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NA LCS Promotional Preview: Team Curse vs COGnitive Gaming


The final game of the North American Promotional Series is between the the reformed Team Curse and the underdogs, COGnitive Gaming. This best-of-5 series will take place via www.lolesports.com on Sunday, Dec. 22nd, 2013 for the spot into the NA LCS. Team Curse are the heavy favorites coming into this best-of-5 and COGnitive are looking to pull an upset and find their way into the LCS.

Here at Cloth5, we’ll be providing our readers with in-depth profiles for all the teams participating in the Promotion Tournament. The final series is between Team Curse and COGnitive Gaming.

Team Curse

Team Curse has been an incredible force in their relegation vacation, going 18-5 with their roster in the NACL (after dropping out to allow sister team, LoLPro to take their spot). Curse has dropped off the radar in recent weeks, keeping their strategies between skirmish partners and champion pools hidden. Curse have proven to have the ability to give everything they have when it is all on the line and today will be no exception.

Team History

Team Curse has been a staple in professional North American League of Legends for several years. The real story of Curse begins when Curse did not auto-qualify for a spot in the first season of the LCS; not having enough circuit points to compete at Worlds 2012, nor NA LCS Spring 2013. This was a huge step, as the number of tournaments in North America converged into a single entity. Tournament winnings would no longer be an option; the LCS was the only way to stay relevant in North America.

Curse won their way into the LCS, and remained dominant for a majority of the Spring Split, being 1st place in standings for nearly the entire season. As time continued, Curse began to unravel and their performance waned. Curse let go of support, Elementz, in favor of picking up the All-Star, EdWard from Gambit Gaming. Curse performed modestly with the changes, but were nowhere near as dominant as the season prior. Team Curse took 6th place at the end of the Summer split, dropping them out of the LCS and into relegation.

The Curse organization was not impressed with the performance and decided to rebuild Team Curse by moving members around. Jungler SaintVicious retired and became a coach, Nyjacky moved on to a Curse challenger team, Team LoLPro, and EdWard returned to Russia and Gambit Gaming. Voyboy switched from top lane to mid, and Cop had a brief visit with LoLPro, but rejoined the main Curse roster shortly after.

The new acquisitions were Quas (formerly of ggLA), Zekent (formerly of To Be Determined), and IWillDominate (moved from Curse Academy to Team Curse). With the new formation of Curse, the passive play of the past is but a memory. A young, tenacious, and driven team was born. Team Curse has dominated the NACL, only playing second fiddle to Team Coast. They look to continue that domination into the 2014 Season 4 LCS but first need to go through COGnitive Gaming in this promotional tournament.

Meet the Team

It’s interesting to note that on patch 3.14, Team Curse has a grand total of 2 professional games broadcasted, and have diligent about keeping their champions and strategies hidden. The player’s probable picks will be a combination of play style characteristics along with champions strong in the current meta.

Top – Quas

Quas is a recent addition to Team Curse (coming from ggLA) and has made one of the largest impacts against top lanes in North America. Quas is known for his hyper-aggressive style, taking champions to their limit. Typically, a Shen is seen as a tanky, split push champion that will sit in lane, but won’t be a damage threat. Instead, Quas’s Shen builds Trinity Force and seeks to kill his opponent, breaking the perceptions of what a champion should and should not be capable of. Quas may not be a familiar name in the LCS scene yet, but with his innovative play, he will be the top of the Top. Quas and Voyboy have a shared champion pool and can swap positions easily to throw off opponent’s preparation for a lane match up.

Quas’ Probable Picks: Shyvana_Square_0_25b   DrMundo_Square_0_25b   Shen_Square_0_25b

Jungle – IWillDominate

IWillDominate has been on the Curse benches for almost a year; patiently waiting for his Riot suspension to expire. When asked about what makes IWD such a formidable jungler that a team would hold onto him for a year, the answer is his aggression. IWD has such a powerful presence that if the opponent does not know where he is at all times, it is likely that he is ganking, or has already secured a kill elsewhere and is moving for his next target. In one of the recent NACL games, IWD completed three different lane ganks in under 3 minutes, all of them taking flashes or securing kills. This pressure by IWD causes Curse lanes to play assertively, granting a zone advantage.

