If the European League Championship Series is the Wild West, a region where every team both has potential and appears to be struggling at the same time, then North America is the epitome of the current capitalist system, separated by the haves and the have nots. Six of North America’s 10 teams find themselves at .500 or worse after two weeks of play, and the gap between the fourth and fifth place teams doesn’t appear close to closing anytime soon.
The top tier is defined by the dominance of Team SoloMid. Despite a poor pick/ban phase in the later games last week’s series against Immortals, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has stepped up as a lane bully in his own right, while Vincent “Biofrost” Wang looks like the missing piece to last split’s puzzle due to his strong laning presence and knack for clearing enemy wards. Cloud9 and Immortals follow closely behind, as both teams have proven to be excellent in the early game and tend to close games by snowballing that fifteen minute lead. The outlier at the top has been Team EnVyUs. While I spent the preseason excited about playmakers Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong and Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo taking over games, it’s actually been Benjamin “LOD” deMunck’s improved positioning and the team’s overall focus on objective control that has led them to an early 4-0 record. Some will argue that they have not truly been tested, but this week will give them two chances to cement their legitimacy.
The second half of the table is filled with teams in two categories. The first set of teams have high ceilings due to the presence of a key playmaker or two on the roster, but need more time to develop. Apex Gaming’s fall from grace was the perfect example, as Jeon “Ray” Ji-won proved to be their only path to victory: a fault that was both predictable and exploitable for their opponents, especially given his weak laning phase. The second set of teams is rosters that were supposed to be part of the previous paragraph, but have failed to adapt to the new meta. Team Liquid looked much better last week with Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett back at the helm, but it’s clear that Matthew “Matt” Elento’s struggles with the new support meta and Coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub’s insistence on putting Samson “Lourlo” Jackson onto tanks are still holding them back. Meanwhile, Counter Logic Gaming has looked far from its previous championship form despite making no roster changes; with Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes slumping and Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya’s struggling with consistency issues.
Luckily for all of these teams, the season is far from over. Week 3 will go a long way toward establishing just how entrenched this gap will be moving forward. Until then, it’s up to us to break down the gambling lines and make our predictions for this week’s action.
Today on the Rough Drafts Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk break down the upcoming North American LCS Week 3 matchups. Together, they discuss whether Team Liquid is poised for a bounce back week, if Team EnVyUs is severely underrated or simply untested, and whether Cloud9 is deserving of all the optimism currently headed its way. They close with their smart money picks of the week.
Be sure to subscribe to the Esports Rough Drafts Podcast on iTunes to keep up with every episode here. And if you happened to leave a nice review along the way, that’d be cool too.
Go to Unikrn today to bet alongside all your favorite esports matches for the chance to win awesome prizes.