LCS Landscape Week 5 - The return
We have just breached the half way point of the Spring Split, so now seemed like as good a time as any to bring back the LCS Landscape! Let's get straight into the thick of things and jump into the European action for Week 5.
The top of the table is certainly looking far more competitive this split than it did during Fnatic's dominance of Summer last year with G2 and H2K battling it out for first place. Jankos has been on fine form so far this split and that streak of impressive performances certainly played a key part in H2K's victory over Unicorns of Love in their first game of the week, with Jankos obtaining a 90% Kill Participation.
Looking towards the G2 vs Vitality game, Nukeduck and Cabochard both showed up big on Gangplank and Fiora respectively. Nukeduck in particular had an exceptional showing doing over 33% of his teams damage through the course of the game. G2 have proven themselves as a team to be feared in EU through the Spring Split so far and this win for VIT will definitely be a morale booster in the long run. Nukeduck's consistency still remains an outlying issue given his trends in the past but hopefully for Vitality this is a good sign of things to come as we edge closer to playoffs.
Skipping ahead once more to H2K vs G2. Coming into this game, H2K had a lead over G2 in the standings having won their game against UoL the day previous. H2K now had a chance to extend that lead further which would sit them out of arms reach in 1st place should they take the win. G2 had other and weren't about to let history repeat itself as they picked up the win to tie H2K in 1st again at 8-2. Kikis had an incredible performance on Malphite resulting in a 90% Kill Participation with 9/1/9. Combined with a Baron steal by Emperor on Ezreal with a Q and Hybrid's fantastic Braum play G2 were able to tie 1st place and the head-to-head with H2K which could be crucial towards playoffs.
Looking elsewhere in EU, Week 5 was the debut for Fnatic's new support Klaj. With several concerns being voiced about Noxiak's level of improvement during his time with FNC, the team was proactive and brought in rookie Klaj to fill the role. Little is known about him but Rekkles had been speaking highly of him prior to his debut. Fnatic's first game against Elements was superbly controlled by Fnatic as they picked up the win without much issue. Gamsu broke out the "tank split push" build with Nautilus building both a Banner of Command and Zz'rot Portal vs Steve. It's difficult to tell the overall effectiveness of this since Fnatic were always in control of the game but this is a build we may see more of as the split rolls on.
Fnatic's 2nd game of the week came against UoL who have been showing some flares of brilliance here and there with jungler, Rudy, filling the role very well. This game was an absolute polar opposite of the Fnatic we saw face Elements merely one day prior. Making several careless mistakes which were capitalised on by a fairly solid looking UoL squad eventually saw FNC lose this game to go 6-4 rooting them in the middle of the table at the mid way point of the split. Fnatic are definitley going to need to find some solid ground soon if they want a decent spot going towards playoffs for MSI.
Fnatic aren't the only "top squad" to be struggling in Europe lately as Origen have yet another 1-1 week, their 3rd of the split so far. OG's win over Splyce, while convincing, was dragged out to over 40 minutes of game time. Substantially longer than many people would have expected, however the game never looked out of control for Origen. In their 2nd game against Vitality however it was a completely different story. Origen looked on the back foot from the very beginning only managing to secure a single kill and a single tower in the duration of the 32 minute game. While Vitality have certainly looked decent thus far, these kinds of crushing defeats are not what Origen fans are expecting of a team that made such a deep run at worlds a mere 4 months ago.
Finally, a feel good moment of the week in Europe as Giants manage to secure their first win of the split to break their long losing streak. While they weren't able to make it a 2-0 week, hopefully this first win will light some renewed vigor into the squad. With ROCCAT tied with Giants at 1-9 and Splyce only 2 wins ahead of them, there is still plenty of time left to climb higher in the standings and into a more favorable relegations spot if not out of relegations entirely.
Now let's head over to North America.
As with Europe let's start at the top of the standings with a scenario that seems all to familiar to the Europeans. Following yet another 2-0 week, Immortals now sit at 10-0, far out of reach of any other team in the league. If they weren't being asked before, questions are definitely being asked now whether Huni and Reignover can achieve another perfect split of 18-0. IMT's first game against Dignitas went pretty much as expected. Controlled from the beginning with Dignitas only managing to pick up a single tower and a handful of kills.
Immortals' 2nd game however was far more chaotic than this as they faced a rather impressive looking Cloud 9. While IMT have already picked up a win against C9 that was with BunnyFufu on support instead of the grand shot caller himself, Hai. The difference was staggering. Kills came thick and fast from the very beginning of the game with the respective bot lanes going 1 for 1 in a super early trade as well as Balls 1v1ing Huni in top lane a few seconds after. Even as the kills kept coming, Immortals never lost sight of the objective game as they took a very early tower lead which helped them snowball a rather significant lead over C9. The final 10 minutes of the game were racked with big team fights which were played magnificently by Immortals, one of which Wildturtle was able to pick up a 1v3 Triple Kill. Inevitably, the lead that IMT had amassed got to C9 and Immortals were able to continue their unbeaten run. Much like Dignitas, Cloud 9 were only able to pick up a single tower all game.
