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LCS Rundown: Sky-high

LoL Simon “Leoverse” Garnace

From the classic upsets to textbook League of Legends, the NA and EU representatives have set their sights on every region’s year-end end game: Worlds.

Missed it? Don’t fret - we’ve handpicked cross continental highlights throughout the Rift to catch you up for the coming week’s matchups and narratives.

The West’s Contenders
As we near the midpoint of the split, let’s take a look at the  performance of the respective region’s top-level squads.

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Photo: LoL Esports. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lolesports/

C9 soars above the ranks

Coming into the week, Cloud9 had their work cut out for them, facing the hyped Team Liquid and the reinvented FlyQuest. Cloud9 had to take down their challengers to be able to assert their uncontestable dominance within the region.

In their opening matchup versus the stallion,  Cloud9 started strong with Licorice’s Gangplank soloing his predecessor in TL Impact.

Despite being a late-game scaling composition, C9 took the initiative with proactive cross map plays built on Licorice’s leads from the top side. Cloud9 gave Team Liquid no opportunity to come back in the game through their superior vision control and team synergy. Throughout the match, Licorice proved his mettle worthy of Impact’s mantle – letting everyone know how much of an asset Eric "Licorice" Ritchie is in his newfound home in Cloud9.

In a fight taken to the sky however, Cloud9’s comeback victory versus FlyQuest showed the lineup’s resilience and ability to keep calm even under considerable deficits. FlyQuest pressured Cloud9’s late-game scaling composition through well-coordinated dives from Fly’s Taliyah with the assistance of FLY Flame’s Cannon Barrage. Later on, Cloud9 was able to find crucial pickoffs with Svenskeren’s Skarner and Smoothie’s flanking Tahm Kench which delayed the game long enough till Jensen’s Azir could take over.

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Photo: LoL Esports. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lolesports/

VIT on to another fiery weekend

Throughout the split, Team Vitality has looked the part of a convincing favorite to take the spring season. Add to the fact that VIT is immensely entertaining to watch, everyone’s set their eyes on the troupe’s calculated and clutch performances thanks to their up-and-coming rookie, Jiizuke.

Team Vitality’s strengths are geared towards superior laning and playmaking ability, coming out especially in the direst times of need. This playmaking edge showed up in their matchup versus ROCCAT, as VIT Minitroupax’s Unsealed Spellbook Varus teleported, backdoored and secured the win for the team.

Before all that action, the opposing teams went on back and forth with ROC taking control of the side lanes to push their lead against VIT. After Jiizuke & co. were able to stall the game until the 68th minute, one small misstep was all it took for Team Vitality to paw away the win from the ROCCAT squad. What a way to end the split’s longest match, yet.

Looking back to the past, Team Vitality picked up the iconic Ziggs bot lane to counteract the shove-heavy Caitlyn of Splyce. The matchup was a resounding victory for VIT as their solo laner, Cabochard and Jiizuke stepped up to the table with remarkable outplays against Splyce even in unfavorable situations.

Thanks to the pressure given by the solo lanes, VIT’s Ziggs pick was able to successfully splitpush and siege down turrets which later net them the win alongside the team’s superior teamplay and map movement.

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Photo: LoL Esports. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lolesports/

Slow-paced, drawn out matches in competitive play

Following the trend of Reddit analysts of late, professional play has been criticized for being overly reliant on scaling compositions and slow-paced strategies that dull the audience and competitive experience alike. A collection of all-new changes and adjustments have contributed to the stagnation of competitive play from all sides of the map.

Thanks to the integration of Unsealed Spellbook to summoner spell paths, laning phase has been made relatively safer therefore transforming more into ‘how I can influence the rest of the map’ instead of focusing on individual lane matchups. A transition towards the tankier scale of the jungle has also shifted team playstyles to focus more on the mid-late teamfight prowess instead of early skirmishes that snowball games out of control. Let’s not forget about the all-important, controversial Stopwatch that stalls out early-game dives and skirmishes because of the outplay potential present in the runic item.

All these, combined with the hypercarry-oriented meta with the occasional side of Ezreal, make up for drawn out ‘snooze fests’ that excessively emphasize on scaling to the late game therefore having little to no action until everyone’s scaled up close to the global average match time of 38 minutes and 45 seconds.

Thankfully, Riot’s implementing balance changes next patch by removing Tracker’s Knife and buffing up the Baron Nashor and Elder Dragon buffs to hopefully spice up the competitive scene. Core to the Riot identity of overpowered balance changes, hopefully these changes don’t make it out live as is in the PBE right now.

Plays. Plays everywhere.
The LCS wouldn’t be the LCS without its crowd-roaring, game-changing highlights. 

G2 Perkz's crucial pickoff on SPY Nukeduck
Nukeduck couldn't duck, so he got nuked!

CG Apollo’s game-turning Baron secure
Apollo's been stealing away objectives one Ezreal Q at a time, but his Baron steal is what turned it all around versus TSM.

FNC Caps outplays stopwatches UOL's Mid & Jungle duo
MSF’s Hans sama picks up the double as he outplays Splyce’s bot lane duo.

VIT Cabochard outplay vs SPY, 3-on-1
Cabochard's Gangplank stepping it up alongside Jiizuke and Minitroupax with an impressive double kill.

With that all said and done, what could possibly be in store for this week’s LCS action?

Watch the LCS splits unfold as teams clash in the highest-tier of gameplay this weekend on YoutubeTwitch, and LoL Esports.

Resources:

EU LCS StandingsNA LCS Standings

NA LCS & EU LCS VODs.

Images courtesy of Riot Games.

QUICKPOLL

Which change do you think will have more of an impact for competitive play in Patch v8.4?

Removal of Tracker’s Knife
Thank you for voting!
Changes to Baron & Elder Buff
Thank you for voting!
Simon “Leoverse” Garnace
League of Legends Journalist. Freelance writer. Klepto nasus is the best of all time.

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