Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Split - Week 8
There's only one more week until the end of the split, and here's how things have shaped up. Echo Fox, Cloud 9, Clutch Gaming, and 100 Thieves have secured their playoff spots. The remaining spots are up for grabs between the three longest-standing LCS teams: TSM, CLG, and TL. With only two games left— and CLG making a late-split surge— the playoff race is obviously very tight. With a very specific set of circumstances, Week 9 could even end with a 6-way tie for 1st place.
Note: standings order according to lolesports
1. Echo Fox [FOX] (11 - 5)
Echo Fox had their first 0 - 2 week all split, with losses to Clutch Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming. Maybe it's just a result of the meta, maybe it's a temporary downturn, but having your worst showings at the end of the split is not how you want to go into playoffs. Huni looked defeated in more ways than one after the CLG loss, and Altec/Adrian continue to look like FOX's weak link. They've been targeted multiple times in the last few weeks and the pressure shows in FOX's overall results. FOX is guaranteed playoffs, but they haven't guaranteed a playoff bye just yet. Perhaps next week's games on patch 8.5 will introduce renewed performance in time to gain momentum going into the organization's first playoff run in its history.
1. Cloud 9 [C9] (11 - 5)
Just like their standing-topping counterparts, Cloud 9 have had a rough few weeks. After losing one game in the first four weeks of play, they now find themselves at 0.500 in the last four weeks. In all likelihood, this is a temporary slump. Sneaky/Smoothie are still the best looking botlane in the league, and Jensen is Jensen. Svenskeren is a veteran jungler, and his time to shine in playoffs will come. The only question mark is whether or not Licorice will continue to play his part, or whether he'll crumble under playoff pressure.
3. Clutch Gaming [CG] (10 - 6)
At this point— and actually more like a couple of weeks ago— Clutch is not an underrated team. If the general consensus is that you're underrated, you're probably not. Although Febiven is definitely still the shining star for the team, they've proved time and time again that they're not a one-man show. Even a 1st place result isn't entirely out of the picture yet. If they go 2 - 0, and both C9 and FOX go 0 - 2 (however unlikely it is), Clutch could find themselves with a playoff bye in their first LCS split.
3. 100 Thieves  (10 - 6)
On the back of aphromoo's leadership, 100 Thieves have found themselves with a clutched playoff berth. A playoff bye is also not impossible for them if they go 0 - 2 next week against Clutch Gaming and Echo Fox. Their performance this week, with new picks like Darius, brings a unique (and perhaps annoying) playstyle to the NA LCS. If they're able to win out the rest of the split, it would be the ideal way to head into playoffs. Since all of the players are veterans, you can expect them to perform well in series play.
5. Team SoloMid [TSM] (9 - 7)
With impressive wins over TL and C9, TSM have put themselves in prime position to make playoffs. They look much cleaner than the earlier weeks and their surge comes right before the end of the split. The only thing they need to do next week to guarantee playoffs is to defeat Golden Guardians. If they win on Saturday, their game against CLG on Sunday is purely for pride. If, however, they lose to GGS, their final match of the split will decide whether or not they make playoffs— assuming CLG win against OpTic on Saturday.
5. Team Liquid [TL] (9 - 7)
Team Liquid managed to beat Clutch Gaming to avoid going 0 - 2. It also prevents them from being 0.500 entering the last week of the split. Just like TSM, however, they are not locked in to playoffs yet. Frankly, they're likely to lose to C9 next Saturday, which leaves their game against OpTic on Sunday all the more important. If TL lose both games next week— and CLG win both games— they will be tied at 9 - 9 overall and 1 - 1 head-to-head, thus necessitating a tiebreaker game for playoffs.
7. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] (7 - 9)
CLG is making a run for the record books. While not as eye-popping as C9's 2015 gauntlet run, they're tearing a warpath through the last three weeks of the split in an attempt to make playoffs. Clearly, their decision to designate Biofrost as the primary shotcaller as lead to massive improvements, but it may be too little too late. Since both TSM and TL won their games on Sunday, CLG's destiny is no longer entirely in their own hands. In addition to going 2-0 next week, including a win over TSM, they'll need TSM to lose to GGS or Liquid to go 0-2. In all likelihood, CLG is out of playoffs, but as HotshotGG once said, if you don't have faith, why are you even here?
8. Flyquest [FLY] (5 - 11)
I wonder why Riot allowed Flyquest to play a 4v5 against CLG on Saturday...oh, no wait, that's a full team. FLY Fly played the most unimpactful Ryze I've ever seen in professional play. Had his performance been even remotely better, Flyquest might've been able to close out the 50-minute clownfiesta on their fifth attempt. At least they beat GGS on Sunday? FLY has built a roster around WILDTURTLE, and although there were initial hopes that Fly would make things better, the opposite has proven true. Better luck next split.
9. OpTic Gaming [OPT] (4 - 12)
As I mentioned before, PowerOfEvil certainly got his wish; he's not on a 5th or 6th place team. To be fair, on paper this team doesn't look like a bottom-of-the-standings team. Akaadian was Rookie of the Split in his breakout year, and PowerOfEvil and Arrow are strong mechanical players. Zig and Lemonnation are two of the worst players in their respective positions, but maybe with some good practice, mid priority, and Arrow carrying late, this team could do great things. Or, at least, greater than tied for 9th.
9. Golden Guardians [GGS] (4 - 12)
Hai and Friends started 0 - 7, and they've since gone 4 - 5. With one week left, that's more wins than anyone would've expected them to get. At their most basic, yes, Golden Guardians are a bad team; still LCS-caliber, but mostly bad. At their height, however, they've shown macro play that would rival even that of CLG's. I'm looking forward to seeing how they improve come Summer Split. As a CLG fan, however, I really need them to beat TSM next week so that CLG will have a chance at playoffs.