LCS Landscape - Story of Week 6
With week 6 over and done with we start heading into the final stretch of the regular Spring Split and are beginning to get a decent idea of which teams will be heading to playoffs. Also this week sparked the start of the 6.3 patch, as such both regions saw plenty of Kog'Maw picks and bans as well as the return of Gragas to the Jungle. Various teams in both regions have also been more willing to leave Gangplank off of the ban list and used as a high priority pick in most situations instead. This week also saw a few other unusual picks which will be highlighted as we run down the week for both regions. As usual, let's begin with breaking down Europe this week.
In typical European fashion we have 3 teams tied for 1st place at the conclusion of week 6. G2 Esports, Team Vitality and H2K are all currently at 9-3 a piece with 1-1 head to heads in the H2K/G2 and H2K/VIT match-ups. While there are 3 weeks of regular split left to be played, I can't shake this feeling that we'll be heading into a standard tie-breaker scenario that EU is so accustomed to.
All 3 of these teams were not without their challenging games this week with only Vitality coming out with a 2-0 week, including a win over H2K in a 62 minute epic. Vitality took a very early gold lead through a series of towers, a gold lead that they held onto for the entirety of the game, as well as putting some focus onto Dragon. Vitality were able to get the 5th Dragon buff at around 40 minutes but proceeded to have their team almost completely aced in the process. This lead to a Baron for H2K and a way back into the game. Kog'Maw is a naturally scary champion, but in the hands of Forgiven the idea of a late game Kog'Maw seemed like many a team's worst nightmare. Yet, it was a play by Cabochard that helped secure the final team fight for VIT to win the game. Ryu looked for an engage after H2K had taken their 3rd Dragon but completely over stepped his mark and ended up quite some distance from his team. Cabochard and Hjarnan were left to run rampant on the H2K line-up with a final Smokescreen from Cabo's Graves landing onto Forgiven's Kog'Maw to prevent any return damage as he was attempting to flee from the Vitality squad. This game was a prime example of what the, potentially, top 2 teams in Europe are capable of on a macro level. The game was slow paced but always felt tense with both teams always making moves, whether it be for kills or objectives. A hard fought and well deserved win by Vitality. H2K were not to be disheartened however as they won their 2nd game of the week over Origen is somewhat convincing fashion excluding a mistake which ended up costing H2K a Baron. Fortunately H2K had enough of a lead for it not to be a costly mistake and ended up closing out the game.
Moving on with the final team of the top 3 in G2 who, arguably, had the easiest week of the 3 teams but were still only able to manage 1-1. Their loss came in their first game against Fnatic who's own problems are well documented. G2 were able to get a 5k gold advantage in the first 10 minutes, the biggest gold lead at 10 minutes that we have seen in the LCS this split. This even extended to an 8k lead for G2 at 22 minutes but Fnatic were able to stall out the game enough for Rekkles' Kog'Maw to come online. G2 were unable to deal with the Kog'Maw effectively. Even with a Jungle Rumble, Top Lane Nautilus and Support Trundle all designed to help G2 deal with the Kog'Maw, the protection provided by both Gamsu on Maokai and Klaj on Alistar was just about enough to allow Rekkles to push out as much damage as possible in several team fights. This was shown by Rekkles's damage stats at the end of the game, doing 30k of his teams damage to champions almost doubling that of Febiven on Lissandra. This loss wouldn't make much of a difference to G2's 2nd game, however, as they took down ROCCAT in a 26 minute destruction.
