LCS Landscape - Story of week 9
With the explosion of the final Nexus, the regular season for 2015 is now over and what a time it has been in both regions. As usual we will start in Europe and take a look at how the summer split finished for the EU LCS teams.
Week 9 - EU LCS
Starting at the top, they did it. Not that anyone is overly surprised by it but Fnatic managed the perfect split this summer as they took their final 2-0 week with games over SK Gaming and Unicorns of Love. Neither game was exceptionally close but we did see a couple of interesting picks in both games with Yellowstar bringing out Trundle support against SK and was unquestionably successful going 1/1/19. Meanwhile in the UoL game, Vizicsacsi brought out Poppy to much less success as he went 2/4/1 compared to Huni's 12/3/1 Ryze. Fun picks aside, Fnatic took both games without breaking a sweat. While it may be early days to pick a winner just yet, I think everyone knows where the smart money is going once playoffs come round.
With Fnatic having secured 1st place some weeks prior to week 9 we were still left wondering if H2K or Origen would be the team to take 2nd place and give themselves the bye to the semi finals. The two teams were set to meet on day 1 of the week and with Origen already holding a game over H2K it meant that a win for OG would secure them 2nd place. The game began at a slow pace, neither team would risk making a mistake with so much on the line. xPeke set to work on gaining and maintaining a massive farm lead on Viktor over Ryu on Twisted Fate. Overall the game was very close between the two sides with neither team ever breaking anymore than a 3k gold lead until the very end of the game. A fight at Baron saw Origen take down 4 members of H2K and secure the Baron for themselves. This was the beginning of the end as Origen began crushing down H2K's base. A last ditch defensive effort by H2K was completely obliterated by OG who aced their opponents for only losing Amazing. With this win, Origen secured themselves a bye into the semi finals.
From glory to despair as we say goodbye to the Copenhagen Wolves who were locked into the 10th place spot yet they were determined not to go down without a fight. At the start of the week there was an outside chance that CW could climb out of 10th place. With CW holding a 1-1 head-to-head with SK, if CW were to win both of their games and SK were to lose both of theirs there would be a tie-breaker to decide 9th/10th place. CW looked to get off to a good start by beating ROCCAT with an incredible backdoor from Lenny on Shen while SK Gaming lost to Fnatic. Day 2 had everything to play for on both sides. Copenhagen Wolves were set to face Giants Gaming. While CW controlled the vast majority of the game, it was only a matter of time before GIA's team comp would kick into effect as they picked Ryze top, Varus mid and Ezreal ADC all running Tear of the Goddess. This gave GIA the scaling needed to kick into late game as well as heavy poke to dictate the tempo of the game regardless of CW's gold lead. Giants were able to close the game out thus ending the Copenhagen Wolves LCS hopes. What happens to the team in the off season should be closely monitored as Freeze will likely be a valuable asset that multiple teams may have their eye on.
From what could have been multiple tie-breakers ended up in being just one. ROCCAT vs Giants Gaming to decide 5th/6th place however neither team could be faulted for not wanting to win the game. The winner of this match was to be placed into the same side of the playoff bracket as Fnatic and naturally, meeting them as late as possible would bring a chance at higher Championship Points post playoffs. Werlyb picked Galio top lane as he had done previously in the split to go up against Steve's Rumble. The game itself wasn't very close with ROCCAT taking the win and 5th place in 47:21. And with that, the playoff brackets were set.
Week 9 - NA LCS
It's been a long split for Cloud 9 but their fall from grace finally had an end in sight as the final week arrived. Coming into the week C9 were placed 8th, only 1 win behind Team 8 and looking at the schedule for both teams, T8 looked to be in dire need of a miracle as they were set to face Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming, 2 teams fighting for 1st place on the split. C9 on the other hand were up against Team Dragon Knights and a less than stellar looking Team Solo Mid. Team 8 were unable to pickup a win in either of their games leaving Cloud 9 with only needing a single win to take a tie-breaker to decide who would make it out of relegations. While Cloud 9 have been looking somewhat better as a team of late, TDK came out of the blocks with nothing to lose. Picking Kha'Zix top for Seraph, Zac jungle for Kez and Zed mid for Ninja, TDK were looking to have some fun in their final games in the LCS. This game was a huge back and forth until C9 call for a Baron attempt, however TDK were ready to contest and they aced Cloud 9 for no deaths to take over the Baron. From here TDK went on to crush down C9's base over the next 10 minutes and take the game. This left Cloud 9 with needing a win over TSM.
Team Solo Mid had certainly been looking shaky in recent weeks and with almost losing to Enemy Esports on day 1 Cloud 9 fans could be forgiven for having some hope getting a win. TSM vs C9 started at an exceptionally slow pace with the teams trading towers and getting the odd kill here and there. The pace remained this way until both teams began dancing around Baron. It was in this moment that Balls was able to hit a huge 4 man flash GNAR! on TSM allowing Incarnation's Orianna and Sneaky's Tristana to completely mop up the fight going 5 for 1 and taking the Baron. From here Cloud 9 swiftly closed the game with another ace. This win meant Cloud 9 would get their tie-breaker for 7th/8th against Team 8.
