By Bryan Wood
League of Legends will be making its triumphant return to the Pro Circuit in Providence, after an excellent showing in Raleigh. Ever since CL Gaming took their victory over two months ago, the scene has seen quite a shift. IEM China and NY, IPL3, WCG Canada/USA and Rampage all come to mind for many fans, with results that had people second-guessing their favorites and top players. Four teams have managed to make it into the Finals, out of the 32 that participated in the Online Qualifier. A few of them were shocking upsets, too. Let’s meet the teams and players who comprise the Providence League of Legends Top 4.
Epik Gaming (DanDihn, Dyrus, Nhatn, WestRice, Salce)
Epik will be coming into Providence in a great position, earning the 1st seed from their finish at MLG Raleigh in August. If there's any team to look out for, it’s this one. They’ve come close to taking a major title a few times but have always been cut short. EG finished 4th Place at the Season 1 Finals, 2nd Place at IPL3 and 2nd Place in Raleigh. They are going into the Providence Finals as the major underdogs, but as we've seen time and again, being the dark horse can sometimes be advantageous. As with any team, unpredictability can be a major factor in their performance, one way or the other.
Epik has several well-known players. DanDinh, Epik Gamers’s ace, is known for his flexibility. This means EG can implement interesting styles and strategies. He’s also the brother of Reginald, the man behind TSM. He will continue to be EG’s Jungler in Providence, so expect a first blood gank at bottom.
Dyrus is known for making Singed laugh, running Olaf solo top or just being the most annoying player on Summoners Rift. He'll be coming into Providence well aware of what TSM have in store for them, since he's currently living and training in the TSM house in New York. Dryus has consistently proven on his stream that his unconventional tactics can dominate a lane.
Behind every superstar is a strong support player who fulfills the difficult role of keeping the glass cannons alive. Nhatn fills that role nicely for EG, for Westrice. Recovering from a first blood from these two is a very tough uphill battle. Nhatn and Westrice are a very tough combo to deal with on the bottom lane, and have proven to be a strong point for EG.
Salce (one of the youngest pro players) is the final member of the team. Filling the Ability Power role, Salce will finally be able to play with his team again, as he was too young to compete at their last major LAN. He is known for running a very strong Annie, so don't be surprised if Tibbers is seen in Providence.
EG may have the easiest road to the Finals out of the four teams, since RFLXGamers replaced CLG (who would have been the top seed), who were disqualified for using an illegal substitute. EG proved themselves last time around, coming in 2nd Place. With CLG out of the tournament, will things be smooth sailing for Epik?
Team SoloMid (Reginald, Chaox, TheOddOne, TheRainMan Xpecial)
Formed from a team split over a year ago, TSM are one of the best teams on the planet based on their roster. But like EG, they've yet to win a major title. With 2nd Place at IEM Cologne, 3rd Place at the Season 1 finals, 3rd Place at MLG Raleigh and 4th Place at IPL3, they've been kept from 1st Place each time by CLG. With CLG disqualified from the league, could MLG Providence be the start of a new chapter for TSM?
Reginald is known in the League of Legends community for being a very strong AP player who will foil his opponents’ strategies by running an AP Janna and taking after a certain European player in getting a Penta Kill on Gragas. He recently found himself in some hot water on !@#$ Slasher, when he and Odee of Dignitas spoke about the WCG USA situation. Can he ignore the controversy and step up at MLG Providence and finally hoist a trophy over his head?
We recently had the chance to talk with TheOddOne, TSM’s jungler. In the interview, he discusses his role, counter jungling, and level one fights. It's required reading for anyone wanting to go deeper into the metagame.
TSM’s roster is filled with top-notch specialists. But Xpecial doesn’t babysit Chaox in the bottom lane like other supports. Instead, he helps Chaox in push waves when needed, or takes minion aggro to make sure no creeps are missed. Although losing the bottom lane isn’t the end of the game, it does make things tougher. With Xpecial and Chaox at TSM’s bottom lane, the team has little to fear unless the duo is out-picked.
TheRainMan runs top lane for TSM, filling the role that has the widest range of champions and style that can be played. Running top lane is an interesting battle, as it could call for a support style like Nidalee, a dedicated tank or even another AP, according to the team’s needs. But if RainMan chooses Teemo, it may not just be to troll the viewers. Expect to see him running teleport once he hits level 6 to help his team.