IWillDominate’s Probable Picks: Olaf_Square_0_25b   JarvanIV_Square_0_25b   Nocturne_Square_0_25b   Vi_Square_0_25b

Mid – Voyboy

Voyboy is one of the few players on Team Curse that survived the fallout of the relegation season, leaving his throne Top lane to conquer new territory Mid. Voyboy was known for his aggressive top lane play and his ability to excel with burst assassins like Akali and Kha’Zix. Since the top lane meta favors the tanky bruisers at the moment, Voyboy found a new home mid where assassins and heavy burst champions are in style. Voyboy has been playing mid professionally for only a few months, and some of the subtle nuances of Mid play are missing from Voyboy’s play. Ultimately, this comes with time and practice; both of which Voyboy has in his favor against other players in the amateur scene.

Voyboy’s Probable Picks: Ziggs_Square_0_25b   Khazix_Square_0_25b   Gragas_Square_0_25b

Duo Lane – Cop and Zekent

Cop is the only other member to survive the LCS relegation fallout, losing his support EdWard and regaining his role of AD Carry when Aphromoo was released from Curse after a quick pick up. Cop has played a wide variety of styles; from a passive, farm oriented play with Elementz in the Spring Split, to the aggressive all-in style with EdWard. Cop has been an admirable performer in the LCS, but never quite gets the recognition that he deserves. Cop, now paired with Zekent, brings a harmony of playing aggressive and knowing when to be patient.

Zekent is the newest support addition to Team Curse and has had a reputation for his top lane Poppy and AP Janna play. Since moving to support, Zekent has favored the play-making champions, like Annie and Thresh, but does not have the full-throttle aggression that EdWard has. This change should allow Cop feel more comfortable in his play and allow him to make more negotiable calls in the bottom.

Cop’s Probable Picks: JinxSquare   LucianSquare   Twitch_Square_0_25b

Zekent’s Probable Picks: Annie_Square_0_25b   Thresh_Square_0_25b   Leona_Square_0_25b   Lulu_Square_0_25b

General Strategy and Compositions

Team Curse has a dominant early-game focus, which leads to winning lanes, having better map/objective control, and closing out the game quicker than most teams. Expect Curse to take the early dragons, gain a substantial tower advantage, and obtain a kill lead within the first 20 minutes. While Curse has not revealed any specific strategies, the team tends to play aggressive, win lanes without jungle aid, and continually deny advantages to their opponents. Curse are a veteran team and understand the power of picking the strong champions of the meta, and the power of denying these same champions. Curse won’t be fooled into a Lulu ban against COGnitive’s Zamphira.

Weaknesses:

Rather than looking at mechanical performance or champion draft, it is important to evaluate the scenario that Team Curse are in. Curse has everything on the line; their jobs, their living situation, and their fans’ admiration. Curse has an incredible amount of pressure coming into this series and don’t see COGnitive as a threat. COGnitive has everything to gain from winning, and return to their normal lives if they do not win. Curse need to come into the series confident and relaxed, not letting their nerves get the best of them.

Players to Watch: Quas, IWillDominate

The Bottom Line:

It’s Curse or Die; the same story a year later. Even though Curse is heavily favored to win against COGnitive, there is always a chance that COGnitive to cause an upset. Curse need to not let the pressure get to them and keep their dominant attitude to lead them to victory.

Cognitive Gaming

COGnitive Gaming is the first team selected by relegated Team Curse in the NA LCS Promotional Series. COGnitive are the dark horse of the NA Challenger teams, having a dismal 6-20 record in the NACL and a rough performance in the NA Promotional Qualifier. COGnitive Gaming will face off against Team Curse on Sunday, Dec. 22nd, 2013 for the final spot in the NA LCS Spring Split.

Team History

COGnitive Gaming have been around the competitive seen for almost 6 months. COG played against compLexity at PAX Prime in the Summer LCS Split for an automatic spot into the 6 challenger teams going into the NA Promotional Qualifier, but lost due to some issues within the team. COGnitive swapped supports after that tournament and was able to secure a spot in the NA Promo Qualifier by through the first online challenger qualifier in early November.

COGnitive have had a rough time in the NACL, ending their season in 9th place with a 6-20 record. Several teams and many eSports fans have disregarded the ability of COG and consider them one of the weakest challenger teams; but the fact remains that COGnitive were able to weather the storm and pull it together when all their chips were down.

Meet the Team

Top Lane –  Cris

Cris was the former top lane player from Velocity, and now acting top lane for COG, replacing iDream. Cris was known for his aggressive top lane play, and routinely draws Riven bans. Patch 3.14 has favored several of the mana-less top lane bruisers, with Rengar being a classic Cris selection. While 3.14 has morphed the playstyle of the top lane into a massive sustain battle, Cris has adapted to the strategy, but tends to build damage items earlier in his build order. Cris tends to pick top laners with higher damage output (Riven, Elise) rather than the hyper tanks (Renekton, Dr. Mundo).

