Compared to week three, the NA LCS Summer Split standings have thinned out and stabilized. With just one tie remaining at fifth seed, week four saw many powerhouse plays, improved macro play, and an increased overall adjustment to the best of three match format.
As I mentioned last week, the teams at the top, middle, and bottom of the standings have much in common. This week's overview will focus on these similarities, a few team performance commentaries, and the power plays of the week.
How The Cookie Has Crumbled: The Current Standings
Though the standings didn't move much compared to last week, the many ties have mostly dissolved, creating the most defined set of standings we've seen this split. These common denominators are almost certainly why the chips have fallen where they have.
Best of the Best (TSM, IMT, C9, NV): These four teams seem to have mastered two things- the best of three format and the bigger picture of macro play (in-game shot calling). These skills will not only help the teams continue succeeding in the Split, they will also help the NA circuit perform better at Worlds in October. In an interview with Yahoo! Esports, C9's Impact speaks to this in detail.
Middle of the Pack (APX, TL, CLG): The teams sitting in the middle have one major thing in common- they seem to be tripping up every week on at least one major issue. For example, CLG is all over the place, making strategic mistakes one week and champ select blunders the next. TL seems to be struggling with an overly aggressive playstyle, and APX is relying too heavily on pocket picks in an attempt to compensate for a lack of meta comprehension. Morale hasn't been crushed yet, though. Speaking with Yahoo! Esports, CLG's Aphromoo seems confident heading into their week five match against TSM, stating "I'm just here to 2-0 and get it over with".
- Last but not Least (NRG, FOX, P1): While the middle seeded teams have well identified shortcomings, the teams at the bottom have a multitude of issues to improve upon. They are simultaneously failing to synergize, lacking a strong understanding of the meta, and have not been able to focus on macro play. It is not too early for these teams to switch focus from making playoffs to avoiding possibly losing their spots in the LCS during the post-season relegation tournament.
Beyond Gameplay: Behind The Scenes Successes
What we see every week on stage is just a portion of the work and dedication that each team puts into succeeding in the LCS. Coaches, roster decisions, and long-term strategies are just a few factors that we know little about. Here are a few examples.
- Cloud 9: In addition to the roster changes C9 made during the pre-season, which I discussed in my week one recap, the team also saw the emergence of a new coach. Reapered, pictured above, has done a wonderful job of identifying and correcting C9's biggest in-game issues. He communicates with his team well, adjusts to in-match happenings with ease, and is overall a fitting match for C9. I expect to see this team become even stronger in the future.
- Team Liquid: Piglet, the team's ADC, has been MIA since week two. Fabbbyyy has been filling in since then, leading fans to believe that Piglet is ready to retire. Since the switch, TL has been gaining ground, moving from 1-3 to 4-4. Whether or not Piglet will return to the LCS remains to be seen. He is currently filling Fabbbyyy's position for Team Liquid Academy (TL's Challenger Series team).
- Team Solomid: TSM's ADC, Doublelift, seems to have spent a lot of time this split preparing for what happened in their week five match against NV. Doublelift has been playing a lot of Lucian: 16 out of 17 games up until this match, to be exact. When NV banned the champion for game one, you can clearly see the delight of Doublelift and the rest of his team. He played Sivir instead and TSM took the game and the series. While it hasn't been confirmed that this was a long-term plan, it certainly seems to have been. It worked regardless.
Insane Knockbacks and Pentakills: Week Three's Top Plays
As always, there were plenty of impressive plays executed by teams at all tiers in the standings. While it becomes increasingly hard to highlight just three every week, these power plays stand out among the many solid mechanical choices made in week four.
- Froggen (FOX): In a game-winning shot call during game one in their series against top-seeded TSM, FOX's Froggen made the right decision in guiding his team to invade the enemy base while TSM was busy in the Baron pit. TSM, getting trolled by damage from the Baron while trying to recall back to base, was unable to stop FOX from taking the Nexus upon their return.
- Sneaky (C9): Once again, Sneaky entertained us all with an extremely impressive pentakill in the team's series winning game against NV. In a play that is almost impossible to keep up with, Sneaky's Ashe manages to focus the right enemies at the right time to secure a kill on NV's entire roster. Check out this Team Fight Breakdown for an in-depth explanation of Sneaky's epic play.
- Pobelter (IMT): As their game one against TL transitioned into it's middle stage, Pobelter's Azir kept the odds in his team's favor with an amazing 6-man knockback that truly is wondrous to see (6-man knockback is possible due to enemy Leblanc being cloned at the time). This epic power play resulted in a triplekill for Pobelter and an ace (death of all enemy team members) for his team. Check it out below!
Mid-Split Madness: What's Ahead For Week Five
The schedule for week five promises yet another interesting weekend of LCS excitement. C9 will battle IMT for second seed in the Match of the Week this Sunday and rivals CLG and TSM will face each other once again. How these matches will play out is anyone's guess.
Live streams of week five action will commence tomorrow, July 1st, at 5pm PST/8pm EST. Be sure to follow my page for weekly NA LCS updates and tell me how you think the mid-split lineup will affect the standings in the comments!