamHack group stage match in which they overturned GG's 27,000 gold lead to win the game or GG’s thrilling winning streak in a best of three's matchup at the January 2012 Kings of Europe tournament, which was cut short by Team EG in the final game. All things considered, it's safe to say that Evil Geniuses may be Gambit Gaming’s kryptonite. Their potentially epoch-making match starts at 19:00 CEST February 9th.
Gambit Gaming appear to have an edge over EG with their win last month at IEM Katowice thanks, in part, to their AD Carry, Genja007. He will be the one to watch on GG's roster since he fulfills an absolutely massive role for his team. The magnitude of his contribution to GG was made clear at IEM Katowice when his second-day switch to a cleverly-built Ezreal snowballed into a reversal of their dismal tournament start. This adjustment showed Genja007’s willingness and ability to successfully adapt his playstyle (from a passive farmer to an aggressive machine) in order to meet his team’s needs. The combined efforts of Edward (formerly GoSu Pepper) and newly-pugnacious Genja007 resulted in a bot lane onslaught that neither Azubu team could mitigate at IEM Katowice, so be sure to look for more of the same from Gambit Gaming’s bot lane in the first GG vs EG matchup of the LCS.
Other than announcing their new sponsor, EG have had a relatively quiet break between the changing of League seasons. After Snoopeh and his teammates signed with Evil Geniuses, they moved into their new gaming house in Cologne, Germany, where they have reportedly experienced some difficulties with their internet connection. There is room for doubt as to whether they have had adequate time to prepare for their match. EG seem to be aware of the skepticism, potentially utilizing Wickd's recent Tweets about long, hard practices to quell misgivings. Team EG’s precise play and late game crunch are bound to be game-changers, but it’s unclear as to whether these tactics will be stable after an inter-season break followed by many adjustments. Krepo and Yellowpete will be the ones to watch on Team EG as they look for ways to restrain Genja007 and Edward in the contentious bot lane.
This exciting Gambit Gaming and Evil Geniuses showdown can only be described as history in the making--a match you do not want to miss.
Fnatic vs. GIANTS! Gaming
The GIANTS! Gaming versus Fnatic matchup on February 9th at 20:00 CEST (2:00 PM EST) is sure to be a must-see grudge match. In the group stage of the Season 3 qualifier, the virtually unknown GIANTS! enjoyed a major victory over Fnatic. This has surely made Fnatic eager for vengeance. GIANTS! will have to remain calm and not underestimate Fnatic's skill level if they want another decisive victory.
GIANTS!, a little-known team from Spain, prefers team compositions based around hard crowd control. Their execution is a beautiful and frightening force to face, but GIANTS! cannot afford to become overconfident. Jîmß0wnz had an impressive showing with AD Kennen, which is sure to earn him a target ban from Fnatic. Unexpected tactics like this will give GIANTS! the upper hand that they need to overcome Fnatic. However, GIANTS! will need to keep the surprises coming; they will have to innovate or face defeat.
Although Fnatic is widely considered the favorite for this match, they cannot afford to ignore the turn of events at the EU qualifier. They must decide how to best adapt to the playstyle of GIANTS! or risk another painful loss. One key to doing well will be Fnatic's top laner sOAZ. After less than outstanding performances at EU qualifiers and IEM Katowice, sOAZ will have to revert to the dominant top laner he once was in order to crush his competition. In addition, Fnatic will have to tap into their abundance of competitive experience to keep their emotions steady and help ensure an easy victory.
Coincidentally, both these teams have relatively new AD Carry players who each want to prove that they deserve to wear their respective jerseys. Therefore, YellOwStaR vs Jîmß0wnz is the lane to watch. They will each be out for blood as they attempt to establish lane superiority. On the other hand, this lane could be the undoing of either team. The seasoned junglers, CyanideFI and Morden, will each try to take down his opponent's unproven AD carry. In turn, the nerves that accompany big events could spell the downfall of either AD Carry.
SK Gaming vs. Copenhagen Wolves
At the EU qualifiers, a dark horse, Copenhagen Wolves, surprised many onlookers by slaughtering their opposition with consecutive wins. After the high of a successful qualification, facing SK Gaming in their first LCS match is a downright buzzkill. Competing against the veteran SK Gaming squad will be a tough fight for the Wolves, but with their aggressive playstyle anything can happen.
