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10 Thoughts going into Week 2

Blah blah blah TSM isn’t doing anything, Froggen wins the Week 1 MVP, C9 is winning with random players — what year is it! The old saying goes the more things change the more they stay the same, and going into Week 2 I feel like you could apply some of these blurbs exactly onto teams at this time last year and it’d still mostly make sense. I’m ready to overreact, and I hope you are, too. Here’s 10 thoughts going into Week 2! 

Cloud9 [2-0] — Plug and play
EG: we’ll take him
C9 [making more in the back]: do you want a support and a top too lol

If you want to win the next Clash (Soon ™), then I recommend convincing Cloud9 to sponsor you. It doesn’t matter who plays for them because they just keep winning. After one week of play, they are the best looking team in the LCS (granted, TL doesn’t have Broxah yet), which I absolutely expected as I definitely did not talk about how they downgraded over the offseason in an article just last week. C9 smashed both games with really coordinated team play, which is a testament to the environment they’ve built. It’s like they’ve secretly got one person in the back who’s actually the one playing and multiboxing all five accounts (if you’re wondering where Sneaky went…). One of the things I say a lot about teams who struggle early is that world-caliber teams have always dominated from the get-go. There aren’t really miracle stories about a team suddenly clicking and having all the dominoes fall into place — at least not if you’re aiming for the top of the world. Cloud9 storming out of the gates is a great sign for a team that revamped with exactly the top of the world in mind — they gutted a roster that was #2 in NA for the entirety of 2019 because a Group Stage exit wasn’t enough. As we continue forward, I’ll be most interested in monitoring Zven and Vulcan — the duo should give C9 reason to play more towards bot lane, and so far they’ve looked great.

Dignitas [2-0] — Huni’s new “don’t die” strategy
In case you forgot, Huni is extremely good at winning games in the regular season. In fact, if this was like the Premier League and teams won based on regular season points, Huni would be one of the all-time greats (not that he couldn’t be in that conversation already). The most surprising thing this weekend, though, is that Huni somehow managed to not die in either game. He’s habitually been an aggressive player that is often punished for his overextensions, so if this is a sign that he’s learned to reign himself in a bit, then DIG is going to be monstrous to deal with. It’s a team with a lot of chips on their shoulders (honestly they should try to get Doritos and Lays to sponsor them so they can literally have chips on their shoulders), and they all delivered in Week 1. I’m particularly impressed by how level-headed Johnsun was — Aphromoo has a long track record of making his ADCs look good, and this pairing seems to be an immediate success. This is reminiscent of Huni’s time on FOX in 2018, so I’ll be curious to see if they’re able to keep it up. It felt like they struggled to be adaptable then, so this will be a team to monitor if there are any sizable shakeups to the meta — will they adapt or will they fall on old comfort picks?

FlyQuest [2-0] — /r/trees
A famous ent once said, “Tree? I am no tree.” He would, however, be very happy to hear about FlyQuest’s new initiative. FLY announced they’ll plant trees for kills and wins, which is great for all sorts of reasons like the environment (whatever) and more importantly memes. Now instead of people saying “NA is so free,” they can say “NA is so tree.” FLY posted a strong showing in Week 1 as PowerOfEvil managed to stick it to his former teammates, and we got to see V1per’s Riven for the first and maybe only time this split. I mentioned last week that I was excited for this team, and so far they’ve delivered — I’ve been on the PowerOfEvil hype train for a while, and he’s clearly brought a new win condition to the team. Give him resources and let him carry. IgNar was also brilliant for them with his decisive engages, and I hope they continue to put him on playmakers. Both of these things mean Santorin, their best player last year, is even further enabled now with a strong map-oriented mid laner and an aggressive support. FLY will be tested big time this week with TL and DIG on deck, and if they can fly high here, then I think they’ll cement their status as a contender for the LCS Spring Split.

100 Thieves [1-1] — 50/50
100 posted a shaky win against a GG team that’s expected to finish near the bottom of the standings and then got eviscerated by EG. The optimistic way of looking at it is that they played awfully and still managed to secure a win. The pessimistic way of looking at it is that they played awfully. The super optimistic way of looking at this is maybe we can convince PapaSmithy to recast the game against GG so we can get a firsthand perspective from the 100 GM on what went right (not much) and what went wrong (a lot, for both teams). I’d say there seems to be some miscommunication when it comes to their mid game rotations and picking times to fight, but their laning is still pretty solid, so I think the pieces are there to make the ship go forward. I’ll be keeping an eye on Ry0ma and Stunt in particular — they have the least experience on the roster and they’ll need to tidy up on mid game gaffes in order for this roster to perform better. I don’t think Ry0ma’s debut was poor by any stretch of the imagination, but it also didn’t wow me, and perhaps you can make a case that a player using an import slot should wow you.

