1. DON'T SLEEP ON GIANTS
As in years past, the freshly-qualified Giants Gaming was overlooked by many (myself included). That might’ve been unjustified. On opening day vs the Unicorns of Love, the patchwork roster of Ruin, Djoko, Betsy, Steeelback and Targamas delivered. Ruin piloted an oppressive Orrn and controlled his lane. Betsy contained Exileh in mid lane, and got some jungle help to shut him down. And Steeelback absolutely popped off, racking up seven kills and no deaths for his first game in a Giants’ jersey. Although the team would not find victory the following day versus Vitality, Giants showed an impressive early game, managing some solid outplays of their opponents to get early gold and tower leads. After a week 1 performance that few, if any, expected, Giants deserve some respect, and maybe a little fear.
2. The Unicorns have some work to do
On the flipside of the Giants game, the Unicorns didn’t look particularly magical. When hit hard by the offseason Rosterpocalypse(™), the Unicorns rebuilt their roster around Exileh and Samux. With Kold (formerly Trashy) primed to take on a leadership role, BBQ Olivers support Totoro and solo queue mainstay WhiteKnight rounding things out, expectations were tempered. By all accounts Day 1 disappointed, with the new Unicorns looking passive and docile. The following day saw Unicorns go back to the magical madness that characterized their playstyle for many seasons. Up against Splyce, the Pink Power Ponies fought to the finish in a nail-biting 68 minute slugfest, that only ended when a desperate base race went a single agonizing nexus hit against the Unicorns. For week 2 UOL will need to shake off the disappointment, go back to the drawing board, and refine their game approach if they want opposing teams to Fear their Horns.
3. Roccat: Still Kingslayers
There are few things that are certain in life: Death, Taxes, TSM not making it out of Groups at Worlds. To that list we’ve got to add an entry: Team Roccat surprising against G2. Evoking memories of their Spring 2017 performance against the reigning champs, a completely fresh-faced Roccat squad contained, controlled, and penned in their opponents for an exceptionally clean upset. What’s even more impressive is how Saturday’s game contrasted to Roccat’s opener versus Schalke 04, where the upstart team was utterly demolished by a team fielding an emergency substitute and a role-swapped Vander. Roccat have always been a team that can take unknown players and develop them into talents over time. Will they be able to do it again with this team of unlikely heroes? It’s hard to say, but we certainly saw promise, from rookies and veterans alike last week.
4. Ryze reigns supreme
What a time to be a Ryze (player). The Rune Mage, as per preseason expectations, proved to be a perennial pick/ban in week 1, and we certainly saw why. Picked in 80% of the games, and banned only once, all of EU’s Ryze players combined for a split 4-4 win rate, but an impressive 10.9 KDA average across all games played. But what makes him such an attractive option for EU (and indeed the world) mid laners right now? Quite apart from pumping out single target damage, Ryze has proved to be an incredibly safe champion choice, in no small part to his Stopwatch + Realm Warp escape interaction. The number of times we saw this used in week 1 was dizzying, to say the least. Is it broken?
Yes Probably. But for the time being, Ryze players can safely give no Flux about facechecking enemy territory, so long as they’ve set their watches.
5. We’ve got some Long games to go
While no game in Europe this week went quite as long as the record-shattering, 94+ minute epic between South Korea’s SKT and Jin Air Green Wings, that match would prove a sign of things to come. Opening week in the EU LCS saw an average game time of just over 42 minutes, with no team taking an inhibitor before the 30 minute mark. The high average, due to high-sustain champions and several stalemate fights, has made for some incredibly close games so far. And barring a major meta change, expect EU teams to continue slugging it out for some time to come.