The pros returned to the spotlight this past weekend for another round of matches in the name of Summer Split victory, and week two of the NA LCS proved to be just as entertaining and unpredictable as I anticipated in my week one recap. This week can be defined by three things: new meta champion picks coupled with surprise pocket picks, top-seeded team synergy, and recurring moments of discord beginning to take their toll on formerly solid teams.
As I stated last week, the game is changing, and it will take top notch communication as well as a continued ability to adapt in order to make it out of Summer Split with a ticket to Worlds. Here's a summary of how week two played out for the pros, what risks payed off, and what mistakes were made.
Sivir's Crossblade and Illaoi's Vessels: New Meta Picks and Pocket Picks
Week two was played on Patch 6.11, which saw the inevitable nerf of week one power pick, Ekko. While the familiar meta picks of Rek'Sai, Maokai, and Viktor are still infecting the map, there are a handful of new picks coming to the Rift. There were also a few powerhouse pocket picks that surprised us all this week.
Sivir: A safe pick with plenty of utility, Sivir has made her way back to the LCS. The new meta is home to ADCs with high damage and team-enabling abilities. Top Sivir performances this week include Sneaky (C9), Ohq (NRG), and LOD (NV).
- Karma: Poke champions are all the rage in the current meta, and Karma is exactly that. With speed boosts and shields, she is able to harass and protect at the same time. The Karma picks of Hakuho (NV) and Matt (TL) proved her to be a dominating force.
- Lucian: This champion seems to possess the gift of immortality. Patch after patch, Lucian continues to show up in professional play. Doublelift (TSM) dominated in series this weekend, playing five Lucian games.
- Illaoi: Quas (NRG) effectively sealed the fate of FOX in game two of this series with his Illaoi pick. The tentacles created enough pressure to tilt the enemy, making the game a swift and easy win for NRG.
- Thresh: BunnyFuuFu (C9) brought his signature champion out to play against CLG, laying the groundwork for the 2-0 series victory for his team. With insanely accurate hook placement, Bunny went 1/1/11, easily one of the best support performances this week.
- Jarvan IV: Ray (APX) stole the show with his shockingly effective Jarvan pick against NV. While NV ended up taking the series, Ray trolled LOD as hard as he could in game two, earning bragging rights despite an ultimate loss with an impressive performance. See the video below for the must-see highlights!
It Makes The Dream Work: Team Synergy Paying Off For Top Seeds
League of Legends is evolving in big ways recently and is immensely different now in comparison to Spring Split. However, an indirect shift in the meta has demanded teams to adapt swiftly in one major category: synergy. As week two has shown us, teams with the best communication are sitting at the top of the standings currently.
Tied for first seed currently are TSM and NV: easily the teams with the most in game synergy. NV, for example, has amazingly gone undefeated against teams that have been playing together for much longer than NV has. A new team coming on so strong with so much to offer is not to be ignored. Expect greatness from NV in the following weeks.
TSM has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. The team finished in the middle of the pack last split, but have proven just how much synergy matters currently. TSM is no longer just a collection of amazing players. They are a well oiled machine, formidable as a unit instead of individually. In an article for ESPN, Tyler Erzberger sums up this notion perfectly:
"We've left the days where an almighty one-on-one expert can snowball the game off his back continuously and win matches through sheer individual brilliance. To become a championship team, one worthy to contend at Worlds, you need to have all five players on the same page and functioning as a true team, not just in definition only."
The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall: Bottom Seeds Becoming Victims Of Discord
The bottom seeds after week two seem to be struggling in two major ways: adjusting to the current meta and team synergy. Spring Split champs, CLG, have ended another week at the bottom and Team Liquid seem to be struggling finding the flame they once had.
In an interview with Yahoo! after week one, CLG's Stixxay cites the team's week off after MSI as a detriment to their Summer Split performance so far. He speaks to the dangers of taking a break and how just a week away from the game can create issues when adjusting to meta changes. These difficulties can also affect how the team interacts, creating a synergy problem to complicate things further. CLG has won only one series so far and will need to act quickly to climb out of the abyss they are currently in.
Team Liquid is facing similar issues. Also speaking with Yahoo!, TL's Matt speaks about Dardoch's suspension and subsequent return. Citing issues in week one without him in the jungle and week two adjustments upon his return, Matt touches on the personal issues within the team and how it has affected them. These problems must be resolved before TL can return to it's former glory, and Matt is optimistic. Liquid could be a team to watch in the following weeks as they recover from the chaos.
What The Future Holds: Looking To Week Three
With top seed competition becoming stronger and bottom seeds so evenly matched, expect an interesting week three. Keep an eye on C9 and IMT as they stand to potentially knock TSM or NV out of the top spots. Continue to monitor CLG and TL during their attempts to gain traction. Don't be surprised if a team not heavily mentioned this week becomes a key factor next week as there are still plenty of opportunities to rise above the current four-way tie for sixth seed.
Week three kicks off tomorrow night, June 16th, at 8pm EST/5pm PST and continues throughout the weekend. You can stream the games live on Twitch or YouTube or catch up later with spolier free VODS courtesy of Riot. Be sure to follow my page for weekly Summer Split updates and share your thoughts on week two in the comments!