Week one of the Season 4 Fall Split is in the books, and it’s time to jump to conclusions about what we saw in this first week of play. The record for the week – and thus the split to date – was 5-3 (62.5%), bringing the overall record to 83-54 (60.6%). Out of the three losses this week, only one of them was just a bad prediction. The other two discussed the possibility of going a different direction, and the analysis behind them was mostly sound. There were certainly a few surprises, so let’s get into it.
Last time around, we covered all of the various changes that happened between the splits. There hasn’t been a huge amount of change from week one to week two – we’ll see changes after week two if teams are still doing poorly – it’s worth discussing the changes that have taken place – but were not yet realized – and the changes that took place prior to week one, and how they appear to be shaping up.
Week one saw substitutes in the way of FaraKrik (Mid – Burrito Esports) for Burrito Esports (EU), MrSt3fan (Mid) for Elevate (EU), and Sheyka (Mid) for Noble Esports (NA). ManRay (Mid – SPL Gatekeepers) was announced as a last minute team addition to SPL Gatekeepers (NA) after losing Moswal (Mid – Noble Esports) to Noble Esports -but this might be a roster change rather than a substitution. FaraKrik was also made the new mid-laner for Burrito after the games on Saturday. Overall, the record for these substitutes was 3-5. Granted, FaraKrik and MrSt3fan were playing each other, so it was always going to be two wins and two losses.
Ok, so when you look at it that way, it’s not that impressive. Still, ManRay was a big part of picking up a convincing win over a veteran squad – albeit one with some changes of their own. His 80% kill participation is a good sign for immediate contribution and synergy, and his KDA of 3.33 is none-too-shabby. MrSt3fan might have turned in a slightly better performance, but that’s hardly surprising given the more experienced nature of his team. MrSt3fan has been considered an excellent mid-laner for some time – even going back to being the lone bright spot on Sanguine in the Spring Split before his unceremonious removal. If he was in North America, he’d be in the SPL right now – not just filling in. No question about it. FaraKrik did a fine job after a rocky start in game one – but that wasn’t necessarily his fault. He made several mistakes, but so did the rest of his team – including picking Chaac. I love Chaac, but more on him later. Sheyka played well in game one – including a few plays that proved LG is still shaking off the rust and finding their groove. Once LG started rolling, there wasn’t much hope – but it wasn’t necessarily on Sheyka. He looked better here than he did on Flash Point, and that’s even with Wubbn (Support – Noble Esports) looking bad on Hel. Whalrus (Solo – Noble Esports) balanced that out with his solid play, at least.
All in all, a good week for Team Substitute – despite limited success. Team New Member? Well, that’s more of a mixed bag.
Of all of the changes that occurred, none were higher profile than those of Spacestation Gaming (NA). The idea of the super team is always an appealing one. You put the best players in each position on a single team, and then you are just the best team. Right? Well, that doesn’t always pan out. Just look at the 2000, 2002, and 2004 US Men’s Basketball teams. Is that what is happening with SSG? It’s probably bit too early to tell, but the first look was not a good one. The first competitive set Zapman (Hunter – Spacestation Gaming) played since his short hiatus went poorly, to say the least. He was out of position, missing abilities, and getting bullied by eUnited (NA). This was both smart on eUnited’s part, and bad on SSG’s part. ScaryD (Solo – Spacestation Gaming) wasn’t doing a bad job, but it was also clear he was not yet comfortable on the Artio pick. His aggression wasn’t where the team needed it to be, and while he wasn’t the problem, he also wasn’t helping. The best you can say is his performance was adequate when the team needed at least good from him. Homiefe (Jungle – Spacestation Gaming) is not providing the engagement control and initiation necessary for success. Likewise, Jigz (Support – Spacestation Gaming) wasn’t rotating as cleanly as he has in the past, and his ability to peel was sorely limited in the engagements. Andinster (Mid – Spacestation Gaming) did as much as he could, but it wasn’t enough.
