NA LCS Final Standings Predictions - an in depth analysis of all the teams
We are now approaching the final week of the NA LCS. For some teams this week is just business as usual, they know where they are and the best they can go, but for other teams this is the final chance to move up in playoff seeding, to get a better relegation seeding, or just stay content and end the season now with a safe 7th place finish. In this article I am going to break down each team in the NA LCS, the possible scenarios for them and predict where they will end up in the standings. Hopefully the prophet Crumbz will bless me with his farseeking abilities and I will be able to determine exactly which direction NA is getting before the playoffs.
Immortals - Pre Week 9 (15-1)
Immortals emerged on the split in dominant fashion and went on an insane 12 game winning streak that was cut short in the 7th week of NALCS play by CLG. Since their first loss Immortals have managed to rebound winning the rest of week 7 and all of week 8. With that said their play definitely shows weaknesses. We saw Immortals fall extremely behind to team Dignitas. Thankfully it was just Dignitas which is a team that has shown almost no understanding of what to do with a gold lead in the late game, and Immortals were able to come back. So here they stand 15-1 leading into the final week. At this point it's safe to say Immortals are guaranteed the first position and top seed into the playoffs. Even if they go 0-2 they end the split with a 15-3 record, the teams below them have 5 losses each, it is impossible for any team to surpass them in standings so Immortals are both guaranteed the #1 spot at the end of the split and a top four finish into playoffs. Now here is where things get interesting.
Final Prediction: 1st place
Cloud 9 - Pre Week 9 (11-5)
Cloud 9 had a lot to prove coming into this split. After their worst split in the history of the org Cloud 9 barely clinched a 7th place finish and from there were able to use their championship points to make a miracle run through the regional qualifier. At worlds we saw the strengths of the team in both Jensen and Sneaky shine, we saw their mastery of the fast push strategy, and they managed to go undefeated their first week upsetting teams like Fnatic, AHQ, and IG. Unfortunately all fairy tales must have an end and for Cloud 9 it wasn't a happy end. Needing just one win to leave groups the team proceeded to lose 3 games in a row and a tiebreaker resulting in their elimination from the world stage.
But now C9 are back and they have a shiny new jungler to play with. Ask anyone who watched Team Impulse games in the 2015 Summer and they will agree with you that Rush is an absolute monster, the best Lee Sin player in NA, monstrous Nidalee player as well, the level of mechanical ability and understanding of the early game this man has could be said to be world class. In Korea he was sitting at #1 on the ladder at the top with players like Faker and Apdo. Jensen is a player that has finally developed into the carry we expected him to become. Jensen's play is very interesting because he demonstrates a level of versatility that few mid laners in NA display. He doesn't just play one style in the mid lane, he is adaptive, he might play an incredibly aggressive style because he understands his match up strengths, or maybe he'll tone it down knowing his team needs pressure elsewhere and he cannot afford to fall behind on his champion. He and Sneaky are moving towards perfecting this strategy of calculated aggression, and with Rush in the shadows to enhance that aggression, it’s a deadly combo. However I have to get to the issues C9 has as a team. First of all its Hai as a support, it's very difficult making a role swap and Hai is entering the 2nd in less than a year. Hai has demonstrated that he is proficient on just two champions, this is something that has yet to massively exploited in NA but definitely can be exploited in international competition since right now support pools get very low priority in bans (see Adrian getting away with the same picks in 90% of his games). The other issue is Balls. Now don't get me wrong, I love Balls, he was a great player, and even right now I wouldn't classify him as a bad top laner. He's just incredibly average for NA which works in NA but will never work on an international stage unless the meta dramatically shifts towards a tank top meta where Balls can just get away with afk farming on safe tanks and not worry about anything but planning his TPs. The final issue for C9 is Hai's shot calling. Brilliant as it is it is not without its weaknesses. Often times we see C9 over reach for an early baron play only to barely escape with the buff on one or two players, or just get aced completely and lose everything they hoped to gain from the play.
With all these comments said C9 are still a very good team in NA and definitely a step above a lot of the middle and lower tier teams. In week 9 they play Echo Fox and Liquid. I think that the aggression of C9 will overcome the slow approach Echo Fox has been opting towards. I want to see C9 pick an early siege comp, something similar to Corki/Varus mid, Jhin bot, and disengage all around with a Gragas, Trundle/Naut, and Morgana, Alistar, or Janna. Morgana / Jhin is right now one of the most dangerous bot lanes in the game and in the hands of Hai and Sneaky could very easily destroy a lane. C9 should win just because Rush will out jungle and out pressure Hard. The rest of lanes look relatively even for the most part with the hope for Jensen being he can out pressure Froggen who is basically a rock in the mid lane that no one can force out.
