NACL Week 6 Analysis – The Path to the Playoffs

Welcome to Week 6 of the North American Challenger League, where every single team has an opportunity to gain a spot into the playoffs, and we can see what it would take to secure that playoff seed. Lucian has been played in the 14 of the 16 games this week, so perhaps we can look into some of the statistics of how players are building him, as well as what factors are making him such a dominant force in the NACL. For now, lets see how the top 6 most banned have changed over the week.

Top 6 Most Banned for Week 6

Nidalee_Square_0_25b Elise_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b LeeSin_Square_0_25b Nidalee(+1), Elise(-1), Kassadin(+4), Renekton(-1),Fiddlesticks(+11), Lee Sin(-2)

Top 6 Most Banned Last Week

Elise_Square_0_25b Nidalee_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b LeeSin_Square_0_25b Zyra_Square_0_25b Sivir_Square_0_25b Elise, Nidalee, Renekton, Lee Sin, Zyra, Sivir

LucianSquareLucian, King of the Marksmen

Lucian departs the Week 6 NACL with 14 picks and a 71% win/loss ratio, a 100% increase in play from Week 5 NACL. Caitlyn, one of last weeks most selected marksmen, was only selected 3 times this week.

Lucian is a marksman who has gained popularity in North America in the past month, originating from professional Lucian play in Korea (most notably in the World Cyber Game Qualifiers when Samsung Galaxy Blue dominated both KT Bullets and Arrows with Lucian).


Lucian has seen a number of item variations in the NACL this week, with a large majority purchasing the Bloodthirster as a first or second item. Trinity Force is another popular item, but has started to be substituted with Static Shiv by Team Coast. Last Whisper is a staple marksman item, which is typically finished second or third in the build order (depending on the pace of the game). Other offensive items, such as Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer can be substituted for the Bloodthirster/Trinity combination if a Lucian is getting fed early.

Breaking down the statistics even further, winning Lucians have an average of 6.5 kills, 1.2 death, and 7.3 assists per NACL game. The average creep score is 254.3, with Lucian killing 8.17 creeps per minute. The truly terrifying number is 435.5, which is Lucian’s gold per minute (across 8 games).

On the other side, losing Lucians have an average of .75 kills, 2.75 deaths, and 2.5 assists per NACL game. Losing Lucians still have a decent average creep score of 251.5 and kill 8.17 creeps per minute as well. The gold deficit comes from not securing kills and objectives, leading to a modest 309.8 gold per minute, nearly a 40% GPM difference between winning and losing Lucians.

The Path to the Playoffs

This week instead of doing a formal game analysis, I would like to go into a bit of depth with the current NACL standings to see who is most likely to make it into the playoffs, and which outcomes could lead to every team making it into the playoffs. While there are three teams with a guaranteed seed into the playoffs at this time, the other 7 teams all have the possibility to earn a spot in the playoffs.

The significance of the NACL tournament is more than the $35,000 prize pool, it is an opportunity for the amateur teams to gain tournament experience that can be used for the upcoming LCS Promotional Series. All 7 teams going to the LCS Promotional Series are participants in the NACL, with the final two seeds being confirmed on November the 30th, that could be picked up by two NACL teams. The NACL teams that have not qualified for the LCS Promotional Series are Gold Gaming LA, vVv, and Curse Academy.


Playoff seeds are given to the top three teams of each conference, with the #1 seeds getting a bye into the semifinals. There are a total of 26 games to be played, which leaves each team around 6-7 games remaining. The time statistics that I am going to use are for the last 3 weeks of the NACL (to reflect current play styles), and the win/loss records throughout the entire season. Let’s break down the current standings, future games, and what it would take for each team to reach the playoffs.


The Elder Lizard conference has all three relegated LCS teams, as well as two amateur teams. This conference also has the largest disparity between teams, with the #1 and #2 overall teams in the NACL, as well as 8th through 10th place. The teams with the lowest win percentage of the league still have the opportunity to advance into the playoffs.

1) Team Coast – 18 – 1 (#1 rank overall)

Coast has been dominant throughout the entire season, only dropping a single game to Curse (#2 rank overall). Solid mechanics, sound decision making, and superior champion selects have led Coast to near flawless games, averaging a game length of 31:36 for the past 8 games, which is more than two minutes quicker than the average game of the NACL.

