Riot announces Reforged Runes and New Honor system

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In a video posted yesterday, Riot announced a whole bunch of upcoming updates for its League of Legends title. We have summarized the video for you below, but feel free to check out the video if you have the time.

  • Regarding the new League Client, more bugfixes and implementation of Item sets are on the way
  • New Rune system will combine Masteries and Runes
  • All Runes will be FREE
  • More Keystone Runes are available and are intended to grant a lot more power to than current Keystone Masteries
  • Compensation for current rune owners will be announced at a later date
  • New Honor system to be released in the next patch and is already in PTR
  • Players with higher Honor levels will get better drops from loot
  • Honoring is more integrated into the system to encourage use
  • Riot is looking into Voice Chat
  • Voice Chat is a polarizing issue that will be dealt with carefully

Wonder Woman sticks the Superhero Landing

I caught one of the first screenings of Wonder Woman today and it was a blast. As the latest addition to the DCEU, Wonder Woman smashes all expectations and leave little room for criticism.

We follow the life of Diana, who is born in Themyscira and brought up with an overprotective mother. All Diana strives to be while growing up is to be a Warrior like all before her, but after meeting a Man named Steve Trevor, she realizes that she wants to do more.

The film portrays an accurate depiction on the Amazons and pulls no punches when it comes to the amount of badass these warriors can dish out. Compared to men who hide behind their guns, the Amazons are courageous and honorable.

Director Patty Jenkins is unafraid to show the true potential of women, especially when they are unburdened by the need to care for issues such as make-up or fashion.

Given the time period the film is set in, it is inspiring to all women out there as Gal Godot walks into an office full of men and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

Chris Pine is an excellent Steve Trevor. He portrays an awkward yet believable Spy capable of infiltrating the German ranks to obtain valuable information. His chemistry with Gal Gadot is impressive as we watch a grounded man try to help her fit into the world of men. This is amplified by Etta Candy, played by Lucy Davis, who is comical in her own right while also showing some backbone of her own.

The cinematography is amazing and captures even the messy fight scenes cleanly. Compared to many other Action movies that feature lazy camera shaking to hide bad choreography and stunt doubles, Wonder Woman does an amazing job in ensuring that viewers get to see the whole shebang.

Speaking of which, fight choregraphy is magnificent. They did a good job of juxtaposing Martial Arts and Gunfighting into a fluid sequence. Along with the impeccable use of CG and slow-motion, viewers will be delighted to keep their eyes glued to the screen.

Wonder Woman keeps you rooting for Diana and her beliefs as she continues to challenge ideals and the status quo without any semblance of fear. Patty’s ability to make viewers root for an overpowered demigod is impressive as we eventually realize that her powers are the least of our concerns.

Take my word for it: Watch Wonder Woman. This movie defies all expectation and is empowering for both men and women. You’ll leave the cinema wanting more, instead of being grateful that it ended.

If you have no time to practice, don’t play the game

The following text may be a tough pill to swallow. But if you’re willing, read on. If your thirst for winning and attending international tournaments is there, this shouldn’t faze you. The time for niceties is over. What Singapore players need is a hard punch in the face.

I don’t claim to be an expert in the local scene. I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to knowing the players in the scene. But what I’ve come across doesn’t spell good news.

Local players, stop making excuses.

No Time
This is the worst offender of them all. While it is fair that the local community is burdened by School and NS commitments, it only means that the remaining available time should be spent more wisely than playing a Solo-Queue smurf in the local server.

Circumstances have already put local players at the back foot. But players make it even worse by thinking they’re doing enough by simply playing the game. This is made worse by coaching staff that think the same thing.

If you have no time to practice, don’t play the game. I’m not asking you to quit. I’m asking you to be smart.

  • A new patch is coming? Read it!
  • Drastic Champion changes? Test it!
  • Changes in Meta? Study it!
  • WTF is Macro game? Watch it!
  • Lacking Champion Pool? Learn it!
  • Watching a Pro game? Take notes!

