End of Spring Split final standings and thoughts on Mid-Split predictions

“While C9 has the playoff series advantage of experience, Dignitas is our favorite for winning this quarterfinals matchup, bringing the right mix of player-counters to topple the North American dynasty.”

Just after the mid-split tournament Rift Rivals took place, RiftStory wrote a Power Rankings and playoff standing predictions. Whenever we produce a piece of content such as a Power Ranking, we want to return to our own results and rate them based on actual end match record and teams’ final standing. This score is 2 points per team, 1 point for each of those items, across 10 teams for a maximum of 20 points total.

Related power ranking: NA LCS: Mid-Split Power Rankings & Playoff Seeding Predictions

Team Liquid

36414747465_17fa34cbbe_h

Standing prediction: 8th Final standing: 10th
Match record prediction: 4W – 14L Final match record: 4W – 14L
1 of 2 points

In a surprising turn of events, Team Liquid reclaimed their nomadic Jungler Dardoch as he returns to the team he debuted on, leaving behind a team making its way into the playoffs. In addition to the new trade of this superstar North American Jungler, Team Liquid created more excitement when they acquired Korean Midlaner Mickey, formerly of KT Rolster. What looks like preparation for an Academy team has had little success on the LCS stage where match wins matter. If Team Liquid, like other teams in this list, can manage to implement a coherent consistent strategy for picking a starting squad and using substitutes then they will find more success. The inability to nail down a core starting 5 makes their problems more inconsistent and harder to fix.

One of the consistent under-performers on the squad, AD Carry Piglet, has somehow gone untouched throughout this split, despite a recurring theme. Team Liquid continues to run Protect the AD Carry compositions and keeps coming away unsuccessful, and this could be due to two controllable factors: 1) the team is not prepared to put their AD in a position to carry them, either with poor composition or mechanics. Or 2) their AD is unable to find the right spaces to do damage safely given their champion pick. Piglet is an exceptional player, a World Champion, but he is not infallible. The only consistently starting player, aside from Top laner Lourlo, remains on the squad and continues to have games played around his lane. This pays off in the Promotion/Relegations tournament, but against LCS teams with more knowledge and mechanical prowess to make targeted plays, Protect the AD Carry has been very easy to punish. It doesn’t help that almost every other game for the last year Team Liquid hasn’t given Piglet a standard group/composition to pull out, but the fact this strategy keeps appearing begs a lot of questioning.

Phoenix1

36018208940_ebe16a92e0_h

Standing prediction: 5th Final standing: 9th
Match record prediction: 8W – 10L Final match record: 4W – 14L
0 of 2 points

After a dominating show of strength at Rift Rivals, Phoenix1 seemed to be on the rise–before their season came crashing down around them. At the time of writing the Mid-Split predictions, Phoenix1 had 3 wins and were riding a morale high from their international tournament coupled with net-positive roster swaps. As we enter playoffs, it is all the more surprising that P1 only managed to scrape together a single match win, even against the other teams in the bottom half of the ladder. Looking back, the singular play style of the team is a start reminder of another international breakout team from this year: Gigabyte Marines from Vietnam at the Mid-Season Invitational. The rapid-fire aggression only gets you so far before teams draft comps to counter your primary carry.

For P1, like Gigabyte Marines, that ended up being their Jungler, MikeYeung. On top of that, what seemed like a positive meta for AD Carry Arrow actually put him in a worse position to carry with the hotfixes to strong lethality items and an overbearing super-tank meta. These issues could have been resolved, as we saw in Europe, but Phoenix1 chose not to enable their 2017 Split Split MVP by banning against the meta. By the end of the season, frustrated with the direction of the team and losing mental focus shown by uncharacteristic mistakes, the P1 Midlaner Ryu asked for an unexpected break, shuffling the roster for a few games and shaking up team synergy before returning. P1, unable to find their bearings after being countered in play, slow to adapt to the meta, and visibly losing morale went on to have the worst second half of the split of all the LCS teams.

