MANGO's Monday MOBA Report: IEM Cologne and League of Legends Edition
Last weekend was a pretty busy weekend in genre of MOBAs, with two large tournaments taking place at the same time: IEM Cologne for League of Legends, which featured some of the best amateur challenger teams along with some of the top teams in each region; and MLG Columbus, a DOTA 2 tournament, featured 8 of the top teams at the moment, including TI3 Winners [A]lliance and TI3 Runner-ups Na'Vi.
Along with other fan favorites such as the new DK and upcoming Speed Gaming, MLG Columbus was slated to be a great tournament.
IEM Cologne is probably the first major tournament in League of Legends since the World finals over a month ago. With the tied for 3rd-4th place finisher Fnatic, and the tied for 5th-8th placed finishers C9 and Gambit Gaming heading the field along with perennial crowd favorite CLG. Along with two challenger teams, a Russian representative The RED and a strong Turkish team by the name of Team Turquailty, IEM Cologne was set to be a very entertaining tournament.
With Cloud9 and Fnatic given a bye, presumably due to their placements at Worlds, CLG and Gambit were left to play the challenger teams, The RED and Team Turquality. While neither series were ever really in question in terms of the victor, the Challenger teams put on an excellent show against two of the most experienced and strongest in the world, which will only serve them well in the future. With both RED and Turquality dispatched 2-0, CLG and Gambit proceeded to move on to face Fnatic and Cloud 9 respectively.
CLG vs Fnatic was a tale of forlorn love an-who am I kidding. This was a showdown between Doublelift and Rekkles, the Marksmen of both teams, who had been sharing kind, encouraging words with each other all week on Twitter such as "Expect a stomp" and "prepare to get Rekked". Both of them had a vested interest in their teams winning. While some other players in the set had some plays of note (Maybe you've heard of this Xpeke guy, he had a pretty cool escape with Nidalee), the show really was stolen by Rekkles or Doublelift every game, with dominating performances by either one in all three games.
Including a strong play 2v1 by Rekkles, although the real moral of the story here is never use DA CULLING point blank.
After a back and forth 3 game series, Fnatic proved to still have the NA's number and took down CLG, especially convincingly in Game 3 with a dominate performance. Rekkles and Doublelift, despite their public Twitter "war", show nothing but respect and hug it out at the end of the day, being two of the best Marksmen players in the world at the moment.
A lot less build-up was involved for Cloud 9 vs Gambit, besides the return of the prodigal son Edward to his home on Gambit, reuniting him with all of his old teammates as Gambit's roster remained unchanged in every role but support after he left. However, like a missing piece of a puzzle, Edward's return was nothing but a perfect fit that helped Gambit put on one of their most dominant performances in a long time.
Gambit simply bullied Cloud9 both games, with dominant stat lines in favor of Gambit. Through a team effort, Gambit put the lockdown on Meteos, limiting his presence on the map which appears to be a very touchy Achilles' heel for C9, completely shutting down their normally very strong objective taking and map control abilities. Gambit, revitalized by Edward's strong Russian bear tactics that included multiple 3+ person stuns were easily able to dispatch Cloud 9 and move on to an all EU showdown with Fnatic.
Genja shows us how to properly use
In the all EU affair for the IEM championship, we saw some fairly unusual things. AP Malphite, Thornmail Aatrox, and Genja building fairly standard Marksman items (Probably the most unusual out of all of those). However, their strategy was anything but strange: Shut down Xpeke. With Xpeke going a combined 2-10-1 over both games of the two game beatdown that Fnatic recieved, Gambit showed that they were truly back with a vengeance and are looking to be a powerhouse going into the next season of the EU LCS.
With all of the hype over Rekkles and Doublelift, the Marksman who actually played the best this week, even in the opinion of Rekkles himself, was Genja. Formerly thought of as a liability to Gambit back in the days of their M5 and Empire incarnations, Genja has really come into form the last few months and proven that he is a top echelon Marksman player. With the return of his Support Edward, Genja has never appeared to be more comfortable in his own skin in the bot lane. With their strong teamplay and unusual champion picks and builds, Gambit wins out IEM over Fnatic in almost relative ease.
On the weekend, there was a trio of champions that jumped out onto the scene that hadn't really seen alot of competitive play before: Lucian, Jinx and Ziggs. Lucian, atleast for scenes outside of OGN, hasn't really had the time to shine just due to lack of professional tournaments: however his appearance was just a matter of time. Strong in siege comps and great at bursting down single targets surprisingly fast, Lucian also offers the safety of a low cooldown dash with slow removal to be one of the safest Marksmen picks in the entire game. Jinx, on the other hand, trades some safety for raw, unabashed power and utility in her kit. A lane dominator with tools to 1v1, assist ganks, and shove lanes, Jinx was also just a matter of time before seeing competitive play. Ziggs, on the other hand, has been around for awhile and is just now finally seeing competitive play. Buffs to his minefield and nerfs to popular assassin champions allow Ziggs to blast onto the competitive scene with his superior laning against other "classic" mages such as Orianna and his passive providing excellent tower damage in siege compositions, don't be surprised to see more and more of the Hextech Explosive Expert as Season 4 rolls around the corner.
With Season 4 rolling around the corner, I can only hope for one thing that Riot will truly note from this weekend's festitivites: We need more international showdowns than just All-Stars and Worlds. The amount of hype, views and passion that are generated through international rivalries is the kind of publicity that League of Legends should not ignore. After watching both IEM Cologne and MLG Columbus this weekend, I know that I have much more international showdowns to see in DOTA 2. The rematch between Chinese team DK and European team Na'vi isn't a faint glimmer in the future, it could be as soon as a month from now. When is the next time we can see a Fnatic vs CLG? A rematch between Rekkles and Doublelift?
It's nothing but love at the end of the day
Unfortunately, we may never see that match up again. A mid-season international showdown tournament between the current top 4 of NA and EU LCS would be a great boon to the eSports scene that Riot wants to help grow. More international play can only raise the bar all regions. Cloud 9 themselves said they feel they would have placed much higher if they just had the international experience to do so. I'm sure the other participants from NA at Worlds, TSM and XDG (formerly Vulcun) will say something similar.
So, in the simplest words I can muster: Riot, pls. More international tournaments like IEM Cologne. Add in a week or two long break to your LCS seasons to allow it. Honest, on behalf of League fans everywhere: I promise you we'll love it.