Welcome back to the North American League of Legends Championship Series power rankings for the 2017 Summer Split.
It's another week with some incredible movement, as teams begin to figure out what's working, figure out what wasn't and make hard decisions for the rest of the split in order to salvage the season.
Well, at least most teams have.
Toss-Up at the Top
Counter Logic Gaming might not have had a cleaner week than last, but they still remain the team to beat—the metric by which all other teams will be compared against.
With two 2-1 wins over FlyQuest and Phoenix1, CLG still have more to prove before they pull away from the rest of the league. And in the ongoing battle between Team SoloMid and them for the top spot, you can argue either way.
TSM is growing into their expected midseason form. With a 4-0 week over Team Liquid and Team Envy, and a willingness to take the Galio team comp back to the drawing board (drafting an infinitely better one than their opening-week losses), TSM found their stride.
However, the early game is still suspect; if you give the same gold leads to Team Liquid or Team Envy that they had against TSM at the beginning of the season, maybe TSM won't win these games.
In the same respect, it’s hard to gauge TSM’s relative strength when, against Envy, they are allowed two of their most dominant picks in Syndra and Lee Sin. The series was an assertion of 1) Envy making a huge mistake in leaving those champions up and 2) TSM knowing they can beat almost any team in the league with said picks handily.
Overall, TSM played cleaner this week, and they might have the advantage over CLG right now in a head-to-head. They've also proved their oft-stated point that they're more focused on the end result (Worlds) rather than winning regular-season games with their growing Galio play.
But—considering their overall admirable goal—they still are working out the kinks, while CLG continues to look like the more cohesive unit day-to-day. Right now, that's enough to tip the balance toward CLG this week.
1. Counter Logic Gaming (no change)
2. Team SoloMid (no change)
We said it last week. We’ll say it again.
This Immortals squad is the definition of swingy. We don't totally get it (and neither do Immortals, for the most part), but it appears that there are two faces to the team.
When Immortals is playing like last week, it’s easy to see them as nothing more than a mid-table squad that has the parts to challenge but for some reason can’t fully get it together.
But when they’re at their peak, they’re easily rivaling the top teams. It was most apparent in their Cloud9 series last week—in contention with the Week 2 El Clasico as the best series we’ve had this summer.
Game 3, specifically, showed composure and decision-making that the team lacked in their loss to Team Envy last week. What’s more, it was against a Cloud9 who is known and largely picks up wins off their late-game prowess alone. Sure, clutch Xmithie Baron steals helped, but superior rotations and macro play with and without a Baron buff insured the fatal blow to Cloud9.
Unfortunately for Immortals’ power-ranking status, it’s the simple fact that, once again, they haven’t been able to replicate it consistently that sees them just outside the Top 2.
3. Immortals (+3)
It’s another week, and it’s hard to say that Cloud9 has impressed.
The real concern with the team is whether or not they get back into the conversation before playoffs, where Cloud9 is always a part of the conversation (and to be honest, the finals conversation, too). Still, there’s something to be said of the past three weeks being indicative of what we're to expect from C9 in the regular season—a stable team with a star mid-laner that might not be able to sort themselves out to challenge the soaring CLG and TSM, or quite convincingly best the growing Immortals and Dignitas like before.
Speaking of Dignitas, they find themselves stuck right where they’ve been for the past three weeks. It’s not to say they haven’t improved or haven’t outright dominated some teams. It’s just we’re wary with their wins.
Dignitas’ linear approach to the game (playing through top-laner Ssumday) isn’t a bad thing by any means; plenty of historical top teams played through a certain lane and found success that way. The only issue is whether or not the rest of Dignitas’ supporting cast can play up to that level when Ssumday is shut down. Shrimp has shown he can, but can the same be said of more supportive carries in Keane and LOD? It’s hard to say when there are fuller, more complete squads above them.
Either way, we'll find out next week for sure if our diagnoses of Cloud9 and Dignitas are right or wrong, as the two will face each other—if Impact can contain Ssumday long enough for Dignitas' carries to fizzle or shine.
While we're still waiting for the dust to settle around Cloud9 and Dignitas, Team Envy seem to have themselves figured out. And unfortunately, they find themselves another victim of early-season hype.
We fell for it, and when the team finally had to face one of the top-tier squads and crumbled under the pressure, we knew it. All you have to do is look at their Baron execution against TSM and you'll see it.
The entire call betrays the team’s earlier success, where they were starting to show they’ve corrected the late-game fatal flaws of the last split. Instead, they make a rushed and forced decision that didn't need to be made, ultimately gifting TSM the freest of Barons.
Still, they've done enough at the start of the season to keep themselves among the middle, but our first impressions might be changed after Week 3.
4. Cloud9 (-1)
5. Dignitas (no change)
6. Team Envy (-2)
Blow It Up
So, the answer to Phoenix1’s existential problem was to just blow up said problem.
Instead of deciding whether to use Inori and Meteos, Phoenix1 doubled down in favor of North American rookie talent MikeYeung for the jungler position and partnering him with veteran support Xpecial.
And it worked. Yeah, Phoenix1 dropped both games this week and are still winless in the league, but the MikeYeung-Xpecial duo looked a lot more promising for the organization. Sure, they might continue to experiment (probably to their detriment at this point), but credit needs to be given to—hopefully—one final move that will get this team back on track.
When it comes to Echo Fox and FlyQuest, it’s more of the same.
Echo Fox gave up on the Grig experiment, and it was for the better. When you have an early Rookie of the Spring Split candidate in Akaadian, it’s a mistake to not use him. They looked considerably better than last week, handling Envy in a 2-0 win and taking Dignitas to a full series.
With FlyQuest, we predicted last week that you can’t count out this team against the league giants like CLG. And that was mostly true; FlyQuest took them to a full three-game series and at least made it interesting.
Despite that, it’s hard to understand how this team gets better, or rather what they even do in the league.
Phoenix1 is taking actionable steps in figuring out their season to get back to the top; FlyQuest, the other Spring semifinalist, just seems to be hovering in No Man’s Land, fine with their role as potential spoiler.
7. Echo Fox (no change)
8. Phoenix1 (+2)
9. FlyQuest (-1)
Paid By Steve
And then there’s Team Liquid—alone again at the bottom.
It’s hard to say anything more about what’s going on with this team.
There are some positives. Management (for now) seems to have chosen to ride out the rest of this split with a GoldenGlue roster, which is probably the smart move, win or lose, for the team’s overall mentality. In-game, they looked better against TSM, carved out early-game leads and could’ve even taken a game off them if Team Liquid knew how to win a game.
Simply put, the fundamentals are just not there, which would be fine if this was a team full of rookies who are trying to learn them.
It’s not, though. It’s veteran players, and you’d expect them to know better. It's veteran players who—instead of flexing their top-lane advantage and trading a bottom-lane inhibitor for a Baron—engage in a disadvantaged fight, lose their support, lose said top-laner. who decides to continue pushing for whatever reason and then lose their own inhibitor.
It's veteran players that can get certain small advantages and make moves that look convincing only for them to reveal that Team Liquid's knowledge of how to accrue and win from advantages is a facade; they do what they do because they've seen other teams do it, not because they understand it.
10. Team Liquid (-1)