Echo Fox

36018178050_8562f9886d_h

Standing prediction: 9th Final standing: 8th
Match record prediction: 4W – 14L Final match record: 5W – 13L
0 of 2 points

Opting for a new strategy to fully incorporate their Challenger Series roster as part of a 10-man LCS squad, Echo Fox took a big risk. Making regular substitutions of 2-3 players every week, Echo Fox seemed to struggle to find team synergy in-game, which especially hurt their mid to late-game calls as members of the team were inexplicably caught out of position where they shouldn’t have been, or the team’s map pressure gained in the early game slowly sunk away from them against coordinated opponents. While the Echo Fox “backline,” as Rick Fox called them, was able to match their opponents in some cases during the lane phase, the veterans on the squad teetered out trying to put their teammates in a position to ultimately hard carry the game. The confused play shows through in mismanaged team fights and baron calls, base sieges and inability to execute their split push compositions. On the flipside, Echo Fox looks best prepared to acclimate to the upcoming format of the LCS Franchise, despite falling short of playoffs this season. With a longer time to prepare and build a core philosophy for in-game decision making and teamwork, this team has more experience than any other squad in LCS with a full roster of substitute options.

FlyQuest

36096017295_ab0302e422_h

Standing prediction: 10th Final standing: 7th
Match record prediction: 4W – 14L Final match record: 6W-12L
0 of 2 points

The greatest minds in all of North America couldn’t pull the faltering early game of FlyQuest into a win condition that they intended to play. The two unexpected wins came in the last week of the regular season, against the bottom two teams that-as explained above-ultimately failed to live up to expectations for a variety of reasons. Avoiding relegations, FlyQuest still has a narrow shot to go to Worlds if EnvyUs can manage to lose to Counter Logic Gaming in the quarterfinals round of Playoffs, and then FlyQuest would have to win the Regional Gauntlet to appear in Shanghai as NA’s third seed. It wouldn’t be the first time members of this group have pulled that off, but lacking a star player in the likes of Cloud9’s Jensen, the former Cloud9/Cloud9 Challenger squad will find the gauntlet to be as insurmountable as the Summer Split against stronger squads with multiple standout performers.

Team EnvyUs

35951800942_1f53f0366e_h

Standing prediction: 6th Final standing: 6th
Match record prediction: 8W – 10L Final match record: 8W – 10L
2 of 2 points

Landing right where we predicted, Team EnvyUs has a strong core group of players in nearly every role, but they fail to outperform the other teams in the playoffs due to their easily exploited top lane. Teams in the upper half of the standings have correctly identified the weakness of Team Envy, and that is folding the top half of the map into the jungle and then the mid lane down to bottom lane. As Seraph fails to join his team quick enough, or at all in some cases, for team fights in the bottom lane or mid, Lira is getting constantly invaded and pressured by enemies with knowledge of his position on the map and engaging on his other teammates he has little to no chance of reaching in time. The only improving factor here since our mid-split rankings is Nisqy.

Since joining the squad, Nisqy has shown a wider champion pool, stronger mechanics, and more willingness to make plays elsewhere on the map besides his own lane. This has been somewhat of a boon for their AD Carry Apollo and roaming support Hakuho, who frequently makes visits to mid lane to get Nisqy an advantage, and Lira, who-as mentioned before, is under more pressure than ever to keep his own camps and use his game knowledge to affect the map. Nisqy is also in the running to steal Rookie of the split from early bird and fan favorite P1 MikeYeung, and rightfully so. For playoffs, EnvyUs has a unique opportunity to upset Counter Logic Gaming, a team that is also weaker on the top side of the map now with the sudden change to their rookie Jungler, Omargod. If Envy is to win this quarterfinals series versus CLG, they will need to find ways to incorporate Seraph earlier while flexing Lira’s veteran strengths on Omargod across the map.

Team Dignitas

Standing

35926721422_26ace66b09_h

prediction: 7th Final standing: 5th
Match record prediction: 7W – 11L Final match record: 11W – 7L
0 of 2 points

Dignitas played upset to our earlier predictions, upsetting 3 of the top four teams above them: CLG, TSM, and Immortals. Since bringing in Adrian and Altec to remedy their struggling bot lane lane, this team is on an absolute tear through the standings, going on a 6-2 record since Rift Rivals. While Ssumday has been playing champions that scale poorly, he has been outputting worlds of difference in pressure for his lane and transitioning his lead to others very effectively, a complete polar opposite of Seraph’s performances on Team EnvyUs. The real game changer for this team however doesn’t come from their exceptional Top laner, but from their recent Support pickup before roster deadlines closed.

