By Isaac Chandler
July 23, 2019
Welcome back to our LCS Power Rankings! It was a crazy week of upsets and surprises, with most of the top teams dropping at least one game this weekend, including a surprising 2-0 weekend for winless 100 Thieves! As always, our contributors this week are Petar Vukobrat and myself.
With that out of the way again, let’s dive right in.
Petar: What can one say about the defending North American champions that hasn’t already been said? We’ve all been singing their praises for quite a long time now, and even though they’re not exactly playing to the best of their ability, they’re still more than capable of outclassing anyone in the region.
They’re entering every match as the clear-cut favorites, and their stellar macro and team cohesion consistently give them an upper hand, regardless of the match-up.
There’s not a concrete challenger in sight. Cloud9 has an abysmal track record against the reigning champs, and Team SoloMid isn’t in their Spring Split form, so Liquid’s cruising on autopilot right now.
Not like anyone can blame them.
Isaac: I disagree. I think C9 can challenge them if they aren’t goofing off, but other than that, you’re right.
Liquid is still the juggernaut in this region, and it shows in their play. While they may have had a few bumps the first week back from Rift Rivals, they absolutely stomped FlyQuest and CLG this week, showing the team is back in form.
They need to clean up their sloppiness a bit, though, as they have shown they can get too overconfident and drop games against weaker teams.
They’ve got an easy week for Week 7, with matches against Clutch and Golden Guardians, so this’ll be a good week to work on their egos and perfect their form.
Isaac: I swear Cloud9 likes to take the most difficult road through playoffs. They could be tied with Liquid right now, but they threw that Echo Fox game so hard. Kumo and Blaber’s lack of experience on stage really showed through there, as they looked uncoordinated and unwilling to press the advantages they got.
But then we get a game like Sunday’s against TSM where they show why they’re a top team, coming back from a 7k deficit to defeat the massive poke comp from their old rivals. I want more of that C9, not Saturday C9.
I think a big component of that is Sven; the team looks a lot more lost without him and his domination of the jungle. I think they really need to stop swapping in Blaber. Kumo subbing top if Licorice’s wrists are bad is the smart play here, so just keep Sven. The team can have at least a bit of stability in the top half.
Petar: I’m not sure what to feel about the boys in black and blue. On one hand, they’re the second-best team in the region. That’s a given. But it feels like they should be at least a little bit stronger and a lot more consistent.
It’s like they’re fooling around more often than not, but in doing so, they’re also showcasing more than just a few of their inherent weaknesses. They have kinks in their armor, and exploiting them isn’t nearly as hard as it might seem at first glance.
We often get to see both sides of Cloud9 in just a single week — the carnivorous, aggressive, playmaking Cloud9, and the out-of-sync Cloud9 that’s prone to making egregious mistakes non-stop.
I feel like Cloud9 has to grow and transcend their current level of play. They need to learn new tricks in order to challenge Team Liquid in a Best of 5. North America needs another solid contender, and Cloud9 needs to step up in order for that to happen.
Isaac: TSM had a rough Sunday game.
Failing to close out a 7k gold lead with a poke comp is pretty painful to see, not helped by the weird mid-game slowdown they had against Clutch on Saturday. Clearly, the team has a mid-game problem they need to work on if they want to stand a chance going into the back half of the split as game times get longer and longer.
On the bright side, they finally settled on Akaadian as their starting jungler, which should significantly help them in fixing other issues like the mid-game now that they’re not swapping the role.
I think the move was a great decision as well. Though Grig is more consistent, his consistency is a lower level than Akaadian’s highs. If Akaadian can find that consistency closer to his best, TSM will make a big splash in the playoffs.
Petar: Much like Cloud9, I’m not sure what to really think or feel about the perennial North American titans. There’s a lot to like and quite a fair bit to dislike as well.
For every good move they make, there’s always something highly questionable immediately following it. But at least we know what they’re capable of — we’ve seen their spectacular highs.
