NA LCS Predictions 2018 Spring Week 3

We’re now two weeks into the newly franchised North American League of Legends Championship Series, and so far the games have been as crazy as the off-season trades and acquisitions would have suggested. Some rosters have had surprising results, both good and bad, and I would wager there are more surprises than expected outcomes from most fans and analysts. I made a power rankings based on the rosters before the season began for where I thought most teams might end up by the end of the season, and I’ll admit I’m having to re-evaluate some teams based on the first two weeks. While each time has only played 4 out of the 18 games they’ll participate in this split, and some teams will always look better at the start of the season or during certain metas, the mostly veteran rosters of seasoned LCS squads like TSM and CLG have had a disappointing start to the season. On the other side of the standings, the new roster of Echo Fox as well as the brand new 100 Thieves have shown strong starts to the season, and only time will tell if their strategies, strengths and weaknesses will be figured out by the other teams.

Week 2 Standings
Team standings after week two of the 2018 Spring split for NA LCS

My power rankings placed TSM and CLG in the top 4 with C9 and Team Liquid, though the former are both sitting at 1-3. They’ve been replaced with Echo Fox and 100 Thieves for the time being, though I would still expect TSM and CLG to grow stronger closer to playoffs. FlyQuest had a surprising upset vs fan favourites TSM, after TSM has seemingly been plagued with poor communication and macro play in the mid-late game, including difficulties closing out games when they do secure an early game lead. Without further musings on the state of the league, it’s time to jump into predictions for this week’s games.

 

Saturday February 3

CLG vs. Echo Fox

While I’m still confident CLG will be a contender for playoffs, they’ve had a rough start to the split. Their bot lane, which looked strong when paired with their former duos (Stixxay with Aphromoo and Biofrost with Doublelift) has looked off in their communication. It can be difficult to say how much each player is contributing when discussing a bot lane unless players are open about communication during an interview, so it’s tricky to say where exactly Stixxay and Biofrost should be in terms of power level. The next couple of weeks should show us how CLG’s synergy develops in LCS games, while they’ve always had a focus on teamwork and trusting shotcalls, this can sometimes be their downfall, as we saw when they ran into Febiven’s fed Azir one at a time for a pentakill. The path to victory for CLG would likely be to let Reignover’s top-tier jungle pathing dictate the pace of the early game, and if CLG can stay even or get a lead I would trust their macro play to navigate the late game. It’s hard to say if Reignover should gank for the strong solo lanes here when Echo Fox has lanes that are just as strong or arguably better when it comes to Huni, since he may have to shore up CLG’s currently weak-looking botlane. For Echo Fox, I would expect them to play around their topside with their strong solo laners in Huni and Fenix. Though Adrian has looked better in earlier splits, he and Altec are still a solid bottom lane that should go even in most matchups, which gives Dardoch a bit more room in the jungle to decide where to apply pressure.

Winner: Echo Fox

Cloud9 vs. OpTic Gaming

I have less to say about this matchup, especially since C9 looks better than how I thought they might perform with a new top and jungle. Licorice has been convincing on top lane carries and Svenskeren looks more comfortable so far with his new freedom. OpTic, on the other hand, seems to have weaker players in most positions in comparison to C9, and is playing off-meta picks, or not looking comfortable on meta champions. Considering C9 has already toppled CLG and 100T, only dropping a game to 4-0 Echo Fox, while OpTic’s only win was against the 2-2 FlyQuest, it’s a safe bet to predict a C9 victory here.

Winner: C9

Clutch Gaming vs. 100 Thieves

I was optimistic about Clutch before the season, with three of the stronger former NV members and the addition of Febiven, they looked to have a strong core, though Lira has been under performing so far. Also considering one of Clutch Gaming’s two wins was against a CLG that was literally throwing themselves at Febiven’s fed Azir, I don’t think we’ve seen a good indication of what to expect of this roster’s skill ceiling. 100T has already showed some solid games versus Liquid and CLG, and their loss to C9 could be partially attributed to C9 being familiar with Meteos’ jungling style, having played with C9 for three years. Including the known factors of good in-game leadership from Aphromoo and Pr0lly’s coaching out of game, 100 Thieves will likely end the split near the top of the table and could make a deep playoff run if they continue to put up solid performances in game.

