Star Wars: JEDI Fallen Order: made with love

I just finished the newest Star Wars game, JEDI Fallen Order and I have…thoughts.

This game absolutely blew me away. I had purposefully kept myself away from spoilers or watching any extended game play because I didn’t want to get over-invested or spoil it for myself due to performance issues upon release. That said, this is easily the best AAA game I have played in long long while that deserves wholehearted praise for the attention to detail and the integration of its many game systems into such a fully fleshed out product. Functionally, it performed great on my system, I know many many people had problems with frame drops and some bugs but I had very very few experiences with bugs and virtually no frame drops (I have a Ryzen 2700X and a 1070Ti), I know for many people the experience trying to play any game can play a huge part in what you take away from enjoying the game, but thankfully I had no issues.

From the beginning, you are greeted with the standard homage of a space ship floating across the screen (no yellow text crawl) and the music kicks off. Immediately I noticed the music was not what i expected, somewhat foreign and ritualistic, almost like it was daring you to continue watching. The cinematic sequence is short, but beautifully crafted and the voice acting, as well as the character modeling is translated realistically from screen to eye, in a way that very very few games actually care to do. Here, the studio seems to embrace the narrative direction and really focus on the actors’ and models’ closeup so you can see their reactions. We’re only 30 seconds in, my hesitation to really welcome this game is still holding but I think I already see why people liked it since release.

The world building put in by the narrative and story design really was something to marvel at. You are Cal Kestis, former padawan in hiding in an industrialized scrap yard on Bracca, In the first 20 minutes, you go from post-clone wars industrial worker to outlaw as an unplanned accident forces you to reveal your force using abilities to one of your coworkers named Prauf and you begin to plan your departure. Cut short, the empire’s arm of specialized Jedi hunters descends upon the planet and issues to you and the few around around you an ultimatum, reveal yourself or you all die. Prauf tries to rouse the group when he is killed right before your eyes forcing you to reveal yourself. A heavily scripted series of events leads to you tearing through a train car by car until you face off against your foil of the game, the Second Sister of the Inquisitors. This sect of the empire hunts down force users to either kill or indoctrinate. After successfully warding off the initial fight, you disembark on your journey through the galaxy to rediscover your Jedi abilities and restore the Jedi Order.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Tips to be the best Jedi

Gotta admit, I wasn’t fully into it yet. The writing seemed good, the acting was more sufficient to capture viewer’s attention, the tutorial was not that challenging for a newbie and you seemed powerful at the very start. The environment design seemed mostly on rails because you’re playing a heavily scripted sequence so I wasn’t sure if that was how the whole game would go. Shortly after escaping, you meet your companions, Cere and Greez. Cere reveals that she was a Jedi, past-tense, who now cannot use the force because she has cut herself off, much like Luke had in Last Jedi. Greez is captain of the ship Mantis. You were a young padawan when your Master Jaro Topal was killed during Order 66 and you’ve been in hiding ever since.

When you embark on your first exploration of the planet Bogano, the scenery dramatically changes from the first area you saw. Gone are the industrial pipes and trenches, landscapes of ships being scrapped and machinery around every corner. No, now you are in a plateaued wet green grassland, wide open for your adventure to unfold. You meet a droid called BD-1 who becomes your companion while on mission. All of this sounds neat, and perfectly Star Wars as experienced in other games of the franchise, KOTOR comes to mind the strongest, but I hadn’t let my guard down until leaving the planet. After the initial skirmishes with the wildlife, exploring nook and cranny I could, the discovery of various short stories told in 1-2 sentence snippets BD-1 scans or you feel through the force, you finally ready to leave with a new mission. A dead Jedi Master named Eno Cordova alienated himself from the order during the clone wars to explore far sacred places connected to the force, and he hid a Jedi holocron (basically a memory card for whatever you want) that contains a list of young force-users who have not been discovered by the Empire. You must go to these places and retrace his steps to uncover the mystery of how to access the holocron. As I boarded my ship I was thinking to myself, “Well, this seems interesting enough, I guess,” when I selected the next planet to go to and went to the cockpit of the ship. The companions are chit chatting about their history when the stars outside the ship start to form the iconic pulling lines right before a jump into hyperspace and I thought “Holy shit, they did it. This is Star Wars.”

