A Week of Chaos in the North American LCS & Mid-Split Takeaways
The fifth week of the 2020 LCS Summer Split was absolute chaos. To say that nothing made sense whatsoever would be an understatement. This truly was the dankest of timelines, and it came out of nowhere. So, seeing how a lot happened in just three days, let’s make sense of the situation and highlight a couple of 2020 LCS mid-split takeaways that are oh-so-important at this point.
First of all, we’re at the halfway point of the split. Going forward, every single game matters immensely. Teams can no longer afford to experiment. With the vast majority of the LCS being separated by the slimmest of margins, you can expect everyone to be on their best behavior going forward. Most LCS rosters didn’t change all that much during the off-season, which means they didn’t have to rebuild synergy from the ground up. That, in itself, is huge. But for whatever reason, it seems as though no one’s particularly consistent. It’s like they’ve only just started playing and are still figuring stuff out as they go along.
Had someone told you that Dignitas would outclass FlyQuest and Immortals after losing eight games in a row, 100 Thieves would make Cloud9 look like scrubs, and Team SoloMid would get demolished by Immortals after giving Cloud9 a run for their money, you would’ve probably laughed them out of the room. And yet all of these things happened. It’s like every day had at least one or two twists that blew everyone’s mind — twists that rival those found in the best M. Night Shyamalan horror flicks!
How do we make sense of all of this? Is this just a one-off occurrence or a sign of the things to come? Let’s dive a bit deeper with a couple of 2020 LCS mid-split takeaways!
Gatekeepers on the Rise
Golden Guardians, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Dignitas, and 100 Thieves are among the most dangerous and peculiar challenges in North America at the time of this writing. There’s Cloud9 on top. Team Liquid is underneath as the second best and most capable contender. Everyone else is fighting for scraps below these two perennial giants. But if last weekend’s games are any indication, it’s becoming harder to define the “LCS pantheon.” Team Liquid is by no means perfect. After seeing Cloud9 demolished by 100 Thieves, it’s fairly evident that everyone has a puncher’s chance — at least in the regular portion of the split.
This means predicting the outcome of any one game will be downright impossible going forward. There are no true favorites. Teams are making egregious mistakes left, right, and center, and there’s very little rhyme or reason behind it all. But despite all the chaos, some things have become clear: 100 Thieves are much better after switching their jungler and support, Immortals tend to over-perform at the most random of times (when they manage to get on the same page, that is), Eugene “Pobelter” Park is having a spectacular resurgence and is the primary reason why Counter Logic Gaming has been so competitive, the Team Dignitas bunch is deceptively capable and shouldn’t be underestimated (with Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun playing like his life depends on the outcome of the game). Golden Guardians — albeit inherently flawed and limited in potential — are every bit as dangerous as everyone expected coming into the split. They might not be particularly consistent, but once they get on the same page and double down on their strengths, they’re a worthy challenger.
Many LCS teams have a fair bit of potential. Every one of them has a distinct identity. Some are better than others, but we’re seeing just how good and competitive they are when they focus on their biggest strengths and start playing their own game.
Last week was also a reminder of just how big of an impact a roster change or two can make, even after just a couple of days. 100 Thieves and Dignitas are reinvigorated in every sense of the word. It’ll be interesting to see whether their recent wins were quick bursts of brilliance that’d quickly subdue or indicate their current power level.
Team Liquid Is Back
The fifth week of play was the first moment in 2020 when Liquid looked about as strong, clean, and commanding as they did back during their two-year-long reign. With so many mid-tier gatekeepers improving and raising the ranks, Liquid needed to put on a clinic to remind everyone that they were a step above the rest. The fashion in which they outclassed Counter Logic Gaming and Golden Guardians left no one indifferent. It truly was the return of old Liquid, dominant in lane, seemingly unbeatable in team fights, with immaculate positioning and macro that would make even the best LCK teams proud.
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has finally returned to form with a couple of aggressive, hardcarry performances. His synergy with Fnatic alumni Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen is finally starting to show. Whether they’ll be able to give Cloud9 a run for their money remains to be seen, but saying that they’re the second-best team in North America would be a pretty fair assessment. This week will pit Liquid against Evil Geniuses and a surging 100 Thieves. If they manage to win both games, they’ll solidify their spot at the top and build even more hype and momentum en route to the playoffs.
Keep an eye on the Liquid gang as they’re bound to deliver.
Cloud9, Finally Challenged
The fact that Cloud9 lost a game is by no means a shocker. It happens from time to time. Even though they’re every inch a competitive giant, they are by no means infallible. A few bad calls are all it takes for a team to lose control of the game. At the highest levels of play, a small mistake can often be the determining factor between victory and defeat.
The fact that Cloud9 was absolutely demolished, however, is not something anyone expected. It’s at once both confusing but also exhilarating. First of all, it was just one game, so it’s not exactly anything concrete. Still, it goes to show just how good 100 Thieves are when they give Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho agency. It also tells us that Cloud9 can bleed. We’re not used to seeing them vulnerable, with 10,000 gold deficits and mechanical misplays across the board. That hasn’t happened over the last seven months. Hopefully, it means we’re in for a much more competitive playoff this time around. Cloud9 are still heavy favorites, but every hero needs a worthy villain for the story to capture anyone’s imagination.
A world in which Cloud9, Team Liquid, 100 Thieves and, Team SoloMid stand on even footing is an exciting one. Hopefully, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.
FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses Faltering
These two teams were never perfect. We are all aware, but they found unique avenues for success and capitalized to the best of their ability. They have many virtues and strengths that make them stand out from the pack and more than just a couple of glaring weaknesses and faults that are now starting to catch up. Now, they’re making them far more vulnerable than anyone expected.
Evil Geniuses are still extremely one-dimensional. Their drafting tendencies and baffling decision-making are losing them games week after week. They’re the definition of a coin-flip team. The odds haven’t been on their side lately. They’ve lost to the who’s who of the LCS, with their last two wins coming at the expense of Dignitas and Immortals — hardly impressive.
FlyQuest hasn’t been much better, with their week five games being horrendous. It’s become painfully obvious that the main driving force behind their success is Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. When he’s not in top form, FlyQuest is far less dangerous and capable. His team fighting and individual mechanical prowess can either make or break FlyQuest, with Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun coming in at close second. The former Misfits duo has severely underperformed last week, which meant FlyQuest looked like a bottom-tier dweller.
Furthermore, their “experiment” with Brandon “Mash” Phan hasn’t panned out all that great. He’s a solid player overall, but he lacks the team fighting effectiveness that Jason “WildTurtle” Tran brought to the table. Sure, sometimes he flashes forward and does something stupid, but he always clutched things out when it mattered the most. Mash might be a bit more consistent, but he’s not as impactful.
If FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses want to remain top-tier challengers, they need to step up. They need to do it fast before it’s too late. With playoffs being right around the corner, they can’t afford to drop any more games.
The region is in a state of absolute chaos. Everyone’s taking games off each other. Our assumptions and expectations are challenged daily. On the one hand, this uncertainty is thrilling, especially after many weeks of expected outcomes and one-sided shellackings. This, in short, is a whole lot more exciting in our 2020 LCS mid-split takeaways. On the other hand, it’s still too early to tell whether these upsets result from everyone getting better (a positive thing, if true), or the fact that top-tier teams have regressed performance-wise, making the region a lot more homogenous in the process.
Regardless, the fight at the top is fiercer than ever. We can’t wait to see these teams back in action! Tune in this Friday, July 17. We’re in for two absolute bangers: 100 Thieves vs. Team SoloMid, followed by Team Liquid vs. Evil Geniuses!