The League Championship Series (LCS) starts back up this weekend, with North America’s finest taking to the Rift for Summer Split 2019. Counter Logic Gaming faces 100 Thieves on Saturday, and TSM on Sunday. These two matches should be polar opposites for CLG, based on Spring Split performances.
DAY ONE – 100 THIEVES
The last time CLG played 100 Thieves, they won pretty convincingly. But don’t forget, 100 Thieves played mostly their Academy roster plus Bang in week nine, because their fate was already sealed. Darshan and Stixxay finished the match deathless, but their meeting earlier in the split was a different story. Darshan had a pretty poor Ornn game, and Ssumday’s Aatrox was fed alongside Bang’s Ezreal.
This week one Summer Split match-up will also be more difficult to predict, because CLG and 100 Thieves made key roster changes. Ruin replaced Darshan on CLG’s top-side, while Amazing and Soligo step in for 100 Thieves’ jungle-mid. Ruin should be much more up to the task of playing carries top lane, like Ryze, Jayce or Vlad (his most played in 2019). In both drafts versus 100 Thieves in Spring Split, CLG saved Darshan’s pick in response to Ssumday’s, causing Wiggily to show his pick before Anda’s.
This draft strategy probably will not work as well with Amazing on 100 Thieves. CLG will need a more balanced approach, and, honestly, they should really lean into the mid lane discrepancy. PowerOfEvil is a higher caliber than Soligo, and giving him a strong match-up could give CLG a much larger advantage than a mismatch between top, jungle or bottom lane. CLG also has the advantage of only swapping a single player in a lane that is expected to be somewhat self-sufficient. 100 Thieves are adapting to a new jungler and rookie mid laner, two integral players to team-wide systems.
Taking all of this into account, CLG really should win this game. 100 Thieves finished last place in spring for a reason, and they are not going to instantly gel with a new jungler. Ruin and Ssumday should be a fun matchup to watch, and neither of these bottom lanes generally dominate laning phase. Macro-wise, CLG should be much better, so as long as Wiggily gets a comfortable champion, and Ruin doesn’t completely throw top lane to Ssumday.
Player to Watch–PowerOfEvil
A new meta, a rookie lane opponent and a more flexible draft just scream for PowerOfEvil to carry this match. Orianna, Syndra and Leblanc, three of POE’s most played champs of all time, climbed in priority during the 2019 Mid Season Invitational. Although he does not have much LCS-level experience on Akali and Sylas, he has been practicing them in Korean solo queue. Compared to the likes of Jensen, Bjergsen and Froggen, Soligo should be a walk in the park for POE to control. By controlling mid lane, POE can enable his teammates, particularly Wiggily, to exert pressure across the map.
DAY TWO – TSM
During Spring Split, CLG lost both of their games versus TSM. Their final match in week eight ended with CLG’s players finishing the game with a collective 6-23-16 scoreline. Darshan’s on-hit Neeko looked particularly weak. Their previous meeting in week five was even worse, but this time Stixxay’s Ezreal fell apart. TSM won the game in 25 minutes, with their fed bottom lane completely taking over.
CLG’s week one rematch probably will not go as poorly. Stixxay really picked it up in the last few weeks of spring, and CLG’s top side should be a bit stronger in the 1-v-1. It will be hard to bet against TSM, but not impossible for CLG to win. Being able to fully utilize flex picks between top and mid will allow CLG to compete more with TSM in draft. With Akali, Sylas, Ryze and Irelia becoming such high priority champions that can lane mid or top, Ruin and PowerOfEvil need to have access to all of them. If they do not, then TSM will easily win from draft alone.
Player to Watch–Wiggily
Although top and mid lane will be important match-ups in the CLG-TSM game, the junglers will be the most likely to have large individual impacts on the game. TSM’s best games came from Akaadian’s cooperation with his laners to contest buffs, objectives and vision. Wiggily is arguably CLG’s weakest link, making him an easier target in draft and on the Rift. However, smart pathing and ganks from Wiggily could pay huge dividends, especially if top lane drafts a volatile match-up.
All statistics from Games of Legends