This weekend the first offseason League of Legends tournament of the year gave us a savor of what 2016 holds after a tumultuous offseason.
Intel Extreme Masters( IEM) San Jose featured a wide array of competitor, with squads coming from Northern america, Europe, China, and Korea coming to California to showcase just what their new lineups, freshly minted after an eventful transfer season, can do. Five of the six squads in attendance featured significant changes to their rosters.
Europes Origen and Unicorns of Love were joined by North Americas Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming, as well as Koreas Jin Air Green Wings and Chinas LGD Gaming. The weekend also brought in a fun depict match between American businessman Mark Cuban and Intels CEO Brian Krzanich.
Ultimately, World Championship semifinalists Origen came out on top after defeating Counter Logic Gaming in the grand finals.
The tournament presented both positives and negatives for each team involved, so heres what we learned from IEM San Jose:
When Kevin Hauntzer Yarnell joined the Team SoloMid roster on Nov. 14, he wasnt what fans were expecting. While surely a standout as a rookie on Gravity Gaming, he was never a superstar player like the other three the organization added to flank mid laner Sren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. Yarnell wasnt a starring player in the League Championship Series( LCS ), and his team only posted mediocre resultsGravity took fifth-six both splits this year.
Hauntzer also had big shoes to fill after the retirement of fan-favorite Marcus Dyrus Hill. The veteran always adjusted well to whatever playstyle his team required. But this weekend, Hauntzer proved hes capable of playing Hills roleand more. The player had two successful games against legends Lee “Flame” Ho-jong and Choi “Acorn” Cheon-ju, including one where he scored a solo kill against Acorn. And while he did fall to Origens veteran Paul sOAZ Boyer subsequently in the tournament, Yarnell put up a good oppose in the process.
In what is one of this off-seasons biggest roster moves, North Americas newly formed NRG Esports acquired Jin Air Green Wings Lee GBM Chang-seok, one of Korea’s best mid laners. Jin Air turned to Lee Kuzan Seong-hyeok in his stead.
That was an expected lineup change, but the team vied at IEM without another of their stars: They didnt field jungler Lee Chaser Sang-hyun. Without their two stars, GBM and Chaser, the squad looked shaky.
Jin Airs coordination was perfectly awful, and its foe Counter Logic Gaming took advantage. Counter Logic top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya made a spectacular backdoor with his signature Jax, ending video games as Jin Air scrambled to answer a Baron attempt from Darshan’s teammates.
Jin Air may struggle next League Champions Korea season if it can’t work out its synergy problem. The Green Wings will have a lot to work on when they return to Korea.
As in the case of Hauntzer, Counter Logic Gaming fans were unsure of what they would be getting this weekend with replace AD carry Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes replacing former hotshot marksman Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng for the event.
Luckily for Counter Logic fans, Hayes depicted he has what it takes to play in the big league. He was a large part of the teams two wins over Jin Air Green Wings. Then he held his ground against Origen star Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen, one of the best and most consistent AD carries in Europe.
Overall, Hayes showed that he deserves the starting position on a permanent basis. And if he doesnt get onto for Counter Logic, there’s a good chance he’ll find a starting spot elsewhere in the LCS.
Boyer’s first off-season match was against Team SoloMid, where he managed to carry his team on both Riven and Rumble. After that he faced off against one of North Americas best top laners Darshan, who he made look silly.
Unlike his longtime teammate Enrique xPeke Cedeo Martnez, who is taking periodic violates from video games to expend more period managing the team, sOAZ showed that hes still in prime kind. His ability to adapt to different metas is incredible, which is part of what makes him one of the best top laners in Europe.
Photo via ESL / Twitter