ESL Pro Series Season X - Team Overview
The Challenger scene has been a very volatile place during the past six months. With the Chinese explosion of LMQ dominating, followed closely by C9T and coL, there was little room for growth for the lower tier teams and up-and-comers. This resulted in countless roster changes, retirements, and crushed dreams and broken hearts. However, with two of those three teams being moved up to the LCS and the other disbanding, the playing field is now ripe for some fresh talent to make its way forward. Let’s take a quick look at the ESL Pro Series Season X participants!
XDG, formerly known as Vulcun, was knocked out of the LCS by the Chinese powerhouse LMQ in the Summer Promotion Tournament after a crushing 0-3 defeat. Though not altogether unexpected after a terrible Spring Split, it was still a bit of a shock for a team that had played in the Season Three World Championship to be relegated in such a dramatic way.
The most exciting thing about this team is that we don’t actually know who’s on it yet! There has been no official roster released, and with just a few days until the season begins, the clock is ticking. Will they manage to pull some talent out of the woodwork in time, or will they just end up forfeiting? Nobody except the team management knows at this point, but it should be interesting to keep an eye on regardless.
Frank Fang Gaming
Frank Fang Gaming is the newest iteration of Team Tempest, a team that dates back to Season Three from the Mobafire Challenger Series and ESL Pro Series. Though they have been plagued with roster changes in the top lane and jungle over the past few months, they’ve always had the same core three players. Named for their manager, they hope to bring glory to his name by winning this season of the ESL Pro Series.
Although the most easily recognizable name on the roster is former CLG top laner Nien, this team is packed with familiar faces from the Challenger Series past and the amateur scene at large. Babyzeus in mid, Lattman at marksman, Captain Ziploc in the jungle, and babyeator at support make this a very experienced roster with a lot to prove.
As one of the triad of Curse teams, Team LoLPro has been around for a very long time and performed consistently in the challenger scene, routinely placing top three in major tournaments. With strong showings in the ALCS, NACL, and NACS, they are definitely a team to be reckoned with. Despite the loss of long-time Curse member NyJacky in the mid lane, they came back strong in the middle of last split with a complete roster switch-up.
Hauntzer, heavenTime, and LoH have been constant in their roles of top lane, jungle and support, but the marksman and mid lane role had to be adjusted with the loss of NyJacky. Former marksman LoD was moved to the middle lane and Hoodstomp was picked up to fill his place. It seems that these roster swaps have benefitted the LoLPro squad as this team of promising young talent set their sights on a potential LCS spot for next year.
Area of Effect
Formed by the past Curse Gaming support Elementz, Area of Effect is a relatively unknown team with a lot of new blood. They are particularly known for their oddball picks and strategies, and with the stated intent of getting into the LCS this extremely talented young squad will be sure to leave their mark on the Challenger Series.
In addition to Elementz, former Curse Academy jungler Pat can be found roaming the jungle for this squad. To round out the team, Elementz also picked up EvanRL at marksman, ImChumpJohn at top, and dawolfsclaw in mid. Will the former pro lead a team of new blood back to the top, or fade into history?
In perhaps the most surprising relegation result, Team Coast was knocked out of the LCS by heavy underdogs Complexity in a dominating 1-3 showing. Although they had some of the best solo laners in the LCS in Shiphtur and ZionSpartan, they were unable to carry a historically weak bottom lane and jungle to the win.
Even worse for the team, their solo laners were both picked up by Team Dignitas after relegation, resulting in a huge loss of overall power and leaving a gaping hole in their roster. There have been no changes to the bottom lane of Wizfujin and Daydreamin, but picking up Santorin and moving Nintendudex to sub might help with the issues in the jungle. However, Coast has yet to release the identity of any potential solo lane pickups. This leaves a large question mark hovering over the fate of the resilient team known for their high highs and low lows.
Team 8 is potentially one of the most hyped Challenger teams around. One of the few squads able to take out big names like LMQ and C9T in the past season, they were however knocked out of the Challenger Series for the most recent summer split by a veritable no-name team in the round of twenty. With strong all-around lanes, this team is solid.
The roster has remained almost the same since February, lending some stability rarely found in the Challenger circuit. With CaliforniaTrlolz and his crazy picks like Vlad and AD Nidalee in the top lane and Slooshi’s top level mechanics in middle, PorpoisePops in the jungle is free to make plays around the map. The bottom lane of Dodo8 and frommaplestreet (the OddBro) rarely is defeated in a 2v2. Will they be able to overcome a surprise knockout from the challenger series and place highly in EPS Season X?
No Dice Gaming
No Dice Gaming is an old name in the Challenger scene, having fielded a team for several seasons. Though traditionally one of the weaker challenger teams, they manage to hold onto the #1 spot on the ranked 5’s ladder and have made some roster swaps. Hopefully, these underdogs will put up a great fight this season!
The oldest remaining members of NDG are ViagraPancakes as marksman and RF Legendary in the top lane. This leaves Stefono in middle, InfinityDestinys in the jungle, and K1 at support. With plenty of fresh talent in this team, maybe NDG’s poor past seasons will turn around!
Curse Academy is one of the oldest challenger teams with roots dating back to January 2013; however, they have had one of the most shifting rosters of any team with sixteen swaps over that time. The only original Curse Academy member left is Rhux in the top lane. Despite that, Curse Academy has consistently been a top four team since their inception. With tournaments like older seasons of the ESL Pro Series, NACL, and the Spring Challenger Series under their belts, Curse Academy is one of the most well-known amateur teams in the scene.
Despite already having a strong roster, a complete revamp was done after the end of the Spring Split. Former LCS professional players Saintvicious in the jungle, mandatorycloud in the jungle, and BunnyFuFu at support will lead amateur veterans Cris in the top lane and Impactful at marksman to the win. With such a ridiculously stacked roster, we can expect some great things from this team.
Even with two new LCS teams, there is still a ton of talent ready to prove themselves in the Challenger scene. Will the old hats of Curse Academy and the former LCS teams prevail, or will new blood reign supreme? Be sure to catch the opening night of the ESL Pro Series Season X, starting this Monday, June 2nd, 2014 on TwitchTV!
By Keira "GetJinxt" Kozlowski