TSM are in a good position to win, though they aren't necessarily a favorite based on recent results. They will start MLG Providence with a highly sought-after rematch against Dignitas.
Dignitas (Jatt, Voyboy, Scarra, Locust, Imaqtpie)
Although Dignitas are coming into the event seeded 3rd, they can very well be considered the favorite win. Coming off of a victory at IPL3 but a poor showing at IEM NY, Dignitas are looking to get back on top. They took down TSM in the group stage at IEM NY, in which Dignitas took 3rd Place and TSM 4th Place with no wins. With all the drama of WCG USA, the showdown between TSM and Dignitas has been one of the most-sought after matches in the past few weeks. And you're going to get to see it, exclusively at MLG Providence.
If there's any player that can match Idra for publicity (whether good or bad), it’s Dignitas’ jungler, Jatt. The 22-year-old has been in a lot of hot water recently, but it remains to be seen whether that will have an effect on him. He will also be playing for Team USA at the WCG finals. Giving him Udyr for the jungle can sometimes be a game breaker, so expect him to run Trundle in almost every game.
Curse made the mistake of picking Rampage a few weeks back, using almost no crowd control against Dignitas. Scarra last-picked a Champion that is very situational and very much Scarra. While it’s doubtful any teams will give Scarra the chance to play Katarina in Providence, he is a very strong mid AP player who can win a game with Ryze the moment he's able to lock in. Regi vs. Scarra in mid could very well determine the outcome of this new rivalry between TSM and Dignitas.
Even without their young superstar, Dignitas has proved that they're one of the best teams in the scene. Voyboy will have the chance to redeem himself and his team after their lackluster performance in New York. While some top solo summoners will find themselves playing heroes like Irelia, Galio or Swain, Voyboy finds himself bursting others down to nothing in seconds with Renekton. Against RainMan in the opening set between the two teams, will Voyboy play his Croc up top, or will he opt for a more standard game between the two?
Finally, Locust and Imaqtpie fill in Dignitas’ bottom lane. The two are quite scary when they get a combination like Sona/Kog'Maw or Vayne/Soraka, though as shown recently in a series against Fnatic, Locust and Imaqtpie are not afraid to run one of the newest heroes, Graves, in their lineup. It'll be interesting to see what Dignitas decides to run in their bottom lane, or what they'll be forced to run after counter-picks and bans.
When these two teams face off in the second set of matches in Providence, there will be thousands of eyes watching to see what happens. TSM and Dignitas could play nine games at most, which would be the best scenario for many fans.
RFLX Gaming (Prolly, Lautermortis, SackyChan, Arcknight, Inoobish)
RFLX will be coming in as the unknowns. It will be interesting to see how well they can handle the pressure of a live tournament, as opposed to playing online. Their performance in first match against Epik will be a great way for them to prove their mettle.
A good AP player for any team must be flexible. Favorite heroes can be banned or picked before selection, so it’s important to be well-rounded . Prolly is the jack-of-all-trades for RFLX, playing diverse Champions like Kennen, Kassadin and Gragas. He'll be an interesting matchup against Salce of EG, as we haven't had the chance to see much of Salce recently, and Prolly has yet to prove himself.
Roaming around the map, killing wolves, golems and giant lizards will be Lautermortis, who is playing as Amumu. He's a very strong jungle Champion with difficulty counter jungling. If Lauter is able to jungle with ease, an Amumu gank can change a lane or even the game with a bandage toss and ultimate. Can Lautermortis withstand the counter jungling or will RFLX simply ban Amumu?
Irelia and Galio were brought up before, but Yorick has been buffed to excel in the top lane. SackyChan will be at this interesting lane to watch. Top laners can get zoned out, forced back to tower or pushed into the danger of the enemy tower. If SackyChan has the option to Yorick, GraveDigger can be expected top lane, causing Ghouls to be an issue.
Arcknight and Inoobish run a Sona/Kog'maw combination at bottom, similar to Dignitas. Don’t be surprised to see Inoobish running Sona or Taric if those picks are available. The ability of having a stun and sustain to deal with a carry is an indispensable tool. Corki, Graves and Caitlyn may also be chosen by Arcknight, as he has used them before in the bottom lane.
Although Dignitas and TSM are the favorites, Epik Gamers have recently beaten both teams and should not be underestimated. RFLX will be using Providence as a way to break into the scene and garner themselves a fan base and a future at the top of the League of Legends world. Providence will be the last major League of Legends LAN until WCG in Korea.