Can anyone catch LMQ?

As the final quarter of League of Legends competition starts up, it’s clear that every team is focusing solely on the playoffs

Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube

As the final quarter of League of Legends competition starts up, it’s clear that every team is focusing solely on the playoffs. Nowhere is that clearer than in the North American region, where LMQ has finally pulled ahead of a pack that appeared to be dead-even over the last few months. Meanwhile, over in Europe, Fnatic have picked up the pace, and now appear to be the only real challenger to first-place Alliance. Only two weeks are left in the LCS—here’s how the statistics were in week nine.

The big story in North America is how dominant LMQ have become. Early season stumbles are behind them—a 1,900 plus gold-per-minute rate and almost 100 percent objective control gave them one of their most impressive weeks ever. A full two games over their closest competition, and with only six games left, not much can stop them now.

For the teams in second place, Cloud9 are the clear favorite. The former champs had a rough midseason, but are now on the rise with a dominant week nine performance of their own. Counter Logic Gaming, who appeared to be a shoe-in before an abysmal week, and Team SoloMid, amidst a perhaps desperate roster change, now appear to be losing steam. And of the bottom four teams, only Curse and Dignitas are showing signs of life, and will likely be the ones fighting to stay out of relegation.

Europe, however, has a much closer fight on its hands for first place. Alliance came out strong and have led the league for the entire season. But Fnatic, the three-time champions of the European LCS, are closing the gap with frightening efficiency—they’re now on an eight-game winning streak. Fnatic actually beat LMQ’s gold income too, at 1954.18 gold per minute, and had similar KDA and objective control numbers. Alliance, however, are still poised to keep the lead with a shocking 25.0 KDA to stay ahead. Only one game separates these powerhouses, but it’s clear they are both playing to win.

Meanwhile, the trailing teams leave much to be desired. Millenium and the Supa Hot Crew appear to be the best contenders for third place, while SK and ROCCAT’s 0-2 weeks leave them fighting to avoid relegation. The final two teams, Gambit and the Copenhagen Wolves, are all but eliminated from playoffs, and would need a miracle to make it into the quarterfinals.

LMQ mid laner Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian highlights this week’s individual performances with an outstanding 505.91 gold per minute, putting him once again in the MVP spotlight. Meanwhile, Fnatic’s Martin “Rekkles” Larsson appears to be leading the charge for them to retake the league—not only did his 19 kills, five assists, and zero deaths almost break records, but they also made him a fantasy superstar for the week.

The rise of Xerath was the major change in champion picks this week, and every team is going to have to cope with the long-range style that Xerath brings along with him. On the other hand, first towers appear to have fallen from relevancy, meaning that nothing is more important than laning safely and ganking opponents to get ahead—and objectives like First Dragon and First Baron are going to be even more integral to victory.