It happened a lot faster than anyone expected, but now every team has picked up at least one loss since week 2. Although there were quite a few upsets, nothing upset pros more than the thought of dealing with a “funneling” strategy. “Funneling” has taken on a few different shapes, but is easy enough to identify. It involves whomever is taking the role of mid laner bringing smite. The assigned mid laner then accompanies a smiteless jungler throughout the jungle to be gifted additional farm and faster scaling. This is why you might see low farm numbers when the jungler is tasked with spoon feeding a carry while playing someone like Braum. Whether or not “funneling” becomes the best strategy and teams are forced to adapt, organizations are making changes to their squads. This is the final week before the NA LCS takes a break for Rift Rivals, so teams are trying their best to assure their footing in the standings. Some of these changes are more drastic than others which should create some exciting games.

Game 1: Cloud9 vs TSM

6/30, 5:00pm EST

Both of these teams have some issues to sort through if they want to end up going beyond simply securing a playoff spot. TSM has looked lifeless as a team and completely relied on their players’ individual skills in teamfights to etch away wins. During the laning phase, TSM’s roster looks like mid-tier or worse players, compared to the past when they were prized as some of the best. Sure, TSM is trying something new by bringing up the wondrous LustCena himself, LustBoy, to the stage during pick/ban. I just don’t think it will be enough compared to what Cloud9 seem to be brewing up. Cloud9’s coach, Reapered, already announced there would be changes and the absence of Jensen and Smoothie from Cloud9’s academy team nearly confirms that. If assumptions are correct, we should see Goldenglue, Jensen, Licorice, Smoothie, and Svenskeren together on the stage. There is this mythos that Jensen locks up when he is against Bjergsen, but if Cloud9 puts Jensen in a different lane then problem solved. With two mid laners in the mix, I expect to see Cloud9 throwing down with some over the top strategies to grab a win.

Prediction: Cloud9

Game 2: Team Liquid vs Echo Fox

6/30, 6:00pm EST.

My previous weeks imagery of Echo Fox as a multi-headed fox monster just doesn’t cut it. I want to backtrack and say Echo Fox is more like Frankenstein’s monster. Their lust to create life in a composition circumvents whether it is the best thing to do at the moment. Their team composition becomes a wicked amalgamation stapled together threatening to destroy its creator. The temptation of flexing players to alternate positions may be too great for Echo Fox to consider refining their play, even against Team Liquid. Whether or not reeling it back down into a more coherent strategy on the side of Echo Fox is the right thing or not, Team Liquid should still take the victory. Team Liquid has demonstrated they are the tightest team in the league. The most exciting development when talking about Team Liquid though is seeing their top laner, Impact, get work done on bruisers. For a guy that has a world champion skin for Jax, it is nice to see Impact put down his shield and opt for more aggressive champions. Now don’t start thinking this will be a one sided event; Echo Fox could still formulate a knee jerking composition to cause Team Liquid some issues, but Team Liquid should still claim this victory.

Prediction: Team Liquid

Game 3: 100 Thieves vs Clutch Gaming

6/30, 7:00pm EST

Unless 100 Thieves become a bit more well rounded in their team play, it is going to get boring talking about them. Maybe 100 Thieves are just using their exceptional ability to team fight and pick fights as a crutch while they establish something more profound. Clutch gaming are not going to have any of that though as they continue to mitigate early game losses and take control of the match. Clutch gaming have a bit more to offer than just engaging and if Clutch’s jungler, Lira, could just hit smite, I would tout them as a top contender in the league. If I had a suggestion for 100 Thieves, I think they should look to provide support to Ssumday top side. I am just going to continue having my doubts and ship off my support towards Clutch.

Prediction: Clutch Gaming

Game 4: FlyQuest vs. Golden Guardians

6/30, 8:00pm EST

I would say I am scared to jump off of my self-inflicted hype-plane for FlyQuest, but it has yet to take off the ground. I was saying we should see this team come into itself by week 4 and although Rift Rivals cuts into the season to give them an extend period to improve, I don’t think that will be enough. FlyQuest is the worst team in the league right now and just barely pulled off their single victory. While I usually agree with the idea of following through as a team when a bad decision is made, I don’t think that should ever be the case with this team. Their calls and positional mistakes are consistent in that they open themselves up for a greater risk of losing. To top it all off in a meta where you can go a bit wild in champion select and make favorable team compositions they still somehow end up short. Golden Guardians have problems, sure, but they are at least showing signs of improvement. Mickey is still a bit of a question mark on Golden Guardian’s roster,but we got to see him throwdown rather effectively last week. I could talk more about Golden Guardian’s, but nothing seems more important in this matchup than FlyQuest’s issues.

