Written by Peter ZDS Tingson
The 2017 PGS Summer Split playoffs loom closer as the four teams who managed to make the cut are still in the running for a chance to make it to the world stage. During the brief calm before the storm, let’s get to know the teams that qualified. For starters, I’ll be discussing the teams that will be competing in the quarterfinals, Acclaim Empire X and Mineski.
Acclaim Empire X Image Credit: Garena Philippines
- Khenn “Kanon” Pragale (Top)
- John Anthony “Tamsu” Somollo (Jungle)
- Mark Paul “Awaken” Vagilidad (Mid)
- Jenel “Jenvi” Hapitana (Bot)
- Denmark “Vanguard” Sadili (Support)
- Neil Harold “Mirmoooo” Gabriel (Substitute)
The pride of Iloilo, Acclaim Empire X has consistently remained as one of the better teams in the PGS since their cinderella story run to the championship last year. Entering this split, the team made some significant changes to their roster. After their top and mid, Anjo Alan Ace “EndlessACE” Alzate and Karl “KarlCulated” Duazo departed the team, Kanon moved back to top and Awaken took over the mid lane. They rounded up their roster by recruiting solo queue star marksman Mirmoooo, who managed to reach the top of the challenger ladder, as their substitute.
Summer Split Performance: 9W-5L
The revamped roster got off to a good start by managing to hold onto the second seed for the first half. As they started facing off against stronger competition during the middle of the split, they slipped to third place. However, it should be taken note of that the team’s only losing record the entire split was against the undefeated Team Manila Eagles. When comparing their head to head records against the other qualifying teams, Mineski and Imperium Pro Team, Acclaim Empire X managed to tie them during their match ups. It was a loss against Jengski Esports during the split’s first week that ultimately decided their drop to third place.
Drafting and Playstyle:
Acclaim Empire X gained notoriety for their unorthodox drafts last year. This included compositions where they would draft champions like Karma in the top lane and Nami in the mid lane to focus on protecting Jenvi, who would normally play scaling marksmen such as Tristana or Twitch. Since the acquisition of their new mid, Awaken, the team would end up taming their wild tendencies and draft compositions that would normally be considered to be more in tune with the popular meta.
As a team, Acclaim Empire X would play a controlled game. While their laning isn’t horrible, they aren’t the type to play the laning phase aggressively. It can be said that they play at Tamsu’s pace. The team tends to coordinate and wait on Tamsu’s ganks in order to efficiently use their time. And this is a team whose coordination is stellar. Led by their captain, Kanon, people have to take note that majority of the team plays in Iloilo and they communicate through Garena’s VOIP application. As a result of their good coordination they are one of the better teams in terms of team fighting. Their marksman, Jenvi, is one of the best team fighting marksmen in the PGS and his intelligent positioning is one of the reasons why the team would draft compositions that revolved around helping Jenvi scale and protecting him. This dynamic has changed somewhat since Awaken joined the team, and he has proven himself to be a legitimate carry threat in his own right.
A typical draft by Acclaim Empire X would involve Jenvi picking a scaling marksman, Tamsu picking a jungler that’s capable of initiating or who has strong ganking capabilities in order to apply map pressure. Kanon and Vanguard would pick champions that provide initiation, crowd control, or utility. Awaken has shown versatility with his champion selection, being capable of playing a variety of mages.
Mineski Image Credit: Garena Philippines
- Jon Lance “Kaigu” Hernandez (Top)
- James Karl “Hamezz” Santos (Jungle)
- Eric Allen “Exosen” Gubatan (Mid)
- Kim “Celestial” Jin Won (Bot)
- Gerald Giane “Tgee” Gelacio (Support)
- Keefe Jyro “Znsho” Pascual (Substitute)
- JM “3Finger” Dualan
Mineski is one of the veteran teams in the PGS, and only the second Filipino team to have reached the League of Legends World Championships, doing so in Season 3, after Team Pacific was the first during Season 1. They’re also the reigning PGS champions, having won it in the spring split after reverse sweeping Imperium Pro Team. Unlike the spring split however, where they waited in the finals, Mineski will have to work their way to the finals this time after only managing to tie with Acclaim Empire X for 3rd/4th place.
