2020 LCS Summer Split Two-Week Takeaways & Predictions
With two weeks of the 2020 LCS Summer Split behind us, let’s go over a couple of interesting takeaways and a few long-term predictions thrown in for good measure! 2020 hasn’t been particularly kind to the North American region, and there are many reasons why that’s the case. It’s fair to say that in regards to overall competitiveness, NA regressed quite a bit with Cloud9 emerging as the only team worthy of mentioning. They’re not only the best and most talented team the LCS has to offer, but they also look like they’re the only team that’s not winging it in the current meta. They have a good grasp on what’s good and why, and they’re putting in the time and effort to maximize their growth.
However, everyone else is trying their hardest to adapt and nail down an identity, but whether or not they’ve succeeded is definitely up for debate. The broadcast itself is also fairly abysmal (technical glitches, horrendous user interface changes, outdated graphics, etc.). The same can be said for the gameplay as well. If Cloud9 isn’t playing — and you’re looking for top-tier League of Legends — then you’d be wise to look elsewhere. There’s simply no other team that’s as clean or dominant, with everyone else’s games veering into the fiesta realm perhaps a bit too often.
Still, the LCS was never home to the best or most avant-garde League in the world, so things deteriorated shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fortunately, there are still many juicy narratives and storylines worthy of following. This time around, we’ll focus on four predictions and takeaways for the 2020 LCS Summer Split and explain how they tie into the bigger picture.
Team Liquid Will Recover Fully
This one might seem like a no-brainer after witnessing their 3W-1L start to the Summer Split, but it’s worth mentioning regardless, especially after their recent fall from grace. If their first couple of games are any indication, it’s fair to say that the Liquid of old is “back.” Now, such a statement has to have an asterisk right next to it, and there’s a good reason why.
Without Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng in the lineup, Liquid has to adjust to who’ll carry and when. They have a certain amount of gold at their disposal and who’ll get the grunt of it is not an easy decision, especially for a team that has so often focused on the bottom lane — arguably their biggest and most potent win condition. Without the most decorated and successful native marksman by their side, things will have to change.
Now, granted, it’s not like Doublelift was the only playmaker in their previous lineup, but he was their most potent catalyst. This is the post-Doublelift era of Team Liquid, and how they’ll adapt and grow as a team is what most people are dying to find out. Some of their members haven’t been nearly as dominant as they were in years past. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, for example, has been a shadow of his former self, and the same can be said for Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong. While they did improve recently (Impact especially), it’s hard not to feel like this is a somewhat less dangerous incarnation of Team Liquid — despite Edward “Tactical” Ra’s fantastic (and consistent) play.
They’re trying to be a bit too democratic, both in their shotcalling and resource allocation. Such an approach is by no means bad, but it does pale in comparison to what teams like Cloud9 or Evil Geniuses are doing, playstyle-wise.
Still, their solid run instils us with confidence, which is the only thing that ultimately matters. If they continue growing at such a pace, they’re bound to become a top-tier team once again and, potentially, represent North America at the upcoming World Championship in China.
Things Have to Get Worse Before They Get Better
A lot has been said and written about how the LCS has regressed. The overall broadcast and region-wide level of play aren’t good enough at this point and very little done to rectify such an important issue. Professional players, analysts, fans, and media have all criticized the LCS to their heart’s content, and with good reason.
Still, if we take things at face value, the region has improved between Spring and Summer. The Golden Guardians are now more competitive and layered than ever before. Evil Geniuses and FlyQuest look like well-rounded challengers, and even Counter Logic Gaming — a team that was the laughing stock of the region mere weeks ago — has seemingly improved in ways no one thought were possible. As always, we also have a couple of bottom-tier dwellers (Team Dignitas and Immortals), but that kind of status quo was expected — North America was never that competitive from top to bottom.
Sure, Cloud9 is miles ahead of everyone else but things aren’t much different in the LEC either, with G2 Esports only looking slightly more vulnerable because they’re slacking off throughout the regular season. Both regions are inherently top-heavy and while things are a lot less competitive in North America, it’s not like such a state of affairs came out of nowhere. That’s what happens when you don’t invest into the superstars of tomorrow. Very few organizations want to foster native talent, so the fact that we’re seeing the same faces over and over again isn’t all that surprising.
It’s depressing, sure, but also expected.
Despite these somber realizations, things aren’t as dire as they might seem at first glance. Most teams might not be playing the best League you’ll ever see in your life, but at least they have distinct identities and should, in theory, be stronger against international competition.
For example, Evil Geniuses and FlyQuest are doing their own thing. They’re playing a unique brand of League of Legends and aren’t copying anyone else. They have their approach to the game. That’s rare for North American teams who have, historically speaking, always gravitated towards the more subdued, macro-oriented style of play. They wanted to imitate what the LCK did but could never quite grasp the game’s nuances at such a high level.
