Team Update: Epik Gamer
[box]ggChronicle will start giving periodic updates about the recent play of notable professional League of Legends teams. We’re starting this series by looking into Epik’s solid performance as of late.[/box]
Epik Gamer deserves extensive praise for their tight, strategic gameplay at MLG Providence and their innovative performance in yesterday’s North American IEM Kiev Qualifier. While yesterday’s tournament saw them knocked down to the loser’s bracket by Dignitas and barely squeak out a win against a surprisingly tenacious RFLX Gaming, Epik consistently demonstrates incredible versatility and creative gameplay. This team’s lineup features an assembly of the most flexible players in League of Legends, and they will continue to be a significant tournament threat as Season Two unfolds.
EG gambles big and thinks outside the box, even when a tournament lies on the line, trusting in their inherent talent to carry the day.
From European-style, double-caster lineups to the more traditional AD/AP lanes, we saw more metagame diversity from Epik than any of the other squads at MLG Providence. EG gambles big and thinks outside the box, even when a tournament lies on the line, trusting in their inherent talent to carry the day. Their constantly shifting positions, as Westrice, Dyrus and DanDinh swap roles from game to game, can confuse opponents in an extended series. It’s hard to get used to laning when one faces three different playstyles over the course of a best-of-three match-up. Throw some unusual champions into this mix, such as the Vlad, jungle Leona and Fizz that we saw featured prominently in Epik’s games for the IEM Kiev Qualifier, and you have a team with quite a bag of tricks.
Listening to their team-chat, it was obvious that they were not giving up and, indeed, not one player even mentioned the possibility of losing the game. That, friends, is a champion’s mentality.
Viewers tuned into DanDinh, Dyrus or Salce’s livestreams yesterday got some interesting insights into Epik’s dynamic as they secured their slot for next weekend’s final Kiev Qualifier. In sharp contrast to the internal bickering that some teams engage in while competing, Epik’s heads remained cool even when in a tight spot against RFLX. A combination of sub-optimal positioning and a very aggressive counter-jungling Skarner left EG with a significant early deficit, to the point where it looked like all hope was lost. Faced with elimination, instead of quarreling over who to blame the team snapped into a new level of intensity while calmly acknowledging their mistakes. A critical juncture arrived after RFLX’s players had used their ultimates to win a teamfight and, after reviving, Epik expertly utilized this brief window while their opponents were on cooldown to force a fight at dragon and regain the upper hand. Listening to their team-chat, it was obvious that they were not giving up and, indeed, not one player even mentioned the possibility of losing the game. That, friends, is a champion’s mentality.
Salce’s incredible talent serves as the foundation for the team, as it’s the rock that they can rely on when things get rough. I chatted with Dignitas informally in Providence about their strategy for facing Epik if they reached the Grand Finals (before they were knocked out on Sunday), and the lament I heard from all of their players was an inability to ban against Salce. How could they target their bans to slow down a player that could skillfully utilize almost any caster? I’m sure the other teams were no less concerned about his individual ability, and Salce certainly made a strong case for himself as MVP of MLG.
In my match analyses from MLG Providence, I noted that DanDinh appeared to have some shaky initiations in spite of his superb overall play. After tuning into Epik’s livestreams yesterday, I realized that these miscues probably emerged from a slight hesitancy that the whole team displays at times, not DanDinh’s individual actions. For instance, DanDinh made a great call to kill RFLX’s Kennen (who had invaded their jungle at the time) and, instead of responding immediately and catching Kennen in a pincer manuver, Salce’s slight hesitation to leave mid resulted in horrid positioning and the loss of three Epik players in return for only one from RFLX. Another fight saw DanDinh clearly state his intentions to initiate, land a Leona ultimate on multiple RFLX players in middle lane’s brush and have three Epik players hang back and not engage, thereby losing a winnable fight. In my interview with Salce at MLG, he mentioned Dyrus’ slight delay in using teleport to follow Rainman, which resulted in some brutal SoloMid ganks against Westrice and Nhat in bottom lane. In order to shore up their game against some difficult opponents in next week’s final IEM Qualifier, Epik needs to put a little more faith in their play-calling, which tends to be conceptually spot-on, and react instantly to avoid ending up in bad situations. Even a moment of hesitation can hold large implications for a game’s outcome.
Overall, fans should be excited about Epik’s prospects. This team contains a versatile line-up of talented players and an atmosphere where calm attitudes and a determination to win prevail. Epik’s stock is on the rise, and I look forward to seeing them qualify for January’s IEM in Ukraine.
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