Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Split - Week 2
So last week I exaggerated that Echo Fox and 100 Thieves would be facing off in the Spring Split Finals; I would just like to reiterate I was Definitely Not joking when I said that and I totally stand by what I said, because here we are, at the end of week 2, with Echo Fox topping the standings at 4 - 0. TSM and CLG fans alike will be happy to see their teams on the board with 1 win each, and, combined with the results of Major Boston, Cloud 9 fans ought to be jubilant with this weekend’s results.
Last week’s article was a bit long, so I’ll keep it shorter this time around. As always, a link to the still-updated Google Sheet is below, so let’s get started.
Note: Standings order according to lolesports
1. Echo Fox [FOX] (4 - 0)
Echo Fox faced two titans of the LCS this weekend: Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid. Both games went fairly long, 46 and 56 minutes, and were action-packed. Huni received a lot of attention in the top-lane, so it was up to the rest of the team to prove FOX isn’t a one-man show; long story short, they did. FeniX has returned from the Challenger Series to remind everyone why he’s an LCS-caliber mid-laner, and a happy Dardoch makes for a happy team. FOX even came back from a 10k gold deficit after the early/mid-game, something that may remind people of SKT at Worlds 2017 (which is a strong comparison, I know).
We’ve seen this before, however, as far as Dardoch goes. When the controversial jungler was on CLG last year, they topped the standings before internal struggle led to CLG dropping Dardoch. FOX find themselves in a similar position, so only time will tell. In the meantime, anyone playing this team should be extra prepared, because just like FeniX, Echo Fox has risen from the ashes.
2. Cloud 9 [C9] (3 - 1)
C9 played two undefeated teams this weekend: Echo Fox and 100 Thieves. The first game went in FOX’s favor thanks to Dardoch’s Sejuani play, and — frankly, the draft and team compositions. C9 grouping up for team-fights with Jayce and Jax is just asking to lose when playing against Gnar, Sejuani, Cassiopeia, and Taric. The boys in blue kept a foot in the door, but Echo Fox’s teamplay proved to be too much to overcome.
On day 2, however, Cloud 9 steamrolled their former jungler and handed 100 Thieves their first loss. C9’s import duo bodied Meteos and Ryu, and the team ran circles around 100 Thieves, limiting the newcomers to 0 towers and 1 dragon in a 40-minute game. Licorice continues to hold his own against top top-laners, and if this trend continues, C9 might see themselves making a deep run in playoffs.
2. 100 Thieves  (3 - 1)
Stealing is in 100 Thieves’ blood as they deliver the first blow to Team Liquid’s perfect record. On day 1 of week 2, 100 Thieves shut down Team Liquid across the map, leading to a tidy victory. With CLG struggling and 100 Thieves surpassing expectations, Aphromoo’s shotcalling continues to impress even entering his 6th year of competitive play.
Although the weekend started well, Aphromoo & Co. lost their first game of the season against Cloud 9 in a not-so-close contest. The macro they showed on day 1 was nowhere to be seen, as they were shut out from towers entirely and only managed 1 Ocean Drake in 40 minutes. Meteos struggled on his signature Zac, and Codymoo (Aphrosun?) was outclassed by the ever-consistent duo of Sneaky and Smoothie. That being said, fear not, 100 Thieves fans! It’s clear that this squad has what it takes to make it to playoffs, barring unforeseen circumstances or meta changes that are too debilitating. Coach pr0lly is a seasoned veteran, as is the majority of the roster, so look for a strong bouncing back next week against Clutch Gaming and Team SoloMid.
2. Team Liquid [TL] (3 - 1)
So they’re not unstoppable, big deal. Team Liquid’s superteam lost to 100 Thieves on Saturday but returned to form on Sunday against Clutch Gaming. Liquid’s poor macro on day 1 could be chalked up as an anomaly, but it’s safer to add it to the checklist of things to work on. The usually-dynamic duo of Xmithie and Olleh looked a little lost in this game and contributed 8 of their team’s 13 total deaths. Cleaning up the vision battle in the early/mid game will contribute greatly to the team’s future success.
Doublelift and trashtalking, name a more iconic duo. As Reddit has pointed out, when Doublelift trash talks his competition, Liquid is 3–0; when he doesn’t, Liquid is 0–1. Clearly, correlation equals causation. Liquid channeled their inner Bruce Banner’s inner Hulk and smashed Clutch Gaming on Sunday, ending the game in under 30 minutes with a 13.4k gold lead.
Next week, Liquid plays Flyquest and Golden Guardians, neither of which should pose much problem. However, Flyquest has already pulled off one upset this season, and you can never discount Hai in the macro game. Liquid should be careful not to get too relaxed.
5. Clutch Gaming [CG] (2 - 2)
I’m going to answer my prompt from above, about iconic duos, down here. CLG and getting wrecked by Azir. CG Febiven brought us the first pentakill of the split on Azir, acing CLG after — in his words: “they were legit running into [him]”. Although Febiven had the big play this game, LirA’s contribution cannot be understated; his engages on Zac were immaculate, and he punished CLG repeatedly for their over-aggression and lack of preparation.
But all good things must come to an end. Clutch met their maker in Team Liquid on day 2, and the entire team played Gray Screen Simulator. Frankly, not much can be said here. Clutch is simply not at Liquid’s level of play; even LirA looked helpless this game, racking up nearly half the team’s 5 deaths.
