Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Split - Week 4
The week before mid-split has come and gone, and it promised to be entertaining. Team Liquid played C9 and Echo Fox, FLY Fly made his LCS debut, and the CLG v. TSM rivalry had its first matchup of the split. The end result? It actually wasn’t as interested as it was hyped up to be — for the most part at least.
As always, Google Doc below, let’s run it down.
Note: Standings order according to lolesports
1. Echo Fox [FOX] (7 - 1)
Did anybody else get nervous when FOX started losing fights against GGS? Echo Fox shot out to an early lead, to nobody’s surprise, racking up a 3k gold lead at 10 minutes and more than doubling that to 7k by 15 minutes. For the following 10 minutes, FOX killed no one on GGS while Lourlo’s Camille stacked up 6 kills…and yet FOX was able to maintain their gold lead, albeit slightly diminished. Despite GGS’ best efforts, FOX was able to hold their map control; they limited GGS to 0 objectives in the first 25 minutes, even after losing several fights in a row. Who knows whether this speaks more to FOX’s insurmountable lead or GGS’ inability to capitalize on temporary advantages.
FOX vs Liquid was supposed to be a good match, a clash of titans. Team Liquid had already lost to Cloud 9 in spectacular fashion on Saturday, so Sunday’s match would’ve been a strong redemption if they pulled out the win.
Altec/Adrian simply out-laned Doublelift/Olleh, and although FeniX was struggling early in the lane against Pobelter, repeat ganks from Dardoch turned that lane around. In the top-lane battle between ex-SKT members, the matchup fell to the favor of Huni as his Gangplank pressured Impact’s Gnar, a theoretically losing matchup for the Saltwater Scourge. FOX suffered the eventual fate of every #1 seed, losing to CLG, but that minor setback hasn’t seemed to faze them as they continue to smash every other team in the NA LCS.
1. Cloud 9 [C9] (7 - 1)
If you look at the Match History page from the game between C9 and Liquid on Saturday (http://riot.com/2BpK847), you’ll see that C9 had a 10 gold deficit at 1 minute; you’ll also see that they gave Team Liquid an ass-whooping for the remainder of the game. I think it’s been pretty clear that C9 didn’t lose the offseason like everyone said, but this game had more weight than C9’s other games thus far — more impact, if you will. Rookie-of-the-Split contender Licorice faced off against Impact in the top-lane, and Licorice wiped the floor with him. All it took was one gank from Smoothie’s Alistar (how does he continue to get to play this champion?) and Licorice’s Vladimir bullied Impact’s Gangplank into oblivion, just like the rest of his team.
Although C9 had a great early game, they struggled against Flyquest in the mid-game. Smoothie was denied his now-signature Alistar pick, so he was unable to make as many proactive plays on the Kench; C9 even had to forfeit a 30-minute Baron from Flyquest. By the time that Baron buff wore off, however, Sneaky and Jensen had gathered their storms, and C9 was ready to fight with two late-game hypercarries in Azir and Jinx. A pick onto FLY AnDa led to a quick Drake and tower; another pick onto AnDa led to Baron and the game.
Next week, Cloud 9 plays TSM and Echo Fox. A year ago, the former would’ve been a more exciting matchup. Now, the result of the latter will likely decide who takes sole possession of first place going into the second half of the split.
3. Team Liquid [TL] (5 - 3)
Maybe the curse isn’t lifted after all? After decisive wins last week over Flyquest and Golden Guardians, Team Liquid came into this week with as much momentum as a team could have. It turns out, however, the faster you run into a wall, the more abruptly you’ll stop. Liquid ran into two walls this weekend, and that first one was a doozy. C9 manhandled them; there’s no polite way to put it. If it hadn’t been for the 2 kills that Pobelter picked up, Liquid would’ve been perfect-gamed. They let Smoothie play Alistar, and every lane lost; when every lane loses at a professional level, you’re going to get rolled over.
They played better against Echo Fox, but only slightly. Impact is looking like the weakest link of the team; he doesn’t seem to know how to play as, nor against, Gangplank, and that is an easily exploitable weakness. When mid-game came around, Doublelift was bullied by Dardoch, constantly being forced to blow Flash whenever Elastic Slingshot’s shadow loomed over him. As a result, he was unable to provide meaningful presence in teamfights, and they just lost outright.
Liquid looked like the best team in North America last week, and this week they were liquidated. Mechanically they should be able to perform better than they showed, so perhaps next week they’ll bring things back into gear against CLG and GGS.