Due to the limited information available about them, the Copenhagen Wolves might have a mental edge over SK Gaming. The pressure of facing an unknown opponent may help the Wolves take SK by surprise, which could make for a challenging match for ocelote and his teammates. However, Copenhagen Wolves will be playing without their regular AP mid, Bjergsen, who is too young to compete. How this will affect their chances against the veteran team of SK is unknown. Viewers should keep an eye on TheTess, the AD Carry for Copenhagen Wolves. He will very likely draw an Ezreal ban from SK Gaming. Whether or not can he produce excellent results against CandyPanda while using another champ is uncertain.
Going into this match, SK will have to play everything by the book. They will need to remain flexible to counter any of the tactics Copenhagen Wolves might have up their sleeves. Kev1n, the top laner for SK, is another player to watch out for. The extent of Kev1n’s preparation for his faceoff against Wolves’ heavy hitter Godbro will be key if SK is to win over Copenhagen Wolves. However, if the Wolves are able to exploit SK's backdoor weakness, then all five team members could pose an equal threat to SK's week one standings. Tune in at 21:00 CEST on February 9th to follow the action.
Gambit Gaming vs. Fnatic
Gambit Gaming (formerly Moscow Five) and Fnatic will clash in what is believed by many to be the most aggressive game of the competition at 6:00 PM CEST on February 10th. After a narrow escape from the EU qualifiers, this match will be Fnatic's chance to show their true strength. For GG, this is their chance to confirm that they remain the powerhouse team that they have always been.
These teams are no strangers to each other. A rivalry of sorts festered after the teams faced off in Cologne at Season 2 Regionals, making this a must-see match. With confident turret dives and aggressive lanes, Fnatic aims to structure every match according to their plans. Gambit Gaming is unlikely to fall victim to these tactics, which they could reasonably counter by obtaining objectives and applying lane pressure. There will be two key matchups to focus on in this game, the top lane and the jungle.
In the top lane, Darien is rightfully known as one of the strongest players on the professional circuit. He has easily bested other world-renowned top laners with his surprising champion selections and high-level performances. As a result, sOAZ will have to expertly employ his versatile champion pool to effectively counter Darien, or else Fnatic could be in trouble.
As for the junglers, CyanideFI has consistently impressed with his map awareness, allowing for mythic ganking ability. Fnatic will have to rely on his ganks and turret dives to turn the tide of the game in their favor. In addition to his great diving abilities, CyanideFI has an unparalleled reputation for stealing objectives. If Diamondprox wants to keep Gambit Gaming in the lead, he will have to possess superior map awareness and be in the right place at the right time in order to prevent CyanideFI from securing kills against his teammates. Diamondprox will also need to capitalize on objectives before CyanideFI can reach them. If Diamondprox cannot keep up with CyanideFI, this is GG’s game to lose.
Copenhagen Wolves vs. Evil Geniuses
On Sunday, February 10th at 19:00 CEST, the Copenhagen Wolves and Evil Geniuses (formerly Counter Logic Gaming EU) will meet in the second day of competition in the LCS European bracket. After recently shredding their opponents at the LCS qualifiers, the Wolves will face a tough match against one of the perennial fan favorites, EG.
The Wolves officially joined forces in August of 2012, making them a fairly new addition to the League of Legends scene. In comparison, Team EG boasts two years of solid competitive experience at the international tournament level. The freshness of the wild card Wolves will grant them the art of surprise against their opponents in week one meetings, because the team is so new that not much is known about their exact styles of gameplay. This shroud of mystery gives them a tactical advantage.
Although the LCS will be Krepo and company’s first major tournament under new management, Evil Geniuses are no strangers to the competitive world of League of Legends. Their synergy is built from a great deal of experience in pro-level matches and tournaments. After recently being crowded out of the spotlight by younger teams, they will be on the hunt to reclaim the center of attention and a place at the top. Froggen’s quirky champion choices will provide leadership in the mid lane, and his ever-growing pool of champions will make it hard for the Wolves to effectively target bans. Therefore Froggen may cause chaos for the Wolves, who will be without the help of their usual AP mid, Bjergsen.
