Stories Around the Rift will bring you the overarching storylines week to week in the NA LCS. Which team is on the up and up in NA LCS Week 8? Who needs to prove themselves, or bounce back from a bad week? Which players are surprising and which are disappointing? Esports is just as much about the stories and the narratives as it is the gameplay. So sit down, grab some cookies and milk, and get ready for storytime kiddos.
This week, for NA LCS Week 8, we'll look the Counter Logic week of CLG as they bounce back dramatically from a 0-2 week into a 2-0 week, Team Liquid's continual hot-cold extremes, and Golden Guardians surprising growth over this split and questions around the roster going forward.
TL;DR: CLG are truly out to counter any logic around their team. From a 0-2 week and losing to teams they shouldn’t, to surprise late-game comebacks against teams that should crush them, the team never lets us actually know what to expect. Expect mo of that to come.
Alright, CLG, I get it. We get it. The whole damn NA LCS fanbase gets it. This week has to be the most CLG thing ever: go down to Golden Guardians without a fight last week, then turn around and completely stomp Team Liquid and surprise everyone, casters included, with a late-game comeback like no other against second-place Cloud 9. But, you know, all of this after losing to Golden Guardians and going 0-2 last week. Sigh.
CLG’s playoffs dreams are alive… if on life support, but they’re alive. It’d take a miracle a la C9’s Cinderella story to make it to Worlds in 2016, but it’s possible. It’s not likely, as TSM would have to implode entirely, CLG goes flawless, or Team Liquid to also completely implode. But still, regardless of how the season goes, CLG can point to moments of brilliance as they come into the Summer Split with a hard task for themselves.
But the bright side for CLG fans is how they won last week. It wasn’t just Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya looking like LCS quality, but the whole team started to come together. With standout plays from Jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and Support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang sealed the deal against Team Liquid, and a rock sturdy endurance from the CLG side could arguably be the reason they managed to hold out against Cloud 9 and get the win. CLG seems to be back to their old selves. Which means they’ll probably end up losing to FlyQuest in NA LCS Week 8 but beat Echo Fox…
TL;DR: Team Liquid are the team of extremes in the NA LCS. They’ll either completely crush their opponents, or look like a fish out of water for the 30-40 minutes it takes the opposing side to dismantle their base. Winning from behind eludes the roster, and that needs to change before they become a legitimate contender.
Team Liquid is a very hot/cold team… and that kind of goes without saying for most. The team will go one day and dominant an opponent, and then on the next day look completely lost. Since their early hot streak ended with a bit of a slump, the roster has looked… just lost when behind, and absolutely in control when they’re ahead. Against 100 Thieves, Liquid was at the helm of the game from the very start (with an awful and awkward level one from 100T), not letting up and only ceding one kill from Xmithie (RIP.) Against CLG? It was the exact opposite, as Team Liquid floundered from beginning to end. They just… didn’t really have any play that seemed redeemable.
Team Liquid are the team to beat when they’re ahead. Their wins tend to have them up 5+k and just absolutely dominating their opponents. Their macro may not be the best in the league, but they’re excelling at skirmishes and picking the right fights at the right time. When you can just catch your opponents off guard and straight win because you’re ahead in gold, you can play that heavy-handed style. Liquid win their games when they’re in this kind of position, where the game can’t really go anyway but their way in a fight.
That’s not Team Liquid’s woes. This team just can’t play when behind at any point in the game. Sure, there are early game teams that just dominant the early game, are absolutely oppressive in it (looking at you, Royal Never Give Up). But Liquid needs to do that to win, where these teams don’t necessarily. That’s to say, they’ve at least won games when behind at some point. Team Liquid’s yet to accomplish that, and it’s not just falling behind early. If at any point they do, they lose. Team Liquid should hope to right those wrongs in the NA LCS Week 8, but they’ve got some steep competition in also playoff hopesfuls of TSM and Clutch Gaming.
TL;DR: The biggest surprise this split has been Golden Guardians complete turnaround of a split. From the joking on whether the team would even win a game to, well, beating four teams and causing some serious upsets, the roster is at least growing. Their problem is that these are still upsets, and the team will need to continue their improvement to become fully relevant.
From Meme Team to actually winning some games, Golden Guardians in the second half of the split have been a refreshingly surprising team. They’ve gone from the team that people were genuinely wondering if they could manage more than a single win their entire split. The team that nobody dared put higher than maybe 9th place power ranking wise is now tied with FlyQuest and OpTic gaming for last place (just a single game behind CLG).
While a 4-10 record isn’t really anything to write home about, the franchise, owned by the fabled Golden State Warriors, came into the split looking for growth. Well, they’ve done that, if nothing else. They’ve gone 3-2 in their last five games. That means 3/4s of their wins have come in the back half of this split. That’s some decent growth for the roster.
We’ve seen some impressive moments out of Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, particularly on Gnar, and increasingly Matthew “Deftly” Chen is feeling more like an NA LCS ADC. The team isn’t necessarily looking like a real contender just yet, as still so many of their wins are coming off as real upsets, where it’s more theotherteam messing up than them really succeeding. Still, they win nonetheless, and the squad is looking to improve in some way going into Summer. Going into the NA LCS Week 8, Golden Guardians should look to solidify their wins some more, proving to everyone they aren’t just a flash in the pan kind of team, or the upset team, but the real deal.