It’s been an exciting start to the 2017 NA LCS spring split, and we still have five weeks to go. With teams we expected to fail, succeeding, and teams we expected to succeed, failing, nobody could have predicted the current standings, but there are definitely solid reasons behind why they are how they are. Let’s break it down team by team and talk about the good, the bad, and the confusing.
Tier S: Cloud9 (8-0)
Cloud9 have been absolutely dominating this split, and nobody can deny that. Dropping only four games this split, they are definitely the team to beat. After an epic three-game series in week four against FlyQuest, who many considered the only team that could potentially take them down, the question arises: Can anyone take down this team? If it is going to happen, it is going to be by taking advantage of C9’s somewhat lackluster early game. They are one of the only teams with a negative gold differential at fifteen minutes and have the lowest first tower rate at only 32%. While they clearly do not let a deficit in the early game keep them from annihilating their opponents, these less than ideal trends are still worth noting. That aside, C9 are without a doubt the strongest team this split, and we should all look forward to seeing more of them.
Tier 1: Team Solomid and FlyQuest (6-2)
Team Solomid has had a rocky start, despite being 6-2. One of their losses was to Echo Fox in a 0-2 sweep, and the other of course being to C9. Every win they have so far this season was a 2-1 except their match against Team Envy, who is at the bottom of the standings. The blame can be put on a lot of places. Some say Bjergsen has been underperforming. Some argue that it is due to the teams indecisiveness, as they have not adjusted to not having the decisive voice of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. And many have stated that Jason “WildTurtle” Tran is to blame for not being Doublelift. Regardless of who is to blame, this pattern of losing games to what should be easy-to-beat opponents needs to change if TSM want to keep up their long history of making the LCS finals.
FlyQuest was considered by many to be an automatic contention for the bottom team this split. While they have some historically good players and legendary shot-caller Hai “Hai” Lam, the team consists of mostly retired or rejected players. However, the team has silenced critics and performed far above expectations and even took C9 to a very close three games. They will face TSM in week five for the first time to determine who is superior.
Tier 2: Echo Fox, Phoenix 1, Immortals (4-4)
Starting off with a 0-2 week 1, many spectators expected it to be the same old Echo Fox. After taking down TSM in a clean 2-0 sweep and now standing at 4-4, all eyes are on EF to keep up this momentum. Bringing in former world champion Hyeongseok “Looper” Jang was a huge move from the organization, and he is definitely warming up and starting to perform to expectations. The real star of the team so far this split has been rookie jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham. Mostly thanks to Akaadian’s early game control, EF boast a 75% first blood rating and have the highest gold differential at fifteen minutes at 1530, both being the highest in the league. Echo Fox has quite a few new players this split, and it seems that they are getting the hang of things.
Phoenix 1 is another upper-middle of the pack team that brought in some big names. Former H2k Mid Laner Sang Wook “Ryu” Yoo and former KT Rolster ADC Dong-hyeon “Arrow” No, both of whom are performing quite well this split. Arrow is ranked in the top three ADCs in almost every statistic including KDA and CSD@10. TSM’s Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg considers Ryu to be in the top three mid laners in NA with himself and C9’s Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. P1 are definitely a completely different and much improved team over last split. P1 also recently acquired former C9 jungler William “Meteos” Hartman who will start in place of Rami “Inori” Charagh in week five.
With only Eugene “Pobelter” Park returning from last split on the Immortals roster, a lot of people did not know what to expect coming into this split. The team picked up Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, considered one of if not the best NA born junglers in recent history and Former Longzhu Gaming top laner Ho-Jong “Flame” Lee, both of whom have had very average performances thus far. There was not a lot of hype for IMT coming into this split, so it seems there are not a lot of disappointed fans, but there is still plenty of time for them to improve.
Tier 3: Counter Logic Gaming (3-5), Team Liquid, and Team Dignitas (2-6)
CLG went from a frequent contender for the top team in NA to a low tier team that most people have lost faith in. It is difficult to point out a single reason behind the downfall of CLG. The team made no roster changes, deciding to stick with the exact same roster that went to World’s, and that may have been a mistake. It is heartbreaking for fans of the original NA teams to see trends like this. In TSM Legends, it is even stated that with such an expected with over CLG, that it hardly feels like a rivalry anymore. Every single member on the team needs to step up for a resurgence of power in the second half of the split.
One of the many exciting roster changes for this split was the addition of Yeu-Jin “Reignover” Kim to Team Liquid. TL last split endured a lot of internal struggle between players, and that does not seem to be the case. Unfortunately, what does seem to be the case is that the team as a whole is simply not able to compete with the rest of the league. They are the only team to lost to Team Envy, and it was in a 2-0 sweep. It is tough to tell what is more disappointing. The end of the TL fourth place meme because of how far down they are, or the teams performance as a whole. Week five has Liquid against Dignitas and CLG, two of the bottom four teams. If Liquid can pull some wins out of this week, it may put them in a good frame of mind to continue to week six where they face Immortals and Echo Fox, who again, could be potentially within their grasp.
Team Dignitas was predicted to be a middle of the pack team, but had one of if not the most hyped up roster changes with the addition of Long time KT Rolster top laner, Chan-ho “Ssumday” Kim. Ssumday has long been one of the best top laners in the world, so getting picked up by a team like Dignitas was a surprise to everyone. Unfortunately, this world-class player is joined by a very average group of teammates in the rest of the Dignitas roster. The team may need to rely a little more heavily on the experience and expertise of Ssumday to succeed, as their current formula just is not working. Their first match of week five is a rough one against FlyQuest, but they then play Team Liquid, which is anybody’s game.
Tier Definitely do NOT ENVYus: Team Envy
There really is not much to say about Team Envy. After a very okay summer 2016 performance ending in sixth place, nobody really expected great things from Envy, but I do not think anyone expected it to be this bad. With a single win against a struggling Team Liquid, Envy have a lot of catching up to do in order to avoid relegation.