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Predicting the Champions: A North American Spring Split Retrospective


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casualgamer

As we approach the halfway point of the 2014 North American Summer Split we are going to take a look at just how much the landscape of competitive play has changed since this time last split. We will also be predicting the outcome of the 2014 Summer Split and trying to predict who’s going to be making the trip to Worlds to represent North America.

 Clg_logo2

Monte Spin the Wheel (8-4, 1st)

Spring Split Half Season: 3rd (6-6)
Spring Split Full Season: 3rd (18-10)
Spring Split Playoffs: 3rd place

With the addition of Seraph in the top lane Counter Logic Gaming seem to have made significant improvement in their ability to acquire leads early in the game. CLG was notorious for playing from behind with the most memorable comeback wins in the Spring Split coming against Team Solo Mid and Curse Gaming. CLG’s achilles heel continues to be Cloud 9 as they currently have their only losing record against Cloud 9. Whatever pep talk Montecristo gave the boys during the off season seems to have worked as CLG have jumped up 2 positions to sit tied for first place.

Author’s Pick: 1st place I truly believe that CLG has finally found their stride and are ready to take the top spot in North America. My predictions leave them in a final against Cloud 9 in a series where I think they overcome their Achilles heel and take down the boys in blue.

Dignitas Logo

Dignitoss Departs (8-4, 1st)

Spring Split Half Season: 3rd (6-6)
Spring Split Full Season: 4th (12-16)
Spring Split Playoffs: 5th place

With the arrival of the Team Coast solo lanes so comes the departure of Dignitas’ perennial mediocrity. Shiphtur and ZionSpartan have elevated the spirits and performance on the rest of the Dignitas squad. Crumbzz is finally getting a chance to show off his jungling prowess thanks to the strong lane presence that Shiptur and Zion bring. There were many controversial opinions over how quickly the team would mesh together and become the powerhouse they had the potential to be. After 5 weeks Dignitas has jumped 2 spots into a tie for first position.

Author’s Pick: 3rd place Dignitas is going to steal the last spot at worlds in a very close race. In a match against TSM for the last spot at worlds I have faith that Dignitas can pull through with their experienced roster and take their place on the world stage.

 LMQ_NA_1-9-14_1

LMQ HYPE! (8-4, 1st)

Spring Split Half Season: N/A
Spring Split Full Season: N/A
Spring Split Playoffs: N/A

There was a lot of debate over where LMQ would fit into the North American power rankings. Many people thought they would challenge CLG for the 3rd overall position at the end of the Summer Split. Others thought they would lose to XDG and not even qualify for LCS. They are currently proving everyone wrong as they sit atop the standings with XiaoWeiXiao winning MVP every other week since the start of the split. LMQ taking over XDG’s LCS slot would have jumped 7 positions from eighth to first.

Author’s Pick: 5th place Perhaps the most controversial prediction it should be stated that LMQ have started to look more and more predictable in recent weeks with picks, early game setups and jungle paths. Despite holding a strong record this predictability could easily be their downfall.

Cloud 9

Falling from the Clouds (7-5, 4th)

Spring Split Half Season: 9-3
Spring Split Full Season: 24-4
Spring Split Playoffs: 1st place

Through only 5 weeks into the Summer Split, Cloud 9 has already accrued more losses than they did in all 28 games last split. While the team still sits in a respectable 4th place they are far from the powerhouse that dominated North America for the last 12 months. With Hai’s health problems lingering into the first few weeks of the Summer Split it is evident how much of an impact the lack of practice as a full squad hurt their performance. Currently sitting in 4th place they have dropped 2 spots since week 5 of the Spring Split.

Author’s Pick: 2nd place Cloud 9 is clearly not the team we saw at the end of the Summer Split but they still very well could be the top team in North America, just not by as large of a margin. The first two spots at the end of the Summer Split are a large toss up and the chips could fall either way.

TSM-logo

Team Salty Mid (7-5, 4th)

Spring Split Half Season: 11-1
Spring Split Full Season: 22-6
Spring Split Playoffs: 2nd place

TSM are having a much less successful season than last. It is justifiable as the team underwent a significant roster change in the offseason and are still getting adjusted to the new members, especially with Amazing replacing long time jungler TheOddOne. Despite not being the worst record TSM has held through week 5 of a season they are certainly not where many fans expected them to be after last split. Many thought they would again compete for top spot in North America. It is still early but TSM has fallen 4 spots from first to fifth and have their work cut out for them if they want to make a push for the top spots in the second half of the season.

