Halfway through the season, no one stands out in the NA LCS

For the second week in a row, every team in the North American region of the League Championship Series won one game and lost another

Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube

For the second week in a row, every team in the North American region of the League Championship Series won one game and lost another. That’s the kind of parity that’s ruled the league this season, where no clear contender is leading the pack.

At the halfway point of the Summer Split there’s five teams within one game of first place, and three other teams one game away from the bottom. That makes it hard to read much into the results so far.

Counter Logic Gaming star Peter “DoubleLift” Peng put it best in his post-game interview after their win over Dignitas.

“I think right now, out of all times, is the worst time to be looking at standings and trying to use that to see which team is better than another team,” he said. “Because people will look at the standings and be like, oh well Complexity or EG are at the bottom of the standings, and that means that they are worse than Curse or whoever is at the middle of the standings.”

“Right now, especially, because of the new patch, and because everyone stepping up super hard, I think Complexity and Curse and EG and just every team, are about the same… Standings right now honestly mean nothing.”

But despite Peng’s qualms, it’s always fun to take a look.

1) Counter Logic Gaming (9-5), 3.94 KDA, 1685 GPM

Counter Logic Gaming has put together an odd season. After emerging as a contender to close out last split, they had trouble integrating new top laner Shin “Seraph” Wooyeong. Most of their games are close matches, win or lose, with Counter Logic Gaming choosing to outmaneuver teams for victories instead of beating them down head to head.

But that style often means their fate lies on a razor’s edge, with one mistake capable of dooming them. Cloud9, for example, looks smart enough to read Counter Logic’s late game rotations, and that’s lead to two losses for the league leaders. Even in one game where Counter Logic Gaming had a huge lead.

This week though Counter Logic Gaming showed a new style, playing Yasuo and Braum for the first time and using them to pound Dignitas into a bloody pulp. That’s the kind of killer instinct a team with players like Peter “DoubleLift” Peng needs, and if Counter Logic Gaming adds that to their repertoire for the second half of the season, watch out.

2) Dignitas (9-5), 4.21 KDA, 1681 GPM

The additions of Danny “Shiphtur” Le and Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaya have paid off in for Dignitas. Mid laner Le has a legitimate claim as the best at his position in the region, with an astronomic league-leading 12.7 KDA. Upadhyaya has dispelled the criticism that he’s just a split pusher, showing the ability to be extremely effective in that role but adopt others as the team sees fit.

Dignitas is one of the few teams who really has looked like they might be better than everyone else this season. Most of the games they win they just crush teams, starving them off the map with impeccable precision. But the old habits of Dignitas still seem to rear their ugly head, at times. They may not be throwing games at Baron anymore, but in their losing efforts it often looks like they have clue how to play League of Legends.

That makes it look like they benefit from solid preparation in some games, but when a plan falls through they lack the leadership and adaptability to make the proper adjustments. That could be a case of simply learning how their new lineup fits together; we’ve seen that teams such as Alliance take a full split before really coming into their own. If that’s the case, that’s scary for the rest of the league: Dignitas is already one of the top teams in the league. Can they reach even higher?

3) LMQ (9-5), 3.62 KDA, 1672 GPM

The Chinese invaders have become a welcome addition to the LCS, their high octane style leading to exciting, action packed matches. After bursting onto the scene like dynamite, LMQ cooled off a bit and showed that, despite their insane mechanical skill and unpredictable aggression, they do have weaknesses.

After the first few weeks, LMQ seemed like a talented team that may be a one-trick pony. But they’ve also shown the ability to adapt, not just bringing their Chinese play style to America but also adapting it and improving it with their LCS experience. This week, for example, they won a long game against Team SoloMid, playing a late game composition that oustscaled a SoloMid team who jumped out to an early advantage.

That makes LMQ an extremely dangerous team. They’ve got talent and they’re learning how to use it.

Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian may have slumped a bit recently, but he’s still the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award this split. Xian leads all mid laners with a 408 GPM, the only mid to crack the top five in the league. His 5.7 KDA ranks fifth in the league, and only one player has farmed more gold this split.

4) Cloud9 (8-6), 3.51 KDA, 1670 GPM

Cloud9 was supposed to be America’s best team even with the level of competition increasing. They had only lost seven games total over the past two seasons of the LCS.

This season, they’re only one game away from equalling that combined mark. And we’re only halfway through.

The Cloud9 style, of simply controlling the map better in the mid and late game, seems somehow absent in many of their matches. The team seems desperate to find a new identity. Mid laner Hai Lam, for example, never played siege champions Nidalee or Ziggs the entire Spring Split despite their status as two of the most contested mids. But this split, Cloud9 has experimented with them as they try and find a formula that works.