Adrian has been conspicuously absent from pro-play since his falling out from Phoenix1, and then his short stint with Doublelift on Team Liquid, but he is about to enter the meta of his dreams. With the changes to Ardent Censor pushing many of his well-known champions into priority picks, having the quintessential healer/disengage support that helped push Immortals to their dominating Spring and Summer splits of 2016 is looking like it may just be the counter to Cloud9 that DIG needs to overcome the C9 play makers starting in every role. While C9 has the playoff series advantage of experience, Dignitas is our favorite for winning this  quarterfinals matchup, bringing the right mix of player-counters to topple the North American dynasty.

Counter Logic Gaming

35981467880_489eea8b25_h

Standing prediction: 2nd Final standing: 4th
Match record prediction: 15W – 3L Final match record: 12W – 6L
0 of 2 points

The last time we wrote about Counter Logic Gaming, there was a lot of warning signs that we haven’t seen from the oldest North American organization in a long time, and it seems one particular meme has made a return: roster changes. In the pre-season, CLG made a hugely risky-but widely heralded as net-positive-trade League of Legends Esports, possibly the entire year in Esports. Despite that positive press, the results weren’t transitioning to the stage, with some initial exemplary victories with their veteran Jungler Dardoch early on, the new-team fire seemed to die out very quickly. In a now notorious press release by the organization, CLG sold Dardoch back to his original squad Team Liquid and immediately replaced him with their substitute Jungler, Omargod. Touting his superior team play, his green thumb status has been exploited in multiple series by more experienced Junglers, and his champion pool thus far as been very team-centric and selfless. While this may be a benefit given the current meta of CC super tanks, the inability to show more complex compositions or risky carry potential from their Jungle role makes CLG seem weaker than they looked earlier in the season.

At one point, CLG was the sole occupant of first place in the standings mid-way through the split, now they sit at 4th just before the playoffs. Whatever the case may be, they are about to play one of the strongest early game teams in the league, Team EnvyUs, which also happens to have one of, if not the most respected Jungler in the NA LCS right now besides potential MVP pick IMT Xmithie. In order for this squad to win, Support and Shotcaller Aphromoo will need to be on his A game, directing his pieces across the board to stay even or ahead during the first 15 minutes of each game, because if Stixxay doesn’t have time to scale on the current meta of AD Carry picks, then CLG may find themselves dropping some of the quickest matches in playoffs history.

Cloud9

36349615956_12cc1bd1e0_h

Standing prediction: 3rd Final standing: 3rd
Match record prediction: 14W – 4L Final match record: 12W – 6L
1 of 2 points

On the rise to a potential return to form, Cloud9 has shown some recovery in the second half of the split, turning in a 6 match win streak in the last 3 weeks of play to reclaim their spot as top three of the ladder, knocking off stumbling CLG. Lead by the carry performances of Jensen and Contractz, the boys in blue have adapted to the meta well, with Impact playing his comfort tanks, Contractz free to gank any lane and invade the enemy’s jungle while Jensen solo kills his opposing laner and makes a surprising amount of roams to other lanes, their bottom lane Support Smoothie playing hard engage champions like Alistar and Taric, and Sneaky putting up consistently strong performances.

The real problem with pressuring Cloud9’s carries is they require so many resources to kill, with Jensen dodging skill shots so expertly, and Sneaky forcing the enemies to burn their summoners or else lose their life instead, Cloud9 plays a very controlled lanes, safe plays-with-vision game. However, no team with without weakness in this list and Cloud9 is the same. In a changing meta where playmakers and hard engage are about to countered with disengage enchanter supports, Cloud9 may be ill-suited to show their mechanical prowess when all of their damage and tools are wasted due to the heals and shields of enemy support picks, DIG Adrian’s forte. Counting out Cloud9 would be a mistake however, as this team is very experienced in best of five series, the high-pressure environment of playoffs, and has the single most powerful carry in the NA LCS: Jensen. If Cloud9 can keep Jensen in the driver’s seat as he has been in the past, they should crush Dignitas through buckling the DIG mid lane and transferring that map advantage to the bot lane of the map.

Immortals

35558903604_a404f40804_h

Standing prediction: 4th Final standing: 2nd
Match record prediction: 13W – 5L Final match record: 14W – 4L
0 of 2 points

Call it anything but luck. Throughout the season, it looked like other teams would retain a top two spot over IMT and knock them out from a first round bye in the playoffs. However, week after week, game after game, Immortals displayed confidence, comfort, and adaptability to each opponent that they were able to regain their spot atop the ladder and prove they deserve to be there. Jungle Xmithie has made the most of the trade to Immortals in the off-season, rebuilding his Mid-Jungle synergy with former teammate Pobelter, who has also had a standout split once again on the Immortals squad.

