NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 Recap: The Wild West Isn’t Quite So

See how the various teams from North America interpreted the wildest meta known to the player base since Season 2 in our recap of NA LCS 2018 Summer Split week 1.

Summer has finally arrived, and with that, another split for the NA LCS. But, this time around, the stakes are much higher, with every team looking at Worlds.

With the general chaos brought into Summoner’s Rift by patch 8.11, the great question for all of us is how these teams made sense of all the chaos, and how they wish to use it to their advantage. Adaptability is the name of the game here, as several teams may have to adjust accordingly when previously known strategies no longer work. As a result, it may be quite difficult to predict who would win.

What we have seen so far, however, is that while the current metagame does allow for experimentation and innovation, most of the North American teams seem to have decided to play in a more standard manner. That is, most games still feature a marksman in the bottom lane, as evidenced by the matches during the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1.

There are a lot of ways to interpret it. For one, it’s probably because teams are still not comfortable trying out new things. After all, in a best-of-one format, the stakes are much higher. As such, it is possible that teams are shying away from trying out something new to avoid making too many mistakes.

Cloud9’s Newest Incarnation

Cloud9’s performance during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 has only led to more questions than answers. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 1-1

For the first time since the team’s explosive entrance into the NA LCS in 2013, Cloud9’s main roster will not feature its bottom laner Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, who has been replaced by Yuri “Keith” Jew from their Academy roster. In addition, superstar midlaner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has been replaced by Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer, and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam has replaced Andy “Smoothie” Ta as its main roster’s support player.

The current form of this squad has been met with outrage from the fans, but I would like to point out the fact that Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu is still with the team, and that they have recently acquired Jung “Rapidstar” Min-sung.

With the two, it can be fully expected that the team will still carry smart drafts and strategies with them and that the players can be whipped up to shape to be competitors worthy of the Cloud9 reputation. The current roster has already shown flashes of brilliance(such as Goldenglue solo-killing Febiven), but we will have to see more games from them to be able to deliver a proper verdict.

FlyQuest Falling Fast

A lot rests on the shoulders of the more experienced jungler Santorin if the team is to do better than their 0-2 performance during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 0-2

This team has had several changes made between splits as well. Rapidstar departed from the team and signed with Cloud9 and has been replaced by Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco, Song “Fly” Yong-jun has been replaced by Jang “Keane” Lae-young, Andy “AnDa” Hoang has been moved into the Academy roster, and Lucas “Santorin” Larsen has been acquired to take his place. William “Stunt” Chen has also left the team and Kevin “Kwon” Kwon took his place as Flyquest’s support.

While they were one of the teams to get on the trend of non-marksmen in the bottom lane (Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has picked Brand and Swain in their games last weekend), the results were not in their favor. Although WildTurtle does seem to be quite comfortable with mages so far, there were clear mistakes in communication that their opponents were able to take advantage of. Fans would still need to endure as it takes quite some time for teams with new members to gel.

Here’s to hoping that FlyQuest’s performance don’t fall too far from here.

Golden Guardians Are Out to Prove Something

Deftly has always been a capable laner in his own right, and the team will need to enable him if they are to build on their success in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 (via lolesports Flickr).

Current record: 1-1

Hai “Hai” Du Lam is now out of the team. Replacing him is Son “Mickey” Young-min as the team’s mid laner. Mickey is supposed to be a mechanically better player than Hai, but we have yet to see if that is truly the case. Mickey’s performance on Lulu both of their games this weekend isn’t really that big of a sample size. But, for all that uncertainty, one thing that we do know is that this team is out for blood. There’s no doubt that they’ll want to rise from their tenth-place finish the last split.

So far, the signs are encouraging. They split both of their games this weekend, including a very convincing win against the Spring Split Champions Team Liquid. It also helps that the meta favors carry-type junglers, something that Juan “Contractz” Garcia, who shines on champions like Graves, feels right at home with Samson “Lourlo” Jackson playing bruisers like Aatrox.

Assuming they have figured out how to play to their strengths well, and they have ironed out their macro issues from last season, we can expect the Golden Guardians to pick up more wins.

OpTic Gaming Needs More Options

As obvious in their performance in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1, OpTic Gaming are hungry for better results and aren’t shy of letting PowerOfEvil carry them. (via lolesports Flickr).

Current record: 1-1

Optic Gaming found its spring split support player Daerek “LemonNation” Hart and top laner Derek “Zig” Shao to not be performing to the standards of the team, and they were replaced with Terry “Big” Chuong and Niship “Dhokla” Doshi respectively. While Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage is a formidable mid laner, they still seem to be dependent on him solely to carry the team.

PowerOfEvil’s penchant for non-traditional builds and champion picks may surprise opponents, but it has yet to produce the worthwhile results. Thankfully, this meta favors aggressive junglers that Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham plays well.

Expect OpTic Gaming’s results to improve as soon as they find other options other than letting PowerOfEvil carry them to victory.

CLG Tests Its Faithful

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1

It’s too early to tell after a 1-1 record in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1, but CLG are looking like they should make it to the playoffs after failing to do so last split. (via lolesports Twitter)

Current record: 1-1

Counter Logic Gaming failed to make it to the playoffs last split and they did not make any roster changes to address their problems coming into the summer.

Either they are that confident that the team will improve, or there’s clearly a lack of direction here. We’re leaning towards the former, as shown by their run for a playoff spot last spring that very nearly succeeded.

Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin’s signature champion, Olaf, is still a top-tier jungler in this meta. Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya, who just reached his 400th game in the LCS, has shown that his time in professional play has forged him into a better player overall. Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun has also shown that he is a dependable carry on this team. With Vincent “Biofrost” Wang in charge of the shot-calling, their plays seem to be showing clear and decisive communication.