The other matchup C9 has is vs Liquid. Now this is one that is much harder to predict. Dardoch has proven that he is a top tier jungler in NA, he can compete on the same level as Rush on a champion like Lee Sin, plus he is now shot calling and dictating map movements and when a jungler does that you know he is right in the middle of everything. Outside of that Piglet has also been having a phenomenal season, this guy is playing his heart out, there's no other way to put it. I'm pretty sure if you took all the mistakes Piglet made this season and added them up you could count them on one hand. He's constantly doing damage and he knows his limits, just look at how he played the early game vs TSM in their stomp, Piglet punished and ruined the lane for Doublelift just based on greed for one single CS. From there Piglet proceeded to dive and kill Yellowstar and then with the assistance of Dardoch just sit there and auto attack Doublelift to death. Fenix has been slowly having a good season. He plays very well in lane going toe to toe with top mid laners and even coming out ahead, he is doing his damage fine; he is doing his role well. The problem with Fenix is he almost never makes those "wow" plays he just sort of does his thing and they win the game. However as we saw in the recent NRG vs TL matchup Fenix can lose the game for his team just off a few positional errors. We saw Fenix get caught out twice at crucial moments that put his team even further behind. Whether this was a onetime thing or something we expect to see in the future, Fenix still has somethings to work on. This leads me to the final Liquid members, Matt and Lourlo. These new comers have been very inconsistent. However they haven't been bad. What we see are flashes of brilliance combined with a tad of over eagerness. Lourlo is someone you can definitely rely on to play these tanks in the top lane but we don't see much more diversity from him. Matt is the most willing player on the team to go in, you can tell he trusts his team mates. His engages have both been incredibly clutch and also game ending. We've also seen some bard games from Matt which left a lot to be desired.
This matchup between C9 and Liquid depends completely on the carries and who gets ahead first. I think that with Rush's superior early game understanding it should be easy for C9 to gain that much needed lead. I also think that Balls will win the Lourlo matchup no problem; in fact he'll probably pick a trundle into whatever tank Lourlo goes for. Balls just has the experience Lourlo lacks even if he might not be up to par when it comes to some of his mechanics and decision making.
At the end of the day C9 have shown that they are a very strong all-rounder team and have only shown improvement as time has moved on. That combined with the superior shot calling the team has over both teams should be enough for them to 2-0 the final week.
Final Prediction: 2nd place (tie) 13-5
Counter Logic Gaming - Pre Week 9 (11-5)
CLG have been another interesting team this split. While they have managed to 2-0 a majority of the bottom standings and go 1-1 with many of the mid to top tier teams (including giving Immortals their only loss) they still have a lot of holes in their roster and a play style that can be exploited. Individually it’s very easy to pinpoint where a majority of the talent and strengths of this team lies. The most obvious one is Darshan, their top laner. Darshan sort of reminds me of a Dyrus/Balls hybrid. He's this rock in the top lane that does what he needs to but is also capable of solo carrying his team to victory. What Darshan does is play League of Legends down to the simplest aspect. Darshan doesn't think about enemy champions on the map, for Darshan his favorite targets are the minions and turrets that block his entrance to the enemy base. Darshan is definitely the best split pushing top in NA, very few players are able to exert the same level of pressure that this man does. If you give him Fiora he will become an unstoppable machine and there is very little you can do about it. He can play the meta very well but he also has his pocket picks like his favored Kennen, Olaf, and Fizz. We've also seen him have reasonable success on tanks like Maokai. I just wonder if he can take the Cabochard route and one day play Lucian top and transition into Nautilus the next day.
Xmithie is the unsung hero of this team, if you say Aphromoo is the most important for the leadership and shot calling he brings you have to call Xmithie the most important right behind him. Xmithie received a lot of flak early on for embarrassing misplays he had in the 2015 Spring but the Xmithie of now is a completely different beast. He might be the most diverse jungler in the NA LCS. He is someone that can pick up and dominate on meta picks like Gragas (which many considered his best champion for a very long time), but can develop pocket picks like Ekko to counter his opponents (much like what he did with Rush). He's also not afraid to engage when necessary (as seen at IEM San Jose); his barrel mechanics have been great. And now we see a new side of Xmithie as he enters the carry jungler meta and shows that he can carry on champions like Nidalee and deliver MVP level performances. Xmithie is definitely one of the best supportive junglers in the league constantly getting deep vision in the early game and enabling his laners in lane swaps to always get ahead, Xmithie is definitely a top 3 jungler on the scene.