Winner: 100 Thieves

FlyQuest vs. Team Liquid

FlyQuest has looked better than I thought they might at the start of the split, but considering one of their wins was a 47 minute game against Golden Guardians, it doesn’t bode well for their playoff chances. While they have taken a win off of a disorganized TSM, they also dropped a game to OpTic, who they may be competing with for a playoff slot later in the split. Their opponents, Liquid, look to be the superteam most viewers were looking forward to seeing compete. Their only loss so far is to 100T, which they did drag out to 46 minutes, though they’ve also shown when they do generate a lead, they can quickly end the game as they smashed TSM and Clutch in about 28 minutes. If Liquid is on form this should be a relatively easy win for them.

Winner: Team Liquid

TSM vs. Golden Guardians

All signs point to this being a must-win game for TSM. After a rough start and some drawn out games versus FlyQuest and Echo Fox, TSM need to show their communication is improving this week against both the Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves. On paper, TSM has stronger players in every position, at least mechanically, and should be able to open up an early game lead against Golden Guardians. For GGS to win, they could try to surprise TSM with some off-meta picks, as Hai has done in the past (remember the Teemo game?), and with a lead, it’s possible Hai’s veteran shotcalling could give them a victory here.

Winner: TSM

 

Sunday February 4

Echo Fox vs. OpTic

Similar to Saturday’s TSM vs. GGS game, Echo Fox should be able to generate advantages with stronger players in most positions, possibly excluding the Fenix-PowerOfEvil matchup in mid. While Akaadian has looked better on carries than on tanks, Dardoch has looked right at home on Sejuani and Zac. It’s possible that Echo Fox could go into this game too confident and someone like Huni could overextend early, but Echo Fox has looked good even playing from behind so far, and I would be hard pressed to say OpTic’s weaker lanes and sloppier macro can stand up to the assault Echo Fox is likely preparing to maintain their undefeated record this weekend.

Winner: Echo Fox

TSM vs. 100 Thieves

While TSM should be expected to win against Golden Guardians, this matchup is another do-or-die situation for the struggling roster. Considering that 100T is likely going into this match with more confidence than TSM, Bjergsen and company will need to set up a strong early game if they can be expected to win. If this game goes late or has some mid-game skirmishes, I would currently trust 100T’s stronger looking macro to pull them ahead and finish off TSM. Most of the players on both rosters are veterans, so they’re likely to not be surprised or thrown off-balance as LCS moves to patch 8.2. TSM may just have the edge in bot lane here, with Zven and Mithy having played together for longer, so I expect bot lane might be the lane to watch in this matchup, and to expect junglers to pressure around the bot side.

Winner: 100 Thieves

Golden Guardians vs. Team Liquid

If Golden Guardians have a small chance to win against a struggling TSM, this should be another chance for Liquid to show off their strengths and put another sub-30 minute game on their record. If Liquid plays their standard game there’s not much room for Golden Guardians to surprise them, since they have some of the most solid players in each position and the communication between the three former Immortals members has worked well so far.

Winner: Team Liquid

Clutch Gaming vs. C9

Considering Lira has been slumping so far (can we call it that after only 4 games in 2 weeks?) and Svenskeren looks more comfortable on C9 than TSM, I’m confident calling this one for C9. Clutch shouldn’t go down without a fight, but C9’s laners have more than enough prowess to edge out the members of Clutch Gaming, including the newest member in Licorice. While he may have the benefit of playing around a stronger team overall, Licorice has looked more convincing than Solo so far, and though Apollo and Hakuho are solid, Sneaky has remained the most consistent AD carry in NA since his debut. I would expect this game to be determined by the side lanes, since the European mid matchup should go about even, so the pace of the game is likely to be set by the junglers and top lane, both of which look stronger on C9’s side.

Winner: C9

CLG vs. FlyQuest

Similar to the TSM-GGS game, this is CLG’s time to prove they deserve to be back at the top of the standings. As long as we don’t have another “Reignover-dies-only-to-respawn-and-run-down-mid-to-die-again” moment, CLG should have the edge on FlyQuest here. If it goes late and both teams are even, I would expect CLG’s veterans to shore up their shotcalling and find a path to victory, but if the game gets messy early FlyQuest could snatch another win from a prospective top-of-the-table roster. Especially with the bot lane meta moving away from Targon’s start on ADC and back to more traditional AD carries, this might give Biofrost the room he needs to outplay Stunt. Unless the meta swaps from tanky engage supports to peel for hypercarries, as Jatt, Kobe and Azael predicted on The Dive, CLG should be able to find advantageous fights and build an advantage in this game.

Winner: CLG

 

TL;DR: Winners in Bold

Saturday Feb 3

CLG v FOX

C9 v OpTic

Clutch v 100T

Fly v Liquid

TSM v GGS

 

Sunday Feb 4

FOX v OpTic

TSM v 100T

GGS v Liquid

Clutch v C9

CLG v Fly

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