Immortals is holding onto two of the most talked about players in contention for MVP, Xmithie and Support Olleh. A Support being talked about for MVP is incredibly rare, the only other Support ever to come into discussion was 2016 CLG Aphromoo. Olleh has displayed a wide champion pool, practiced buddy roaming with Xmithie to gain vision, and a willingness to use his Flash to secure a kill not seen by any other Support in the LCS. Communication issues discussed while Dardoch was on the team are nowhere to be found: this team is crisp, coordinated and ready to topple their next opponent in the semi-finals to be the first new team since 2015 to challenge TSM in the finals, joining an elite group and erasing their poor performance of the 2016 season. The way teams will challenge Immortals will be through startlingly aggressive play a la 2016 regular season Immortals, or contesting their vision gains across the map so that Xmithie can’t pinpoint where the enemy’s Jungler is and Olleh is punished for his out-of-position over aggression.

Team SoloMid

35607045503_c2341b8279_h

Standing prediction: 1st Final standing 1st
Match record prediction: 15W – 3L Final match record: 14W – 4L
1 of 2 points

TSM reunited the dominating 2016 Summer starting squad that swept the regular season, dropping only one match of 18 games, and eventually securing the Championship trophy. This split has not been the same level of dominance from last year, as they struggled to adapt to some of the meta changes, the relative skill and determination of the other squads has risen to match their own as teams gird for a Worlds spot, and they slowly found their style of play. It doesn’t help that mid lane will be slightly weaker going into playoffs with a slew of nerfs targeting Bjergsen’s gigantic champion pool. The TSM botlane has struggled to find their bearings in this split as Doublelift returned from streaming along with some bad habits and Biofrost ceded some vision control to play more for lane dominance, leading to unexpected enemy ganks and giving up early kills. The stable parts of the map, surprisingly, come from Top lane Hauntzer and Jungle Svenskeren these days.

During the Mid-Season Invitational, Sven was bombarded with criticism regarding his risky invades and early on this split Hauntzer was being dived under turret and forced to play from behind the rest of the game. Those issues seem to have been corrected as Hauntzer has been receiving support from his team to reinforce his position to counter incoming dives or laneswaps from the enemy and Svenskeren has focused more of his play around ganking/counterganking for lanes instead of invading areas of the jungle the team has no vision in or pressure for. The ability to carry through the mid lane may be lower than it has been previously in the season, but Bjergsen’s game pressure across the map is touted as the single most reason why he is the best player in the league split after split. TSM is going to need that dominant performance now perhaps more than ever as the bot lane meta favors late-game scaling ADs Doublelift is known for. It’s TSMs tournament to lose as they head into playoffs with the first place seed once again. Expect some new picks from this veteran squad that may surprise some teams, overall this playoffs patch looks to have widened dramatically the available options for mid lane, AD Carry and Support roles. TSM will have the unique opportunity to play a variety of team comps and come away with victories if they can execute them at a high level of play.

Prediction accuracy rating: F

5/20 points = 25% accurate

Prediction

1st seed: Team SoloMid
2nd seed: Counter Logic Gaming
3rd seed: Cloud9
4th seed: Immortals
5th seed: Phoenix1
6th seed: Team EnvyUs

Actual

1st seed: Team SoloMid
2nd seed: Immortals
3rd seed: Cloud9
4th seed: Counter Logic Gaming
5th seed: Dignitas
6th seed: Team EnvyUs

Playoffs Predictions

Quarterfinals Dignitas v. Cloud9: DIG 3-2
Quarterfinals Team EnvyUs v. Counter Logic Gaming: CLG 3-1
Semifinals Immortals v. TBD (DIG or CLG): IMT 3-2
Semifinals Team SoloMid v. TBD (DIG or CLG): TSM 3-1

Finals Matchup TSM v. IMT

Photo credits go to LoL Esports Photos’ Flickr. Please support them.

NA LCS: Mid-Split Power Rankings & Playoff Seeding Predictions

“Echo Fox got dealt a bad hand with the end of this split, with most of their easier games behind them, only one word describes their current situation: unlucky.

With the conclusion of Rift Rivals across the world, we turn to NA for our first ever look at where America’s League Championship Series teams stand and conclude with a brief look at their expected Playoffs seeding.

