Brandon Campbell

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League of Legends World Championships 2018

What is it?

After a month long tournament similar in style to the FIFA World Cup, the League of Legends World Championship features China’s Invictus (-165) versus Europe’s Fnatic (+135).

When and where is it?

Starting at 3 a.m. CST, the best of five series is being played in Incheon, South Korea. Previously used in FIFA World Cup matches, Incheon Munhak Stadium is hosting the Championship, which is expected to be at capacity with nearly 50,000 attendees.

How to watch it?

The finals are being broadcast live on Twitch and YouTube, both of which are available on most smart TVs and devices.

What to watch for?

In an extremely odd occurrence, two teams from the same group made the finals. Fnatic won the group series two to one in extremely close fashion. These two teams are either first or second in almost every statistical category this tournament and were the favorites to meet in the finals.

Historically, teams from the East have dominated Worlds, winning every title since 2012. This is Fnatic’s second trip to the finals; they won in 2011. Invictus has never been in the finals before, but coming out of China, they are looking to keep the East’s dominance intact.

What Meta has developed at Worlds?

Teams throughout the tournament have been moving away from tanks (high health, low damage champions). Top lane is being dominated by carry champions like Aatrox, who has a pick/ban rate of 99%. The jungle is also shifting to more damage and less health. This shift in the meta should hold true for the Finals as well. Both team’s top laners are comfortable on carry champions so this should be an exciting and explosive final series. There will be more team fighting, more kills and deaths, and more action in general than regular season matches, and that is always more entertaining to watch.

Who are we picking?

From a betting perspective, I am loving getting extra money from a team that won the previous series, though I can see how this series could go either way. I am placing two units on Fnatic and I think they will take it in four games. – Brandon Campbell

This match up is going to be close. Invictus won’t go down as easily as they did in the group stage. There will be a lot of action leading to chances for crazy upsets. Fnatic is the underdog, but I think they will pull this one off. They have a better lane match up against Invictus in the top lane, jungle, and in the bottom. Even if Caps loses in the mid lane, they can still win every other lane. I think Fnatic wins in five, and I would put two units on that. – Tim Orr

Houston's eSports Scene

If you are into eSports, what's going down in Houston?

Over the past couple years, Houston has really become a leader in the eSports community. The Houston-based Clutch Gaming is a team in probably the most popular eSport, League of Legends, playing in the League Championship Series (LCS). Additionally, Houston has an Overwatch team, The Houston Outlaws, who just finished the inaugural season in the Overwatch League (OWL). 

League Championship Series – Clutch Gaming

Prior to 2018, the League Championship Series (LCS) was an open league similar in style to England’s most popular soccer league, the English Premier League, which relegates the worst teams to a lesser division.

Starting with the Spring Split (season) in 2018, the League of Legends developer, Riot Games, decided to franchise the league’s teams and move toward a more American sport league style. This move incentivized investment into the sport and created a market where teams would be operated out of a city.

Bursting into the LCS in 2018, Clutch Gaming (owned by Tillman Fertitta) is one of several North  American LCS teams affiliated with the NBA. In one of the more interesting intros into the LCS, Clutch turned in an average regular season, beating the teams they were predicted to beat and losing to the teams that were projected to beat them. They did squeak into the playoffs and ended up matched against the LCS perennial favorites Team Solo Mid (TSM), in the quarterfinals.

TSM, who has more wins in the LCS than most teams have appearances, had never missed an LCS final;  they handily won the first game of five. Then one of the biggest upsets in the history of the LCS  happened: Clutch won three straight and was the first team to keep TSM from making the LCS Finals.  After falling in the Spring Semi-Finals in five games, Clutch was supposed to be an up-and-coming team in the Summer Split.

However, Clutch never seemed to get going in the split, appeared generally indecisive, and lost on the new popular style of play, commonly referred to as meta. After firing their coach mid-season, and being eliminated from playing in the World Championships, Clutch enters the offseason looking for answers. Who will be the new coach? What lineup changes are there in store before the spring split? At least it will be an interesting offseason.

Overwatch League – Houston Outlaws

The Overwatch League is a relatively new addition to eSports; 2018 was the inaugural season. Twelve franchised teams around the world compete in this six-vs-six objective-based shooter. Owned by an eSport conglomerate, Optic Gaming, the Outlaws represent Houston. The Houston Outlaws played really well in the first stage of the season, finishing in second place.

The meta shifted towards a more aggressive style in stages 2 and 3, and the Outlaws struggled to keep up. They seemed to get it together a bit more in stage 4 by making a roster change, but it was too little too late. The top six teams make the postseason, and the Outlaws finished in seventh place. Hopefully, with some more roster building and more practice during the offseason, the Houston Outlaws will give us something else to cheer about in Houston.