Aphromoo, long gone are the days of Rush Hour, but I think the better half stayed behind. Aphromoo had god like synergy with Doublelift but you always felt like Aphromoo was the one dictating the plays and movements in lane while Doublelift was focusing on his mechanical needs. Aphro can play any support and he can play it well. He definitely has the widest champion pool of any NA support with his core Alistar, Braum, and Thresh, and still has picks like Bard, Blitzcrank, and Lulu. The crazy thing is that he has champions that he hasn't played in years but is still excellent on like Leona and Nami. The leadership he brings and the environment that he and the staff at CLG have cultivated are both key factors to the success of this team.
Now we move on to the less important but still important components of CLG. Stixxay has been just ok his debut split, he plays aggressive to try and make plays at times, but sometimes they backfire, and sometimes he gets caught out for almost no reason, but when he stays in position and team fights he positions perfectly and gets the job done. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Apollo's performance from last split. Who knows, he could maybe develop into a real top tier player.
Huhi has also been ok. The thing you can praise Huhi the most for is his willingness to roam, I feel like every second I look away from mid lane he’s walking bot trying to set up some play, he loves his assassins and mobile mages and he can definitely play him well. Unfortunately he still has a few kinks to work out in his gameplay as he makes mistakes where he gets caught out or makes poor decisions with his skill usage that eventually cost his team the game. Huhi, much like Stixxay, shows flashes of brilliance bogged down by mediocrity.
In the final 2 weeks of the NA LCS CLG have a reasonable schedule. The matchup vs NRG is one that can vary the most. The NRG of last weekend in the game vs Liquid looked like a team on the rise, it looked like Moon finally clicked with the team and was finally able to provide the jungle pressure that they so desperately needed. He had a clutch baron steal on top to boot, and GBM just went off that game on Zed getting so far ahead he could opt for this tankier build and not feel bad about it. The outcome of this match will depend heavily on the junglers and the advantage that bot and mid can get over their opponents. If GBM plays an assassin like LeBlanc into Huhi he can definitely come out ahead, or maybe he falls back onto the Zed. I want to see GBM on proper carry champions and not on stuff like Viktor, Zilean, and Karma. Impact is still an excellent top laner, he doesn't need jungle pressure to go even, but with jungle pressure like we saw last weekend he can become an absolute monster carrying late game team fights as a tank. If CLG lane swap like they normally do though I think that the chaos should be enough to upset the fragile balance that NRG have managed to develop in the most recent week. Outside of that I think that the botlane of Aphro and Stixxay should be better, Altec has shown a lot of weaknesses as a laner in the early game, with a weaker support in Kwonkwon who spends more time roaming to ward (as reflected in his insane WPM stat) Altec can get isolated in the bot and be taken advantage of and Aphromoo is the definition of lane presence when it comes to NA supports so we can definitely see him abusing that. In the end I think that the superior shot calling and macro play plus enough mechanical skill across players and Xmithie potentially outjungling and out pressuring Moon assuming that single performance was a fluke will result in a CLG win, but like I said, this is the one you have to be the least sure about, especially after NRG's dominating victory over TL.
The next matchup for CLG is Dignitas, and well, what more can I say other than this team has shown time and again that they have 0 clue how to close out a lead. They somehow get these miraculous leads and as we saw in both the Echo Fox and Immortals game Dig were able to build up insane leads that still resulted in their failure to close out. Sure they are a team that can produce great upset victories when they do manage to close out leads (victories over TSM and CLG), but it seems far less likely now, especially after the crushing weekend they just had.
