-By Edward Brady
The LCS is the North American League of Legends professional league and one of the 4 major regions in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes. You may remember our brief coverage of the League of Legends World Championship last year; these Regional seasons are the build-up to the international tournaments. Week 4 has wrapped up and many cheers, laughs, and groans were had at the various plays, outplays, and misplays of the week. Here is a recap of the last week of every LCS team from best record to worst.
1. Cloud9 10-2 – Business as usual
What more can be said about Cloud9 that hasn’t been said already? Week 4 was an uneventful one as they cruised to a 3-0 week. They stomped the last place Golden Guardians, had some fun with a Yasuo mid against Evil Geniuses, and put the closest competition they had in their place with a stomp against 100 Thieves. Almost every player looks like the best in their role, (maybe top 2 or 3 if you are pessimistic/faithful in other teams) their game sense is great. Objective control is great, they really are just better than everyone else. They will get a warmup game against Flyquest before facing two main rivals in TL (who beat them last time) and TSM (who they beat last time) and I would say that C9 are heavy favorites in all 3 games. There is no reason to doubt this team until they prove otherwise.
2. 100 Thieves 8-4 – Panic button?
100 Thieves’ record is a bit deceiving for how many alarm bells are ringing around this team. Honestly, with how many games this team keeps getting gifted from their opponents’ poor decision-making, 100 Thieves could easily be 4-8. They began week 4 with a win against CLG that was a lot closer and took a lot longer than a match between 2nd and 10th place really should have. They followed it up by getting knocked around by fellow playoff hopeful Dignitas for 29 minutes before a massive throw by Dignitas at baron (something that’s been so common over the past decade that DigniTOSS barons are a meme in the LCS)> 100T eventually won that game, but it was due to a misplay from their opponents, not their own abilities. Finally, they got blasted aside by C9 in a game they never stood a chance in and was over before you could blink.
100 Thieves appears to be in quite a bit of trouble now. Their mid-laner Damonte simply cannot play control mages, something that every mid in competitive needs to know how to do. Perkz (C9 mid) even said when questioned about the Leblanc pick that “against a better mid laner I wouldn’t pick it but its Damonte”. He has been getting dunked on by fans, analysts, and players alike and the org has taken notice. He will be benched for Ry0ma this week. For those not in the know, Ry0ma was the definition of a liability last split and was one of the textbook examples of “not worth the import slot” (alongside Eika). He has been doing well in the academy as he helped lead a 100T academy squad to 6-3 and 3rd place but I still have my doubts if this move will work out. With games against key contenders in EG and TSM and the rematch of legends against GGS, 100 Thieves will need to right the ship fast if they want to ease the concerns of fans and analysts.
3. TSM 8-4 – Getting the job done
TSM has really come into its own over the past few weeks. Although they aren’t without flaws, they are certainly a far cry from the bumbling squad that was shown in Lock-in and week 1. TSM kicked off week 4 strong with a nail-biting victory over key rival TL and now holds the 2-0 tiebreaker over them. They showcased just how far they’ve come by destroying CLG in revenge for the fiesta in week 1. Things weren’t perfect as they got upset by Flyquest to close out the week, but out of all the playoff teams not named C9, they are probably the most comfortable with their record. Dig and 100T are starting to falter, TL is underperforming hard, and EG doesn’t really feel like they’ve solved the consistency issues yet. I wouldn’t expect them to beat C9 but they can take another step towards proving they're a cut above the rest by beating DIG and 100T this week.
4. Dignitas 7-5 – Tale as old as time
Dignitas seems to be fulfilling two of the narratives surrounding the org ever since they’ve been in the LCS: Starting strong and falling off (10-2 to 17-11 and a first-round exit in 2013, 6-2 to 13-15 and 1st round in 2014 6-2 to 10-8 1st round exit in 2015,5-5 to missing playoffs last year) and throwing games at Baron. The seemingly on-fire squad is starting to show some chinks in the armor as they started strong with a win over Immortals but had a week 4 to forget. They threw a key match for the playoff race off one poor decision against 100T and followed it up by losing to CLG. In a match, they had complete control of before they blew that one too. Dig will need to rebound fast with a key matchup against TSM in which they can secure the tiebreaker against a key playoff competitor, a trap game in GGS, and a match against another key rival in EG.
5. Evil Geniuses 7-5 – Same story, different year
Evil Geniuses seems to be falling back to the same position they were last year: flashes of greatness, but not consistent enough to contend with the top of the table and sometimes just stall out against low-tier teams. They started strong with a convincing victory over a struggling Flyquest but followed it up by getting smacked by Cloud 9 and almost lost to the Golden Guardians. Nothing demonstrates this level of volatility across the entire EG squad quite like Jiizuke. In the words of LCS writer Kien Lam, “You could make a montage of all the best plays from a mid-laner in the LCS this season and put it against a montage of all the worst plays from a mid-laner this season and all of them could be from Jiizuke.” He either carries or he feeds, he is the definition of feast or famine. This is a positive as it allows them to take games against top teams they otherwise wouldn’t have (the first game vs C9 comes to mind). It is also a negative as it leads to them dropping games they really shouldn’t (the Dig game). With matches from both ends of the table (100T,DIG,IMT) It should go a lot towards showing if this roster can consistently compete with the top.
