Old faces, New Places
The challenger teams have some top-level talent on them. The biggest name is, of course, bigfatlp on Azure Cats. He created the team Cutest of Cats back in January after Nientonsoh and Yazuki failed to make it into LCS and CLG benched bigfatlp. The team has gone through some name changes and sponsor changes including a brief stint with FXOpen. Now the team consists of Cruzerthebruzer (Top), xDragunerX (Jungle), bigfatlp (Mid), Demunlul (ADC), and Obituarist (Support). It would be fair for any team to be scared of that lineup, including DoubleBuff and CLG.
The other big name is L0CUST playing for Team Summon. The former Dignitas support continues to hang around at the top of the professional League of Legends scene. He tried to qualify for the Spring LCS on We Fly High No Lie with Atlanta but they had a pretty terrible result in the Ranked 5v5 Qualifier. Now with Team Summon he looks to jump back into the highest level of the professional scene. However, it doesn't look promising for Team Summon because standing in their way is L0CUST's former team, Dignitas. I feel like we can all agree that Dignitas is a higher class of team than every team in this tournament.
The other big names from yesteryear are Nubbypoohbear and Unstoppable on DoubleBuff. Nubby, once the mid player for Orbit Gaming, moved more into a team captain role for DoubleBuff according to his interview with OptimusTom (below). DoubleBuff brought Unstoppable in for support which is a change from the jungle role he had with TSM Evo.
OptimusTom 15 Minutes of Fame with Nubbypoohbear
The CLG Bracket
Who thought CLG would be in this position? They were cemented in the top four teams the whole spring season while the bottom four teams looked separated by a big distance. CLG had a good record against all of the bottom four teams except Vulcun and, as fate would have it, they had Vulcun in the first round of the playoffs; eventually losing to them. So now fate has struck again placing CLG in the bracket against their former mid laner, bigfatlp.
Azure Cats started their life in the challenger scene with a strong second place finish in the CLG Premier Series. However, since then, they didn't play up to their potential in the We Will Do It Ourselves Cup and the National ESL Pro Series where they are 1-2 this season with losses to Velocity and Curse Academy.
The dark horse in this bracket is DoubleBuff, formerly known as 1 Trick Ponies. DoubleBuff took out Azure Cats in the We Will Do It Ourselves Cup in March. The big difference from that match in March will be the new support for DoubleBuff, Unstoppable. The fact that many people are overlooking DoubleBuff in their matchup against Azure Cats gives them a bit of an advantage. Will Azure Cats simply look ahead and not prepare correctly?
As for CLG, they have their problems for sure. In one matchup they have a former teammate that will be out to make a point and it is hard to put a prediction on how much that will influence the outcome of the series. In the other matchup, they have a team that they will know next to nothing about while DoubleBuff will have 30-something recent VoDs of CLG to watch and plan against. Anything can happen in a best of 5 and CLG has to be a bit worried about that.
Can Quantic Do It?
Quantic Gaming is no longer the familiar players that we once knew on Cloud 9 and Orbit. WildTurtle's move to TSM will surely hurt them but the addition of SneakyCastro at least kept some experience at the position. Also, the departure of Nientonsoh and Yazuki hurts them too. Once again, it is hard to judge how Quantic will be with their new jungler, Meteos, and top laner, Balls, and Hai moving to the mid lane.
There is another thing to ask. Will the team house be a big factor for Quantic? They have said in the video with Riot below that they are able to strategize better while being all in the same room. Will that help them against Team Astral Poke and coL? We will only know once they play the games. I believe they will be able to handle TAP but CompLexity, a team with a recent roster change also, will be a different story. In the latter part of the season the addition of Pr0lly made coL better but how will the team do with Chuuper moving to ADC to replace Brunch?
Back for Seconds: Quantic Gaming
MRN is in Trouble
Somehow we always end up with these awesome pairings in Riot events. We have CLG and Azure Cats in the same bracket and we also have Velocity and MRN in the same bracket. Why is that pairing relevant? MRN took out Velocity to grab the last spot in the Spring LCS and now Velocity has their eyes set on revenge.
Velocity is really good! A lot of people put Quantic at the top of the Challenger Circuit but we could easily argue that spot for Velocity (honestly Curse Academy is the best challenger team but too young). Velocity got 3rd in the We Will Do It Ourselves Cup and The CLG Premier Series. They destroyed the MLG Rising Stars Invitational and eventually placed second in the Summer Promotion Qualifier at MLG Winter Championship which landed them here. So yes, Velocity is for real and MRN is in trouble!
I was 4/4 for the EU Promotion but I doubt I am able to replicate that this week because NA feels wide open. Teams that qualify:
That last pick is for Angel Vigil! I want to believe!