Final Prediction: 2nd place (tie) 13-5
Team Solomid - Pre Week 9 (9-7)
Ah yes, Team Solomid. The poster child of the NALCS, the team everyone recognizes, the most loved team in NA. TSM was a team that showed tons of dominance early in their career and then after a short hiatus courtesy of Cloud9 re-emerged as the dominant NA team taking two titles back to back and delivering both their best and worst World's performance in the period of a year while winning an IEM Championship on the way. TSM was a team that looked so bright in the early days, in Season 2 they were the best team in NA taking back to back championships leading up the regional finals which they also won unfortunately losing out in the quarters at Worlds to future finalists Azubu Frost with Madlife and Shy. With the emergence of the LCS TSM reclaimed their throne at the top winning the first split but unfortunately had back to back runner up finishes as Cloud9 came out and dominated the entire scene. It wasn't until season 4 when the team completely overhauled their players bringing in very hyped jungler Amazing and Gleeb which would transition over to Korean veteran Lustboy which would result in TSM once again reclaiming their throne as the best in NA. From there TSM had their best showing at a world championship putting up a solid fight vs eventual winners Samsung White even showing new sides to the team in the 4th game where TSM were able to out rotate and gain small leads against this powerhouse. Unfortunately none of it was enough, but TSM still felt like they could prove more internationally. With the departure of Amazing TSM brought in rookie Santorin and despite a rocky start involving an infamous jungle TF TSM lost an IEM, but would later on go on to win IEM Katowice. Now their victory at IEM Katowice while impressive didn't quite showcase TSM's full potential in international events. Their run through the tournament was spent playing vs LMS and LPL teams with a single Bo1 victory vs CJ Entus being their main highlight victory for the event, but that single Bo1 definitely did give this team a lot to look forward to since it showed that if they can beat one top tier Korean team in a Bo1 who's to say these Korean teams won't be able to keep them in the group stage at worlds. Unfortunately after winning the spring split this would the be the last time TSM would see success comparable to this level. After an incredibly embarrassing performance in their home country at MSI, TSM limped back on stage and somehow lost to an even worse off Cloud9 that had no direction. At the start of the split things looked promising but as time went on teams like Liquid, Gravity, and Impulse were able to take apart and exploit the issues that TSM had developed. A lot of internal strife formed in the team with questions over who trusted who and who could be blamed for what. Eventually team owner Reginald intervened only for the team to lose in the Summer finals to rivals CLG and then go 1-5 in the group stage at worlds getting knocked out early with no hope for future competition.
At this point TSM chose to rebuild and in a sort of Ocean's 11 kind of fashion Reginald recruited what he believed were the best western players in the world to fill the empty slots his team had. Joining them would be superstar support and former world semi-finalist Yellowstar, upcoming NA talent Hauntzer, and former super star jungler Svenskeren. On top of that Regi secured the crown jewel of his lineup, the best NA Adc money could buy that wasn't named Sneaky; Doublelift, long time enemy and competitor on CLG made the biggest swap in competitive league of legends, perhaps e-sports itself moving from one rival team to another and bringing a franchise of fans with him.
However despite everything here fulfilling the wet dreams of TSM fans and redditors alike we've seen less than stellar results from team that sounds stellar on paper. TSM's season has been a mixture of ups and downs. One week they are closing out a game the way they should be closing it down, the next week they are getting stomped on and barely coming back, or just stomped on depending on the game, the worst part is that some of these stomps are the most brutal we've ever seen in LCS history. the 0-19 game vs NRG is something I doubt we'll see again anytime soon unless Riot somehow makes it possible to draft a team comp of 5 champions that cannot die, then we see them get stomped by a team like Dignitas, and Renegades, two teams well in the bottom of the standings. Of course you might argue that this new Renegades line up is a lot better but until we see it in action for several games it’s too early to judge. Nonetheless they somehow managed to lose to Cloud9 despite taking two inhibitors and having a massive lead. They were pretty decisively beaten by CLG at the start of the split but managed to bounce back with a decisive win of their own vs them as well. They almost lost to the Echo Fox sub squad and Renegades the first time, both games were leads thrown by the enemy. Had TSM not been gifted these sort of victories their record would 7-9. Of course we have to remember the stomp they suffered vs Liquid in recent weeks as well.
The biggest issue for this TSM line up is that we see almost no improvement. They just sort of play erratically and somehow pull it together in the mid game and if they get lucky they make enough mechanical outplays to brute force their way to victory, however we see a clear lack of defined strategy in this team that separates them from the top 3 teams which have a great understanding of the macro game and can play from ahead and behind and make plays on their from behind instead of relying on opponent mistakes to help them close a game.
