2017 EU LCS split groups confirmed

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Riot Games have officially confirmed the two groups of the 2017 EU LCS spring season in a video posted to social media. G2 Esports will share Group A with Fnatic, Misfits, Giants Gaming, and Team ROCCAT. Group B will feature H2k-Gaming, Splyce, Unicorns of Love, Team Vitality and Origen.

The video confirms a Jan. 7 report from ESPN Esports' Jacob Wolf which contained the same groups and also the same draft order. G2 Esports and H2K captained the snake draft because they were the top championship points earners in 2016.

G2 chose Splyce to go to Group B while H2K put Fnatic in Group A. Splyce then put Misfits in Group A while Fnatic put UoL in Group B. Misfits put Vitality in Group B with Vitality then putting ROCCAT in Group A. UoL chose Giants to go to Group A and Origen, the final team, was then put in Group B.

Riot announced major changes to the EU LCS's format on Dec. 14, with the league moving away from the best-of-two double round robin of 2016 with a best-of-three, two group single round robin for 2017.

The revamped EU LCS will kick off on Jan. 19 with Origen facing off against H2K.

Group A Group B
G2 Esports  H2k-Gaming
Fnatic  Splyce
Misfits Team Vitality 
Giants Gaming Unicorns of Love 
Team ROCCAT Origen

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

2017 EU LCS Spring Split Primer

by 5d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Maciej Kołek / EU LCS / Maciej Kołek's album

Another wave of imports accompanies the start of the 2017 European League Championship Series, along with a new two-group system and the introduction of best-of-three series. In this ever-changing landscape, some teams chose to keep their rosters intact while others focused on building around new imports and up-and-coming talent.

Here is an overview of the teams that will compete in the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split and how they shape up heading in to the upcoming season.

G2 Esports

Top Lane: Ki “Expect” Dae-han

Jungle: Kim “Trick” Gang-hyun

Mid Lane: Luka “Perkz” Perković

AD carry: Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen

Support: Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez

Two teams kept their 2016 summer lineups intact — G2 Esports and Splyce. With a strong bottom lane consisting of Zven and Mithy alongside Trick's jungle stylings, G2 make a good case as favorites for yet another European title.

Towards the end of last summer, and even during their disastrous Worlds appearance, Expect improved to the point where he was no longer a liability. While he still heavily relies on ganks from Trick, Zven and Mithy's in-lane strength gives the veteran jungler a bit more freedom towards the top half of the map. G2’s biggest question mark going into this split comes from the mid lane, as Perkz's poor positioning often cost Trick, and G2 as a whole, the opportunity to pressure the map.

While some of this can be attributed to Perkz’s champion pool, the lack of mid lane pressure often boils down to positioning errors, regardless of champion, and a lack of keeping the lane pushing when the team needs him to do so. If Perkz can improve on this, expect G2 to become an even more formidable presence. This lineup has already proven that they have what it takes to win the EU LCS, and they have a leg up over their competition considering their existing coordination and synergy.

Splyce

Top Lane: Martin “Wunder” Hansen

Jungle: Jonas “Trashy” Andersen

Mid Lane: Chres “Sencux” Larsen

AD carry: Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup

Support: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle

Alongside G2, Splyce were the only other team to keep their 2016 roster intact for the 2017 season. It’s a good decision for the team, considering just how much this squad grew last year — they went from eighth place in 2016 EU LCS Spring Split to second place in the summer season.

Although Splyce didn’t have the performance they were expecting at the 2016 League of Legends World Championship, the team had a good attitude throughout and appeared to learn from game to game. That willingness to learn is Splyce's greatest strength. There is still no sign as to where this team’s skill cap might be, and even if they hit it this split, the decision to retain a lineup with good coordination and solid communication — as shown by their mid and late game teamfighting — is understandable.

In order to continue to grow, Splyce need to improve their early game. During the 2016 EU LCS Summer Playoffs, Regional Qualifier, and Worlds, Splyce often found themselves fighting their way out of an early gold deficit. While this speaks well to their teamfighting and coordination, this method isn’t as sustainable as it used to be with a continued focus on standard lanes in the current meta.