Summer Split Performance: 9W-5L
The defending champions had a rough summer, and in my personal opinion they underperformed this split. Considering the amount of talent present in their roster, and that they virtually had the same roster entering the split, one would expect them to perform at least on the same level they did during the spring. So what happened? I think the team ran into certain issues entering the split.
For starters, I think they suffered from communication issues. Mineski’s roster is composed of some of the most mechanically talented players in the entire Philippines. Their laning phase is one of the best, if not the best in the league. Despite that, their communication issues held them back from winning as hard as they could have while being a major factor in their losses.
Another factor is the playstyle of their marksman, Znsho. Ever since he debuted in the Philippine League of Legends competitive scene way back in Season 2, Znsho quickly rose to become one of the premiere marksmen in the country with his mechanical prowess and aggressive, lane dominant style. However, in situations where he falls behind in lane it’s been shown that he tends to struggle with regaining his footing and playing from behind. He also has a tendency to make positional mistakes which are a result of his aggressive style that end with him getting picked off or not being able to deal damage as efficiently as he could. Since his debut, his style hasn’t changed and in combination with the communication issues the team had this split we’d see Znsho not perform as well as he could have.
The team brought in a new marksman, Celestial, in the latter half of the split. The results have improved, as they managed to finish the split undefeated so far with Celestial playing. It has to be taken note of however that their wins with Celestial are against the weaker teams in the PGS so it’s yet to be seen how they’d perform against the stronger competition they’ll be facing in the playoffs. If they manage to remedy their communication issues and considering Celestial’s more flexible playstyle, then Mineski will definitely be great again.
Drafting and Playstyle:
Among PGS teams Mineski is one of the most flexible, if not the most flexible, in terms of drafting. This flexibility isn’t just because most players in the team, if not all, are capable of playing a wide variety of champions. Their strategic depth is augmented by the help of their coach 3Finger, whose vast knowledge of the game and of his players’ capabilities helps them adapt their draft to suit a multitude of situations.
Both Kaigu and Exosen stand out from the rest of the team in this regard, as they’ve shown that they’re both capable of playing supportive and utility based champions in addition to carries. While not as evident due to the limited pool of viable junglers in the popular meta in contrast to the lane, Hamezz is also capable of doing the same. Tgee can play both utility based supports and initiators, but tends to be more proficient with initiators. Lastly, Znsho has shown preference for poke based and utility marksmen while Celestial favors marksmen with either a strong laning presence or who can scale well into the later stages of the game.
Being one of the most mechanically proficient teams in the PGS, each of Mineski’s laners have a strong laning phase. They tend to rely more on smashing their opponents in lane and continuously outplaying them with their mechanical prowess to constantly applying pressure in order to win their games than on winning through superior rotations.
While their communication issues do hold them back from performing better during the regular split. this isn’t to say that the team isn’t capable of proper rotations or playing a macro game. They can, and Kaigu is an example of this when he plays champions like Kled with his well timed rotations through teleport plays to initiate and create opportunities for his team. If they’re able to improve their communication then Mineski is probably the most terrifying team to play against in the PGS, their carries being some of the hardest to play against when they’re given a lead. Exosen has proven time and again that he’s one of the best carries to play in the Philippine League of Legends scene with his capability to top the damage charts, even in the team’s losses. Kaigu as well has shown that he can carry when the situation calls for it whether it’s initiating plays on champions like Kled or efficiently dealing tons of damage with champions like Jayce. Both Celestial and Znsho too, when they catch fire, are extremely difficult to deal with. Should Mineski catch fire in the playoffs, they’re an unstoppable force.
That about does it for the preview on Acclaim Empire X and Mineski. Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing the two teams waiting in the semi-finals and finals respectively, Imperium Pro Team and Team Manila Eagles!