by Tanner Kinney
Week 2 isn’t the most important week in the LCS. Teams are still figuring each other and themselves out, and as patches change and metagames shift, teams are forced to adapt to survive the progressing weeks. Week 2 may not have shifted the meta, but teams are more comfortable within it. The expected result is that teams who did well last week will continue to succeed, while teams who struggled may improve will still probably end up losing games. Results weren’t too interesting, though some of the games certainly were impressive. Those impressive games may have also been impressively bad. There are two main takeaways from this week though: who is at the top, and who is at the bottom.
Year of the Fox
Since their joining of the LCS in the Spring Split of 2016, Echo Fox has been somewhat of a joke team. Their initial roster contained a bizarre mix of players that didn’t gel together very well, though they occasionally got a win every now and then. Sometimes very occasionally. The fans of the LCS were constantly confused as to why Rick Fox didn’t cull their godawful bot lane of Keith and a random support for literally anyone else, or as to why they kept pulling in world-class talent like Froggen and Looper, then squandering it. Froggen may have played his heart out, but Looper just seemed like he was in retirement. Even after bringing in a promising rookie in Akaadian, they benched him when things started going south, bringing in solo queue talent Grig, the only LCS player who’s full summoner name will get you chat banned. I was one of the three Echo Fox fans who were getting disappointed every week because we just couldn’t win.
Finally, in the year of our Lord 2018, the faithful have been rewarded. Rick Fox has managed to pull together a roster that not only seems to gel together well as a unit, have good communication, high class talent, and a great team environment. Echo Fox is finally winning games consistently, which is great, but what matters is that they aren’t just winning. They are absolutely smashing the competition and pulling back some great comeback victories through good drafts and team play.
Take a look at the TSM v. Echo Fox game. TSM was easily going to win the game, at first. Hauntzer and MikeYeung worked valiantly to shut down Huni’s Gangplank, with Hauntzer’s Vlad even pulling off a solo kill under tower. Bjergsen was able to fend off Fenix’s incredibly dangerous Zoe, and the bot lane was able to get more advantageous fights. TSM had claimed two inhibitors, a Baron buff, two powerful Mountain Drakes, and a 10k gold lead over Echo Fox and just needed to squeeze Echo Fox to death. TSM was finally delivering on their promised power from the start of the split. TSM was playing smart and coordinated and, to their credit, looked infinitely better this week than last week.
Echo Fox wasn’t going to make it easy. Through a series of good picks and good fights orchestrated by the jungler Dardoch, the game was put back in Echo Fox’s hands. Huni was able to scale with the incredibly powerful late game champ as GP, and Fenix was showing why Zoe is such a contested pick, even though her record is surprisingly poor across all regions. After claiming a Baron buff and getting winning fight after winning fight, with Echo Fox’s carries dealing out consistently high damage, Echo Fox was able to pull a miracle comeback against a TSM that finally looked to be regaining their footing. The most important part of this match is that it isn’t just Huni or Fenix carrying Echo Fox: the entire team is working together to pick up the slack of their teammates when one is struggling. If Echo Fox keeps the win streak up, and Dardoch doesn’t implode again, Echo Fox will easily take the top spot of the split.
Golden Guardians? Looking more like Bronze Guardians
As with every competition, someone has to win, and someone has to lose. Echo Fox may be 4-0 right now, but on the opposite end of the ladder are the Golden Guardians sitting at a disappointing 0-4 start. The team bought and funded by the Gold State Warriors, even being announced on the court to a number of confused basketball fans, doesn’t seem to be showing anything that makes them a top contender. To the credit of the team, there are no imported players currently on the roster, sticking entirely to North American talent. This isn’t a terrible thing, as previous CLG rosters that contained all NA talent have gone very far, even winning a split. Golden Guardians, however, aren’t able to find success.
Last Sunday, the Guardians battled their rivals for the worst team in the NA LCS, CLG, in a game that can be described as… embarrassing. Granted, these games are definitely better than my low elo solo queue games, but that’s not saying much. CLG didn’t even play well, despite winning. Stixxay made a number of positioning errors, looking completely lost without Aphromoo. It reminded me of the AD carries I play with in my ranked games. Reignover continues to disappoint, but at least Biofrost was looking better. CLG’s roster at least has Huhi and Darshan pulling out good performances, Darshan especially putting the team on his back for their game against the Guardians. The Guardians have nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The team was only hyped up slightly for their mastermind shotcaller in Hai. And sure, Hai may have been able to pull a failing C9 out of the gutter, through the gauntlet, and into worlds in 2016, but teams have improved since then. There are shotcallers that, while not as good as Hai, get close enough to where it comes down to the mechanics of the team. And Hai’s mechanics are not up to snuff. They weren’t when he was on FlyQuest, and they still aren’t now. So now the team is left up to the rest of the team. Lourlo is a decent top laner, but can’t compete against so many other players. Deftly and Matt aren’t bad either, just average. Contractz was considered a good player, but despite having a fairly strong game on Rengar against Clutch Gaming, he makes a number of dumb plays and just sometimes just confusing plays. So there’s no real amazing talent on GGS, so what about team play? If you want a good idea of how they team fight, their fight against CLG at 41:37 on the clock shows that they have failures in communication. It just looks like they were diving in one by one to die to CLG. It’s not looking good.
On the bright side, the Guardians were able to get a gold lead in both of the games they had in Week 2, which is an improvement from last week. Unfortunately, the Guardians schedule isn’t getting any easier, with them facing TSM and Team Liquid in Week 3, and Echo Fox and 100 Thieves in Week 4. They might be able to beat TSM. I’d give them a very, very low percent chance to. Like the chance my duo partner has of getting out of Silver. And the chance I have of getting out of Silver.
Games to Watch
Clutch Gaming v. 100 Thieves on Saturday at 7:00pm EST
Two teams that are looking good, but have had some matches where they struggled. Clutch has had plenty of success on Saturday, but can’t beat the two top dogs in TL and Echo Fox. 100 Thieves is currently 3-1, but their loss against C9 showed how the team can be dismantled. This will definitely be an exciting match to watch.
Counter Logic Gaming v. FlyQuest on Sunday at 9:00pm EST
Two teams that have had some success, but just as many struggles. This is the point where CLG tries to prove they aren’t actually a bottom tier team, and are working to improve. For FlyQuest, they need to prove they can soundly beat teams worse than they are, which is important for a team who wants to climb the ladder. May not be the most entertaining match, but one to watch.
Echo Fox v. OpTic Gaming on Sunday at 5:00pm EST
Echo Fox has had consistently fun matches to watch, and this should be no different. I don’t think OpTic stands much of a chance though. I only want the #GREENWALL to pull out a win, any win. Please, anything but 10th place.
And so ends week two. Weeks three and four will finally give us better insight into how every team actually stacks up against one another, but for now we still only have predictions and a bit on information on teams. Will Echo Fox keep their lead over the other teams, or will the teams right below them steal the top spot? Will 100 Thieves start to lose their stride as other teams find synergy? And how many Stopwatches will get summoned in the new patch? All of the Stopwatches. A league of Stopwatches, all with perfect timing. It’s about to get golden in here.
Images: YouTube, Dot Esports
Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.