NA LCS Summer Week 5 and Rift Rivals

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By Jess Carruthers, Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru

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    I am slowly getting used to the state of play this split in the North American LCS, but the standings continue to look a bit off to me. The results this week, however, felt a lot more right than they have previously.

    At the end of week four, here are the standings:

    1. Immortals (IMT): 7-1 in matches; 14-6 in games
    2. CounterLogic Gaming (CLG): 6-2; 13-9
    2. Team SoloMid (TSM): 6-2; 13-5
    4. Team Dignitas (DIG): 5-3; 13-10
    4. Cloud9 (C9): 5-3; 12-7
    6. Team EnvyUs (NV): 4-4; 10-11
    7. Echo Fox (FOX): 3-5; 8-10
    8. Team Liquid (TL): 2-6; 5-14
    9. FlyQuest (FLY): 1-7; 5-14
    9. Phoenix1 (P1): 1-7; 7-14

    TSM managed to go 4-0 in games this week, although it was against FLY and FOX (the latter of which also went 0-2 against P1). Speaking of P1, that win against FOX was their first win of the split, so everyone is finally on the scoreboard. C9 dropped a game to DIG, but in the end won both of their matches.

    In week five, we’re going to catch the first rematches for the split, with every single game having been played once already. Then, in under a week, TSM, C9 and P1 will be appearing at Rift Rivals to face off against Europe’s G2 eSports (G2), Unicorns of Love (UoL) and Fnatic (FNC). Since Rit Rivals starts mid next week, here’s a bumper edition post with all the details you need.

    Rematch: C9 vs TSM
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 2
    Winner: TSM, 2-0
    Rematch: 8am AEST Saturday

    When these teams first met, lots of us were hoping for a great match between the top two teams from Split 1, but were instead met with a runaway victory for TSM. Coming into week five, these two have both improved their gameplay somewhat, although neither are the dominant force they were expected to be coming into the split.

    TSM are on a hot streak; they’ve not lost even one game in the last two weeks of play. They’re not quite in first place yet, but they’ll definitely be making a push for it before the mid-split break.

    C9 won’t let them off easily though. They’re not going quite as well as TSM, but they’re only one match behind. Their game record is slightly weaker, but they’ve shown a marked improvement since the start of the split (as you would hope, when they started 0-2).

    This is very likely to be a second victory for TSM, which would give them the head-to-head over C9. Although that has minimal impact right now, since TSM are up in the standings, C9 often improve as the split goes on, so the head-to-head could be very useful down the track.

    Rematch: NV vs P1
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 3
    Winner: NV, 2-1
    Rematch: 11am Saturday

    These two teams have turned expectations on their head this split. Although NV have dropped a couple of places, they are still in the vicinity of playoffs with a better record than they had all last split; P1 by comparison only just started to pick up match wins. Both teams went 1-1 in week four.

    Although Nisqy’s freshness to NV and the LCS showed, going even in games is a pretty solid debut. He’s listed as the starter for this match, and having another week of practise (compared to the four days he had last week) should give him a chance to settle a bit better into the team.

    P1’s pickup of MikeYeung and Xpecial is looking better and better, even taking the series over FOX 2-0. Although they lost to TL on Monday, it was a much closer series than it could have been.

    This rematch is going to be important for P1 to win, especially heading into Rift Rivals. NV, though wobbling with their new midlaner this week, is looking like the stronger team and will be gunning to repeast their first meeting. Still, they have got to be careful not to underestimate the refreshed P1, who are far from the same team that started the split.

    Rematch: TSM vs IMT
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 3
    Winner: IMT, 2-0
    Rematch: 5am Sunday

    Depending on the outcome of TSM’s first game, this could be a battle for them to edge their way into first place with IMT. I’m really looking forward to this match up: these are two teams who desperately need to prove themselves.

    TSM’s crushing defeat in week one came as a surprise. TSM is packed with strong, confident personalities, and I don’t doubt that the loss hit them hard. They will absolutely want to tie up the head-to-head record in this match, and as they hit the halfway point in the split, they need to start thinking about how they can secure a playoff bye.

