Today, let’s narrow the focus a bit and look at headlines about specific teams that are making ripples in the League of Legends realm.
Phoenix 1 pulls off a gigantic upset in the NA LCS
Let’s rewind first. Phoenix1 started out this split by losing their first nine matches (meanwhile, TSM was 9-0).
Analysts agreed: Phoenix1 was playing to just avoid relegations. Then this happened. Here’s a game-by-game breakdown.
Game One was what we expected from this series. TSM came out and completely dominated, only giving up one kill the entire game. They persistently took down turrets, knocking down four in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Phoenix1 could only muster 16.9K damage collectively, compared to TSMs 31.1k. After a 22-minute Baron, TSM ended the game two minutes later.
It seems like after getting their butts handed to them in Game One, Phoenix1 decided it was all or nothing. Curveballs were coming, and a ton of them. In the pick and ban phase for Game Two, Phoenix1’s jungler, Inori, locked in Rengar.
The combination of Rumble, Sivir, Braum, Malzahar, and Rengar isn’t the typical composition you see in this meta. Rumble has fallen out of favor in the top lane, and Malzahar was just getting picked consistently in competitive play last week.
Rengar and Malzahar were too much for TSM, as they both went a combined 20-4-16 in game two. TSM was able to keep it even through 22 minutes, but a huge teamfight that netted Inori’s Rengar three kills began to turn the game in Phoenix1’s favor.
Just two minutes later, Phoenix1 secured an ace, a Baron, and ultimately a Game Two victory.
Coming off their first loss in 18 straight games, TSM was still in position to win the series.
They banned Rengar, but left Malzahar up once again. Inori was able to secure Rek’Sai instead (a top two jungler currently in this meta). The real noteworthy picks from Phoenix1’s draft is Mash picking up Twitch and Zig grabbing Gangplank.
While Twitch and Gangplank aren’t top tier meta picks, they’re comfortable picks for Mash and Zig (Zig is notorious for spamming Gangplank in soloque). In this case, with perhaps a shaky TSM facing defeat, comfort ended up being huge.
For the first time all Summer Split, Phoenix1 established a gold lead at the very beginning of the game and never once relinquished it. An ace 20 minutes in really opened the game up for Phoenix1, who immediately turned toward their first Baron of the game.
The outcome was never in doubt after that, as Phoenix1 grabbed another Baron eight minutes later and ended the game shortly after.
Now only one question remains:
Will Dyrus really shave his head?
Counter Logic Gaming continues to rebound
With just one week of competitive play left in the regular season, the back-to-back reigning and defending champions of the North American League of Legends Championship Series have battled their way back from a terrible start to secure a playoff position once again.
Recent NA LCS giants, Team SoloMid and Immortals, have already clinched the top two seeds in the NA LCS Summer Playoffs as well as the two first-round byes that accompany them. Meanwhile, CLG still has the opportunity to make a run for the third-place finish this week.
At the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational, CLG found the international success they’ve longed for, making it all the way to finals before losing to SKT. The team played around their side lanes in that tournament, a strategy they attempted to replicate during the Summer Split. CLG’s mid laner, Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, was often left on an island of his own.
Halfway through the split, the team decided that strategy wasn’t performing the way they wanted.
Since then, CLG has centered their gameplay around midlane. And the proof is in the pudding as they say. Since then, CLG has gone 6-2, only losing to TSM and Immortals during that stretch.
After knocking off Cloud9 and Team Liquid, it appears CLG is the third best team in the NA LCS. We’ll see if they can raise their game once again when the playoffs start.
Apex Pride players/personnel kicked out of house
After a large uproar on Twitter from current players on Apex Pride, it was reported that the Apex Gaming organization was removing their players from the Apex house. The decision was made just two days after Apex Pride lost their qualification tiebreaker to Dream Team in the Challenger Series.
One of the first to respond was current coach Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo on Twitter:
Apex Pride’s players, which include Cristian “Cris” Rosales, Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov, Danny “Shiphtur” Le, Oh “Roar” Jang-won, and Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon, were then told they had two days to pack up their stuff and vacate the premises.
KonKwon was so upset by the announcement, that he stated he was quitting League of Legends for good:
It’s also reported that Roar has left North America for Korea, per team sources.
Apex’s owner, David Slan, has since released a statement to ESPN:
“To be clear…no one is being kicked out of the house. The team is not playing again for six months, and we may or may not be keeping this house for the next CS team. If we do leave, it will be at the end of this month. So we are providing transportation for the players back home. This will allow us to get the house cleaned up should we decide to move.
Since the team did not perform as expected, we will be deciding what to do about personnel over the next few weeks. But when a team does not perform, it is obvious that changes must be made.”
Maybe this is all just one big coincidence, but I feel Apex could have handled this more professionally. Perhaps the combination of them losing in the Challenger Series, and the recent struggles of Apex in the NA LCS, left a sour taste in Slan’s mouth.
Either way, best of luck to Apex and all the former Apex Pride players moving forward.