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review | New Game Network

At the end of that initial sequence, I fucking cried. It has been so long since I felt invested in a Star Wars story that didn’t happen in theaters. I was an avid reader of the expanded universe before Disney bought the IP and I have not read since, feeling burned by investment I’d made only for all that time to be rendered pretty much useless since Disney axed any possibility of retaining those incredible stories for future use. I knew I was being taken in for a wild ride seeing how seriously and devoted the production design was.

This is a Dark Souls-like game, and for the record it is the first in my experience. For anyone unfamiliar, Dark Souls created a series of games heavily focused on challenging combat meant to test player’s reaction times and planning. I genuinely loved the combat loop, almost any enemy can take you from 100 to 0 health if you misplay the encounter. Within this reaction based combat is a dodge and block-parry system. Your dodge is not perfect, you can still be damaged and you give the enemy an opening to attack when you come out of your dodge animation. You can also block basic attacks, but your block will be broken if you block too many hits and lose your poise. The enemies also have strong attacks which cannot be blocked at all so you either dodge or lose a chunk of your health. If you block any enemy during their basic attack as it connects with your lightsaber, you earn a brief opening to attack. Likewise, they can block your basic attacks, and you can wear down their poise meter. It is a very balanced system between player and enemy, and I really appreciated this.

Another thing that makes it Dark Souls-like is the consequence for dying. When you die in combat you lose a significant amount of experience which you would bank for skill points to level up Cal’s abilities or add new combos to your roster. The only way to get that experience back is to hit the enemy you died to.

Some things frustrate me about the combat. The biggest gripe is that it is hard to feel like your abilities you invested in actually pay off because when you try to combo, either the enemy dies before you can complete it or you get repeatedly interrupted because they parried something, dodged something, or just decided to use a power attack while you were on the offensive and completely mess you up for thinking your weak ass combo could ever finish. Another thing is that as you progress through the game and encounter dozens of different enemies, you learn their strengths and weaknesses in a tactical data menu BD-1 accumulates, but you hardly ever get to exploit these weaknesses because of how aggressive the enemies can be. This is a double sided note because it is extremely rewarding when you nail it, and bittersweet when you win through sheer attrition because you never got the chance. I also loved the finisher animations, but I wish there was more variations and a clearer way to activate these.

Usually I play games with the music volume very low, or sometimes off because I find it annoying or overpowering other narration or scene dialogue, but here I found myself wanting more music to fill some of the spaces I was traveling through. All of the mixes are new takes on the instrumentals dreamed up by John Williams and elucidate themes that fit with the environments you’re in, peace and tranquility in Bogano, wonder and mystery on Kashyyk, danger and foreboding on Dathomir. I was surprised to find the soundtrack cannot be found online in Spotify because it is one of the few game soundtracks I would like to hear again while not playing the game. Unfortunately, the tracks don’t quite loop so if you play in a particular space too long, looking around or replaying fights over and over the music just stops and you’re listening to the ambient and scripted sound effects of the game. The ambient noise isn’t bad either, as each space feels “lived in” in some way, by birds chirping or creepers crawling or people talking or structures creaking. You always feel like you are a guest in the world you’re visiting, as opposed to a chore the creators have to keep entertained.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order': The Force is Strong with This One
Dathomir is a devastated wasteland of foul creatures and heartless survivors

Perhaps the most impressive thing to me was the pacing of the story as it intertwines with your own personal skill set growth. The bigger game changing skills such as force pull or push, breathing underwater and a double bladed lightsaber are earned as you progress through the game on your personal journey, relayed to you through flashbacks so you can remember the padawan you once were. The aspect of acquiring new traversal skills is one that has been played out since before the days of Mario on Super Nintendo but today is referred to as Metroidvania and while their use becomes more intermixed as the game tests you with different puzzles, ultimately I felt a little disappointed in the limited number of skills at my disposal in the open world. For instance, you acquire lightsaber throw pretty late in the game, but this skill is not utilized once to unlock shortcuts or secrets, where you almost always wall run or push/pull an object to progress. For me, these challenges weren’t complex or requiring of enough effort to really feel like being a Jedi made much of a difference. You don’t even run very fast (your running animation looks very silly and slow for no explained reason) which makes going from one side of the map to the other a very cumbersome feat.

