With Week 4 of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split over, it’s time to take a look at who is dominating the standings. At the top, we have Echo Fox and Cloud 9 tied for first at 7-1.
Both of these teams are coming off the back of a 2-0 weekend. Cloud 9 having taken down the other contender for first in Team Liquid and also the newly revitalised Flyquest. Echo Fox having defeated The Golden Guardians, who have finally made it on the scoreboard, and Team Liquid whose place in the middle of the pack has been cemented.
Let’s take a look at the key games for each of these teams that put them in the position they are in.
Courtesy of Riot Games
Cloud 9 VS Liquid
Cloud 9’s superstar bot lane duo of Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi continued to prove they are the best duo in NA. Even up against Team Liquid’s Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, who is currently the best ADC in the league stat-wise, they dominated. This gave Smoothie the ability to roam frequently and snowball his other lanes on Alistar. However, the real story here is about rookie top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie being able to trade blows with the best.
With the assistance of an early roam from Smoothie, Licorice was able to completely crush the opposition. This was no easy feat as Team Liquid’s top laner, and former Cloud 9 member, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong is highly seasoned. Even in a hyper carry vs hyper carry situation, Licorice just continued to outshine Impact, eventually leading to Cloud 9’s win.
Courtesy of Riot Games
Echo Fox VS Liquid
Echo Fox. What is there to say about this team that hasn’t already been said before. They are an absolute powerhouse who have defied all expectations. Last night’s match against Team Liquid was no exception. Liquid had messed up right from the draft stage by giving over Zac to Fox’s Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett.
Dardoch has shown many times throughout the split just how proficient he is on this champion. Never thinking twice about his slingshots and picks, he dives headlong into the action and gets picks for his team. This is especially true when up against immobile champions who have no way of getting out of harm’s way when such a dive occurs.
It just so happened that in last night’s match, Double was on one of these aforementioned immobile picks. Not just any immobile champion mind you, but the epitome of immobility, Kog’Maw. Even though Double gave over no kills in these situations, he had to constantly use his summoners to avoid them. This left him at a disadvantage during team fights as he would have to stay far away to avoid being caught out. Therefore, making him less relevant.
Eventually Double began to scale up on Kog’Maw to the point where he could delete enemy squishies. However, it was pointless as by the time it came to a team fight, Liquid was always a man down due to Dardoch’s continuous picks. Thus, allowing Echo Fox to steamroll the match and win.
Next week we will finally see the stalemate broken as on day 2 Echo Fox will face off against Cloud 9. Finally, the best team in the NA LCS will be decided. Who will come out on top?
Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on SoundCloud. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Brandon!
To continue enjoying great content from your favourite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on the regular season – “Whether we win or lose, we will be the best in playoffs.”
Parqueso – How are you feeling about the new team?
Image provided by Riot Games
Doublelift – “I think our team has a really high ceiling, but we don’t often play to that ceiling. We all came from really different background – our team is an amalgamation of a lot of different players who had success in totally different ways. Like for me, I went from CLG in their prime and then I moved to TSM, and we were garbage and then we switched to having a rookie support and all of a sudden we were really good. In the end, we are just trying to figure out how to play with each other, because individually we usually win all the lanes. It actually really reminds me of playing on TSM, which is funny because I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect to play with three strong lanes and a jungler that… Well, I think the difference between Jake [“Xmithie”] and Dennis [“Svenskeren”], is Jake is a lot more cerebral about the game and he does everything really calculated, very efficiently, and communicates pretty much every possibility in the jungle. He is a really smart player and mechanically is also about the best if not THE best. No one actually will ever give him credit because I think he missed a Sejuani ult one time. *laughs* But honestly his mechanics are insane. But our team in general, we are trying to flesh out communication and trying to figure out how to play with each other because our strengths are different.”
P – So if you all play to the ceiling – and the team as a whole plays together to the ceiling – would you put yourselves first?
DL – “Yeah for sure, I would not have joined TL if I did not think we were going to be first! … Communication is the key to the good teams but sometimes you don’t need to communicate small things, and as soon as our instincts are clicking to look towards the same play or feel out the game in the same way then we’ll definitely be the best. I think we are the only team that can close out the game when we get ahead. Like, in NA and EU right now there are so many snooze fests, and it’s because the team that gets ahead doesn’t know how to win! They’re afraid of making plays and taking risks, and our team is definitely not. I’m a really aggressive player and I know how to snowball leads, and everyone on the team is really good at that too.”
P – I want to talk a little bit about Liquid. Obviously you were there last Spring, but how does it feel as an organization now compared to how it was back then?
