Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Summer Split - Week 1
Dread it. Run from it. Patch 8.11 LCS still arrives all the same...which means I'm back too. I'm going to take a different approach this split, and instead of talking about each weeks' matchups, I'll jot down my thoughts about each team, similar to Lolesports.com's "10 Thoughts Going Into Week X". With the recent changes to League of Legends, it's not just the champions that are swapping lanes, even the players themselves are swapping roles. Let's get to it.
1. Echo Fox [FOX] | 2 - 0
Huni, everybody's favorite top-lan—I mean bot-laner—played his first professional game as the bot-lane carry for Echo Fox. With Altec playing Dr. Mundo top, Huni's Yasuo helped lead Echo Fox to its first victory of the split over Flyquest. The next day, Huni role-swapped with Dardoch, playing Taliyah jungle while Dardoch proved his Rengar mastery in the top lane. The unfortunately-necessary Awarded Victory ending to this game may be the news that garnered the most press, but anyone who watched that game lay witness to the beating that FOX gave to Clutch Gaming. As people might've expected, Echo Fox seem entirely at home in this meta where anything goes. It'll be exciting to see if this team can adapt as easily to future metas in order to avoid the mid/late-split downspiral from Spring.
2. Team SoloMid [TSM] | 2 - 0
TSM and new junglers, name a more iconic duo. TSM pulled Grig from their academy team onto the LCS stage, where he'll be splitting time with MikeYeung. Although they shot out to a 5k gold deficit in their first game against Counter Logic Gaming, a well-played teamfight around Baron—thanks to Hauntzer's Aatrox—swung the game in their favor leading to a Baron secure and victory. TSM's game on Sunday was far easier, as they delivered Flyquest their second loss of the season. Refusing to conform to the meta, or simply thinking traditional lanes are just fine, TSM has pulled a 180 from its start to the Spring Split. With Bjergsen playing aggressive mid-laners and side-lanes pulling their own weight, TSM looks to erase last split's early playoff exit from everyone's memories and reestablish their title as the best in North America.
3. Counter Logic Gaming [CLG] | 1 - 1
CLG had its worst split ever in Spring, but the team looked to be meshing together much better in the last three weeks of the split before ultimately failing to qualify for playoffs. Confident and renewed, however, CLG already looks significantly more coordinated in the first two games of Summer. Despite losing to TSM on Day 1, CLG played the early game decisively and looked unstoppable with their gold lead before a botched teamfight. The potential revealed itself on Day 2 as they defeated last year's runner-up, 100 Thieves, in dominating fashion. This week, they play Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming, two of last split's semi-finalists. A 2 - 0 week this weekend would solidify CLG's place in the standings.
3. Cloud 9 [C9] | 1 - 1
Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie out; Goldenglue, Keith, and Zeyzal in. Due to apparent motivational issues, Jensen and Sneaky were benched by Cloud 9 for their Academy counterparts. In order to maintain synergy between bot-lane duos, Smoothie was also benched, and Zeyzal took his place. To the surprise of many, C9 was suddenly filled with, presumably, second-rate players, plus Svenskeren. To the surprise of absolutely no one, C9 lost their first game against Clutch Gaming, although the manner in which they lost wasn't as hopeless as expected. Goldenglue even managed a solo kill against Febiven, albeit as Zoe against Lulu, but you take what you can get. Thankfully, this Frankenstein C9 squad took down OpTic on Sunday, which means there's hope yet for C9 fans. How long this roster swap lasts for remains to be seen, but C9 Coach Reapered made it clear that Jensen and Sneaky must earn their spots back on the starting lineup.
3. Golden Guardians [GGS] | 1 - 1
Last split, the Golden Guardians didn't manage a single victory until Day 2 of Week 4. This time around, they've replaced Hai with Mickey, and they've started the split 1 - 1, including a victory over the defending champions (who they're now 2 - 1 against, on the year). Does this mean GGS' problems have been solved and now they're contenders for the trophy? Probably not. But, with Matt as primary shotcaller and the prevalence of engage supports like Ornn and Rakan, GGS may have the decisiveness they need to combat last split's issues of passive play. They've already surpassed everyone's expectations in the first week; now it's time to see if they can keep it up.
