Run It Down — 2018 NA LCS Spring Split Week 6
Week 6 is over, which means we're now 2/3 of the way through the first franchising split of the North American League Championship Series. As I said in my Week 1 review, I'll be experimenting with formats for this blog. So in order to shorten this wall of text I write every week, I'm going to try talking about the teams' matches more generally. In addition, since we're now 2/3 of the way through the split, I'll be putting an ESE (End of Split Expectation) next to every team as a prediction of their record at the end of Week 9.
As always, Google Doc below, let’s run it down.
Note: Standings order according to lolesports
1. Echo Fox [FOX] (10 - 2) -- ESE (15 - 3)
Echo Fox was handed their second loss of the split this week, and it was at the hands of TSM. That means the only two teams to have beaten them are also two of the teams with the longest tenure in LCS. Despite FOX's relatively debilitating loss on Day 1, they came back on Day 2 to absolutely wipe the floor with Team Liquid and set a new record for fastest game of the split, a record previously held by Liquid.
Frankly, both of Echo Fox's drafts were strange. Against TSM, FeniX looked like he had barely played Fiora before, and Zilean has little synergy with Kalista. Although they blew Liquid out of the water, FOX drafted Yasuo for Huni in the final rotation into Camille, a champion with easy lockdown and devoid of projectiles. It can realistically be assumed that Huni requested the pick, but I personally fail to see why.
We're winding down towards the end of the split, however, and Echo Fox have, in all likelihood, the easiest remaining schedule. If they continue to play the way they played against Team Liquid, expect them in the Spring Split Finals. If they lose focus, however, they may see an early exit in playoffs.
2. Cloud 9 [C9] (9 - 3) -- ESE (14 - 4)
Just like Echo Fox, Cloud 9 had a bit of a back and forth week. They were obliterated by 100 Thieves on Day 1, internalized that defeat, and channeled that energy to beat down Clutch Gaming on Day 2. In a rare instance, C9's botlane was completely outclassed and aphroSun was allowed to roam across the map and steamroll the game.
In a battle between former Challenger Series top-laners, C9 Licorice faced off against CG Solo for the second time this split— it wasn't close. Thanks to multiple Solo kills, C9 rode Licorice's early-game Kled play to victory and put a stop to Clutch Gaming's 5-game win streak. It's good to see Cloud 9 has it in them to play cleanly, but it's a worrying trend when they drop games to teams they shouldn't be losing to, like 100 Thieves. As Jensen said, C9 often have a great regular season, but they've yet to convert that to a Split Championship since he's been on the team. If they hope to change that, they'll need to be more consistent.
3. Clutch Gaming [CG] (7 - 5) -- ESE (10 - 8)
Considering how far ahead they were, and considering they were playing against CLG, CG had a tough time closing out their first game of the week. With consistent poke in Ezreal and the late-game powerhouse that is Azir, Clutch should've been able to end the game earlier than 48 minutes— especially considering they secured 2 Barons, and CLG's only waveclear was Vel'Koz. Coupled with their loss to Cloud 9, this was CG's weakest performance since Week 3.
Given the benefit of the doubt, it could just be a minor setback, a temporary flaw in form. Maybe LirA just wanted to play Lee Sin competitively for the last time with the upcoming removal of Tracker's Knife in patch 8.4 and it wasn't an indication of poor drafting. Either way, Clutch still has Echo Fox, Team Liquid, and 100 Thieves on their plate before the end of the split. Right now, they're tied for 3rd with two of those teams, with TSM hovering just below in the standings. If they get too comfortable, they could find themselves sitting at 6th place, and that's a precarious position for any team eyeing playoffs.
3. 100 Thieves  (7 - 5) -- ESE (11 - 7)
Looks like all it took for 100 Thieves to find some success was putting aphromoo on playmaking supports, go figure. With a hearken back to his famous support Leona video, aphromoo proved that support is so easy. 100% KP on Thresh led 100 Thieves to a convicing win over Cloud 9. After Thresh was banned against Flyquest, Blitzcrank was the natural second option against a team with no frontline.
Although aphromoo was, without a doubt, stagnating on CLG, his performance recently on 100 Thieves is reminiscent of the era in which he was a top 2 support in the league. 100 Thieves will certainly be looking to ride his leadership and this momentum through the remainder of the split. Combined with Cody Sun's play this week, the 100 Thieves botlane is a force to be reckoned with.
3. Team Liquid [TL] (7 - 5) -- ESE (10 - 8)
I expected greater things from this lineup. Team Liquid is only 1 game from being .500 2/3 of the way through the split, and the state of their play varies on a weekly basis; sometimes they're solid, and other times they're evaporating off the map. As LS put it, Liquid is basically the KT Rolster of North America. The all-star lineup should be dishing out defeats left and right, but their macro is unbelievably inconsistent, and it points to an in-game shotcalling issue.