    After a disappointing Split 1, IMT is finally starting to recapture the feeling of their 2016 team feat. Huni and Reignover. Last year, they struck gold with their lineup, but this year they have shown that it’s not just players that make them strong, but that the organisation is supporting and developing their talent.

    Both of these teams took both their series last week. By the time they meet, TSM will have already had a warmup against C9, but one team will have to break their winning streak by the end of this match, so if you only watch one game this week, this is where to look.

    NA LCS: CLG vs C9
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 1
    Winner: CLG, 2-1
    Rematch: 5am Sunday

    C9 have a hard weekend of games right before going to Europe, and CLG will not want to make it any easier for them. Since C9 also play against TSM, this is a really important match for them; meanwhile, CLG have slipped a little from sharing first place, and will want to climb back into it.

    CLG have, so far, been very consistent; they’ve only lost matches against IMT in first place, and TSM with whom they are sharing second. This doesn’t mean they’re infallible – they’ve dropped single games against even the lowest-ranked teams – but they will absolutely want to keep that consistency alive by beating out C9.

    C9, for their part, have also been consistent, even batting above average in their win over DIG on Monday. If they want to prove that they are improving over their mediocre season start, a win in this series is an absolute must, and a confidence boost for Rift Rivals to boot.

    I’m not sure if it’s just bias towards C9, but I have a really good feeling about this match for them. It’ll be difficult, certainly; CLG are an excellent team so far, and have every ability to win the match, but C9’s improvement over the split so far gives me hope they can take this one.

    NA LCS: FOX vs TL
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 3
    Winner: FOX, 2-0
    Rematch: 8am Sunday

    Although FOX came charging out of the gates in week one, they’ve slipped significantly into 7th place over the last few weeks. TL haven’t been so lucky; their only two match wins both went to three games. These are two teams who need a pick-me-up.

    FOX had an abysmal week four, not picking up a single win. The loss to TSM was expected, but giving P1 their first match win for the split cannot have felt good. This team needs to reset themselves and aim to regain their week one fire.

    TL at least were able to take the win over P1 this week. That alone should put them in a decent mindset to take this match, having so recently managed what FOX was unable to. Still, they lost this battle 0-2 the first time around, so they know that this will not be easy.

    This is so difficult to call, because it depends so much on which version of FOX shows up. If they look how they did in week one, then this will be almost easy, but if not, then TL has a great opportunity on their hands to add another tally to the scoreboard.

    NA LCS: DIG vs FLY
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 3
    Winner: DIG, 2-0
    Rematch: 8am Sunday

    This is the first matchup of the weekend where the ranks of the teams involved are drastically different from one another. Although both teams went 0-2 this week, DIG had a notably harder strength of schedule, with games against both C9 and IMT.

    Even though they had a tough week four, DIG took a game off each of their opponents, and have only lost one other match all split. I don’t think we’ve seen enough to judge the acquisition of Altec and Adrian yet (Adrian especially since he’s yet to be fielded), but they will be looking to start their weekend strong.

    FLY had a rough week four too, but more than that have had a rough split. Their breakout split was excellent through until around week four or five, but so far, Split 2 has left so much to be desired. They need to be improving as a team, much like their opponents already are, but they also need to do it more quickly lest they get left at the bottom of the table.

    University of New South Wales UNSW League of Legends eSports 2016

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    Barring any major problems or changes, this should be an easy 2-0 for DIG. This might in fact be a good opportunity to field Adrian for his first match; even if he fell flat and they lost game one, they would be able to field BIG in subsequent games and should still be able to pull the win.

    NA LCS: P1 vs IMT
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 1
    Winner: IMT, 2-1
    Rematch: 5am Monday

    If DIG vs FLY was going to be one-sided, this should be even moreso. This is a top- vs bottom-of-the-table matchup, that if anything should be the most convincing game we see this week.

    That’s going to be rough on P1. By Wednesday our time, they will be in Europe for Rift Rivals; they could do with a confidence boost, but I’m expecting quite the opposite. That’s not to diminish their improvements – they’re already looking leaps and bounds better than they did in the past – but it will take a lot to get a win here.

