NA LCS Spring Week 4: The bottom rungs of the ladder

Jess Carruthers Roar Rookie

By , Jess Carruthers is a Roar Rookie

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    If you read these regularly you’re probably sick of hearing me gush about Cloud9 and FlyQuest but that series was so good! FlyQuest’s blind Zed pick and Nidalee in game three were questionable, but it was so much fun from both sides.

    It was also probably the best outcome for their fans: a three game series, Cloud9 remain in first place, undefeated, and FlyQuest are still in second. Their rematch is not far away in week six; I’m crossing my fingers that FlyQuest will get a better grasp and give us another great series.

    Gushing over. The standings at the end of the week:

    1. Cloud9: 8-0 in matches; 16-4 in games
    2. Team SoloMid: 6-2; 14-5
    2. FlyQuest: 6-2; 12-8
    4. Echo Fox: 4-4; 10-9
    4. Phoenix1: 4-4; 11-9
    4. Immortals: 4-4; 9-10
    7. CounterLogic Gaming: 3-5; 8-11
    8. Team Liquid; 2-6; 7-13
    8. Team Dignitas: 2-6; 7-13
    10. Team EnVyUs: 1-7; 3-14

    We have one more week of matches before teams get a week off for IEM Katowice, even though this year there won’t be any North American teams taking part. Let’s check out two of the lowest ranked teams – Team Liquid, who are dead even with Team Dignitas in eighth place, and last placed Team EnVyUs.

    These two have quite a bit in common, stats-wise. Both have poor Kill/Death ratios, poor dragon and baron control, and mediocre Mid/Late Game Ratings . I’ve glossed over these two in past weeks for this reason, so lets check in on them, and their opponents for the next week.

    Team Liquid
    Team Liquid are breaking their “fourth place curse” this season in almost the worst way they can. The 7-13 game record isn’t the worst – outside of their two wins, at least they’ve gone to three games in most of their series – but they are dancing with a relegations risk.

    This week, Team Liquid will be playing against Team Dignitas at 7am AEDT on Sunday and CounterLogic Gaming at 10am Monday. These are both must-win games for Liquid, but losing to Dignitas would give up the head-to-head advantage; when that is the difference between eighth and a relegation spot, Team Liquid cannot drop this game.

    Liquid have had their moments. They took a game off first place Cloud9, and their second game against Immortals started out strong. They have a few problems, but Piglet has looked uncomfortable in so many games, making individual mistakes and getting picked off too much leading to dying fifth most in the league. The bot lane is improving, but not consistently enough.

    Their macro calls are also not going the way they need. Liquid can stay even with top teams, or even get out in front, but in too many games they then give their win over to the other team, as in the series against Cloud9. Their second game was great; they looked like a whole new team, but they weren’t playing against Impact.

    Their next opponent, Dignitas looked strong in week one, but have honestly not looked nearly as good in the time since. They did beat Team EnVyUs last week, which shows that they’re not absolutely last place worthy, and it means that they are, at the very least, coming into this week’s games with a win behind them.

    Team Liquid should be able to take this series, but it’s a tough call. They have been closer to winning in their recent losses, and their Korean-speaking team members each have quite a long history of playing on English-speaking teams. The teams have similar quality macro gameplay, but in most roles Team Liquid had the better players.

    This is probably going to be three games, or two close games, but Team Liquid should have just enough advantages to win out.

    Their second opponent, CounterLogic Gaming, is only just above them in the ladder. As a team, CounterLogic Gaming has slightly better stats, they have a winning record against teams beneath them, and they won the match against the higher-ranked Phoenix1 this week. They’re not looking fantastic, but they are looking better, and should serve a challenge to Team Liquid.

    This is another hard call. It’s the last game of the week, which could leave either team a bit worn out, but Liquid are in with a chance here. These teams have already played each other this split, with CounterLogic Gaming holding the head-to-head record. If Team Liquid can improve on their faults from the last week of play, they have a chance at winning this match, but I can’t see it happening if they play like they did this week.

    Origen eSports

    As I write this, I’ve got a notification that KonKwon, historically of NRG Esports, has been picked up as a support sub for Team Liquid. I honestly don’t think Matt has been the problem for Team Liquid, but KonKwon does speak Korean, which could help Piglet improve his sub-standard performance. At this time it sounds like KonKwon will not be starting for Team Liquid, but we should keep an eye out for him in future weeks, when they have to start playing the higher-ranked teams.

    Team EnVyUs
    Team EnVyUs is not having a good split. Unless they can make some serious changes as a team, I think we’re far enough into the season to say with some certainty that they will be going to the relegation tournament.

    Their two games this week will be against two of the fourth placed teams; Pheonix1 at 10am Saturday, and Echo Fox at 10am Sunday. For two teams with such similar records, they are at very different points in their gameplay.

    Team EnVyUs haven’t had a game win since the start of week three. They do clear the most enemy wards, but that seems like an occupational hazard of losing the most games and the lack of jungle control that would go with it. They’re at the bottom of many stats tables. And as players, they’re not doing a lot better. The team hold six of the bottom ten KDA rankings, and their best player, Apollo, is still 18th worst with 2.4.

    For what it’s worth, their first opponent Phoenix1 did not have a good time in Week Four. They were 0-2’d by FlyQuest, which wasn’t totally unexpected, but they then lost 1-2 to CounterLogic Gaming, who are a lower-placed team. Not that they looked too bad, but they got into a lot of teamfights and had some very messy play.

    If Team EnVyUs are going to win any games this weekend, Phoenix1 is definitely their best bet. The thing is though, Phoenix1 just aren’t looking that bad. They may be on a bit of a losing streak, but outside of their match win, Team EnVyUs have only taken a single game off any other team. Phoenix1 won 2-0 in their last match-up, and although I would like to seem Team EnVyUs take a game, I expect to see history repeat itself this week.

    Echo Fox are such a different story to Phoenix1. They didn’t drop a single game last week, including a series against second-placed Team SoloMid, and they have arguably the best early game in the league. Some of the win can be attributed to some odd pick/ban choices, particularly from Team SoloMid; Echo Fox have unusual picks in most roles. That’s something that Team EnVyUs need to be prepared for.

    The problem with this is that it’s so hard to be prepared for Echo Fox’s style. Unless they are scrimming each other (and I must confess I don’t really know what either team’s scrim status is beyond Echo Fox now getting requests), Team EnVyUs just won’t have the practise against these champions. Their best bet is to be at least a little smart in the second round rotation, and try to bait out some good match-ups.

    I said at the start of the split that this team was in a precarious position on paper, and we’ve seen that play out so far. It would be great to see them improve, especially with their veteran team members, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it.

    There are going to be so many great games to watch this week; Team SoloMid has two top-of-the-table match-ups, and Echo Fox will be playing Immortals. What’s on your watch list for this weekend?

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