6. Team Liquid 7-5– Self-inflicted wounds
Team Liquid still has the same aura around them since week 1: A team that is a lot better than its record and is just making a ton of stupid easily fixable mistakes. Their game against TSM showcased this where Tactical died back-to-back within minutes without using any summoners both times, they had the Baron stolen from them as they failed to keep Spica out of the pit, and Tactical was possibly the most useless 10/5 Tristana I have seen in a while. They cleaned things up against Flyquest and Immortals, as they were expected to win both and although they were a lot slower than most would’ve liked and still had a few unforced errors, were key wins to stay in the race for playoffs. That win against IMT was big as it places them 2 full games ahead of their next closest competition and IMT would’ve had the tiebreaker had they lost. TL if they can achieve the form they had in Lock In are 1 of few teams capable of challenging C9, I just have my doubts if they will get back to that peak and, more importantly, maintain it. They will have to regain it fast as they have a fateful rematch with C9 this week sandwiched between 2 trap games in GG and CLG.
7. Immortals 5-7 – Not quite there
Immortals had a chance to truly breakthrough with opportunities to pull off upsets against Dig and TL (who they had beaten before and could’ve easily leapfrogged in the standings) and a gimme game against Golden Guardians. This didn’t happen, as although they took the W against GG, they were swept aside by Dig and TL without much effort or resistance. That loss to TL might have been a deathblow to their playoff chances as they are 2 games back with 6 to play. If they want to make it to the Mid-Season Showdown, they all but need to win out from here on out. It will have to start against a 2-10 CLG coming off of a win, and their second game against Evil Geniuses is the definition of a must-win game as they would gain a game and hold the 2-0 head-to-head and top it all off with a game they're favored in against Flyquest. Immortals have a long road ahead of them if they want to make playoffs but even if they don’t, the improvements this squad has made over the course of spring mean they are on the right path to making an impact in summer.
8. Flyquest 4-8 – Kryptonite
Flyquest’s season hasn’t quite gone how they hoped it would’ve, being on the outside looking in for the playoffs and not having a clear path back to the final playoff seed. Flyquest kept up the tradition of getting blasted aside by the teams better than them as they were crushed by EG and TL, but surprisingly enough they pulled off a hard-fought victory over a red hot TSM. This gives them the 2-0 head-to-head against TSM, and considering they eliminated them in the 2020 spring playoffs in 5 games and took them to 5 games in the summer finals, I’m starting to wonder if Flyquest is TSM’s Kryptonite. They had no right beating TSM on paper as they were looking lost and TSM were playing some of the most complete LoL they’ve played all year, but somehow Flyquest found a way. Even if they don’t do anything significant this split, FLyquest will have something to hold onto.
9. Counter Logic Gaming 2-10 – There is no way… is there?
CLG returned to the rift, for the first time with Pobelter starting in the mid lane and for the first 2 games, it was classic CLG. A blown lead against 100T and stomping by their eternal big brother in TSM. It looked to be more of the same against Dignitas as Dig took everything on the map. Then they won a fight 4 for 0 at what would’ve been the infernal soul for Dig. Then they took Baron. Then they won another fight. Then they won.
After their 2nd victory of the split, people have been ironically hoping for a CLG miracle run. They are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet. All logic says CLG will be out before the end of the weekend, but I ask you: What if they pull it off? CLG has 2 games against bottom table teams this week and a TL that could completely stall out. Do they still have a game left against GG and by then what if they beat EG and C9? Should this happen? No, CLG is still CLG and will probably go 0-6 now that there is any semblance of hope. Do I want it to happen? Absolutely. It would be hilarious if this roster started 1-9 and somehow made playoffs. It's 2021 anything can happen, CLG is going to be Spring Split champs you heard it here first!
10. Golden Guardians 2-10 – Status quo
The Golden Guardians development roster (manager speak for budget concerns or poverty franchise) once again upheld the status quo as they were knocked aside by teams from the top, (C9) middle (EG), and bottom (IMT) of the table as they blew any meaningful opportunities they had. They actually had a 4k gold lead and a chance at infernal soul against EG. EG stomped the fight got soul and baron and slammed the door on that opportunity. They actually picked up the soul against IMT. Then IMT managed to outfight them anyway around elder and take the W. Nobody looks good, heck nobody looks promising. The rookies are floundering and clearly needed time in the academy (Niles, Iconic) Academy isn’t good at developing players (Ablazeolive) their import is one of the worst in the league (Newbie), and their veteran (Stixxay is making egregious errors in the build path and positioning (no Infinity Edge on Jinx and building defensive when the entire GG team comp relies on protecting you and you dealing tons of damage?). At this point, the only thing you can do is fully commit to the experiment as you don’t want to waste the entire spring on something that didn’t work/you can’t afford anything better, but it looks like it will be a long time before this experiment will bear any fruit.
The LCS will resume playing this Friday with TSM vs Dignitas at 5 P.M. There will be 5 matches a day and games will be played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Games on the weekend will begin at 3 P.M. You can find the full schedule at lolesports.com, and you can watch the matches on the website, the lol esports YouTube channel, or Twitch.tv/LCS.