Battle of the Atlantic Preview: Cologne
A rivalry has been brewing between the European and North American region since before the League of Legends Championship Series began, and Riot has finally decided to slap a name on it. The Battle of the Atlantic will pit top seeded teams from North America and Europe against one another to decide which region is the best.
Considering the fact that few teams resemble their counterparts from the end of the Summer Split, some might be a little skeptical. In fact, a few members of Summer Split European teams will make an appearance on North American rosters. Of course, even if everyone could agree that these are, without a doubt, the best teams from North America and Europe, there would always be excuses.
Here at GosuGamers, we're putting an end to excuses and telling like it is and will be—or, at least, we're going to do our very best. This feature will preview the competition and dish out predictions for this weekend's matches.
|Cruz "Cruzerthebruzer" Ogden
||Mike "Wickd" Peterson
|Alberto "Crumbzz" Rengifo
||Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema
|William "scarra" Li
||Henrik "Froggen" Hansen
|Michael "Imaqtpie" Santana
||Erik "Tabzz" van Helvert
|Alan "KiWiKiD" Nguyen
||Martin "Kazmitch" Hamalčík
The first best of three is a faceoff between the fourth place seeds, Team Dignitas and—Alliance? Alliance recently acquired Evil Genius' spot in the LCS, and you might notice that only two of the starting rosters are still part of the team. Since Wickd is known more for his campaign mode top lane champions and the occasional Malphite, I don't think the Froggen-Wickd synergy will necessarily be a factor. With Tabzz, the last remaining member of the summer Lemondogs roster after the team split, Shook, and an unsigned support player, Alliance looks a little bit like it was put together at the last minute instead of the LCS veteran team it's supposed to be.
That doesn't mean, of course, that Dignitas' roster is not without fundamental changes. KiWiKiD played top lane for the team throughout Season Three, and he has never played a major competitive match as a support player. Cruzerthebruzer is a recent addition to the roster, and though he has been in and out of the competitive scene since the middle of 2012, this is definitely the largest event in which he has participated. Since Dignitas retains four members of the roster they kept throughout Season Three, the team will likely have superior coordination, especially in the case of mid lane—or whichever lane scarra occupies, as the team is known for its frequent lane swaps—and Crumbzz's jungle. In the past, scarra has had a reputation for being vulnerable to ganks early, and his jungler needs to have experience compensating for this weakness.
Indeed, in the Spring, when Dignitas went on their eleven win streak in the LCS, it was down to their team's ability to adapt to almost any lane matchup and coordinate pressure to make their opponents uncomfortable. Since then, however, other teams have adapted to this style, and Dignitas has had to rely more on their ability to outplay when opponents are on their guard, and this is where Alliance might have an edge.
Wickd has often been criticized for his small champion pool and inability to adapt to the meta and play the flavor of the month champions. That said, however, his experience advantage over Cruzerthebruzer cannot be denied. Wickd has been acknowledged as an internationally competitive top laner since the infancy of professional League of Legends. Cruzerthebruzer, meanwhile, has spent more time struggling to enter the scene than playing in it. While Wickd is known for playing as if the jungler isn't there, Cruzer claims more consistency. It's unlikely that these top laners will face off directly, what with lane swap popularity and Dignitas' tendency to favor them in particular, but expect Wickd to have the advantage in either a 1v1 or 2v1 scenario.
Of course, all eyes will mostly be turned toward the mid lane. Both Froggen and scarra are considered the stars of their respective teams, albeit for different reasons. While Froggen is known for his extensive champion pool, and it was often an Evil Geniuses strategy to save his pick for last so he could counter the enemy mid, scarra is known for his small champion pool. scarra has a fondness for melee assassins, which recently received another round of nerfs. Alliance might throw a Gragas ban his way, but it's more likely they'll rely upon the recent patches to cripple him. Both mids are want to stay in lane and farm, having held high creep scores in their respective regions, and the recent patch has brought that style back into favor to an extent. Froggen tends to have cleaner execution. So barring jungle, attention, I'd give Froggen the advantage.
Bottom lane is likely the most even of the matchups. Imaqtpie boasts both spectacular successes and spectacular failures, which any fan of the EU LCS Summer Split would liken to Tabzz's record with the Lemondogs. While many people look to scarra as the icon and captain of Team Dignitas, scarra himself has often placed a lot of credit on his bottom lane players, and Imaqtpie in particular. Tabzz can really shine next to a stellar support like Mithy, but his record before their team acquired its star support player has more than a few blemishes. For the support players, this is probably a very good match for both of them to get their feet wet. While KiWiKiD is not a stranger to LCS competition, this will be his first faceoff as a support, and Kazmitch has played support longer, but has yet to do so at the LCS level. Both players, as well, are not gauranteed spots on their teams, so this best of three could make or break their futures in competitive League of Legends.
Jungle is probably the easiest call to make. While Shook may or may not have carried his Challenger team, the Copenhagen Wolves, into the Spring Split of the LCS last year, he never actually got to see it. His League of Legends accounts were banned, and he was barred from competitive play for an entire year due to toxic behavior. This sentence was recently appealed, but that's an entire year in which Crumbzz, already an established jungler, has reaped the benefits of LCS competition. In terms of style, I would categorize Crumbzz as a more objective-oriented jungler, and Shook as more gank-oriented, but I haven't seen Shook play for an entire year. I would say, however, that Crumbzz's style might be more favored on the new patch where early ganks are more easily punished, and he could be the deciding factor in whether scarra can keep up with Froggen later on.
