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Top Marks and more Remarks: NALCS Week 1

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Welcome to Top Marks and more Remarks! This series is going to take a look at the performances of the 10 NALCS organizations from week to week and give them an overall grade based upon their performance and more. This will be looking at the NALCS Week 1 performances as well as other criteria. Each week, going in the current standing order, each team will be analyzed looking at the following criteria:

  • Current record
  • Last week’s opponents
  • Trends between players
  • Individual performances from players
  • Macro-play and other team-based mechanics

For all the standings, schedules and statistics, check out lolesports.com

Echo Fox (2-0)

NALCS Week 1
Echo Fox logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: W vs FlyQuest

Day 2: W vs Clutch Gaming

Grade: A

Echo Fox not only sit at the top of the standings, but at the top of the class. Echo Fox seem to have a really creative approach to the new meta. Fox have now played top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon in both the jungle and the bot lane. This flexibility in positions places pressure on teams not knowing where the Fox superstar will end up. Pairing this with other members of the team performing in the top lane leaves Fox with a lot of potential moving forward. It seems if Fox can’t pick a carry top, they’ll send their top laner to carry another lane.  

Between their two games, Fox only technically finished one because of the Taliyah-Smite bug that happened. Many players disconnected, and because Riot couldn’t Chronobreak it, they decided to award Fox the win. Fox absolutely deserved that win against Clutch, and out macro’d FlyQuest. Echo Fox won a teamfight against FlyQuest at 21:00 minutes and ended the game two and a half minutes later.

The big win from Echo Fox was their objective control and map play. Fox lost two towers one rift herald to FLY and nothing to Clutch. Echo Fox picked up 15 towers, six dragons and two barons in the week and amassed 10k gold leads in both games.

The big think for Fox to improve on is their death count. The kill scores in both games were 18-13 vs FLY and 15-15 vs CG. Teams that can pressure a pick onto Fox and actually take advantage could put a stop to the snowball.  So the real question is where will Huni play next?

Echo Fox play OpTic Gaming and Golden Guardians Week 2.

TSM (2-0)

NALCS Week 1
TSM logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: W vs CLG

Day 2: vs FlyQuest

Grade: A-

It’s nice to see TSM play and win from both behind and ahead. It was also great to see top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen carry. TSM also decided to split time between Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung and Jonathan “Grig” Armao, with Grig playing both games in week one.

All of TSM played exceptionally well during the weekend. The reason why they get an A- is the quality of the first game against CLG. Both Echo Fox and TSM beat FlyQuest in 25 minutes or less, so looking at the other opponent explains the extra deduction. Although Echo Fox did die more to CG than TSM did to CLG, Fox choked Clutch of any neutral objectives or towers. TSM were down around 5k at 25:00 minutes, and only really came back because of the CLG baron attempts. TSM’s ability to teamfight shined in the game against CLG, but it felt more on CLG’s mistakes rather than TSM creating the opportunity. 

The big win from TSM is that they seem to be working well with Grig and are playing around other people than Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. Hauntzer, Grig and Zven only died once during week one. Area of effect, or aoe, damage and excellent teamfighting helped TSM comeback against CLG and cleaned house against FlyQuest.

The big takeaway is working on not needing 42 minutes to comeback and win. That and support Alfonso “Mithy” Rodriguez falling on the grey sword. Mithy provided seven out of the 13 deaths TSM had. Mostly engaging fights and letting the other members clean up. TSM should look at playing other styles should teams figure out a counter. 

TSM play against Clutch Gaming and Team Liquid Week 2.

Counter Logic Gaming (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
CLG logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: L vs TSM

Day 2: vs 100 Thieves

Grade: B

CLG had an interesting week back. Their first 20 minutes in both games were solid, but against TSM they fell apart. Against 100T, CLG were able to completely snowball the game. The phase rush Syndra and mid lane Renekton from mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae Hyun was very interesting to watch. Huhi’s performance on the weekend was enjoyable and it is exciting to see that the CLG mid can flex multiple picks to the mid lane. Huhi is famous for his Aurelion Sol, but has yet to see the pick get through the second phase of bans. Along with jungler Kim “Reignover” YeuJin, CLG seems to have made improvements in their team play.