Cris’ Probable Picks:  Riven_Square_0_25b   Elise_Square_0_25b   Shyvana_Square_0_25b

Jungler – Captain Ziploc

Captain Ziploc is one of the weaker junglers in the North American challenger scene, with a KDA score of 1.2 in the promotional tournament. It is common for Captain Ziplock to get first blood on his opponent; however his presence in the mid and late game is somewhat negligible. While his early game tempo is on point, his decision making for objective calls past 25 minutes become less clear.

Captain Ziploc’s Probable Picks: Olaf_Square_0_25b   Elise_Square_0_25b   Evelynn_Square_0_25b

Mid Lane –  Zamphira

Zamphira gained notoriety from playing Lulu mid lane for a large part of Season 3. In the NACL, Lulu was a constant ban against COG, which put the enemy into a pick disadvantage when playing Blue Side. Zapmhira tends to play champions that poke down enemies rather than an assassin. Another distinctive playstyle of Zamphira is that he prefers to gain a CS advantage through pressuring lanes with quick wave clear. Zamphira also tends to pick traditional AD Carries and play them mid.

Zamphira’s Probable Picks: Ziggs_Square_0_25b   Sivir_Square_0_25b   Kayle_Square_0_25b   Lissandra_Square_025

Duo Lane – nothinghere and Zaineking

COG’s marksman, nothinghere, is usually the one to carry COGnitive in the late game, as are most AD Carries. Nothinghere tends to play within the meta, picking the AD Carries that are most powerful at the moment rather than relying on comfort picks. Nothinghere has issues by giving up kills throughout the game, partially from mis-positioning and also lack of protection from his own team. While COGnitive’s greatest strength is their bottom lane, it is still relatively weak compared to the any of the LCS bottom lanes.

Zaineking is the second half of the COGnitive bot lane. COGnitive’s early game in bottom lane is very successful due to the fact that Zaine plays aggressive champions that can set up kills easily, most notably Annie. Despite playing one of the most aggressive supports in this meta, Zaine has picked Janna twice in the LCS Promo series, which demonstrates the ability to play both aggressive and traditional utility supports.

Nothinghere’s Probable Picks: Sivir_Square_0_25b   LucianSquare   JinxSquare

Zaineking’s Probable Picks: Annie_Square_0_25b   Lulu_Square_0_25b   Janna_Square_0_25b

Level 1 Strategy

The level 1 strategy for COGnitive is to set up a defensive fan, with each laner going to his respective position. There are no wards green placed during this time. This type of fan is predictable of where they plan on sending their laners.

COGlvl1

General Compositions and Strategy

COGnitive tend to group compositions around quick wave clear along with heavy siege/poke. This composition tends to favor games that span beyond the 35-minute mark. The objective is to collect as much farm and reach a 4-5 completed threshold on the primary lanes. Death timers are much longer, which leads easier objectives after an ace. COGnitive tend to survive that early game and hold out for an advantageous team fight.

COG also runs double AD compositions, even with a tankless variant. With a fast-push strategy, the power spike for the composition is very early within the game. COG have had great success with the fast push double AD strategy, which they may bring out against Curse.

Weaknesses

COG’s biggest issue is not knowing how to push a lead when they are ahead. An example is that with a fast-push strategy, the power spike for the composition is very early within the game, and that lead must be taken advantage of. Instead, COG become bogged down into situations where objectives are taken after team fights, which their compositions don’t necessarily favor.

Several of the COGnitive victories in the NA LCS Promotional Qualifier came from late-game turn arounds, by the opponent throwing the game. Against Team Curse, it seems unlikely that COG will be as fortunate.

Players to watch: Cris, Zaineking

The Bottom Line:

I am almost certain that Curse selected COGnitive because COG is the weakest of the three promoted teams. Curse has been doing a good job of keeping their 3.14 strategies hidden, although It is expected that Curse will take champions that are strong in this meta. COG has a very tough match against Curse, and need to improve on several game fundamentals in order to advance into the LCS.

 

That will wrap it up for the prediction of the NA LCS Promotional Tournament. The NA LCS season will begin on January, 17th and will feature the top 8 North American teams battling out over the following 11 weeks for their chance be titled the Best in North America.


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Jera

Jera is a former Human Factors psychologist, video game researcher, and avid follower of professional League of Legends. Jera enjoys taking a statistical approach to analyzing gameplay and discovering how small events cause ripple effects throughout the game.

Follow Jera on twitter @coL_Jera

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