Coast has a downhill line up for the next two weeks, facing COGnitive, Velocity, and vVv twice. The most challenging match is likely to be against Curse Academy. Coast have been resilient to compositions that are meant to catch teams off-guard, so I doubt Curse Academy will have that psychological edge. Coast will almost certainly end the season as the number 1 seed for the Elder Lizard conference.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
Coast (18-1) vVv(5-14) COG(4-16) VES(5-15) CRS A(11-9) VES(5-15) vVv(5-14) COG(4-16)
Head to Head record 2-0 2-0 2-0 1-0 2-0 2-0 2-0

2) Team Curse – 15 – 4 (#2 rank overall)

Curse has been one of the organizations that have had to constantly prove their worth. At the end of Season 2, Curse fell short and did not attend the Season 2 World Championship Series, and did not have a guaranteed spot in the LCS for the Season 3. Curse trained hard, and became a dominant force that held the #1 position for most of the LCS Spring Split. Fast-forward almost an entire year; Curse has been forced into relegation and has focused to return to play on the world stage.
Curse has lost three times against Coast, and once against compLexity. Curse’s games are an average of 32:45, which is about 1 minute ahead of the league average game length.

Curse have an easy final two weeks in the NACL, facing vVv three times, Velocity twice, and the hardest match-up being against compLexity. vVv and Velocity both have a sub 25% win record, and neither have taken a game off of Curse. Curse has secured a seed into the playoffs, but it will be as the second place seed. Coast would have to lose 4 of the next 7 games, which is doubtful, and Curse could lose all of their games and still remain in second place for the Elder Lizard Conference.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
Curse (15-4) NiD(8-12) vVv(5-14) VES(5-15) coL(15-5) vVv(5-14) VES(5-15) vVv(5-14)
Head to Head record 1-0 1-0 2-0 0-1 1-0 2-0 1-0

3) vVv – 5 – 14 (#8 rank overall)

vVv started the season by taking Infinite Odds position at the end of Week 4 NACL, and also accepting IO’s record of 2-10. vVv have managed to pick up 3 wins and only 4 losses, which is far better than their predecessors. vVv have an average game length of 29:22 with 3 games of the past 7 games being losses before the 25 minute mark.

vVv has a challenging line up, facing Curse three times, Coast twice, but has realistic chance of picking up two wins against COGnitive and To Be Determined. Two wins would place vVv at 7-19, which is a relatively secure position in third. vVv has to defeat COGnitive in week 7 to bolster a lead against COGnitive wins and hope that COGnitive does not win more than 3 matches. vVv has the best chance of entering the playoffs by predicting the outcome of future games against the current win/loss percentage of both VES and COG.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
vVv(5-14) Coast(18-1) CRS(15-4) COG(4-16) TBD(9-9) CRS(15-4) Coast(18-1) CRS(15-4)
Head to Head record 0-2 0-1 1-2 0-1 0-1 0-2 0-1

4) Velocity – 5 – 15 (#9 overall)

Velocity has been incredibly turbulent over the past months, with frequent roster changes and the subsequent benching of the entire main team. In week 6, Velocity brought in Denial eSports.East to play on behalf of Velocity for one game, and then switched to the original, benched roster. VES has not won a single game against the 4 teams that they will play against in Weeks 7 & 8. VES games are about 1 minute longer than the NACL average of 33:55.

Velocity has the hardest final weeks and the lowest chance of entering the playoffs. Velocity plays Coast and Curse twice, then Curse Academy and Gold Gaming LA once. Velocity vs. ggLA has the best possibility for a VES win, but it is not an easy win. The best possible outcome for Velocity is to defeat ggLA in week 7, for COGnitive to defeat vVv, and then hope that vVv AND COG lose all of their remaining games (which is unlikely). Velocity has the lowest chance of making it into the playoffs, but there remains a sliver of hope.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
VES(5-15) ggLA(8-13) Coast(18-1) CRS(15-4) Coast(18-1) CRS A(11-9) CRS(15-4)
Head to Head record 0-1 0-2 0-2 0-2 0-1 0-2

5) COGnitive – 4-16 (#10 overall)

COGnitive won a crucial game in week 6 against Velocity, breaking their 9-game losing streak and keeping their hopes for a post-season alive. COGnitive have an Lulu automatically banned against them in every game, which can help COG get more higher priority picks in champion select (100% ban rate over the past 3 weeks). COGnitive’s average game lasts 35:12 with a 8:30 minute variance, resulting in several 40+ minute matches.

