North American LCS: thoughts through week 9

We are now nine weeks in to the season four spring split of the North American LCS. With only two weeks of games left, there has been a lot of action. I’ve seen most of the games, some of them I will highlight. From what I have seen, there are three distinct tiers of teams. Tier 1 is the best, and Tier 3 is the worst. Here they are:

Tier 1 includes Team SoloMid (TSM) and Cloud 9 HyperX (C9), two teams that have distinguished themselves as being far beyond the other teams skill wise. These teams are the best in just about every way, working together to single out opponents and gank (gang up on an opponent with a flank, gang+flank=gank) enemies when they are alone.

Tier 2 is Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), a team that can hang in with Tier 1 before losing, and pretty well dominates Tier 3. They have some bad games that they may lose to the lesser teams and they may shock the upper tier with a win, but for the most part they are pretty well stuck in third place.

Tier 3 is everybody else. Curse, Team Dignitas (DIG), Team Coast (Coast), Evil Geniuses (EG), and XDG have done a pretty good job of grouping at the bottom of the pack. I listed them in order of their place in the standings, but only three games separate Curse from XDG. These teams almost exclusively beat each other, and aside from an upset or two they pretty much fall apart when they play against the upper tiers.

team solomid
Team SoloMid

The games this last weekend were almost spot-on examples of why TSM and Cloud 9 are leagues above the rest. I saw one of the most perfectly executed games by TSM against DIG on Sunday. The game lasted about 23 minutes, with TSM winning and dominating in kills 22-1.

One death, all game. It was amazing to watch. At one point, TSM actually looked like they’d have to back out of a team fight, but Bjergsen (mid lane, Lulu) chased them down and single handedly took down two DIGs and WildTurtle (AD carry, Sivir) came in to finish off another. On Saturday, TSM did struggle for periods against XDG but they came through in the end to win with an 18-7 kill advantage. Their season has been impressive to this point, boasting the best record and recovering from their sub-par finish last season (for those of you who don’t know, last season’s summer split was the first time they didn’t finish in first place. Ever.).

cloud 9 hyperx

Cloud 9 HyperX

Cloud 9 also played well this weekend, beating both Coast and EG with 24-6 kill advantages. I was unable to see either of these matches, but it seems like they had these games in the bag as neither match saw a champion get to level 18. I can say though, that from watching them in the past weeks, that LemonNation (support) and Hai (mid lane) of Cloud 9 are two of my favorite players this season.

Overall, Season 4 in North America has done a great job of sticking to the script and seeing the favorites win. There is still some time for some surprises, but I doubt any will happen. We’ll see if these next two weeks can draw up a little more drama before three of these teams far to the relegation matches.

All games can be viewed on Riot Games’ Twitch channel, either online or on the Twitch app for Xbox. Games start at 3 pm Eastern on Saturday, March 29. A full schedule and stats are available at the NA LCS website.