This week, we recap the halfway week of the LCS summer split, including Fnatic’s impressive run and the issues facing TSM. We also look at the ongoing Gfinity CS:GO Summer Masters event, and the controversy surrounding the new organization Renegades. This and more in this week’s eSports Weekly.
LCS Week Five: Fnatic Firing On All Cylinders, Trouble for TSM
We are halfway through the summer split of the 2015 LCS season, and the fight for the top and the fight to stay out of the bottom are both heating up in the European league. Fnatic continues to hold that top spot, and inches further away from any challengers with another 2-0 performance this week, notching wins over H2k and Gambit, increasing their undefeated run to 10-0. That H2k loss was big for Origen, who have won three straight after dropping two in a row to Fnatic and ROCCAT, and now sit in the second place spot. Three teams were tied at the bottom with 2-6 going into this week of play: Elements, Copenhagen Wolves, and SK Gaming. The Wolves lost both their matches against ROCCAT and Origen, falling to 2-8. Elements won both their games, against SK Gaming and Giants, improving to 4-6. Elements is now tied with ROCCAT and Unicorns of Love in the 5th-6th-7th spot, and despite now being out of relegation position, would like to do better than the 7th spot they earned last split, which is out of playoff contention. SK won their second game of the day, to finish at 3-7, tied at the 8th and 9th spot with Gambit.
In North America, the team to watch this week is Team SoloMid. This doesn’t sound like a surprise to most LCS fans: TSM are one of the most polarizing, talented teams in the LCS scene. But it’s the battle for their AD Carry starting job that’s thrusted the reigning champions into the spotlight this week. After a disastrous appearance at MSI, the TSM organization turned to Dyrus and WildTurtle to step up their play. What we’ve seen is two very different responses to this pressure: Dyrus is having one of his best seasons in recent memory. Not just statistically, he’s also playing smarter and playing in a way that better supports his teammates. While WildTurtle hasn’t necessarily been playing poorly, it’s been a significant drop in performance compared to his previous seasons. So what’s TSM’s response? Turn up the pressure, and that pressure’s name is Keith.
This isn’t Keith’s first time playing for an LCS team. Last split, when Piglet was facing Visa issues, the current Liquid Academy starter was called up to play in weeks one and two. Keith showed no signs of inexperience, playing a calculated, patient, and defensive style of play that contrasts significantly with WildTurtle’s aggressive style that has plagued TSM this split. TSM announced this week that Keith would receive a tryout for the starting position, a tryout that was approved by the Liquid organization. WildTurtle will still start for TSM this week while Keith is staying in the TSM house and scrimming with the team. This week is critical for WildTurtle, as a weak performance may earn him a spot on the bench, which would be the first time TSM benches a player due to performance. TSM’s first match shouldn’t be too taxing, against Team 8. They face the current standings leader in Counter Logic Gaming on day two, but handed CLG its only loss of the split back in week two.
CS:GO: Gfinity Day One Results, ESL/ESEA Playoff Groups Announced
The first day of this weekend’s Gfinity Summer Masters event saw some exciting action in the group stage. In the first two match-ups, Dignitas took on Titan, while the Ninjas in Pyjamas went head-to-head with SK Gaming. Dignitas looked strong against Titan, defeating the French squad in just two maps, on Mirage and Overpass. aizy led the way for Dignitas on both maps, while Titan’s kennyS struggled throughout the series. The series between NiP and SK was far closer than viewers expected, with NiP taking the first map on Cobblestone in double overtime, and the second map on Inferno 16-12. In the second series of matches, Mouseports upset Virtus.Pro, defeating them in two maps, including a double OT victory on Cobblestone. The final match-up of day one will be Cloud 9 vs EnVyUs.
With the regular season play now out of the way, the top four teams from the North American and European divisions of the ESL ESEA CS:GO Pro League will meet in a group stage starting July 2nd. All four opening matches will be EU vs NA. Virtus.Pro will take on Luminosity Gaming, EnVyUs will face Cloud 9 (in a rematch of their Gfinity match-up), Fnatic goes up against Counter Logic Gaming, and Team SoloMid will go head-to-head wth Keyd Stars. These opening matches will be followed by winners’ finals and elimination matches on the same day, meaning two of these eight teams will be sent home after day one.
The Bumpy Rise of the Renegades
Less than a week ago, the Renegades were riding high. The NA Challenger team known as Misfits rebranded as Renegades at the end of last week. The 2-0 team features LoL superstars Crumbzz and Alex Ich at the respective jungler and mid positions, and are one of the clear favorites to make it to next year’s LCS spring split. Renegades then picked up the former roster of Australian CS:GO team Vox Eminor, widely regarded as one of, if not the best team out of the Oceania region. Additionally, Renegades announced that LoL personality MonteCristo was joining the organization in a co-owner role, alongside Chris “Doombang” Bidawi, bringing along a wealth of esports experience.
But in the last few days, the new Renegades brand is already mired in a bit of controversy. Co-owner Bidawi, who also has stake in the Team Dragon Knights LCS team as an owner, has received a ban from working with any LCS organization until the 2017 season because of multiple instances of tampering. According to Riot’s ruling, Bidawi first solicited LCS player Keith while he was under contract with Team Liquid. Liquid’s owner warned Bidawi that doing so without Liquid ownership’s permission constituted tampering. After LCS officials warned Bidawi about tampering while in an ownership position, he went back to Liquid, this time soliciting Quas about leaving Liquid and joining his team. Bidawi initially denied this happened, but after evidence came out that proved it did, he finally admitted to LCS officials that it had occurred. If both teams (TDK and the Renegades LoL team) want to compete in the LCS next season, they will have to declare a new owner. This news appears to have no effect on Renegades’ CS:GO squad. MonteCristo delivered a statement on the Renegades’ website on the ruling, defending some of Bidawi’s actions, and admitting some fault in some of his co-owner’s decisions. MonteCristo says the organization will re-evaluate Bidawi’s position if and when Renegades qualifies for LCS, and hopes to continue working with Bidawi.
- Dota 2: In the grand finals of ESL One Frankfurt, the heavy favorites Team Secret defeated familiar adversaries Evil Geniuses 3-1 to take home the grand prize. Both teams 2-0’d their semifinal opponents to earn a spot in the grand finals, with Secret shutting out Invictus, and Evil Geniuses defeating Virtus.Pro. ESL announced days later that during the event they hit the 1,000,000 mark for concurrent viewership, doubling the record they set at last year’s Frankfurt event.
- Starcraft II: The Season 2 Finals of the WCS Premier League are currently in the round of 16 phase. You can check out ESL’s survival guide to following the finals.