Local players don’t even bother reading statistics other than Damage Dealt. If you wanted that, you should be playing HotS. Learn and understand that Stats such as CSD@15 doesn’t mean that you should CS better but is more of an indicator of how you played your first 15 minutes.

If your coach hasn’t planned lessons and points to work on for scrims, fire him. If you’re looking for scrims, it means you already have a game-plan you want to try; not jump into a random game and expect to improve.

I do not doubt that the local scene is full of mechanically gifted players. That would have worked in Season 2, but not anymore. It’s been 5 years since Season 2 and we’re still making that mistaken assumption. Stop working on Mechanics and start working on Communication.

To play well isn’t to be flashy and take Pentakills. To play well is to communicate cooldowns with the team. Buddy up to push vision control and play to win conditions.

SKT isn’t flashy. They just understand the game better. So stop playing the game. Start studying it. AND START NOW!

 

MSI 2017 Group Stage Delivers Rollercoaster Ride

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The Mid Season Invitational 2017 Group Stage has finally come to an end. After a grueling 5 days worth of League of Legends, we are finally down to 4 teams.

However, the journey that brought us these 4 teams was not without strife. Usually the tournament’s top 4 teams would have been decided way before the last few games of a Group Stage. This time, the outcome was not certain up to the very last game. That was parity between the teams.

Still at the top
The only constant was that SKT T1, who dominated the Group Stage with 8-2, only dropping games to their Kryponite “Flash Wolves” and LPL’s World Elite. SKT’s immaculate control and understanding of the meta as well as the game showed as they dominated team after team. Teams that could take games off them had to throw curve balls at their defenses in order to get them to crack. This, however, proves that in a BO5, teams had better prepare up to 5 different ways to curve or face utter defeat.

Every other Major Region
Apart from the LPL, no other major region could have been proud of their performance in this Group Stage. Many games that were in their grasp were simply tossed away in a late game teamfight. G2 vs TSM was one that was hard to stomach for a G2 fan as they tried so hard to knock on that back door. In fact, we were treated to a museum of mistakes ranging from Pick/Ban to late game Macro errors. FW played too passive. TSM had WildTurtle. G2 relied solely on Zven. It was a nightmare to watch for any region as teams struggled uncharacteristically to secure wins.

A Breath of Fresh Air
The Gigabyte Marines, however, were a breath of fresh air. For an emerging region, they played their hearts out and secured an eventual 3-7 record in the Group Stage; a better result than G2 last year. The scoreline is surprisingly deceptive as many of their losses could easily have been wins had things gone slightly differently. GAM’s aggressive play pushed teams like WE, TSM and G2 off balance and left FW teetering at the edge. While this is the end of their long journey at MSI 2017, one can safely say that GAM are the most impressive Minor Region team thus far and have at least gained a bunch of fans on the way out.

Playoffs
The top 4 teams have been determined and now have 5 days to prepare and shore up weaknesses. Finally, Flash Wolves get a Best of 5 series against an LCK team. While LPL’s aggression takes on G2’s late game style. Either way, all 4 teams deserve their Worlds Pool 1 seed for getting this far. Unfortunately for TSM, they were simply not up to par.

SKT and FW take the stage on Friday 11:00am PDT (Saturday 2AM SGT)

MSI 2017: Day 1 Matches to Watch

scheduleAfter an arduous 2 weeks on Play-Ins, we are finally on to the Main Event at the Mid Season Invitational 2017. A total of 36 games will be played over 5 days starting May 10 and naturally, all of them are worth watching. However, if you are strapped for time, here are some of the games that should pique your interest more than others. (Chronologically)

Game 2: WE vs FW
Flash Wolves came into the tournament demolishing Supermassive in a convincing 3-0. But as they have not truly been tested against stronger teams, we do not know if they can execute their clean play against the likes of WE.

