NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals concluded this weekend, which gave us a clear glimpse of how the North American teams read the metagame.
Below are our thoughts on the NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals:
Patch 8.16 Is Not Much Different
The truth of the matter is that patch 8.16 was not much different, as I said last week: the amount of damage available to assassins has gone down, but not as much as to completely push them out of the metagame. Because of this, and the fact that the changes to Zoe have turned her into less of a priority, the middle lane priority has opened up a little bit to more champions.
The Trundle changes have made him less of an oppressive duelist, but he is still proving to be a good jungler for those with good pathing. This means that picking Trundle as a jungler would be more situational as well. Because of Trundle priority falling a bit, teams may be feeling a little freer to pick Sejuani, which also means that other tank junglers such as Zac may soon reappear.
In both the series played during the NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals, we have seen the priority on champions like Ryze, Gnar, and Kennen. This means that the metagame has been moving towards an increased viability of a split pushing strategy. However, 4-1 team compositions or team fighting compositions still work in the current meta.
Teams with better macro could look to play split pushing more. We might see more drafts that have two distinct things they wish to do in the game.
NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals: Echo Fox vs Team SoloMid
Result: Team SoloMid 3-2
I previously highlighted the lopsidedness of certain matchups in this series.
First we have Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Jonathan “Grig” Armao. Dardoch was ahead for most of the series. In most of the games, Dardoch was constantly invading TSM’s jungle. He was great in punishing Grig’s pathing mistakes in the early game. He was often several levels ahead of his opponent. In one particular point he was able to go to go for a 1v2 outplay with a Kindred.
Dardoch’s capability to get the maximum is something to always consider. His capacity to take resources that he should not be getting as exhibited in their five-game series last weekend without a doubt puts him as the best carry jungler in the League. Especially in a metagame where carry junglers are viable, Dardoch is a clear win condition for Echo Fox.
The other lopsided matchup is the one between Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Tanner “Damonte” Damonte.
This is Damonte’s rookie season: he has not had any experience in a best of five. Even though TSM had been slumping in this year, Bjergsen still has the history of multiple NA LCS championships and MVP awards. The middle lane has been a great enough of a pressure valve that TSM has been able to play through.
Whatever Bjergsen picked, whether it was a bruiser such as the Irelia or an assassin like the LeBlanc, Damonte had no clear answers against it. As a result, Bjergsen became the catalyst that TSM needed to be able to rally from being down 2-1.
Huni was sick, but we’re not making excuses here
Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon was reported to have been sick in the week before the NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals, and was still feeling unwell in the match day itself.
With one of their primary carries being under the weather, Echo Fox was in a clear handicap going into this match.
Huni’s condition and the lack of practice coming into the match had clear effects on his gameplay: he led the week in deaths, and was isolated for most of them. Because of this, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell was able to get some crucial advantages in the laning phase. In teamfights, Huni has had several plays that seemed to be disconnected with what most of the team wanted to do.
People can say that the series was lost because Huni was sick, but this is not entirely true. Huni showed mistakes that he has been making all split long. He always overextends and overstays in lane, disrespects the amount of damage the enemy could do, and goes for aggressive plays even without vision.
These are correctible mistakes, and hopefully Huni gets well and back into form soon.
Echo Fox drafts either win hard or lose hard
Echo Fox has always been quite confusing to draft against. In the beginning of the split they have been employing some role swaps, and they are always willing to pick champions that are not quite in the meta.
We saw more examples of it last weekend: they picked Draven for Lawrence “Lost” Hui twice, a feast or famine AD carry. Echo Fox lost the first game but won the second. In the third game, Echo Fox drafted an Ahri into the composition after Damonte was banned out of the champions that he played this split. The Ahri pick was able to help them secure the win in that game as well.
However, in the third game, they picked Ryze early in the draft, which led to Bjergsen picking an Irelia. Echo Fox responded by flexing the Ryze pick into the top lane for Huni, then proceeding to pick a Lucian for Damonte in the mid lane.