CLG may have been out the last time, but they have a solid chance of contesting the top spots this split. All its fans need to do is to not bet on this team when they’re favored to win — kind of like the NA LCS version of KT Rolster

100 Thieves Are Fumbling

The Thieves are working on another heist, but from what we’ve seen in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1, not everything’s going according to plan yet (via lolesports Flickr).

Current record: 0-2

After a 0-3 loss to Team Liquid last spring, the Thieves are back with another attempt to steal the NA LCS championship. However, it seems that they haven’t carried over last split’s performance into this one. With mistakes present in the team that is indicative of bad communication between the players which was present especially in their game against Counter Logic Gaming(Huhi being able to go to the top side of the map even when the Thieves, William “Meteos” Hartman specifically had river control), this set of players may need to have a long talk to iron out their current issues.

If the past split shows any indication as to where this team might go next, they may pick up their pace later on in the split. 100 Thieves went to go 8-1 in the second half of the spring split, and it’s possible that we’ll see a redo of that this summer split.

Clutch Gaming Needs to Be More Than just Clutch

Clutch delivered a shocker to the NA LCS last split, and expectations of their performance are higher than ever after NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1. (via lolesports Flickr).

Current record: 1-1

Clutch Gaming shocked all viewers of the NA LCS last split by eliminating TSM from the playoffs, they then proceeded to go to a five-game series against 100 Thieves, which they lost, and they lost again in the third-place match against Echo Fox.

They have shown that they have a decisive playmaker in Nicolas “Hakuho” Surgent and a consistent AD Carry in Apollo “Apollo” Price. They always used to depend on scaling team compositions, where they would attempt to lose the minimum and then inch their way into victories as their champions outscaled their enemies. For example, Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten in the middle lane used to carry with scaling champions such as Azir and Orianna, whose late-game team fighting capabilities are matched only by a few other champions.

The problem is that this team needs to prove that they can play in a more early-game focused meta.

Luckily, they have Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo, who excels in piloting aggressive junglers. In addition, they also showed their willingness to play non-marksmen in the bottom lane, with Apollo on Vladimir in their game against Cloud9.

TSM Are On The Up-and-Up

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1

TSM’s performance in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 has been encouraging, to say the least. (via lolesports Twitter)

Current Record: 2-0

TSM clearly desires to reclaim its place as champion of the NA LCS. Jonathan “Grig” Armao has been splitting time with Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung as the team’s starting jungler.

Personally, I would have wanted to see more of MikeYeung for this split as the current metagame seems to fit his aggressive playstyle. While the team has been leaning more towards a more traditional lane assignment and playstyle, it is clear that there have been improvements on the team’s decision-making as a whole: in both their games they are proactive, with each player trying to influence more parts of the map as soon as they obtain even a slight advantage.

Is this finally the rise of the promised TSM superteam? It might be a little bit too early to draw any conclusions, but TSM fans should be relieved that they are off to a good start.

Team Liquid Fans Need to Hold Their Horses

Team Liquid are off to a sluggish start in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1 as they look to securing back-to-back split wins. (via lolesports Flickr).

Current record: 1-1

Team Liquid convincingly defeated 100 Thieves in the spring final and in the first day of the NA LCS summer split. Following this, they were defeated by Golden Guardians, last split’s 10th placer.

While this may be disturbing for Team Liquid fans, worry not. In case you forgot, Liquid also lost to GGS last split. Besides, it wasn’t that too long ago that Team Liquid ended fourth in the regular season only to end up dropping just a single game in the playoffs.

You can chalk this up to Team Liquid’s propensity for experimentation.

In MSI they were not afraid to sub Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung out even though they were 0-4 at the beginning of the group stage, and they still almost made it to the semifinals. Team Liquid’s eyes are on the big picture. That means they’re okay with dropping games and making mistakes, as long as it all makes the team better in the end.

With the higher priority on Shen in the current meta, expect Jun “Impact” Eon-yeong to play the champion if it’s not banned. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng has also shown encouraging signs of playing non-marksmen in the bottom lane. However, it’s clear that he is at his best playing marksmen, as exemplifbywith his Xayah in their game against 100 Thieves.

Ultimately, it’s best to keep in mind that there are still more weeks to come. For fans, there’s no need to concern yourselves about the state of this team. At least, not yet anyway.

Echo Fox Just Never Stops

Huni, who proudly declared that this is “his meta”, has swapped roles twice already in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 2-0

Echo Fox has shown the most adaptability in 8.11.

Take for example their game against Flyquest where Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon picked Yasuo and went to the bottom lane, while Johnny “Altec” Ru picked Dr. Mundo and went to the top lane. In their next game, Huni picked Taliyah and went to the jungle, while Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett picked Rengar and went to the top lane.

This is interesting as they are willing to experiment both with champion picks and lane assignments. Other teams would now have to bear in mind the fact that Huni can go to their lane, and they will have to prepare against the traditional matchup against Huni, and against whoever might replace him. This opens up a lot of possibilities for Echo Fox in the drafting phase as their roster is a lot more flexible than other teams’.

Their naturally aggressive playstyle also does them more favors as they always attempt to press their leads to the maximum. In this meta, which Huni proudly declares to be “his meta”, Echo Fox is showing such deep knowledge and preparation of how to play their games.

Final Thoughts

Week 2 of the NA LCS starts on patch 8.12, and we shall see how all the teams adjust to a gradually stabilizing metagame. Right now, it’s too early to draw conclusions. It also doesn’t help that NA follows a best-of-one format. This means that every game means much more for each team and that the difference between making and not making the playoffs is just one game.

Whichever team you’re rooting for, cheer them on to get wins from here onward.

What were your thoughts during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 1? Which team do you believe will race ahead and adjust to the meta first? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below. 

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