The third week of the North American League Championship Series proved to be some of the craziest League of Legends you’ll ever see.
There were high-octane matches with teams trading blows left and right, racking up huge kill totals with a furious storm of action. LMQ and Complexity, for example, put up a whopping 45 kills combined.
There were chess matches, with teams rotating around the map, feinting and pushing to try and out-position and outthink their foes. CLG bested Dignitas by trading Baron for towers and trapping Dignitas in their base. Cloud9 survived a gold deficit against CLG with some wily maneuvers allowing them to push down the CLG base.
After all the carnage, LMQ (6-2) and Dignitas (6-2) sit tied atop the standings, with Cloud9 (5-3) and Counter Logic Gaming (5-3) just behind them. Right now it looks clear that these are the four teams who will compete for just three spots at the world championships later this year.
The lynchpin of the week was Counter Logic Gaming, who had two tough matches against Dignitas and Cloud9. In true CLG fashion, they played two weird and exciting games filled with close calls and crazy map rotations. They managed to come out with a 1-1 record, keeping them on pace with Cloud9 and in punching distance of the two top-ranked teams.
Dignitas fell to CLG and missed an opportunity to extend a lead over the rest of the league. They took care of business against Evil Geniuses (2-6), though, something Cloud9 failed to do, and that’s a great sign for Dignitas fans: in the past, the team was prone to falling against weaker competition. This season they’ve shown that consistency will be a word that defines them as a team, in large part due to the emphasis jungler Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo places on vision control.
LMQ had a relatively easy schedule, something that’s odd to say when it features TSM (4-4), but they weren’t troubled by America’s falling titan nor LCS newcomer Complexity. TSM themselves had a shot to vault up the standings, but missed against LMQ and had to grit out a win against Curse Gaming.
The bottom of the standings is now packed. While EG (2-6) and Complexity (2-6) seemed destined for relegation at season start, they’re now in direct competition with Curse Gaming (2-6) for a last place spot as they all sit at 2-6. Both Complexity and EG have now dented Cloud9, last season’s champion, so they’ve both tasted blood while showing promise. Curse went 0-2 this week to find themselves in this pit, and they’ll need to dig deep to claw themselves out of it.
The hot list
Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian – The Chinese mid laner is now the best performing player statistically so far this split. He put up a 16/1/13 KDA line for the week while putting the enemy mid laners in their place, scoring solo kills against last split’s MVP, Bjerg, and Complexity mid Neil “pr0lly” Hammad. For fantasy owners: Xian has been worth 24.47 points per game, more than 1.5 points better than the next best player.
Nidalee – Sunday was the Day of Spears, as Nidalee teams went 3-0 while account for 24 kills. Over the entire LCS week, including Europe, Nidalee went 4-1.
Counter Logic Gaming (5-3) – They had a tough schedule and went through 1-1. They’re now one of only two teams who has beat Dignitas in this young season, and they almost took the match against Cloud9, gathering a 6000 gold lead, but the defending champions refused to lose. Still, this week showed CLG’s style of play is good enough to beat the best in the league—and that they deserve to be considered one of the best in the league.
Evil Geniuses (2-6) – Okay. So maybe a last place team isn’t exactly “hot”, but beating Cloud9 in the way they did was certainly impressive. Johnny “Altec” Ru is showing the moves needed to become a superstar, especially with Mitch “Krepo” Voorspoels backing him up. Rumors of a Korean jungler incoming give this team a lot of hope, a mixture of young American talent and veterans that may yet mesh into something more.
The Not List
Curse Gaming (2-6) – This was it—Curse Gaming’s chance to prove that their early season struggles were behind them, and make good on the promise they supposedly showed in preseason practice sessions. But instead they fumbled a game against Complexity, and then couldn’t keep momentum going in a winnable match against TSM. Curse could have vaulted themselves to 4-4, just a couple wins away from a spot at the top of the standings, but instead they’re 2-6, tied with EG and Complexity for last place and in danger of missing the playoffs.
Team SoloMid (4-4) – TSM barely avoided an absolute trainwreck. It looked like they might finish 0-2 after Curse Gaming pulled ahead by 4 kills, but TSM’s superior talent won out as Marcus “Dyrus” Hill and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg carried the day. Still, the way that LMQ dispatched them does not instill confidence in their ability to break into the top three and win an all-important spot in the world finals. TSM has a lot of work to do if they want to raise their level and reach that height.
Cloud9 (5-3) – You can’t be too negative after a win against CLG, right? But Cloud9 fell behind big, and while it’s a testament to their talents that they were able to pull out the win, it also exposes flaws that they just have not been able to fix this season. The current metagame seems to have sapped the strength of two of Cloud9’s most effective weapons, An “Balls” Le and William “Meteos” Hartman, and they are going to be inconsistent until they figure out how to get them going in the current environment.
Bonus Play of the Week
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the play of the entire week, and it happened in a losing effort, but this double kill by Yiliang “DoubleLift” Peng on Lucian, flashing to dodge the Thresh hook, was smooth.
Next week Cloud9 is back into the fire, with matches against Team SoloMid and Dignitas. A 2-0 week for them will go a long way towards instilling confidence in their world championship hopes. But losses could put TSM back in the race, and secure Dignitas as the team to beat.
It’s a long season, and while teams like Curse and TSM may be down and out, anything can happen.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube