NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3 Recap: Who’s Really The Best?

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3 has come and gone, and each team has played six games overall. Though not much, it’s large enough of a sample size to properly determine the progress and relative strength of each team.

The past weekend may have been played on patch 8.12, but that does not mean that there was no difference in the teams’ drafts and playstyles. For example, the region was very keen on banning Nocturne and Taliyah, and the priority on picking Lucian has risen. Sejuani has also come back into the metagame as a jungler, and as a result, the value of picking or banning Trundle has also gone up.

Beyond drafting, however, we must take a look at how each team executed their compositions, what improvements we have observed, and what problems emerged from their performance up to NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3.

Cloud9

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Jensen is back into the roster, but the results that come with his reputation are not present yet. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current Record: 1-5

Cloud9 made some roster changes yet again. Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam and Yuri “Keith” Jew have moved back to the team’s Academy roster, and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta have taken their place. An AD Carry’s absence is notable here, may it be Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi’s or Keith’s, and the only possible explanation was that Cloud9 was going to try their hand on a non-traditional bottom lane.

While adaptation is a necessary skill teams should have especially in the current meta, the form of adaptation that Cloud9 has manifested is quite transparent. Once Jensen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer were announced to be in the starting roster for this week, it has been obvious to everybody that they would run champions that originally belonged to the middle lane into the bottom lane. What the teams they faced did was that they banned what usually belonged to the bottom lane, and in the end, Cloud9 was left with B-tier mages and bruisers.

They also seem to be playing around Eric “Licorice” Ritchie more by choosing red side to be able to get a counterpick for him. While this usually means that Licorice wins lanes, the leads that they have been able to produce from the top lane do not necessarily influence the rest of the map. The huge leads that he and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen usually get end up being closed by the enemy, often lost in a teamfight or a pick gone wrong for the team.

Cloud9 lack clear and decisive shotcalling in the middle to late stages of the game. Until they fix that, they won’t make it to the playoffs, let alone the Worlds.

OpTic Gaming

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

OpTic needs to work on their issues so that they don’t miss out on playoffs again. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current Record: 2-4

OpTic made the same kind of roster changes that Cloud9 did. They subbed Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham out in exchange for Austin “Gate” Yu. Gate is not a jungler; he is a support player. This kind of lineup screams the fact that they were going to play a gold-funneling composition. Opponents quickly adapted to this roster change and banned out the usual champions involved in gold-funneling. In the first day of this weekend, they were left to funnel resources into a Tristana, who scales quite slower than other carries.

In the second day, they were able to draft Xayah and Rakan, but they were not quite successful. Several other strategies are emerging to counter the funnel. Kieran “Allorim” Logue has not been better than Niship “Dhokla” Doshi in the top lane, and side lane pressure is vital to the success of the funnel.

OpTic should be more open to other strategies and should be mindful of the other team’s adaptive measures so that they do not draft themselves into a corner again.

Golden Guardians

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Golden Guardians have been doing better than last split, but will they make it to playoffs? (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 2-4

The Golden Guardians suffered their first 0-2 weekend in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3.

Son “Mickey” Young-min has been released from Lulu duty, and has been playing more carry-oriented champions as of late. This, however, has not translated into success. In addition, while Samson “Lourlo” Jackson has been able to get counterpicks against his lane opponents and he has been able to dominate his lane, he was not able to influence other parts of the map.

What is particularly curious about Golden Guardians is that they seem to fall apart after one mistake. After the opponent grabs a sizeable lead from one of this team’s mistakes, they are unable to find ways to take the game back to parity. In the end, their games just end around them and they let their enemies take more and more advantages.

Golden Guardians have shown promise with this roster, and fans have to hope they do not end up in tenth place again.

Clutch Gaming

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

With Clutch Gaming pulling off upsets left and right, they truly are the dark horse of this split. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 3-3

Clutch Gaming is looking pretty good through NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3. Their wins have looked very impressive with Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten on carries. His signature pick so far is Swain, which seems to have taken the place of his Azir from last split. However, at times they seem to be giving some priority into giving him Lulu. The logic is sound here (Lulu empowers a jungler in a skirmish and increases the survivability of squishier, carry-oriented junglers), but such a pick is not able to maximize his carry potential in a team.

Their bottom lane also appears to have retained their form from last split. With Apollo “Apollo” Price and in Nicolas “Hakuho” Surgent being a dependable duo in the bottom lane, if they are set up to succeed they are almost certain to lead the team to victory. Additionally, Colin “Solo” Earnest seems to have found his confidence to play carries in the top lane.

Now that Solo has stepped up, Clutch Gaming now has more options. They have also moved away from their “scale to lategame” playstyle. Recently, they defeated TSM again, and CG looks like it can once again compete for a top spot in the NA LCS.

Flyquest

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Flyquest is steadily improving, which is a result of the team’s hard work. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 3-3

Most people had Flyquest in the bottom of their rankings coming into this split. This was because their spring split was not good, and that they made several changes to the roster and coaching staff coming into this one.

However, Flyquest has been able to overturn expectations in a lot of ways. First, they managed to defeat OpTic even when they were massively behind. Some people might contend that that is because of a poor call by OpTic to rush Flyquest’s nexus, but good decision-making by the members of Flyquest made them get the win. Second, they were able to dismantle Golden Guardians’ attempt to funnel once again into Deftly. Third, they raised some eyebrows by giving away Taliyah to CLG in the draft phase, but they were able to pull off a win due to Lucas “Santorin” Larsen’s impressive performance on Kha’zix, a champion that has been nerfed several times and was not considered a particularly strong pick in this meta.

