​Opening week madness in the League of Legends Championship Series

Team Impulse

Photo credit: Riot Games via Flickr.

via Flickr

The fun thing about the preseason lies in all the speculation about how all these new rosters and teams will work out. It's even more entertaining, as the season starts, to see how much of it was just idle fantasy—and where the surprises come from. Each of the major regions have officially closed the chapter on their week one performances, and there certainly has been a lot of drama to show for it.

North America

Sometimes, drama even comes from the expected corners. Nobody expected Team Impulse to be good, after all—its roster was a hastily cobbled together mess, plagued by absentee players, and generally considered to be an easy relegations target come the end of the spring split.

Even then, for the Immortals to perfect-game them is something else entirely. The Immortals, much to their name, suffered no deaths and lost no turrets to Impulse—a feat of strategic cunning, or a show of total incompetence from TiP? Probably the latter, as even the 2012 and 2013 versions of Southeast Asia's Bangkok Titans were able to at least take a couple kills off the best of their region in their worst games.

But as dramatic as TiP's decline is—starting as a true playoffs threat with XiaoWeiXiao and Vasili to making MRN and NME look like fond memories in comparison—not even their fans are truly disappointed with their collapse. It was, after all, long in the making. Their mourning was done months ago, starting with XiaoWeiXiao getting caught Elo-boosting. TSM, though—TSM only has the most threadbare excuse for their performance.

Sure, to be fair, the team hasn't had a lot of time to practice together. The likes of Svenskeren and Yellowstar took their sweet time flying over to the west coast House of Baylife—but it's not as if TSM's unique in their difficulties, given the raw number of imports in the NA scene this year, and it's not as if there's a linguistic barrier preventing Svenskeren from communicating with Yellowstar (this is where the European contingent gets to joke about the American dialect, and vice versa).

Let's be blunt: they shouldn't have won their game versus Team Liquid. The TL rookies put on a great show in comparison, and it was only a strategic mishap that allowed TSM to come out of week one with their dignities intact. Probably the one big problem with the ten-man roster TL's trying out is the difficulties in consistently practicing necessary late-game coordination when you're hotswapping players. TSM, however, has that problem in addition to a weak early and mid-game offense, and this was an issue that was supposed to be solved by picking up Svenskeren and Yellowstar to relieve Bjergsen of play-calling duties.

LOL EU 2016 Team Fnatic

Photo credit: Riot Games via Flickr.

via Flickr

Europe

Speaking of Yellowstar, Huni and Reignover: their team actually seems to be doing fine without them. Xpeke and sOAZ's Origen were supposed to be the clear top of the EU LCS after the Fnatic roster was split in twain, but it seems like having Rekkles and Febiven alone is more than enough to keep the team interesting. It helps that top laner Gamsu, formerly of North America's Dignitas, turns out actually be a good player when put on a carry-style champion, like his hilariously unstoppable 9-1-8 Olaf. In fact, Huni 2.0 also comes with a Reignover 2.0: Spirit, formerly of China's Team WE, set out to prove that Zac jungle was viable on 6.1, and did so at tremendous cost to Amazing's KDA and reputation as a top-level European jungler.

But is this Fnatic also going to stomp through the EU LCS with a perfect record? Already: nope. In fact, nobody's coming out of this spring split without having eaten their fair share of crow. Both Gamsu's Olaf and Spirit's Zac were stopped dead in their tracks by their Vitality counterparts: Cabochard's Fiora and Shook's Elise. Yet Vitality, in turn, was almost helpless before ROCCAT: it took over 33 minutes before Cabochard was able to pick up the team's single kill of the game, as ROCCAT made one last rush for the nexus to end the match.

In the words of caster David "Phreak" Turley: "worth."

There are no clear leaders in Europe (losers, on the other hand: less said about Splyce's awful week one, the better). But there's definitely the unexpected success. It has been a Very Long Time since Ocelote was the most famous Spanish League of Legends player in the scene, and almost as long since his private esports organization's started its attempt towards making it into the EU LCS. They've been plagued with drama along the entire way—team chemistry crises, monetary spats with former coaches, some of the weirdest and most aggrandizing public apologies for their mishaps—but they finally made it, and it might have all been worth it. G2 Esports is undefeated in their first week, squashing the emptied husk of former "superteam" Elements and subduing ROCCAT in the final match of the week.

That ties them with Unicorns of Love and H2K for first place in Europe. Former UOL jungler Kikis as a top laner doesn't look so much like a joke anymore. Expect to see a lot of G2-branded scarves in the EU LCS studio from now on.

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