Moving on with Team Solo Mid. So far TSM members have been very vocal about their own disappointment in their performances, even during their wins. Questions have been raised about when, or even if, TSM will begin to show signs of improvement as a team. It looked like those questions were about to be answered this week. TSM's first game against Team Impulse was slow and methodical to say the least. First blood alone only came after 11 minutes had passed, during which time 6 towers and a Dragon had fallen. The slow pace allowed for a measured game which TSM would eventually win. Certainly a much needed win for TSM, even if it wasn't as convincing as some might have hoped.
The big game for TSM was their next one against Counter Logic Gaming and they were eager to even the score after being beaten quite handily during week 1 by their long time rivals. TSM fans and TSM themselves will definitely be happier with how this game went. Bjergsen started the game by first blooding Huhi in a 1v1 before 5 minutes had gone by. While the game continued at a slow pace, TSM finally came together around 12 minutes in and began pushing advantages taking tower after tower with little to no response from CLG. In fact, CLG didn't pick up a single kill until almost 24 minutes into a 29 minute game along with only a single tower. This is the most solid TSM have looked all split so far and they will need to continue this run of form as they face a strong looking Cloud 9 in their first game of Week 6.
Moving on once again we come to Echo Fox and, more importantly, the return of Froggen and kfo. Finally FOX get to play with their full roster once more. In a post game interview it was revealed that FOX have been scrimming with their main roster even while using subs and it showed. While Renegades, with their current form, are not the strongest of opponenets this was a good chance for FOX to show that their full roster is still a force to be reckoned with. The game always under control from FOX and they were able to pick up a much needed win.
It was their 2nd game against NRG, however, that showed how good this FOX squad could be. Beginning in ususal lane swap fashion, the game had a steady start with Echo Fox taking their time and waiting on power spikes and good opportunities. They remained even in towers and even picked up first blood while falling behind on Dragons. This all changed in one moment when NRG were setting up a siege on mid lane. kfo finds a huge 4 man Malphite ultimate catching everyone but GBM and crushing a fight. This lead to a tower lead for FOX. There was definitely a sense of desperation about NRG at this point as they tried a Teleport flank with Impact which went horribly wrong as kfo managed to find another important ultimate which snowballed the gold lead over 6k in favor of FOX. From here on it was a relatively simple matter for FOX to close out the game. With this kind of performance from kfo and Echo Fox as a whole, other teams in the league will need to be on notice. FOX are certainly not to be underestimated.
Week 5 overall has been another great week in the LCS and it's still unsure how things will play out heading towards the back end of the season, but for now let's look ahead to Week 6 in Europe and what important games there are coming up.
Games to watch - Europe Week 6
Fnatic vs G2 (Day 1 Game 4)
Vitality vs H2K (Day 1 Game 5)
Vitality vs Unicorns of Love (Day 2 Game 2)
Origen vs H2K (Day 2 Game 3)
G2 have a significantly easier week than their first place counterpart, H2K, but Fnatic could still prove to be a tough opponent provided they can avoid making as many sloppy mistakes as they did against Unicorns of Love. Vitality have been showing some great performances lately and their competition in Week 6 seems like the perfect chance for them to show that they are a serious contender for first place and during playoffs. H2K need to continue their controlled style of play if they want to retain first place but with Vitality and Origen standing in their way, this could be a tough week.
Moving ahead with Week 6 in North America.
Games to watch - North America Week 6
Team Solo Mid vs Cloud 9 (Day 1 Game 3)
Team Liquid vs Echo Fox (Day 1 Game 5)
NRG Esports vs Cloud 9 (Day 2 Game 3)
Team Liquid vs Immortals (Day 2 Game 5)
Cloud 9's recent run of form with Hai cannot be ignored and if TSM are going to show that they're definitely improving as a team, a win of Cloud 9 is absolutely critical. Team Liquid have been very hit and miss lately. With some standout performances from newcomers Matt and Dardoch there have been times where Liquid have looked unstoppable. Yet those performances are counter balanced by some severely lack luster teamplay and sloppy individual performances as well. With games against a vastly improved Echo Fox and a still unbeaten Immortals, Team Liquid will need their squad to show the quality and teamplay that we know exists to come out with wins. Finally, NRG have been faltering far more than a team with their amount of star power on a roster is expected to. Sitting dead middle in the table with a 5-5 scoreline is not where many people would have placed this team prior to the season starting. Much like Team Liquid, there is quality in their squad and it needs to be on full display to topple Cloud 9 in their current form.
This split so far has been a joy and a pain to watch all rolled into one. We've already seen Baron throws a-plenty along with some clean and crisp map play and spectacular team fighting. With Europe being as close as it is, a lot could change very quickly, while various teams in North America now have a point to prove and who, if anyone, will finally bring down the juggernaut of Immortals? Only time will tell. Until next week...
Don't try this at home.