What an exciting tournament! In comparison with the North American LCS Qualifiers, the European one was jam-packed with surprises. Let's start with the fact that Millenium, Meet Your Makers (MYM), LoLPro and mousesports will not be competing in the Season 3 League of Legends Championship Series. It would have been a little surprising to see any one of those names on that list but to see four like that is pretty amazing.
Fnatic struggled more than expected when they dropped a game early to GIANTS! Gaming—the only team to not lose a game this weekend. In fact, by the time I woke up on Saturday, the bracket had already worked out so that at least one of MYM, Millenium or Fnatic was going to be eliminated.
Dragonborn was a big surprise. They're captained by Shushei, formerly of Fnatic. HosaN, their ADC player, was amazing throughout the tournament. HosaN showed that Draven is a force to be reckoned with.
I think we can also say that the Taric/Urgot comp from a few weeks ago is legit. It's shown up now in three tournaments straight with a single loss out of 10 or so appearances. That's not exactly in the "statistically significant" range but if you watched those games, you'd see some very strong performances. The ability to do true damage and mitigate incoming damage right from the start of the game is very powerful. It'll be interesting to see how that combo plays out in the coming months. Taric is a perfectly viable support without Urgot as a companion. I can therefore see a draft strategy working out where you draft Taric early and force your opponents to either take Urgot (without the optimal support) or draft around the possibility you'll take Urgot (possibly digging your own grave) or ignore it and face, what appears to be, a very potent strategy.
The other thing that was pretty clear from these last three tournaments is the prevalence of Olaf. He doesn't seem to be "OP" per se—having gone a combined 26-21—but he's been picked or banned in nearly every game for three weeks across different metas. There's clearly a perception among the pros that he's very, very good and awkward to play against. I think the issue with him is that he can build 100% tanky and still do sufficient damage to be a factor in the late game. With his ult, he can walk through a line of tanks and just hunt down the ADC who is generally squishy enough to only take a few hits. That's another reason for Urgot to be good since he generally builds a bit tanky.
We're also starting to see a lot more Zyra mid than a few months ago. In fact, from what I've seen, this is the most robust metagame midlane right now as any AP bruiser/assassin is viable mid as are a whole host of APs that had been MIA for a long while in competitive play. This weekend alone saw Zyra, Kassadin, Nidalee, Morgana, Fizz, Syndra, Kayle, Vi and others.
The European meta appears to be significantly more vibrant than the NA meta—at least based on the action this weekend. The games are full of lane swapping and slightly different team comps. Nothing super crazy like double junglers, but it's different enough that it's noticeable when you watch. Kayle's presence alone is striking given that she's nearly nonexistent in NA but hyper-prevalent in Europe and Asia.
Rather than go through a big long blow-by-blow of the games, I thought I'd just give a suggested viewing list of some of the best games:
- Dragonborn dismantles Team Acer. This is really the Draven show although we also see the first appearance of Vi.
- Fnatic drops a surprise game against GIANTS!
- Fnatic, backed to the wall, comes back from a poor start to make it to the next round.
- Meet Your Makers handily crushes mousesports with a clinic on the power of Twisted Fate + Teleport (he's everywhere!).
- Dragonborn runs rampant over mousesports. It's kind of an ugly game but reminds me of the fun I used to have early in the game just doing crazy stuff, running around and making plays.
- Fnatic plays basically the exact same team comp as they did in the first game and still stomps MYM.
- AD Kennen? That's right... AD Kennen. 'Nuff said. Stay on for game 2 and watch them do it again!
Congratulations to Fnatic, Against All Authority, Dragonborn, Copenhagen Wolves and GIANTS!, five very deserving contenders for the crown.