Back to the story, there was some tropes among your crew, Greez is revealed to be an indebted gambler (sound like anyone we know?) and Cere is a compromised Jedi that has cut herself off the from the force because she touched the dark side (anyone?). One of the more interesting characters joins your crew far later on to the point that you get barely any time with them but they would probably be the most complex character to learn about if you had more time with them. BD-1’s relationship to his previous master Eno Cordova is revealed through hologram journals that BD reveals when you come to notable areas and at times they get pretty emotional as you listen to this ostracized Jedi recount his/your adventure and his conclusions of what will happen to the Order. Since the sequels and prequels came out, I have been pretty disillusioned with the way droids have been used in Star Wars since the originals, but I think they absolutely nailed BD-1’s personality in its interactions with Cal and Eno, reminds me a lot of R2-D2 in the original trilogy and BB-8 in the sequels.

STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order™ Game | PS4 - PlayStation
The Second Sister Inquisitor becomes your foil throughout the game

The roster of enemies you face is as interesting as the world the creators built. The Inquisitors and the Second Sister are more bureaucratic and tormented than you’re initially led to think and the night sister Merrin of Dathomir who blames the Jedi for massacring her people turns from tortured soul to loyal friend as you and she share stories of survival as children. The Haxion Brood is a clan of bounty hunters that pit their quarries against exotic creatures and will constantly appear in levels at random points to give you an added challenge. One of the characters I wish I got to spend more time with was Taron Malicus (isn’t that name the most evil thing you’ve ever heard?) who survives order 66 only to turn to the dark side completely separate from the empire, I would have liked to see him meet the empire or face one of the Inquisitors, that would have been dope. You also run across Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One) as he leads a rescue mission on Kashyyk. Cal’s master, Jaro Topal reappears many times in your flashbacks but he’s definitely not what you expect from a Jedi in that he looks and behaves completely like a war machine and not so much as the kind sentimental oldie that most Jedi’s have been depicted to be in the series, it kind of annoyed me his attitude toward Cal as a student, but that doesn’t mean it was bad, it just wasn’t explored enough actually. The Second Sister also has a partner called the Ninth Sister that appears briefly for one fight and some other cinematics but you don’t learn too much about her before she’s dispatched, we honestly didn’t need two of the same kind of character.

Forest Whitaker believes Saw Gerrera embraces the dark side of ...
Saw Gerrera as played by Forest Whitaker in ROGUE ONE

Level design was incredible. As I mentioned before, you unlock different abilities which can unlock different playable parts of the map. These maps are gigantic, you think you’ve completed the course and surely it can’t get bigger but it does, every time. In many areas, the creators devised ways to short cut through some of the expanse they created, but not enough to quickly go from place to place in any kind of fast travel. If you complete your main objective on one side of the level, and you head back to your ship, but then want to grab some collectable later back on that side of the map, too bad. You have to fight through all the stuff and run through all the obstacles you’ve done already to get back there, and then do it all again on your way back to leave. So that part was not that fun. Visually, each area is eye-grabbing and I found myself stopping to pause and just tilt the camera in different directions to take in the environments around me. Some of the vistas you come across are just some of the finest artistry in any video game made all the more exciting because its Star Wars and then even more exciting because something catches your eye and you realize “Holy shit, I can go there!”