Result: 2-1 Dignitas
While Alliance has had an entire offseason to hype its formation, most of Dignitas has had an entire season of actual practice. Both teams have their share of green members and veterans, but junglers are more likely to be deciding factors if it comes down to a single matchup. While individual results might be mixed, Dignitas has garnered a reputation for team play over individual prowess, and if Cruzerthebruzer can stay even like he claims he can, scarra gets a little help from Crumbzz, and Imaqtpie has one of his good days, Dignitas should be able to force quick rotations, laneswaps, or, dare I say, some Dignitas-style cheese, to minimize the effects of the lane dominance Froggen and Wickd usually bring to the table.
|Marcus "Dyrus" Hill
||Beverly "Myw" Bioli
|Brian "TheOddOne" Wyllie
||Karim "ImSoFresh" Bbahla
|Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg
||Tony "ShLaYa" Carmona
|Jason "WildTurtle" Tran
||Andy "Crazycaps" Walda
|Alex "Xpecial" Chu
||Bart "Zeriouz" Ploegmakers
The situation here is very similar to the case of the previous series. TSM has had much more time together as a team. TheOddOne, Dyrus, and Xpecial have been together for all of Season Three, and WildTurtle has been part of TSM for much of it. The key change to TSM is the removal of Reginald from the mid land and shotcaller position. This could have a larger effect on TSM than the switching of KiWiKiD to support might have on Dignitas because of the commanding force Reginald represents. Teams like Counter Logic Gaming have shown how important a unified voice is for a team, and it could suffer without it. I do expect that TSM will retain their want to teamfight as much as possible.
At the same time, however, the new Lemondogs will have minimal experience working as a whole. The roster change of much of Lemondogs to Ninjas in Pyjamas left Lemondogs nearly playerless. ImSoFresh has played with ShLaYa on Millenium for a good part of the past year, and Season Three World Championships has shown that jungler and mid lane are arguably the most important roles on the map. Coordinating ganks between these two are key components to a successful game. In addition, though I know very little about the team, the other three memebers appear to hail from an amateur squad TFS, so it is entirely possible that these three will work well together. In the end, however, I predict Team SoloMid will have superior team coordination, simply because all of their members understand what it takes to work together at the LCS level. ShLaYa is the only member of Lemondogs to have appeared on an LCS team before back in Spring Split 2013.
I have less to say here than I did about the previous series simply because so much of the Lemondogs roster is a mystery. The last I saw either of them play was ShLaYa and ImSoFresh at World Cymber Games 2013. In the LCS, for the Dragonborns, ShLaYa favored Kha'Zix and Lux, both of which have fallen out of favor recently. Of ShLaYa, I can say that he consistently lost lane to Bjergsen when against All authority and Copenhagen Wolves would face off of in the Spring Split, and since then, Bjergsen has continued to play in the LCS and practice against the likes of xPeke and Alex Ich to hone his skills.
Though Team SoloMid failed to make it out of Group Stage at the Season Three World Championships, it was rare that their duo lane did not perform well. Whether this speaks of the strength of Corki that patch and WildTurtle's skill with the champion, the duo lane's overall prowess despite the failings of the rest of their team, or WildTurtle's failure to carry when he performs well in laning phase, is a question I'll leave to you to answer. I will say, however, that I will be surprised if Crazycaps and Zeriouz manage to dominate their counterparts.
ImSoFresh and TheOddOne both have a tendency to play support style, heavy ganking junglers. While TheOddOne probably won't be the deciding factor in this series, even if he plays his favored Elise, I do believe TheOddOne has a slight edge over ImSoFresh in terms of both experience and mechanics, though TheOddOne can sometimes fall prey to poor decision making, and it will be down to ImSoFresh to attempt to capitalize on this.
Finally, if there is an upset in player skill, I believe it might take place between the two top laners. While I would give this to Dyrus over a recently amateur player, Dyrus is known to underperform unless he plays a champion he is extremely comfortable with. If given the chance, he will carry games on a champion like Vladimir, but with proper bans and jungler focus, he can also easily fall apart. If SoloMid has a weakness for Lemondogs to exploit outside potential indecision with the loss of their shotcaller, its Dyrus' lane.
Result: 2-0 Team SoloMid
While I don't think Team SoloMid would necessarily beat the second best League of Legends team in Europe, I don't see Lemondogs' new roster upsetting them. They might struggle in the absense of a shotcaller, but each member of their team has extensive LCS experience, and their LCS Summer lineup did manage to defeat Lemondogs' LCS Summer lineup at Season Three World Championships. Even if that game likely came down to a Zed pick. One might argue that, since then, TSM's lineup has improved, and Lemondog's lineup has weakened. In that case, TSM should easily sweep this series.
While it might seem like these predictions are heavily North America favored to win Battle of the Atlantic, Europe has a much better shot in the final three series. We'll release our predictions for Counter Logic Gaming vs Team ALTERNATE, XDG Gaming vs Gambit Gaming, and Fnatic vs Cloud 9 in the upcoming week. Be sure to watch Battle of the Atlantic today at 18:00 CET.