Image provided by Riot Games
DL – “Back then I felt like I was just a mercenary that came in and the systems were already in place. The power dynamics between players, some players really vocal, some players said nothing – felt powerless – the way the coaches interacted with the players, it felt really unproductive. It just felt very bloated. People memed about how they had like 20 players, which is true, they had 15 or something. They had a lot of coaches, a lot of bloat, like too many cooks in the kitchen. I came in and I just tried to do my best – give advice here and there – I didn’t feel like I came in as a leader I feel like I came in to do a specific job. This new Liquid, when they picked me up, they wanted me to help create the culture of the team… I like to work hard and be very critical… I want Liquid to be a team that is really productive, so whether we win or lose, we will be the best in playoffs.”
P – Other than Targon’s what would you propose to change the meta away from these late game stall-outs?
DL – “I’m not a game designer by any means, but I really like when the game changes drastically. Like, I think the Runes change was cool, I really liked the new runes! But I think they should maybe equalize the scaling of the game. I think gathering storm is really, really bad. It’s just so dumb that one rune can make the difference of having 200 AD if the game goes to 70, 80 minutes like in the SKT game. It’s just toxic, because it’s just “well I’m playing gathering storm hard scaling and try to end the game before it happens.” *sighs* I wish they would equalize scaling across the board so you don’t see where one team’s mentality is just “stall for late,” like as late as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s 40 minutes or 80 minutes, that’s the goal – as late as possible. I think that’s a really annoying way to play and to watch someone play. So I propose crazy changes across the board. No more hard scalers, no more only early game champions – like pantheon. You’ll see a lot more diversity, you’ll see a lot more strategies. You won’t see a team just turtling for 30 minutes. It’ll just be more interesting play.”
P – If you could choose, what champion would you want to see back in the bot lane?
DL – “Lucian! I want high skill champions, not hard afk, farm-for-late champions to be the meta, which is funny because people think of me as this player who plays scaling, but I love playing Kalista and Ezreal and Lucian and playmaking – Old Corki! Old Graves! I love playing those champions because they are skillful and fun, and watching Caitlyn and Ashe is just boring and Tristana and Kog’Maw… It’s not for me.”
P – So were asking Riot right now!
DL – “Yeah, this is my plea! Please make skillful champions the meta, and the game will be more fun to watch and play!”
Image provided by Riot Games
Thanks for reading! Find Doublelift on on Twitter @TLDoublelift to send him some love. Stay tuned here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at email@example.com. =)
The break between spring and summer has been relatively quiet in North America. Very few big name players were traded, acquired, or released from teams. Most of the biggest changes are at the coaching position, whose impact is difficult to gauge without watching drafts and getting feedback from the players themselves. Here is a summary of every mid-season roster update so far in the NA LCS:
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
After a single split with Immortals, Dardoch has been bounced to another roster. Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) traded their jungler to Immortals for Dardoch. He brings a higher carry potential and early proactivity. He also brings an out-of-game personality that has been cited as the source of team-wide issues. CLG’s support staff will need to rein Dardoch in and properly channel his aggressive playstyle to find success.
Jake “Xmithie” Puchero
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Xmithie was traded to Immortals in exchange for Dardoch. This is a surprising trade, considering CLG decided to keep their entire roster intact in the off-season leading into Spring Split. Immortals will be receiving a seasoned, veteran, shot-calling jungler to compliment their remaining teammates, particularly the younger players in the bottom lane. Hopefully, Xmithie will ameliorate any out-of-game issue and provide stability within the team.
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran
Unsurprisingly, WildTurtle has decided to leave TSM to find a starting role elsewhere, and he has. FlyQuest is bringing him on as the primary AD Carry. WildTurtle helped TSM win the NA LCS Spring Split, but had a rocky performance at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. FlyQuest finished fifth this spring, and with this acquisition they will look to move up in the standings this summer.
Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Nisqy enters North America from the EU Challenger Series. His spring split team, Fnatic Academy, qualified for promotion into the EU LCS Summer Split. Their slot was bought by Ninjas in Pyjamas, who signed an entirely new roster. Nisqy joins Team Envy after his strong showing within EU CS. Envy finished last split in tenth, and fought their way through the promotion tournament to defend their spot in the NA LCS. Changes in the mid lane may stabilize their gameplay for better overall performance.
Choi “Pirean” Jun-Sik
Team Envy is also signing Pirean to their roster as a mid laner. Pirean most recently started for Phoenix1 in Summer 2016, and helped keep the team in the LCS after finishing eighth and fighting through the promotion tournament. This past split he was benched as a substitute mid laner behind Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook. Pirean looks to share mid lane duties with Nisqy. However, Pirean does seem to be the starter on the LCS website.