Prediction: Golden Guardians

Game 5: OpTic Gaming vs Counter Logic Gaming

6/30, 9:00pm EST

Counter Logic Gaming were able to get their one Aurelion Sol game of the split in this past week which helps out quite a bit. It is nearly a confirmed victory when CLG gets the starry dragon, having it banned against them opens up strategies and enables them for better drafting. While CLG has yet to show off any unorthodox champion composition, they are doing a killer job at out macroing the opposition. The only thing I can hold against CLG is their rough go at closing games, but when you are up against Optic Gaming that doesn’t bring up much concern. Optic Gaming have had difficulty closing games as they remain strategically unrefined. We know that Optic Gaming can function to some degree with a plan after beating Echo Fox with a funnel composition. That match specifically though, looked more like a lucky break than the display of an efficient team when Echo Fox nearly came back.

Prediction: Counter Logic Gaming

Day 2

Game 1: Golden Guardians vs TSM

7/1, 3:00pm EST

I am not going to jump on the Golden Guardian hype train just yet. While it is exceptionally tempting to start spouting off exaggerations like “Loulo’s Year”, I need to see more decisive wins. I do believe they have the potential to become a threatening team, but I want to see success against teams that are taking them seriously. A win over Team Liquid and close loss to Echo Fox seemed more like the result of underestimating Golden Guardians than an accurate measure of worth. TSM having just suffered an 0–2 weekend probably acted as a good enough slap in the face to assess any opposition as a viable powerhouse. TSM could shoot themselves in the foot though if they continue to focus on improving just their fundamentals. I gave TSM credit for having a clean fundamental driven game in week 1 to only be soured and realize it was more like slow and unconscious play in week 2. If TSM’s play is too lethargic maybe we get to see Golden Guardian’s make a name for themselves. For now though I am going to stick with TSM.

Prediction: TSM

Game 2: Counter Logic Gaming vs FlyQuest

7/1, 4:00pm EST

Did you see my rant about FlyQuest? Ugh, it was harsh, but I had my heart set on them getting better. This was way too much like a rough break-up than it should have been, but I saw the writing on the wall. Hopefully things will be better for both parties like this… But yeah, Counter Logic Gaming are going to stomp FlyQuest into the ground.

Prediction: Counter Logic Gaming

Game 3: Clutch Gaming vs Team Liquid

7/1, 5:00pm EST

I am excited to see how this match plays out. Team Liquid should absolutely take this game, but it will act as a good metric to evaluate Clutch. With the wins and losses Clutch has accrued already, everyone is painting them as a middle tier squad once more. I want to argue though that each member is stepping up quite a bit in their role. If Clutch continue to improve they could be seen as a top team in the NA LCS, but we need wait to see if they give Team Liquid a run for their money.

Prediction: Team Liquid

Game 4: Echo Fox vs Cloud9

7/1, 6:00pm EST

This game is going to be at the top of my watch list if we get the Cloud9 lineup mentioned earlier. I want to get through pick/ban just staring at my screen questioning what this game has come to. I need at least 5 out of the 10 players to be on a role I am uncomfortable seeing them play in, otherwise I will just be disappointed. As I hold my fingers crossed for an exciting and mind bending game, I am gonna hand it to Echo Fox to win this one. Cloud9’s roster moves suggest they will be doing crazy things and I find it hard to believe Echo Fox can be undone when that is their natural environment.

Prediction: Echo Fox

Game 5: 100 Thieves vs OpTic Gaming

7/1, 7:00pm EST

I have no doubt 100 Thieves will be able to take down Optic Gaming because they have created such tangible expectations. I know that OpTic Gaming make decisions that leave individual players in poor positions. Anytime a straggler is out, 100 Thieves are going to act very quickly on that opportunity and pick up a kill. While this is a clear cut thing to look for to prevent a loss on the side of OpTic Gaming, they have done too much to create poor expectations. Optic Gaming still do not have a distinct characteristic that embodies their team. Someone might suggest PowerofEvil as being a player with interesting ideas on how to play champions, but that hasn’t translated or permeated through the team as any real imagery. Optic Gaming need to find their strength as a unit before they can be trusted to pick-up wins.

Prediction: 100 Thieves