NA LCS 2018 Spring Split Week 6: The Middledogs
As I write these articles, I start to learn more about how to actually be an analyst. For one, in the word count I like to maintain with these articles, I can’t be as in-depth as I’d like. For two, it’s easier to judge a team when you actually have time to fully watch every game. You can miss a lot by just looking at results and highlight reels. My power rankings last week were probably a bit, well... I admit I made a few mistakes. Not a day goes by that I don’t call myself a fraud. As once said by the famous George Lucas, “I may have gone too far in a few places.” You can never count out the underdogs. Though, since they are in the middle of the standings, they aren’t huge underdogs. So, like middledogs? Is that a thing? It is now.
As the last few weeks shake out, there seem to be three tiers: the top two, the bottom two (or three), and then everyone else in the middle. At the top, of course, you have Echo Fox and C9. At the bottom, you have the meme teams of Golden Guardians and OpTic Gaming, along with Counter Logic Gaming if you don’t have #faith. And then, in that juicy, delicious middle bit, you have all the crazy teams. Team Solomid seem to go back and forth between trash tier and kings. 100 Thieves have hit their stride again. And Clutch, Team Liquid, and even FlyQuest (sometimes) have had enough good showings to be legitimate threats. Momentum is huge in the LCS, though, so let’s take a look at a couple of teams who are riding high off impressive 2-0 weeks and see what they can translate going into the wild west of Patch 8.4, especially compared to their brothers in the middle of the pack.
Team SoloMalcolm in the Middle
First, though it gives me great pains, I will admit that I completely counted Team Solomid out for reasons that, well, weren’t really justified. Sure, they have terrible showings in their first few weeks, but they’ve shown strong performances before, and this past week they picked up their first 2-0. They took down OpTic, which was expected, but surprisingly managed to take down the top team of Echo Fox, and very cleanly too. It was shocking to see this TSM roster manage to easily beat the best team in the League, but I guess that was my fault for counting out their strengths. Then again, is their win against Echo Fox really indicative of any improvement? The last team I talked about beating Echo Fox was CLG, and, well, they aren’t looking so hot right now. Did TSM play really well, or did Echo Fox just play badly?
Take a look at the draft. This is where Echo Fox’s first mistake was made. Why Fiora mid? Why Zilean support with Kalista? And why Vladimir with the rest of the comp? It was just bizarre. TSM’s comp may have lacked a hyper tank like Sejuani, but Galio and Camille can get tanky enough. Plus, the Camille and Galio ultimate combo can be very deadly when Galio builds damage items, which he of course did. Huni may have performed well on the Vladimir, but the rest of the comp just didn’t make sense together. I’ve seen Fiora as a Galio counter pick in the past, but Fenix wasn’t able to make use of the pick other than to get a farm lead. Fenix overall just seemed to be underperforming hard, which may be the result of Echo Fox trying new things on stage. If this was best-of-threes, I’d understand a little bit. In best-of-one’s, however, TSM was able to abuse Echo Fox’s attempt at being cheeky and trying new things.
To their credit though, TSM’s roster also looked like they’ve improved as well. I think TSM is probably better than I ranked them and definitely have a high chance of making playoffs if they convert their work in these games into future weeks. Echo Fox, however, needs to work on their ability to win games against worse teams, then they’ll be as good as C9. Oh, wait.
100 Kings is better than Clown 9, mathematically
And now the other team I probably underrated, 100 Thieves. Despite my constant flame of my friend who put a bunch of stock into 100 Thieves early, even though they didn’t seem that great to me, I will admit it here: they are a pretty good team. Well, components of the team are good. I still think that 100 Thieves have a number of weaknesses, and they can’t keep getting away with murder. Or theft in their case. Like TSM, 100 Thieves had a 2-0 week and took down the other team at the top, Cloud 9. Plus, unlike TSM, there’s much less room to reason that the win wasn’t entirely deserved.
For the most part, both teams ran pretty standard drafts. I’m always iffy about Skarner personally, but that tactic has done very well since the buffs they gave him earlier in the split. Teams have performed well on it. C9 themselves have done well with Skarner, it being a popular ban against Svenskeren. The real surprise was Aphromoo pulling out the Thresh pick. Aphro is one of those supports who’s become famous for roaming, hooking supports like Thresh and Blitzcrank (and Bard, sort of). Aphromoo was key in victory; it seems like every skillshot he fired landed. He gifted Cody Sun a massive lead, similar to how I give my duo trash ADC free kills in lane, and then Cody Sun could just pop off. If you listen to the shotcalling within the game, Aphro is also guiding the ship, making the big calls. He’s always been considered one of the greats, and though he stagnated on CLG, he seems to be returning to form.
So, is 100 Thieves actually good now? Will they convert their momentum into future weeks? Looking at the remainder of their schedule, there’s a good chance. 100 Thieves seem like a very momentum based team. When they are on fire, they are like a mini-inferno, scorching everything in their path. When they get stopped and set back, it takes a bit for them to warm back up. If they can avoid losing to TSM next week, then I expect them to keep rolling into their match against Echo Fox in Week Nine. If they do get stopped, well, at least the week after they only have to play against the LCS meme teams.
Games to Watch
Echo Fox vs Golden Guardians on Saturday at 8:00 pm EST
Echo Fox may have lost their against TSM, but they followed it up by completely smashing Team Liquid’s NA LCS speedrun record with an impressive 22 minute game. Can Echo Fox beat their personal best against the worst team in the League? I sure hope so, especially since games on 8.4 seem to end much, much sooner than previous patches.
100 Thieves vs Team Solomid on Sunday at 5:00 pm EST
Hey hey, what a coincidence that the two teams I talked about here, both coming off 2-0 recovery weeks, are facing each other in week seven! I’m so good, it’s like I planned it. In reality, I’m excited to see how these two teams carry their momentum into week seven, and assuming now Saturday upsets for both teams, we get to watch someone’s winning streak end. At the very least, I can flame my friend who’s a fan of both teams regardless of the result.
Week six done and gone, and I finally get to watch every game live again. I missed it more than you’d expect. I’ve continued to play more games on the recent patch, and I’ve personally discovered that mage supports are quite good when played well and that any character that used Tear of the Goddess got straight buffed. While my first thoughts were Karthus and Veigar, that also includes Ryze and Cassiopeia, two incredibly strong, high skill-cap mages with lower win rates in solo queue but high win rates in pro play. Ryze in particular has almost hit a 50 percent win rate in solo queue, which means he’ll be god tier in pro play again. That’s just fantastic. Again, Zoe is gutter trash until they figure out how to fix her, and the Tracker’s Knife removal will alter the jungle landscape completely. Once again, early game junglers will find themselves in a better place, and players like Lira and Akaddian may start returning to form. We’ll have to find out, but those are just some thoughts from me. Until next week, I hope your recent games have been going better than mine, because I’m still on a massive loss streak. Someone help. Please.
Images: YouTube, DLBTAP
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