3. OpTic Gaming [OPT] | 1 - 1
Dhokla and Big are now the starters for OpTic, replacing zig and Lemonnation. The big 3, Akaadian, PowerOfEvil, and Arrow, still remain as the core of the team. Like many other teams, OpTic chose to play standard lanes in both games last weekend. Their victory came at the hands of PoE popping off, but their loss spoke volumes when looking at the numbers. In a loss where the total kill score was 6 - 5, OpTic lost by 14.6k gold. This means they were incredibly outmacro'd and simply lost the game without seeking comebacks. This week, they play FOX and FLY. They're almost certainly going to lose against FOX, but the FLY game is up for grabs. The biggest discrepancy here will be in the top-lane, where rookie Dhokla is matched up against veteran Flame. If Dhokla doesn't hold his own, don't be surprised if Flame takes over.
3. Team Liquid [TL] | 1 - 1
Okay wait, didn't Doublelift just finish talking down on NA players compared to international competition? TL's first game went exactly as expected. Doublelift played a marksman and the team steamrolled 100 Thieves in the split opener. For some reason, maybe expecting GGS to be the weakest team, TL decided to play meta and put Doublelift on Vladimir. As it turns out, he's not very good at Vlad. Deftly/Matt zoned Doublelift/Olleh out of lane completely, and an early dive left the TL bot-lane incredibly behind. In a 3 - 20 smashing, Team Liquid lost their second game of the year to the Golden Guardians. Given that it was only the first week and the matchup was against last split's 10th place team, I give TL the benefit of the doubt with their "in-meta" draft. That being said, it's clear that Doublelift and co. play traditional lanes pristinely; maybe stick with what you're good at?
3. Clutch Gaming [CG] | 1 - 1
Somehow, no matter how well Clutch does, people are always sleeping on Clutch. Sure, they only beat a weakened C9 and lost to Echo Fox in a rematch of last split's 3rd place matchup, but c'mon, don't they deserve a little more credit after last split's performance? Anyhow, with the new gold funneling strategy plaguing pro play and SoloQ alike, Clutch Gaming seems like a prime candidate due to their star mid-laner, Febiven. Instead, in their "in-meta" game against C9, they put Febiven on Lulu, where he was solo-killed by Goldenglue. In the end, however, CG still took the win. This week they play TSM and CLG. With both teams looking better than they did last split, CG will need to tighten up their play if they want to come out of this weekend with a positive record.
9. Flyquest [FLY] | 0 - 2
One of three teams to make an official roster change, FLY started this split against the same team from last split, Echo Fox on Day 1 and TSM on Day 2. This time, however, they lost both games. I don't know who FLY's primary shotcaller is, but the team looks lost most of the time. Against FOX, they played scrappy but failed to secure objectives across the map. Against TSM, they rolled over and died, losing in 25 minutes with a 20k gold deficit. The decision to swap out AnDa for Santorin coupled with FLY Fly's replacement, Keane, seems to have done nothing for this team. Maybe it's the meta, maybe it's a deeper issue. Either way, it's only the first week. We'll see if they've made any adjustments this week against 100 Thieves and OpTic Gaming.
9. 100 Thieves  | 0 -2
The runner-up to last year's NA LCS Finals now finds themselves at the bottom of the standings. With tough losses to both TL and CLG, Aphromoo and co. have taken a hit thanks to the meta swap. Cody Sun looks more uncomfortable than any other AD playing Vladimir, and that's including Doublelift. Meteos is unable to hit his 60-minute power spike, and Ryu continues to play as a shell of his former self on KT. No conclusion-jumping here though, the Thieves play a struggling Flyquest and a theoretically-weaker Cloud 9. A 2 - 0 week here will do wonders for their morale. If they repeat last week's record, however, they're in for a rough time.