Before moving on to tie-breakers we look to the top of the standings where Gravity, Team Liquid, Team Impulse and Counter Logic Gaming look to secure semi final byes in the playoffs. Gravity had begun looking slightly weaker in week 8 with their loss against Dignitas but were still in sole control of 1st place but with their day 1 game being against the simply superb looking Team Impulse, Gravity may have been feeling nervous as week 9 came. Team Impulse were playing without XiaoWeiXiao however as he had been suspended for ELO boosting, this meant their former support sub Gate was moved to mid laner and Adrian returned to fill his old support spot. This change didn't seem to phase TIP one bit as Rush put up an incredibly performance on Evelynn ending the game 9/3/10. Behind him Apollo put up his own impressive performance with Sivir and Gate did everything that was required of him to carry TIP to a win. On the same day, Team Liquid easily disposed of Team 8 and CLG put down Dignitas. This meant that after day 1 there was a 4 way tie for 1st place going into day 2.
Everything was to play for at the top of the standings in day 2 and we were guaranteed to see tie-breakers one way or another. How many we saw, however purely depended on the results of the day. First up was CLG disposing of Team 8 in 28 minutes. This put CLG in sole control of 1st place for now. Next up was Gravity vs TDK. This was a game that the vast majority of people would have put money on Gravity winning before the week started but given TDK's carefree attitude towards their games this was an uncertainty. TDK went back to some interesting picks for this game putting Seraph on Kassadin, Ninja on Irelia and Emperor on Draven. The 10th place team then proceeded to absolutely decimate Gravity, ending Gravity's hopes of a semi final bye in the playoffs. The next game was the big one. Team Impulse vs Team Liquid. Reagardless of who won tie-breakers were guaranteed for 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th, now it was a case of deciding which teams went to which tie-breaker. Team Liquid took total control of the game going as far as to gain an 8k gold advantage until one poorly played tower dive gifted Team Impulse some much needed kills and pressure. From this point on over the next 20 minutes, TIP took total control of the map with Impact on Gnar finding engage after engage. TIP sky rocketed their lead to as much as 13k and looked in total control. Team Impulse went to secure their 4th Dragon and managed with relative ease and moderate resistance from Team Liquid but suddenly Piglet on Sivir and FeniX on Azir began rushing up the mid lane towards TIP's base. The rest of TL prevented TIP from recalling the entire way. This gave Piglet and Fenix enough time to crush down the one remaining Nexus turret as well as the Nexus to give Team Liquid the unlikely win at 59:26. This victory secured Team Liquid vs Counter Logic Gaming as the 1st/2nd place tie-breaker with Team Impulse playing against Gravity for 3rd/4th.
All of the tie-breakers were relatively one sided. Cloud 9 dispatched Team 8 in 32 minutes giving Cloud 9 safety from the promotion tournament as well as keeping their regional qualifier hopes alive. Team Impulse defeated Gravity in 28 minutes to take 3rd place in the regular split. Gravity were unable to find good engage opportunities for Move's Rengar or Keane's Twisted Fate.
Finally we had CLG vs TL for the 1st/2nd place tie-breaker. The game begins at a very slow pace with both teams trading objectives and picking up the odd kill up until 19 minutes in where CLG took a fight in which they aced Team Liquid while giving up only 2 deaths of their own. Merely 3 minutes after this fight, Team Liquid found a fight which netted them 4 kills for no loss. The game stood upon the edge of a knife until multiple misplays by Counter Logic Gaming around Baron saw Team Liquid get 3 kills and the Baron buff. This was the death sentence for CLG as TL crushed forward destroying the base of CLG and securing themselves the win. Team Liquid finish the regular split in 1st place with Counter Logic Gaming finishing in 2nd.
Looking ahead to playoffs
Over in Europe, ROCCAT and Unicorns of Love will be feeling like they have the short end of the stick as they face off in the quarter finals to decide who goes on to play against Fnatic in the semi's. Meanwhile on the other side of the bracket, H2K and Giants Gaming clash to decide who goes on to face Origen in the semi finals. Personally, I would love to see an Origen vs H2K BO5. Both Quarter Final BO5's for Europe look to be extremely exciting.
Meanwhile in North America, Gravity go up against Team Solo Mid to decide who takes on the #1 team in NA Team Liquid. With both Gravity and TSM going through minor slumps in recent weeks, they need to put a lot of work in to secure their spot in the semi finals. On the other side we have Team Impulse vs Dignitas to decide who faces Counter Logic Gaming in the semi finals. The smart money here would be on Team Impulse. Their 8 game winning streak may have come to an end at the hands of a Team Liquid base rush but TIP still showed some incredible resilience when playing from behind and still look like a very impressive team even without XiaoWeiXiao.
I will be here to breakdown each week's BO5 series from both regions as they are played out and hope that you will join me. The playoffs are close which means the World Championships are approaching. Now is the time to get excited. Until next time...
Don't try this at home.