Here's what's at stake with 2 weeks left in the LCS
Two weeks remain in the League Championship Series (LCS), meaning it’s the last chance teams have to land a better spot in the standings.
That’s all the more important considering what’s on the line: Keeping your spot in the main division league or earning a better seed in the playoffs and a shot at the Riot World Championship.
The new Championship Point system instituted at the start of this year means that every rank in the playoffs means that much more. A couple points can decide whether you earn a guaranteed spot at Worlds or must survive a Regional bracket. The Regional itself is a grueling, gauntlet-style event, where the lowest ranked teams must grind through one another to earn a Worlds berth. That means that every rank in the point standings essentially brings you one best-of-five series closer to Worlds.
Plus, winning the playoffs has an additional perk: You qualify for Worlds, and with the top seed from your region. That means you’ll get to avoid facing the top team from China or Korea in the group stage.
But lets not get too far ahead of ourselves—the playoffs have yet to begin, and only three teams among both LCS regions have actually clinched a spot in them.
The stage is almost set for the playoffs in North America. Six teams sit with 8-6 or better records, a full three games ahead of the 5-9 Team 8, meaning it’d take an utter collapse and a Team 8 rally to shift who plays in the big dance. But the battle for relegation is much closer.
Playoffs, here we come
1) Gravity Gaming (11-3)
No team has looked as solid as Gravity Gaming this season in North America and for their efforts they’ve already clinched a playoff spot. They still need a couple wins to secure an important playoff bye; their top six finish last split only earned them 10 Championship Points, meaning to qualify for Worlds or improve their situation for the Regional bracket the team can use all the help it can get.
2) Team Liquid (10-4)
The Liquid boys are surging thanks to superb play from mid laner Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun, and it’s put them in prime position to secure a spot at the World Championships. With 50 champ points earned in the Spring, the team has a great chance to guarantee a Worlds berth.
The middle of the pack
3) Counter Logic Gaming (9-5)
4) Team Impulse (9-5)
5) Team Solomid (9-5)
These three teams all need a single win or a single Team 8 loss to clinch a playoff spot, which is likely a formality at this point. But they can still move up the standings and claim a bye in the playoffs. That’s important for all three teams. Counter Logic only scored 10 champ points last split, meaning they need a great run in the playoffs to give them a good shot at Worlds. Impulse, with 30 points, is in a similar position. At 90 points, Team SoloMid may be in the driver’s seat, but that’s not enough for a team expected to not only reach Worlds, but perform well on the bigger stage.
6) Team Dignitas (8-6)
The season’s early Cinderellas have struggled of late, putting up a 1-4 record since losing to Team Dragon Knights in week five. They need one win to clinch a playoff spot thanks to holding the head-to-head over Team 8, but it may be rough getting there as they face Gravity, Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, and Enemy the rest of the way.
7) Team 8 (5-9)
After being one game away from making the playoffs in Spring, it’s been a struggle for Team 8 in their sophomore season. Mid laner Andrew “Slooshi” Pham's absence has certainly hurt. But at 5-9, they’re currently in line to avoid relegations, even if challenging for playoffs again is likely a pipe dream. Staying in that spot, though, may be tough. Team 8 has the two top teams in the league on their schedule, meaning Cloud9 and Enemy will likely be nipping at their heels.
8) Cloud9 (4-10)
The story of the season is Cloud9’s fall from grace. One of the most dominant teams in League history in their region is now slated for relegation. A favorite to reach Worlds at the start of the season with 70 Champ points after reaching the finals in Spring, Cloud9 is now in danger of losing those points: If a team places in relegations, they forfeit points earned in the earlier Split. That means that these final two weeks have extra meaning for Cloud9: If they beat out Team 8 and Enemy, not only do they stay in the league, but they maintain their Champ points, a total that guarantee them a spot in the Regional. Of course, surviving the regional gauntlet to reach worlds is a Herculean task, but stranger things have happened.
Cloud9 is in line for relegations, after all.
