NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9 is over, and it means that the regular season has finally ended.
Nine weeks of nonstop action has leading to relative parity has led us to this point. Only six teams remain in play for the playoffs next week after proving their worth. However, they are not the only teams worth talking about, as several teams will look to remedy most of their problems in the offseason.
Below are our thoughts on NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9.
How Does Counter Logic Gaming Rebuild?
A lot of analysts predicted Counter Logic Gaming to be a top contender coming into the season: this is a roster full of known and proven talent. Unfortunately, this squad just couldn’t seem to find their groove through both splits. At times they just clearly dominated their opposition, but more often than not, just didn’t seem to have any synergy and chemistry at all.
This week, when it no longer mattered, CLG got a 2-0, ending their 8-game losing streak.
The difference here is that they started to experiment with their roster. In the first day, Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin were subbed out for Academy players Kevin “FallenBandit” Wu and Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin respectively. FallenBandit was on a Dr. Mundo, and not much information was gained as to how he plays in the top lane. Wiggily, however, showed that he was a more ganking-oriented jungler.
With our observation of Wiggily, we can see that Wiggily and Reignover have two distinct playstyles: Reignover is more of a powerfarming jungler, taking as much resources as he could, and Wiggily focuses on ganking his laners even at the cost of his jungle camps.
The question now is, which of these junglers do they keep? Reignover is a knowledgeable veteran but unfortunately his career has been declining since parting ways with Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon. Wiggily has shown a good performance in his only games in the LCS but two games is a small sample size. His rookie status is a clear weakness for now.
Either way, fans can now only hope for CLG will do next the following season.
Clutch Gaming still has the Regional Qualifier
In the beginning of the split, Clutch Gaming seem to have retained some of their spring form, but after a certain point they seemed to have just fallen off.
Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo has been missing a lot of smites all split, and his aggression has been missing the follow-ups from his teammates. Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten has suffered the most because of this. He has been sitting under his turret in most of his games, and has lost even winning matchups. Febiven was on the Syndra, a huge lane bully, and still lost lane with it.
In addition, their bottom lane has also been slumping. Apollo “Apollo” Price and Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent have been giving away 2v2 kills in the laning phase. Hakuho has not been in his usual playmaking champions, and Apollo has been committing positioning errors both in the laning phase and in team fights.
The standout performer in the team has been Colin “Solo” Earnest. The problem is that the game usually ends around him, or that he tries to aid his underperforming teammates and then he ends up dying several times in a row.
While their summer split has been cut short after NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9, they still have some hope for Worlds. Because of their 4th place finish in the spring playoffs, and because of the teams that made it into the postseason, Clutch Gaming still has a chance to be North America’s third seed.
If they sort some of their issues out they may be a legitimate threat to the other teams that want to get into the world championship.
100 Thieves Falter Towards the End of the Split
100 Thieves has been sitting in the top of the League since surging up from their 0-2 during the first week. Sadly, they ended NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9 with another 0-2, which cost them their semifinal bye.
A notable change in this week particularly is that they went to give Andy “AnDa” Hoang the role of facilitator. On picks like Nocturne and Graves, he was expected to be on the front foot, dictating the pace of the game. This, however, did not go as expected. The problem is that picks like this do not fit well with 100 Thieves’ playstyle. Stylistically, the Thieves often play slow and measured games. Picks that accelerate the game such as the aforementioned Nocturne and Graves often come with risks and if these risks are not taken, they will simply get outscaled.
They were then forced to play tiebreakers to determine their seeding in the Quarterfinals, and they were able to win both. But then, the wins were not convincing at all. In their tiebreaker game against FlyQuest, for example, they were losing hard early. Their bottom lane has been underperforming as of late, with Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black losing his life over and over during the course of the game, and with Cody “Cody Sun” Sun getting solo killed by Jason “WildTurtle” Tran over and over.
It is only through Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook’s dependable and consistent performance that they are able to wrest control from the enemy later on in games.