Cloud9 has been incredibly frustrating since so many of their losses have come against low-level competition. They’re a combined 1-3 against Complexity and Evil Geniuses, and considering how close the standings a 3-1 or even a 2-2 mark in those matches would have them looking much better.

The defending champion’s won’t be able to keep their title unless they find a modicum of consistency, one of the hallmarks of their long run of success as the region’s unbeatable titans. But so far this season, that somehow seems out of reach.

5) Team SoloMid (8-6), 4.89 KDA, 1650 GPM

The star-studded Team SoloMid made two controversial roster moves entering the season, hoping the changes would boost them over rival Cloud9. While they’ve managed to keep pace with their rival of the past two seasons, it wasn’t in the way they expected: both teams are trapped in the middle of the standings.

Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, last split’s MVP, struggled early, stuck on champions where he couldn’t show his ruthless ability to find solo kills. Jason “WildTurtle” Tran looked absolutely lost early on, missing the leadership of former duo lane partner Alex “Xpecial” Chu. The team looked disorganized, and so they brought in a coach.

Since Yoonsup “Locodoco” Choi took over as coach of Team SoloMid before week four, though, they’ve seemed energized, playing better as a team and exiting champion select with solid lineups that have clear paths to victory. With Choi at the helm, SoloMid’s put up a solid 4-2 record.

The question is if Team SoloMid can consistently challenge the teams ahead of them. Their record against the bottom three teams this season is 6-0, but that means they’ve only managed a 2-6 tally against the teams they are trying to catch.

Those two wins did come after their new coach took over. Team SoloMid just might be a new team in the second half, one that gets the best out of their star-studded lineup.

6) Curse Gaming (5-9), 3.35 KDA, 1551 GPM

The perpetual fourth place finishers, the Curse Gaming curse may be coming to an end this season, and not in the way the team wanted.

Outside of Cloud9, Curse Gaming was the only returning LCS team that did not retool their roster. They added support Alex “Xpecial” Chu, a talented player who fell into their laps after a falling out with Team SoloMid. Overall the roster remained much the same. And while player like mid laner Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani has turned in an improved performance over last split, that just hasn’t been enough to keep up with the rate of improvement in the other teams this season.

Team SoloMid and Cloud9 were already a cut above Curse Gaming last split, and Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming have greatly improved, leaving Curse in the dust.

Entering the season, hopes were high for the team after a great record in practice. But that just didn’t translate to the LCS. That said, they’ve taken matches off of LMQ, Counter Logic Gaming, and Dignitas. Dropping games to Evil Geniuses and Complexity make it tough for them to get out of the cellar, but the potential is there for their second half to be a good one.

7) Evil Geniuses (4-10), 3.67 KDA, 1561 GPM

Entering this season, Evil Geniuses seemed like a lock for relegation. After surviving the promotion matches, it looked like they would do nothing to improve an aging roster, despite publicly stating they would hold tryouts in the offseason.

But since then they’ve made two important pickups—up and coming marksman Johnny “Altec” Ru and Korean professional jungler Shin “Helios” Dong-Jin, upgrading the roster while adding both mechanical talent and youth.

While the team certainly looks better with their new players, this just hasn’t reflected in the standings. The team is 4-9 with Ru in the lineup, and 2-4 with Shin. But they have shown improvements, like in their match against Complexity last week, where they absolutely dominated one of their direct competitors in the race out of relegation.

The Evil Geniuses roster is a great mix of up-and-coming talent and wily veterans. Every week seems like the one where they’ll finally break through and dig themselves out of the bottom of the table, but every week we’re waiting for just a little bit more. Evil Geniuses certainly has the ability to find that next gear, but with only half the split remaining they better do it fast.

8) Complexity (4-10), 1.72 KDA, 1545 GPM

The newest team in the league is at least keeping up with the other bottom tier squads in their inaugural season. They also have a claim to fame: they are the only team that’s ever beaten Cloud9 twice in a season. Granted, this split’s version of America’s indomitable team just isn’t the same, but it’s still an impressive accomplishment.

Complexity plays a high risk style, picking fights across the map and challenging enemy teams to fight. It’s certainly entertaining and it keeps enemy teams on their toes.

top teams excel at abusing their opponent by studying them, but how do u study against a team that doesnt know what they are doing. #lcs

— coL_ROBERTxLEE (@ROBERTxLEE) June 28, 2014

While Complexity may be headed to relegation, they are showing that that result isn’t a slam dunk. But the best thing about the team is that, no matter the result, they are enjoying their time in the LCS, and not taking it for granted. And that’s great to see.

With Super Week coming up, you have to think we’ll see some changes in the standings. The whole league can’t go 2-2, right?