Internationally, what seems to separate good teams from bad teams is the ability to invent an early or mid game objective before Baron spawns. These objectives have been as simple as waves of creeps or jungle vision, given how little dragon and Rift Herald seem to be contest-worthy.
Today's European League of Legends Championship Series featured at least three games with utter map confusion. One would think that, instead of altering ambient gold and jungle experience, Riot Games has created an entirely new Summoner's Rift and covered the mini map with a tarp. Someone please find Explorer Ezreal so he can direct me to the enemy's Nexus.
At least two teams seemed capable of drawing and creating their own momentum through mid game today. I'll give you five guesses because their names aren't Origen, Fnatic, H2K Gaming, or Vitality. But we'll get to that.
Giants vs Splyce
It should come as no surprise that Giants and Splyce are two of the teams most confused about how to make the meta work for them. What got Splyce going was some unfortunate over-extension by Isaac "xPePii" Flores into Chres "Sencux" Laursen's Leblanc. After that, Sencux did what we remember from the EU Challenger Series that he hasn't been doing since Splyce joined the LCS: go on a tear. Sencux ended the series with a score of 10/0/5.
The one moment Giants made an attempt at taking the game, they reacted to a confusing Sencux slit-push. Giants pushed into the base, but unfortunately trapped themselves under a turret for Sencux to get a quadrakill when he recalled. This game had confusing flow that really only took a direction after Leblanc snowballed.
Origen vs ROCCAT
I'm not really sure where to start. The first skirmish in mid lane resulted in several low health members of Origen, but only one kill. Very similar to the Splyce vs Giants game, this game followed the momentum of a member who happened to be the benefactor of poor over-extensions or misplays from Team ROCCAT, Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen.
When I first started playing League of Legends, I decided to try Hybrid Ezreal. It looked cool and hopped around the map, died a lot, but ultimately carried itself with auto attacks. Origen's performance this game reminded me of that.
I will say that Origen seem to understand they need to force things. They used Quinn to roam the map and try to get picks. They just didn't seem to have the requisite vision laid out or an understanding of where ROCCAT would go — in their defense, I don't either, even after watching that game.
H2K vs. Vitality
It may shock a few people to see this game under the "Lost" category. I've heralded Vitality as the team that seems to most prioritize vision as the objective over which they want to pick fights. Unfortunately, they haven't quite perfected how they want to do it, and their draft today far from facilitated it.
As for H2K, they had a strong start with their Graves jungle, but when the first ring of turrets fell, they seemed to just be waiting for minions to push. Vitality did a reasonable job of pushing back, but I have a similar problem with H2K that I did last week; I'd like to see a bit more venturing into the jungle or turret diving behavior.
H2K ultimately won because Vitality would force fights and position their Miss Fortune poorly, allowing H2K to easily interrupt the ultimate. We'll see what else H2K have to offer tomorrow and next week because I don't see that becoming a consistent force for success.
G2 Esports and the siege composition
You may remember my advocacy for Corki mid. Corki as a mid laner uses packages and high mobility to travel the map well. Surprise poke can free a lane from resistance and decimate turrets quickly. G2 Esports had an impressive performance prioritizing turrets as important objectives and continuing to force them once they acquired leads from Lee "Spirit" Dayoon's erstwhile roaming.
The momentum G2 created puts them on the "found" list — although they, like OG and SPY, were the benefactors of seemingly free kills. Luka "PerkZ" Perković and Kim "Emperor" Jinhyun pushed with visible siege while Kim "Trick" Gangyun constantly forced Fnatic back even further with vision control and the threat of flanking poke from the jungle. It may come as a surprise to learn that Trick had the highest rate of wards placed per minute among junglers the first two weeks; he showed his vision game off here.
The intelligent Braum pick also prevented wave clear from disrupting the siege, and Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek's Fiora gave G2 a capable 1-4 split. It needs work, but G2 showed today that they can force turrets through dives and poke.
Unicorns of Love and the jungle invade
Hello, Charly "Djoko" Guillard, it's nice to see you jump up from the European Challenger Series for today's match. When a substitute player takes effective charge and plays with purpose, it generally bodes well for his future.
The Unicorns of Love have spent the first two weeks of the European League of Legends Championship Series demonstrating that they aren't the same team we remember without a sense of direction or macro game. Even with a substitute jungler, today was no different. UoL set up strong, invasive vision early and used the global from Rek'Sai to catch up in conjunction with engage from Kennen and Kalista-Thresh while Viktor held mid.
From there, the Unicorns immediately transitioned to the next priority turret. The result was one of the cleanest looking games played in the EU LCS so far. Of course, this was against Elements, a team that has really failed to find momentum even in their wins, but perhaps that showed the difference in game understanding even more strongly.
There are multiple schools of thought. If you believe the "group mid, farm and hold until Baron spawns, then try to sneak Baron" strategy is just fine in the current meta, that's fair enough. H2K Gaming typically look reasonably strong executing it, today and their loss to Fnatic excepted. If you believe, on the other hand, that teams should still take more risks to pick up mid-game momentum and snowball an advantage, you're in my camp. It's time for teams to create their own mid game objectives, and a stronger grasp of vision is a good way to start.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.