NA LCS Summer Split Recap & NA at Worlds
Author Credits: Daniel Marazita (@dmarazita_ @skyhook_)
For what it’s worth, the NA LCS Summer 2018 split was one of the most wild and inconsistent splits in NA LCS history. Teams like Counter Logic Gaming and Golden Guardians, who performed poorly in the Spring 2018 split, started out strong and were in the top half of the standings. On the other hand, TeamSoloMid and specifically Cloud9 started out poorly after performing well in the Spring 2018 split. Cloud9 specifically was in last place halfway through the split, with a standing of only 3-6.
By the time the split ended, however, the standings seemed close to normal- Team Liquid stood uncontested at 1st, with an incredibly hot Cloud9 finishing at 2nd. Below them, 100 Thieves finished 3rd, Echo Fox at 4th, and TeamSoloMid at 5th. FlyQuest rounded out the end of playoff-contention standings, placing 6th in the regular season. Missing playoffs were, in order: OpTic Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Clutch Gaming, and Golden Guardians.
The season started unpredictably due to mass changes in the meta; funneling comps, mages in the bot lane, etc. It benefited some teams and players in specific- GGS experienced many victories over top teams in the first half of the split, with Deftly and Matt performing the best they have since the team’s inception. Other teams, such as the temporarily last place Cloud9, struggled with roster changes, and could not find their footing within the meta. As mages phased out of the bot lane, and marksmen in general were given the same strength they had in patches of the past, Cloud9 and TeamSoloMid found their footing and dug themselves out of their ruts to make it to playoffs.
If one followed the entirety of the Summer Split, the results of playoffs would not be surprising based on how the teams performed. Team Liquid finished first for the second split in the row, with Cloud9 finishing in second place. The third-place match was close, with TeamSoloMid taking the win over 100 Thieves. Echo Fox and FlyQuest both tied for 5th, which comes to be expected as they were the clear underdogs entering playoffs. With Team Liquid’s victory in the Summer split, they qualified as the 1st seed for NA going into Worlds. 100 Thieves qualified as the 2nd seed for NA based on championship points- having finished 2nd and 4th in both splits, they proved to be more consistent than other teams, and earned their spot at Worlds accordingly. As always, regionals (referred to as the Gauntlet) were held the weekend after the NA LCS finals in order to determine NA’s 3rd seed for Worlds.
The results of regionals were, once again, not surprising to most. Echo Fox dominated Clutch Gaming in the first round, defeating them 3-0 and eliminating them from Worlds contention. As swiftly as they reached the second round, Echo Fox was also eliminated from Worlds contention, losing to TeamSoloMid 3-0. The final round of regionals was the runback of the semifinals round of playoffs- TeamSoloMid against Cloud9. Neither team had missed worlds since their inception into the NA LCS, meaning one team was going to miss Worlds for the first time. While the first two games were close, Cloud9 dismantled and dominated TeamSoloMid in game three to take the series with a swift 3-0. Cloud9 earned the 3rd seed and, for the first time in the team’s history, TeamSoloMid will miss worlds.
Worlds officially starts on October 1st, going through the entirety of the month and ending in the beginning of November. For the first time in Worlds history, there is no week 2 the group stage- something that has been a curse or meme amongst NA teams, depending on how you view it. Historically, Cloud9 has performed the best out of any NA team at Worlds. Even though they have the 3rd seed, they are considered the favorite to make it out of groups based on history alone. Team Liquid dominated the NA LCS the entirety of the 8th Season, giving them as well a good chance of making it out of groups. It is 100 Thieves that exists as the wild card of the region.
Even though they proved to be consistent throughout Season 8, 100 Thieves had many struggles internally. In the beginning of the Summer split, Meteos was traded to FlyQuest, and 100 Thieves started Lira, a jungler considered to be a lower level than Meteos. Still, even with a jungler considered weaker than their previous, 100 Thieves made it to playoffs, and finished 4th in the Summer split. This was not the only roster issue facing 100 Thieves, however- in their semifinals match, 100 Thieves did not start their usual ADC, Cody Sun, and instead opted to start with Rikara. They managed to take a game from Team Liquid, but were not able to win the series, nor were they able to win against TeamSoloMid, even with the fact that they started Cody Sun rather than Rikara.
Going into Worlds, any LCS viewer is aware that this was one of NA’s weakest seasons, filled with classic “clown fiestas” and an unstable meta. Many NA fans do not have high hopes for Worlds, their faith falling into the hands of mainly Team Liquid and Cloud9. Can 100 Thieves clean up their gameplay and prove the doubters wrong? Will Cloud9 perform to their historical peak, or fall short like they did in the beginning of the split? Will Team Liquid finally bring home a Worlds trophy for NA, making them the 4th region to ever win the tournament? The action starts on October 1st, and this year, Worlds is a must-see.