The only thing that can provide an explanation to Flyquest’s rise is the fact that they have been working hard. Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco has been vocal about his team triple-blocking scrims, which means that they are putting in more time and effort into improving than other teams. Lee “Flame” Ho-jong has also talked about the difference in communication that was the result of their hard work. It is very visible in the plays that they have been making that they were on the same page, and were able to execute these plays well because of that.

Counter Logic Gaming

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

CLG needs to prove that it is indeed a top team, not just a team full of individual talent. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 3-3

CLG has gotten a 1-1 every weekend of the NA LCS summer split so far. NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3 has not been an exception. In some games, they have looked almost flawless, and in others they appeared to be totally lost. They have always gotten first blood and first turret in their games, but in half of them, a misplay happens in the middle of the game and their lead ends up getting lost.

Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun has counterpicked in all his games, not having used a single champion more than once this split so far. However, this seems to be a coinflip, as these counterpicks have not always been vital to their success. Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin’s effective champion pool seems to have only Olaf in it, having lost in games where he was on another jungler.

We know that this team has a huge potential for success, but it does not get translated into reality yet. The team needs to set their minds into what way they want to play this game in this meta in order for them to be consistently victorious for the rest of the split.

100 Thieves

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

The future of the Thieves is up in the air, with so many changes along the way.

Current record: 4-2

100 Thieves still plays relatively slower, and it means that there is plenty of time for opponents to gain resources across the map. It has not been the usual good map play coming primarily from William “Meteos” Hartman, but the team has been employing funnel team compositions again and again to net wins. Meteos has been relegated to playing as a support in the bottom lane with Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook.

The standout performer of the team, however, is not Cody “Cody Sun” Sun who is usually the beneficiary of the funnel, but rather Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Ssumday has been hitting his peak this season so far. In one of their games he prevented Clutch Gaming from ending the game by landing a four-man stun with his Jax. He also showed a good counter into the funnel strategy in the Gangplank, which he executed well.

But their current success is not indicative of whatever the future has in store for them.

Meteos has been traded to Flyquest for Andy “Anda” Hoang, and in the future the roster will have to be further adjusted to give way to Do “Levi” Duy Khanh as the starting jungler. Whether the team could keep up with the level of play that they previously exhibited is unknown for now.

Team Liquid

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Team Liquid is at the top of the standings once again. (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 4-2

After losing to Golden Guardians, Team Liquid has stuck to the kind of play that they have always been used to — standard, macro-oriented, and bottom lane focused. However, in their match against Clutch Gaming, they went with another strategy, and then lost.

It is undeniable that Team Liquid is the best in the NA LCS right now in terms of the standard playstyle that was prevalent pre-patch 8.11. However, they shine only when using this strategy. The team needs to adapt and innovate, and properly execute other strategies. If they do not pick this up over the course of the summer split, other teams might be able to exploit this glaring weakness.

The best example of such a thing happening is in their match against Clutch Gaming. It was very clear that Jun “Impact” Eon-yeong would play a tank like Ornn or Singed for more reliable engage and/or teamfighting, and Clutch banned both, and took the last reliable tank in the meta, Dr. Mundo. He was then left to play Kled, which had a narrow window for success.

Judging by their most recent performance in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3, Team Liquid still have a lot to learn, and have a long way to go if they want to defend their title.

Team SoloMid

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Will this iteration of TSM prove its dominance? (via lolesports Flickr)

Current Record: 4-2

TSM went through some changes before week three, as they went 0-2 in the previous week. Ham “Lustboy” Jang-sik has replaced Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo as the on-stage coach for the drafting phase. This was due to them perceiving a problem to exist during the draft phase. This week TSM got another 2-0. This is very difficult to just associate with the changes that the team made.

The breakout performer on the team is Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. He has not played a non-marksman this split, and he knows how to play against them even though he still uses the traditional bottom lane carries. He has been a huge damage threat in teamfights. Their rotations are spot-on and the macro play initiated by jungler Jonathan “Grig” Armao is better than last split’s. You can also count on Grig to execute a baron steal in precarious situations for the team. Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez, however, has not looked to be in top shape.

The question here is, how will Lustboy draft against more confusing opponents such as Echo Fox and 100 Thieves? It seems to us that TSM tunneled on the draft as the only problem when there have been problems in execution and individual play in the team.

If TSM really wants to go to Worlds, they must fix most of their issues.

Echo Fox

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3

Can Echo Fox stay on top this split? (via lolesports Flickr)

Current record: 4-2

We have said time and again that Echo Fox is the most entertaining team to watch this split. That held true in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3. Their unpredictable play is a marvel to watch because you’ll never know what they’re going to play, and how they’re going to play it.

But we sincerely hope that they never play funnel strategies ever again. The execution required for such a strategy is a little bit complicated, and Echo Fox just likes to fight all the time. This causes some disruption in the funnel. In particular, the person who receives gold priority doesn’t get ahead as far as possible.

Echo Fox needs to take a step back and play to their strengths more: excellent pressure in the lanes by Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s individual talent. If they also put the time in to have better macro, Echo Fox would improve a lot.

Final Thoughts

As things stand, there is so much parity in North America. No team has been winless, no team has been lossless. There are several ties in the standings, and in the following weeks, the different teams must assert their dominance and prove their strength in the LCS battle arena if they want to make it to playoffs.

There is no NA LCS this weekend due to Rift Rivals, which means that some teams can take advantage of the week-long break to shore up their weaknesses. Perhaps some of the other teams could work on their roster and strategies for the next games.

After NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3 will be Week 4, which will be played on Patch 8.13, so there’s a lot to be excited about, including which team will adapt better into the changes brought by the new patch.

What did you think of all the action that happened during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 3? Will there be a clearly dominant team? Let us know in the comment section below!

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