Similarly, Team WE represents a huge enigma. If the LPL finals were of any indication, as with LPL tradition, WE thrives in chaotic teamfights. 957 is an excellent top laner, one that MMD might want to keep his eyes on.

Game 3: GAM vs TSM
Fans from NA will be watching this game with bated breath as GAM has already taken 2 convincing games off the North American squad. TSM will definitely be more prepared than before, now knowing to ban away the Ziggs and exploit the Top lane weakness that is Stark.

However, knowing GAM, they already have a new strategy lined up; especially in a BO1. Will it be a Red Wedding, or will GAM trigger some flashbacks to Play-Ins?

Game 4: FW vs G2
Yet another rematch, this time a repeat of IEM Katowice. Although Flash Wolves did take a total of 3 convincing games against G2, it is clear now that G2 are not the same squad that had a disappointing showing at IEM, with the entire region of EU adapting their play to be more competitive globally.

But, Flash Wolves have also evolved since their World Championship win. Recognition from the top LCK teams means more scrims for the Flash Wolves, giving them ample opportunity to empower themselves. Assuming a very likely loss to SKT from Game 1, G2 will require at least a win against FW or lose all momentum for the rest of the tournament.

The Mid Season Invitational 2017 Opening Ceremony starts 10 May 11:00 PDT

Gigabyte Marines win more than just Pride

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It has been an explosive weekend at the MSI 2017 Play-Ins. What was regarded as a glorified Wildcard Tournament defied all expectations.

After a disappointing Week 1, Week 2 proved to be an amusing experience. We saw Team Solo Mid sweat buckets as Gigabyte Marines took them to all 5 games in a BO5, then saw Flash Wolves vaporize Supermassive in 3 consecutive pre-30-minute games. Eventually GAM took out SUP in a convincing 3-1; the only loss in Game 2 where Ivern was picked by SUP.

This is the first time since the first Mid Season Invitational that the GPL has qualified into the Main Event. MSI’s new seeding arrangements has also bought GPL a second seed in the 2017 World Championship, this is a big deal for the SEA region. (GPL’s #1 is at least seeded in Pool 2 while #2 will be seeded in Play-Ins)

Ever since LMS broke away from GPL, GPL was relegated to having to fight with other Wildcard regions for a single seed in Worlds. With BKT demonstrating a disappointing 0-6 in a group of SKT and EDG in Worlds 2015 and SAJ going 0-7 in IWCI 2016, it was absurd to pay any heed to the GPL region.

However, the Gigabyte Marines came out swinging. Scrimming low tier LMS teams and studying Flash Wolves’ success, they utilized their own Mid-Jungle combo of Optimus-Levi to skirmish in the jungle in aggressive fashion, throwing both SUP and TSM off balance for 2 games each.

Having qualified for the Main Event, GAM now has less than a week to travel to Rio, then shore up their weaknesses against some of the best teams in the world. They have already proven they can take TSM. However, it’s going to take a lot more than Guerrilla Tactics to beat the other teams. Stark, in particular, requires at least a band-aid fix before teams exploit him to the fullest.

GAM’s first game in the Main Event is a rematch against TSM at around 1:30pm PDT 10 May 2017.

GotG vol.2 packs in some new tunes

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The first rendition of Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm, sweeping cynics off their feet with nostalgic 80’s tunes and quirky heroes. It was an amusing band of misfits that, well, banded together against the common threat of Ronan and the Power Stone.

A Familiar Melody
None of the magic that made the first film special was lost in this one. In fact, it made this sequel so much better. GotG 2 met expectations in that regard and more. Director Gunn stuck to his formula of juxtaposing the oldies with advanced technology to weave a seamless narrative.

Not missing a Beat
There were some slight nuances to some of the jokes that kept repeating itself over and over until it became more of an annoyance. But apart from that, the story had little kinks that required fixing. Acts 1, 2 and 3 did not feel detached from one another and made more sense than its predecessor. Clearly, not having a McGuffin that was tied to the other films allowed more breathing room for James Gunn to play around with.

