Another week down, another new power rankings.
With Week 3 in the books, the divides between top-tier, mid-table and bottom-tier teams have become clearer. Though it's not because the rankings remain unchanged from last week; instead, it's because the flaws of a lot of the roster shuffles have shown their true colors.
Failure to Start
First things first, EnVyUs finally got a win.
It was a pretty big win too; taking down Team Liquid (struggling as they may be) is a big feat for this squad considering they genuinely outplayed them across the map.
But is it enough to see them rise out of last? Not really. It’s promising, but as much as the win came from EnVyUs finding cohesion and coordination, it also was over a Team Liquid notoriously lacking that week to week.
The real meat of the bottom-tier teams comes in the fall of Immortals and Dignitas.
To be fair to Immortals, they’ve had arguably the hardest first week match-ups of any team in the LCS; their four losses came at the hands of Cloud9, Phoenix1, FlyQuest and Team SoloMid. Even still, there’s very little promise in a roster when Pobelter—oft-considered a top NA mid—is currently struggling through a slump and their rookie botlane is basically nonexistent.
That leaves Immortals jungle and duo to clean up the mess. The emerging partnership between Flame and Dardoch is a bright spot in the Immortals line-up but only because everything else around them is falling apart, forcing one of the two to have to play around the other.
Dignitas isn’t out of the clear though. Out of all the NA LCS squads, Dignitas' inability to get it together might be the most shocking of all, considering the hype and expectations around the roster. On paper, they have all the parts to be at least a mid-table team in a relatively weakened NA LCS.
But nothing seems to be working for them besides Ssumday. Dignitas just barely edges out Immortals in the simple fact that they seem to have a better grasp of executing what they want to do. It’s just what they want to do requires Ssumday to 1v9 solo carry, and to do that every single game—which the Dignitas top laner has shown to be an unrealistic task.
8. Dignitas (-3)
The Middle of the Pack
We say it every week, but it still rings true. Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming are hard to pin.
Both teams flicker between moments where they have it all put together and those of pure confusion on the Rift. You saw it in CLG’s Game 1 victory over Team SoloMid, and their clean series win over Dignitas. And you saw it in Team Liquid closing out a hard-fought series over Echo Fox.
But then there are the collapses and the capitulations that makes you question it all. In fairness, their results and performances game-to-game have kept them pretty consistent in the power rankings, but many expected them to be shooting a lot higher.
Both sides are seeing their former stars suffering new lows. Reignover looks to be a shell of his Immortals and Fnatic self. Aphromoo seems to be a bit uncomfortable in this support meta. And Darshan seems lost in top lane.
Where CLG rises above Team Liquid though is that their individual player lows aren’t exacerbated by the rest of the team underperforming or not understanding the meta. Huhi has improved massively and Stixxay’s reaching new levels of consistency. Team Liquid, in contrast, still has no answer to the question marks that are Piglet, Matt and Goldenglue.
What’s become clear though is Echo Fox. Where Team Liquid is wishing for a meta change any minute, Echo Fox is thriving despite a rough Week 3.
Yes, they went 0-2 and lost to Team Liquid conveniently underneath them, but the close win did more in salvaging Team Liquid than it did harming Echo Fox’s rise. Maybe they’re still riding the coattails of their Week 2 win over FlyQuest, but the win did cast doubts over FlyQuest’s relative strength among the top-tier teams, while making the league take notice of the team.
All said, they seem to be comfortably beating the low-tier teams, challenging the mid-table and playing spoiler to the upper echelon of the NA LCS. The same can’t be consistently said of CLG and Team Liquid.
7. Team Liquid (-1)
6. Counter Logic Gaming (+1)
5. Echo Fox (+3)
A Close Battle for Top 2
In the same vein as the group above, the battle for a Top 2 spot in the NA LCS is a game of margins.
FlyQuest, ultimately, falls just short of Phoenix1 and TSM though, in large part due to their relative strength of schedule. They’re winning (in decisive fashions), but all things considered, they’ve played teams many now consider to be in the bottom half of the league.
It may be unfair to say, but the roster hasn’t truly been tested—playing teams scrambling to figure out how to play together like Dignitas and Immortals. In that sense, their loss to Echo Fox needs to be a given a bit more weight—a sign that their shared record with TSM might not be totally true of where they might end up at the end of the season.
That said, Phoenix1 stands above them this week in large part due to their close series vs. Team SoloMid. To be completely fair, it was hardly a clean series—with both teams winning despite micro and macro mistakes. But it did show the growth of Phoenix1, truly standing out as the best and most improved team among the massive-roster-overhaul crowd.
When Phoenix1 drafts well and plays to their win conditions, they genuinely look like a strong team. The only problem is that they can’t maintain that consistency against top-tier teams throughout a series. In Game 2, Team SoloMid showed why they ultimately outclass them on an individual level and on a macro level once they’ve downloaded their opponents. And when they tried cheeky tricks in their Game 3 draft, they ended up exposing some of their own weaknesses (namely, Inori’s inability to play Ivern and how easily zig can crumble when he’s not on a tank).
Phoenix1 certainly deserves consideration as a top-tier team. But as much as they’ve grown as a completely new roster, they still remain a challenging test for TSM—one in which the veteran NA squad has taken many times before.
4. FlyQuest (-1)
3. Phoenix1 (+1)
2. Team SoloMid
The only thing you could expect more from Cloud9 is faster games.
Where the rest of the league is flailing around at times in close series or stomping the low-tier squads, Cloud9 consistently looks solid—even when they seem to be trying new things.
It's certain that they're going to make playoffs. It's certain that they're going to get a bye. It's near-certain they'll make the finals (sure, playoffs are a different beast and meta's can change, but you can already make a strong argument for Cloud9).
And at this point, should we just talk about what this roster could do in Brazil at MSI?