What You Need To Know About The EU LCS Summer Split To Get Through A Conversation About It

When I tell you about Fnatic’s stumble just minutes into the first game of the League of Legends 2015 EU LCS Summer Split final, do your eyes glaze over, two sad saucers staring out into a strange and confusing new world of electronic sport? If I describe the nature of Tahm Kench does your mind begin to wander to dusty corridors untouched since the time somebody tried to explain osmosis to you at a party? I’ve sat opposite these empty expressions, trust me I understand this pain. The world of eSports can be choppy waters for the uninitiated.

But don’t you see how difficult it is for me? Having to humour you in your stupid conversations about other things?

So take my hand, please. Let me be your shamanic guide leading you into the strange lands of League of Legends [official site]. Don’t be scared. You only need press your forehead to your monitor and allow me to impart my knowledge unto you. No, don’t do that; simply read on to learn… What You Need To Know About The EU LCS Summer Split To Get Through A Conversation About It.

What is happening?

We are on the road to the League of Legends World Championships! Twenty teams across North America and Europe are competing for a place at this year’s Berlin-based season final, with the top six teams across Europe and her colonies duking it out for a qualifying spot.

Over the weekend we saw the conclusion of what’s called the LCS Summer Split, essentially a play-off system that determines what teams head to Worlds. There are a few ways of getting a place in the World Championships, which can make things a bit complicated. One way is by winning the Split finals, which is what a team called Fnatic did in Europe over the weekend. Another way to qualify is by racking up “Championship Points” over the course of the season – these are earned based on a team’s performance in the playoffs. Finally, there are the quarterfinals which is a regional qualifier that determines the third team to make it through.  We’ll get to all of that stuff a little later.

So wait, what happened over the weekend?

Oh it was wonderful! Here at Casa Del Gera we slipped on our Sunday best to watch the five game-long European throttle between Fnatic, a seemingly inhuman team that had become the first Western LCS team to complete a split undefeated, and the recently formed Origen. Fnatic emerged as top dog for the European Summer Split.

How about an anecdote?

Perhaps the strangest thing about the EU LCS Summer Split was how fast things crumbled for our Fnatic, who at that point had a score of 18 wins and 0 losses but saw that winning streak broken in one game against Origen. That first game was a bloodbath – Origen steamrolling in, crushing 11 towers to Fnatic’s meagre two. Twenty-two minutes in, and after a somewhat confused team fight, they managed to take out four of Fnatic’s champs, downed a Baron and got themselves within sprinting range of the enemy Nexus – That’s 1 – 0 to Origen.

It became 1 – 1 by the second match but that early game would be the first of two in which Fnatic lost its footing. In Game 4, Fnatic held its own in map objectives – the team downed Baron not once but three times, soaking in those sweet Baron buffs. But by 47 minutes in, it was Origen that used simple brute force to take down Nexus turret after Nexus turret, and pushing the score to 2 – 2.

Yeah, so what?

You’ve got to remember that Origen are the new guys on the block. Not only that, they were founded by former Fnatic star mid-laner xPeke which makes for a nice layer of subplot.

But sure, fine, by this point Fnatic already had a place in Worlds regardless. Remember when I mentioned Championship Points? Those accrue all season, and Fnatic – with 18 wins under its belt – was at the top of the chart, qualifying them as shoe-ins for Worlds.

Let’s go over that one more time: Based on the sheer number of Championship Points accrued, Fnatic would be going to worlds even if Origen won the best of five series. This would have a knock-on effect elsewhere. Placing second in the Championship Point chart is a team called H2K Gaming, and their future teetered on the edge of a Fnatic win. Had Origen placed first, Fnatic would swan in on points, leaving H2K to continue the fight for Championship entry in the quarterfinals.

More importantly, all of Fnatic’s earlier wins didn’t guarantee them first place title in the LCS Playoffs. It’s a slightly confusing aspect of Riot’s tournament structure, but even in the face of Fnatic’s win streak, they had to beat Origen to avoid dropping to second place on the chart.