The reason for the B was the lack of diversity in their picks. Three of the team’s players picked the same champions for both games. Their players played well, but with the large amount of champions picked in NA and EU, it would have been nice to see something new from CLG. Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya played Ornn, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes played Ezreal and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang played Braum. In the game against TSM, it felt like Stixxay had to carry the team, as Renekton would fall off later in damage, and TSM’s team would scale. Against 100T, Huhi did carry on Syndra, but the rest of the team performed well. It was also good to see Darshan performing again. Be it the solo kill onto Hauntzer, or the amazing Ornn ultimate against 100T, CLG seems to have a good look going forward.

The big win from CLG is that they seem to be playing better as a team. It might be a change in shotcalling, or perhaps the read CLG has on the meta, but the team looks confident. Playing around their laners is going to help CLG, and picking winning lanes will help Reignover assist the team.

CLG needs to improve on their baron taking. It cost them multiple fights against TSM and the game. The split second decision to fight left them taking bad engages to ultimately lose to a scaling TSM. CLG should also work on the new strategies teams are bringing to the rift. It will be exciting to see what Darshan, Stixxay and Biofrost will play when Ornn, Ezreal and Braum are taken away or banned.

CLG play against Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming Week 2.

Cloud9 (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
Cloud9 logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: L vs Clutch Gaming

Day 2: W vs OpTic Gaming

Grade: B-

The new roster surprised many and set the expectations high for Cloud9’s week one performance. This was met with mixed results. C9 gave up three kills to CG by 2:30, and had the game snowballed on top of them. The new roster of Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer, Yuri “Keith” Jew and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam perhaps did not meet expectations. Out of the three, Goldenglue performed the best. He was able to solo kill Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, and even in the loss, stayed ahead in CS and in gold. Keith and Zeyzal struggled after giving two kills to the CG bot lane. 

Both days, C9 ran a Shen-Nocturne combo where the Nocturne ults, and the Shen ults the Nocturne while flying at an enemy carry. Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen only picked up two total kills for the weekend with this strategy. The best performer for C9 week one was top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. Out of C9’s 16 total kills for the weekend, Licorice was a part of 15 of them. His split-pushing Shen put a lot of pressure onto OpTic and his ability to easily join a teamfight helped C9 in both games. 

The big win from C9 was Licorice. Although it will be interesting to see what else he can play, C9 at least know that Licorice plays Shen very well into Ornn. Svenskeren and Goldenglue both played fairly average, but were able to work together and execute the Shen-Nocturne strategy well against OpTic.

Cloud9 should work on the bot lane. Keith and Zeyzal did not play well from behind. Although Keith’s Lucian performed well, his Brand seemed awkward. Pairing it with Nautilus support for Zeyzal, it looked like C9 had wanted to try a mage bot lane, and when it failed, went back to a standard bot lane. Keeping Keith and Zeyzal comfortable against the strong bot lanes in the LCS will be imperative for C9’s success.

Cloud9 play against Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves.

Golden Guardians (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
Golden Guardians logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: vs OpTic Gaming

Day 2. W vs Team Liquid

Grade: B

Golden Guardians only won four games in the spring split, with the first one coming in week four. It seems great that GGS were able to beat the spring split champions in week one. GGS added mid laner Son “Mickey” Youngmin to their lineup after spring. Although the old mid laner Hai “Hai” Lam was known for his amazing shotcalling, Hai didn’t have the best stats in spring. What GGS needed was a better mechanical mid laner and more controlled shotcalling. From their week one performance, it looks like they might have it. Their loss against OpTic was a 38 minute game, and their win against TL was 22 minutes, so GGS have figured out how to snowball. Their combination of Mickey on Lulu and jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia on Graves looked good. Mickey got an Ardent Censor both games to buff Contractz and ADC Matthew “Deftly” Chen against TL. 

