by Tanner Kinney
Week five has finished and, honestly, there weren’t too many surprising results. The week played out pretty normally, at least until Team Liquid got bopped by Golden Guardians, which will be covered later, don’t worry. In the meantime, I promised mid-split power rankings and I’m going to talk about teams playoff potential. Only the top six teams will be competing for that big win and a chance to represent North America at the Mid-Season Invitational and I don’t think every team has a chance to get there. Just like before, these predictions are based on perceived power going into the second half of the split, along with their previous results. Consistency and stability are key for top teams, while really impressive looking, but volatile teams may find themselves lower than expected. I hope that someone gets really angry at this—it will make my month.
1. Cloud 9
If you look at the standings, Cloud 9 isn’t at the top. That doesn’t mean they any worse of a team. In fact, I’d say that Echo Fox and C9 are looking really close together at the top, but I’d give the edge to C9 because of how consistently well they play. C9 has had their share of comebacks and little fiestas, of course, but they haven’t had the fiestas to the level of Echo Fox. C9 will win games consistently against worse teams, while Echo Fox lost to Counter Logic Gaming, who are straight garbage. C9 tends to build leads from strong macro play building off of the great play by the entire roster. Even when losing early game to TSM, in Week 5, they are able to claim victory. In terms of playoff potential, they will easily be able to grab a playoff spot, and likely a playoff bye for being in the top two.
2. Echo Fox
Echo Fox is a fantastic team. Sometimes they look like the best team in NA, possibly in the West as a whole. Then, other times, they just make mistakes and lose leads to teams that they really shouldn’t be losing to. I’ve already said a lot about why Echo Fox is lower than C9, but it really is just that I don’t trust their consistency going into the future. Immortals with Huni also won a lot of games, and they never made an LCS finals match. They will make playoffs, and probably grab the second playoff bye as well. Unless Dardoch self-destructs.
3. Clutch Gaming
According to TSM Hauntzer, Clutch Gaming is a team that has no good points. TSM Hauntzer has also been 2-0’d by Clutch Gaming. CG is one of my personal favorite teams to watch, just because they’re games are so exciting. This is likely a bit of a biased placement, but hey, the standings at least agree with me. CG has a lot of strong players, and some of them haven’t even reached their final form. Lira still hasn’t looked to his previous form, and once he gets there, CG can only improve. They will make playoffs easily, and if Echo Fox goes kaboom they might even grab a playoff bye. I doubt it though.
4. Team Liquid
How appropriate for Team Liquid to be fourth. This isn’t even a meme, they really are the fourth best team right now. TL has a lot of good moments. Sometimes they smash teams with ease, having the fastest games this split. Sometimes they fumble and look terrible, getting smashed by the freaking Golden Guardians. TL has also lost to 100 Thieves, which really shouldn’t have happened. They are just kind of a mess of a team. Still, they are better than most as long as they don’t choke, just because the roster is so good. They will likely make playoffs, but I don’t think they’ll be able to grab a playoff bye.
This is harder to judge than you’d expect. 100 Thieves and FlyQuest are both close in the standings, and there are different strengths for each of them. FlyQuest has struggled to beat teams better than them, but they haven’t lost against teams worse than them, other than CLG. 100 Thieves has beaten teams like CG and TL, but also lost to the Golden Guardians, TSM, and, well, FlyQuest. I think FlyQuest’s roster has higher potential than 100T, to be honest, so I’ll give the edge to them. Once FLY Fly gets settled in, the team will probably pick up more wins. I think FlyQuest will make playoffs, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them booted out if another lower team starts a salty runback to the top.
6. 100 Thieves
Some will say this is hate bias that puts them this low, and yeah, partially. I just am still not convinced that this roster is any good over time. They’ve had strong games, but also games were Meteos and Ryu just get embarrassed. Cody Sun is good sometimes, but sometimes he’s Cody Done. It’s a hard call. They, at least, have similar odds of making playoffs as FlyQuest.