Okay so what happened?

A distinct pattern was emerging in terms of champions picked. We had seen the recently revamped Gangplank played by both teams over the course of these matches, and by the fourth match Origen had taken Tristana out of the hands of the opposition – a champ that had so wrecked the team earlier on when played by Fnatic just one game earlier, scoring the day’s only pentakill.

With that 2 – 2 score by Game 4, the next game would determine who’d be going forward to the Championships. And, you know what? Just watch it.

Here’s what Fnatic captain YellOwStaR’s said about it in an interview with Riot Games immediately after:

“We were going back to our old style that we are most comfortable playing with – hard engage and trying to finish the game within maybe 30 minutes. But they somehow held against us and it was really hard. We took so many Barons and we couldn’t close out the game. They made a mistake, I think, because they were not patient enough. They wanted to finish the game and we found an opportunity.”

“When I got a pick on Azir, I started to be really confident,” YellOwStaR continued. “I didn’t know if we’d win or if we’d lose, but then when we started attacking the mid tower, I was like, ‘We did it, guys! We did it!’ We were super happy, and we just realized that we were winning. I even made the safe call to just get all the inhibitors but the guys on the team were all like, just finish!”

So wait, now what’s going to happen?

Fnatic, with its win in the Summer Split, is heading to Korea. For a bit, anyway – that’s where a bootcamp will be held ahead of the October final. Joining them is H2K Gaming with the second highest number of Championship Points in the EU LCS.  That’s two of the EU spots in the 2015 World Championships cemented in place, leaving one more up for grabs. Both Origen and the Unicorns of Love, along with Roccat and Giants Gaming, have a chance of getting to the global tournament by winning the Regional Qualifiers, which starts August 29.

(Images courtesy of Riot Games’ Flickr portfolio)

17 Comments

  1. Jekhar says:

    Wow, just wow. You wouldn’t read an opening like that in an article about Evo. Maybe that’s because the games played there are fun to watch even for the uninitiated, compared to these boring ass MOBAs.

    • davethejuggler says:

      Maybe not, but it could be perfectly applicable to a lot of real world sports. Cricket and baseball sprint to mind, and i absolutely love cricket. Not everything has to be instantly accessible to everybody (like cricket’s dumbed down but bombastic 20-20 format).

    • Zankman says:

      The hell?

      Firstly, you won’t read something like this about Fighting Games because that crowd is adamant about not being an E-Sport (or a collection of them) and they maintain that they are just “competitive gamers”.

      Secondly, it would be awesome to read something like this for their events as they always have overly complex and convoluted tournament brackets and “assumed” rules that have been grandfathered-in and lazily left to continue existing.

      Thirdly, Fighting Games being friendly to the uninitiated is pure nonsense; yes, you have two clear characters fighting, but amidst all the little details, the behind-the-scenes workings of the game that shape what the core gameplay is like, the complexity of the moves, the technical aspects (and even the lingo of the casters), the colorful and disorientating graphics and various visual effects…

      All sports need a bit of a tutorial to understand (some more, some less) and the same especially applies for E-Sports which are generally a bit harder to penetrate.

      LoL and other DotAlikes are no different – on paper it is simple, two teams/armies fighting, however, the various factors at play make it much more difficult to just pick-up and start watching. The average Fighting Game may be *slightly* easier.

      Fourthly, all of this explained here pertains to how the Competitive Infrastructure works and how it influences the result of this Bo5 as well as how this Bo5 influences certain future events (again) within said infrastructure.

      How the hell is that boring or complex?

      If you don’t have any interest in this or just possess negative preconceived bias, I don’t see why you would even post here and spread your malice.

      • Kronikle says:

        Welcome to the RPS comments section where it’s almost always a cesspool of unnecessary hatred. It doesn’t matter what type of article it is, you’ll almost always find a group of people just spreading vitriol over whatever game is being discussed for absolutely no reason.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Some of them maybe. Street Fighter is fairly viewer friendly as there isn’t too much going on. Others though? Marvel vs Capcoms “vomit on the screen” combos are impossible to discern if you haven’t played the game.

