Summer split has been hectic for all the North American teams. A former amateur team, Cloud 9, and Vulcun took everyone by surprise and is blowing through the competition. Every other North American team was left in shock, and are all competing to stay out of relegation to take a decent spot in the playoffs. Curse is no exception in this, and they have had some tough games this split. Considering they ended last split 19-9, this season has gone terribly wrong for them and there are many issues the team needs to fix if they want to compete in the Season 3 World Championships in September.
The Rise of the Curse
Spring went better than Curse could have imagined. They were undefeated (8 – 0) up to week 4. Even after they obtained their first loss, they still continued to dominate the league as Cloud 9 is doing now. The reason Curse did so well can be attributed to many things.
Champion picks is one of the main reason Curse won so often. The meta during spring split was perfect for Curse’s playstyle. Assassins worked well top, junglers were usually more aggressive and were built to carry, and Elementz brought out some supports that were not played often at the time such as Fiddlesticks or Zyra. Voyboy had a completely different champion pool then anyone else in LCS. He played plenty of Elise, Akali, Olaf, Katarina and Tryndamere. All of these champions are able to have high damage, make plays and as such, are perfect for carrying a team. Saintvicious played aggressive junglers like Xin Zhao, Hecarim, and Jarvan IV which also allowed him to carry his team from the jungle.
Not only were Voyboy and Saintvicious playing their comfort champions and play styles, they also worked perfectly with how their team was set up. Cop was known to be an extremely passive ad carry while the rest of the team was very aggressive. The reason this worked well for them was that Voyboy and Nyjacky and sometimes even Saintvicious were able to carry the games from early to mid-game. When the time came for Cop to carry he was well farmed and ready. This worked very well to an extent which was seen later in the spring split.
Their team fighting ability was another reason they dominated most of the split. They have always had impressive fights, and their communication seemed flawless when in team fights or small skirmishes. Saintvicious was on top of his game, making great calls and plays alike while only allowing his inner “Saintvicious24″ out sparingly, hitting his smites fairly regularly. There were many games that Curse should have lost if all games were decided by early game, and objectives taken, but they made great comebacks utilizing their champion compositions and their team fighting skills. Their team compositions allowed for amazing plays and with good coordination it would be impossible to lose some fights.
The Death of a Curse
Curse was performing so well during the spring split until something hit them. They started slowly losing games and eventually fell apart the last few weeks of the split and playoffs. They continued to struggle through the summer split up until now. Why did this happen? How could a dominate team lose so easily? There are some very logical reasons as to why this all happened and it coincides with why they were also so dominate at one point.
For a start, as each season progresses, the meta and champions played in this meta change. There has never been and most likely never will be a season where all the same champions are played from start to finish. For Curse, this was their kryptonite.
Voyboy’s entire champion pool was nerfed with the exception of a few champions. Elise, Tryndamere, and Katarina, three of his favorites at the time took the brunt of these nerfs, and forced Voyboy to look to other champions to play. He switched from playing more of an assassin/carry role in his top lane to a tank/bruiser role, bringing in Renekton, and Shen to his lineup. Saintvicious took an indirect hit too. Ignoring what made him and his team successful in the Spring split, Saintvicious began to follow the meta into more support/tank junglers like Nautilus, Nasus, and Zac.
Not only were Voyboy and Saintvicious hindered by playing champions that didn’t match the play style they were known for and won with, it also hindered the entire team’s play. Since Voyboy and Saintvicious began playing less carry champions, Curse would struggle even more early game and could not reach late game where Cop would carry. Because Cop plays very passive, most of the damage from the team was gone in team fights. Essentially a small change in the meta caused a massive steam roll to plow over Curse and their strategy.
These were the main issues to Curse’s fall from power, but some smaller problems occurred to throw them over the edge. The most notorious of these is Saint’s (lack of) smite and shot calling. Saint has missed the most smites out of all the junglers in LCS. Everyone is quick to blame Saint on this, however, not every smite failure is necessarily his fault. Considering he his also the shot caller, he is not just focusing on the HP of baron or dragon, but also focusing on what his team is doing, what the enemy team is doing, running decisions through his mind on whether to fight or not, and commanding his team all at the same time as trying to smite the monster and secure the rewards that come with it. One thing’s for certain though, Saint needs to hit smite for Curse to succeed. His Shot calling and play in general has also taken a hit. Ever since All-Stars, he has had problems making the “right” call. His team seems to wander around the map more than usual and when a call is made it tends to end in an ace or failed baron or dragon attempt.
Cursing at the World
To counter all the issues that came about for Curse, they decided to drop Elementz, and bring in Edward from Gambit Gaming. Edward, known for his extremely aggressive playstyle which included him taking kills from his ad carry, was brought onto the team to improve the play style problems that Curse had. Since he was so aggressive, he matched perfectly with everyone from Curse except the most important person, Cop. Cop would now have to learn new champions and relearn a new way of playing his position to match his lane partner.
The first half of the Summer Split for Curse expectedly did not go so well. They still had most of the same problems from late Spring Split and the playoffs. Despite their poor play, and low record, they stuck with their decision. Cop and Edward have become one of the best bottom lanes, and now are playing much better. They are slowly making their way back to the top of the standings. Starting low in 7th place, they are now tied for 5th with Dignitas, and only one game down from 3rd place behind TSM and CLG. Although the progression is slow, they look better each week. At their best, they definitely have a chance to win through the playoffs and journey onward to the World Championships in LA, but at their worst, Curse’s academy team could beat them. It is all a matter of what team will show up now that we are in the home stetch.