Deftly performed pretty well along with support Matt “Matt” Elento. The GGS bot lane had combined scores of 2/2/6 against OpTic and 5/1/23 against TL. Pairing this with top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson getting fed on Aatrox against TL, GGS had a really strong week one. Even in their loss against OpTic, the game remained close until GGS lost due to a bad engage from Matt. This team placed last in spring, so any improvement is going to help GGS in the long run. 

The big win for GGS is that they were able to win against TL. The control GGS had with Contractz ahead was amazing. GGS only lost one dragon to OpTic and no dragons to TL. Deftly and Matt also seem to be able to play both standard lanes with marksman and mage bot lanes.

What GGS should be looking to improve is their teamwork and seeing what Mickey can do when he is enabled. Huni has played three different roles in the NALCS, so it would be interesting to see Mickey maybe take up a carry role with Deftly or Contractz backing him up.

Golden Guardians play against Cloud9 and Echo Fox in Week 2.

OpTic Gaming (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
OpTic Gaming logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: W vs Golden Guardians

Day 2: L vs Cloud9

Grade: C+

OpTic had an interesting week. Both of their games lasted around 39:00 minutes, which is pretty weird for the amount of games snowballing in week one. OpTic opted into standard bot lanes for both games, and had jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham and top laner Niship “Dhokla” Doshi play the same champions both games.

The biggest changes were in mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage playing both Viktor and Ziggs week one. Both of OpTic’s games were also low death. OpTic had 12 total kills in week one and 10 total deaths. This shows that OpTic are very much willing to take a game slow and have ADC Noh “Arrow” Dong Hyeon scale up on a marksman and have PoE on a wave-clear mid to stall. When Arrow and PoE have three to four items, then OpTic takes a fight.

The positive thing about this is that OpTic setting out their win conditions clearly, and executing them. The negative is that if a team can identify the win condition, they can punish PoE and Arrow. Against C9 multiple times, Svenskeren would use the Nocturne ultimate against Arrow’s Xayah. Aside from her own ultimate, if Arrow’s flash was used, he would be dead the next fight. Compare this to the game versus GGS. Arrow was playing Ezreal, who has his own blink ability, and could re-position frequently. It felt as if Akaadian and Dhokla were only there to engage fights on Xin Zhao and Ornn respectively, but it worked out when it needed to.

The big win for OpTic was execution. Aside from Cloud9 having a consistent way to get to Arrow, OpTic played well. They were just out marco played by the Clouud9 composition. PoE on his poke champions did the most amount of damage to champions in both games. OpTic picked up first blood in both games as well.

The big problem is the dependency on Arrow and PoE to provide the damage. Arrow was unable to get consistent damage out onto Cloud9 and the team only had Ziggs to deal damage. OpTic is also going against the grain of the meta with their game times. Most teams have been able to execute a snowball, and OpTic will need to unless the meta shifts drastically towards longer games.

OpTic Gaming plays against Echo Fox and FlyQuest in Week 2.

Team Liquid (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
Team Liquid logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: W vs 100 Thieves

Day 2: L vs Golden Guardians

Grade: B-

Team Liquid’s first week was definitely rough around the edges. Coming from their 4-7 performance at the Mid Season Invitational, and losing the tiebreaker to get into the knockout stage, left TL looking for more. Their first game against 100 Thieves went as expected, with ADC Peng “Doublelift” Yiliang playing a standard bot lane and TL playing a teamfight composition around it. The lock down from jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s Camille with mid laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park’s Galio spelled doom for whoever would get ulted. TL stayed even in the game until they out team-fought 100T. It appears the popular funnel strategy works well for TL when it’s Doublelift they are funneling gold into. In the first game, they seemed to shake off the departure from MSI and play a mostly clean game. 

The problem for TL came when they faced Golden Guardians. Not to beat a dead horse, but GGS played exceptionally well in this game. Doublelift played Vladimir bot and was mostly useless in the match. TL only picked up three kills against GGS and most of the deficit came from the top side.