Fnatic

Top: Paul “sOAZ” Boyer

Jungle: Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider

Mid: Rasmus “Caps” Winther

AD Carry: Martin “Rekkles” Larsson

Support: Jesse “Jesiz” Le

This year marks Fnatic's return to an all-European lineup for the first time since 2014, when legacy mid laner xPeke split off to create Origen.

Fnatic enter 2017 with a mixture of experience and up-and-coming talent. Caps has a great deal of raw talent and was cited as one of the keys to Turkish team Dark Passage’s success last summer. Unfortunately, mid laner was too young to attend the International Wildcard Qualifier with his team and was unable to showcase his skills on the international stage. His success this year will depend on how Fnatic nurtures his talent and integrates him into the team.

sOAZ is a welcome return for Fnatic and he returns to the team alongside jungler and former Origen teammate Amazing. Along with Rekkles and Jesiz, Fnatic have the experience to guide and develop Caps throughout the split. This is a playoff team. How far they’ll go will depend on their coordination, and whether or not they can draw lane pressure from their opponents.

H2k-Gaming

Top: Andrei “Odoamne” Pescu

Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski

Mid: Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten

AD Carry: Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon

Support: Choi “Chei” Sun-ho

Unlike H2K Gaming’s previous foray into a hybrid roster with mid laner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook, this new iteration of H2K is split down the map with a European top side and a new Korean bottom lane. With the map split up like this, a lot will rest on Febiven’s shoulders to hold down the mid lane as Jankos adjusts and their communication system is retooled.

As one of the more sought-after Korean AD carry talents — along with former ESC Ever AD carry Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook — Nuclear has languished on SBENU Korea. He was often a top individual performer for the team, despite their complete lack of map pressure or coordination, exiting even the most embarrassing of losses with strong KDAs and kill participation. He is reckless at times, and will likely rely on his support partner Chei to protect him during overly-aggressive trades.

Years ago on the Jin Air Green Wings Stealths, Chei was more of an aggressive and quirky support, something he lost when partnered with passive AD carry Na “Pilot” Woo-hyung after 2015's sister team merger. Their pairing could turn into a hyper-aggressive bottom lane, or it could be an odd mismatch, with Chei often rescuing Nuclear both in lane and in larger-scale teamfights. Last split, H2K had one of the stronger laning duos with Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou and Oskar “Vander” Bogdan, so it’s difficult to see Nuclear and Chei as anything but am even trade or a downgrade, unless they display instant chemistry at the start of the season.

Unicorns of Love

Top: Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss

Jungle: Andre “Xerxe” Dragomir

Mid: Fabian “Exileh” Schubert

AD Carry: Samuel “Samux” Fernández

Support: Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov

Just when you think they’re strong, they falter. Just when you think they’re out of the picture completely, they make their presence known. The Unicorns of Love are impossible to pin down and it’s never wise to count them out completely.

Although UoL is known for the memetic “chaos style” that still plagues our vocabulary, they showed strong improvements last season in overall map control and pressure. UoL still had their messy games, and their five-game series with Splyce during the regional finals was an event to experience. Prior to the season’s start, UoL had already finalized their roster until AD carry Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min left to become a part of Korea’s CJ Entus, citing homesickness and the departure of fellow Korean jungler Kang “Move” Min-su. His replacement, Samux, has a wealth of experience in the Spanish LoL scene.

Veritas was not a primary carry for UoL, and Samux will likely be fine as he's partnered up with Hylissang, one of UoL’s key players since their inaugural LCS split. Xerxe was one of Dark Passage’s standouts last summer — along with Fnatic mid laner Caps he was also unable to perform on the international stage due to his age. With an improved Exileh in the mid lane, and side lanes guided by veterans Vizicsacsi and Hylissang, this should provide Xerxe with solid pieces around him as he integrates himself onto the team.

Misfits

Top: Barney “Alphari” Morris

Jungle: Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, Leon “llamabear” Krüger

Mid: Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage

AD Carry: Steven “Hans Sama” Liv

Support: Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun

The team that razed through the European Challenger Series is now in the EU LCS, facing tougher competition with a new-look lineup.

Gone are former jungler Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan and mid laner Marcin “Selfie” Wolski. Misfits retained their two breakout talents — top laner Alphari and AD carry Hans Sama — as well as support IgNar. Hybrid bottom lanes don’t always work out, but Hans Sama and IgNar already have a good rapport, which is one less thing for Misfits to worry about ahead of their first LCS split. Like all hybrid rosters, the success of Misfits’ new lineup will heavily depend on how quickly the team comes together and learns to communicate as a unit.