COGnitive have the best chance of making it into the playoffs, with easier match-ups against To Be Determined, Napkins in Disguise, vVv, and challenging match-ups against Coast (twice) and Curse Academy. The match against vVv in week 7 is going to be a must win for COG, which would bring COG even with both Velocity and vVv at 5 wins. COG also has the opportunity to pick up wins against TBD and NiD, which could put COG at 7-19 and the number 3 seed into the playoffs. Even though COG has the worst record of the NACL, they have the highest potential to pull ahead of VES and vVv with an easier upcoming matches.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
COG(4-16) TBD(9-9) Coast(18-1) vVv(5-14) CRS A(11-9) NiD(8-12) Coast(18-1)
Head to Head record 0-1 0-2 2-1 0-2 0-1 0-2

Elder Lizard Conference Summary:

1# Coast is guaranteed first seed

2# Curse is guaranteed second seed

3# vVv must defeat COG and have VES/COG lose all remaining matches

4# Velocity must win 1 match against ggLA, COG defeats vVv, and COG/vVv must lose all remaining matches

5# COG must defeat vVv and pick up at least 1 more win to be in the running

Keep in mind, there is no clarification of how the final seed is decided in a tie breaker situation. The team with the best record within conference could proceed or teams could play against each other in a best of series. I do not have the information at this time, but as the season draws closer, this should be clarified by the NACL.


The Ancient Golem conference has one former LCS team (compLexity), as well as four teams from the amateur scene. The competition is much closer than the Elder Lizard conference, with a majority of the teams being able to take games off one another. The magic number is 15, one greater than the maximum number of wins the 4th place (Napkins in Disguise) can achieve with a perfect record.

1) compLexity – 15 – 5 (#3 overall)

compLexity has secured a spot into the playoffs, and is likely to be the first seed in the league with a 4-win advantage over Curse Academy. There were concerns that compLexity’s performance would be hindered due to the loss of their veteran jungler and the acclimation of his replacement. coL games typically last 31:20 (with the exclusion of a 51-minute loss), which is about two and a half minutes shorter than the league average.

coL have a mostly in-conference line up, facing ggLA and TBD twice, Curse Academy once, and a close match against Curse at the start of week 8. The games are going to be relatively close, with ggLA and CRS Academy having a victory over coL, and Curse is always a formidable opponent. TBD has lost twice to coL and has demonstrated trouble facing more established teams. coL has to win two of the next 6 games to secure first seed, or CRS Academy has to lose twice.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 8  Week 7 Week 8 Week 8
 coL(15-5)  ggLA(8-13) CRS A(11-9) CRS(15-4) TBD(9-9) ggLA(8-13) TBD(9-9)
Head to Head record 1-1  1-2 1-0 2-0 1-1 2-0

2) Curse Academy – 11 – 9 (#4 overall)

Curse Academy have run some interesting compositions that have surprised several teams and have been successful against less established teams. An average CRS Academy game tend to run about 4 minutes longer than the NACL average and have a 10-minute variance (which leads to either quick games, or 50+ minute games). Curse Acad have a 100% win rate for games that last beyond 40 minutes (4 of 4). The double-bruiser no-marksman composition has been a trademark of CRS Acad in the NACL, but they have chosen not to run it this past week.

Curse Academy need four wins to reach the magic number 15, which would guarantee a spot in the playoffs. The big matches for CRS Acad are against TBD and NiD in week 7, which a victory against either team would put them even further ahead in the conference. CRS Acad also face VES and COG during week 8, which have the highest probability for CRS Acad to secure their two victories from. It is unlikely that CRS Acad will surpass coL’s 4-win lead, but is safe in securing a position into the playoffs. If TBD plays perfectly, then the CRS Acad may settle for 3rd seed. If CRS Acad manages to lose all games, ggLA would have to win 4 of their 5 next games, and NiD would have to win 4 of 6.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8
 CRS A(11-9) TBD(9-9) NiD(8-12) coL(15-5) Coast(18-1) COG(4-16) VES(5-15)
 Head to Head record 1-2 2-1 2-1 0-1  1-0  1-0

3) To Be Determined – 9 – 9 (#5 overall)

To Be Determined is a team that has a positive record over the amateur teams, but has not won a game against the Coast/Curse/compLexity trifecta. Many of TBD’s wins have been against the easier teams like COGnitive, Velocity, and Napkins in Disguise. TBD games last an average of 30:05, which is almost 4 minutes quicker than the league average (with the exclusion of a 56 minute loss against CRS Academy). TBD have gone 5-3 in the past three weeks.

