The LCS production really went into overdrive after week four of the 2020 Summer Split. With Cloud9 storming through the league with precious little opposition, writers circled the upcoming week five matchup with TSM as a potential trap game.
TSM has historically played C9 tough. The team was 6-2 after week four, tied for second behind the league leaders. Normally that would have given us cause to think the upcoming match would be competitive, that TSM could actually push C9 to the limit, if not win outright.
But that hasn’t been the case this entire year. Nobody has held a candle to C9, and we didn’t expect a TSM squad still figuring out its roster to do the same. When we polled our League analysts after week four and asked them to rank each team from one point (worst) to 10 points (best), TSM ended up in a distant fifth, with C9 nearly doubling their point total.
In fact, we’re pretty unsure about all of the teams ranked two-through-five. It doesn’t look like any of them are improving at the rate they would need to in order to challenge C9 by the end of the split.
Alive: 100 Thieves, Immortals, Dignitas
On paper, week four was a depressing ones for the three teams at the bottom of the league table. The teams managed only one win among the three of them, and that was a 100 Thieves victory over Dignitas, nothing to write home about.
But we would be lying if we didn’t see signs of improvement. Contractz has stabilized the jungle position for 100 Thieves and new support Philippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere was adequate in his debut LCS week. There’s an opportunity for them to make playoffs and even make some noise once they’re there.
Dignitas exited week four winless again thanks to that loss to 100T and match vs. C9. But there are signs of improvement. They hung tough with C9 for almost 20 minutes, securing drake priority even as the rest of the map fell apart under their feet. This still isn’t a good team, but there are signs of life.
Immortals promoted their entire Academy squad last week and it predictably didn’t work. But the young players are getting a shot, and that’s important for an organization that is still trying to reset after buying OpTic Gaming’s LCS slot. That said, if a reset is on the table, we’re not sure what the bot lane of Apollo and Hakuho provides. Having a veteran jungler direct the troops makes sense, but we’ve seen enough of this duo lane over the years to say there’s not much upside remaining.
Back to Earth: Golden Guardians, CLG
For weeks, we’ve been saying that CLG’s record would fall back to earth once the schedule got tougher. That takes nothing away from their charge to the top of the standings, a run made possible by an easy early schedule. It’s just recognizing that this is a mid-tier team at best. In week four, they went 0-2 against stronger teams and it doesn’t look much better for week five.
Golden Guardians did get a win in week four but then blew a winnable game vs. TSM when they picked Morgana mid for Damonte. Damonte is a great early-game player who loves to roam, but he could do nothing against Bjergsen’s Twisted Fate, a champion built to impact the side lanes. Golden Guardians can be decent if they can just get out of their own way.
A mess: Evil Geniuses, FlyQuest, Liquid, TSM
What a group we have here. Separated by just four points in our rankings, their relative order isn’t as important as the fact that none of them look capable of competing with C9. In fact, one of our voters simply put a 10 next to C9’s name and left the other places blank. What’s the point of sorting out places two through 10 if it doesn’t matter in the long run?
The team that is showing the most promise now is Liquid. They have some clear weaknesses but this is looking more like the dominant squads of 2018 and 2019 than the edition that sleepwalked through the 2020 Spring Split.
TSM went 2-0 last week as well and are getting great performances from Bjergsen, but they played two weaker teams. Evil Geniuses top laner Kumo fell back to earth last week, and FlyQuest took advantage in their win vs. EG. Both need to work on becoming more consistent.
Is it enough: C9
C9 are at the top of our power rankings for the 13th straight week, dating back to week two of last split. It’s a pretty amazing run for NA’s best, and we should be celebrating them.
But we also worry that they’re not getting the practice and preparation they need to continue performing well at international events. C9 have so far avoided the NA Worlds curse, but they’ve never been the frontrunner before. And NA first seeds have usually been doomed when they travel outside the region. It’s time to start asking if LCS competition is enough to prepare C9 to beat Europe, China, and Korea when—and surprisingly, if—Worlds happens this year.
All photos via Riot Games.