The first game TSM plays is vs. Immortals, and the way I see it Immortals has a 90% chance to win. Unless they play absolutely horribly or Turtle somehow lets Doublelift dumpster him in lane and snowball incredibly ahead (which won't happen if Adrian gets the support he wants). Huni is flat out better than Hauntzer, Reignover is better than Svenskeren as far as decision making and ganking are concerned, Svenskeren is still very mechanically talented and is a great counter jungler. Pobelter is Pobelter, he might not win his lane but the style he plays is exactly what Immortals needs, he is the most calculated player in the NALCS and it shows in the decisions he makes for clutch plays and the decisions he makes for defensive plays. In the bot lane Adrian is easily making a name for himself as being the best support in NA even if he has only played 2 champions for 90% of his games. We know from previous splits that this man is a great Alistar, a great Leona, he can play Thresh, he can play Morgana, and seeing how he has 7 accounts in Challenger I am sure he has been practicing many more supports in case he needs to grab one for the stage. I think Adrian and Wildturtle is one the smartest matchups for lanes in a long time. These two have playstyles and chemistry that just fits each other. The combined chemistry alone should put the lane in their favor, and if Yellowstar goes on another one of his famous roams I wish Doublelift the best of luck.
The second game TSM plays is vs. NRG. NRG are a very hard team to pin down. Some weeks they look absolutely horrible, and some they are playing like a top team in NA. I think I have to agree with a lot of what I see online that Moon is the key for this team. You already have two of the best carries in the game right now, Impact and GBM will carry your team you just have to make sure they have the pressure and the ability to succeed. Of course this does leave Altec in the dust but maybe it’s better for Altec to not have this massive pressure to deal all the damage for your team. Some of Altec's weak play can definitely be attributed to the massive amount of warding KonKwon does around the map, but he still needs to adjust having come from a team with a lane dominant support in BunnyFuuFuu he needs to get used to the way this new team plays which in some ways is reminiscent of a worse version of S5 Fnatic. I think based on the slump that TSM has been hitting recently which is emphasized even more by the impending loss they will soon face vs Immortals that they will be very likely to drop this game, especially if the moon we saw vs TL this weekend re-emerges since he definitely has a chance to outperform Svenskeren.
Final Prediction: 9-9 (3rd place tie)
Team Liquid - Pre Week 9 (8-8)
Team Liquid's season has definitely been an interesting one. They somehow managed to lose to Renegades with their worst roster at the time, then proceeded to drop games to many teams that might be considered worse than them, however some quick roster changes involving the removal of Dom for Dardoch and the addition of Matt as a new support revitalized this failing squad into something very interesting. Team Liquid are in an odd place because they could definitely be a top tier team, in fact on some days you can argue that Team Liquid are playing better than certain top tier teams, but then they somehow manage to drop games to Echo Fox, Renegades, teams they should be better than. On the bright side they've managed to go 1-1 vs every top team in the league except for Immortals who have the 2-0 on them. So Liquid definitely show the ability to take on and defeat these top teams (waiting on Cloud 9 results). The problem is that the team is able to make gold leads in crucial games and then throw them because of poor decision making in the late game. They over reach a lot, and their shot calling isn't 100% sound.
I've discussed the team in detail in earlier posts but I'll give it a brief overview again. Piglet has been a monster this split playing incredibly well, easily a top 3 ADC in NA right now, he puts up excellent stats in every category while managing to be a less resources intensive carry than many of his counterparts. Fenix has been hit or miss, I thought he was being underrated at the start of the season, and he is still being underrated for what he excels at which is his incredible laning, but he still makes mistakes in team fighting and positioning that lose Liquid the game and it’s a point for him to start. For a rookie Dardoch is excellent, but we lacks a lot of the refined components we see from a jungler like Xmithie Dardoch is playing on talent, I'm waiting for when he plays on talent and brains because that's when Dardoch can become a truly scary carry jungler. Matt has been hit or miss, he makes great plays but is also capable of throwing the game, his shot calling was a definite boost to the team, I feel like the value he brings to the comms outweigh what he might lack as an individual player when it comes to in game stage experience. Lourlo was a smart pickup, with time I can see him growing into a Quas type role where he just becomes this rock in the top lane that no one can really deal with, especially since right now in his rookie career he is facing the toughest competition NA has ever had in the top lane with players like Huni, Impact, Darshan, and Hauntzer all vying for that best NA top laner category.
