As we pass the halfway point of the North American League Championship Series Summer Split, now is a good time to reassess where the teams stand in relation to each other. While some teams have met or exceeded early expectations, others have failed to even come close.
On the heels of Rift Rivals, the NA LCS looks stronger now than it may have ever been before. With a cluster of teams near the top of the standings, there are multiple organizations who are still in contention to claim the NA LCS crown.
CLICKON eSports takes a closer look at the teams who have dramatically different trajectories halfway through the Summer split.
On The Rise – Phoenix1
Phoenix1 announced to the League of Legends scene that they were once again a team to pay attention to after a 4-2 record in the group stage of Rift Rivals.
Energized by the arrival of rookie jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung, Pheonix1 have taken a complete turn from their significant early struggles.
Where they had previously failed to find any chemistry trading between junglers Rami “Inori” Charagh and William “Meteos” Hartman, MikeYeung has stabilized the Phoenix1 roster with his aggressive and overpowering jungle playstyle.
Already drawing bans for his pocket pick of Nidalee, MikeYeung has helped multiple members on Pheonix1 regain their rhythm. Top laner Derek “Zig” Shao has significantly improved his play working with MikeYeung, and AD Carry No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon returned to his MVP form at Rift Rivals with the highest KDA of any player at the event.
If Phoenix1 can maintain their momentum from the past few weeks, they are the team to watch moving forward that could upset the top teams in the standings.
Falling Down (Again) – Team Liquid
As the meta has shifted to a more bot-centric playstyle, this was supposed to be Team Liquid’s split to show the strength of their original roster.
With a lineup built around star ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin and former MVP Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, Team Liquid has failed to deliver on the promise of what could have been. Desperate to find any momentum, Team Liquid has made multiple roster changes already this split, starting eight different players over the first five weeks.
For Team Liquid, a playoff spot may already be out of reach. Alone at the bottom of the standings with a 2-8 record, Team Liquid would likely need to nearly win out to steal a playoff position.
With this in mind, Team Liquid should begin looking towards the future, determining which players they feel should be a part of the organization moving forward and working to develop them. This should also be a time to reflect on their organizational issues, something that replacing players will not fix and will require much more time and attention to solve.
CLICKON eSports’ Mid-Split Power Rankings
On the heels of Rift Rivals, CLICKON ranks the teams of the NA LCS.
10th: Team Liquid
Team Liquid may have hit rock bottom halfway through the second split of the 2017 season. With constant substitutions in their starting lineup, Team Liquid have yet to find the right combination to push them forward. For Team Liquid, it is time to start thinking about next season already.
9th: Echo Fox
After a hot start to the split, Echo Fox has cooled off considerably. Although their mid laner Froggen continues to play at an exceptional level, he still has not received consistent enough play from his teammates to push Echo Fox above a bottom tier team. With a new season approaching, expect Echo Fox to make multiple moves in the off-season if they fail to make the playoffs once again.
8th: FlyQuest eSports
The addition of former TSM AD Carry WildTurtle has failed to provide the positive spark that FLyQuest were hoping for, and in response they have fallen quickly from their former perch near the top of the standings. Still a fringe playoff team, FlyQuest remains a dangerous team that can not be ignored on any given week. If Hai and Moon are able to rekindle some of their Spring Split synergy, FlyQuest could make a run to end the year.
7th: Team EnVyUs
Team NV could be a dark horse in NA moving forward, with a star jungler and consistent bot lane play that has led to significant improvement from their last place finish in the Spring Split. WIth both Pirean and Nisqy showing they can hold their own in the mid lane, NV should finish the season as a contender for a playoff spot.
6th: Team Dignitas
A hot start has slowly cooled off for Team Dignitas, as their issues with inconsistency have slowly creeped up again. Starting two new players since the beginning of the split (Shrimp and Altec), Team DIgnitas have failed to find the combination that puts them among NA's elite. With the ability to win or lose any match, it is difficult to trust Dignitas week by week.
The surprise of the season so far has been the resurgence of Immortals behind their new jungler Xmithie. Maintaining the top spot for most of the season so far, Immortals find themselves coming off their first 0-2 week. Whether this is an anamoly, or a sign of things to come, Immortals have proven they can compete with NA's best.
The arrival of star rookie MikeYeung has reignited the Phoenix1 roster and pushed them back into the NA LCS spotlight. After a disappointing start to the split, MikeYeung's aggresive jungling style has been a catalyst for a quick resurgence that includes a stellar performance at Rift Rivals. If their play continues to improve, expect to see Phoenix1 in Boston as a final four team.
Coming off a 2-1 series victory over Team SoloMid, Cloud9 had a less than impressive showing at Rift RIvals. With the news that the majority of the team was sick at the event, we will cut C9 a break and still have them as a top three team in NA. If they can find consistency from their two top laners, Cloud9 could challenge for the NA LCS crown once again.
2nd: Counter Logic Gaming
Expectations were high for Counter Logic Gaming entering the split after the arrival of Dardoch, and those expectation have been mostly met as CLG currently sits atop the NA LCS standings. With greatly improved play from top laner Darshan, CLG have become a favorite to capture another NA LCS title. Do not be surprised to find them as one of the two teams playing in the Finals in Boston.
1st: Team SoloMid
Following their dominant showing at Rift Rivals, Team SoloMid should once again be considered the favorites in NA. With string laners and great macro play, TSM have shown significant growth already in the split. The return of Doublelift and the emphasis on improvement has paid dividends for the reigning NA LCS Champions, and could easily lead to another title.