So one week into the LCS is pretty early to start making calls about standings and the actual relative strengths of teams, but with only 8 weeks left til playoffs (!) why not get started on making some calls?
The standings so far:
1. FlyQuest (2-0 match history, 4-1 in games played)
1. Cloud 9 (2-0, 4-1)
3. Team Liquid (1-1; 3-2)
3. Phoenix1 (1-1; 3-2)
3. Team Dignitas (1-1; 3-3)
3. Immortals (1-1; 3-3)
3. CounterLogic Gaming (1-1; 2-2)
3. Team SoloMid (1-1; 2-3)
9. Echo Fox (0-2; 1-4)
9. Team EnVyUs (0-2; 0-4)
With all the teams grouped so closely we certainly have to wait another week or two to see a fuller picture, but it’s never too early to start to look at what this will mean for some of these teams.
Expectations: FlyQuest will be a bottom-tier team, likely to face relegation at the end of the split. I saw phrases like “stealing wins” used, and there was a broad consensus that too many members on this team have passed their prime – Lemonnation is now 27, far past the usual ‘prime’ of professional League players.
Reality: FlyQuest are tied at the top of the standings, at 2-0 matches and 4-1 games. Their results against EnVyUs shouldn’t be too surprising to most, but few called the 2-1 of Team Liquid on Sunday. Game one showed how incredibly good Lourlo is on Fiora, but banning that away, combined with Hai’s Corki and shotcalling brought the second two games in their favour.
Expectations: FlyQuest have a second week looking similar to the first. On Saturday at 10am AEDT they have a game against a top-4 team in CounterLogic Gaming, and then on Monday at 7am they will play the broadly considered relegation-risk Echo Fox. CounterLogic Gaming played the same two teams as Cloud 9 last week, however they lost to Team Liquid – with this in mind, it is actually possible for FlyQuest to go undefeated for the first two weeks of the split.
Expectations: In their brief history in the LCS, Immortals have an exceptional regular-season record of 50-11. In the off-season, however, they lost nearly all their roster as well as a chunk of their support staff. Not to say hopes were low, but the broad consensus was a path towards a playoffs berth, albeit a lower-end one.
Reality: While it’s obviously too early to call playoffs spots or not, Immortals’ 1-1 record so far puts them in the right kind of spot. They took a game off TSM in their losing series, and lost a game to Echo Fox in their winning series. They’re often in the lowest percentile of stats (including worst Kill/Death ratio in the league), but so far it hasn’t hurt them too much.
Expectations: Immortals’ first game of week two will be against Cloud 9 at 7am on Sunday, and with Cloud 9 looking on form, I can’t say I have great hopes for Immortals. Their 10am Monday game against EnVyUs should be much more straightforward for them though, so they should be able to have a week as good as week one, if not better if they can sweep EnVyUs.
Expectations: Although opinions were a bit divided on Phoenix1 coming out of the offseason, most rankings seemed to have them somewhere around 5/6/7th – not in the lowest grouping, but not quite a certainty for playoffs. They picked up a lot of great players in the off-season though, which certainly helped their case.
Reality: While the overall rankings are about right, Phoenix1 looked good getting their results. The 25-minute game against Echo Fox in particular was convincing, and even though they lost against Dignitas they certainly put up a good fight. The team sound like they’re very positive, too, which should help them stay confident internally.
Expectations: Coming into week two, Phoenix1’s games will kick off at 7AM Sunday against EnVyUs, which given their results against Echo Fox should be a relatively easy win for them. The real challenge will come at 7AM on Monday, when they will play against Team Liquid. Liquid are not doing too badly for themselves so far, however they have looked a bit shaky at times – while I wouldn’t expect Phoenix1 to win the series, I have high hopes for them taking a game.
This season has only just begun, and already we have seen some fantastic gameplay across the rift. What’s been the biggest surprise so far? Who do you think will surprise next week?