LoL eSports -10 thoughts going into Week 7

Kien Lam, Legend of Legions eSports

In Spain, people take some time off work in the afternoon to nap or more generally rest. It’s called a siesta. This was the inspiration for NA, where teams sometimes let their brains rest in the middle of games. That’s called a fiesta. Everyone’s invited! Here’s this week’s 10 thoughts (this is not a power ranking):

Both feet on the pedalHave you ever gone on a multi-game win-streak on a champion and then just locked in something random completely inexplicably? Maybe you were bored. Maybe someone in chat tilted you. It doesn’t take much. I feel like that’s kind of what happened to Echo Fox. Like, they were just chilling in VOD reviews and someone said, “We’re winning easily. Too easily.” And that seed of suspicion birthed the FOX of Week 6. I think FOX is still the best team in the NA LCS, but there are plenty of teams nipping at their heels. There are a lot of parallels between this team and the 2016 Immortals squad (Huni synergy with jungler, control mid laner, Adrian + cleanup ADC) — which is a great thing if you are talking regular season. But playoffs is fast approaching…

Coasting until playoffsIf you blinked last week, you might have missed both C9 games. Turns out games still end pretty quickly if you get a lot of lane kills. Aphromoo sentenced C9 to death on Thresh, and then Licorice passed the death on to Solo and CG. It was a weekend of hot potato for them. C9 plays the bottom two teams in the league this week (CLG and GGS) — it’s the kind of trap week that elite teams won’t fall for. Whether C9 is an elite team or not, I think, remains to be seen.

AphromovesNot since Odysseus’ stop at the Isle of Helios has a cow been the cause of so much death. Aphromoo had a dominant weekend on Thresh and Blitzcrank as he and his bot lane partner, Cody Sun (or should I say Cody Helios), showed just how much of a force a fed ADC can be. 100 still need to work out their identity issues — I don’t think you can rely on Aphromoo going god-mode every single week, but maybe the answer is to play more around their bot lane. As Aphromoo once said — support is so easy!

Whose TL is it anywayLiquid fans Saturday: Hell yeah, we’re back!
Sunday: Oh no, we’re back…
I thought it was interesting that TL put Impact on Camille and Gnar last weekend — perhaps there was a conscious effort to give him some more impactful (heh) champions. It’s like when you feed the ball to a cold shooter in basketball and tell him to just keep shooting. I think the show of faith is good, but at a certain point maybe it’s better to leave him on an island and snowball the other side of the map. Impact has always been good at deflecting pressure early and still being a force in the late game. I say put the ball in Doubelift’s hands and enable him to be the best again.

Good but not greatClutch is an interesting team in that while I do think they’re good, it’s hard for me to picture them winning the whole thing. They’ll make playoffs and then get eliminated by LeBron James. Their recent win-streak was centered around not losing the early game and then winning mid-to-late team fights, but I think once playoffs hits, you just need more people who can really take over the game. Because the game has evolved to be me more and more team-centric over the years, players who can shine individually (Huni, Jensen, Aphromoo) are that much more important. Especially in an extended set. You need someone who’s always on the lookout for the game-winning play. My gauge is simple — if your star player (Febiven) has an off-game, will you still be alright? And for CG, I think the answer right now is no.

The three-time reigning champsI love the Galio pick for Bjergsen. Galio’s optimal style is reliant on his teammates just going in. So for Bjergsen to carry the game, he must encourage his teammates to play aggressive. “Just go, trust” is the Galio slogan. Last week was critical for TSM and they aced it — I think despite their current standing, they’re still the team I’d least like to face in the playoffs. I doubt they’ve actually resolved all their issues, but now is a good time to start ramping up.

Firefly in search of serenityAt the beginning of the season, if you’re a FLY player, you’re thinking, “It’s alright if we struggle because this isn’t our main roster.” Now that the main roster is struggling, too, it’s going to be super hard to keep your head up. The whole needing time to build synergy answer is going to fly for so long. If you look at the top of the standings, you see that FOX plays around top, C9 plays around mid, and 100 just played around bot. FLY seems to be struggling with figuring out who to prioritize. I think right now it might be wise to set up a campfire in top lane for Flame. Everything changes once the fire nation attacks.

The top of the wallThe most telling stat about Zig this split is his kill participation. At 41.8%, he was a whopping 21.4% behind the next lowest top laner, Solo (63.2%). Every other top laner is between within about 10% of Solo’s mark. This massive difference, certainly, contributed to OPT trying out Dhokla last week, who then went on to post a 42.9% KP rate. So, has Zig had a bad split? Probably. But is it fair to pin all the fault on him? I don’t think so. Maybe we need a few more games from Dhokla to truly see, but right now it seems like OPT just doesn’t know how to utilize their top laner. The green wall is currently positioned somewhere between top lane and the rest of the map.

Dark marks fill the skyOne of the good things about this slide is that if you meet someone who says they’re a CLG fan, then you can be certain they’ve been a fan for a long time. I find that fandom grows stronger during dark times. And right now CLG’s darkness is like if Dumbledore was killed by his most trusted advisor so that Hogwarts may be put under Voldemort’s control. It’s weird because CLG shows flashes of brilliance in every single game only to follow it up with something equally confounding. This team isn’t playing very well at the moment, but I don’t actually think they’re that bad relative to some of other “worst teams in the league” over the years. Maybe let that console you, CLG faithful.

Both Gs stand for growthGGS are making steady (if small) improvements — that’s something half the league can’t really say. Hai is like an entry fragger in CS:GO — the first person to break a choke point. This person dies a lot, but they gather information and create space for the people behind them to follow-up. GGS may now be timing that follow-up better, and it’s resulted in them being a middle-of-the-pack team in the last three weeks (3-3 record). They’ve got a couple of huge obstacles this week in FOX and C9, though. Even one win will be massive for their confidence going into the offseason (they aren’t mathematically out of playoff contention, but it doesn’t look good).


So, there are a few better matchups this weekend in terms of team standing – 100 vs. TSM comes to mind, but the six playoff teams feel pretty set to me, so they’re just jockeying around for positioning. That’s why I’d like to peek at the CLG and TL game. It’s exactly the kind of game that CLG randomly wins and TL randomly loses. Darshan can punish a slumping Impact, and Huhi will have a fine lane phase against Pobelter (who is more team fight oriented than he is necessarily lane dominant). Both of these teams trend towards more entertaining games as well, and with Patch 8.4 promising faster-paced matches, I think we’ll see some really weird stuff in this game. Especially with Saturday’s games likely putting an even further cushion between the six playoff teams and the bottom four. I also expect Huhi to be among the first to show us some interesting stuff with the new mid lane items. So while this game might not necessarily be between marquee teams, it could be a marquee “lol NA” game.

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