The giant elephant in the room for Misfits is KaKAO. Once touted as one of the best, if not the best, jungler in the world, KaKAO is fresh off of two woeful LSPL splits. Many in the community still hold his horrid 2015 Worlds performance with Invictus Gaming as their last strong impression of him as a player. Picking up KaKAO is a risk, but one that Misfits have stood by, asserting that the fallen jungler was leagues above their other jungle tryouts and has the right attitude going into the split.

Even if KaKAO doesn’t have the best start to the season, Misfits should have strong top and bottom lanes. PowerOfEvil spent the majority of the 2016 EU LCS Summer on waveclear duty and will now be called upon to do the same for Misfits as KaKAO continues to gel with the rest of his team. Their ceiling will likely depend on how well KaKAO and PowerOfEvil are able to coordinate and control the map while facilitating their strong side lanes.

Team Vitality

Top: Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet

Jungle: Charly “Djoko” Guillard, Lee “GBM” Chang-seok

Mid: Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm

AD Carry: Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi

Support: Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan

Team Vitality returned to the drawing board this offseason, retaining only Nukeduck and Cabochard and building around them as primary carries. Steeelback is a reliable pickup that could easily support these two as a secondary or tertiary carry and jungler Djoko could flourish if he receives some guidance and plays slightly more cautiously.

The oddest additions to this roster, and the two that will turn heads, are former KT Rolster support Hachani and substitute jungler GBM. Although Hachani is fondly known for face-checking brushes and costing his team kills or map pressure during overly-aggressive vision invades, he’s also beloved by his former Korean teammates. Hachani had a coaching stint for Rebels Anarchy in 2015 and players always speak warmly of his knowledge and experience and he’s known for having a good attitude and facilitating communication. These are all excellent qualities to have in a player, especially a support, but translating them onto a hybrid roster will be difficult due to the language barrier and cultural nuances.

GBM is a completely different story. He had trouble on North America’s NRG Esports, especially towards the end as the ship was sinking, and has been notoriously outspoken about the team’s lack of motivation. He was also, until recently, a mid laner. Pairing him up with Hachani over Djoko to help facilitate communication could be risky, as his jungling ability has yet to be determined.

Team ROCCAT

Top: Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren

Jungle: Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian

Mid: Felix “Betsy” Edling

AD Carry: Petter "Hjärnan" Freyschuss

Support: Kim “Wadid” Bae-in

Another season, another ROCCAT bet on an imported Korean player, this time in the form of support player Wadid. Formerly of RisingStar Gaming, Wadid is relatively unknown. His performances in Challengers Korea showed some raw talent with room to improve with guidance.

The player to watch on ROCCAT is former Giants Gaming jungler Maxlore. Although NighT stole the show, Maxlore facilitated a lot of Giants’ map movements and generally kept up a strong presence in their games. He has also been cited by his former teammates as an incredibly hard worker with an analytical mind, a player who helped bridge the early communication gap between NighT and the rest of the team. ROCCAT will be looking to Maxlore to do much of the same on their new roster as this team comes together.

Giants! Gaming

Top: Olof “Flaxxish” Medin

Jungle: Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi

Mid: Na “NighT” Gun-woo

AD Carry: Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa

Support: Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg

There's no getting around the fact that Giants will sorely miss Maxlore. Unless Memento exceeds what he previously displayed on ROCCAT, Giants will need to rebuild their communication, and no name jumps off of the page as a replacement for the leadership that Maxlore provided last split.

NighT will likely be Giants' primary carry, and the team could easily return to their 2016 EU LCS Spring state and back then, Isaac "xPePii" Flores had standout games that carried the team to victory. This time around, NighT will likely fulfill this same role unless the rest of the team finds an in-game leader similar to Maxlore.

Origen

Top: Max “Satorius” Günther

Jungle: Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan

Mid: Yoo “NaeHyun” Nae-hyun, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez

AD Carry: Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert

Support: Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen

When xPeke split from Fnatic to create Origen, he was met with resounding applause. The brand he built finished third/fourth at the 2015 World Championship and was a success for the legacy mid laner and Europe as a region.

