Week three, and the LCS is finding its groove. We still have a lot of ties, but the standings are starting to shake themselves out.
1. Cloud9: 6-0 in matches; 12-2 in games
2. Team SoloMid: 5-1; 10-6
2. FlyQuest: 5-1; 11-3
4. Phoenix1: 4-2; 10-5
5. Echo Fox: 2-4; 6-9
5. Team Liquid: 2-4; 6-9
5. CounterLogic Gaming: 2-4; 6-8
5. Immortals: 2-4; 5-10
9. EnVyUs: 1-5; 3-10
9. Dignitas: 1-5; 5-11
Before I get into things, I just want to point out that the ordering of these standings from Riot seem to be somewhat arbitrary. The rules say the rankings at the end of the season would be based on head-to-head records, then on win percentage.
If the mid-season standings were to take this into account, we would see FlyQuest above Team SoloMid, and Dignitas above EnVyUs.
Either way, let’s look at two of the best teams in the league right now, starting with Team SoloMid. Although they’ve dropped games (in fact, they’ve dropped a game in every match they won), they’ve only lost one actual match to the currently-undefeated Cloud9.
Team SoloMid have three teams left to play before they complete the first half of their round robin, one at each level of the ladder. On Sunday at 10am AEDT, they’ll play last place EnVyUs, on Monday at 7am they’re against Echo Fox, and next weekend they will be playing FlyQuest.
This series of matches lets them practise their way up the rankings until they meet the team they’re tied with; when they have lost a game to every team they’ve played against, this is a useful opportunity to re-frame their opposition.
To put the match against EnVyUs in context, we’ll jump back to their week two win against same-placed Dignitas. For the most part, the game they lost wasn’t too bad – they strategised well, but a combination of some nice picks on the part of Dignitas started to give them the lead, and Team SoloMid’s mechanics just let them down a few too many times.
In this game, the two baron fights that Team SoloMid ultimately lost were probably the best calls they could make in the moment. The problem is that they were already behind, and weren’t able to take out Dignitas after.
The redemption interrupt on Bjergsen’s recall probably wasn’t necessary – Ssumday’s fed Fiora and the minions probably could have finished the game either way – but it would be remiss of me to talk about the Dignitas win without mentioning the play.
Their loss in this game should be easy to address ahead of the EnVyUs match, especially when they don’t have Ssumday to contend with in the top lane. If they can just tidy up their teamfights, and not let themselves and objectives get picked off, this is their best chance yet to have a clean 2-0 match.
Echo Fox will be a very different case, and we can draw some comparison with the more recent series against CounterLogic Gaming to see what might be in store. Team SoloMid didn’t just roll over in their game one loss. After being down a couple thousand gold in the early game, they were able to take the lead back, and held it until some 24 minutes into their 27-minute game.
CounterLogic Gaming were able to turn a team fight around after Bjergsen overextended, and their Ocean Drake pickups paid off in getting them ready to re-engage.
It’s almost impossible to play a totally flawless game, but Bjergsen absolutely should have known not to facecheck that bush in a teamfight where none of his opponents had gone down. The double (and later, triple) Ocean Drake buffs made allowed CounterLogic Gaming to set up and continue a siege off the back of picking off Bjergsen.
Echo Fox do not have the same synergy that CounterLogic Gaming do, but they have strong individual players with off-meta pocket pics. They’re also the only team to have taken a game off the other second-place team, FlyQuest.
Although play style will heavily depend on the team compositions, if they can remember as a team to not get greedy and to play their team comp properly (i.e. let their front line be the actual front line) this also has the chance to be a 2-0 series. I don’t doubt that TSM will win these games either way, but adding some sweeps will improve their win rate for later in the season.
Cloud9 has an interesting weekend ahead, with a game against Team Liquid at 10am on Saturday, and a game against FlyQuest at 10am on Monday. Team Liquid are sitting at a 2-4 record, going 1-1 last week, where FlyQuest have only dropped one match.
The match against Team Liquid probably won’t cause too much difficulty for the top team. Last week, Cloud9 played Echo Fox who have an identical 2-4 match/6-9 game record, and swept the series. Echo Fox did not give up game one easily, almost keeping up with Cloud9, but Cloud9 were able to pull away by playing methodically and not getting caught out unless they could take a trade.
In game two, Contractz’s Ivern pick helped them snowball their lead much faster for a sub-30 minute win by helping to snowball the carries. It took until twenty minutes in for them to take the decisive gold lead, but prior to this they were getting Drakes and map control, which allowed them to close out the game.
Team Liquid have their work cut out for them in this series. Echo Fox is the only team to take a match off FlyQuest, so Team Liquid have a shot at doing the same to Cloud9, but it just doesn’t look likely at the moment. Cloud9 have had incredible macro gameplay so far, where Team Liquid managed to give up a match to last placed Team EnVyUs last week. Goldenglue will be outclassed by Jensen; if Cloud9 can focus on keeping Reignover, Piglet and Lourlo from getting going, they should have any problem continuing their winning streak.
The match against FlyQuest is one I’m incredibly excited for. Cloud9 haven’t played fourth placed Phoenix1 yet, so we have to go all the way back to the first match of the split to see them against another top-tier team in Team SoloMid.
Cloud9’s game one was slow but with Contractz consistently picking off opponents. Every member of the team performed well, and although it definitely wasn’t one-sided it didn’t feel like a clutch win.
Game two went similarly; it was slightly shorter at thirty-six minutes, and while it wasn’t a total stomp, there was still a great performance across the team. Although Team SoloMid made some very good calls, they did also make some poorer decisions which ended up losing them the game.
Not to take credit from Cloud9, but their win wasn’t just down to their play as a team. The thing is, they knew how to make the most out of Team SoloMid’s mistakes.
The game against FlyQuest is going to be a challenge, but Cloud9 should still be able to take it. Team SoloMid have shown themselves to be pretty strong over the last three weeks, not dropping any other games, where FlyQuest lost 1-2 against Echo Fox in week two.
The players on Cloud9 are are overall more skilled, and a team, they have finally evolved to the point of having on-point macro game without Hai’s shotcalling. Although it won’t be easy and I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop a game, Cloud9 should be able to win this match to remain undefeated.
A lot of the matches this weekend are lining up to be relatively one-sided, but there are a few that have the potential to be very exciting. How much do you think we will see the ladder shift this week? Will there be any major upsets?