On the flip side, Venenu (Mid – eUnited) looked like a good fit for his team, even if the team shouldn’t yet be trusted. He played very safely, if conservatively. I expect his play to get riskier and more exciting as the split continues. They have a lot of potential, but it’s just one week. The same is true for SSG. Yes, it’s was a bad week for them, but it’s not likely they will continue to be that bad week in and week out for the rest of the split. Over in the EU, ManiaKK (Solo – NRG Esports) did a good job with limited reps as Artio in game one, but looked less strong overall in game two. This was in part due to the disappointing performance in the Hel pick, and overall team synergy.
Team Allegiance (NA) saw mixed success with their new line-up of Oceans (Mid – Team Allegiance) and Metyankey (Hunter – Team Allegiance). Funny enough, it was Oceans on a hunter and Metyankey on a mage – albeit Chronos – that got them the win in game two over SPL Gatekeepers. Oceans didn’t look bad on mage, but Team Allegiance didn’t look as sharp as they need to be to find success this split. If they are just aiming to be top six, even that might be difficult unless they step it up. It wasn’t a confidence-inspiring performance, but it wasn’t really because of Oceans. So at least that is a good. His ceiling is probably higher than Metyankey’s in that particular role.
Over in EU, MrNazer (Mid – The Papis) started off game one well, but things turned against The Papis and he just spiraled. It was not a good look. There isn’t much to say about that other than the team needs him to play better. Papis fans should cross their fingers and start hoping. It’s just as reliable as his play, at any rate.
Artio with the 100% pick/ban rate. I am certain no one saw that coming. Out of the four times she slipped through, her record was 1-3. This isn’t really a surprise, as the teams allowing her through – with possibly the exception of The Papis – would have consciously made the decision to prioritize other picks and felt comfortable against her. This makes sense, as it saves a ban for you, and lets the team allowing it through to know the opposing team’s first pick and 20% of the overall team comp. Hel was also a very popular pick and ban choice, but went 1-3, as well. The sole win was in the hands of EmilZy (Support – Obey Alliance), with losses coming from Wubbn and iRaffer (Support – NRG) – both of whom looks much less comfortable and experienced with the goddess.
Ravana was a dismal 1-5, Osiris saw victories only in the solo lane and went 4-4, Odin went 0-2, Erlang Shen went 1-3, and even Sun Wu Kong went 2-2 – this is prior to the further nerfs to Ravana, SWK, and Odin. In fact, the only warrior who saw success to any large degree the Lad Chaser himself – Cú Chulainn. The berserker went 6-1, and was dominate when allowed through in most of those cases. Sufficed to say, the success of warriors in the jungle has been greatly diminished – and will likely to continue in the vein for some time. If you look back to last week, this is as expected. Additionally, we did see some Athena in the jungle by Cherryo (Jungle – Elevate), piloting her to a 1-1 record. The synergy enjoyed in the first game was just slightly awry in the second game, leading to the team comp having not quite as much success. Still, great plan and great to see.
The mage picks continue to illustrate the important of zoning and individual strength. Nox, the Morrigan, Chronos, and Sol were all very popular. The not-really surprise was the re-emergence of Raijin. The muscly mage went 2-2, with the two losses coming from Sheyka and Noble – that’s the same level of success as Thoth and slightly better than Sol, just FYI. Not too shabby. Raijin’s kit has a lot of team fighting pressure, and it just comes down to team presence to support him – and the ever present requirement of strong positioning. There won’t be many changes going into week two – except we might see some more Scylla and Vulcan over what we saw in week one.
In the hunter role, it was more or less what was expected. Hou Yi was very popular – zone control and individual pick potential – Cernunnos and Medusa saw continued success, Chiron was still bugged and not played, Skadi saw some play with limited success, and Jing Wei saw a big return with very little success. The big surprise was Ah Muzen Cab appearing twice in the mid lane going 2-0. Again, great zone, great damage, just needs full team support and good positioning.