Note: RiftStory Power Rankings may not reflect official/current standings in the ladder. Rather, these are almost always predictions or estimations of teams’ strength among their competition and should not be taken as fact.

10. FlyQuest (FLY) 3W-7L

35529714781_cf95f4ab4d_b

Our 4th place team from last split has performed almost as badly as everyone’s expectations of them at the beginning of the Spring Split. Unlike spring, FlyQuest has not made a compelling case for being a top tier team in the summer. Their macro game has been slower and riskier than previously seen, and their solo laners are unable to stay even with their opponents.  That said, the meta is only just now accommodating their players, with Corki mid rising in priority for Hai, and Tristana showing resurgence in the bot lane for Wildturtle, enabling his risky forward-positioning play-style. Last split, FlyQuest showed us teamplay and objective trading was their strength. This split nothing looks as clean as it used to. Unfortunately, even their surprisingly strong  team fighting and god tier macro from last split can’t carry them out of huge gold deficits amassed from the lane phase. By the time they take a few turrets or hit critical item spikes for their next engage, their opponents have done that sooner, gotten even bigger leads from just farming creeps, or simply out-stat them in elongated skirmishes, diminishing their options for winning in almost any scenario. At this point, Flyquest’s only win condition is  their opponents not to having one. Expected end result: 4W-14L.

9. EchoFox (FOX) 4W-6L

34694409690_9886cb31f7_b

EchoFox has looked like a disaster. For a team with such exceptional players in every role, their games last the longest of all teams and they seem to have no clear identity other than outlasting the other teams in pure endurance tests of who will make the critical mistake that loses the game post 40 minutes. Unable to close gigantic leads, poor understanding of lane pressure and an inability to close out games with Baron buff on five members, Echo Fox has floundered this Summer with seemingly poor communication and few team-fight victories. Opting into a split-push strategy has actually weakened them in the mid to late game with solo psuhers getting caught out or the rest of the core group getting chased down due to poorly drafted team comps for engage/disengage strategies. Without a consistent strategy for winning, EchoFox looks to be a contender for worst team of the split with little chance of returning to form this late in the season. While the wins they have acquired may double the next team on this list (currently), the poor understanding of how to close out games or properly set up macro plays is especially disheartening to see from a roster of experienced players like Looper and Froggen. Add this to the fact their remaining schedule pits them against the 6 highest placed teams in NA for seven of their remaining eight games with only one match against a team with worse position in the standings than their own: Phoenix1. Unfortunately for them, P1 is a team they lost to in week 4 of the split, and also a team which has had significant success both domestically and internationally since the acquisition of their new Jungler. Echo Fox got dealt a bad hand with the end of this split, with most of their easier games behind them, only one word describes their current situation: unlucky. Expected end result: 4W-14L.

8. Team Liquid (TL) 2W-8L

34406052144_c038e712e4_b

In Team Liquid’s games, one cant help but see stark similarities to their Spring split performance, although this summer it seems like there are actually more teams sitting at or below their level (#PARITY). That being said, this is a team that can find victories with certain comps and win-conditions (like Galio + Olaf) and that should be reassuring. This is a team that can close out leads (if they get one, and hold it) post mid game. Liquid’s standing depends as much on their closest competitors losing as it does on their players working together, which is lucky considering the bottom half of the NA LCS standings are crowded as is, and positions can flip during any weekend. Expected end result: 4W-14L.

7. Team Dignitas (DIG) 5W-5L

35660094245_83d63c3836_b

Dignitas hit the ground running for their Summer split, showing off a lot of the same win-conditions we’ve seen before (snowball topside->win the game) featuring a new face in the Jungle, Shrimp. Having already made some changes to their roster, it seems DIG still wasn’t comfortable and has now made additional changes, this time to their botlane: benching LOD and replacing him with former FlyQuest ADC Altec. Still, DIG hasn’t looked as strong as initially suspected. Already, Dignitas has dropped two games to weaker teams and is struggling to find wins in coordinated team play. At this level, shutting down their singular win condition is enough to shut down Dignitas, and that is troubling for this squad. If the teams below them conjure any consistency, Dignitas could be the one team with the hardest drop in the standings of all the teams that had a positive record this season. Expected end result: 7W-11L.