Which status will be more beneficial in this best of one match: wild card or veteran? The answer to this question will likely be revealed by mid game, at which point it will be clear as to whether the make or break moments of the matchup are to be in the early game or after. If the Wolves can sufficiently abuse EG’s information gap using aggressive early game surprises, then the wild card will probably be trump. However, if EG’s seasoned sophistication allows them to push the key fights into the their expert mid to late game, then the veterans will likely triumph. This is a must-see match that will either culminate in the Danish wolf pack continuing their destructive rampage or in the Evil Geniuses hatching a dastardly plot to stop the Wolves in their tracks.
GIANTS! Gaming vs. Gambit Gaming
With the start of Riot’s Season 3 EU Championship Series, many fans around the world will be looking forward to seeing what the qualifying teams will bring to the table. On Sunday, February 10th at 20:00 CEST, GIANTS! Gaming will face off against Gambit Gaming (formerly Moscow Five) in the second-to-last game of week one. GIANTS!'s LCS offerings will be especially intriguing since they are a relatively new team, recently formed in July of 2012. GG’s week one contributions are likely to set benchmarks which other teams will have to strive to exceed in order to climb to the top of the LCS EU rankings.
GIANTS! Gaming are being closely observed after going 2-0 against the rising star Team ALTERNATE and the fan-favored Fnatic in the first day of the best of one EU qualifier matches. Even with no major tournament wins, GIANTS! have convinced fans, and other pros, that they are not to be taken lightly in upcoming matches. Meanwhile, Gambit Gaming will be approaching their week one matches with great momentum from their still-fresh IEM Katowice win. Both teams are riding on victorious highs, so their match should be full of exciting and confident tactics.
Of special interest will be how the somewhat green GIANTS! will handle themselves against the veterans, Gambit Gaming. GG has deep roots that feed into their well-established synergy. The strength of their bonds may give them an advantage over GIANTS!. However, it could also be said that GIANTS! might hold the upper hand in the match with their ability to surprise their competitors because a fog of war currently surrounds their playstyle. In contrast, there is a considerable amount of information available about GG's gameplay. If GIANTS! Gaming are able to use this wealth of data against their opponents, Gambit Gaming could end up in a double jeopardy situation.
Both GIANTS! and Gambit Gaming will be looking to capitalize on their recent successes. The new contenders will try to solidify their right to be ranked amongst the world’s top League teams. The old contenders will try to outmatch their former glory. Each team will want to make the most of this opportunity to establish which team is truly the powerhouse and which team is the underdog. Therefore, the winner of this match could very well be whichever team most strongly desires to rise through the ranks.
SK Gaming vs. Evil Geniuses
SK Gaming and Evil Geniuses will wrap up the first week of the LCS on February 10th at 21:00 CEST (3:00 PM EST). This matchup may leave a lasting impression of how the more storied teams will fare in the League.
When Araneae rejoined SK a few months ago, it seemed that they had finally solidified their golden age lineup, but it was not meant to be. The more aggressive hyrqBot has taken on the jungle role in the wake of Araneae’s second exit. After a few other ADC’s took their turns in the revolving door, CandyPanda returned to SK from an extended hiatus to rejoin his bot lane soul mate, Nyph. CandyPanda’s unusually eclectic champion pool will round out mid player and team captain ocelote’s hopes to see SK's names on the trophy this year.
For EG (formerly Counter Logic Gaming EU), week one of the LCS will showcase their first high profile games since being picked up by Evil Genuises. Like SK, EG have not had a big first place finish in many months. Although both teams are led by their mid players, the similarities end there. EG have retained their current lineup since they formed CLG.EU, a stark contrast to the sometimes volatile atmosphere that appears to surround SK Gaming. EG are made up players with strong voices who choose to follow Froggen’s lead, while ocelote is the dominant face of SK Gaming.
Other than an occasional story, SK and EG have not been discussed in most of the recent headlines about EU teams; the young blood teams that shined in the LCS qualifiers enjoyed most of the hype. Even so, EG and SK were among the first to reserve their places in the LCS, based on their performances last season. This match will give both teams a chance to demonstrate their relevance and prove that they can entertain like no others.
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