Fortunately, despite all of their inconsistent play (and suspect drafting tendencies), they’re still one of the best teams North America has to offer and are bound to challenge Liquid for the LCS throne.
Petar: I’m putting Counter Logic Gaming in the same basket with Team SoloMid. A lot of good, and a lot of bad, both at once. But in spite of their inconsistent play, we’ve seen more than enough in order to board the hype train.
They might not make much of a mark once the dust settles, but they’re going to challenge anyone put in front of them, and they’re going to do so in their own unique, highly idiosyncratic way.
They have more than enough time in order to shore up a couple of weaknesses and eventually be a serious threat in the playoffs.
Isaac: I think CLG is going to be a strong contender for playoffs, but I don’t see them winning the split. While the team is looking MUCH better than they were in Spring, I don’t think they’re quite ready to take the crown, especially after that Liquid game Saturday.
That being said, they still have three weeks before playoffs, so they could surprise me and suddenly find the thing that brings it all together for the title. I think most of that “thing” is going to be on PoE, who’s looked very out of sort these last few weeks and has been causing weird problems in the draft (why no Azir if you’re first pick?).
Either way, I think CLG can be proud of the direction they’ve been going this year and will definitely have regional titles in the future if they continue down it.
Petar: I was all aboard the GGS hype train when they first announced their 2019 lineup. How else could one react after seeing so many veteran names all under one banner?
But even though they’re trying their hardest in order to make their (three) fans proud, they’re just not impressing in any regard. Statistically speaking, they’re pretty solid (which is evident in their 6W-6L record), but they don’t pass the eye test.
They’re an acceptable gatekeeper and not much else.
Isaac: I felt this was going to happen, especially after how Contractz has been performing this year. The team is carried by Froggen and Hauntzer, which worked great in the Spring when everyone was still figuring things out, but now it makes the rest of their team a liability.
The swap-out of FBI and Huhi on the bottom half is still a weird decision in my book, and the revelation that Deftly would be traded to C9 for Keith is even more puzzling.
I’ve heard nothing but positive things about Deftly, so I can’t imagine why they’d go so far to get him off the squad unless there’s some internal issue we don’t know about. This roster is going to fall out of the playoff spot, you can already tell, and honestly needs to start looking at what they can do for next year.
Petar: OpTic Gaming failed to do much over the last couple of weeks, even though they have a spectacular three-man core. It seems like they’re too dependent on Crown and Meteos doing well, and when that fails to be the case, they simply don’t have the tools to fight back.
And that’s a shame. Whether or not they end up in the playoffs is completely up in the air, especially after their recent level of play.
The Guardians and OpTic Gaming have the better tally, but both 100 Thieves and FlyQuest are breathing down their necks. Every single win going forward will heavily impact the middle of the standings, and I cannot wait to see how things eventually resolve.
Isaac: Yeah, I think it’s gonna be a tough run towards the end, but I have faith in OpTic to turn it around. The team has a lot of talent, and while they’ve struggled as of late, they still have time to get back in form. Especially with Week 8 coming up with the huge changes from 9.14, I could easily see the team picking it up quick (maybe we see Dhokla on Malph?).
I still think they need to look for a new top in the offseason, though. Dhokla is still this team’s weakest point, even if Crown is struggling lately.
They should be able to crawl into the playoffs, though, as I think they’re stronger than FlyQuest and Golden Guardians, which should be enough to keep them in the sixth spot.
Petar: If it’s one of their good days, Clutch can definitely tango with many of the teams that are ranked above them. That’s a fact. They might not win, but they’re going to come darn close.
But if it’s one of their bad days — and most days are bad as far as Clutch Gaming is concerned — they’re one of the worst teams in the region.
Even though they’re talented and fairly experienced (both individually as well as a five-man unit), they’re just not strong enough in order to compete at the highest of levels.
Isaac: Yeah, it’s not good when a team’s best is just challenging a team without winning. Clutch is just not a good team and is so incredibly uninteresting to watch.
