I expected most of the games in this week's EU LCS after the first between Origen and Unicorns of Love to fall off in quality.
For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though the results were more or less predictable, teams took an opportunity to experiment with a few more picks and smart execution that made games more competitive.
Origen has had yet to execute something more complicated than "win lane-win game." Today, they delivered. They understood the Unicorns' power troughs and their own advantages. Capitalizing on an ideal window, Origen executed an excellent fight, then continued to pressure their lead. The game closed out before the Unicorns could reach their power spikes.
A few early misplays show Origen have a lot to learn, but there are many good things going for this team. I look forward to the Fnatic clash.
As for the Unicorns, they continue to make the same mistakes. Picking scaling compositions and fighting during power troughs or building Warrior Enchantment on their jungler with two Tear of the Goddess carries show a fundamental disrespect for game flow. They're finally getting punished for it, so with any luck, they'll learn.
Cinderhulk Fizz has long been a staple of LPL Roundups, but he's finally transitioned the European LCS. He appeared in two games today, but he's far from "that weird thing China plays." Chinese teams have seasoned analysts, and if they fixate on a pick (not just select it as a one-off), there's usually a reason.
In the case of Fizz, Trinity Force and Frozen Heart have been staple items on him since his rework and his transition to a hybrid top lane champion. The Frozen Heart synergizes very well with his kit. Lowered incoming attack speed works well with damage reduction passive. Cooldown Reduction means Fizz can use Playful more often to dodge. His superficial tankiness increases significantly with his actual armor statistic.
On top of that, Cinderhulk gives Fizz a large amount of health scaling and free damage. The Challenging Smite procs on Urchin Strike and auto attacks. The area of effect magic damage from Cinderhulk works well for Fizz as a melee champion. Fizz does free damage by being able to use damage amplification from his ultimate and percent health damage on Seastone Trident.
His benefit from building a lot of damage after Trinity Force is low in any case because of his hybrid identity, making the entire package a good call. These days, Smite Fizz is falling out of favor in China, but it's still solid when you want a scaling top lane Fizz over one that just wants to win early and mid game hard.
The Giants formula needs tightening
Against ROCCAT, Giants executed a telegraphed strategy. They used Evelynn to gank and snowball Jax ahead, then followed up team fighting with Varus Chains of Corruption and Morgana bindings. ROCCAT's counter-engages made this game go longer than it should have.
Giants will need to improve their execution and mix up their gank pathing to face stronger teams. They can't rely on Baron steals to win their games. Until then, Evelynn is shaping into a solid pick for Fr3deric, and I wonder when teams will ban GODFRED's Morgana.
Game of the Day: SK vs H2K
If you're looking for a recommendation, watch SK Gaming vs H2K. 2014's SK Gaming roster played a lot like H2K does today. Since the only change between that roster and this one is a stronger mid laner, H2K vs SK turned into an enjoyable rotation-based game.
The highlight was definitely Ryu's Twisted Fate. H2K's last pick shut down Vayne's split-pushing option and constantly targeted him for elimination in fights. CandyPanda had to interrupt his build path for a Quicksilver Sash and Giant's Belt early, and even then it wasn't enough. Catch Ryu's TF before other teams start to ban it.
It was bound to come out sooner or later: so far, Ekko is 0-2 in the European League of Legends Championship Series. Both the Copenhagen Wolves and Elements picked up the champion. Elements' Froggen played him mid, and the Wolves' Airwaks took him into the jungle.
Froggen's Ekko looked much better than Airwaks'. The best part of Elements' game plan was Ekko's synergy with Bard. Tempered Fate and Chronobreak chain well. Bard's ultimate accomplishes that which Zhonya's does for Ekko. Keeping a group of enemies in stasis in a location where Ekko stood four seconds ago allows him to pop his ultimate for massive area of effect damage.
The combination was fun to watch when Elements could execute it, but Froggen's synergy with PromisQ seemed off at times. Ultimates would trigger at the wrong moment, fumbling the chain reaction.
Elements' composition was well-designed for dives, but the team persisted in attempting to dive towers after they fell behind as much as 8,000 gold. It didn't work. I'm sure we'll see more Bard Ekko soon, and hopefully with more finesse.
Gambit wins a game
I don't have a lot of good things to say about the final game of the day, so I'll keep it brief. Soren's high late game damage and poke made this game difficult for Gambit to close. Cabochard's sometimes questionable trades made this game difficult to close.
Gambit still should have been able to end it earlier.
Regardless, Gambit Gaming managed to limp across the finish line for their first victory of the European LCS. I don't recommend watching this game to see what Ekko has to offer competitive League of Legends.
Tomorrow's Recommended Match: CW vs EL
Both teams are known for longer games. Elements struggles to play from behind, while the Wolves have gotten many wins from deficits in the past. It's time for them to work on their issues. Expect a long game with a lot of experimentation.
As an added incentive, both teams played Ekko today.
Kelsey is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.