9) Enemy (4-10)
10) Team Dragon Knights (1-13)
The LCS's two newest teams are at the bottom of the standings, right where many expected them to place at season’s start. The Team Dragon Knights surge everyone expected when they scored their first victory of the season in week five never happened. Since then, they've yet to score another win, even with their full lineup. A single loss by Team Dragon Knights means they will fall out of the league, and even going 4-0 comes with caveats, as Cloud9 and Enemy will need to lose out to let that happen.
The big three
1) Fnatic (14-0)
The kings of Europe are in line for a perfect season, and the only thing stopping them is the fact that they’re so good. They’ve already clinched the playoffs, so they might take the final two weeks a little less seriously in preparation for the playoff run. But regardless of where they place, they're nearly a lock for clinching a guaranteed berth at Worlds.
2) Origen (10-4)
The Origen boys look like they should represent Europe at Worlds, but as a newly promoted team they don’t have any champ points to show it. That makes securing a playoff bye all the more important for them; even, say, falling to Fnatic in the finals may not give them enough points to pass Unicorns of Love or H2k Gaming heading into the regional.
3) H2k Gaming (9-5)
The usually solid H2k Gaming seems to struggle against the two teams ahead of them in the standings, but they’ve handled all other comers so far this season. That puts them in prime position for another top three finish, which would likely secure them a guaranteed spot at Worlds as Europe’s second seed.
The playoff hunt
One game separates four teams vying for three playoff spots, with another, Elements, still in contention.
4) Giants Gaming (7-7)
It seemed like a pipe dream when Adrián “Adryh” Pérez said that Giants is aiming for Worlds a couple weeks into Giants’ strong start, but they’re in a prime position to make a run. With ROCCAT and Unicorns of Love on the schedule, Giants controls their own fate.
5) Unicorns of Love (7-7)
Last split’s runners-up are mired in the middle of the pack, but wins against Giants and Gambit Gaming over the next two weeks will put them in the driver’s seat. The Unicorns have 70 champ points from last split. If they place above H2k Gaming in the playoffs, they could guarantee a berth at Worlds. But they need to get there first.
6) Gambit Gaming (6-8)
7) Team ROCCAT (6-8)
Gambit Gaming and Team ROCCAT currently share the sixth playoff spot with an even head-to-head tie-breaker, and both face tough schedules to close out the season. Much like Elements, who are just below them in the standings, the teams are on the brink of making the playoffs or suffering relegation. That’s a microcosm of their seasons as a whole: All three teams show flashes of potential and featured talented star players, but none of them have put together the consistency needed to rank higher in the standings.
8) Elements (5-9)
A second-straight disappointing season for Europe’s top seed at Worlds last year, right now Elements is fighting to avoid relegation. But they’re also just one game away from playoffs. With matches against the two teams below them and Gambit Gaming on the schedule, Elements control their fate. Three wins likely means playoffs, but a loss to SK Gaming or Wolves will spell relegation
9) SK Gaming (4-10)
Any hope to avoid relegation was seemingly crushed by news of the team’s internal problems. With a potentially disgruntled roster or a lineup of replacement players playing out the season, SK Gaming may be pressed to stay in the league. A single win will likely avoid auto relegation, but with Fnatic, Origen, Unicorns of Love, and Elements on the schedule, even that may be hard to find.
10) Copenhagen Wolves (2-12)
It’s been a horrible season for Copenhagen Wolves after a Spring that gave their fans hope. Making the playoffs after seasons of surviving relegation, Wolves likely won’t even get the chance to fight for their LCS spot this time. They need at least 2 wins to have a chance at staying in the league, considering their head-to-head tie breaker with SK Gaming. Wolves will need to find them against Elements, H2k Gaming, ROCCAT, and Giants.
The League Championship Series is quickly coming to a close with just two weeks of play remaining. But there's plenty of drama to still be had. Teams are vying for survival and angling to earn spots at Worlds or at least set themselves up for the Regional.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr