LoL eSports – 10 thoughts going into Week 8

Kien Lam – League of Legions eSports

Would you rather start the game with four Banner of Commands in your inventory or four solo queue teammates? Patch 8.4 brought forth a lot of changes and the teams that adapted best this week were the most consistent team (Clutch Gaming) and… the most erratic team (Counter Logic Gaming). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Here’s this week’s 10 thoughts:

The lazy brown fox?The FOX bot lane struggled last weekend, which maybe provides a blueprint for teams looking to knock them out. But the loss against GGS may end up being a blessing in disguise — I think rolling too comfortably into the playoffs creates complacency, which has plagued some of the FOX guys in the past. Especially around playoffs. But if they lose a game this weekend, it’ll be three straight 1-1 weeks. That is decidedly average.

They actually 2-0ed last weekIf you’re a top team, and you lose to CLG when CLG is at the bottom of the standings, does that actually count as a loss? That game was over as soon as C9 acquired a massive early lead. Rookie mistake — CLG always plays better with their backs against a wall. Anyway, I wouldn’t take too much from that going forward. It’s a lot easier to not throw again than to learn how to secure early leads. C9 won’t really be tested until playoffs, where Licorice could finally be attacked (in-game and in the pick/ban phase) in an extended set.

Underrated? Or right where they belong?The final stretch of the season is brutal for CG as they take on three of the top teams in the league to close out the season (100, FOX, and TL). They’ve had doubters all split because they just don’t feel like an elite team (I don’t necessarily disagree). Whatever that means. Like, they could win the Spring Split and then sweep MSI, and there might still be some people who say, “Eh, they’re good but I still don’t know about them.” And to Clutch, that’s probably fine — being underrated takes off a whole lot of pressure.

Liquid speedrunsIf you’re ever trying to speedrun something and you screw up early, you just restart. What you see when TL loses is just the unfortunate side effect of that. They either win fast or they roll over and lose. Why a team with so much veteran presence can’t play from behind is truly a mystery. If they figured out how to win even a third of those games, then they’d be sitting right at the top of the standings. Win lane, win game only works for so long.

Ocean’s 100Sometimes you get the thieves from Ocean’s Eleven — a suave and star-studded cast that executes a heist to perfection. And sometimes you get the thieves from Home Alone that slip on a bunch of marbles. Going into Week 8 is a bad time to still be working on your identity, but they’ve managed to be firmly in playoff contention anyway. A lot of that is thanks to their bot lane popping off the last couple of weeks. I still think they need to figure out how to get Ssumday more involved — for a player of his caliber, this has been a fairly lackluster split. Stick him on some carries!

No swag on TSMMost of the still high expectations for TSM are predicated on their historical performance in the postseason. But if you shook up the letters a bit and said this was STM, then what is this roster but a passive blob of inconsistency? If you look at the 100 game, Bjergsen plays a few of the team fights as a back line mage (Galio is not a back line mage).

Why is he so far back? If they don’t win that fight, they lose the Baron and likely the game. He’s way too good of a player to not commit here. That choke is a great spot for Galio’s taunt-Flash combo. You see even Zven goes over the wall. This play is a microcosm of the risk averse nature that’s characterized TSM for years. They absolutely need to take some more risks if they want to win this split.

TSM’s matches this week are against C9 and TL — both are games they could lose, which would potentially let CLG tie them in the standings. And if we look forward to next week, we’ll see that CLG’s last game of the split is against… TSM! Going from 3-9 to 9-9 and making playoffs — all while knocking out TSM as well — I can’t think of anything more counter logic… except maybe losing that last game after making it all the way to 8-9.

It’s raining turtlesCompared to the other two 4-10 teams, FLY just doesn’t look like they have any fighting spirit in them. AnDa’s struggles this split can be attributed to both his inexperience and his team’s communication struggles. For a jungler, being able to coordinate with your mid laner is critical, but Fly hasn’t been around for the entire split and there’s a language barrier. This forces Turtle to take some risky stunts (heh) to try to win fights for his team. As is, though, it’s hard to imagine this team just randomly gets better.

The future is crypto goldIt’s still premature to say the future is bright, but this team has really weaved together some impressive performances in the last few weeks. The win over FOX wasn’t a fluke — they outplayed them from the get-go. And say what you will about this team, but they know what they have to do to win. Their problem is they sometimes screw up the execution. Hai randomly gets caught out or Contractz mistimes a play or they force a random Baron. A lot of those things are immediately identifiable and fixable. They’ll be a dangerous team in the summer if this growth continues. It could be the Gold-to-Challenger in one split dream.

Far from the topAt this point, as OpTic, you have to ask yourself if Zig or Dhokla are actually that much worse than some of their counterparts. I don’t think they are. OPT’s play with Dhokla not deviating much from their play with Zig kind of confirms my suspicion that OPT just have no clue how to get their top laner involved in the game. They may as well stick Dyrus in top lane. From management down to the players, I think everyone can shoulder a bit of the blame, so it seems weird to me to point at x or y as being the sole problems. They’ve looked so close to being there at times this season, too, but it just hasn’t come together.

TSM (7-7) vs TEAM LIQUID (8-6)

If TSM drops even one more game, then that opens the door for CLG to control their own destiny when it comes to the playoff race. And I get it — TSM not making playoffs is so unfathomable that even I’m getting ready to blast myself next week for even suggesting it. But they lost to TL when these two teams last met, and there isn’t a clearcut favorite this time around either. The tank meta should favor Impact, which may open up the options for TL in the mid and late game. And that’s where both teams have at times found themselves struggling — especially when the game is close or they’re behind. But that’s one of the things that makes this game interesting. On this patch, there’s a much larger emphasis on Baron because of Banner of Command. After securing Baron, the call is easy: buff the cannon minion and then siege. Whichever team secures the early lead will just win this one — I’d expect early game focused compositions from both sides. TSM doesn’t have that much breathing room if they want to finally secure a trip to the playoffs and their desired Best of 5 format.