Last Week(s) in LoL Esports: Feb 4th - Feb 16th
The full week of League of Legends Esports all around the world has wrapped up. After a short hiatus thanks to LCK and LPL going on a break for Lunar New Year, we are back. The Mean Green continue to surge to glory, the LCS and LEC had very interesting weeks, the LCK had some outside factors heavily effect the standings, and the LPL is just as exciting as ever. I have a quick breakdown of our very own UNT Esports, and all 4 major regions around the globe to catch you up on anything you may have missed.
Let’s get started...
CLoL Weeks 3-4: The Mean Green secure statement wins against
UT Arlington and Florida
The UNT Esports varsity team faced down one of the strongest teams in the entire South Division in the 4th ranked Florida Gators. Florida hadn’t dropped a game, had the 2nd highest team KDA, their mid laner had the 3rd highest individual KDA of all mids, and the team’s ranks ranged from Master to challenger. UNT came in as an underdog, but if you watched them play, you sure wouldn’t have known. For better or worse, UNT not only maintained their trademark aggression throughout all stages of all 3 games, but they also doubled down on it in the clutch. It helped them kick off game 1 in explosive fashion, but it also caused them to almost throw the game at their opponent’s nexus. It then saved them as Lil Nate’s Akali snuck into the base to knock down the nexus while the rest of UNT distracted Florida. It backfired in game 2 as the proactive plays backfired horrendously.
In the deciding game 3, (both teams’ first of the season) it helped the Mean Green soar above the Gators. Florida was always on the back foot, and never really had a chance at winning. Although everyone fired on all cylinders, there were 2 particular stars of the show. Arsenals and PuertoJew. Arsenals’ Gwen got early kills and ran rampant in sidelanes and teamfights. He was all but unstoppable, and he put Florida’s challenger top laner in the dirt. PuertoJew, after a game 2 where things went wrong from a botched early trade, put on an absolute clinic in the bot lane. He was untouchable, chunked out most of Florida with 1 or 2 Ezreal Q’s, and was so far ahead of his opponent it was almost funny. UNT secured a 2-1 victory, are now 1 of only 5 undefeated teams left in the South Division and are only 1 game away from securing playoffs.
You can get more details here.
The week prior, they also swept the 11th ranked UT Arlington in convincing fashion. You can get all the details here!
Current Record 4-0 (8-1 game count)
Current Rank 8th in South Division
Next opponent: #1 University of Saint Thomas at 3pm CST at https://twitch.tv/untesports
LCS weeks 1-2 (NA): Cloud 9 makes waves, the top of the table is crowded, and 2 rivals are united in misery.
The LCS kicked off its regular season after the Lock In tournament, and there have been quite a few surprises and headlines already. The biggest of which has been the story of Cloud 9.
No matter what happened, Cloud 9 was always going to be the talk of the league. It was either going to be as its hottest team or it’s biggest punchline depending on how well things came together. Fortunately for the longstanding organization, it was the former. LS has brought a level of excitement back into the league that we have not seen in a long time. People were excited to see them play against the Golden Guardians for goodness sake! We’ve seen picks likes Sona support, Zilean mid, Ivern mid and Soraka mid. Three out of four of their games have been bangers to watch. Their games against Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid in particular were two of the most exciting regular season games in years. The potential flaws that people expected (language barrier, LS thought experiments not translating to reality, social media pressure) haven’t really shown. This team is not only one of the top contenders for Spring, but they are also one of the most fun teams to watch in the LCS.
They are not alone at the top of the table however, there is a 5-way tie for first place at 3-1. While there are plenty of expected teams up there (100T, TL, C9) 2 dark horses have picked up wins people didn’t expect in Flyquest and Dignitas. Those last two have benefited from 2 of the weakest strength of schedules in the LCS, so these next few weeks will be the true test.
At the bottom of the table are the only two winless teams in the LCS: CLG and TSM. Two teams that practically ran the league throughout 2013-2017 (CLG hit rock bottom after franchising, TSM was still good but not dominant) are now sharing a spot in the league’s basement. Their problems have been numerous, but not totally unfixable. Both teams are undergoing major rebuilds. Early struggles were to be expected. In fact, news has just broken that Shenyi is being subbed out for Yursan. A friendly reminder that TSM Academy is currently dead last at 4-14. While both these rosters need time to grow, they are in for some rough times ahead.
(Update: CoreJJ got his green card and is now eligible to play for Team Liquid. May God have mercy on the rest of the LCS. Also someone get Elya a starting spot, he was really good for filling such big shoes.)
LEC Weeks 4-5 (EU): Memes and dreams die, Rouge goes undefeated then chokes, the playoff race heats up.
The LEC saw many longstanding narratives finally get killed off as the race for playoffs heat up more and more. In week 4, both Rogue and Excel Esports broke 13 match loss streaks that had lasted for over 3 years against G2 Esports and Fnatic respectively. Neither game was particularly close. Rogue in particular got that victory to cap off a 9-0 first round robin! On the flipside, Astralis threw away a prime chance at victory against Team Vitality to get the infamous 0-9 start.
Little did we know both the 18-0 dream and the 0-18 meme would die at the same time. In week 5 Astralis not only pulled off the stunning upset over Rogue, they wiped the floor with them! And it didn’t get any better for the former unbeaten on Saturday. Misfits Gaming continued the trend with another convincing victory over Rogue. As the jokes continue to roll in fast about how “Rogue are in playoffs form already”, they have an all but split defining week coming up against MAD and Vitality.