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order | January 15th Patch Notes : FallenOrder

In the last few years, it feels like every game launches with some DLC content sold around the time of release, then those games become packed with micro transaction cosmetics or god forbid loot box mechanics that encourage gambling or spending actual money on game money to buy items, but here there is nothing like that…and it honestly kind of sucks. No, I don’t want any kind of loot box mechanic but the customization options in this game were surprisingly limited, and really questionable. You can customize your outfit, your poncho (what?), your BD-1 droid paint job, and your ship’s paint job and your lightsaber, which of the five has the most extensive options but still feels lacking in the colors department. I don’t know why we didn’t get more interesting costumes for you, or your non-binary companions at all, but it feels weird to have 28 ponchos and only 5 under outfits which just change the shade of your clothes, not the clothing style. It’s good that this part of the game doesn’t take away from one’s enjoyment of playing it, but by the time you finish collecting everything and realize your options are still so limited, it feels kind of bad to know you did all that work hunting all those down for very little pay off.

STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order's Gear Customization Is Useless
Character customization is limited

The thing that really put this game over the top for me was the attention to detail. I read a lot of those expanded universe books, and seeing events appear on screen finally that had been written long before Disney even bought Star Wars was absolutely a gift to experience. Doing away with some aspects of Star Wars lore, such as the idea that Darth Maul had the only double sided lightsaber in existence, makes the universe more interesting again because you never know when these things are going to pop up, and we may see new variations in the future. I could tell that the people invested in the world building actually cared about the work that came before in the space and were trying to pay homage to some of that incredible work and that’s what ultimately opened me up to play this game for 40 hours in less than 5 days.

So I wanted to say, at the end of this whole essay on why the game is great, thank you to everyone involved in this game’s development. From the writers, to the artists, to the musicians, to the production, to the publisher, to the directors and actors, and everyone else not captured in the above, from the bottom of my heart: Thank you, for making this game with love.

 

 

 

State of Decay 2 moments & musings

At this point in time, I have 64 hours invested in State of Decay 2. I have not played all of the maps or even tried all of the difficulties, or even completed a single community yet but from what I have gathered reading online and throughout my own play is basically all there is to the game (if you disagree, i don’t care).

On my first community, I reached basically the end of the mode right up to the last plague heart and have the best base on the map, set up to provide resources each day so it’s self sustaining, a bunch of rare and powerful weapons, every character maxed out–what I’m saying is there isn’t much more for me to do and that’s the problem.

I kind of want to keep this community exactly where it is and never progress, so it just feels relaxing every time i play and I don’t have to worry about scavenging or missing out on missions. Nonetheless, it feels like there’s basically nothing else to do anyways, so why can’t I bring myself to finish this campaign?

Diminishing returns

When you start the game, there is so much to learn and do, the game gives you a tutorial that covers almost nothing in terms of coming to understand the macro management parts of the game. For better or worse, that makes you feel like there’s a bigger world out there for you to figure out, and you will with time. As I got acquainted, I learned what vehicles were important to me, the importance of allies on the map, the tiers of weaponry provided, all this despite no real explanation in the game how these things work. As your knowledge gap between where you start and where you end up contracts you reach a point where you either finish the game whenever you want in one hour or drag it our indefinitely. That’s because there is basically no story elements in this game. Each character has side stories for you to do, about 3-4 each, but they’re pretty meaningless unless they grant you some item you didn’t have before, they don’t change anything for your play through aside from that, you complete it and you’re done. You reach this point of “Why do I bother?” All those things you did in the beginning, grinding for resources, building your community with valuable members, forging alliances with neighbors, guarding your territory from hostile communities, its much less fulfilling when you’ve done each things 50 times and now you don’t need to do them at all.

This is not The Walking Dead

I’ve got no idea what fascinates me so much about the zombie genre, but when The Walking Dead t.v. show came out I was thrilled to have such compelling story-telling, drama and character development occur in a modern-day landscape. When I played State of Decay Year One, there was an immediate sense of, “oh man, this is so close to being a Walking Dead clone!” and over time, you realize the game is much much much less than that. So when they announced a second one was on its way, I thought, “Alright, if that was the plain version I can’t wait to see what they do with more funding and stronger direction the second time round.”

