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Top
LCK

LoL Week in Review: MagiFelix, Crownshot Join LEC

Mike Plant

With the LEC about to reach the halfway point in the regular season, it was only natural that there would start to be roster changes. Both Astralis and Team Vitality decided to shake things up to see if they could bring a spark to the struggling teams. Meanwhile, we saw Team Liquid drop to 3-3 in the LCS and a certain Dignitas jungler doesn’t like to play the same champion twice. We take a look at the top news and storylines across the LEC, LCS, LPL, and LCK.

Crownshot LEC

Crownshot makes his return to the LEC with Team Vitality. (Photo courtesy Michal Konkol - Riot Games)

MAGIFELIX, CROWNSHOT JOIN LEC

It’s only a matter of time before the roster changes start in professional play. This week, we saw two big changes in the LEC. Long-time Fnatic Academy mid laner Carl “MagiFelix” Felix Boström replaced Erlend “nukeduck” Våtevik Holm on Astralis, while Juš “Crownshot” Marušič replaced ADC Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos on Team Vitality.

In MagiFelix’s case, we have no idea how long he will remain in the starting lineup. Nukeduck stepped down from the starting roster for personal reasons, leaving the spot available. MagiFelix has only signed a contract through March 31st, so Astralis may not see him as a long-term solution.

Regardless, MagiFelix played well in his opportunity this weekend. In his debut, MagiFelix helped lead Astralis to a win over FC Schalke 04. His 5/1/4 Corki produced a highlight-reel play and led the game in damage dealt (16.7k). He wasn’t able to help Astralis beat Misfits Gaming in game two, but his 0/0/1 Corki performance was hardly the cause of the loss.

In the end, we saw a lot of what we’ve come to expect from MagiFelix. He didn’t show anything new in his limited champion pool, picking Corki twice. However, he piloted the champion well and farmed well in both games. His playstyle is reminiscent of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. There is obviously a place for that professionally, and Astralis didn’t look any worse off without Nukeduck.

On the other hand, Crownshot’s debut did not lead to any success for Team Vitality. Like Astralis, Vitality entered the week 1-6. The good news for Crownshot is that he performed well individually. In the first game against Excel Esports, Crownshot’s 4/2/3 Miss Fortune out-cs’ed and had a better KDA than his lane opponent. In the loss to SK Gaming, Crownshot’s 3/4/1 Kai’Sa was by far the best score line on his own team.

One downside to Crownshot’s debut was the thrown lead in game one against Excel. Vitality led the game by 2.5k gold at 19 minutes and were still ahead in kills (10 to 8) when the game ended. Vitality brought in Crownshot to be a strong voice on the team, at least according to their roster announcement. While you can’t fix everything immediately, the team struggled in their macro play all the same.

It will be interesting to see how Vitality choose to allocate playing time for the rest of the split. Crownshot had been signed as a streamer under Gen.G and was going to go to Korea with Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek, so it would be surprising if Crownshot was not guaranteed a run of playing time in the LEC. As a bottom-of-the-table team, Crownshot won’t get the chance to play in the playoffs or on the international stage. He needs to be getting playing time to prove he still belongs in the LEC.

TEAM LIQUID DROPS TO 3-3

Team Liquid picked up two of the biggest offseason acquisitions in Barney “Alphari” Morris and Lucas “Santorion” Tao Kilmer Larsen. They then won the inaugural Lock In tournament, beating Cloud9 3-2 in the finals. It was about as good of a start as you could hope for as a Team Liquid fan to begin the year.

However, TL has struggled to open the regular season. After dropping their opening match against Immortals in week one, Team Liquid dropped back-to-back games in week two. TL are tied for fifth after six games, behind both TSM and Dignitas. There’s no reason to panic after just two weeks, but does any doubt start to creep in after a disastrous 2020 Spring?

TL started week two with an expected easy victory over Counter Logic Gaming. The subsequent loss to TSM was surprising, but even more so for how one-sided it was. TSM took a mid game lead and closed out TL very cleanly, giving up only three kills in a controlled 32-minute win. TL followed that with a more back-and-forth loss to the 5-1 100 Thieves. While both teams are no pushovers, they are teams TL expect to beat.

In looking at the losses, it was clear that Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen had a rough week. His notorious struggles against TSM seem to extend to Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. Jensen finished 0/3/1 on Zoe and barely out-damaged (7.6k) his own Graves (7.2k) as a poke mage. Jensen followed that up with a 0/2/6 Ryze performance in which he was caught out at a critical time in the game.

Considering that Jensen has proven his ability through the years, it doesn’t make much sense to read into one weekend of struggles. The good news for TL is that both Alphari and Santorin look to be fitting into the team well. That’s especially good considering Santorin didn’t even join the team until halfway through Lock In.

