North America comes back to the League Championship Series (LCS), following a weekend of Rift Rivals. Week 5 has Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) playing versus Clutch Gaming for the first time in Summer Split. Then Day 2 crests into the second round robin, with CLG rematching TSM. They are looking to build on their 5-3 record and breakaway from the other three teams tied for second right now.
Day 1 – Clutch Gaming
Clutch are CLG’s last remaining opponent for the first round robin of Summer Split. Their 4-4 record puts them tied with Golden Guardians, just below CLG’s clump of teams. Clutch has found a bit more of their stride since the rough 0-2 start, particularly Liyu “Cody” “Cody Sun” Sun, who just joined in the mid-season. He currently has some of the best laning stats in the entire LCS. The team around him has also been most improved over four weeks, with Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo and Tanner “Damonte” Damonte going from a combined 21 deaths in Week 1 to nine, nine and sixteen in Weeks 2 through 4.
CLG should still realistically win this match-up. They play much more disciplined around turrets and neutral objectives. Clutch brings a strong early game, averaging higher First Blood and First Turret rates, as well as gold, turrets and dragons at 15 minutes than CLG. But CLG’s greatest strength is teamfighting, lane management and macro, bringing a better kill-death ratio, a positive gold differential per minute and CS per minute.
Draft-wise, Sona, Yuumi, Irelia, Aatrox, Rumble and Xayah will probably be the biggest picks to look out for. Otherwise, both teams will probably take some comfort picks, such as Lira’s Skarner, Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin’s Trundle and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang’s Lux. Both teams will probably try to get some kind of draft advantage around solo lanes. Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min has played a unique champion in every game, while Damonte has in seven of eight. These teams are not afraid to dive deeper into champion pools than most in the LCS.
Player to Watch: Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes
Both of Clutch’s Week 4 games, and one of CLG’s, were essentially decided by one or two fights between minutes 23 and 29. With Stixxay and Cody Sun bringing most of their team’s damage, they will be most important to survive those late game engagements. Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, Lira and Damonte like to draft champions with engage, so CLG will need to pick and choose their fights. Clutch also have the highest Baron secure rate in the LCS, so the entire game may come down to choices around the pit.
Day 2 – TSM
TSM comes off a humbling Rift Rivals (just watch PapaSmithy’s VOD review), where they went 1-4 in their games versus Europe’s best. While they may have learned a thing or two from the experience against LEC teams, TSM have more likely lost confidence from the event. Other than Cloud9, who played several games without Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, TSM looked worst among the pool of LCS and LEC teams. They averaged 2,500 gold behind at 15 minutes, which is worse than 100 Thieves in the LCS (~2,220) or Excel in the LEC (~1,900).
CLG, on the other hand, have had a fresh week off and gets to learn from watching Rift Rivals how to beat the top North American teams. Adjusting some early game decision-making, prioritizing champions like Twisted Fate, Elise and Pyke, and learning to push advantages before champions can scale are all things CLG can adopt to overtake TSM. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Ruin already showed they are willing to role swap in order to gain advantages and give champions to the more comfortable pilot–something G2 and Origen showed at Rift Rivals.
Remember, last time CLG met TSM they lost to the speedy, undying Hecarim composition with Zilean and Sona-Taric. The Hecarim engaged so hard with no fear of death that CLG could not withstand it. CLG’s 63 percent Sona ban rate probably has something to do with this loss, but Origen and G2 showed North America how these picks can get punished.
Player to Watch: PowerOfEvil
Part of that adaptation may involve PowerOfEvil moving off of scaling zone mages, like Viktor or Orianna, and opting into more Yasuo, Irelia or Twisted Fate. This is going to be one of the major issues facing CLG in playoffs when best-of-fives come around. They tend to rely on PowerOfEvil’s mastery of a few champions beyond the LCS meta, and it can be exploited in draft. Since Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is such an anchor for TSM, any advantage PoE can bring to this game will pay dividends for the rest of the team. His lane control, roaming and skirmishing in the first 15 minutes will be crucial.
All statistics from Games of Legends