Missions are so stale. Once you’ve done something once, you’ve done it a hundred times. It never gets harder, or more surprising, or more fun. There’s dozens of ways the game itself could throw some wrench in the mission formula, or a benefit, but you’ll be disappointed to expect much variety or consequence to your actions. Even enemy factions never really do anything to hurt you, you just might get shot at if you go over there, but not a one-hit kill, so you can pretty much avoid them easily or trespass whenever you want provided you’re not actively trying to die. It would be so interesting if the hostile factions were more of an element of chaos in this game, or foils to implement story-building elements into as what happens in The Walking Dead. An easy way to do this is just to have your actual home base come under some sort of threat if an enemy faction is angry enough, or perhaps if they’re left alone enough then that makes them overconfident? All they do is exist somewhere on the map until a member of your community or a random mission points out they’re alive and that you should kill them. Even exiling someone just exits that character from the entire map, instead of them creating a hostile or allied faction of their own and maybe generating new missions from that experience.

This is not Left4Dead

Since the main conflict in the game is not your community vs. enemy community, naturally you would think the main conflict is your community vs. the zombies. Well, not really. The zombies are there, they are obstacles to overcome but once you get a leg up either through your in-game advantages or the knowledge you’ve built from doing the same thing over again so nothing really surprises you, they really aren’t much of a factor. It’s hard to describe the exact error, but I think the fact zombie events are so telegraphed is a huge part of the problem. I never felt dread walking into any situation that meant conflict with zombies. There were times I was worried I might lose a character due to a combination of my not going out with the necessary precautions and a stubbornness not to retreat from a fight, no matter the odds. And for all that, I still came out victorious every. single. time. (I only lost two characters on my first run because it was the very first time I met a hostile faction and I was completely not aware of what they would do or even that they would become hostile).

When I first played Left4Dead, it became very very clear that the game does not care at all what you experienced just 60 seconds ago when you played this exact same part of the level and died. No, this time you’re gonna be fine! Or it’s gonna be worse. A lot worse. You literally never know, and you have no time to recalculate your choices because everything is happening so fast. Here, you have so much time to consider what you’re stepping into, because the map is so open to a fault, there are no linear areas that could trap you and there’s no attempt to give you dungeons/buildings which you would need to explore or fight through that limit your options for escape. They gave us a huge map with a bunch of homogeneous buildings littered with enemies that you can see 100 meters away.

So what is the game?

I am convinced that State of Decay 2 is a base management game. The base management aspect of the game is easily the most complex and rewarding part of the game when you figure it out. Balancing morale, resource income, facility options, mods, ally bonuses, community traits, labor, weapons, consumables, this is the game. It didn’t become more clear to me than when I acquired the best base on Providence Ridge, which allowed me to be fully self sustaining, which allowed me to clear all of my side missions off the map, including infestations, which allowed me to max out all of my character stats for all of my characters, which allowed me just do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because the “game” was beaten. The whole impetus for your community to survive is the struggle to attain resources, once you figure out how to make the base work for you to do this on its own, because there is no story driving you to complete the map, you’ve basically hit the endgame.

This would be more fun and interesting if the choices weren’t so obvious. Your group has too many people? Find a bigger base. You have the biggest base but too many people? Exile a survivor (there’s no consequences anyways). You need one particular resource? Use the radio to find some for you, or build a facility to produce that resource, or claim an outpost that contributes those resources to your community. Eventually, its very easy to not only survive but sustain once you have the right size community. Each survivor contributing different key skills is nice, but not necessary to thrive.

The fun parts

That said, I’ve had a decently good time playing the game, getting to know my thin character stories, and figuring out how to survive and thrive. I’ll never forget the first time I encountered other hostile factions that blew up at me because I ticked them off during a negotiation. Making allies of other groups that contribute skills or resources is interesting and useful. There’s also these sick finishers that your survivors can use when you unlock them for heavy weapons and sharp weapons, but why they didn’t implement finishers for blunt weapons I will never understand. Helping friends is rewarding and a nice getaway from the problems of your own game, kind of puts a hold on using your resources while you pick up things in their session.

