Here are 18 quick thoughts following the fourth week of the NA LCS 2015 Summer Split. All of the statistics referenced below are available at OraclesElixir.com.
- Dignitas‘s 2-0 week, beating TL and TiP, cements them as a legitimate threat this split. I was giving them the GIANTS treatment and doubting them pretty heavily up until I watched them play this weekend, but now I’m on the bandwagon. I wouldn’t call them a first place threat quite yet–ask me again in a week or two–but they’re definitely making a case for a playoff appearance, something I would have laughed at following their showing in the Promotion/Relegation tournament.
- Something that really impressed me, especially in the game against TiP, was Dignitas’s team coordination. They were confidently charging into team fights with clear plans and unified target selection. That’s a lot easier to do when you have a fed Hecarim on your team, since he can literally charge into the enemy team and pick whatever target he wants, but still. Coordination: they has it.
- And of course we can’t discuss Dignitas without hyping up Gamsu‘s inspired performances. The Korean import earned his time in the spotlight, taking home the weekend’s MVP honors on the back of Hecarim ultimates like this one. Last split, Gamsu put together some really strong games and clutch plays, but he was inconsistent, along with the rest of his team. He has to prove that his inconsistency is in the past if he wants to join the conversation about the best NA Top laners. Another couple of weekends like this one could help him Onslaught of Shadows his way into the discussion.
- A few Gamsu stats: 4.9 KDA, 69% average kill participation, -3.3 [email protected], 367 DPM. His damage output is the second lowest among NA Tops, but that’s partly tied to how rarely DIG fights. They’re averaging only 0.64 average combined kills per minute (CKPM). (Compare to CLG’s 0.83 CKPM or Team 8’s 0.84.)
- CLG‘s big woe last split was their team fighting. They relied far too much on securing early gold leads so that they could roll over team fights with sheer item advantages, and when that gold lead didn’t happen, neither did #CLGwin. Now the team is clearly trying to buck that trend, for example by intentionally picking a scaling composition against TSM last week. When they beat TDK on Saturday with a late game, team fight-driven comeback, it showed that CLG is capable of winning through team fights, which is a great sign for them. Granted, TDK was working with their ever-revolving lineup of subs, but a team fight-based win of any sort should at least give CLG some confidence.
- So. Everybody. Altec is good. I readily admit that I’ve underrated him in the past. He was the brightest spot in Gravity’s loss to TSM, and he and Bunny FuFuu are making a great duo. Altec may be a top 3 ADC in North America, though GV needs to do some more winning before we can really make that claim.
- But to give credit where credit’s due–and this isn’t meant to take anything away from Altec–Bunny FuFuu is proving again that he makes good ADCs great. He did it for Cop, and he’s playing the exact same enabling role for Altec.
- What makes Bunny such an enabler? He’s so forward-moving, always looking for the next chance to make a play, so he constantly sets up his carries for kills. He’s tailored his champion pool to that play style: Thresh and Morgana are great choices for him because they let him create pick-offs and plays with Death Sentence and Dark Binding, but they also peel really well, which is a safety valve for him. If Bunny played champions without a ton of peel options, he would get himself and his carries into hot water a lot more often.
- You can clearly see Bunny’s forward-moving philosophy in Gravity’s play as a team. Bunny has taken over primary shot calling duties now that Saintvicious moved on to coach Team Coast, and Bunny’s style is definitely apparent. Gravity has that same one-directional flow to them that Bunny does as an individual player.
- But the keep-going-forward approach isn’t new to Gravity this split: they played the exact same way in Spring, when Saint was calling the games. We can guess that Bunny learned a lot from Saintvicious during the long period of time they spent together in the Curse organization. It’s neat to see that kind of connection between a veteran and a young player.
- Poke comps seem to be on the rise again, with appearances from a freshly buffed Jayce and some increased Nidalee play, mostly in the jungle. Poke has been around all split, with recurring mid lane Kog’Maw and Varus picks, but it hasn’t exactly been the dominant meta strategy. Things may be moving in that direction now, though.
- When a certain style of play begins to rise in the meta, especially within a specific role (in this case, mostly mid lane), it’s important to ask how it might affect champion priority in other roles. My eyes are on the AD Carries. An ADC can contribute to a poke comp in three main ways: a) add poke damage of their own, b) siege well, with safe and fast structure damage and/or strong wave clear, and c) kite safely, with bonus points for being able to quickly kill diving enemy tanks while kiting them.
- The current meta’s top two ADCs, Sivir and Kalista, check off plenty of those boxes, but they’re seeing bans fairly often, so teams are looking at poke-comp ADC alternatives when Sivir and Kalista aren’t available. Corki is one of those options, with his great poke damage and kiting, but his sieging is mediocre and he’s a poor tank-buster (though he’s decent at bursting down diving assassins if his teams gets CC on them). Beyond Corki, there’s another champion who actually checks all of the poke-comp boxes: Caitlyn has poke on her Q; has good kiting because of the slow built into her escape skill; is one of the safest sieging ADCs in the game with her long auto-attack range; and is an amazing tank killer once she hits three items, especially with the recent buff to her Headshot passive. I won’t take credit for predicting the rise of Caitlyn (the analyst who suggested it to me can claim that credit if he wants to), but the more I think about it, the more perfect it seems. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for her return in the next couple of weeks.
- TSM played yet another two games where it was Bjergsen-or-bust. TSM’s Mid laner was their only real threat, so if Liquid caught Bjergsen in CC, they won the fight. If Liquid didn’t immediately burst Bjergsen, TSM won the fight. It was essentially the same story against Gravity.
- Bjergsen is good enough that TSM is still winning games under these conditions, but it can’t last forever. Even if they make it to international play this way, they’re setting themselves up for a repeat of MSI, where stronger opponents will exploit TSM’s one-dimensionality.
- The only way TSM can get away from their Bjergsen-is-everything style is if they diversify their carry threats. Bjergsen is almost always the only legitimate threat on his team, because WildTurtle is losing lane, getting behind, and positioning poorly in team fights. That’s resulted in WildTurtle having the lowest DPM and Dmg% of any NA LCS ADC (excluding Maplestreet’s two games with Team 8 in Week 1). A lot of voices are clamoring for a TSM roster change, and it’s not hard to see why. WildTurtle needs to really step up his game, and his time may be running out to do so.
- Team 8 looks abysmal so far, but I don’t think the addition of Nien as their new ADC is to blame. I thought the change was perfect for T8 when it was announced, because another big carry was exactly what the team needed to pressure off of Calitrlolz’s shoulders. We haven’t seen many results yet–blame the coaching, if you want–but what we did see this weekend is that Nien knows how to hard carry, going 10/2/13 vs. TDK. Maplestreet never did that; he was always a supporting player. Now T8 somehow needs to learn to put Nien in that position more often instead of being down by an average of 596 gold at 10 minutes and giving up so many First Bloods and first Towers.
- DoubleLift got a pentakill with a big bandage on his hand. We will never, ever hear the end of this.