More backstory
GotG offered valuable insight to our heroes and even some other characters we saw in the previous movie. Character development was shown across the board, even in characters that we didn’t care much for previously. In this case, Rocket, Yondu and Drax stole the show. Especially on the Yondu front; Michael Rooker plays an amazing Yondu, I never expected to feel so much for a Southern-accented space-pirate.

Although, I felt like writers could use a little less ‘telling” and more ‘showing’ in the film.
The part where we literally took a museum tour was quite dissatisfying. It was almost as if they couldn’t find any other way to narrate that wouldn’t take extra screen time.

I didn’t care much for the addition of Mantis into the group. For the most part, she was quite forgettable as Dave Bautista stole much of the scenes from her. While I appreciate some sort of budding romance between the two, I would not expect this to bloom into anything special.

A little bit of both
Overall, GotG 2 is a light-hearted and fun adventure that also tugs on your heart-strings every once in a while. It is a feel-good movie, something that many of us could use right now in these tumultuous times. If you enjoyed the first, you’ll definitely enjoy this one too.

Be sure to stay all the way to the end as Marvel teases some of the most exciting theories on the internet. It turns out that they are watching, and listening. Something I wish I could say for the DCEU, which I am holding up so much hope for later this year.

Flash Wolves poised to pounce at MSI 2017

FW LMS Champs

Yesterday, LMS crowned their 3-time Spring Split Champions Flash Wolves as they beat out ahq in a score of 3-1. With this win, Flash Wolves are poised to contest the MSI 2017 trophy from current MSI Champions SK Telecom T1.

Challenging Gods
Naturally, it would be considered more or less blasphemy to claim that any team could beat SKT at this point, especially after their convincing 3-0 Grand Final against kt.

However, while stats are BO1, it is a fact that FW has a professional winning record against SKT of 3-1. By extension, FW has a 5-1 record against LCK teams. This is such a ridiculous statistic no other non-LCK team has yet to replicate that it has become a meme that FW are the Korean Killers (much to the dismay of some of the hardcore LCK/SKT fans).

Solid Foundation
It goes without question that the core of Flash Wolves have now achieved world-renown. Mid laner Maple and Jungler Karsa have been touted as World Class players by many. To some extent, many also recognize the talent that is SwordArt, who currently resides at the 41st place in the Korean Ladder, ahead of all his other teammates.

New addition Betty has now fully integrated into the team ever since his debut in IEM Oakland as DoubleRed. Taking a more aggressive approach to be a dominant bottom lane alongside SwordArt, he has achieved more in a single split than NL ever has in 2 years.

MMD also achieved his own breakthrough by finally being able to perform well not just on tanks like Poppy, Maokai, Nautilus, but on carry Tops such as AP Ekko, Rumble and Kled. As one would recall, he was the integral part in keeping FW’s hopes alive when H2K ran their Tank comp against them at Katowice.

The Morale Boost
Most definitely, FW’s win in IEM Katowice was noticed all across the globe. A tournament that was supposed to be an easy win for the best European teams was brutally and cleanly snatched away by the top LMS team.

The victory not only brought FW more renown, but also more scrims with the top Korean teams. And FW, shrewd as they are, jumped on that opportunity to jumpstart their growth.

Mmmaybe not
As could be seen in Game 1 of the LMS Finals, the weaknesses of FW have not been fully rectified. While FW was able to capitalize on ahq’s movements early game, they seemingly forgot to make pro-active movements on their own. FW gave ahq the ball and watched as ahq fired shots one after another until they landed a 3-pointer in the mid lane. This was their problem at Worlds last year against IM and C9; it showed against H2K in Katowice as well.