Right now, however, they’re building their style of play organically. This creates a unique set of challenges, but it’s well worth it in the long run. Despite their inherent flaws, watching them is much more exciting at this point because they’re different.
These might not be the most profound differences (or the most positive ones), but they exist and are a step in the right direction. When everything’s going awry, when the region fails to impress on so many different levels, we must take these small victories and celebrate them accordingly.
Things will get better, but for that to happen, they must first reach their lowest point.
Team SoloMid Will Not Rise
This is one of the most dangerous 2020 LCS Summer Split predictions to make, but it is by no means made in haste. Team SoloMid’s most recent performances were both hot and cold, but there’s an essential thing that was apparent if you knew what to look for. They didn’t grow as much as they needed to for their most recent signing to matter.
On the one hand, it’s still perhaps a bit too early to give out such a concrete statement. On the other, why did we ever expect things to improve when the organization didn’t change anything? Signing your former marksman and shifting your general manager to the head coach position (a move criticized by the community at large) isn’t what they truly needed. You can’t just bring the “band back together” and hope for the best.
For Team SoloMid to once again attain greatness, they need to do what they’ve been avoiding for years: they need to go for a complete overhaul. No matter the lineup, they always falter at the same moments. They have a certain set of debilitating flaws and have endured over the years because they were never properly dealt with. Is this because the organization doesn’t know how to tackle their problems or is TSM oblivious to their existence? No one’s quite sure, but regardless if it’s the former or latter, the situation is certainly dire.
In other words, something is broken and it’s been broken for years. Why did anyone expect different results? The core of the team, along with their identity and philosophy remained unchanged. A bolstered bottom lane is certainly nothing to scoff at (especially when we factor in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s shotcalling nature), but it is by no means enough. It is as though they’re playing an outdated brand of League of Legends, and they’re confused why they haven’t been able to dominate as much as they did in the past.
They cannot deliver different results with the same tools — that’s just logic and reason.
If we analyze their first four games, it’s fair to say that their age-old flaws have been on full display. Bad team play, a one-dimensional approach to the game (push out mid and dive top), abysmal drafts, and so on. This is what TSM stands for these days and while they can often brute force their way to victory through the many LCS gatekeepers and bottom-tier dwellers, they won’t be able to crack Top 3 unless they grow.
Knowing Team SoloMid and their stubborn nature, the odds of that happening are extremely slim if not non-existent. Expect the team to bounce back and hover in the Top 6. Any real success will once again be outside of their reach.
Evil Geniuses Want Revenge
Finishing third in their very first split back in the LCS is quite a spectacular achievement. EG has accomplished more in just a single split than most of their peers did in years, but they’re still not satisfied, and that’s commendable and rare. They want more in every way, shape, and form and have displayed admirable resilience even though they came up short against Cloud9 on multiple occasions (in somewhat one-sided fashion).
These players are fearless, and they’re also hungry beyond reason. They want a spot underneath the spotlight and are willing to fight tooth and nail to succeed. They’re also insanely talented and mechanically gifted, but their drive to win is matched only by the likes of Cloud9 and arguably FlyQuest. Watching them compete is an absolute must, regardless of your allegiance.
The thing with Evil Geniuses is that they’re going to do their own thing playstyle-wise or they’ll burn to the ground trying. That’s not only (relatively) commendable, but it also means they won’t always look good. It’s not the same thing as being inconsistent — we mustn’t mix the two. Sometimes you just fail to set things up right, you make a blunder here or there and things go awry, without any chance of redemption. That’s Evil Geniuses in a nutshell. They might implode mere minutes into the game, but that’s only because they’ve made a series of quick succession errors and have irreversibly lost control.
Still, they know what they’re doing even though they might not always look like a team with a coherent game plan. However, when they do get off on the right foot, they’re a force to be reckoned with. The fashion in which they outclassed Team Liquid mere days ago left no one indifferent. It was some of the cleanest 1-3-1 you’ll see all year, with every player carrying his fair share of the weight. It was a reminder of just how good these players are and how well they mesh with each other in regards to their playstyles and how they want to play the game out.
As things stand, they’re a Top 3 team and should remain at the top of the region throughout the rest of the year. It feels as though we still haven’t seen the best version of Evil Geniuses, but if they continue playing at such a high level, they’re bound to realize their full potential and leave a mark in the grand scheme of things.
That’s it for our 2020 LCS Summer Split predictions and takeaways! Make sure to tune in this Friday as we have two very promising clashes lined up: FlyQuest vs. Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid vs. Cloud9! Fireworks are guaranteed.