Rift Rivals has come and gone and we can finally look forward to the 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4.
While North America failed to defend their title, there are still valuable lessons that NA teams should have learned from their loss. First off, for the teams that participated in the event, it was a good measure of how strong they were. A lot of North America’s weaknesses were exposed and hopefully the teams learn from the whole experience. Second, for the teams that did not get to go, it could have been valuable time to rest and reset their mentality, and regain morale. There were some teams that clearly needed a lot of time to sort some stuff out, and this week off for them could have done the trick.
The third and most important point is this: EU has historically been the more innovative region. A lot of picks and strategies first pop up in the EU LCS and prove to be effective in the international stage. NA, the more conservative region, should look to adopt the winning strategies and hopefully improve on them.
2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4: Champions to Watch
The newly-reworked and hotfixed Aatrox immediately saw some play in the different Rift Rivals events across the globe. While there was initially some backlash from the online community due to the stark difference between the champion’s kit before and after the rework, professional players have proven otherwise.
The new Aatrox has healing reduction, percentage health damage, several abilities with crowd control, a dash, and a resurrection mechanic in his kit. He has become more mechanically intensive, but the payoff is greater as well. Aatrox has great waveclear and is a lane bully that wins most matchups. He does so well against tanks like Dr. Mundo, who has been one of the high-priority tanks in 8.11 and 8.12.
In teamfights Aatrox should flank and disrupt enemy lines with his crowd control with his Q, and lock down one of their carries with his W. He should be tanky enough to stay alive in the fight, and should there be tons of damage from the enemy side, he can be revived if his ultimate is active.
EU top laners destroyed NA with this pick, and no proper counter to it has emerged in professional play yet. The champion also does well from the mid lane, so expect to see Aatrox in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4.
NA has been late to the Pyke party. This champion has a great playmaking potential when left to roam. Pyke can go invisible, can pull back other champions, has a dash and a stun, and a high-damage ultimate with an execute and resets. The gold-sharing mechanic of his ultimate also allows teams to expand a gold lead.
In the right hands, Pyke can make picks or rule a teamfight. His invisibility allows him to make plays unexpectedly.
Heading into the 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4, we’ll likely see NA teams start playing this champion a bit more.
An EU special, Heimerdinger does not need much introduction. He permanently pushes the lane and is good at punishing possible melee matchups. In addition, with proper brush control, Heimerdinger can obliterate opponents, especially marksmen, with one spell rotation.
In Rift Rivals, NA teams were unable to either counter the Heimerdinger or take it for themselves. Having a Heimerdinger in the bottom lane gives so much lane control that the support can usually roam. In addition, objectives are easily obtained once Heimerdinger places three of his turrets down near them.
This particular champion has been receiving a lot of buffs in the last patches. The one she received in 8.13 is the biggest one: the sustain in her kit is back. The champion has actually been played by Go “Score” Dong-bin in the LCK in 8.12, and he showed a dominating performance with the champion. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett played it in Rift Rivals and displayed a performance wherein he just seemed to own the game.
While the changes to the rift scuttlers can mess with Kindred’s marks, the snowball potential of such a pick is very strong. If Kindred is picked with champions with good gank setups to them or those that allow it to be on top of skirmishes, Kindred could take over entire games.
We might see more of the Kindred in 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4, but NA teams must remember that a Kindred from behind has almost no way of clawing itself back into the game.
2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4: Teams to Watch
Team Liquid was given a very rough loss by Splyce in Rift Rivals, which could be said to have cost North America the entire tournament. They seem to be poised to lose whenever Jun “Impact” Eon-yeong is not on a tank. There have been questionable performances by Impact on a champion like Gangplank all season.
Given that tanks are safer for Impact, the pressure to carry has always been on Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. This may be a problem area for Team Liquid overall, as the bottom lane’s performance has been a little inconsistent. Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung sometimes has very good performances, but on other times he just gets caught out all the time. Eugene “Pobelter” Park has always appeared to not be willing to go for risky plays, which results to missed opportunities.
Despite all the things said above, Team Liquid is currently in a three-way tie for first place. If the rest of the league does not recognize and act upon Team Liquid’s weaknesses, they might just run away with the title again. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it?
