5 Things We Learned From the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 saw Patch 8.12 finally go live and while quite small, the new patch just made enough substantial changes to affect the state of the metagame.

Now that NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 has passed, it’s time that we take a look at what changed this past week and how the meta has influenced the different teams’ decisions as well as overall playstyles.

Expect to See More Marksmen

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

Bot laners need not worry as marksmen are now more acceptable to be picked than in the last patch (via lolesports Flickr)

Even though North America as a region did not completely jump into the trend of having mages or bruisers in the bottom lane, we have seen the resurgence of marksmen. This is because of two things: first, the removal of Banner of Command as an item took a lot of the sieging capabilities from team compositions without marksmen. In this patch, compositions without marksmen would have a hard time dealing damage to structures without forcing fights beforehand or perhaps diving opponents under their turrets.

Another reason is that the few bottom laners who picked non-marksmen we saw last week did not seem to deliver convincing results on these champions. They often made misplays, made mistakes way too early, displayed a lack of knowledge regarding matchups and item timings, or acted like an AD carry when they should not have.

Following the reasons above, despite the difference in being able to hit item timings from before, teams seem to have moved consciously into a pick paradigm of picking according to comfort. More and more we have seen NA bottom laners moving towards marksmen, with Kai’sa, Ezreal, and Varus being the highly contested picks for the role.

Funnel Strategy Makes It Into the NA LCS

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

The Golden Guardians were able to pull off a win by putting Deftly on Kai’sa and pouring all their resources into him (via lolesports Flickr)

The funnel strategy has been a prominent strategy in solo queue in the recent patches. What is done here is that the jungler usually picks a support champion, like Nunu, Braum, or Taric, and the mid laner picks a hyper-scaling champion with decent wave and jungle camp clear like Karthus, Kai’sa, or Master Yi, and takes Smite as one of his/her summoner spells. The mid laner with smite then takes all of the jungle camps and the minion waves in the mid lane, which the jungler freezes for him.

The big idea behind the funnel strategy is this: with hyper-scaling champions who are usually very powerful later in the game, by giving them both the mid lane minions and jungle camps, you let them get ahead in terms of gold and experience. They are made to arrive into the lategame so much earlier than the other champions in the game.

The strategy has been appearing in other regions such as the EU LCS and the LCK, and we were expecting this last week in the NA LCS. However, as I said then, everyone seemed to have been a little apprehensive towards trying most of the new strategies involved with the arrival of patch 8.11.

With the arrival of 8.12, NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 was an entirely different story: not only did we see the funnel strategy in full action, but we also saw a showdown between two funnel strategies, which saw the team that funnels into a Kai`sa come away with the win.

Going forward, teams will have to draft with the knowledge that funneling compositions may pop up.

Old Habits Die Hard

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

Cloud9 seems to have fallen into its old ways of giving up early leads (via lolesports Flickr)

We are two weeks into the summer split of 2018, but so far there are mistakes that we still see being made that certain teams have made since spring.

One of them can be found in Cloud9.

In both their games last weekend, they were proactive in the early game and they were so far ahead. Their solo laners, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer have shown dominating performances, getting solokills in their lane assignments. However, the problem has always been in the middle and later stages of the game when they failed to press their leads and build on them. This often resulted in them taking ill-advised fights and giving enemy teams a chance to stage a comeback.

This is particularly concerning for Cloud9 since they seem to have the same tendencies with a different roster. What we saw this week from them was evident in the second half of the spring split(if one casts his memory back to their game against Counter Logic Gaming in the second half, you get my drift). The team must fix this issue as, of course, it affects their capability to win games.

Watch out for Echo Fox

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

The team plays around Huni’s strengths. Can they continue to do so? (via lolesports Flickr)

Now at the top of the league, Echo Fox are once again dominating their matchups. While they lost in the first day against OpTic, the team’s overall unpredictability and willingness to brute-force their way to victory has made them a formidable competitor in the NA LCS and an immensely entertaining team to watch.

Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has proved time and again that he is one of the best players to ever play this game. He has been showing both top-tier mechanics with almost any champion and almost any role. This week he played Irelia, a mechanically-intensive champion in the middle lane, and Yasuo, one of his signature picks in the top lane.

Huni’s versatility as a player and the willingness of the team to play around him makes them worthwhile threats to the other top teams, and we have yet to see the team struggle against a team that is not using the funnel strategy. In addition, their early game focus also helps them out a lot as they are willing to take any fight anywhere and push small leads to the maximum.

Unless the meta shifts again away from their favor, expect them to stay on top after their spectacular NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 performance.

Victories Are Up In The Air More Than Ever

NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2

Flyquest were able to sneak a win this week with gold funneled into WildTurtle (via lolesports Flickr)

With several available strategies due to the recent shifts in the metagame, I would like to contend that this split has become more competitive. Not only do teams have to depend on the individual talent of their players, but picks and bans seem to count for more now.

We’ve seen lower-tier teams take wins off of better teams, mostly because of the presence of strategies like gold funneling. Since it is a new strategy, opposing teams do not yet know how to counter it properly yet. In addition, surprise picks can easily come out and win due to the shock factor. After all, winning is easy against an opponent that hasn’t prepared for what you can bring.

It is up then to the teams’ analysts and coaching staff to be able to outplay their opponents as early as the pick and ban phase of the games. For example, a common conundrum going forward would be, how does one team ban out gold funneling while also restricting the strengths of the opposing team’s players?

Expect the new strategies that popped up in NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 as just a sign of more things to come.

Final thoughts

8.12 brought a little bit more order to the chaos that the midseason patches unleashed upon all of us.

The options opened up by the previous patches are still there, so there is still space for innovation. But, that’s all good because it only makes it more interesting to follow the LCS.

Hopefully, this keeps up after NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2 and well onto Worlds 2018.

What did you think of all the action that happened during NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Week 2? Will Echo Fox continue to be the dominant team? Let us know in the comment section below!

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