Rumors of a poor team environment ran rampant as their star players slowly trickled out the door. Now, Origen's only remaining original member is xPeke, who is presumably on the bench while NaeHyun will get the starting mid lane spot. xPeke has been at the core of Origen since the beginning, and even throughout their struggles in 2016, picked up the AD carry position in order to try and save what was eventually a sinking ship. He may be called upon to return to the mid lane again if NaeHyun doesn’t work out.

Wisdom is a good pickup for the jungle, and was a strong part of Misfits’ EUCS success. Tabzz should be solid and Hiiva has shown a good deal of raw talent. Satorius is the player to watch on this roster, along with Wisdom, and if Origen manage to exceed the general low expectations of them by the public, you can bet that the German top laner will play a large role.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore eSports. She still believes that the OGN Champions Summer 2013 Final between SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster Bullets is the greatest series in LoL history. You can follow her on Twitter.

Misfits' Alphari: '[Flaxxish] didn't really pull out anything that made me not confident'

by 12h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of lolesports / Riot Games

Misfits had to overcome some stage jitters in their first LCS series against Giants Gaming, they said in their post-game interview. Not only that, but the nerves came from a couple of the more experienced members of the team.

Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage explained how he and Lee "KaKAO" Byung-kwon were nervous as they went on stage to play with their new teammates. "It was the first time won stage with me and KaKAO, like we were playing too scared in the first game... We just started Baron and we were like, 'Oh, how do we engage now?' It was just a little bit like first game, first time in LCS in a long time."

Barney "Alphari" Morris, when asked about the weird Illaoi pick seen by Olof "Flaxxish" Medin in Game 1 of the series, noted that "[Flaxxish] didn't really pull out anything else that made me not confident," and was worried about the lack of strong blind picks in the top lane.

IgNar was the player of the series in Misfits' 2-1 series victory, going 1/2/26 and having 69 percent Kill Participation over three games.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Watch: Vizicsacsi baits Cabochard in a 1v1

by 11h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

In Week 1's series between Unicorns of Love versus Team Vitality, Tamás "Vizicsacsi" Kiss pulled out the first Camille pick of the EU LCS. Facing Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet, who counterpicked with a Fiora, the Hungarian Unicorn ran away from the 1v1 before finally utilizing Camille's absurd kit to lock down the Fiora into a sticky situation.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

G2's Zven: 'Weldon has taught us how to play from behind in-game'

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games / 2016 World Championship

G2 Esports' Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen gave some insight into the EU practice culture and the impact that ex-TSM head coach Weldon Green has already had on the defending EU LCS champions following Thursday's match against Fnatic.

According to Zven, Weldon has taught the team to take small victories in order to claw back mentally while playing in the game.

"Weldon has taught us how to play from behind in-game, and don't [surrender], and play behind, and today we were behind in both Games 2 and 3 I think, and we did a very good job of playing from behind. We made the games very very long, and he taught us how to play slow."

This is in stark contrast to EU practice culture, which Zven describes as very flippant in how teams immediately give up if their strategies fail to work.

Zven was named player of the series in G2's 2-1 series win over Fnatic. Across all three games, Zven played Ashe and secured a 2/1/3 scoreline in Game 1, followed by 5/2/9 and 2/1/7 scorelines in Games 2 and 3 respectively.

Watch the highlights from the series:

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

H2K's Jankos: 'We still don't have the perfect communication you need in LCS'

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Worlds / lolesports flickr

Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski used his post-game interview to let people know that H2k-Gaming's opening series against Origen wasn't as smooth as it could have been due to the fact that the team is still working on their communication.

To exemplify the communication issues that were being worked on, he talked vividly about the Baron steal conducted by Origen in Game 2 which stalled out the game and gave Origen a fighting chance. "We knew I had no smite, but I still wanted to try and burst," he stated. "We still don't have the perfect communication you need in LCS."

Jankos then took his attention to the next series of theirs, versus Splyce. In his praise of Splyce was also a declaration that the current state of H2K may allow them to take a game, and potentially the series if Splyce is not careful.

In H2K's series against Origen, Jankos played Kha'zix in Game 1, garnering a 5/2/5 scoreline. In Game 2, he played Nocturne and dove into the victory with a 6/4/7 scoreline.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

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