7. Counter Logic Gaming
Ignore the CLG icons I have on both my main account and my smurf account, there’s no bias here. CLG doesn’t really have anything iconic about them. Their star personalities have all left, and the organization just seems lost. The team itself I still want to believe can turn it around and pull a salty runback. The buffs to bruisers and assassins in the jungle will definitely help Reignover and he’s sort of the deciding factor for this team’s success. If he sucks, the team sucks. Stixxay hasn’t had great performances either, but he’s looked good on Ezreal. It’s a tough call, but considering they were able to beat Echo Fox, they have a chance to challenge the best teams. I think, if they start the salty runback, they could claim a playoff spot. It’ll be close, but they might do it. I have faith.
8. Team SoloMid
It's like TSM kept all the TSM problems, and then picked up the G2 problems.
— Kelsey Moser (莫凯西) (@karonmoser) February 18, 2018
The only thing preventing me from putting this horrible disappointment of a TSM roster at the very bottom is the fact that I really would be a fraud for putting OpTic and Golden Guardians above them. To me, the reason TSM sits lower than CLG is the fact that their roster looks so good on paper, but is getting completely wasted and there’s no real good reason as to why. TSM just tries to stall out games, and either just gets run over for not being proactive, or throws the game by getting a key objective stolen from MikeYeung. At the very least, TSM has finally been able to transfer their worlds performance to the NA LCS stage. That’s not a good thing. I don’t want to even see TSM at playoffs, I think it would benefit the team more if they didn’t make it. They still could, if I’m being realistic, but the margin is slim.
9. OpTic Gaming
OpTic isn’t the worst team. Congratulations! You win… absolutely nothing. OpTic’s roster seems like it could work, but none of the players seem to work together. On top of that, Lemonnation really just needs to retire. He’s missed more point-blank skillshots than I do, and I’m a gold player. PowerOfEvil really did pick a roster that gets him another chance at worlds; now, PoE makes enough money to buy worlds tickets, and he can enjoy worlds in the best seats in the house. In case you’re wondering: no, they won’t make playoffs.
10. Golden Guardians
The Golden Guardians have relieved Yoonsup Choi of his head coaching duties. Tyler Perron has been named interim head coach prior to the team’s next games this weekend.
— Golden Guardians (@GoldenGuardians) February 2, 2018
Another team with a washed up former C9 player, Golden Guardians just are the butt of jokes for this split. In the race to the bottom, they’ve lost even to OpTic. This is another case of a roster just being kind of a joke, even more so than OpTic. The bot lane of Deftly and Matt is just outclassed by almost everyone else, the mid lane of Hai just seems to always lose lane, and it looks like Lourlo is the only person trying to win games at this point. Contractz went from one of the best junglers in NA to being a shadow of his former self. And that’s completely ignoring the whole fiasco with Locodoco, which at least made for good memes. At the very least, they beat Team Liquid. That’s gotta mean something, right? And again, no, they won’t make playoffs.
I’ve played a few games on Patch 8.4 at this point, and I’m not sure what to think. The nerfs to tank supports didn’t really do much, and the mage items changes just made it harder for mage supports to itemize CDR and damage—at least in my experience. Reddit told me that mage supports would be coming back, but it was all lies. At least the mid lane is getting shaken up, with some different picks gaining power. I think we’ll start to see more Veigar picks as games continue to go on for hours, since he scales so well with the new items AND the rune Gathering Storm. Kai’Sa also got announced as a new ADC, but with 500 range, a shield, and AP ratios, I doubt she’ll see much play in the bot lane. Maybe she’ll be played mid or top, like Corki or Lucian. Also, Lee Sin is now unplayable, which is good. At the very least, Zoe has been gutted and is completely trash now. God bless you Riot Games, no longer do you need to fire the live design team. Until next week, here’s a reminder to continue to ban Zoe so your teammates don’t feed as her. You won’t regret it.
Images: YouTube, Twitter, Esportsranks
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.