A slow and steady playstyle must be situational and less of a habit for this squad. Otherwise they would be pretty easy to read and prepare for.
Cloud9 Is the Best Team in NA Right Now
Due to 100 Thieves not performing as expected, Cloud9 was able to take sole possession of first place after beating FlyQuest last weekend. In the second half of the split, this squad went 8-1, better than the first-place holder, Team Liquid, who went 7-2.
In the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9, they decided not to field Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. However, Cloud9 showed another one of its forms. This week we saw them turning their trusty Zilean into a flex pick. They picked it early in the draft in their match against FlyQuest, baited the enemy into picking Azir, then picked LeBlanc for Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. The Zilean went to Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam. With two players capable of piloting the Zilean, Cloud9 gains another advantage in the drafting phase.
Jensen was on assassins in both the games this week, setting the pace and proving that he can still put on quite a show in the middle lane as he used to back then.
Eric “Licorice” Ritchie has been stepping up in a major way as well. He has shown that he is capable of playing both carries and tanks depending on what the draft needs. This split he has shown that he is not a one-dimensional player, which gives his team a significant draft advantage.
With their players’ dominating performances and Cloud9’s flexibility due to its seven-man roster, they are one of the clear favorites to win the championship for the summer.
Echo Fox Needs to Stabilize
Echo Fox was 2-4 in the last two weeks of the summer split regular season, including tiebreakers. which is some cause for concern.
Despite replacing more than half its roster for better performances in and out of lane, it has been mostly the same performances from the team. You’d have a hard time telling the difference between Johnny “Altec” Ru, Adrian “Adrian” Ma, and Kim “Fenix” Jae-hoon just by looking at how the team played alone.
Huni still has not regained much of his old form. There are still flashes of brilliance in his games, but he dies too often to reverse the flow of the game when they are behind. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is still the dominant jungler that he has been all year, but the burden to carry might be heavy for him alone.
The only truly effective pick for Lawrence “Lost” Hui right now is Varus. Going into a best-of-five in the playoffs, dealing with this pick is quite easy. Either you ban it, or you take it for yourself. Tanner “Damonte” Damonte also has quite a shallow champion pool, often reaching for the Syndra and looking shaky on picks like the Akali, Zilean, and the Yasuo.
Fortunately, this team’s macro play has been steadily improving. They are one of the better teams in executing a 1-3-1 or a 4-1. They seem to have also dropped their tendency to go for a 25-minute Baron Nashor without the proper vision setup, a big problem for them last split.
Either way, they have so much to work towards after NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9 if they wish to be a top contender for the summer championship.
TSM Make It In the Nick of Time
Team SoloMid was on the verge of not making it into playoffs towards the end of the season, but in their last few games, including in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9, they surged.
Suddenly, TSM was playing towards lane priority, with them drafting favorable matchups for their lanes and playing to expand advantages they get in the laning phase. This week, we saw Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg hard carrying his team on the Akali, netting a total of 14 kills, setting the record for the most kills in a single game this split. He was able to do this against Team Liquid, the team sitting at the top of the standings!
Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has been showing a deeper champion pool, having shown us that he is capable of piloting a Ryze in the top lane. He has been very proactive on the pick— while most Ryze players will want to scale slowly into a position of relative strength, Hauntzer kept on flashing forward, trying to make plays wherever he was.
Their bottom lane has also been showing some flexibility. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez were able to pull off a Swain-Pyke bottom lane. This means that if opponent teams attempt to ban out Zven by banning marksmen, he could still pick mages like the Swain. In addition, Mithy has looked good on playmakers like the Pyke.
The issue for this team, however, is consistency. If they fix that, they have a good shot at going deeper into the postseason.
The end of the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9 means that the regular season is now finished. The top six will now go into the playoffs and will contend for either auto-qualification for the world championship, or for better positions into the regional qualifier gauntlet.
Before the North American teams seek glory internationally, however, they will have to first prove themselves in home soil.
What did you think of all the action that happened during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 9? Who do you think will emerge at first place in the playoffs? Let us know in the comment section below!