They’re just not engaging to watch, they’re not falling apart or coming together, and even at 5-7, they’re not even on anyone’s radar for possibly getting a playoff spot. Only three weeks left for this org before they become Dignitas, so hopefully, the new name and ownership will come with a new method of building their roster.
This year has shown that there are plenty of talented players in Academy ready to join the LCS. Clutch/Dig should really try and take advantage of this plethora of talent, maybe even subbing in their Academy for the rest of the split to give ‘em experience, a la Misfits.
If not, though, expect me to switch streams when they play.
Isaac: Echo Fox should be 0-2 for this week. They honestly just got really lucky that C9 threw that game. Yes, that wasn’t a comeback, that was a throw, and Echo Fox should really look at their play if they want to garner any more wins this split.
This team just doesn’t look like it’s going to really be able to make a late-season run with the roster it has, and while they have looked a bit better with MikeYeung, they’re still lacking.
I don’t want to say they should replace the bottom half of the map. Apollo was an alumnus from my university, so I’ll always root for him, but it’s just not working, much like Misfits in EU. I think the team should basically rebuild around the Solo-MikeYeung core and allow the other players the opportunity to go elsewhere.
Fenix might be done at this point in his career, but Apollo and Hakuho may actually be a good upgrade for Golden Guardians.
Petar: Their upset win over Cloud9 was there just to remind us that Echo Fox isn’t a bad team — they’re just an out of sync one, and they lack even the most basic idea on how they want to play League of Legends. Despite their inconsistent play, they’re all veterans and should not be underestimated.
Unfortunately, with only three weeks of play left, they’re bound to end the regular portion of the split at the very bottom of the standings.
Petar: Much like 100 Thieves, FlyQuest was able to mount an offensive over the last couple of weeks and is currently a serious contender for the playoffs. Perhaps most importantly, they’re finally playing like they did back in Spring — like a well-oiled machine; like five players who have built-in synergy and are all on the same page.
I just hope their abysmal start doesn’t hinder their chances of reaching the playoffs. Watching them play is an absolute joy, especially when V1per gets his hands on a priority pick.
Isaac: I don’t actually think FlyQuest is going to make playoffs. I think OpTic is going to finally right the ship and 100 Thieves will take Golden Guardians’ spot, with FlyQuest sitting a single game behind or losing a tiebreaker to just miss it.
The team is looking better, but I still think it’s mostly the V1per show. If V1per pops off, the team wins, but if not, they’re a bit out of luck. I think Pobelter and Wildturtle are nearing the end of their careers, and this may be the last split we see them in.
Isaac: I’d like to preface this by apologizing: it’s my half of the rankings that are keeping 100 Thieves this low. The algorithm I use is still catching up to the team’s rising fortunes and should see them pop up far after this weekend. This is a team that, realistically, should be in the upper-half contention but is just held back by how bad the first few weeks were.
This team is not the worst in the region anymore, and in fact, it looks like a good contender for playoffs. Amazing and Ryu have been huge boons to the roster, and FakeGod’s ability to play without support reminds me of Impact on C9. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, just like this roster.
Petar: What a spectacular improvement from the 100 Thieves bunch. Now, sure, their level of play is still nowhere near where we expected it to be. They still have a multitude of crucial, crippling weaknesses that can easily be punished and exploited, but they’re improving with each passing week, and they’re giving it their all any time they step foot on stage.
With solid play all-around and two exceptional shot-callers in Amazing and Aphromoo, 100 Thieves has just enough to squeak by into the playoffs. They might not do it in the grandest of fashion, but they actually do have a chance. The fact that they persevered through many weeks of online (and real-life) abuse is a true testament to their overall strength and resiliency. It is a hallmark of a veteran-studded team.
That concludes Week 6’s LCS Power Rankings. If you want more LCS action, check out our weekly recap for more coverage, and don’t forget to catch the LCS this weekend when Cloud9 takes on 100 Thieves at 2 PM PDT Saturday. It’s going to be an exciting weekend as we come down to the wire for playoffs, and you won’t want to miss it.