There is some obvious eyebrow raising because TL are in the middle-of-the-pack in the standings, but things change quickly. Every team is playing three games a weekend. TL are heavy favorites over Golden Guardians, and should be the same against the Evil Geniuses that showed up in week two. TL then have their rematch with Cloud9 to close the week. That motivation should keep them on their A-game this week.

FNATIC, EXCEL REPLAY GAME

Fnatic were in control of their game against Excel Esports. They had secured Ocean Soul, were about to secure Baron, and had a big 20 to 8 kill lead. The gold lead was under 1k, but it was clearly about to balloon with the pair of objectives taken. The game wasn’t decisively won, but it was pretty clear where it was going.

Then, the bug happened. Elias “Upset” Lipp’s Samira ulted in a fight with Felix “Kryze” Hellström’s Gangplank and, even when resurrecting from Guardian Angel, didn’t stop. Riot investigated after the pause, confirming the bug. Riot made an attempt to chronobreak the game, but it was unsuccessful. With no option to go back in time, the game had to be a full remake.

Not only was there a full remake, but the start of the game was pushed to the end of the day. Excel and Fnatic got to regroup and strategize while G2 Esports and Rogue played their game. With a full remake, teams were allowed to completely redo their draft phase and come up with different picks. The only change: Samira could not buy Guardian Angel in the game.

Fnatic and Upset didn’t care about that at all, going straight back to Samira. Perhaps angered by the remake and wait, Fnatic beat Excel 25 kills to 14 in 33 minutes. By contrast, Fnatic were just starting to take control at 34 minutes in the bugged game.

It was probably the ideal outcome for the LEC, as Fnatic were clearly in control of the original game. Had Fnatic lost, there would have been plenty of outcries from their fans, and maybe even the team. As it ends up, Fnatic’s win moves them to 6-3 on the season, one game ahead of Excel Esports in the LEC standings. Just as it should have been.

DARDOCH CONTINUES HIS A-Z LCS CHALLENGE

Perhaps the biggest surprise to begin the LCS Spring Split is the play of Dignitas. At 4-2, Dignitas is only one game back of 100 Thieves and Cloud9 for the top spot in the league. They’re doing so with the only roster in North America that is actually full of NA players. Their mixture of two veterans and three young (but not rookie) players has worked in the first two weeks of play.

Jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is one of those two veterans Dignitas has been counting on to provide guidance for the younger players. In addition to his responsibilities for shot calling and setting the early direction for the game, Dardoch has found time for a challenge of his own: playing a unique champion in every game of the LCS.

In six games of the Spring Split, Dardoch has played six unique champions. If you go back to Lock In (Dignitas was eliminated in Groups and only played four games), Dardoch has now played 10 unique champions in 10 games. Safe to say, no other player in the LCS can say they have played a different champion in every game so far in 2021.

The important thing to note is that Dignitas are winning. If they were losing every game, this would look like trolling or some other individualistic effort. Instead, it looks like Dignitas is leveraging Dardoch’s large champion pool to put opponents in uncomfortable spots in the draft phase. Even if some of the picks aren’t the best version of a particular champion subset, there’s still something to be said for making your opponents play against unfamiliar picks.

In week two, Dardoch added Hecarim, Kindred, and Kayn to his list. Hecarim and Kindred are meta picks, but Kayn now joins Dr. Mundo and Rengar as another unconventional jungler that Dardoch has pulled out. It wouldn’t be fair to say the Kayn pick had a big hand in DIG beating EG, but Dardoch’s 4/3/7 score sure looked good compared to Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s Lillia (1/8/4).

As fun as it’s been to follow, we’ll get to see just how far Dignitas and Dardoch are willing to push it this weekend. He’s exhausted most, though not all, of the meta junglers now. Playing against three contenders in FlyQuest, Cloud9, and TSM, Dignitas has a tough schedule. They’ll probably need Dardoch to fall back on a champion he’s already played to put forth their best draft. But, considering how far this has gone, who knows?

LOOKING AHEAD

The LPL continues their break for the Lunar New Year for another week, but the LCK returns to action. This week five will be the end of the first half of the season and first round robin. Big matches of the week include DRX (5-3) against T1 (4-4) on Friday, February 19 and Hanwha Life Esports (5-3) versus DAMWON KIA (7-1) on Saturday, February 20.

In the West, the LEC saved their two best games for the end of Saturday. First, FC Schalke 04 (5-4) try to sweep their season series against G2 Esports (7-2). Then, Fnatic (6-3) will try to even their season series against MAD Lions (5-4) in the LEC’s match of the week.

In the LCS, two of the top teams in 100 Thieves (5-1) and TSM (4-2) face off on Saturday. That sets the stage for the biggest game of the regular season so far: Team Liquid (3-3) versus Cloud9 (5-1). That game will take place on Sunday, February 21 at 4 p.m. PST.