Jungler Karsa is known for his ability to read the map and move with Maple as a unit. However, whenever Karsa falters, he seems to perform his best Mountain impression of staring into a grey screen. Karsa is not considered a weak link by any means, but when his movements are read cleanly, that’s when one of the main pillars of FW starts to crumble. Against the KR Ladder No.1 Peanut, this will prove to be a tall order.

Expectations
I am led to believe that FW came into the LMS Finals already expecting their trip to Brazil and thus still have a few Trump cards up their sleeve to be played in MSI.

Contenders in MSI seem largely a repeat of last year. If RNG qualifies, 5 out of 6 regions would have the same representative as the last; NA being the only exception. In this case, all players will be looking to rewrite history. SKT would never allow themselves to lose 4 games in a row, much less against their Kryptonite FW; their pride simply won’t allow that.

Thus, as with my other LMS analysts and content creators, the following tweets by Fusilero should explain it all. If you’re on board the FW Hype train, expect a fatal roller coaster ride.

realistic tweet
let down

Here’s hoping Flash Wolves do well in the tournament. But I would not be surprised if they did not. Such is the way of the LMS.

Star Wars: A Formulaic Franchise

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Star Wars Week has come and gone. And while most of us are excited at the prospect of a new film, I, for one, am hoping for much more than the same formula they have been sticking to for every film.

I want to see more and explore more than just the same old same old. That’s probably why The Force Awakens didn’t really get the reception it desired. Abrams played it safe and modeled the movie with A New Hope so closely it felt like we were simply watching the same thing. One would think that a writer with the Universe at their fingertips would be more liberal with their ideas instead of sticking to the safe picks.

In fact, because this new trilogy is not a prequel, it is not bogged down by a certain future that requires multiple plot devices to reconcile. Thus, I would hope for more innovative ways to explore the Universe, even take a detour explore unique cultures if need be.

Obligatory Cantina Scene
Apparently this is the go-to place to gather information; and also the only place where you’ll probably see the most amount of aliens. Twi’leks dancing and Biths playing the Sax. Do Ruffians and Scoundrels not know of any other way to procure data?

The Same Climatic Planets
I don’t want to see the same old Snow planet, Desert Planet, Forest Planet. I get it. There aren’t many different climates to choose from that make things exciting. What made the prequels interesting even with bad reception was that they tried to mix it up; Kamino’s water-ridden planet and Mustafar’s Lava Planet were definitely great ideas. If only it wasn’t ruined by terrible writing.

I also want writers to start addressing issues such as gravity differences and planets that actually have different climates at different parts of the world. Something I felt the KOTOR game did pretty well in.

Pew Pew
Indeed, you could never call this Star Wars without the space battles. Thankfully, we no longer have to bear witness to a young Anakin try spinning simply because “that’s a good trick”.

Poe Dameron is the best pilot in the Resistance and I would really like to see more of that, along with his budding bromance with Finn. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind if they ended up in a relationship. Star Wars needs to go for it and challenge conservatives to rethink their perspective.

Blow up the WMD thingy
Please stop. I get it. The threat has to be imminent and menacing. But going bigger was one of the worst decisions made in TFA. Instead, introduce something more nefarious. Darth Nihilus was a great villain who remained largely unknown until he reared his ugly mask.

And our heroes don’t always have to win all the time. What made Empire Strikes Back so great was because of how Han Solo got Carbon Frozen and Luke lost his hand. With TLJ’s focus on balance, it should be natural that victories have to still feel painful, as it should in times of war.

Red vs Blue
Lightsaber duels are a must-have in Star Wars. The fact that Rogue One didn’t have one and still managed to be impressive was an eye-opener. (Although the final scene with Vader more than made up for the hole) We have yet to see something as new and impressive as Duel of the Fates (albeit rife with choreography flaws).

The introduction of the new tri-saber was a good start. It stirred controversy but won over the audience in the end. With the story moving towards true Balance of the Force, one can only hope that Rey finally crafts and wields a unique colored lightsaber, one that symbolizes the balance of both Light and Dark.

