Week 8 is over, and I’m exhausted. For those who don’t follow the League Championship Series, this was a Super Week. This means that, instead of 16 regular season games (two per team), there were 32. And for fans (and writers like me), that means a lot more play, players, and matches to follow. So for everyone who didn’t have time to follow everything, or who just found it overwhelming, here’s a primer on everything mattered.
After their meteoric rise in the LCS, ROCCAT have gone 2-6 over the last three weeks—and have dropped from first to third. Don’t get me wrong, third place ain’t bad for any new team, but they’ve clearly got some footing to regain.
Still, that’s nothing compared to Fnatic’s fall down the rankings. They followed up a seven-game winning streak with an eight-game losing streak, and have gone 3-2 since then. They’ve dropped from first place in Week 4 to the sixth place position with a three-way tie at 10-10. That’s right, if the season ended right now, Fnatic would have to fight to keep their spot in the LCS. And that’s after coming in first place during both splits last year—and placing fourth in the world.
Good news, fortunately, isn’t hard to find. Alliance and SK Gaming both put up great weeks, and are rising quickly in the rankings. Alliance, who went undefeated over the week, jumped up to 4th place and are close to entering the top three. Most impressively is that they defeated both ROCCAT and Gambit, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds going into this week. Both teams have proved their worth as of late, despite skepticism heading into the season.
With only three weeks left, it’s clear that there’s no sure winner in the league. There’s only a two game difference between six of the eight teams, and it would be folly to count any team out at this point. This battle for the title will last long into the playoffs.
Across the Atlantic, the scene is much easier to parse. There are no ties, and no major upsets. In fact, the top three teams have remained unchanged since Week 5—and the top two since Week 2. The bottom three back then, similarly, remain unchanged. The stability of the U.S., however, belies the roster changes that have shaken up some teams.
Counter Logic Gaming, who are currently No. 3, have done well despite their changing roster. Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp, whom you may remember missing several weeks of competition with visa issues, has spearheaded CLG’s rise. They’ve gone 9-3 since his arrival.
Team SoloMid, the leaders of North America, lost their mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg two weeks ago as he went to fix his own visa issues. The team’s owner, former mid laner Andy “Reginald” Dinh, has stepped in to keep the team afloat. He has done an outstanding job, and the team is 5-1 without Bjerg. Dinh himself earned the Week 8 MVP.
One team, however, does seem to be suffering under their instability. Ex Duris Gloria, whose support player was kicked off the team, have recruited Jamie “Sheep” Gallagher to give the team a second chance in the league. It hasn’t worked—since his rostering, they’ve gone 2-4 and remain the last place team.
On the whole, the region seems to be holding its breath for playoffs to really bring out the big guns.
The bottom line
It’s clear that both scenes are quite different. Part of that, perhaps, lies in the preseason relegation matches.
Europe, who had two teams drop out of the league and two newcomers added in, seem to play on a higher level than their North American counterparts, who saw zero team drop-outs. These new teams for Europe aren’t shabby, either—ROCCAT are No. 3, and the Copenhagen Wolves are No. 5.
All eyes, following this logic, are on the Challenger Teams for North America. Several, such as the Chinese side LMQ and CompLexity’s Red and Black teams, are already generating relatively large hype within the scene, comparable to when Cloud 9 made their appearance in 2013.
Stay tuned for next week, when I plan on exploring some of these lesser-known teams.
Power rankings of things I like
1) Alliance – This European team went 4-0 last week amidst some fairly sharp criticisms this year. They’ve stepped up their game, and it shows. Alliance are close to breaching the top three for the first time this year, a welcome relief for the third place team last year.
2) Team SoloMid – TSM has held onto first place in North America since Week 2. I didn’t think the team would stay there, but they look to be the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, especially if they can tie up their series against Cloud 9. Look forward to that match in early April, as it may end up determining who takes home the crown for the Spring Split.
3) Kwon “Casper” Ji Min – You may recall Korean team SKT T1 K’s rockstar support player, Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong Hyeon, stepping down. Well Min has stepped up in a big way in Hyeon’s absence, and has performed outstandingly to keep SKT ahead in the Korean Masters tournament. SKT is currently 8-1, and their closest competition is just 4-2.
4) Jack Etienne – Talk about dedication, Cloud 9’s manager was booking his team flights to Europe for training this month, and somehow managed to book his star jungler, Will “Meteos” Hartman, under his in-game name, rather than his real name. It got resolved in time for Hartman to make his flight, but it’s great to see a manager can get that wrapped up in his player’s persona.
5) Mike “Wickd” Petersen – I’ve given Petersen a hard time before, but Alliance’s top laner really stepped up his game this week. It was a large part of why the team went 4-0 over the Super Week. I look forward to seeing how his play and that of his team continue into the playoffs.
Social of the week
GG C9, but it’s not really fair, they have 6 members: Balls, Meteos, Hai, Sneaky, LemonNation and LemonNation’s beard #LCS
— Ben Forbes (@RiotDraggles) March 9, 2014
Riot employees are often some of the biggest fans for their game’s pro scene. Ben Forbes chimed in with the perfect quip about Cloud 9 support player’s facial hair. Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, at 24, is one of the older players in the league, and his beard is in full swing. I don’t know if it’s the reason Cloud 9 does so well, but something is going right on the team, facial hair or no.
Image of the week
Image via OnGamers
Some great analysis, done by Daniel ‘Spellsy’ Biery over at OnGamers, explores each region’s winning rate by the gold lead the teams have at certain time intervals. With it, we can tell how often teams win based on when they are strong throughout a game, a reflection of parity as discussed above. Europe (25 percent difference) have much less likelihood of winning based on a lead at 10 minutes, indicating that teams are skilled enough to make comebacks more often. North America (60 percent difference) is much less likelihood to see comebacks, as 79 percent of teams in the lead after 10 minutes go on to take the game.
Photo by artubr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)