Team SoloMid, since it has made changes to its coaching staff, has been showing better results. They seem to be in the upswing, and this becomes a question of consistency. They got a 2-0 in the first week, only to end week two with a 0-2. Week three was 2-0, and we shall see if they get more wins or if we get more disappointment.
TSM was able to take a break when Rift Rivals was going on. What this means for TSM is more time to rest, to practice, and to reset their mentality to return to form. Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez in particular seems to need this, as he has not been performing up to expectations so far this summer.
In paper, their roster should be capable of being able to take the NA LCS by storm, but this did not happen last split. If they get into a form similar to last split’s latter half, TSM could once again rise to former glory. This seems to no longer be about TSM as a team, but for the TSM players personally— these are people that have been held in high regard in the Western side of League of Legends esports, and if they do not make it to Worlds, it would only mean a heart-wrenching failure.
Echo Fox is without a doubt one of the most entertaining teams to ever grace professional League of Legends with their presence. With their overwhelming flexibility in terms of lane assignments and their willingness to pick champions that seem to be immensely far from what is considered to be in the metagame, I could only imagine that they are a nightmare to draft against.
In addition, Johnny “Altec” Ru has been stepping up and has been delivering a rather reliable performance in the bottom lane both playing marksmen and mages. His Dr. Mundo is decent as well, and it might be something worth considering for him. Adrian “Adrian” Ma and Wang “Feng” Xiao-Feng have both proven to be serviceable supports.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett has been displaying carry performances and has been a great threat in the jungle. However, as ridiculous this might sound, their current problems are Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun. These two usually have some misconceptions about the matchups that they have and misplay over and over. Huni especially has not been doing well in his last couple of games. His aggression has not been proportionate to the amount that Dardoch can cover for him.
At best, Echo Fox is a coinflip. If they do a funnel strategy, it’s even more up to chance. They need to have some semblance of order in the chaos that they channel in order for them to retain the top spot after 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4.
2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4: Must-See Matches
FOX vs TSM (Day 2)
This is a battle between the team known for restraint and disciple and a team known for being utterly chaotic. TSM went 1-1 against Echo Fox in the double round robin last split, and even in the game that Echo Fox won, it was actually TSM in the lead in the early and mid game.
If they can take Dardoch away from a jungler with a great carry potential, and force Huni to make mistakes over and over again, TSM’s hold over the fundamentals might just win them the game. Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg can be expected to own the matchup if he has a counterpick. Jonathan “Grig” Armao does not need to be on a jungler that can match whatever Dardoch would pick. If TSM picks Sejuani or Gragas for Grig, for example, this would already be one of the best-case scenarios for them. They only need initiation or disengage from Grig, and TSM should focus on their laners who can deal with their opponents.
I fully expect TSM to win, but Echo Fox may just win in a late-game desperation teamfight.
Betting: Team SoloMid to win at 1.76 odds (GGbet)
Liquid vs FlyQuest (Day 2)
Team Liquid, fresh from their loss against Splyce in Rift Rivals, goes against a surging FlyQuest.
With this matchup, we would be able to exactly gauge how much FlyQuest has improved. They have been triple-blocking scrims lately under Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco, and they have won their last three games.
FlyQuest will look to neutralize Pobelter or put Jang “Keane” Lae-young on a champion that can out-rotate whatever Pobelter would get, such as a Galio. If Keane is put on a Galio, he could influence more of the map, and possibly be a constant threat to Team Liquid’s bottom lane. However, Flame should get a counter to Impact’s likely tank picks. It would make so much sense for FlyQuest, then, to reach out for Aatrox, Gnar, or even a Gangplank.
Their bottom lane should be a particularly safe lane as it is Team Liquid’s primary win condition. They should get either a Varus or an Ezreal for Jason “WildTurtle” Tran if they wish to put him on a traditional bottom lane carry. If not, then a Swain or a Morgana would be good for him for the kill or push pressure respectively. Juan “JayJ” Guilbert should be put on Tahm Kench to correct WildTurtle’s common positioning errors.
The match is heavily in Team Liquid’s favor, but a FlyQuest victory will not be surprising.
Betting: Team Liquid to win at 1.3 odds (GGbet)
Which team do you think will be dominant in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Week 4? Do you agree with our predictions? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!