Last week we saw the return of two junglers to the NA LCS. Fresh off the plane from Europe, Dexter finally received his visa and was able to rejoin Counter Logic Gaming in their win over Evil Geniuses. Former all-star jungler SaintVicious came out of retirement to rejoin Curse as a support player and shotcaller for the team. Will both players use Valentine’s Day weekend to their advantage and feel the love from their new teammates? Or will they feel the sting of rejection and leave the Los Angeles studios broken hearted? Here’s a rundown of week 5 in the NA LCS.
Saturday, February 15th
Counter Logic Gaming’s coach MonteCristo finally revealed that CLG’s s4secrets.doc was in fact not actually a real document, but a spinner that MonteCristo would spin to randomly generate a strategy. The strategy of the week seemed to pay off for CLG, winning their only game against EG. Dexter got off a shaky start early, but managed to pull it together during the late game team fights with great initiations on Vi. CLG looked like a much more cohesive team going into the late game, with Link (14.0 KDA) roaming and asserting his mid-lane presence around the map.
Cloud 9 is coming off of a monster week 4 against XDG and Coast. With a combined team KDA of 19.3, they showed why they are currently ranked second in the NA LCS. Meteos went off this week on Lee Sin with a KDA of 30, rounding his total KDA on the blind monk to 66 (14/1/52) over 4 games. Meteos’ farm heavy style in season 3 has evolved into one that still allows him to farm–just now it’s in his enemy’s jungle.
Anthony’s pick: Cloud 9. Meteos’ aggression in the early game paired with the synergy of Cloud 9’s great teamfight skills around early dragons will make it hard for CLG to get into their mid-game groove.
Although Evil Geniuses played well last week, they came up short in their games against TSM and CLG. They pulled out the Urgot and Soraka lane in their game against TSM, faring well against Xpecial and WildTurtle with repeated jungle help from Snoopeh. EG’s early game rotations looked crisp and decisive in both games, but they tended to try and force fights when they started to fall behind. Pobelter looked sharp in both games on Fizz and Orianna, but could not carry hard enough into the late game.
Curse chose to shake up their roster once again and replaced Zekent with SaintVicious as their support. The addition of a veteran shot caller showed in their games against Dignitas and TSM. Saint’s calls led to successful roams around the map for ganks and buff control. In their first matchup with EG, Curse fell behind early against Yellowpete and a dominating Pobelter who had everything to prove after being cut by Curse. IWillDominate has looked more confident in the past few weeks, and his new aggression with Wukong and Pantheon ganks combined with Saint’s shot calling may be enough to take Curse out of the middle of the pack.
Anthony’s pick: EG by a slight margin. Pobelter’s mid lane has looked very strong as of late. That, along with the unusual support picks of Soraka and Alistar, may create a problem for Curse.
Coast is coming off of its sixth straight loss and really needs to find their stride. While they did look good during their early game, they have not been able to get ahead and keep a lead. With an average team KDA of only 1.7, Coast’s hope seems to rely on Shiphtur having a good game and snowballing his lead into other lanes. Teams have been picking and banning him out of his champion pool (targeting him with 66% of the bans in week 4), and he has not found success in falling back to Katarina.
XDG joins coast in the bottom of the standings, and is eager to avenge their week 1 loss to Coast. Zuna still has some growing pains in the jungle, and is easily banned out of his comfort picks of Olaf and Elise. Zuna is 2-0 on Olaf, but only 1-7 on other champions. The synergy that Mancloud had with Xmithie doesn’t seem to be there with Zuna, so Zuna will have to make his presence known in the game against Coast.
Anthony’s pick: XDG. If XDG can ban out Shiphtur, it may cause problems for Shiphtur against Mancloud in the mid lane.
Team SoloMid has been absolutely dominant in the first four weeks of the split. The addition of Bjergsen has finally given the team a threat in the mid lane, making TSM that much more dangerous. Bjergsen also brings a unique challenge to the pick and ban phase. Due to his deep champion pool, teams have been unable to find a champion that Bjergsen isn’t comfortable on. Dyrus is coming off of an insane week 4 KDA of 35, so Dignitas will have to decide who they want to focus their bans on. In their first meeting, TSM beat Dignitas in a very convincing 22 minute victory, and look to repeat the results of week 1 on Saturday.
Dignitas has been on a tear recently, coming off of a huge winning streak after beating Cloud 9 in week 1. Their streak ended at the hands of Curse and a beautiful SaintVicious Alistar headbutt at Baron. In their next game against XDG, Dignitas developed a massive lead early and proceeded to throw it away by over-aggressing and losing a teamfight at Baron. Dignitas’ problem lies in their pick and ban phase. If they are able to get the champions that they want, especially Imaqtpie, they tend to have a good game. Imaqtpie is currently 6-0 on hypercarry ADCs, but 0-4 on Lucian. Scarra has a notoriously limited champion pool, and Dignitas will have to decide whether to target Bjergsen with bans if it will put Scarra on an uncomfortable champion.