Evil Geniuses [1-1] — Evil? Genius?
I think EG needs to figure out how to be a little more “evil” to better fit their brand — I don’t want campy evil like in Austin Powers, and I also don’t want them to go full Joker and blow up a hospital or anything like that. My solution is much simpler, which is they should pick random shit like Shaco and Teemo to help turn Solo Queue in a nightmare. There just wasn’t much evil or genius in their debut last weekend. This is going to be an interesting transitional split for Svenskeren in particular — coming off an MVP performance and then getting traded means this is your chance to prove your old team got carried by you. So far, though, that seems to not be the case with how strong C9 opened. I don’t think there’s any doubt at this point as to what Svenskeren can do when he’s on his A-game (where he is among the best players in NA), but it seems like he still suffers from inconsistency. The biggest spot for EG came in their win over 100, where I thought Jiizuke had a phenomenal game and generated a ton of individual plays for EG. I had some concerns about how good he still is, so it was nice to see that flash of brilliance from him — if he can continue to play at that level, I think EG will be able to challenge the top of the leaderboards, and he has the potential to become the best acquisition of the offseason.

Immortals [1-1] — They’re aliiive!!
IMT was one of the most successful franchises when they were in the LCS, but outside of the name, very little is the same, except for Xmithie, who may be exactly the same. Week 1 was not a bad start for a team that only had a couple days of practice ahead of the split. Sure, they didn’t look good at all, but if I’m them, I’m extremely grateful to have escaped Week 1 with only a single loss. They’re going to be in catchup mode for a bit because they haven’t had as much time to practice together as other teams, but that’s something that can often be reset when a new patch comes and everybody has to relearn stuff. There are going to be a lot of kinks to hash out with this team before we can make any fair assessment. I am, however, glad we got to see a backdoor of sorts from sOAZ to secure the first win for IMT in their return to the LCS. It’s a fitting start for a player whose bread and butter has been creatively stretching the map for this team, and I hope he can continue to imprint his own style into the LCS.

Team Liquid [1-1] — Blue
Let us focus on the important part of this week for TL, which is not that they didn’t have their new jungler or that they lost a game as a result. Rather, I would like us to all focus on their new mascot, Blue:

Let us admire it in all of its roundness. [ESPN 30 for 30 voice] What if I told you that sometimes, the biggest wins come off the Rift. Anyway, I try not to make many sweeping claims about teams this early in the season, and that’s especially true for a team that’s using a substitute jungler who they only started practicing with last week. If rumors are to be believed, then TL is supposedly still the best or second best team based on scrim results, and I suspect that will be even more true once Broxah enters the fold. As the four-time reigning champ, TL is the favorite to repeat, even with this visa delay, and I think the main thing to watch right now is whether or not they’ve added any new champion picks to their pools. And, of course, Blue. Actually, we should just have a Blue cam instead of player cams for next week. They should let Blue play Jungle… wait, what if Broxah is literally Blue…

Counter Logic Gaming [0-2] — Logic Gaming
Depending on the year, me telling you that CLG is doing just as well as TSM can be good or bad. 2017? That’s great for CLG. 2020? Well… Again, the good news is it’s only Week 1 so there’s still plenty of time for things to improve. Crown was also one of the players who struggled through visa limbo, so I suspect that affected the team’s synergy quite a bit. That said, I also don’t think of Crown as a solo-carry caliber or style of player anymore that can erase all of CLG’s problems with his individual performance, so the team needs to come together as a whole. Wiggily, who was a surprising bright spot for the team last summer, did not look the same through their first two games — a lot of that is surely tied to switching on the mid/jungle dynamic. One other way of looking at Week 1, though, is that both of the teams CLG faced are 2-0 and looking like legitimate contenders. They have a much easier slate this week with 100 and TSM, and I think this will be where we can latch on to some early thoughts about CLG.

Golden Guardians [0-2] — gg, GG
When expectations are low to begin with, people won’t be particularly disappointed when you struggle. And expectations for GG were decidedly low. That doesn’t make it any easier for the players or the fans of GG, though. I will say that GG put up decent fights in both of their games and even held a big enough lead in the game against 100 that they probably should have won it. I think Closer is showing some potential early with his pathing — especially in the game against 100 where he completely shutout Meteos early — and that feels like a potential win condition for GG. They need to continue using him to snowball the early game, but they also need to figure out how to close(r) out. In order for that to happen, one of the carries needs to be able to step up and generate game-winning plays once the team starts to group — that’s probably on FBI or Goldenglue now, and neither have a history of doing such a thing on a regular basis. There are many “gg” jokes to be made here, and GG needs to start winning for them to be positive.

TSM [0-2] — Same old TSM?
So, before you or I harp on TSM too much (as we will), let us acknowledge that Bjergsen was sick over the weekend. Let us then also acknowledge that TSM did not look good, especially in the mid game when it came to playing towards their win conditions. The long-running criticism of TSM at this point is that they do nothing and then roll over and die, which feels like lazy criticism to me. It’s not like a team with this much experience is sitting there and saying, “I don’t know what to do!” I think a more accurate way of putting it is they are failing to execute on what they see as their win conditions. Against IMT, for example, they needed Bjergsen’s LeBlanc to generate a pick or win a side lane. If you watched his positioning, you’d note he was constantly off in a sidebush trying to find a way into the backline. After that failed, he then tried to split push for a while and did succeed in taking down a side lane. They just ended up losing out on a couple of fights. Against TL, they missed a Smite fight by a sliver of health that would have secured the Dragon Soul. It’s not like TSM was a complete shitshow, but the pessimistic framing here is failing to execute on a win condition may arguably be worse than not understanding it. That said, I am one to trust that being sick severely affects how you play (Bjerg did not look good) and I think we should wait for him to be healthy before claiming “same old TSM.”

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Saddle Up! The LCS Spring Finals Are Coming to Texas