Support life shows a similar tale. Fafnir went a perfect 4-0, Sobek went a respectable 3-5, Sylvanus made a return with a win, Ares and Geb laid goose eggs at 0-2, Nox support – the Dardez (Support – Elevate) special – was 1-1, and Terra went slightly below even at 3-5 – though some of this was due to solo lane play. The hug bug went 1-1, which is at least promising to see him being played. Ganesha continues to be a fairly poor option – going 1-2. As mentioned above, Hel was not very successful – though that comes down to the individual. We’ll continue to see these gods, as well as the emergence of some further off-meta supports – Erlang, Amaterasu, Aphro, and maybe even something like Ratatoskr, Hades, or Nu Wa.
The Thursday mixed division games are getting moved to Friday, September 22, 2017 due to Hurricane Irma, but we will go ahead and cover them there. This means week three will see four straight days of SPL play. The best we could hope for from a bad situation. It should be an action-packed week, and this week’s predictions will be re-shared then.
Thursday, September 14 – Mixed Division (To Be Played on Friday, September 22)
The Papis vs. Team Rival (EU): The Papis are coming off a harder-than-expected relegations, and then a battering at the hands of Obey Alliance. The success will continue to hinge on the whims of MrNazer – and how broad the shoulders of Dheylo (Jungle – The Papis) and Dracomarino (Support – The Papis) are. On the other hand, Team Rival is notorious for their spotty online play. That said, the second game against Team Dignitas (EU) looked great and it was a very close game. That set was one that was incorrect last week, but that second game was a near thing and it easily could have swung if Dignitas was even slightly less dominant. Rival should be able to put this one in the bag quite easily, provided they show up. If they don’t, the Papis might sneak one – though that is a long shot. Team Rival 2-0.
NRG Esports vs. Team Dignitas (EU): How disappointing not to be getting this match-up this week. Still, it makes week three all that much more exciting. NRG is a bit of a mixed bag, at the moment. Valance Squadron (EU) always looks good at the start of a split – and is skilled enough to take games off of anyone – but the expectations for NRG were very high. They certainly did not live up to them in the first set, and the addition of ManiaKK – though it wasn’t necessarily his fault. It does still raise a question about the late game strength of the team, and how their signature identity is now a bit diminished. Dignitas looked as strong last week as they did in the Summer Split, and there is no reason to think they are going to change their course. This set is likely going to be a tense one, but it favors Team Dignitas at this moment in time. NRG might get one game, but even that is something that can’t be too believed in at this moment. It’s certainly possible the week one NRG isn’t the one we will continue to see, but it’s what we have. These should be hard fought games that tip towards Dignitas. Team Dignitas 2-0.
A Mighty Storm vs. eUnited (NA): Delaying this a week actually allows gh0st (Hunter – A Mighty Storm) to be present in a game. Hurricane Irma was a rough mistress for many players. eUnited looked great in week one, but this is a team that is inconsistent in their play throughout two splits – albeit with major roster changes. The current incarnation of the team is probably both the most likable and the best of the season. However, the consistency at the end of last split wasn’t there – and it will take more than a week to prove it is gone. That said, even an inconsistent team should be able to just smother A Mighty Storm. eUnited 2-0.
Luminosity Gaming vs. Spacestation Gaming (NA): Man, week three is going to be so good. Spacestation isn’t as bad as we saw in week one. They just won’t be. They might not be rockin’ best team in NA status, but they aren’t going to be as bad as they were that first set. Likewise, this will be Luminosity’s first real challenge, and here were enough question marks in week one – particularly game one – against Noble to have some valid concerns. Both teams will be highly incentivized to pull out wins in this set, particularly with Luminosity’s record against the teams and players in earlier splits this year. Yes, it’s meaningless for all things but ego – but all good players have some ego. It’s just a fact. Either team could squeak out an overall set win, but the safe bet will be a split. A complete collapse by either team will pretty much doom them. Split 1-1.