While usually Echo Fox has flashes of brilliance in the drafting, there is also a chance for them to be overconfident in the drafting phase. The Game 4 draft was the clear evidence: Lucian is not able to take control of the lane against the Irelia. It might have been a better idea to pick a Zoe or Galio that would have more utility in a siege or in a teamfight.
TSM Still Has Only One Style of Play
Team SoloMid’s game plan has always been to get small advantages in the laning phase and punish enemy mistakes. Against a team like Echo Fox which always wants to fight, however, it is difficult to depend on enemy to make mistakes if they are forcing you to make a lot of them as well. In addition, they did not look like they had an answer prepared for Dardoch’s Kindred— Grig was on Sejuani for most of the games.
With no responses prepared to a carry jungler, there is a worrying possible future scenario: what if Grig is forced into a carry jungler matchup? Forcing a jungler into the tempo facilitator situation might be a possible strategy against TSM.
If you are a TSM fan, you will hope that they address it for future matches.
100 Thieves vs FlyQuest
Result: 100 Thieves 3-0
I actually had greater expectations of this match, to be quite honest. However, there have been questionable adaptation choices made by FlyQuest especially.
The greatest example of this is that the drafts in the first two games were the same. In a later interview, 100 Thieves admitted that they planned to draft differently, but FlyQuest started to pick the same champions. This usually means that the team is confident with the draft but only committed mistakes in the game.
However, it must not be forgotten that their Nocturne draft was pretty difficult to pull off. Nocturne drafts often have a side lane focus, whether it is to aid a split pusher or to punish an enemy split pusher. However, in the first two games, FlyQuest did not have side lane pressure. The entire draft falls apart since they were not able to play towards their win condition.
Running the same draft as a losing team twice in a row seems to not be the right decision. If they made the drafting adaptation that they did in the third game one game earlier, the entire series might have been more favorable to FlyQuest.
100 Thieves was just the better team across the board
100 Thieves had little to no problem in any of their games; they were clearly the better team in terms of individual play and overall team skill.
Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen was not the pathing jungler that he was in the regular season. This was partly due to the reason that he was on Nocturne for two games, which focuses on powerfarming. Andy “AnDa” Hoang was put into a team fighting role in the Sejuani for three games, which means that he would still be relevant due to the crowd control available to the champion even when she is behind.
Lee “Flame” Ho-jong seemed to be out of sorts in the match as well. Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, on the other hand, was on a tank the whole series but was able to fulfill his duty. On the Ornn his ultimates were spot on, and on the Cho’gath he absorbed the pressure and scaled into the late game. Flame’s mistakes especially in the third game cost them the entire series, while Ssumday was vital in all of their victories.
The bottom lane was in a different state altogether. 100 Thieves decided to specifically target Juan “JayJ” Guibert by banning out the Tahm Kench, and then taking the Braum for Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. This forced JayJ to play out of his comfort zone and it clearly showed on his Alistar in the first two games.
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has had a reputation for jumping forward and being caught out of position. Unsurprisingly, this happened far too often during the series.
FlyQuest bows out of the season for good
Bad news for FlyQuest fans— even though FlyQuest was able to make it to NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals, their early exit means that they will have only 20 Championship points. This means that they are currently 6th in terms of championship points, and they have even less points than Clutch Gaming. Clutch was not able to make it to playoffs this split, but their fourth place finish in spring gave them 30 points, which means that they stand in 5th place in terms of championship points.
FlyQuest will not make it to the Regional Qualifier, but fans can hope that they perform better in the next season.
The road continues for Team SoloMid and 100 Thieves after their wins during NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals. They are about to face even tougher competition in Cloud9 and Team Liquid respectively. Both matches have a lot of history between them, and this split’s playoffs are shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent history.
The path towards claiming the title of North America’s best continues next weekend.
What did you think of all the action that happened during NA LCS 2018 Summer Quarterfinals? Who do you think will emerge at first place in the playoffs? Let us know in the comment section below!