On Sunday at 17:00 CEST we are going up against Unicorns of Love in the second quarterfinal match of LCS EU Spring 2015. A winning team of this BO5 series will face SK Gaming next week and will get a guaranteed trip to Madrid for either a Grand Final or a 3rd place decider, but let's not jump ahead of ourselves and look at the team we are facing first.
Read: Darien Returns to Gambit
Galloping to LCS
Unicorns are one of the rookies who qualified for LCS for the first time this split. The team wasn't a dominant force back in 2014 EU Challenger Series – they failed to overcome NiP twice in the quarterfinals and barely made it to playoffs with their two top 8 finishes. Ironically, it came down to them having to beat NiP to claim third and final spot for 2015 EU LCS Spring Promotion. Both squads went into the Challenger Series playoffs with an alternate jungler: Dan was replaced by Gilius two weeks prior to the tournament, whereas k0u left NiP a couple of days prior to that, so Ninjas did not have a lot of time to gel with loulex. NiP fell apart in the decisive match and Unicorns proceeded to compete at the Promotion tournament with an easy 3-0 win over NiP.
Unicorn's off-season was a completely different story. They were the only Challenger Series team to qualify for LCS at 2015 EU LCS Spring Promotion. They lost first two games against Millenium, but made an impressive comeback by utilizing their signature pocket picks: Poppy in game 3 and Cassiopeia in game 5.
Three months later they were competing on an American soil at IEM San Jose that was played on a PreSeason patch 4.20. In the first round of the tournament they convincingly defeated Lyon Gaming – the winners of Riot Latin America Cup 2014 who went into this tournament with two subs – Team 8's Bot Lane. In the semifinals they faced TSM who had recently added Santorin to their line-up. Be it lack of inherent synergy with their new jungler or lack of respect and preparation for UoL, it was Kikis' mid-centric play that allowed PowerOfEvil to shut down Bjergsen and take over both games. In the Finals Unicorns were simply outclassed by Cloud9 – 3:0.
Going into LCS, UoL were thought of as a team that would most likely end up in the lower part of the table, but with teams like Roccat and Elements dropping the ball they managed to secure the 5th spot with 9 Wins and 9 Losses. Unlike three other teams that are going to play this weekend, Unicorns were consistent throughout an entire split: at no point in time, excluding week 4, they were above the 4th or below the 5th place. They went 1-1 five times and both times they won two games, they would lose two games the following week.
Courtesy of LoL Esportspedia
Our first encounter during the first week of LCS was a perfect example of what one should not do against Unicorns – PowerOfEvil grabbed a couple of kills in the early game and was free to rotate across the map to snowball even further, while we were trying to come online with Cassiopeia and Kassadin. Even though Cabochard caught Unicorns off-guard with a Petrifying Gaze + Flash combo at our Top Inhibitor Turret, we were too far behind for it to make a difference.
In our second encounter last week Unicorns grabbed three early kills during the Lane Phase, but were punished for their dive onto Maokai. Our guys managed to focus PowerOfEvil's Cho'Gath over and over again as the game went on while Cabochard was successfully zoning 3-4 members of their team. It didn't take us long to close out the game, once we got an uncontested Baron.
The PowerOfEvil Show
Unicorns' success comes down to PoE's performance. He is their main carry – in their wins he deals 35% of their total damage, whereas in their losses - only 20%. This season he played only three champions more than once: Syndra, Ahri and Cassiopeia. The later was contested in 17 out of their 18 games: UoL played her thrice, twice it was picked against them by Wolves and Gambit, she was banned against them twelve times and was not contested in their first encounter against Fnatic. They tend to pick her with a safe AD Carry who does not require a lot of peel: Sivir once and Caitlyn twice, and a tank top laner. In their last game against Fnatic they played her in conjunction with Yorick who ensured that she can dish out consistent DPS even if she is focused down.
The Supporting Cast
Even though Vizicsacsi is often thought of as a guy who occasionally runs champions like Swain and Poppy in the Top Lane, he spent most of the season playing tanks and bruisers. He ran Poppy once against Roccat in their second encounter, but with them falling behind early against a Juggermaw composition, it was impossible for him to have an impact due to an immense peel provided by Janna, Maokai, Lulu and even Nidalee.
Vardags tends to play safe AD Carries with either an immense upfront burst: Corki & Graves, high range: Caitlyn, or utility: Sivir. He is rarely put in a position to carry his team and has one of the lowest KDA and GPM among European AD Carries. He did play hyper carry once: Jinx in their first encounter against SK. He was 1v1 against Kennen and was killed early after Svenskeren's Rek'Sai gank. Unicorns did not find an answer to SK's signature high pressure style of play and he became a nonfactor in this game due to falling behind in both farm and kill contribution compared to Forg1ven's Graves.