NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4 has finally passed, and we’re not almost at the halfway mark of the split.
Unlike other weeks, however, this week was particularly interesting to watch as this was the week after Rift Rivals 2018. This means that the teams that went got valuable stage experience against the European teams, and the teams that failed to qualify got time to either rest or iron some of their issues out.
Here are our thoughts on what happened in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4.
EU is on NA’s mind
The European teams bested the North American teams in the recently concluded Rift Rivals. In that event, NA had a combined record of 0-7 against Heimerdinger and/or Aatrox.
In NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4, teams banned Aatrox every time on the red side, while we saw Heimerdinger here and there, which has even led to some calling the champion as the “terror of the NA LCS.”
The Aatrox ban is quite understandable. If you pick him for the mid laner with the summoner spell Smite, he can easily take the raptor camp at level 1 using his Q and the Smite. This gives him a significant level advantage early on against his lane opponent, and once Aatrox is in command of the lane, he can easily take control of the whole game.
Heimerdinger, in my opinion, is a different case.
Heimerdinger is not exactly overpowered. Like other champions, he has hard counters, and it’s easy to punish the pick if not executed correctly. His strengths obviously come from his pushing power due to his Q, which opens up the possibility for his support to roam and influence other parts of the map. Heimerdinger can also provide better vision and objective control and is a valuable team fight asset.
Despite all of this, most North American teams have not shown a proper execution of a Heimerdinger pick.
What is even more frustrating is not that teams in NA are not winning with Heimerdinger, but the fact that these North American teams are not trying to develop their own “style”. NA only seems to want to copy what appears to be strong based on other regions’ performance.
In no way is that a recipe for success.
Cloud9 Needs A Crazy Run to Get to Worlds
Since their inception, Cloud9 has gone to Worlds every season. It doesn’t matter how badly their season ended, or even how worse they fared during the group stages. You could always expect them to make it out of the group stages, one way or another.
This season, however, we might not see Cloud9 go to Worlds at all.
Amidst all the turmoil of all the roster-swapping and the real-life drama within the team, Cloud9 currently sits on a 2-6 record after NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4. This means that at most, the team should not lose more than three times in order to get to the playoffs.
This week, we saw Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi go back into the main roster. However, we also saw the team swap out Andy “Smoothie” Ta for Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam. Sneaky has played well over in the Academy League, and perhaps it because of that the team asked him to return to the LCS. But, oddly enough, what we saw in his first game was a bottom lane Morgana pick. You’d think that the team brought Sneaky over because coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu thought a marksman was best for the composition.
Even with Sneaky in the roster, however, Cloud9 still only went 1-1 over the past weekend.
If they wish to go to Worlds, they must attend to their usual problems— their mid to late game decision making especially.
NA Teams Need To Get Better at Decision-Making
A trend that I have been observing lately is that while skirmishing or teamfighting nets teams some advantages if they emerge victorious, some teams seem to tunnel into the thought of fighting.
Teams like Echo Fox always look for a fight and seek to come out on top through these. While entertaining, it always feels like they have nothing but fighting on their minds. They very rarely transition from winning team fights to taking objectives. Even worse, they have a tendency to overcommit to an unwinnable fight, which doesn’t always end well.
OpTiC Gaming is also another team to comes to mind. Although generally mechanically good, they’re also extremely impatient. They always find themselves to be in some sort of lead in the early game, but when the laning phase ends, they do not seem to know where to do. What happens, then, is that they tend to pick the wrong fights at an objective like Baron Nashor, or that they lose trying to close out the game when they could not. Their drafting also seems to always go only one way, which is to last pick for Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, and it’s so obvious that every other team takes advantage of it during the pick and ban phase.
As for Team SoloMid, they seem like the exact opposite. They did not seem to exercise enough proactivity in their game against Echo Fox. The shot-calling seems to be concentrated around their mid lane, Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, and once his lane opponent was out-rotating him and was setting him behind, the whole team was set back until the game just ended.
What Is The Meta?
Everything post-8.11 has been quite chaotic, and the conclusion I have arrived at is this: since so many champions are viable, and several strategies and team compositions are employable, teams must know how they want to play. It is not so much as what is the optimal way to play, or which champions are overpowered, but more of teams having a clear game plan in champion select.
I say this because a lot appear confused by the wide pool of available picks. Strategic diversity is always good. However, teams should still know how to play according to their own strengths.
Case in point, since Team Liquid is good with standard play, maybe they should stick to that and find more ways to make it work, similar to what Royal Never Give Up was doing in the first half of this split in the LPL. But, again, it doesn’t hurt to try out other strategies and trying to master them first. Nothing feels worse as a viewer to see a promising strategy make its way onto the stage and fail because of poor execution.
A good example of a team that plays to their strengths is the Golden Guardians. Their bottom lane, for one, holds a lot of potential, and the team has finally started to realize it. As a result, they got their first 2-0 in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4 in the history of the organization.
Out of all the uncertainty, one thing is clear right now and it’s that we need best-of-threes. This isn’t to say that best-of-ones are inherently bad, but it’s not helping the meta shape in any way. The fact that teams end up picking the safest team compositions to survive means very few teams are open to experimenting.
The end of NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4 means we’re already halfway done with the split. But, even so, there remains a lot of parity across the board — four teams are tied for first at a record of 5-3, four teams are tied for second at 4-4, and two teams sitting on a 2-6 record.
If this keeps up, expect to see a long series of tiebreakers at the end of the split.
What did you think of all the action that happened during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 4? Will there be a clearly dominant team? Let us know in the comment section below!