We should also look forward to more unique ways of Force Wielding while dueling. Gone are the days where Lucas is there to strictly ensure Obi Wan and Vader use both hands to hold their saber and play Kendo.

Viewers just don’t want the kind of bull they pulled at the end of TFA. Rey and Finn were not supposed to be a match for Ren, not even if he was severely wounded by a Bowcaster. I would have much preferred if Chewbacca was the one to bail them out of that sticky situation.

Use Lightning to power up engines that affect the battlefield, or borrow electricity from a Thunderstorm a la The Force Unleashed II. A multitude of options await writers!

As an avid fan of the franchise, it is my heartfelt wish that Star Wars keeps innovating and exploring/incorporating the EU to keep things fresh. Otherwise, it may fall into the same superhero-movie fatigue.

LMS: The stark contrast between 1st and 2nd

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The LMS Spring Season’s Round Robin has come and gone. We’re left with the playoffs now and with the way things are going, barring a radical movement from ahq it is pretty clear who will take the Championship Trophy: Flash Wolves.

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A quick look shows how much ahq is behind Flash Wolves. Not necessarily in terms of individual comparison, because a lane-by-lane comparison shows little discrepancy with the exception to the bottom lane. It should also be noted that a near 100% win-rate team will naturally have better stats.

However, as a unit, Flash Wolves place more wards and play around vision to get picks instead of running blind for skirmishes. ahq, on the other hand, seems to rely on Mountain to grab kills.

Watching games from Flash Wolves and comparing it with ahq reveals a gargantuan gap in understanding and communication in game.

Things have changed for Flash Wolves. Ever since the addition of Betty in place of NL, the Wolves have grown bolder by the day, slowly moving away from their passive mid game looking for mistakes to punish in favor of a more pro-active engage approach they showed glimpses of last year. Hopefully this attitude will carry through all the way to MSI 2017 in Brazil.

In contrast, ahq hasn’t changed one bit. Even as Westdoor warmed the bench while Chawy provided a more solid laning phase, I noticed little to no improvement in their level of play in the last week of play compared to their first. In fact, Mountain showed signs of competitive fatigue as he made more mistakes as the weeks progressed; clocking in a whopping 31% death contribution for his team. This results in ahq being on the back foot in most of their games, even against lesser teams such as eXtreme Gamers or Fireball.

To dig themselves out of the hole Mountain creates, ahq usually relies on their gamble of the teamfight. Naturally, being one of the best teamfighting teams in the league, they come out ahead. Or in recent cases, not so much.

A peek into the communication of both teams also reveals a lot about team dynamic. One would expect Betty to be a lot more soft-spoken than he actually is as he’s the newest member of the team. However, Flash Wolves as a whole yell at each other all the time. Everyone communicates efficiently, albeit a bit loudly, resulting in a situation where Karsa is able to make death-defying plays with the backing of his team.

On the ahq corner, most of the communication comes in the form of Chawy reporting cooldowns and Mountain belting out commands, micro-managing his team while his lifeless champion lays on the ground. (Mountain usually jumps in first, even when his team is miles away.) In the meantime, AN and Albis are very soft-spoken and take much longer to reply queries. In fact, they speak so mildly that it seems almost a miracle that ahq still does so well in teamfights. Gone are the times where ahq 2015 would always arrive in the nick of time to counter-gank and punish aggressive movements.

Ahq may very well get a boost in power levels while bootcamping in China with EDG, but if history is any indication, this boon runs out swiftly before ahq reverts to its usual, unimpressive self. Coach Aaron cannot be with ahq 24/7. This also speaks volumes on how unimpressive the support staff of ahq really are, to always require guidance from a coach from another team.

If ahq is to beat Flash Wolves in the upcoming playoffs, they will have to make many strides of improvement over their short amount of time in China. And this will only come about when they actually fix communications.