Saturday, September 16 – EU
Burrito Esports vs. Team Dignitas: The best team in EU – and the world, at the moment – against a team that needs quite a bit of work in order to catch up to the rest of EU. Unless some sort of body-swapping Freaky Friday scenario occurs, it should be cut and dry. The best reasonable outcome is Burrito stepping up their play and playing up to Dignitas and taking what they learn forward for the rest of the split. Team Dignitas 2-0.
Elevate vs. NRG Esports: The first look at Elevate with Deathpanter (Mid – Elevate) on their roster should be interesting. There isn’t a high level of expectation here, on their part. It would be very easy for Elevate to come away from this game looking good. NRG has more to lose from this set, certainly. However, the tricks the baffled Burrito last week are unlikely to baffle NRG. Likewise, NRG isn’t likely to face the same second game struggles they faced against Valance Squadron. NRG should walk away from this one clearly, and with increased confidence. NRG Esports 2-0.
The Papis vs. Valance Squadron: This one should be viewed as a litmus test for Valance Squadron. After having a good set against NRG last week, will Valance look to just refine what worked for them, or will they try out something else entirely? The reason why this matters is Valance Squadron has a history of not adapting and changing as the meta and split progresses. Showing some willingness to try new things during a week they should be able to handle cleanly would go a long way to showing the identity and play of the team has evolved. Valance should win this even if they play the exact comps they did last week, regardless. It would just be great to see some growth and willingness to flex early in the split. Valance Squadron 2-0.
Team Rival vs. Obey Alliance: Easily the on-paper game of the day. There are compelling match-ups in most every role, though the ones to watch should be Xaliea (Solo – Obey Alliance) against Deathwalker (Solo – Team Rival) and CaptainTwig (Jungle – Obey Alliance) against iceicebaby (Jungle – Team Rival). These two match-ups are likely to determine who will win the games, and it will provide the first real look at the necessary synergy between Twig and Xaliea. Shutting down iceicebaby and Deathwalker will be crucial to securing victory – particularly when it comes to playing against them in the late game. On the other hand, Team Rival must secure at least one win here to reasonably stay in the hunt for an easy-in to Super Regionals. The life and play exhibited in game two of the set with Dignitas last week has to carry over for Rival to see success. It should be a great set, with each time securing a win. Split 1-1.
Sunday, September 17 – NA
SPL Gatekeepers vs. Spacestation Gaming: After the set against eUnited, this is the second best bounce-back set SSG could have asked for. SPL Gatekeepers are by no means a push-over, requiring SSG to focus and play in order to defeat them. By the same token, SPL Gatekeepers are not one of the best teams in North America as of this writing. SSG should be able to make a few mistakes and not get instantly and horrifically punished for them. SSG should have a chance to find a good game rhythm and get a little more comfortable with their teammates and styles. SPL Gatekeepers could absolutely pose a real threat if SSG doesn’t take them seriously, which is just the kind of competition SSG needs right now. Spacestation Gaming 2-0.
Team Allegiance vs. Luminosity: Team Allegiance looked a lot better in game two of their first set than in game one. Luminosity looked a lot better in game two of their first set than in game one. Is Noble Esports better than SPL Gatekeepers? Probably. This doesn’t mean a lot when it comes to head to head play in the second week, but Luminosity is a stronger team this split than they were in the Summer Split – which does matter. These games might be closer than they should be, but Luminosity should be able to walk away with a clean 2-0 provided they focus on what matters and are able to capitalize on both the role switch and the meta shifts which impact the playstyle of Team Allegiance. It is still too early to put too much faith in Luminosity, but let’s start with cautious optimism. Luminosity 2-0.
