Week Six Day One
It has taken a whole six weeks, with twelve games being played by each team, to figure out where the teams stand in the NALCS Summer Split. We have an almost definitive top three. We have a massive group of teams in the middle, however, that are trying to reach for those top spots. The meta is trending more towards the traditional compositions we have seen in the past, with funnel strategies all but falling out of favor.
Game One: Cloud9 vs Team SoloMid
Up until last split, Team SoloMid were always in the finals. However, this year may be different. TSM are at a risk of not making it to worlds if they don’t shape up soon. Cloud9 are trying to make a push for the playoffs, and as their recent games have shown, they have found a team that works in its current iteration.
Beginning this game, Team SoloMid came out swinging. They recognized one of their win conditions in shutting Eric “Licorice” Ritchie down. Licorice is one of Cloud9’s best performers this split and the only player C9 did not sub out. TSM came to the top lane early and got a kill on Licorice. However, Licorice got a kill at the end of the play and came out basically even. From there, the pressure on the rest of the map became too much for TSM.
One of the weak points of the TSM lineup has been the jungler position. Their current starting jungler is Jonathan “Grig” Armao, a rookie on the NALCS stage. Starting off this split he has been mediocre, and this game was one of his worst with the team. He constantly missed his Sejuani ultimates. It also appears as if the TSM roster is fragmented on how they want to play the game. At multiple points in the game, Alfonso “Mithy” Rodríguez would engage as Rakan and no one would follow up his engagements. This would force Mithy to back off, getting his lane partner killed in the process.
Game Two: Counter Logic Gaming vs OpTic Gaming
Two relatively similar teams faced off in the second game of the day, Counter Logic Gaming and OpTic Gaming. This game showed that the draft can sometimes secure the game for a side. In this instance, OpTic got the counter-matchup in the top lane: Fiora against Aatrox. The relatively new player in Niship “Dhokla” Doshi was able to put on a clinic against a seasoned veteran in Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya. This shows the true promise of the OpTic roster as the team rallied around Dhokla.
Dhokla was able to splitpush and open up the map as the rest of the team pressured in other lanes. OpTic showed that they are capable of using the splitpushing strategy against one of the most historically innovative teams in the league. In the end, it was Dhokla’s pressure that choked out CLG’s life and OpTic got the win.
Game Three: Echo Fox vs Flyquest
Stunning the league, Echo Fox made drastic changes to their roster before this week. They released their previous midlaner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun. From there they stuck with their previous academy midlaner, Tanner “Damonte” Damonte. They also released Johnny “Altec” Ru, bringing Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui up and into the lineup. Echo Fox also picked up Andy “Smoothie” Ta from Cloud9 Academy and put him in as a starter Support.
Looking at these changes, no one had an idea as to how Echo Fox would fare as their previously poor bottom lane was changed into a more formidable one. Once the team fights began, Echo Fox ran Flyquest around the map. Their coordination seemed on point and their play was mostly clean. They dominated Flyquest for a quick victory against an on-the-rise team.
Game Four: Golden Guardians vs Team Liquid
Looking to cement themselves as a top team, Golden Guardians came out of the gate swinging. Golden Guardians got almost a kill a minute, only five minutes in. This mostly came off the backs of both Matthew “Matt” Elento, and Juan “Contractz” Garcia. Matt was able to get a huge triple kill in the bottom lane as Team Liquid attempted to gank the bottom lane. Meanwhile, Contractz was able to gank the midlane and get a couple quick assists under his belt.
From there, Golden Guardians were able to get many more kills, but they were constantly behind in objectives. Team Liquid was able to capitalize off the scrappy style Golden Guardians were trying to institute on the game. They would win a fight with one or more kills and then move onto a neutral objective or a tower. In the end, Team Liquid was just stronger than the Golden Guardians, and there was nothing that could be done to stop them.
Game Five: Clutch Gaming vs 100 Thieves
Like Echo Fox before them, Clutch Gaming changed things up this week, calling up former world champion Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin as well as their academy support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme. They wanted to stir the pot and reportedly, Piglet and Vulcan were playing very well in scrims. Also, Clutch brought up Galen “Moon” Holgate into the jungle to bring some synergy with Piglet and Vulcan.
The game started off slowly, with each team getting a few kills here or there. From there, the game stalled out. At 30 minutes into the game, there was only 10 kills between the two teams, and only the outer turrets were taken down. The game dragged on all the way to 56 minutes. The new firepower Clutch brought on was not enough to stop the continued pressure from 100 Thieves. Clutch was lured into a fight in the bottom lane as 100 Thieves’ top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho ran mid and killed the Nexus.