6. Team EnvyUs (NV) 5W-5L

35081265765_640bf131a1_b

Midway through the split, Team EnvyUs has a lot of tools and options to win games with: an aggressive and innovative Jungler, a stronger, more well-rounded mid lane pool, and a rising bot lane duo outplaying their opponents left and right. Last split, NV’s Jungler Lira was in discussion for MVP based on how important his contributions were to his team and the entire league in terms of identifying strong ganking paths and new jungle routes to gain level advantages. Now, NV seems to be a team that can play through almost any role, their recent additions to the midlane have shown some carry potential while their botside has risen to the top of some conversations as best in the league. Their ADC Apollo especially has stunned on several occasions with clutch 1v1s on priority targets even when on the initially disadvantageous side of the trade. Because of this strength enabling their Marksman to be in lanes alone, Hakuho their Support is free to roam and create plays elsewhere. This roster is stronger than last split’s in every way except the top lane, the only clearly exploitable factor as their top laner Seraph is uncharacteristically selfish, taking minions in the face of the enemy top laner or simply refusing to teleport to his team for an engage or to save allies. However, unlike Dignitas, the other roles on this team are able to over perform and secure leads, playing to other places on the map besides just their toplane. Expected end result: 8W-10L.

5. Phoenix1 (P1) 3W-7L

35642062265_a73070b67b_b

The worst is behind Phoenix1. With a few roster swaps in Support and Jungle, Phoenix1 has found a team comprised of veteran players and young motivated talent. Now finally stabilizing their bottom lane after a series of four different Support player swaps, an experienced Support, Xpecial, can cover for AD Carry Arrow’s weaknesses. Luckily for Arrow the meta is also returning his roster of Marksmen champions during his MVP split in spring back into priority picks, further complimenting the P1 botlane’s ability to carry and style on the enemy team. However, the single biggest influence on the team’s upswing seems to have been the addition of the newest young NA talent in their jungle role, since selling off one of their most popular Jungler players and allowing the other to sit out the rest of the split. Since MikeYeung,  the frontrunner for Rookie of the Split, was signed, Phoenix1 has been on an upward trend of wins, culminating in a dazzling performance at Rift Rivals between North America’s top three teams from last split and Europe’s top three. Phoenix1 surprised all when they overtook C9 in W/L in the tournament and looked to be challenging TSM to represent NA in the finals. These hugely net-positive roster swaps, coupled with a meta shifting in their favor, makes it seem like Phoenix1 has a high probability of picking up more than a few wins in the coming weeks ahead, even topping some higher seeded teams along the way. Expected end result: 8W-10L.

4. Immortals (IMT) 7W-3L

35064028635_4dec41eb8e_b

As far as trades go, this has to be the most surprising result in League history. Never before have both teams benefited so much in a net-positive result that both teams then rise to be the contenders for top four in the split. Now the Immortals veteran Jungler, Xmithie, is paired with once again with former Counter Logic Gaming teammate and longtime friend in the midlane Pobelter. With him has come a clean slate, motivating the players around them and developingof a more safe play style that punishes enemies heavily for making mistakes. Alongside his fellow former CLG teammate, Pobelter himself has been returning to his Spring Split 2016 Championship form regaining control of the midlane, making proactive roams, and using the buddy-system with Xmithie invade the enemy jungle and relieve pressure elsewhere. Having finally integrated their Korean Toplaner Flame fully into their communication system, the infamous farm heavy carry is able to bolster their avenues for victory with the option to split-push or suffocate the enemy Toplaner out of farm and kills. The IMT botlane Cody Sun and support Olleh, despite a poor start in the beginning of spring, were in contention for best bot lane of Spring Split by the end. This play making Support and stable AD Carry have not stopped impressing, putting out invaluable pressure and controlling their lane expertly with 2v2/2v3 skirmishes and knowing when to hold turrets to counter enemy dives or roam to top lane to trade objectives. IMT have shown that their level of teamwork and individual carry potential can match that of the other top teams on this list, despite some calling their fortunate season just a bit of luck. Expected end result: 13-5.