In the end

These fun moments aren’t enough to sustain the game experience. The pitfalls of continuing amount to too much of a known outcome. I had a fun time playing, and I will probably return, but the formula doesn’t lend itself to much more play. The bounty system is fun, makes things easier when you have reputation to buy your winnings with, but its not a core part of the game anyways, and kind of breaks the system by easing the difficulty of scavenging to survive. All in all, this game is a modest but poorly executed sequel to the first game, and delivers barely anything new to the franchise besides a great coop experience.

Why Worlds 2017 is the best Worlds Yet. And That’s a Very Good Thing.

NOTE: This was something I was really working hard on right after Worlds 2017 ended but I never got around to finishing it. I think it’s important for me to keep and remind myself of what could have been if I had stuck with it. Can’t possibly hope to recapture the thought process and motivation I had when I originally started writing this, so I won’t attempt to complete it.

It’s been two weeks since the League of Legends World Championship concluded. I have been thinking nonstop of all the games, the crazy upsets, the confidence of individual play and brilliant teamwork it took to complete this month-long journey to crown this year’s champion. It has been nothing short of exceptional.

Through all of this, what made this Worlds better than others, from spectator point of view and a dedicated LoLEsports viewer for years, was the monumental storylines and arcs that developed organically through years of previous play. I’m talking about regional gaps closing of skill, ever closer and ever closer, teams’ failures to overcome high pressure situations and others literally defying all expectations to come back from the brink of elimination. Perhaps the most fun to watch were the rivalry rematches we were able to enjoy again, some with the same results, and others shockingly different.

How can we trace the making of this Worlds adequately–how can we do the players and teams the justice of importing to the audience what this all means?

It all began in 2013.

In North America, the third season of domestic competitive play was coined the League Championship Series (LCS). TeamSoloMid (TSM) had emerged with a dominating show of force at international and domestic tournaments before being relegated to second in summer by Cloud9, who went on to set a record for most consecutive wins in a regular season and made the jump from Challenger series (sort of the minor league to the LCS) to North America’s first seed. TSM and Vulcan, another team that entered LCS from the domestic Challenger series entered the group stages confident that North America was ahead of the meta compared to the eastern regions of China and Korea, and that only Europe would be a real challenge for them based on the fact the players and regions had a longer history of playing each other and also that Europe pioneered the standardized role assignments to lane meta (1 top, 1 jungler, 1 mid laner, and 2 bottom) we still play by today. Despite their assumptions, the Chinese and Korean squads decimated North America with stronger team-based play and macro strategies that crippled individual outplay potential with superior vision control and rotational objective play that choked the map. North America’s hopes were high in the first week of groups, after closing the week with a 3:5 record, the chances of accruing a 50/50 record and forcing tie breakers or taking second in both groups seemed like a possibility. Then, what would become an internet meme was born: North America international performances on the second week of play. This infamous meme/curse/history was demonstrated for the first time in a 1-7 record in the second week of play, with numerous reasons given why the over-confident contenders had been eliminated from entering the bracket stage with their North American champion. Things did not bode well for Cloud9 either, as European Champion Fnatic (FNC) went on to eliminate the boys in blue from contention all together. While C9 and TSM ultimately came up short, their taste for international competition would not be sated with the result. Cloud9 would go on to win smaller international tournaments IEM San Jose and the Battle of the Atlantic in 2014, while TSM was crowned IEM Katowice World Champion (Intel Extreme Masters Season IX