As with every team at this point in the season, the realism of playoffs should be the primary focus. Liquid does not have an easy schedule for their last three weeks. Fortunately for them, their main competitors are all within one game of each other, but it means the likelihood of dropping to 6th place isn't all that low. Liquid absolutely needs to fix their in-game leadership in order to see the results expected of them.
6. Team SoloMid [TSM] (6 - 6) -- ESE (11 - 7)
This is the TSM everyone expected coming into the split. Powerful performances from all members brought TSM its second 2 - 0 week, including a win over Echo Fox. MikeYeung's carry jungler prowess showed itself with his Kha'Zix play in both games, and although Zven/Mithy didn't rake in the most fantasy points, the duo was dominant in their laning and demonstrated despotism in the bot-lane.
Everyone was hoping TSM's first 2 - 0 week to be the spark that ignited the flames of their resurgence to the top of the standings, but it wasn't the case. With three weeks of regular play remaining, maybe this will be the start of the run. They'll have to be wary of Liquid and C9 in Week 8, however, and they face CLG in their last match of the split. It could even be argued that, since CLG sits at the bottom of the standings, TSM could be facing a more powerful CLG than before.
7. OpTic Gaming [OPT] (4 - 8) -- ESE (5 - 13)
OpTic subbed out zig this weekend for Dhokla, OpTic Academy's top-laner. For a rookie's first game of LCS, there could be no better team than Golden Guardians. OpTic closed that game out in fairly convincing fashion, but they were just as easily taken care of by TSM the next day— to almost the same scoreline.
This late into the season, a substitution can only be bad news; it could indicate OpTic has given up on playoff hopes and intends to give their Academy lineup some professional experience. If that proves to be the case, zig is a clear frontrunner for benching. (It could be argued that LemonNation needs to be looked at first, but I digress.) The team still has six games left to play, and they're against the current top 5 teams plus CLG. Without a doubt, OpTic has the toughest remaining schedule, and they'll be going into every matchup as a heavy underdog (including against CLG, who now has a rather wildcard standing). At this point, if they can end the season with any more than 5 wins, they should be proud.
7. Flyquest [FLY] (4 - 8) -- ESE (6 - 12)
I placed Flyquest at 6th place in my mid-season Power Rankings article last week, but I fear I may have believed in this team a little too much. It feels like the team has taken a step in the wrong direction, and part of that has to be attributed to the draft. Their draft against 100 Thieves was abysmal; no frontline, a weak engage, and all poke. This kind of composition needs perfect execution, and Flyquest is full of players unable to do that. The first draft against Team Liquid was better, but AnDa's inexperience is painfully evident; without solid control over the middle of the map, your macro will inevitably fall apart.
Despite all this, I do still believe in the team. When the team pops off, they do so in spectacular fashion. Flame, Fly, and WILDTURTLE will need to be pillars for the team in order to lead the newer players.
9. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] (3 - 9) -- ESE (4 - 12)
I think this week's performance is simply because CLG is punishing me for my FantasyLCS decision to start Darshan, Reignover, and huhi, but not Stixxay. That's what I'll be telling myself for the remainder of the split, at least, as CLG finds themselves tied for the worst record in the league. After a glorious Week 3, where they defeated Echo Fox, CLG is 0 - 6. As much as I hate to say it, FreeLG is back on the menu.
Everyone knew they'd have in-game shotcalling issues with the loss of aphromoo, but nobody expected CLG to plummet to the bottom of the league in one split. Despite some glaring individual mistakes, each player should still have it in them to compete at the highest level; the problems plaguing this team are internal, and they need to be sorted out. The experience this organization has, and the management behind it, should result in a successful team. Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case. Barring a sudden and ridiculously successful (and lucky) turn of events, CLG will not be participating in playoffs for the first time since the establishment of LCS into professional League of Legends.
9. Golden Guardians [GGS] (3 - 9) -- ESE (3 - 15)
They're still bottom-of-the-barrel, but at least they have company. Golden Guardians have already met my expectations by winning three games this split, and it's only the end of Week 6. That being said, I don't expect them to win any more. Frankly, as soon as CLG beat Echo Fox in Week 3, I knew Golden Guardians would take down CLG the next time they played; that was this week, thanks in part to a Baron steal from a Tahm Kench auto.
Not that much has changed, but this team has nothing to lose. In a league of best-of-1 play, with all playoff hopes dashed, have a little fun. Cheese a little. Experiment with unique compositions, give your Academy players some stage experience, and surprise the competition. At this point in the split, nobody expects anything great, so at least make it interesting.