The top of the table isn't the only place that remains tight in the league with Elements and Splyce being tied at 4-8 with Giants and ROCCAT only 2 games behind them on 2-10. With 6 games left to be played for each team there is still ample opportunity for each of these teams to take that covetted 7th spot to avoid possible relegation. This week saw both ROCCAT and Giants get their 2nd win of the season each with ROCCAT's win being over Splyce. This game saw ROC go for a heavy "protect the Kog'Maw" comp for Tabzz with Malphite, Gragas and Soraka all being picked to get him through team fights. The game began with ROCCAT taking a 7 minute inhibitor tower after a very slow tower push by Splyce as well as late recalls to deal with ROC's push. The protect the Kog'Maw comp was put on full display as Tabzz gets caught by almost all the CC that Splyce can throw and proceeds to not die through all of the healing from extinkt's Soraka. With all of the focus being put down onto Tabzz however, this gives Betsy the freedom on Corki to put down all the damage he can without being pressured at all, even going as far as to Valkyrie forward to dive on SPY's back line. A good draft from ROC and poor execution from SPY sees ROCCAT take their 2nd win of the season. This wouldn't be the end for Splyce however as they bounced back in spectacular fashion in their game against Fnatic. Splyce were able to win the game without Fnatic picking up a single kill in an almost 34 minute game. The combination of good team fighting and crisp macro play from the part of Splyce renders Fnatic completely useless.
Elsewhere in the table, Giants win over Elements sees them remain competitive for the 7th spot to avoid relegations while Unicorns of Love take a 1-1 week to go 8-4, only 1 game behind the 3 way tie for 1st place. Meanwhile, Origen take yet another 1-1 week to go 6-6 in the split so far. A truly average performance from OG so far.
Now on to Week 6 in North America.
It makes sense to start at the top with Immortals going 2-0 again in games against Renegades and Team Liquid to continue their unbeaten run at 12-0 however IMT's game vs Renegades certainly had a turbulent start. REN came out of the gates swinging as they were able to take a crazy kill lead over IMT, going 7-1 up in kills by 15 minutes. Unfortunately for Renegades, the team cohesion of Immortals saw them take cross map objectives to keep a gold lead even in spite of being down so many kills in the early game. The macro level pressure continued for IMT until inevitably winning a fight and taking Baron to cement their lead over the game. Immortals were able to take the win in 32 minutes, an impressive showing of macro level play from the team. The 2nd game against Team Liquid had no such shennanigans as Immortals simply crushed down TL in 27 minutes. Huni's Quinn was exceptional this game with the final fight inside TL's base resulting in a Pentakill for the dominant Top Laner. This win secures Immortals a playoffs spot, even if they were to lose the rest of their games for the remainder of the season. Not that is looks likely given their current form.
Looking towards the teams fighting for 2nd place we have Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud 9 tied for 2nd at 8-4 with Team Solo Mid just behind them on 7-5. Starting off with Cloud 9 who's recent run of form has been quite exceptional since sticking with Hai in the Support role over BunnyFuFu. C9's first game was against TSM in a highly anticipated matchup. The draft for both teams looked good with a Kog'Maw and Poppy pickup for Doublelift and Hauntzer respectively while Cloud 9 managed to get Gangplank for Balls and Lee Sin for Rush. While the game had a somewhat slow start, TSM suddenly turned up the pressure as they began picking up a host of kills and taking multiple objectives off the back of it at around the 24 to 30 minute mark. This included an inhibitor before 30 minutes. Cloud 9 kept their cool, no doubt with the guidance of Hai, and began repelling sieges as the game went on. While Doublelift's Kog'Maw was beginning to look scary, so was Balls's Gangplank. TSM were unable to deal with the Gangplank barrels effectively which proved to be their downfall. One fight in mid lane saw a single primed GP barrel survive for the vast majority of the fight in easy reach for TSM to take down. This same barrel would be used at the start of a chain for a huge crit onto 3 members of TSM, including Doublelift. This exceptional Gangplank play would continue for the remainder of the game as Cloud 9 were able to make the comeback and finally win in just under 47 minutes, an outstanding performance by Balls.