Author’s Pick: 4th place TSM should adjust to their roster by the time playoffs rolls around but in a pure skill matchup against Dignitas I think it has to fall with the latter. I expect a cry from the TSM faithful when they don’t get a spot at worlds this year.

 curseflame

The Curse Curse (4-8, 6th)

Spring Split Half Season: 5-7
Spring Split Full Season: 11-17
Spring Split Playoffs: 4th place

Despite the addition of Xpecial to attempt to fix some late game shot calling problems Curse continues to struggle against the best in North America. Curse looks more cohesive as a unit but still clearly have some issues with objective management they need to fix if they want to be considered part of the NA elite. Curse dropped only a single spot since this time last split with LMQ coming in and knocking them down a peg. Curse just can’t seem to find the winning formula consistently enough to stick with best in North America.

Author’s Pick: 7th place Team Curse is no longer the best of the worst, as it were. With the arrival of Helios EG should knock Curse into immediate relegation danger. Unless something lights a fire underneath Curse I don’t see gap in skill closing between them and the current top 5.

 logo_complexity

XDG 2.0 (3-9, 7th)

Spring Split Half Season: N/A
Spring Split Full Season: N/A
Spring Split Playoffs: N/A

compLexity has been plagued by roster issues since the start of the split. Only after making an official roster swap have they now played 2 weeks with a starting roster. People did not have high expectations for compLexity coming into the Summer Split and some believed they got a flukey win against Coast in the relegation match. They currently hold the seventh position that was held by Coast at this time a few months prior. The addition of Kez seems to be a step in the right direction but compLexity needs many more steps to make it up the ladder.

Author’s Pick: 8th place Not many people expected great things from compLexity. Unfortunately for compLexity, roster issues have given them a mediocre start to the split, however the team just seems not quite up to the same caliber as other at the top of North America. With that said I don’t believe there are any challenger teams good enough to relegate even the worst in the NA LCS right now.

 EG

Based Sun God (3-9, 7th)

Spring Split Half Season: 4-88
Spring Split Full Season: 8-20
Spring Split Playoffs: 7th place

Evil Geniuses have added the likes of Altec and the famed Korean jungler Helios since last split. Altec came in during the first week and Helios was added in week 4. Their record does not yet display the amount of improvement they have undergone since the arrival of Helios. The two teams look very different and with Helios taking on a major shot calling role EG seem to be rounding a corner in their ability to play the objective game. EG have dropped 2 spots since the previous week 5 and currently sit tied for the final spot in North America.

Author’s Pick: 6th place As previously mentioned the arrival of Helios has seemed to breathe new life into a struggling EG roster. It may already be too late for EG to make a run for the top but they should be around at the start of next season to compete in season 5.

 Conclusions

Much has changed in only a couple of months for almost all the teams in North America. A preliminary look at the standings shows that the competition for worlds will be much harder than perceived after Cloud 9 3-0’ed TSM in the final of the Spring Split playoffs, for the second time. With the top 5 teams in the league all within a single game of each other the race for the first round byes should be extremely close. Competition breeds competition is a common idea in sports and the bar has definitely been raised on the standard of top level play in North America. Because of that, regardless of who comes out as the top 3 at the end of the season North America should stand a much better chance at advancing to the quarterfinals at this years world championship.

So the with everything wrapped up here are my final predictions for the standings at the end of the Summer Split.

  1. Counter Logic Gaming (Worlds)
  2. Cloud 9 (Worlds)
  3. Team Dignitas (Worlds)
  4. Team Solo Mid
  5. LMQ
  6. Evil Geniuses (Relegation)
  7. Curse Gaming (Relegation)
  8. compLexity (Relegation)

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TheCasualGamer

Blake "TheCasualGamer" Bottrill is a freelance eSports writer working for Cloth5 and Paravine Network. Blake is a Platinum level Support main and has much better analytical skills than mechanical skills. Follow Blake on Twitter @MrBlakeBottrill.

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