So this weekend Liquid face Dignitas which should be an easy win for this just based on how Dignitas have been playing. The game should be really decided if Dardoch's early game prowess gets them a huge lead to start, if they fall behind it will just be another painful Dig game in which we wait for them throw (or maybe not throw! you never know, times are changing all the time). However the favor goes towards Team Liquid so I'm expecting a win.
Their second match is tougher one, you see Cloud 9 is basically a better version of Liquid in a lot of ways. Jensen is a better aggressive mid than Fenix, plus he has better positioning and decision making. Rush is a better version of Dardoch, especially if we continue to see more of this Rush that has demonstrated incredibly dominance on champions. Sneaky and Piglet are probably equal right now with Piglet winning out the laning phase but Sneaky likely to be doing more for the team on the map. Hai and Matt, Hai is a better shot caller and mediocre support, Matt is a worse shot caller and an above average support. There will be chances for TL's bot lane to pressure out and deny C9's bot lane, we'll have to see how Sneaky plays in the matchup and what champions are given, I believe that Jhin into Lucian might result in a win for Sneaky because of the wave clear and poke that Jhin brings that outranges Lucian. The top lane is going to be two tanks and nothing exciting, Balls and Lourlo are both middle of the pack top laners with both having their shining moments.
Final Prediction: 9-9 (3rd place tie)
NRG E-Sports - Pre Week 9 (8-8)
NRG are a team that showed a lot of promise in the pre-season. They brought in incredibly hyped LCK talent GBM who was looking like a strong Korean mid laner at the peak of his career. They had Impact in the top lane, one of the best top laners of competitive LoL, a former world champion. They had Altec one of the most promising new ADCs in NA, someone who had hard carried a team all the way to first place before getting exploited for being their only real damage. The question is what were the small pieces that would be coming together to tie this potential 3 man threat together. Well first was LCS untested rookie Moon, and second was KonKwon a challenger series veteran who had never really amounted to much in his career. So you take two rookie players and put them on a team of veterans with a huge language barrier and you don't have to be a sports psychologist to figure out there are going to be problems. The most obvious issue was that the jungler needed to communicate with his solo laners to set up plays. Both Impact and GBM were used to incredibly strong junglers that spoke the same language as them (Rush and Chaser). However this was a new environment for them and they had to improve their English skills drastically in order to mesh. KonKwon could translate every call that these two made 5 seconds behind just for moon to show up at the wrong time. These communication issues showed time and again, and they could have been remedied if Altec himself was performing to his standard. Altec was showing a decline in performance, he would often get caught out and die for no reason in laning phases. Some of this could be attributed to KonKwon's over eagerness to litter the map in wards (which is reflected in the stat that KonKwon wards the most out of anyone in NA). But Altec should have adapted which is still hard to do when you go from a god like laning support like BunnyFuuFuu to Yellowstar Lite.
However last weekend, for one game, we saw something completely different out of NRG. We saw a team that was in sync, a team that was playing the right way, and a Moon that was displaying confidence unlike anything we had seen before. I had always been a believer in Moon, just based on what I heard from solo queue and the fact that they picked him over Dexter for the team should be enough to get an idea of what kind player this guy could be.
Unfortunately, maybe he suffered the incarnati0n effect and took longer to transition to the LCS stage, or maybe it was the internal communications issues finally dying down that did it. Regardless this new Moon we saw looked like someone that could very well be a top tier jungler in NA given the right room to grow which makes NRG a dark horse leading into playoffs.
Now onto their final matchups. NRG will first be facing CLG, and to be frank this is a matchup that is impossible to predict. This matchup is something that will come down to picks and bans and the strategies both teams utilize. I think the most predictable thing about this is that there will most likely be a lane swap, Darshan will play a carry, preferably Fiora, Impact will counter with a tank, GBM will pick Zed to counter the split push pressure, Huhi will play Corki for the wave clear mid, Stixxay will get his Kalista if they have FP otherwise he will play Ezreal or Lucian, because a lot of the bans will be top/jungle/support focused. If NRG gets Kalista the Trundle or Alistar will come out, the Janna will be there for Aphromoo to disengage 4v4 fights while they try and let Darshan split. Or who the hell knows I could be completely wrong CLG have surprised us in their drafts before, but I think we can all have a general idea of the role each player is going to have on their team.
I think that CLG will out macro NRG, they are just the better team overall and the minor player advantages that NRG have are very shaky when compared to unit CLG have going for them, CLG will be able to run NRG around the map more effectively.