Next week is no easier, as Clutch plays 100 Thieves and Cloud 9. Let’s be real, they’re entering almost every matchup as the underdog, so they should take this opportunity to learn from the top.
5. Flyquest [FLY] (2 - 2)
Flyquest came off a hot win against TSM in week 1 to face Golden Guardians and OpTic Gaming. The fact that their win against GGS was as close as it was, however, goes to show how much work they need. FLY is still missing Fly in the mid-lane, so once that roster cleans up, we’ll hopefully see a revitalization. One notable improvement was Wildturtle’s performance compared to last week, however, as he led the team to victory going 9/2/5 on Ezreal with a 93.33% KP.
Anddd we’re back. Wildturtle took notes from CG and played Gray Screen Simulator for the second week in a row. AnDa still looks painfully like a rookie jungler, and Flyquest’s objective control suffers more than almost any other team; they took 1 Infernal Drake in 38 minutes compared to OpTic’s Rift Herald, 4 Drakes, and 2 Barons. To be fair, OpTic does look like a decent team who’ve had an unlucky early schedule, but Flyquest need to find a way to make it through the early-game laning and polish their macro.
7. Team SoloMid [TSM] (1 - 3)
TSM is on the board! I’m not entirely sure, but Bjergsen may have taken the first Gathering Storm of LCS. Maybe he knew the game against OpTic would last 63 minutes, maybe he didn’t. Either way, the game was a snoozefest. Let’s be real, Evelynn as a phase 3 draft pick after Sejuani, Gnar, and Braum are already picked is a big question mark. Even so, MikeYeung has yet to do much so far this split. If TSM had played a team with even slightly better macro game, they would have lost that game, especially after losing 3 Barons in a row. If it wasn’t for Mithy’s flash-E Ornn re-engage, who knows how much longer that game would’ve gone on for.
A marked improvement over the previous day’s game, TSM vs. FOX was an exhilarating game to watch. Even though TSM lost, their play was much more aggressive, and it showed in their 10k gold lead. That they were unable to close out is disappointing and nothing short of embarrassing, even against a powerful Echo Fox. At least there are some signs of life, however. If TSM can create a 10k lead against Echo Fox, they can do it against any other team in the league; it’s up to them to recreate the formula.
7. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] (1 - 3)
I expected a 1–1 week from CLG, but not in this fashion. CLG has a history of losing to Hai, so I was prepared for a day 2 loss. A day 1 loss against Clutch Gaming, however, was unforeseen. I don’t know if it’s too many voices making calls, or too few voices making bad calls, but CLG’s decision-making needs serious improvement. An early gank top-lane on Solo was great; a terrible fight bot-lane, Reignover positioning over-aggressively, and awful positioning at a dragon fight are not great (bonus points for an enemy pentakill). Darshan and huhi are doing their best to carry this team, but with huhi getting punished alongside Reignover for the latter’s invades, it’s difficult for CLG to maintain map pressure.
Fortunately, CLG defeated Golden Guardians on Sunday. As has been the trend, however, Stixxay’s positioning leaves much to be desired. At one point he could’ve been in the conversation for top 3 ADs in North America with Sneaky and Doublelift. The way he’s performed so far this split changes that conversation topic to bottom 3. Stepping in front of the frontline, entering team-fights with Arcane Shift only to immediately blow flash, and kiting away from the team rather than towards his supports are unacceptable for an LCS AD Carry. CLG got lucky against GGS thanks to Darshan and huhi playing out of their minds. Scrim gods or not, CLG need to continue working on their shotcalling and macro game, because they won’t get lucky next week against Echo Fox.
7. OpTic Gaming [OPT] (1 - 3)
Allow me to pose a question: one team has 1 Mountain Drake and 2 Cloud Drakes, and the other team has 1 Mountain Drake, 2 Infernal Drakes, and 3 Barons in a row…who loses? Evidently, it’s the latter team, but realistically, the biggest losers are the viewers who had to sit through TSM vs OpTic on Saturday. To lose a game after successfully securing 3 Barons in a row is unheard of; even solo queue teams could close that out. Probably.
In all honesty, OpTic looks like a decent team. Their first 4 games have been against 100 Thieves, Team Liquid, Team SoloMid, and Flyquest. Sure, TSM now is weaker than previous lineups, but as far as pure talent goes, it’s not bottom-of-the-barrel by any means. It’s been a tough first two weeks, and it doesn’t get any easier as they play Cloud 9 and Echo Fox in week 3. The thing they’ve got going for them is their victory over Flyquest where Akaadian, PoE, and Arrow popped off on their respective champions. Hopefully they can carry this momentum forward, because they’re in for a world of hurt next week.
10. Golden Guardians [GGS] (0 - 4)
At least they’re living up to expectations? In all seriousness, the Guardians played much better this week than last week. They took Flyquest to a close 48-minute game, and they were beating CLG up till a botched fight in the mid-lane that led to a CLG Baron. If this kind of improvement is remotely linear — or exponential — Golden Guardians could be in playoff contention. Probably not, though. They’re in for a beating against TSM and TL next week, and they’re unlikely to show up particularly well. GGS is the team that needs the most work on individual mechanics, be it via the SoloQ grind or coaching.