    IMT, meanwhile, likely are focusing much more on their game against TSM than on this against P1. This team is drastically exceeding expectations set for them at the start of the split, and they’re going to be aiming to recreate the successes of their debut split.

    Chances for P1 are slim to none in this series. I really do want them to succeed, and I think they will in the back half of the split, but short of a miracle this series is not going to mark the start of their rebound.

    NA LCS: FLY vs FOX
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 2
    Winner: FOX, 2-0
    Rematch: 5am Sunday

    When these two teams last met, FOX were playing at the very top of their game. Since then, they’ve not had any 2-0 weeks, which may give FLY the opening they need to pull themselves a little further away from the bottom end of the ladder.

    FLY’s one win so far has been against P1, and they’ve not yet played against TL. FOX is their next best chance to get a win on the table, especially given their first game is against the stronger opponents of DIG.

    FOX for their part have a real chance to turn this week into their next 2-0, assuming they can win against TL on Sunday. They could definitely use the boost; depending on the other teams’ outcomes, they have a chance to put themselves back into the playoff section of the bracket.

    While both teams will really want the win here, I’m more concerned about the team that loses. This is going to be a rough matchup for both sides; I think FOX should be able to win, but whoever loses could wind up even deeper in the low end of the standings.

    NA LCS: NV vs DIG
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 2
    Winner: DIG, 2-1
    Rematch: 8am Monday

    I still find it odd looking at these two team names and realising they’re only one space apart on the ladder. Neither team had a great time in week four, but I would largely attribute that to their strong opponents rather than weaknesses in either team.

    NV will be interesting to watch, especially after they have already played against P1. Now that they have both midlaners, I’m sure they have a strategy for how they will choose who to field, and I want to see how that plays out as the split progresses.

    From DIG’s side, this is likely to be a considerably more challenging match than their first games against FLY. That said, it’s not going to be like playing against IMT or C9 last week; I’d expect this to be a good but definitely achievable challenge.

    Grassroots esports scenes matter just as much as the international circuits.

    I have a gut feeling that NV will win this match, but a lot of that is dependant on them finding a strategy between their two midlaners. If they can use both to their full potential, they may well take the match off DIG, but either way, both teams have a challenge in front of them.

    NA LCS: TL vs CLG
    Last Match: Week 1, Day 2
    Winner: CLG, 2-0
    Rematch: 8am Monday

    The last match for the weekend may well be another one-sided affair. CLG have looked really strong this split, while TL still haven’t found their groove.

    TL are still hovering dangerously close to last place, and this split they can’t bring Doublelift in to save them. I’m glad for them that they aren’t at risk of relegation because of the plan for franchising, but they still want to improve their showing. It’ll be difficult to do that against a team looking so much stronger.

    CLG have, in the past, underestimated their opponents to disastrous consequence. The team this split does not seem to be falling prey to that mindset, but it is definitely something they need to be aware of. As long as they play smart, they shouldn’t be too worried.

    I would be very surprised if CLG lose this match. I will never say ‘never’, especially when it comes to CLG, but this team is looking great so far this split, so they really should be able to win this match.

    Rift Rivals
    And finally… Rift Rivals. Here are the standings (based on match win percentage, as EU has played fewer games than NA) of all six teams:

    1. FNC: 5-1, 83%
    2. UoL: 4-1, 80%
    3. TSM: 6-2, 75%
    4. C9: 5-3, 63%
    5. G2: 2-3, 40%
    6. P1: 1-7, 13%

    These aren’t exactly dazzling numbers from the NA teams, but most analysts I’ve seen agree that the bottom tier of the NA LCS is more competitive than the bottom tier of EU teams, which at least in theory should inflate the winrate for the top EU teams by comparison. Hopefully, that means that we’ll have a weekend of exciting, competitive League of Legends.

    The format changed a little in the last couple of weeks to include some extra games. Starting at 1am AEST (yikes!) Thursday through Saturday, there is a double round robin tournament with six games a day, and finals at 2am on Sunday. I don’t think I will be staying awake for it.

    I’ll check in on the second day of the tournament, but for now, I’m looking forward to the games this weekend. Who will you be watching?

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