-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 5 has wrapped up. The playoffs are looming closer and the race is a tight one. Here is a recap of last week's LCS teams from best record to worst, along with their playoff scenarios.
1. Cloud9 11-4 – Minor hiccup
Cloud 9 kicked off week 5 with a crushing victory over Flyquest as everyone expected> However the rest of the week didn’t quite go according to plan. They took on Team Liquid on Saturday, and despite TL making a number of plays where they were not on the same page (Alphari TP’d into the enemy team without backup twice) TL clawed their way back into the game off of a few C9 misplays and outplays of their own to take the win in a 40-minute thriller that could’ve gone either way. The key difference in that game was the top lane matchup best demonstrated when Alphari solo killed Fudge bot lane the TP’d into the baron pit to clean up the team fight across the map. They got off to a hot start against TSM getting 3 kills onto the Jungler Spica in a little over 5 minutes. However, TSM was still able to take the victory quite convincingly. Spica, despite the slow start, did much more than Blaber (Spica didn’t die after the 5-minute disaster and went 3/3/13, Blaber went 0/4/5). Perkz also made some very questionable plays in both games. This is hardly a reason to sound the alarm bells, but Cloud 9 shouldn’t think they're invincible anymore.
Playoffs: Cloud 9 has already clinched a playoff berth and is 1 game in front of the pack. They clinch 1st seed if they win out (CLG, DIG, IMT).
2. Dignitas 10-5 – The people’s team
Can I just say that Dignitas is one of the most pleasant surprises of competitive LoL this year? This was a roster that was thought to be a stopgap until Dig could gather funds to pay for “real” players. Instead, Dignitas has made a name for themselves as NA’s champions. In a region that consists mostly of imports and imports who’ve been around long enough to earn citizenship, Dignitas is the only squad in the LCS to have 0 imports. With the oversaturation of imports and the talk of owners wanting to remove the import cap (Teams could sign a squad of 5 Korean challengers, kneecap their salaries and nothing could be done about that), the Academy scene having serious questions if they're doing enough to help players develop and NA talent falling to the wayside, DIG is a breath of fresh air.
This is essentially the LCS version of Moneyball, with “washed up” veteran Aphromoo proving that you don’t get to stay in the LCS for 6 years without being a great player as he plays like one of the best supports in the league, Dardoch a jungler who apparently “no one wanted” (actual leaked quote from the president of TSM when they were trying to trade him) having one of the most diverse champ pool in the LCS and running rampant over his old team in TSM. You have Soligo and FakeGod who “already blew their chance and aren’t LCS ready” crushing the lower ends of the competition and not only holding their own but beating the best of the best. Cap it all off with the rookie ADC Neo really getting a chance to shine under Aphromoo’s guidance (this is like the 3rd rookie ADC Aphro has played with who looks incredible, he has a talent for this sort of thing) and you have a recipe for success and likeability
Playoffs: Dignitas clinch an upper bracket Playoff berth with a win (TL, C9, FLY). They can also unseat C9 if they beat them this week and C9 drops another game.
3. TSM 10-5 – True contenders
TSM is shaping up to be a very threatening team come playoff time. Although the week didn’t start out as planned by losing a perfectly winnable game against Dignitas, and thus going 0-2 against them and getting into some hot water in the social media and PR department, but the rest of the week was great. With a dominant victory against fellow playoff contender 100 Thieves and a smackdown of the first place C9, TSM is looking to be hitting their stride at just the right time as they head into playoffs while teams that looked good are starting to falter a bit (C9,100T) or have yet to fully hit it (EG, TL). With solid play from all 5 positions, if TSM keeps pace they are poised to make a deep playoff run.
Playoffs: The only way TSM misses playoffs is if they lose out (EG, IMT, GG), and even then, they would still get a tiebreaker.
4. 100 Thieves 9-6 – Worrying trends
100 Thieves is looking very shaky right now. Before the week even began, They made news by subbing out their mid-laner Damonte for Ry0ma. While Damonte was struggling there were some doubts if Ry0ma was any better. The evidence seems to be inconclusive as 100T kept up the losing by falling to EG and TSM, two of their main contenders in the race for the upper bracket. They were able to correct their course a little bit by not having a repeat of week 3 and slaughtering the Golden Guardians, but that was completely expected of them and everyone beats GG. The roster is starting to lose its luster. FBI and Huhi aren’t looking like the best bot lane anymore and there are questions if their earlier form wasn’t just a massive overperformance. Their jungler Closer in particular has fallen off of a cliff over the past few weeks. If last week was the start of ringing alarm bells, this week is cause for full-blown panic.
Playoffs: If 100T win 2 of 3 (IMT, FLY, TL) they get into the upper bracket. Win 1 of 3 and they probably go into the lower bracket. Lose out and they are in danger of losing the last spot to IMT (they play them Friday).