Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Split - Week 7
The split is almost over, and teams are looking at playoffs. With the advent of patch 8.4, Tracker’s Knife was removed from the game, reducing early-game vision and advocating more aggressive early plays. I’ve noticed that, although I say I want to keep these shorter, I’ve so far been unsuccessful. This week, I’m staying away from in-game stats almost entirely in order to make these articles more easily digestable.
Google Doc below, let’s run it down.
1. Echo Fox [FOX] (11 - 3)
Earlier in the day, tied-for-last-place CLG defeated second-place C9 in a close, but massive, upset. Reddit exploded, everyone was mindblown, and like a bad infomercial, Echo Fox said, “But wait, there’s more!” In their first game of the weekend, first-place FOX lost to tied-for-last-place Golden Guardians. I know we’re nearing the end of the split, but come on now — an elite team should never lose to the bottom team. It speaks to an issue of mindset, and FOX ought to be careful not to FOX up the remainder of the split. Fortunately, they defeated OpTic on Sunday rather handily, so it’s not Breaking Point all over again. That being said, Altec and Adrian looked terrible, frankly. In both games, they were a clear weak link, and if teams capitalize on their complacency, FOX will have a tougher time closing out this split than they may have hoped.
2. Cloud 9 [C9] (10 - 4)
As is tradition, C9 vs. CLG proved to be a worthy weekend watch. Despite acquiring a 10.2k gold lead, C9 was unable to close out the game after a poor Baron fight 38 minutes in. Thankfully, C9 won against GGS on Sunday, so they avoided going 0 - 2 against both of the last-place teams. Although it’s unlikely C9 will finish the regular season in 1st place due to their 0 - 2 head-to-head against Echo Fox anyways, losses to bottom teams are never a good sign. The loss was against CLG, a team with a proclivity to upset top teams, but C9 should, obviously, avoid such upsets for the remaining 2 weeks.
3. Clutch Gaming [CG] (9 - 5)
In the last four weeks of play, Clutch are 7 - 1, just like how FOX and C9 started their first four weeks of the split. At this point, calling Clutch’s victories mere flukes is just rude to the players and staff. Clutch haven’t quite secured a playoff berth, but they may as well have. Barring an utter collapse in weeks 8 and 9, and a mighty surge from CLG, Clutch looks to enter playoffs in the first split playing in the LCS. Plus CG fans have nothing to fear if their opponents continue to let Febiven play Azir like they did this week.
4. 100 Thieves  (8 - 6)
So they got manhandled day 1, it happens. 100 Thieves is vying to stay in playoff contention, and their matchups this weekend were against Team Liquid and TSM. They didn’t walk away unscathed, but they did get walloped by TL. After taking down TSM, however, 100 shouldn’t be feeling too bad about how the weekend went. What this team needs to do, is not worry about the future, and stay focused on the present. They’ve been either really good or really bad, and inconsistency is the first step towards doubt. If they can close out their remaining four games 2 - 2, they should make playoffs.
4. Team Liquid [TL] (8 - 6)
Team Liquid took Katy Perry’s song a little too literally I think. The NA super team convincingly smashed 100 Thieves on Saturday and then got equally smashed by CLG on Sunday. I don’t know what’s going on with this team, but as we inch ever closer to playoffs — and I’ve said this for who knows how long — Liquid needs to get it together. This kind of wishy-washy play will get you nowhere in a best-of-5 situation. As a veteran-filled roster, Liquid has to be mentally strong going into the last two weeks of the split. Fortunately, it’s almost time for Impact to receive his playoff-season buff, and in a tank top meta, expect World Champion Impact to re-establish his top-lane dominance.
6. Team SoloMid [TSM] (7 - 7)
Summer 2015: TSM ends the regular season at 5th place and makes it to the Split Finals, losing 0:3 to Counter Logic Gaming. Spring 2016: TSM ends the regular season at 6th place and makes it to the Split Finals, losing 2:3 to Counter Logic Gaming. The latter instance is the closest the team has ever come to ending a regular season split at below .500 (9 - 9), and its remaining four games this split are against TL, C9, GGS, and CLG. With the way GGS and CLG are playing lately, not one of those four games is an easy win. TSM have never failed to make an appearance at a Split Finals, but if ever there were a time, it would be this one. With TSM’s longtime rivals nipping at their heels, the week 9 game between these two LCS powerhouses could end up deciding who misses playoffs for the first time in their LCS career.
7. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] (5 - 9)
2015 MSI CLG is back and they’re the best team in NA. That’s a bit of an overstatement, probably, but let’s talk about CLG’s performance this weekend. They played against C9 and Team Liquid, two of the top teams in the league, and they walked away from both games victorious. They proved they’re able to make epic comebacks in the case of C9 (down by 10.2k at one point), and stomp from minute 1 in the case of TL. In truly Counter Logic fashion, they are the only team to have beaten Echo Fox, Cloud 9, and Team Liquid. Playoff hopes are slim, but with this kind of momentum, they aren’t totally dashed just yet. With Biofrost as the designated shotcaller, maybe CLG have found the secret formula to finally unlock their potential.
8. OpTic Gaming [OPT] (4 - 10)
OpTic, along with the two other teams they’re tied with, have yet to end a weekend 2 - 0. They’ve come close before (week 2 vs. FLY & TSM), but the undefeated weekend has ever eluded them. Unfortunately, this week was no different. With the new patch opening up room for more aggressive junglers, I would’ve thought Akaadian would be back to his first-blood tendencies. In the game against Echo Fox, he did, but that was probably the most useful thing he did all game. OpTic is an example of a roster that looks mid-tier at best, and only if they execute their game plan perfectly all the time. This kind of play isn’t going to get them into playoffs this split; they should take some time to develop their in-game synergy and communication.
8. Flyquest [FLY] (4 - 10)
The introduction of FLY Fly to the mid-lane hasn’t done as much for this team as I, nor they, had hoped. They have consistently decent early-game, but as soon as laning is over and macro becomes more prevalent, they don’t know what to do. This is likely to be a result of too many shotcallers, but it’s uncertain. If it is, they might want to try following in CLG’s footsteps: delegating one person as the final shotcaller and trusting in that person’s calls. What can be said, however, is that at least they’re sticking with one roster. The AnDa/Shrimp and Stunt/JayJ hotswapping wasn’t good for anyone.
8. Golden Guardians [GGS] (4 - 10)
GGS, along with CLG, had one of the toughest weeks, playing Echo Fox and Cloud 9. Their victory over FOX and — somewhat — close game against C9 really speak to the team’s improvement since their 0 - 7 start. They’ve done so well, they’re now tied at 8th place with two more weeks of play. With OpTic likely to lose their remaining four games, all GGS has to do is win at least one to stay out of last place. To think that this team could end up anywhere but last place is incredible, and if you told me three weeks ago GGS would be taking games off Echo Fox and Team Liquid, I would’ve laughed you out of the room.