The problems for TSM would only continue into their game against Team Dignitas. TSM had a good start to the game, getting a 4k gold advantage at around 19 minutes but a combination of over aggression from Svenskeren and good awareness from KiWiKiD results in DIG getting a huge team fight win over TSM and the Baron at 26 minutes. TSM were able to take a team fight win of their own in spite of DIG holding the Baron buff. Dignitas attempted a 1-1-3 split push to spread out the Baron buff and pressure all 3 lanes. TSM realised this and capitalised with a strong engage from Svenskeren on Gragas. The game goes on with Dignitas getting good Baron positioning. Doublelift steps a little too far forward on Caitlyn and KiWiKiD gets the flank on Alistar to headbutt Doublelift into the DIG team, securing them the Baron. The Baron buff saw Dignitas straight up the mid lane and into TSM's base, finishing the game with little resistance. This loss for TSM saw them go 0-2 for the first time this season, a very poor week considering how much better the team was looking during Week 5.
Elsewhere in the league, Counter Logic Gaming took a 2-0 week with expected wins over Team Impulse and Renegades keeping them securely in the 2nd place tie with Cloud 9. Echo Fox also took a 2-0 week as they begin eyeing up a playoff spot. FOX have looked like a completely different team since the return of Froggen and kfo and it will be very interesting to see how this team develops as we draw closer to the end of the split. Team Liquid are unable to find any consistency as they go 0-2 this week losing to both Echo Fox and Team Impulse. Meanwhile, NRG's own problems continue as they go 1-1 on the week, resulting in a 6-6 scoreline for the split so far, rooting them firmly in 5th place 1 win behind TSM.
Things are looking close in both regions with EU being distinctly split into top and bottom while NA seems to have 1st, 10th and a giant cluster of teams in between. While getting into playoffs is a goal in itself, seeding for playoffs can also matter a great deal. With every game counting towards the end of Spring, let's look forward to Week 7 and see which games will have big standings implication. As usual, starting with Europe.
EU Games to watch - Week 7
H2K vs Fnatic (Day 1 Game 3)
Splyce vs Origen (Day 1 Game 4)
Origen vs G2 Esports (Day 2 Game 1)
Unicorns of Love vs Splyce (Day 2 Game 3)
Especially given their loss to ROCCAT during this week it could just be a flash in the pan from Splyce and their crushing win over Fnatic but it shows that they definitely have a certain amount of quality to their squad. They could definitely play upsets to the teams towards the top of the table as the split rolls on.
As for Fnatic, a turbulent week throws up all kinds of questions about the team's mentality going into Week 7. A win over a 1st place tied team while losing to a team fighting relegations is a huge anomaly in and of itself. It will be interesting to see how they handle themselves against the exceptional macro level play of H2K.
Now looking to North America.
NA Games to watch - Week 7
Echo Fox vs Team Solo Mid (Day 1 Game 2)
Immortals vs Counter Logic Gaming (Day 1 Game 3)
Cloud 9 vs Counter Logic Gaming (Day 2 Game 2)
Team Liquid vs Team Solo Mid (Day 2 Game 3)
It goes without saying that every game with Immortals is a game to watch. It can't be understated that they are the outstanding best team in North America right now by a rather large margin, but that does not exclude the possibility of an upset win in the weeks to come. CLG have been looking good lately. While maybe not as flashy or as dominant as Immortals they kept their games under exceptional control this week. It could be put down to the weaker quality of their opponents but it will be interesting to see what they can come up with to take on Immortals.
TSM are in turmoil. Just when it looked like things were getting better during Week 5 they don't pick up a win during Week 6. Meanwhile, FOX are on a 4 game winning streak, the highest streak in NA currently besides from Immortals. This will certainly be a test for TSM and it is starting to get concerning for the team that they still aren't meshing well together at this late stage of the split. These issues need to be sorted by playoffs if they want to take a good number of circuit points from the split.
While it may be too early to say, we could be on the brink of seeing most of what we thought we knew about each region changing. Top teams are now middle of the pack with brazen upstarts becoming the new top dogs of their region. The seeding for playoffs in each region will be pivotal for every team while avoiding relegations for others is an absolute must. How each team will respond to the pressure of the end of the split approaching will be interesting to watch and I look forward to breaking it down again for next week. Until then...
Don't try this at home.