NRG will then face TSM. I predicted that TSM will lose this one as well. I mean GBM could just pick a cheese pick they never played against and they will be tilted for life. But on a whole NRG just looked so much more cohesive in their recent matches and look like they are on an upward trajectory while TSM shows week after week of either average play or struggle. I think that the lanes could go in TSM's favor, but if Moon is able to get his jungle pressure off right and GBM holds his own in a good matchup, or if Bjerg is forced onto a supportive pick like a Lulu we could definitely see a preference for NRG. TSM definitely will be out for blood after getting stomped in their last game I just question their ability to executive anything right after seeing some horrible team fighting and decision making from the team as a whole.
Final Prediction 9-9 (3rd place tie)
Echo Fox Pre Week 9 (6-10)
Echo Fox, aka Froggen's eternal trap. Froggen is doomed to get 7th place for the rest of his career it seems. The players on the team have shown to be average to above average at best. Froggen has been playing very well in the mid lane and even shown new sides to his play by actually roaming the map, with that said he isn't the best mid in NA, but an argument for top 3 definitely exists. However Froggen needs more assistance to carry this team to the top. Of course it hurts that for so many weeks Echo Fox was fielding a sub squad, but even with this main squad we see a lot of weaknesses when it comes to shot calling and decision making and playstyles that make this team middle of the pack at best. Keith has definitely been a good secondary carry coming through with very clutch moments for the team. Meanwhile KFO has been just ok, he is very good mechanically but we see signs of hesitation in addition to moments where he isn't quite on the same page as the rest of his team. I think a good example of this is the match vs NRG where KFO showed his position as Malphite to NRG, didn't go in, the doubled back and went in anyways. That play was lucky because NRG didn't respect the trigger KFO had pointed at the back of their heads, we need to see more from this player because in small skirmishes and team fights he's been very underwhelming. Hard has been the definition of average jungler, he never really does anything spectacular but there's very little to criticize him on because he's been playing just ok and he will make picks and get his job done but he will never be a carry for his team. BIG is also just ok as a support, he's had moments where he helped his team clutch a win but then he also does stupid stuff like recall in bad places and mess up initiates and I wonder how much of this is due to his shot calling burden and how much is just weak gameplay.
Echo Fox could definitely knock out NRG or Liquid from playoffs, but the early losses they have make it very difficult and this coming week's schedule won't make it any easier. First we have a matchup vs Cloud9 which is a team that should be able to get an early lead and snowball to a win early with both their great shot calling and insane play making from the jungle and aggressive mid lane. Their second matchup is vs this new revitalized Renegades which almost beat Cloud9 and then destroyed TSM the next day. Renegades look like a team with one of the best early games in the league because of how efficiently they get ahead and now that they are understanding how to close out games they will be my dark horse heading in the next split assuming they survive relegations.
Final Prediction: 6-12 (7th place)
Team Impulse Pre Week 9 (5-11)
Let's just get this out of the way, the only way Team Impulse passes Echo Fox is if Team Impulse goes 2-0 and Echo Fox goes 0-2. Now knowing this and having read the matchups Echo Fox has and the prediction of them going 2-0 let's remember that we could be overrating Renegades improvement and maybe Fox takes the win over Renegades going 1-1 ending TIP's dreams of a secure spot in the next split. But assuming Fox gets 2-0'd Team Impulse would then have to secure a victory over both Immortals and Renegades. Now the latter is possible if Renegades are still as weak as they've been all split. But it would take a huge upset for Immortals to lose to Team Impulse. The odds are definitely in the favor of Immortals and it's looking like at best the team could finish 1-1. Even if this team finishes 1-1 they will only just be tied with Echo Fox assuming Fox loses both matches. However Echo Fox has the 2-0 in the head to head to no tie breaker will be held and Team Impulse will be stuck in their 8th place spot.
Final Prediction: 5-13 (8th Place)
Team Dignitas Week 9 (4-12)
It’s been a rough split for Dignitas. Last year they managed to secure playoffs, this year they are almost 100% guaranteed relegation. The only scenario in which Dignitas avoids this is by having Echo Fox go 0-2, Dignitas going 2-0, and then Dignitas winning the tie breaker. Unfortunately all of this stops when we ask Dignitas to go 2-0. Dignitas plays CLG and Team Liquid for this week. Now Dig did upset CLG earlier in the split, so it makes you wonder if they can pull it off. When I look at Liquid on paper I see a stronger jungler, a stronger top laner, a stronger mid laner, a stronger adc, and supports that could be argued to be on the same level. Unless Dignitas learns how to secure a lead and close out or if they snowball too hard I don't see this matchup going Digs way. Also I don't think CLG will be looking to drop another game to Dignitas with a potential bye in to the playoffs on the line so I see Dignitas going 0-2.