Speaking of those two, things aren’t going so hot for the defending champions or the supposed super team. MAD Lions went winless on the week. Their first loss to G2 was expected. The loss and thus being swept by the 2-win SK Gaming was not. The flaws that people expected MAD to have are finally showing. The rookies are inconsistent. Reeker has shown a shallow (effective) champion pool. They now sit at under .500 and tied with what was supposed to be one of the hottest teams in the LEC. Team Vitality posted another winless week against teams they really would’ve liked to beat. Both one of their closest rivals in the standings in XL, and the other super team in Fnatic took them out fairly convincingly. Without much time left in the regular season, Vitality need to start turning it around quickly if they want to avoid embarrassment.
On the flipside, the old kings of Fnatic and G2 are thriving in the chaos. The rival franchises both had undefeated week 5s and sit tied for 2nd at the top of the table, only one game behind the faltering Rogue. They play each other this Saturday. If things continue to break right for them, the winner of that could very well go onto clinching the number 1 seed.
The LEC will resume play at 11 AM CST this Friday with Fnatic vs Astralis.
LPL Week 4 (China): Almost nobody is safe! Upsets occur, close series are played, and dark horses make their mark.
In a league with 7 more teams than what is usually standard and a region that has won 5 out of the last 7 international events the issue isn’t trying to find something interesting to talk about, it’s narrowing everything interesting into something that is digestible.
Fortunately, this week the two big things of note play off each other. While there were a lot of very interesting matches like LNG taking a 2-1 victory over BLG to remain undefeated, JDG bouncing back from 0-2 to win 4 straight, and Team WE finally getting their first win after 7 attempts, the biggest highlight is that Royal Never Give Up lost and that World Champions Edward Gaming are no longer undefeated! Both of them in sweeps no less!
And the two teams that did this are two of the more unexpected yet exciting teams that are at the top of the standings. Weibo Gaming took both games in convincing fashion thanks to former World Champion TheShy’s Gwen. He and SoFM got an early kill onto Flandre and Scout in game 1 that all but ruined the game for the defending champions. Almost every member of Weibo had EDG outclassed. It didn’t get better in game 2. TheShy turned around a top dive from Jiejie and Flandre on the Gwen again, and he was completely unstoppable. Angel and Huanfeng also posted very good games. With that, Weibo now sit at 6-1 and 2nd place in the LPL.
But hot on their trail in third place is Victory Five. A team that has had 1 split with a winning record in 3 years and have gone 0-16 TWICE is now riding a 3 match winning streak and a 2-1 victory over the revamped RNG to glory. And it can mostly be attributed to the mid/jungle duo.
Karsa, and in particular, Rookie are having tremendous resurgences after quiet 2021s. After a year on TOP Esports where they failed to defend their championship and ended up not even making Worlds, Karsa looks to be achieving much of his old form when he was such a terror on Flash Wolves, RNG, or even 2020 TOP. Rookie, alongside TheShy, was a critical member of Invictus Gaming’s 2018 championship run. However, the IG organization has been going through a dark age, and in a surprising move, he dropped the black and white for black and gold. After everyone got over the shock of seeing Rookie in a different jersey, there were some questions as to weather he would get back to form or remain in the bit of a slump he was in. He has responded by putting the entire team on his back on multiple occasions. Surprisingly enough, the 2-0 sweep can heavily be attributed to bot laner Photic, who was one of the lesser-known pieces of this roster. If things continue to get better, perhaps V5 can make the ultimate turnaround story after all.
The LPL will return to play February 17th at 3am CST with LNG Esports vs Anyone’s Legend. The current standings are listed below...
LCK (South Korea): Covid-19 runs rampant through LCK rosters, and the standings and hype suffer for it.
Unfortunately, this piece caps off on a rather sour note. The dreaded Coronavirus has started to spread through the LCK again. And the LCK is not running an online/hybrid league, they are fully in person. As such, if a player contracts Covid-19 or is still in quarantine by match day, teams have no choice but to call up a sub.
This week saw that rule finally matter in a meaningful way at the worst possible time. Some teams dealt with it admirably. DRX held off Fredit BRION while playing their full challengers roster for a game against Fredit BRION. On a positive note, DRX is now on a 5 match winning streak and they have bounced back from the shaky start. Although they are certainly not without flaws, it is good to see that the team won’t be expending another split in the basement.
Other teams were not so lucky. Two of the teams who suffered the worst were the (as of now) middle of the pack Nongshim RedForce and one of the top dogs in Gen. G.
In terms of numbers, Nongshim had it the worst when it came to Covid-19. Thanks to the virus, NS have fielded 11 players over the past 2 weeks. Their World Champion ADC Ghost has had to play support. And playing with these handicaps has sorely affected them. Nongshim RedForce are now on a 5-match losing streak with losses to bottom table teams like Fredit BRION and Kwangdong Freecs. While they should recover as soon as they get their roster back, it is a bit disheartening to see such a promising roster take such a skid because of something out of their control.
In terms of hype, that title might go to Gen. G. T1 vs Gen. G has been on everyone’s calendar since the end of the offseason. The hype only continued to grow as both teams lived up to the hype. A matchup between the two top teams filled with superstars. Chovy vs Faker, Peanut vs Oner, Ruler vs Gumayusi, incredible matchups all around.
And then multiple members of Gen. G had to quarantine.
As such, Gen. G were forced to field LCK challengers players against the best team in the league. Is it any surprise that it was a complete stomp? As such, we will now have to wait another 2 weeks before we get a true showdown between the top 2. And we can only hope everyone is actually healthy by then.
The LCK will return on February 17th at 2 am CST with Kwangdong Freecs vs Hanwha Life Esports. The current standings are listed below...