4. Team SoloMid [TSM] (4 - 4)
TSM has pulled away from the CLG mirror and maintined their .500 winrate. Unfortunately, they also lost their first game of the weekend to Clutch Gaming. Maybe MikeYeung is succumbing to the pressure from being on TSM, but his failure to smite-secure objectives directly lead to TSM’s loss, period. There is no world in which an Infernal Drake, a Baron, and an Elder Drake should be stolen in one game, even if it is from Ezreal — a champion that can provide more burst than the average. Had it not been for these three stolen objectives, TSM would likely have been able to end the game. As it turned out, the late-game comp from CG was able to scale and destroyed TSM’s nexus 54 minutes into the game.
Thankfully, TSM was able to pull out the win against CLG, in convincing fashion. Although huhi was able to solo Hauntzer twice, the rest of the game was always in TSM’s favor. A couple of close fights happened in the mid-game, but once TSM wiped out CLG at Baron, the game was all but decided. MikeYeung bounced back from his weak performance the day before to successfully secure objectives and supplement Mithy’s Taric engages. TSM proved their dominance over their rivals once again, even-ing out their week at 1 - 1 and ending CLG’s week 4 at 0 - 2.
4. Clutch Gaming [CG] (4 - 4)
Clutch had their best week yet, going 2 - 0 over TSM and OpTic. On the back of Apollo’s clutch objective steals (I’m sorry, I had to), CG took down TSM. For the first time, CG’s win condition did not rest entirely on Febiven getting fed; both Solo and Apollo played out of their minds, and Hakuho proved he’s one of the best supports in NA. The worst-performing player was actually LirA — a jungler who, at one point, was regarded as possibly the best jungler in NA. Fortunately for him, Apollo can secure objectives without smite, and the team rocketed their way past TSM.
It was only natural that CG would carry their energy into day 2 against OpTic Gaming. Unfortunately, CG traded Rift Herald for a Cloud Drake, allowing OpTic to take control of the mid-game. However, a clean mid-game fight 20 minutes in went 3 - 0 for Clutch, leading to a Baron. From that point on, CG didn’t give up another objective nor kill to OpTic, ending the game swiftly at 31 minutes.
CG should be very confident going into next week, albeit tempered. Flyquest looks rejuvenated and like an entirely new team with Fly in the mid-lane and TSM can never be underestimated.
4. 100 Thieves  (4 - 4)
After a promising 3 - 1 start, 100 Thieves have evened it out, and they now sit at 4 - 4. Maybe it’s the meta of the patch, maybe it was beginner’s luck; either way, they don’t look as good as they did in the first two weeks of LCS. Let’s chalk up their first loss of the weekend to the fact that FLY Fly totally changes the game for his team. Ryu was unable to match Fly’s Galio presence and WILDTURTLE went absolutely nuts on Xayah, shutting down CodyMoo and taking over the game. 100 was able to secure Rift Herald, but funnily enough, that’s exactly when the gold lead dipped in favor of FLY. But again, let’s just call this game a Flyquest resurgence…
100 Thieves still lost to Golden Guardians. Like super badly. Meteos was outjungled by Contractz’s hyper-aggressive Camille and Cody Sun died level 1 to Deftly’s Kog’Maw. Although the early game was back and forth — up till 13 minutes — GGS ran away with the game after taking Rift Herald, starving 100 Thieves and restricting them to 2 kills and 1 Drake for the remainder of the game. Something happened to Nadeshot’s brainchild after the first 2 weeks, and 100 Thieves need to find their groove again. Their first game next week is against FOX, and we all know how well they’ve been playing. They’ll also be playing CLG again, for the first time since Week 1; we’ll see if aphromoo still comes out on top against his former team.
7. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] (3 - 5)
In classic CLG fashion, they defeated the number 1 seed, Echo Fox, and went 2 - 0 on Week 3. Then they immediately drop a game to the 9th place team, OpTic, and lose to TSM in embarassing fashion. If the expected result continues to happen, is it still counter logic?
When huhi locked in Aurelion Sol, the dozens of ASol mains and all the CLG fans screamed in united elation. He has a nearly 70% winrate on the Star Forger and is the only professional player to ever draw target bans on the dragon. After a rocky start, finally a 3-man dive top gave huhi first blood! From there, CLG was able to take first tower and Rift Herald. It all looked good until 20 minutes, when OpTic won two fights in a row, leading to Baron and the shift in gold lead. From that point on, CLG couldn’t stop the OpTic onslaught and lost the game in 35 minutes.