William “Stunt” Chen
Stunt is switching teams for the second time in six months. From substitute support on Dignitas to starting support on Phoenix1 to sharing the support role on Phoenix1, Stunt is now signed to Immortals as a substitute. While Stunt had some of the highest first blood rates, kill participation, and average KDA, he sacrificed high death shares and lower overall damage than his counterpart, Jordan “Shady” Robison. The Immortals infrastructure may be able to develop his talent in a stable team environment.
Terry “Big” Chuong
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Big is listed as a player for Team Dignitas in Riot’s Global Contract Database, and may be starting over Alex “Xpecial” Chu in Week 1. Xpecial was benched in favor of Stunt a few times throughout the Spring Split. Big most recently played for Echo Fox’s sister team, Delta Fox, in the NA CS. It would be surprising if his starting role on Dignitas is permanent this summer.
Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon
Team Dignitas also signed Shrimp, a jungler substitution. DIG’s early split woes, and late split streak, rested mostly in the jungle position, as Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun built synergy with the rest of the team. Signing Shrimp on as back-up could be a response. Shrimp split jungle duties for Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe this spring, helping them finish first in the regular season and second in playoffs.
Brandon “Mash” Phan
The last NA LCS substitute worth mentioning is Mash, who has signed to Echo Fox as AD Carry. Echo Fox started the Spring Split strong, but faltered in the second half, finishing eighth in the regular season. The bottom lane was much to blame. Mash comes onto the roster after finishing first in the NA CS with Gold Coin United. While Yuri “Keith” Jew is still listed as the starter for Week 1, it would not be surprising to see Mash splitting time in this role.
Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo
Ssong is another newcomer to Immortals this summer. Stepping in as coach, Ssong has been the head of LCK teams such as Longzhu Gaming and ROX Tigers. Most notably, he was coach when ROX Tigers finished top four in the 2016 World Championships. Signing Ssong shows Immortals’ dedication to improving as a team, and building the proper environment for growing talent. It will be interesting to see how much he elevates the team compared to last split.
Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
One of the longest serving veterans of the NA LCS, Saintvicious returns to Team Dignitas this summer. After Apex Gaming chose him as coach, and they qualified into the LCS, Saintvicious was kept on as staff when Apex and Dignitas were acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers. Coming into Spring 2017, Saintvicious joined Team Liquid as a strategic coach. However, after Liquid’s nasty Spring Split, Dignitas has welcomed him back to assist David “Cop” Roberson.
Nick “Inero” Smith
Formerly of OPL’s Tainted Minds, Inero will be head coach for Echo Fox this summer. Prior to Tainted Minds, Inero coached Dream Team and Mousesports in the EU and NA Challenger Series. Tainted Minds was caught up in scandalous reports of mismanagement from players within the team, which eventually led to a competitive ruling from Riot. The staff and players were released, which has allowed Echo Fox to sign Inero on as head coach.
Dong Hwan “Violet” Kim
Team Envy has signed Violet, a reputable Starcraft II player, as head coach for the summer. Violet has been signed to Envy as a Starcraft player since the beginning of 2016. His crossover into coaching League of Legends seems risky considering Envy just missed relegation this past spring. Maybe Violet’s strategic gaming background will allow Team Envy to develop new tactics or playstyles.
Changes to Starting Rosters
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Unsurprisingly, Doublelift returns to play the Summer Split as starting AD Carry. Although the star AD Carry had taken a temporary hiatus from professional play, Doublelift was temporarily loaned to Team Liquid by TSM for the last few weeks of the Spring Split to help prevent their relegation. Although TSM won the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, the team aspires to improve for international competition. Based on their underwhelming performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, Doublelift could be crucial for attaining their higher goals.
Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer
Starting Goldenglue as Team Liquid’s mid laner is one of the most controversial roster appointments going into the Summer Split. Leading into the Spring Split, Team Liquid signed Goldenglue and Austin “Link” Shin for mid lane duties. Later in the split, Team Liquid overhauled the roster, moving their AD Carry into mid lane and starting the substitute AD Carry in bottom lane. The team was also almost relegated, even though they had Doublelift on loan from TSM.
In the meantime, Goldenglue bootcamped in South Korea to play against the best in the world and elevate his gameplay. Only time will tell if his Korean solo queue experience has paid off. Goldenglue may be the player with the most pressure on him, coming into this split.
Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin
Piglet is also being reset into his normal role, AD Carry. Team Liquid announced their roster on Twitter as the same roster they signed coming into 2017 Spring Split. While “Midlet” exceeded expectations on a few occasions, it was not a long-term solution for Team Liquid’s problems. Hopefully, the bottom lane meta is more suitable for Piglet to carry, as he has done historically.
Leaving NA LCS
Team Envy’s Spring Split coach, Dylan Falco, is leaving North America to coach Fnatic in the EU LCS. His replacement will be Violet, as mentioned above. For more information on Coach Falco’s relocation, and the rest of the roster updates for the EU LCS, check out EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates.
