Monday Morning Mid-Laner: XD.GG’s Xmithie
One of the more understated but nonetheless impressive stories of the Season 3 LCS in North America was the somewhat unnoticed rise of XD.GG (formerly known as Vulcun) through the ranks. While their debut in the Spring split was largely underwhelming and they spent most of it clawing their way up the bottom four, the Spring regional tournament was where XD.GG demanded the world stand up and take notice.
The dominance that got them 3rd at regionals continued into the Spring split, and XD.GG made it clear that they were just as much the team to be feared as Cloud9 was, managing to be the only team to break even with the NA regional champions during the Summer split. Despite a struggle to acquire an enormous fanbase on the level of CLG or Solomid, XD.GG nonetheless made it to the World championships alongside C9 and TSM.
And no team achieves greatness if not on the back of a great jungler. Of all the junglers in the North American scene, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero seems to be the one who has been sitting up and paying attention the most to what the junglers in Korea have been doing. Xmithie has quickly come to embody the brutal efficiency of rotation perfection, making XD.GG perhaps the team in North America with the best control over the map in the early game. Xmithie shows up where he needs to be, makes a play, and then smoothly guides the rest of his team to an objective.
Of course, he’s had plenty of time to build that synergy with some members of the team. Xmithe and his mid-laner Mancloud have long made up the backbone of the team that would eventually become known as XD.GG through all of its many incarnations: APictureofaGoose, MTW.NA, Monomaniac Ferus, FeaR, Vulcun, and now XD.GG, all of them were formed around the core of Mancloud and Xmithie, and that long history puts them on the level of Team SoloMid when it comes to long term synergy.
All along the way, Xmithie’s champion pool has been evolving. Of particular note in recent days is his Lee Sin, which one might now call “award winning,” as Xmithie recently won Leaguepedia’s “Best Lee Sin NA” tournament, a 1v1 duelling tournament highlighting mirror matches on Lee Sin amongst top players. That excellence with Lee Sin speaks to a high level of mechanical competence, as Lee Sin is a very difficult champion to play at a competitive level without a supreme amount of mechanical prowess and positioning skill.
Unfortunately, XD.GG’s showing at Worlds was disappointing, owing largely due to a lack of ability to close out games despite almost always coming out ahead in the early game. After taking an impressive victory against Fnatic early on the tournament, they fell by the wayside, failing to make it out of groups. Despite that, XD.GG showed in their games against Ozone and Fnatic that they’re capable of competing on the world stage with just a little more fine tuning.
And they’ll have an opportunity to do that soon. XD.GG’s manager Gnomesayin indicated on Reddit that the team isn’t going through any roster changes for Season 4, and with a guaranteed spot in the Spring 2014 LCS, XD.GG (or whatever they come to be named) is poised to show the region and the world why they’re just as much a team to be feared as Cloud9 is.
Image credit goes to Riot Games’s page for Vulcun at http://na.lolesports.com/worlds/teams/vulcun-techbargains.