Anthony’s pick: TSM. TSM has been dominant so far in the split. Bjergsen will give Dignitas problems from the mid lane, and Imaqtpie will have to hope that he isn’t targeted by TSM’s bans.
Sunday, February 16th
In XDG’s second match of the week, they take on Curse for the second time this split. In their first match, Voyboy’s Akali dominated Mancloud in the mid lane. Zuna will once again have to step up this game and be able to counter the constant ganks and roams from IWillDominate and SaintVicious. If Zuna is put on the spot, Mancloud may suffer from the lack of jungle pressure in the mid lane. With an average KDA of only 1.8, Mancloud is definitely feeling the absence of Xmithie in the jungle.
Curse looks to shoot towards the top of the standings in their second game of the week. If they can get past Coast on Saturday, a win on Sunday would put them right back into the mix for the rights to third place. Curse will have to hit XDG with early pressure and not allow XDG to stall out for the late game–a time when XDG’s team comps normally shine.
Anthony’s pick: This one is a coin flip for me. If Zuna can react to the early pressure from IWillDominate and get Mancloud rolling, I think they can drag out the game to a point where Benny is just too big. If not, I think Curse can steamroll through to a victory.
It’s finally here: the rematch of the biggest upset in week 1. In their first meeting, Cloud 9 seemed like they didn’t have an answer to Scarra’s Gragas play in the mid lane and Imaqtpie’s dominant performance on Jinx. Look for Cloud 9, especially Hai, to come back with a vengeance. In their first match, all three Dignitas bans were targeted at Hai, but Leblanc was left open for him to pick. Instead of going with the assassin with a 100% win-rate in the NA LCS, Hai decided to go with Riven and ended up with a score of 0/7/2.
Dignitas has drawn the short straw this week, having to face the top two teams in the NA LCS back-to-back. If they can have a strong showing this week, they will cement their claim as a top team in North America. Crumbzz will have to dictate the pace of the game from early on and Dignitas will have to help him by collapsing on Meteos whenever he tries to invade their jungle. Dignitas also can’t play this game like their week 4 game against XDG. They have to go back to their season 3 strategy of ignoring the “B-word”, and resist the urge to throw the game by getting antsy and trying to create plays.
Anthony’s pick: Cloud 9. C9 is out for redemption…it’s not going to be pretty.
Evil Geniuses are having a rough start to their season. In their first meeting with Coast, EG came up short despite two early kills from a level 1 invade on WizFujiin. In week 4, Krepo pulled out a Soraka that received a ban the next game from CLG, and a highlight-reel filled Alistar game. If Krepo’s support pool is good enough to warrant a few bans, this may free up a champion that will allow Pobelter to shine.
In their first game against EG, Shiphtur put Coast on his back with his Leblanc and carried his team to victory. With a dominant 10/1/3 performance and 100% win-rate, I doubt EG will let Shiphtur anywhere near a Leblanc pick. Zionspartan also had a great game against EG, farming up on Nasus to the late game monster that gives solo queue players nightmares. The current meta has seemed to shift away from the top lane hyper-carries to a more tanky/bruiser meta that doesn’t really allow Zionspartan to carry his team.
Anthony’s pick: Whoever wins mid lane. Its going to boil down to Pobelter vs. Shiphtur, and whoever can throw their team on their back and carry them to victory.
Counter Logic Gaming takes on TSM for the second time this split, but this time they have their complete roster. In their last matchup, TSM exploited CLG’s sub HotshotGG in the mid lane. TheOddOne started a fire, roasted some marshmallows, and proceeded to camp Hotshot for the majority of the early and mid game; ganking him whenever his Vault Breaker came off of cooldown. Although Doublelift and Aphromoo did well against the bot lane of TSM, it was not enough to match a fed Gragas and the team fighting skills of TSM. It’s just Link’s second week back in the mid lane, and he is faced with a tough challenge to deal with Bjergsen.
TSM is coming into this game very confident. Their team fights have been cohesive and their communication is just getting better with each passing week. They say that they don’t have a dedicated shot-caller yet to call the shots in high pressure situations, but I don’t think that CLG will present any huge issues. All the lanes of CLG have their work cut out for them, especially Nien with Dyrus in the top.
Anthony’s pick: TSM. Barring Doublelift getting huge and hyper-carrying the game, I see TSM taking a decisive victory.
That wraps it up for week 5 of the North American League Championship Series. TSM and Cloud 9 look to hold onto their position at the top, while Dignitas and Curse look to cement themselves as top-teir LCS teams.
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