TBD has a solid chance of securing a position in the playoffs, with 8 games to be played over the next two weeks. The important matches will be the two games against NiD and single game against ggLA, with victories putting TBD even further ahead. TBD has consistently defeated teams with a losing record, which are 4 of the 8 upcoming games. Once again, the magic number is 15, which is the maximum number of wins that the 4th place seed in the Ancient Golem conference can achieve with a perfect record over the next two weeks. TBD has a healthy chance of securing the third place seed in this conference.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
TBD(9-9) COG(4-16) CRS A(15-5) NiD(8-12) ggLA(8-13) vVv(5-14) coL(15-5) NiD(8-12) coL(15-5)
Head to Head record 1-0 2-1 1-1 2-1 1-0 0-2 1-1 0-2

4) Napkins in Disguise – 8-12 (#6 overall)

Napkins in Disguise showed potential in the early season, but drifted to a 3-7 record in the past three weeks, lowering their standing in the in the Ancient Golem conference. The performance from NiD has started to pick up in the past couple of weeks, gaining confidence by qualifying for the LCS Promotional Series. If we exclude a 55-minute loss to Curse Academy, NiD has the fastest average game at 27:53.

Napkins in Disguise are in a difficult position with 6 games remaining in the season. NiD plays TBD twice, which has the largest impact on the league standing, with NiD has a 1-1 record against TBD, but TBD picking up a victory during Week 6. NiD also play against Curse, Curse Academy, COGnitive, and vVv, which could likely leave NiD with 2 wins, 2losses. NiD must win both games against TBD to have a possibility of taking the 3rd seed, with more victories increasing their odds for playoff contention.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Week 8
NiD(8-12) CRS A(15-5) CRS(15-4) TBD(9-9) COG(4-16) TBD(9-9) ggLA(8-13)
Head to Head record 1-2 0-1 1-1 1-0 1-1 2-1

5) Gold Gaming Los Angeles – 8-13 (#7 overall)

Gold Gaming LA is a team that has trouble closing out games, with 3 of the past 4 victories lasting close to 40 minutes. The past 6 losses for ggLA are an average game length of 28:44, while the average win is 38:38. ggLA have played the most games of any team (21 games played), which leaves a much smaller window to reach the playoffs.

The playoff potential looks bleak for ggLA, with a must win matches against TBD and NiD to keep the hope alive. ggLA will play coL twice, however ggLA defeated coL in week 5 in a 50+ minute victory, so the opportunity for an upset is plausible. For a realistic chance to reach the playoffs, ggLA needs to go 5-0 in the next two weeks, and hope that TBD and NiD perform poorly and lose a majority of their matches.

Week 7 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 8
ggLA(8-13) VES(5-15) coL(15-5) TBD(9-9) coL(15-5) NiD(8-12)
 Head to Head record 1-0 1-1 1-2 1-1 1-2


1# compLexity guarantees 1st place seed with 3 wins.

2# Curse Academy secures a guaranteed playoff seed with 3 wins

3# To Be Determined has the highest chance to secure a playoff spot with 8 games remaining in the season

4# Napkins in Disguise, while tied in wins with TBD, must defeat TBD twice to have the highest chance of securing the 3rd playoff seed

5# Gold Gaming LA must win 5 of 5 games and TBD must not win more than 4 games

End Notes

With two weeks remaining, which teams will rise to the occasion and take the three remaining seeds into the NACL playoffs? There are several games of importance for playoff standings next week, and it will be interesting to see which teams want a chance to win up to $10,000 of prize money, as well as take momentum going into the NA LCS Promotional Series.

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Jera is a former Human Factors psychologist, video game researcher, and avid follower of professional League of Legends. Jera enjoys taking a statistical approach to analyzing gameplay and discovering how small events cause ripple effects throughout the game. Follow Jera on twitter @coL_Jera

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