Across the world, in the Esports mecca of South Korea, another legacy was forming. Lee San-hyeok was developing his skills and understanding of the game on a completely new level. Rising to top of the solo queue ladder in South Korea at the age of 17, arguably the best roster acquisition of all time saw Lee joining SK Telecom T1 2 (SKT). Debuting in the Olympus Champions Spring 2013 tournament, Lee, having now adopted the infamous moniker “Faker,” picks up his first kill in his campaign to be the best against opposing veteran CJ Entus Blaze midlaner Ambition. Faker ended the game with a scoreline six kills, seven assists and zero deaths against the tournament favorites. SKT would go on to place third here, and then take first as SK Telecom T1 K in the summer, by now having garnered the acclaim of one of, if not the most famous outplay in League of Legends history. Ambition fared worse, having come second in the spring Olympus tournament to MVP Ozone, a team that would be bought by Samsung Electronics, placed6th in the Summer, and knocked out of their final chance to make it to Worlds in the Korean gauntlet. At the Season 3 World Championship, SKT quickly became the favorites to win it all, and under the leadership of Kkoma, they would. Though SKT won, and went on to have an unprecedented, never replicated undefeated spring split in Korea, the Season 3 world champions would be eliminated from even competing in the Season 4 world championship by the newly named Samsung Ozone, which became Samsung White, the season 4 World Champions. Decimated, devastated, and defeated, SKT was forced to rebuild, retaining only their Jungle Bengi and Midlaner Faker. CJ Entus struggled to regain its early season 3 form, and never quite recovered, Ambition was eventually swapped to the jungle role from mid, and later switched teams to join what had become Samsung Galaxy in 2016.

The first European Dynasty of Fnatic has reigned, briefly replaced by the first super team Elements.

China’s Worlds Contender Uzi fights faker in Worlds Finals, coming short.

fast forward to 2017.

The Final Hour. Fnatic’s reign has been overcome by G2, Fnatic has the best regular season using “animal style” playing around bot lane and lose at rift rivals to NA dynasty TSM who played a mid-centric style “showing EU the way” Fnatic tried to Adapt, G2 and Unicorns of Love rise to the top, G2 wins their 5th final against new challengers, rising red tide of Misfits, a team chasing “the perfect game” https://slingshotesports.com/2017/04/27/misfits-coach-hussain-moosvi-perfect-game/

The Contenders. In China, RNG makes it to finals but the domestic curse of Uzi never winning domestically again becomes true. Suspected World Elite, a team that Knocked out KR team Gamma Bears from IPL5 and went to the final to battle TSM, is supected to be the best CH team with rookie star Mystic at adc. China is known for raising strongest ADCs, and the region is favored in Ardent censor meta

The Weak Link. In North America, TSM returns to former 2016 roster to 3-peat in their region against the new challengers Immortals who almost matched TSM game for game in regular season, carried by a strong bot lane and veteran jungler. Cloud9 goes to worlds through the Gauntlet run once again. TSM hopes to break the NA curse and TSM curse of bombing in groups, talked all year of bringing out a variety of strategies practiced during the regular season at worlds to be more dynamic and adaptable. TSM is playing still mid centric with a strong bot lane in ardent censor meta.

The Favorite. Korea, the SKT super team is forced to play through their playoff gauntlet and rises to the finals, where they play LCK champion Longzhu, featuring a seemingly unstoppable and true super team. Longzhu plays with a dominating top laner that plays carries in a tank meta, a mid laner with one of the best K/D/A scorelines since Faker himself, a veteran Bot Lane that took Gamma bears to IPL5 and challenged SKT last year while on their former team, the ROX Tigers. Their only weakness is their rookie jungle Cubbz who plays a more supportive role to the team. Samsung Galaxy has struggled since meeting SKT at Worlds 2016 finals and staying together to try again, while making it through Spring in poor shape, becomes the 3rd best team in Korea.

The wildcard. Wildcard regions are all but relegated to fail when Vietnamese American kryptonite Gigabyte Marines once again disprove expectations and break out of Play-Ins into groups. In their first international appearance at MSI 2017, they upset TSM and knocked them out from the tournament showing their willingness to take every and any fight and catch opponents off guard.  The prevailing theory was that Gigabyte Marines would play upset to whichever group they would land in, but not be true contenders to get out of groups and into the bracket stage.

Gigabyte Marines Challenge Longzhu and Fnatic and Immortals with a variety of unexpected strategies and display a successful defiance of the meta.

Fnatic comes back from 0-3 week 1 as predicted to fail out of groups and gets to bracket stage in miraculous

TSM bombs out of groups 3-4 not showing any of their practiced strategies through the season and Misfits wrestles out of a tie-breaker match exploiting TSM’s early game weakness developed from G2 Weldon’s philosophy

SKT drops a match in groups