  2. gpown says:

    …but game 3 was actually won by Fnatic.

    • Xocrates says:

      Ah, so I wasn’t mis-remembering stuff, that 2-1 in Origen’s favour never happened.

      Games went: Origen – Fnatic – Fnatic – Origen (on a great comeback) – Fnatic

      • gpown says:

        I kind of get the feeling Emily is writing about LoL against her will – this is from her Polygon article on 2014’s changes to the map:

        “Flashable walls have been added to allow players to better see what’s behind them, such as ward placements.”

        …huh?

    • Emily Gera says:

      Ah yes, sorry about that mis-type – Fixed! No I am not writing about LoL against my will.

  3. KevinLew says:

    I’ve been watching Dota 2 for a long time now, so I understand most of the mechanics, but I guess LoL is still very different. At the 40 minute mark, there’s a base race and OC gets blown up by FNC, losing two players and even the right inhibitor, and FNC has all five players on the field.

    In Dota 2, this is where teams want forcing a win, either going straight for the Tier 4 towers, or they go to the other lanes and continue wrecking towers to reduce any chance of a comeback. However, FNC backed off, began killing the big jungle mobs and killed Baron instead.

    So why did they back off when the opposing team was down two players and they were on a roll?

    • Xocrates says:

      Mana low, health on tank low, lot of important abilities on cooldown, not enough minions to tank turret, enemy adc back at base, not that long into game so enemy team would respawn before they could do any serious damage, so they opted to play safe and clear all other nearby objectives, particularly Dragon

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      They won’t always, it depends on the situation, Baron gives a damage and health regeneration buff which means a lot of the time teams will back off, take that, go back to base for full health/buy items, then come back and siege lanes knowing they have an advantage. Rather than sticking around, potentially getting someone picked off (remember no buybacks in LoL if someone dies) and then they have the disadvantage as the other team respawns, they take the safe option.

  4. Thirdrail says:

    The next step for eSports, I think, is eSport fans figuring out how to talk about them without that edge of desperation that always seems to show up front and center. The frisbee people are just like that too. No, disc golf and ultimate are totally legit sports, just like golf and soccer! Please agree! We crave validation!

    In fairness, though, I saw a cute guy at Starbucks the other day wearing a Cloud 9 t-shirt. Not only was he wearing it, but I knew what it was! So that’s like a double victory for disc golfers everywhere.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      To me the big issue is the lingo that accompanies all competitive games. You may as well be talking another language to someone who is new to it. Commentators are literally just vomiting abbreviations and lingo out of their mouths, interspersed with equally confusing player “e-names”. It gives it very much a feeling of being a completely closed off thing that you need to be “in the know” to appreciate. Compared to traditional sports which are much easier to understand.
      Don’t ask me how to get around this problem though, not a clue.

  5. Beefenstein says:

    I’m actually slightly angry that you think I might be capable of caring about this.

    • JFS says:

      Baffled. I’d call myself “baffled”. This topic is quite specialist, I’d venture to say. You know, like those guys at uni who research ancient Sumeric granary conception and architecture. I mean.

      Also, the opening photograph looks like a wrestling event.

      • Ksempac says:

        Everytime there is an eSport article, some complains that they don’t care about it. And you know, it’s perfectly fine to not like some stuff.

        However, there is no need to be so dismissive. And to say that “it’s a specialist topic akin to ancien Sumeric” is actually baffling.

        I don’t play LoL, i don’t watch pro matches either (though i watch other eSports) but LoL is currently the most played PC game and many people watch eSports without even playing the game. According to wikipedia, 32 millions people watched the 2013 tournament (and i’m sure it grew since).

        There are very few PC games that have an audience/player base of 32 million people. And you find baffling that on a PC gaming site there are articles about LoL, or eSport in general ?

        I advice you to at least check out some eSports out there that you might be interested in, that would be an important reality check for you.