1. WARNING: GRAPHIC TOWER DESTRUCTION
Big changes to itemization were making the headlines as soon as Patch 8.4 hit Solo Queue, right up until we saw it debut on the EU LCS stage. But none were so impactful as a simple bugfix. Prior to the patch, Baron-empowered Siege minions didn’t receive the damage bonuses from items like Banner of Command. This was especially important, because siege minions that were buffed up do double damage vs turrets. After this fix, it became IMMEDIATELY clear how big of a deal it was going to be.
In the first game of the week, Profit’s Orrn led a Baron-empowered Minion, buffed doubly with Banner of Command on a collision course with opposing Team Giants’ bot towers. The team would repeat this strategy to great effect, demolishing Giants structures with ease, and closing out the game. For the rest of the week, the newly dubbed “Bannon Minions” would feature heavily, with all but two top laners (Wunder and Ruin neglected a Banner in one game each) building a Banner.
2. Sion Trainwrecks into the EU LCS
The Pain Train has pulled into the European station. After rising in popularity in Korea and the LMS in previous weeks (and one ill-fated game by Alphari), Sion has truly found his way to this side of the tracks. The unstoppable Juggernaut was originally changed on Patch 8.3, when a few of his abilities received bugfixes. Although he was unchanged in 8.4, nerfs on Top Lane competition such as Gnar and Gangplank paved the path for Sion to lumber his way through.
Proving especially popular, Sion was picked in every single game last week, receiving no bans, and demonstrating mixed success, with a 40% winrate for teams that chose him. Regardless of whether he is winning games, it’s refreshing to see a champion like Sion make his way onto EU’s big stage. His ultimate: Unstoppable Onslaught is easily one of the most fun to watch, whether the buildup results in a grand teamfight, or Sion smashing headlong into terrain. You just gotta love the big lunk.
3. Unicorns of Love: Power in Pink
My, how the turntables….nevermind. Just a few short weeks ago, Unicorns were struggling to get wins on the board, and now at the end of Week 7, have managed to stack and impressive five in a row. How have they done it? Looking back at their most recent bouts should give us a clue. On day 1, the U-O-L faced off against a hungry H2K, who didn’t disappoint in their ability to mount comeback fights. However, Unicorns stayed true to their engage-heavy style of play, forced fights over and over, and eventually outplayed H2K to end the game.
That would prove the more difficult of their two matches by far, as Schalke 04 was no match for the Pink Power Ponies. With a Fed Tristana, Sejuani, and solid engage teamplay, Unicorns trampled over the Royal Blues, in a 34 minute thrashing that saw them extend their unbeaten streak to 5 games. Unicorns have momentum to work with, but they’ll need every ounce of it for next week: They face a resurgent Vitality, and EU LCS frontrunners Fnatic.
4. A Wide Open Playoff Race
We’re moving on into the final few weeks of play, and one word always floats to the surface around this time: Playoffs. Normally, we’d have a pretty clear picture of how the playoff seeding is going to look, with only a handful of games left to decide it. But this spring is once again proving quite a bit different. With only four games left to play, the difference between the top (Fnatic) and the bottom (Schalke, H2K) is only 5 wins. Just above the bottom feeders are Giants, Roccat and UOL at 6-8, and all the rest are only one or two games up above. At this point, a single loss, for anyone, could mean the difference in a top playoff seed, a quarterfinal berth, or missing the postseason entirely. Add to that some impressive upsets last week (Splyce over G2, Misfits beating Fnatic) and we have a real playoff race on our hands.