3. Cloud9 (C9) 6W-4L

34220281164_7a2ce8e5dc_b

C9 was a story of two Tops last split: one being defensive, team-oriented, and stable–that’s Impact. The other, Ray, was known to be wild, aggressive, with more potential to outplay his opponent and carry. While the meta certainly favored the former last split, this split the latter is seeing more dominant play. Featuring incredible stand out performances from Cloud9’s Midlaner Jensen (Formerly Incarnation), C9 with a lead adopted a play style of blitzing the enemy team with hyper aggressive duels and securing small gains rapidly until their lead has become overwhelming; insurmountable without C9 taking unnecessary risks while ahead. Their Jungler Contractz has ceded his carry potential somewhat to better enable his Mid and Top laners to carry and spill over their leads to other parts of the map, and the C9 botlane AD Carry Sneaky has always been consistent with positioning, champion pool growth/flexibility and damage output. C9 knows how to make plays around vision control: their Support Smoothie places more wards on the map than any of the other top four teams’ supports. There’s a reason C9 has been in the finals and at the top of the standings so many times since entering the LCS: they know how to play the game at a structured, high skill level and can execute comps others would struggle with. Expected end result 14-4.

2. Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) 8W-2L

35529712631_1ed5091089_b

The surging squad of CLG had one of the highest profile trades happen in the off-season, one that has changed the entire play style of the team since. Split-pushing strategies? Gone. Winning through side lanes? Gone. Immaculate team fighting? Gone. So what have they changed that’s allowing them to win games? Their games have become incredibly scrappy and filled with cross map trades for objectives or kills. The addition of Dardoch in the Jungle in place of (now IMT) Xmithie has resulted in a more aggressive play style. Determined to invade camps, snowball Huhi‘s midlane, and pressure baron, Dardoch has stayed true to self while becoming more team-oriented alongside strong players in every role. Guided by Aphromoo‘s shotcalling and macro understanding of the game, CLG has managed to secure victories through picks on priority members of their enemies’ team and minion control. Stixxay however, has had trouble finding his place in this meta it seems, not delivering the same kind of performance he treated us to during his debut just one year ago in Summer Split 2016 on similar meta champions. The majority of their stand-out play is done in the mid game, when lane advantages become less important as the botlane and toplane begin rotating around the map and shifting their points of strength to cover their playmaking Jungler. While Dardoch has in some cases been caught out for playing too aggressively, the fact CLG sits atop the standings right now shows the rest of the squad is able to play around this by trading other objectives or kills in his stead. In fact, the team is enabled by Dardoch drawing pressure into the enemy team’s jungle and forcing the enemy to either protect their Jungler or cede their side of jungle camps, putting their Jungler further behind in the face of the Dardoch powerhouse. The only reason they won’t take first on this list is TSM has the head-to-head advantage, and is expected to win again because…Expected end result 15-3.

1. TeamSoloMid (TSM) 7W-3L

35668409111_2f0f1f23f0_b

This time, TSM has taken a new approach to the game in practicing newer, stage untested compositions which put one or several of their players on picks they may be uncomfortable with or cede some of their carry potential on in favor of others’. Post-Rift Rivals, we can see the fruits of their labor have benefited them immensely despite public outcry for their standard dominating performance of years’ past. What this has done, while still demonstrating they can 2-0 most teams with their standard compositions, is given them a new set of tools that has made their team more flexible and even more threatening before playoffs even starts. That being said, TeamSoloMid has had a bit of a rocky start to the split. After reassembling their near perfect 2016 summer roster for 2017, expectations were certainly high for the reunited squad. Bjergsen, while not having quite the year of C9 Jensen’s, stat wise, is still in contention for MVP of the split yet again because of his well-rounded play style: strong roams, continuous warding, covering for his Jungler’s invades, on top of widening his champion pool with crowd-hating picks that helped the team secure an 8-1 record at Rift Rivals in victory over Europe. Bjergsen has shown an ability to carry teams of composed of weaker teammates to a championship victory, but TSM is completely stacked in every role. There are four other huge threats in the TSM lineup, with Hauntzer, the crowd favorite for MVP last split, Svenskeren, leveling up his play and returning to dominant form in the jungle, Doublelift bringing back the decisive decision-making attitude and bot-lane dominance paired with his handpicked Support Biofrost, who is coming into his own again as the meta shifts away from mage supports to play-making tanks. TSM has a lot to prove heading into playoffs, and possibly Worlds after. If they secure the match record we predict here, they will be better positioned than ever to break out of group stages and move onward to the bracket stages. Expected end result: 15-3.


Play-offs seeding predictions

1st seed: TeamSoloMid
2nd seed: Counter Logic Gaming
3rd seed: Cloud9
4th seed: Immortals
5th seed: Pheonix1
6th seed: Team EnvyUs

Photo credits go to LoL Esports Photos’ Flickr. Please support them.