Top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-Young did not play well. Xmithie mostly tried to set up teamfights, but his Xin Zhao was punished heavily by GGS. Seven of the 10k gold deficit came from Xmithie and Impact against GGS. When TL was up against 100T, Impact was even on gold and Xmithie was only up 1k of the 11k gold lead TL had by the end of the game. 

The big win from TL was when Doublelift was ahead. Much like MSI, if Doublelift can get a lead, TL can take off with it. The important thing is to get Doublelift the lead he needs. Having Pobelter and Xmithie playing more control champions like Camille and Galio will probably help them pick up more wins. Even in the loss, both Doublelift and Pobelter were up CS, so mechanics isn’t the issue.

The issue that TL needs to work on is with Impact and support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. Olleh clearly had issues during MSI, and was even subbed out for a game. Another issue with TL is that Impact isn’t playing with the same confidence that he used to. Where is the “top die” from Impact? He played Aatrox, and was up against a Renekton, but ended the game 2/3/11. His game on Ornn ended 1/5/0, and Olleh was 0/5/2 in their loss. TL needs more confidence in their other players, and their players need confidence to help carry the team off of Doublelift’s shoulders. 

Team Liquid play against CLG and TSM Week 2.

Clutch Gaming (1-1)

NALCS Week 1
Clutch Gaming logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: W vs Cloud9

Day 2: L vs Echo Fox

Grade: B

Clutch had an amazing run in playoffs. They beat TSM 3-1, and lost to Echo Fox 3-0 to end the spring. In their opener against C9, Clutch were able to snowball off a pretty early lead. ADC Apollo “Apollo” Price played Vladimir bot and ended with a great score of 7/3/4. Jungler Nam “LirA” Taeyou excelled on Graves, with a total KDA of 7/4/17. Once LirA got an early lead against C9, Clutch were able to barrel down teamfights. Between all the AOE of Vladimir and Ornn, combined with Morgana and Lulu providing shields, Clutch held a pretty consistent lead during the C9 game. 

The Echo Fox game was interesting on both ends. Clutch were even on kills when the bug occurred. The reason why Clutch lost that game was because Riot decided that they did not have a reasonable chance to come back and win. Technically all games are winnable, but given the 10k gold deficit, plus the downed inhibitor, it is hard to make a logical argument as to why Clutch could have won that game. The reason why Clutch end with a B is that their snowballed game did not end as quickly as many of the others did. The C9 game took 33 minutes to end, with C9 even having a small gold lead at 24:00 minutes and 26:00 minutes. Clutch held an early snowball, but delayed the pace of the game. 

The big win for Clutch is their individual performances. From top to support, Clutch held decent scores in both games. The potential that Clutch has is seen in their spring performances. Both Apollo and Febiven can be placed into carry positions and perform when needed. Support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent and LirA both provide a lot of pressure onto their opponents, often engaging or skirmishing to gain advantages. 

The work that Clutch needs is to pay attention top side. Colin “Solo” Earnest in the spring and summer 2017 laned practically alone. Solo has been laning well against Licorice and even Echo Fox jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. Solo is fairly even on CS in both games, but just doesn’t really get attention. Clutch should also work on their pacing. Against C9, Clutch almost were out rotated, and almost gave C9 a way back into the game.

Clutch Gaming plays against TSM and Counter Logic Gaming Week 2.

FlyQuest (0-2)

NALCS Week 1
FlyQuest logo. Photo via lolesports.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: L vs Echo Fox

Day 2:  vs TSM

Grade: D

It’s hard to fault FlyQuest on their week one performance. They had arguably the hardest week one schedule out of all the teams in the NALCS. Coincidentally, both teams FlyQuest played are the two teams that are 2-0. FlyQuest took a different approach than many teams, opting into taking mages in the bot lane onto ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran. WildTurtle is a player that can play many different styles, but together the team got beat in 25 minutes or less. 

