Parity rules in fourth week of the League Championship Series
The theme of week four was parity in both regions of the League Championship Series. The biggest competition in League of Legends saw the standings even out as the teams at the top suffered upset losses, allowing the rest to pull a little bit closer.
Four teams posted 2-0 records this week, and none of them were in the top three in either league. That’s made the competition even tighter. Five teams are within one game of first place in the North American region, while Europe finds itself in a similar place.
Millenium and ROCCAT picked up some games in the standings with surprise 2-0 performances, good enough to boost the 6-4 Millenium ahead of Supa Hot Crew into third place. ROCCAT at 3-7 is still in the relegation zone, but they’ve shown some hope that they can bring some of last split’s magic into this one and sneak into the playoffs.
The old stalwarts of the North American region, Counter Logic Gaming and Team SoloMid, went undefeated this week. TSM in particular looked good while beating Cloud9 and Complexity, putting them into a tie with the defending champions. Counter Logic Gaming’s two wins were enough to put them into a tie with LMQ and Dignitas, who both disappointed with 1-1 showings.
Team SoloMid (6-4): The team with so much talent on its roster finally put together a week worthy of its storied name. New coach Yoonsup “Locodoco” Choi will take a large part of the credit for this turnaround, as well he should. The pick and ban phase was a major weakness for Team SoloMid throughout this split, but coach Choi seems to have given the team direction, allowing their star talent to shine. Whether Team SoloMid will keep up their stellar play remains to be seen, but with a coach there to keep them on an even keel, things are looking up. Especially if their German jungle import Maurice “Amazing” Stuckenschneider can continue to be, well, amazing.
Fnatic (5-5): The defending champions ended the week with one win and a loss, but that’s a very solid performance when you’re up against the top two teams in the league, SK Gaming and Alliance. They absolutely obliterated SK, and looked very good early against Alliance before the league leaders beat Fnatic at their own game—a base race. If this Fnatic shows up more often, it’s safe to say that the champions are back.
New EG jungler Shin "Helios" Dong-Jin: Evil Geniuses finished 0-2 as they showed off their new Korean jungler, Shin “Helios” Dong-Jin. But they looked good in both games, wielding a huge lead against LMQ before struggling to close out the game and holding an early edge against Counter Logic Gaming. While Shin's stats weren't amazing, his map pressure proved tough for other teams to handle. Once EG learns to better integrate their new weapon, they should be able to challenge for a playoff spot.
Supa Hot Crew (5-5): This week was a disaster for one of the best stories so far this season. Supa Hot Crew had a decidedly easy schedule—matches against the 4-4 Millenium and last place ROCCAT—and they blew them both. This was a week that could have boosted them to 7-3, tied with SK Gaming near the top of the league, but instead they’re wallowing in mediocrity with Gambit Gaming nipping at their heels.
Cloud9 (6-4): Their win against Dignitas was absolutely superb, a masterful game where they did everything right against one of the most consistent teams this split. But their match against Team SoloMid was just plain poor. Cloud9 seemed to outthink themselves by picking the newly enabled Rengar and Braum, as well as Fizz at middle. Their execution was just sloppy as they failed dive after dive against TSM’s back line. That wouldn’t be too bad if this Jekyll and Hyde act wasn’t becoming regular in the Cloud9 camp. Last week they suffered a similar loss to Evil Geniuses while besting Counter Logic Gaming. Though that win was ugly, too; Cloud9 was down about 4,000 gold when they took the enemy nexus.
LMQ (7-3): Facing Curse Gaming and Evil Geniuses is one of the easiest schedules possible in the North American LCS, but then this week showed that no schedule is easy. LMQ was down big early to Evil Geniuses but pulled out a win after farming for 40 minutes. Against Curse Gaming, they were not so lucky. Their decision to let Kassadin through to Curse came back to haunt them as their chosen counter, Pantheon for mid laner Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian, proved ineffectual. Yu failed to affect the game in a meaningful way, and LMQ crumbled without their best player carrying them. You can chalk this up as an off week for the Chinese, but it seems like they may have underestimated their foes, something you can’t do in a league as tough as the LCS.
This week showed just how competitive the LCS really is. Only a couple teams look outmatched regularly, as even the weaker squads, like ROCCAT and Evil Geniuses, have fangs. Even dominant teams like Alliance, LMQ, and SK Gaming can’t get complacent, as every single match matters.
Next week the LCS heads to Wembley Arena in London. There, SK Gaming and Alliance will battle for the top of the table, while Fnatic will look to rise in the standings against Millenium.
The NA region should have even more fireworks. LMQ faces both Complexity and Counter Logic Gaming, while Team SoloMid has a chance to show this week wasn’t a fluke against Dignitas.
All in all, the Summer Split of the LCS is looking like the most competitive season of League we’ve ever seen.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube