With the EU side of things all wrapped up, we head over the Atlantic to North America where six North American teams are fighting for their spots in the League of Legends Championship Series. These matches will be played immediately following the conclusion of the Battle of the Atlantic tournament on each day, so be sure to tune in early.
The incumbant teams are the recently moved Evil Geniuses, the absolutely on fire Team Coast and the ever present Curse. The challenger teams are Determined Gaming, The Walking Zed and COGnitive Gaming.
Which of these teams will move on to the LCS? Read on, League of Legends fans, to see my thoughts on the matchups. Oh, and not to brag or anything, but I correctly predicted which three teams moved into the EU LCS. Let's see if I can keep the streak going!
Evil Geniuses vs Determined Gaming - Friday December 20th, 5 PM EST
|Evil Geniuses||Determined Gaming|
|Marksman (ADC)||Yellowpete||Marksman (ADC)||ROBERTxLEE|
Matchup to watch: Westrice vs Innox in the Top Lane
This is the match everyone is waiting to see. Evil Geniuses lived up to their name with the buyout of Velocity eSports and subsequent rebranding of the team. This let them divide their current EU squad in half, sending the core of EG over to NA. The question is, can they hang on to the spot? After a 4th place finish in the EU playoffs last summer, they fell just short of the World Championships, but put up some impressive games throughout the season. It's this core of Krepo, Yellowpete and Snoopeh that is joined by former Curse midlane youngster Pobelter (thought to be their ace in the wings awaiting his turning 17) and Innox, a top laner who played substitute for major teams such as CLG Black (Now XD Gaming). The question for this Evil Geniuses squad is this: Have they had enough time as a unit to be competitive on the North American scene? It's true that NA is considered one of the weaker League of Legends scenes, and I believe that is what EG is banking on by bringing EU superstars here to compete.
They are faced with a Determined Gaming (formerly To Be Determined) squad that has seen moderate success together, finishing in the 3rd/4th place in the North America Challenger League with a 16-9 record. They fell to Team Coast in the semifinals, and it can only be assumed that Determined scared Coast enough to not have them select them for this match. There's reason for that, it seems, with top laner Westrice leading the team. Westrice leads a team of reletive rookies against superstars in EG - one would hope that his experience as a long time top laner for Curse would rub off on his compatriots. Team cohesiveness is going to be key in dividing and conquerering the just constructed NA Evil Geniuses squad.
The matchup to watch is Westrice vs Innox in the top lane. If Westrice is able to use his experience to bully Innox out of lane, get farmed up quickly and be there for the team fights when they count, it may just give Determined Gaming the edge they need to win. I'm going to have to predict an upset here, in 5 games due to Evil Geniuses' relative inexperience with playing with these two new players as well as not quite being used to the speed of the North American meta.
Prediction: Evil Geniuses 2:3 Determined Gaming
Team Coast vs. The Walking Zed - Saturday December 21st, 5 PM EST
|Team Coast||The Walking Zed|
|Marksman (ADC)||WizFujiin||Marksman (ADC)||bobbyhankhill|
Matchup to Watch: NydusHerMain vs. Daydreamin on Support
This match is the biggest question mark out of the three. Coast appears to have returned to their dominant days of old, if recent competitive records are any indication. Coast clinched their first major championship win in the North American Challenger League earlier this week beating out CompLexity for the top prize. Not only that, but they finished with an amazing 24-2 record, on top of finishing 6th overall in the Summer Split of Season 3 with a just under .500 record at 13-15. It seems their replacement of DontMashMe on Marksman for the new superstar Wizfujiin was all that Coast needed to get back into fighting form. They should be a force to contend with in this matchup.
Then there's The Walking Zed. Not much is really known about this squad, made up of the remnants of Gold Gaming Los Angeles that were dismissed from their team after submitting an abysmal start to the NACL season. Many of the players here either were subs for other major teams or were formerly on other squads in this article, such as Determined Gaming. They did, however, manage to come through the promotion tournament very strong at 4-1 (tied for 1st) taking down the supposed Korean superstars in Quantic Gaming, only dropping a match to COGnitive.
The matchup to watch here will be NydusHerMain against Daydreamin on Support. Whichever of these two players is able to properly get their marksman fed early, and carry through with excellent initiations will give their team the edge in this matchup. I'm going to predict that Coast keeps on their winning streak here, while The Walking Zed will be able to surprise them once.
Prediction: Team Coast 3:1 The Walking Zed
Curse vs COGnitive Gaming - Sunday December 22, 5 PM EST
|Marksman (ADC)||Cop||Marksman (ADC)||nothinghere|
Matchup to Watch: Cop vs nothinghere in the Marksman position
Curse was the first team to select their opponents for this weekend, and it's hard not to see why. With a 4-0 record vs COGnitive in the North American Challenger League, they picked what was easily the weakest link. Indeed, COGnitive barely squeaked by in the Promotion tournament with a 3-2 record, and finished out the NACL season with a abysmal 6-20 record. If this match goes COGnitive's way, the world will be shocked. On the other hand, Cognitive did beat out The Walking Zed in the promotional qualifiers tournament, widely considered to be the X Factor team. This proves they can have strokes of brilliance among their losses, though this is a best of 5. Lightning will have to strike thrice in this series for them to win.
Curse looks like an almost completely different squad from last season. Voyboy, Cop and Zekent return from last year's Curse squad - though, Voyboy is now playing in the mid lane. New additions iWillDominate (formerly of Dignitas and returning from a year long competitive ban due to unsportmanlike conduct in Solo Queue) and Quas, formerly of ggLA, round out the squad. Across these five players, there's a ton of competitive experience dating back to the beta of League of Legends. The only wrench that COGnitive might be able to through into their gears is that Voyboy is new to the midlane position. Though, as formerly stated, Curse's 4-0 competitive record vs COGnitive would suggest this won't be an issue.
The matchup to watch here will be Cop vs Nothinghere in the marksman position - Cop has infinitely more experience. If the upstart Nothinghere wants to have a shot, he'll have to pull out some uncoventional picks. I'm going with the obvious pick here, in a complete shutout.
Prediction: Curse 3: 0 COGnitive Gaming