The new players added to the FlyQuest lineup, jungler Lucas “Santorin” Larsen and support Kwon “Kwon” Koo Hyuk played well; but if FlyQuest look to rise in the rankings, the team will require more coordination. FlyQuest had a great first 15 minutes against Echo Fox, and even held a small gold lead for six or seven minutes. They were able to skirmish against the scaling Fox composition and take advantage of massive AOE damage coming from WildTurtle’s Swain, top laner Lee “Flame” Hojong’s Ornn and mid laner Jang “Keane” Lae-young’s Lulu. This combo helped the team pick off and take an early five-for-one fight in FlyQuest’s favor. 

The bigger issue for FlyQuest is that they were never able to increase a gold lead they had and were unable to play around the map. FlyQuest only picked up two turrets total on the weekend, with a rift herald against Echo Fox and a dragon against TSM. The game against TSM was lost pretty much after Hauntzer’s Dr. Mundo picked up a quadrakill when FlyQuest failed to pick up the rift herald.

The positive for FlyQuest is that the hardest week is now behind them. FlyQuest placed eighth in the regular season and starting against some of the strongest teams does not gain too much confidence for a playoff contention. This is only week one, so seeing where FlyQuest go from here will be important. They might play more mage bot lanes, or transition WildTurtle back onto marksmen. Regardless, FlyQuest should keep looking forward.

The improvement FlyQuest should be looking at is objective control. With snowballing games lasting 25 minutes, FlyQuest need to work on gaining early leads and executing snowballing comps. This should be coming from Santorin, but other members should be stepping up to work productively.

FlyQuest plays against 100 Thieves and OpTic Gaming Week 2.

100 Thieves (0-2)

NALCS Week 1
100 Thieves logo. Photo via lolepsorts.com

Week 1 opponents:

Day 1: L vs Team Liquid

Day 2: vs Counter Logic Gaming

Grade: F

The only team that failed this week, 100 Thieves seemed to almost 180 their spring performance in week one. 100 Thieves ended the spring 2018 regular season at a record of 12-6. The team that won six straight games to take first in the regular season loses both games in their first week back. It is hard to think that the team that finished second in playoffs would start the regular season 0-2.

The fear that 100 Thieves fans should be having is whether or not this will be a repeat of Phoenix1’s performance last summer. Much like 100 Thieves, Phoenix1 placed well in the spring, and represented NA at Rift Rivals. Mid laner Yoo “Ryu” Sangwook played for both teams as well as jungler William “Meteos” Hartman. 

The good thing for 100 Thieves is that both games took around 30 minutes, which is slower for a snowballing meta. Another advantage is that top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chanho performed the best out of the 100 Thieves. Ssumday was given tools to create advantages in his lane on Renekton and Singed. He was the only member of 100 Thieves to be even in gold against his laner in both games. 

100 Thieves have played well when they are on the front foot against teams. In both games, Meteos picked dueling junglers Camille and Trundle. Ssumday again played aggressive top laners. The problem seems to happen when 100 Thieves don’t have a lead and they start to bleed out. In both games, 100 Thieves played a team comp that required Spring MVP Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black to engage and the rest of the team follow up. The problem is that their opponents were able to provide disengage and counter engage to negate 100 Thieves’ attempts. In the first game, TL had a Galio ultimate and a Rakan reengage to counter the Thieves single target burst damage. In the second game, CLG had an Olaf who could become immune to crowd control, a Syndra to disengage and an Ornn to reengage. 

The win for 100 Thieves is that Ssumday looks like he could carry a few games. The Essence Reaver Renekton was a good pocket pick to bring out, and although the Singed was 0/2/0, Ssumday was up almost 80 CS at the end of the game. 100 Thieves need to work on their 1-3-1 comps in order to stay competitive in the meta.

The big thing to work on for the Thieves is making sure the bot lane and mid lane are comfortable in the meta. ADC Sun “Cody Sun” Li yu and Ryu played well against TL, but should look to either provide support for Ssumday topside or work to securing more neutral objectives with Meteos while Ssumday is topside. Also keeping Aphromoo as the primary engage will become predictable, so having them work on more map rotation might bring them out of the bottom.

100 Thieves play against FlyQuest and Cloud9 Week 2.

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Featured photo from lol.gamepedia.com

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