Adrian “Adrian” Ma
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Adrian was last mentioned signing to Team Liquid while their support, Matt “Matt” Elento, needed to step down due to personal issues. Last playing on March 18, Adrian has not been mentioned in any team announcements for Summer Split. Team Liquid did part ways with Adrian, and Matt came back to assume the starting role, but nothing has been reported since then. Adrian left Phoenix1 due to disagreements with teammates, so it is possible that teams are hesitant to bring him into the mix.
Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo
After a disappointing Spring Split, Ninja has been replaced by two mid laners. There have been no announcements about his status since. He could be in contact with other NA LCS teams. He could be considered for a Challenger team. Ninja could also transfer to another region. The Summer Splits will be starting soon, so it is possible he remains unsigned altogether.
David “Hermes” Tu
Hermes joined Immortals coming into the 2017 Spring Split. He had an almost completely new roster of players, and together they finished seventh in the regular season and missed playoffs. Since the announcement of Ssong entering this position, nothing has been heard from Hermes. Judging by his Twitter, Hermes seems to be a free agent.
Simon “heavenTime” Jeon
HeavenTime is another unaccounted coach. Echo Fox brought on Inero as a replacement, but nothing has been seen from HeavenTime. With the season restarting soon, it is possible that he remains unsigned, as well.
TSM had a poor performance at the 2017 Mid Season Invitational. The North American team finished with a 4-7 record – good enough for 5th place. Every member of the team should accept some responsibility for the losses and wins. None of these players had an outstanding tournament presence.
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg seemed to be most consistent. While playing against some of the highest caliber individuals, Bjergsen never seemed to fall behind or become obsolete. His presence is felt throughout every game. Vincent “Biofrost” Wang was a bit less consistent. He timed key ultimate abilities, healing and shielding his allies effectively.
Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen were the least consistent players on TSM at this tournament. Some games they meshed well and flashed the brilliance that allowed them to win the NA LCS Spring Split, but other times they looked outclassed by their opponents. Poor play in the top lane and jungle heavily contributed to the early game losses for TSM.
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, however, had consistently mediocre gameplay. There were very few moments in TSM’s games where WildTurtle seemed to pop off like the other AD carries. His map movements, his positioning, and his damage output were lackluster. Just watching most of the games, he flies under the radar. Here are examples of WildTurtle’s early game:
As you can see, it is not all that bad. There are a few instances where Biofrost and WildTurtle properly execute against enemy bot laners and ganks. Other times they are not so lucky. But there are fewer early game errors than one might expect.
TSM averaged 894 gold behind their opponents at 15 minutes. WildTurtle actually averaged 20 gold ahead at 15 minutes, compared to Bjergsen’s +59, Hauntzer’s -10, Biofrost’s -17, and Svenskeren’s -73. He and Biofrost were also ahead in experience on average. On Caitlyn, Varus, and Ezreal, WildTurtle averaged over 200 gold ahead at 10 minutes.
The inconsistency starts to crop up in the mid game when TSM needs WildTurtle to dispense as much damage as possible. Here are examples of WildTurtle’s mid game positioning and decision-making:
Just watching some of these highlights, there are clear highs and lows with Turtle. He is able to properly time his abilities, auto-attacks and movement in most fights. But other times he gets caught alone in a side lane or he gets caught in crowd control and picked while baron is available. These are the positioning errors that everyone is going to remember far clearer than the other dozen successful teamfights.
While they were middle-of-the-pack with their early game rating, TSM’s mid-late game rating is the lowest among all six teams in the Group Stage of MSI. They also have the longest average game time. These two factors point to a problematic mid-game that turns over any early advantages TSM secures. These errors would bleed into the late game:
This is where WildTurtle’s mistakes really shine. In these tense teamfight situations, a single death can swing favor into either team’s hand. More often than not, WildTurtle gets assassinated, crowd controlled or zoned completely out of a fight. It is impossible for TSM to win with this issue, and it was a huge advantage for all opponents.
TSM only got first baron in 27% of games, and only secured 28% of all barons. WildTurtle contributed a 2.7 KDA,61.9% kill participation, and 450 damage per minute – all bottom two among AD carries. While SKT’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and G2’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen are two of the best AD carries in the world, WildTurtle should reasonably be at or above the level of the other three marksmen.
Luckily for TSM, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng will be returning for the NA LCS Summer Split. The addition of Doublelift reunites the TSM roster that won the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split and represented North America at the World Championship last year. While the announcement reads “they will be expected to focus on different playstyles and will be fielded according to the strategy the team plans to use,” WildTurtle will need to exhibit higher level gameplay before starting for TSM this summer.