A Mighty Storm vs. Noble Esports: A Mighty Storm is playing with a substitute again, and Noble Esports will have their real mid-laner with them this week. Noble Esports should have a chance to show what their new team looks like, with very little in the way of synergy issues given the history of this team playing with each other. A Mighty Storm looked dismal against Trifecta – unsurprisingly – and didn’t look as clean as expected in relegations due to their mid-lane swap. It’s just sort of bad luck – and ironic given their team name. This set is Noble’s to lose. Noble Esports 2-0.
eUnited vs. Trifecta: The set of the day! Oh boy! eUnited looked fantastic, and Trifecta looked devastatingly good in their victory over an obviously outmatched team. This is a great, early split test for both teams. eUnited have the best hype game in North America, but the new look-Trifecta team is scarier when it comes to godpool and situational awareness. eUnited looks great, but they have been known to be untrustworthy. Trifecta has been growing and being challenged all season. It would be the easy path to say a split is the outcome here – and it very likely might be – but something about this feels like Trifecta is going to come out with something unexpected and rock eUnited off balance. If so, Trifecta should gain some respect as a force to be reckoned with. Trifecta 2-0.
Week 2 Power Rankings
||Dignitas dominated in game one and showed resilience in game two against the Summer Split runner-up. No reason to doubt them, yet.||1|
||Moving up after dropping a set 0-2 to Team Dignitas? Yep. Rival showed up in game two, and if they can pull it together like that for the rest of the split, they will fight for this second slot with the rest of the top EU teams.||3|
||Obey looked loose and dominant in taking out The Papis in week one. Hardly a great test, but the cohesion and relaxed nature of the team is encouraging.||4|
||NRG looked good in one game, and a little out of their depth in their second game. ManiaKK wasn’t an immediate salve, but it’s just one game.||2|
|5||Trifecta looked incredible in their set against the bottom of the NA SPL team – hardly a shock. Still, the way they moved and play speaks to an ease of communication and trust in each other. No reason to doubt, yet.||5|
||Game one against Noble looked a little rough at times, but game two was a straight up stomp. The biggest thing was the obviously improved comms between Mask, Baskin, and the new solo of Aquarius. Aquarius was doing what needs to be done, and Mask and Baskin were able to profit off of it. Early still, but a good sign.||6|
||Valance Squadron picked up the pace in the second game against NRG and brought it home after an uneven game one performance. Valance often starts strong and peters out – at least this season over two splits, so it’s a bit early to move them up too much.||8|
||eUnited demolished Spacestation Gaming in both games of the set. eUnited looks better than they have all split, and they might be peaking at the right time – this week should tell us more.||
|9||A very disappointing start to the split for SSG. They looked completely out of sync and couldn’t even cobble together individual performances. The team needs homiefe to step up, ScaryD to become more comfortable, and for Zapman to return to form – and fast.||7|
|10||A split with a respectable SPL Gatekeepers team. Game one was rocky, game two was good. Nothing to really warrant a position change. This week against LG will be a good indicator of their actual strength.||10|
||MrSt3fan was an excellent substitute for the team, and Dardez looked great on Nox. At least, for game one, anyway. Elevate does look a little punchier and fresher than most of last split – but they showed some liveliness at the end of the Summer Split, too. This week will give a better indication now that their new mid-laner will be joining them full time.||11|
||Burrito fell for the ol’ razzle dazzle in game one against Elevate, but managed to adapt and fight back into them to salvage a split – and equal their win total for the Summer Split. A good sign of things to come as they continue to grow.||12|
||Wubbn needs more practice on Hel, for sure. Whalrus looked great, and Sheyka did as best he could. Skeeledon wasn’t bad, either. Maybe with Moswal the team will have a new energy and some further focus.||13|
||SPL Gatekeepers pulled out a win against an established team – albeit in flux. I would have liked to see the wins in reverse order, but this is a team that’s just going to get better, and could make a run at sneaking some games off teams and staying in the SPL into Season Five.||14|
|15||MrNazer needs to be MrConsistency, and fast. Dheylo and Dracomarino remain bright spots, but it’s not enough in a stacked EU division. No relief in sight, either.||15|
||The fast Hurricane Irma took their best player – probably – from them is unfortunate and ironic. No relief in week two, either. Hopefully in week three, things turn around.||16|