Defeating TSM would’ve been a redeeming game, but CLG looked even worse against their longtime rivals than they did against OpTic. The game was actually incredibly even for the first 20 minutes; TSM barely edged out CLG for first tower, but CLG had an early Mountain Drake. Fast forward a short bit and the first teamfight of the game happened in mid, going 3 - 2 in favor of TSM. From here, huhi 1v1'd Hauntzer twice and bested him both times; for a moment, CLG looked to be winning the macro game, despite their gold deficit. The game-ending fight happened at Baron, after Reignover was picked off by Hauntzer, and CLG tried to interrupt TSM’s Baron. Unfortunately, TSM finished it off, and aced CLG; the game ended soon after. Going 0 - 2 this week was not only unexpected, but a morale-downer. After winning 3 games in a row, including a victory over Echo Fox, CLG have found themselves in the bottom half of the standings again. Team Liquid and 100 Thieves await them in Week 5 — hopefully they’ll bounce back.
7. Flyquest [FLY] (3 - 5)
FLY Fly made his entrance into the NA LCS this week, and he left quite the impression. In his first game, Fly racked up 100% KP on tank Galio and led the team to victory against 100 Thieves. Galio isn’t a particularly mechanically intensive champion, so it’s hard to make a comparison to Keane, but the teamplay presented by Flyquest as a whole was entirely different. The team moved decisively, outrotated aphromoo and 100 Thieves, and played around objectives incredibly well.
The same applies to their game against Cloud 9. Flyquest put C9 on the back foot for the entire first 30 minutes in the game. Had it not been for a storm-gathered, late-game Azir picking off AnDa and leading to a C9 Drake and tower, it’s possible Flyquest could’ve taken this game away from C9. WILDTURTLE still improves every week, and Fly’s entrance cannot be undervalued in this team’s synergy. If this level of play continues into and through the second half of the split, Flyquest could find themselves perched near the top of the leaderboards.
9. OpTic Gaming [OPT] (2 - 6)
If OpTic was nervous going into a game against a surging CLG, it didn’t show. Despite setbacks in the top-lane, PowerOfEvil and Arrow ransacked the bottom half of the map. Akaadian still hasn’t quite looked like his season 7 self, but his aggressiveness this game really showed, earning an 85% KP and landing powerful engages for his team. Zig was also able to bounce back from the early dives from CLG and frontline for his carries.
Zig must’ve have taken notes from Darshan the previous game, because he played Camille and exacted an underwhelming presence. OpTic broke the game open after a dive bot resulted in two kills and first tower blood, and rode that momentum into mid-game. Things looked good until a poorly-played fight led to 3 deaths and a CG Baron. After that, OpTic conceded the rest of the game, taking 0 kills and 0 objectives. It’s almost the halfway point of the split, so realistically, “schedule” cannot be the blamed factor for OpTic’s record. However, the potential shown by the team can’t be overlooked; if OpTic can learn to end games when they’re ahead, perhaps through more calculated play, they could turn things around and enter that 6th place position.
10. Golden Guardians [GGS] (1 - 7)
This was, by no small margin, Golden Guardians’ best week so far this split — and I’m not only talking about their win. GGS pushed Echo Fox to the edge, nearly stealing the game away. FOX still ended the game with a 10k gold lead, but when GGS traded three for one 30 minutes into the game, who wasn’t thinking in the back of their minds, “oh shit what if they win?” Lourlo, long underappreciated during his time as Liquid’s top-laner, took over the game for a while, taking 6 kills in a row after having an early 0/2 start. Although they lost this game, GGS have nothing to be ashamed of; after all…
THEY GET ON THE BOARD ON SUNDAY, TAKING DOWN 100 THIEVES! Let’s face it, although some 100 Thieves fans were likely banging their heads against the walls with the knowledge that they were the ones who lost to GGS, who wasn’t happy for Hai and the gang to get their first win of LCS? Let it be known that, at worst, they can only tie the worst LCS record of all time. Lourlo passed the Camille reigns off to Contractz, who showed his mechanical prowess by absolutely styling on the Thieves with numerous Hextech Ultimatum outplays. Possibly for the first time, Deftly/Matt came out on top after the laning phase, and the rest is history. Oh yeah, and Lourlo pulled out the first Illaoi pick of NA LCS ever; side note, Illaoi has only ever been picked 10 times in professional play, and 7 of these games were against Ornn (the remaining three were a Sion and two Camilles). GGS plays OpTic and Liquid next week, and honestly they’ll probably lose…but who cares? How can anyone be too negative after seeing this joy on the Golden Guardians’ faces?