Final Prediction: 4-14 (10th)
Renegades Pre Week 9 (3-13)
Prior to the start of the split Renegades was the team so many people were hyped about. First of all it’s being spearheaded by Montecristo one of the most beloved personalities in the League of Legends community. Second of all we see the return of two beloved pros in Alex Ich and Crumbzz, finally we have Remilia the first female pro to enter e-sports. There was a lot of hype and question marks around this team. No one knew how this rag tag group would do in the NA LCS. Unfortunately what we saw was a massive streak of failure with an intense losing streak. However after many roster changes Renegades now look the strongest they have ever been. Last week’s victory over TSM had its share of mistakes but the early macro game played the Renegades was near flawless. While we saw some mistakes in the midgame from Renegades when it came to execution we saw them make decisive baron calls after good picks and close out the game incredibly efficiently. In addition to that they played incredibly well vs cloud9 as well. So now that playoff teams have targets on their heads what can Renegades do in the following week they have left in the NA LCS.
Fortunately the matchup isn't playoff material, Renegades will be playing both Team Impulse and Echo Fox. If Renegades can demonstrate more of that map wide dominance while cleaning up their execution this team could very easily go 2-0 in the final week.
Final Prediction: 5-13 (9th)
So based on the results posted above it appears that we will have a few tie breakers to round out the season.
This tiebreaker will determine which team gets a BYE into playoffs and which team has to fight their way up, basically who can get a top 4 finish vs a top 6 finish. This matchup is incredibly hard to predict. While CLG have a great strategy with Darshan who is a superior player to Balls, Jensen is a superior player to Huhi. In the Jungle it will depend on the style and choices Rush makes to deal with the style that Xmithie exhibits. Will Rush go for a more aggressive style to shut down Xmithie early or will he opt for a supportive vision centric style where he wants to enable his lanes and counter gank Xmithie. We saw in the Summer Finals Xmithie favored Ekko in their last series just for the insane ability to counter gank Rush, maybe Xmithie will pull out something similar. The bot side of the map is where I feel less importance will happen, both supports will want to roam and both adcs are used to this so the matchup will depend on the picks. In the end I feel that C9 have the superior players to snowball a victory faster than the split pushing strategy CLG have been favoring. This strategy can also be further countered by Balls picking up a Rammus or Nautilus in the top lane that an enemy split pusher won't be able to get through. We saw what happened at IEM when Darshan was forced into a Rammus vs Vlad matchup, the same thing could happen here and fortunately Rammus is a champion balls should have no issue playing and executing.
This is the most interesting matchup. The implications for playoffs are a bit less here, these teams are fighting for the 4-6 positions. You definitely want to avoid getting the last place spot in this situation. The way I see it I believe that either Liquid or NRG will be able to clinch that top 4-5 position with TSM trailing at 6th. All these teams have shown they can beat each other, but the style in which these teams bet each other shows a completely different story. In the TL vs TSM first matchup we saw Liquid with a massive lead until they threw it at a bad team fight and lost the game, then they returned and crushed TSM in a very one-sided stomp. Conversely NRG have only played TSM once but that one game was the infamous 0-19 game in which TSM were completely shut out. We'll have to see how TSM fare vs NRG this weekend, I predicted them to lose and if that's the case I see no reason why TSM wouldn't lose to NRG again. So with TSM in 6th we now have a battle between Liquid and NRG for 4th and 5th. In this case I have to give it to Liquid. They have stronger macro play overall and a lead in the jungle with Dardoch, Lourlo might have issues with Impact but if it’s a tank vs tank matchup that can be negligible. Meanwhile I think TL's bot lane will destroy NRG's bot lane and Piglet should be able to carry this along with the lane dominant Fenix who has a good chance at shutting down the more timid laning GBM.
So here's a TLDR NA LCS Roundup
7. Echo Fox
8. Team Impulse
If you disagree with any of the statements or reasoning please let me know, once again this is nothing more than my subjective analysis based on what I've seen through watching the NALCS, if anything is incorrect please feel free to point it out.