Dubbed “Super Week,” Week 4 of the NA LCS raised high expectations: with twenty games over just three days, there promised to be heavy action. Super Week lived up to its hype. When the last game finished, Curse was no longer undefeated, Dignitas extended to a ten-win streak, and Team MRN was chasing at the heels of TSM and CLG. Week 3 had some exciting upsets, but Week 4 completely reshaped the landscape of the North American LCS.
Recapping the twenty games of Super Week would be an immense feat, but it bogs down to both the amount of effort it would take our writers to summarize all the matches as well as the interest of the LoL community to read twenty summaries. Instead, we are opting to do our very own Power Rankings. All eight teams were analyzed holistically, from Week 1, up to Super Week. While the order of these rankings reflects the collective opinions of the staff at TeamLiquid LoL, we have hopes that ultimately they spurn productive discussion within the League community. With that said, we start at Rank 8...
Table of Contents
#8 - 6
#5 - 3
#2 - 1
In the King's Name
Keys to Victory
Power Ranking: #8 - 6
Complexity, Good Game University, Vulcun Command
compLexity unfortunately finds themselves at the bottom of both the LCS standings and our power rankings. With their only win being against the unstable Good Game University, coL has yet to prove they can stand up to the rest of the LCS competitors. coL has shown signs of fighting in several of their match-ups but overall, they haven't been able to put together in any truly amazing performances.
A lot of their issue stem from the fact they lose lanes pretty hard. While their players actually have pretty good coordination with each other, they often find themselves so far behind in lane that they simply can't keep up in team fights. When actually on a fairly even footing, they are able to pull off some impressive team fights and often able to catch their opponents off guard. If they want to keep from falling even further in the standings, they need to focus on improving their mechanics first and foremost.
Players can practice their mechanics and improve, luckily coL already has a good sense of teamwork and coordination that takes a long time to develop in some teams. On an individual level, if Lautemortis is able to step up his pressure in the Jungle, coL might be able to find a few more wins. In several of their games, Lautemortis has fallen behind due to a failed Smite or Jungle invade and fallen very far behind the enemy. As a result he hasn't been able to apply the pressure around the map he needs to in order to keep the rest of his team safe. The laners also need to be mindful of how he his doing in the Jungle, even when Lautemortis has fallen behind, the rest of the lanes have played a little too aggressively and fallen to preventable Jungle ganks. coL have all the makings of a solid team but they need to fix their mechanical shortcomings before they can fully achieve this.
VII) Good Game University
Good Game University is currently in dead last in the LCS standings sitting at 2-10. This is particularly disappointing considering they were a team with a lot of potential. They qualified for the LCS in a convincing fashion taking out other teams at the NA Qualifiers with ease. Despite their 0-2 Week 1, they almost took down Curse, but were unable to close out the game due to a lack of experience. Coming into Week 2 hopes were high for GGU, but these hopes were quickly dashed as their Mid laner Shiphtur was unable to play due to conflicts with school. GGU brought in substitute Fat to play Top lane while ZionSpartan covered Mid. GGU would be dealt a further blow when they found out Shiphtur wouldn't be able to play for another three or four weeks due to conflicts with his work visa. Fat played for GGU in Week 2 and 3 and was constantly abused by the enemy teams. While he put up a valiant effort, it was clear he simply wasn't on the same skill level as many of the other LCS players.
GGU's woes would continue into the Super Week as they would go 1-4 overall. Instead of playing with Fat, Jintae would sub for Mid lane and ZionSpartan would return Top lane. GGU just couldn't catch any breaks as the teams they face simply outclassed them in laning and team fights. Luckily for GGU they were able to end the week on a high note picking up their second win against Vulcun. GGU had a pretty convincing lead for most of the game, but would further stretch that by winning a great team fight 5 for 1 at the 29 minute mark that would lead to an uncontested Baron. From there they simply controlled the pace of the game and was able to force their way into Vulcun's base for the victory.
How GGU does as the season progresses is up in the air. Shiphtur should be returning soon, but they've yet to announce an actual date yet. The team looked to have a lot of potential with him in Mid lane, and they haven't looked nearly as good with either of the subs they used. They've already dug themselves into a pretty deep hole, but since they only need to reach 6th place in order to make the playoffs, it is far from an unobtainable goal.
VI) Vulcun Command
Vulcun's LCS road is a roller coaster. Weeks 1 and 2 were brutal for the ex-FeaR lineup and resulted in a pitiful 0-5 record. Vulcun then reversed all expectations in Week 3 when they swept their opponents, including powerhouse CLG, to join Dignitas and Curse as the only LCS teams to have 3-0 weeks. Sporting a far more impressive spot in the standings, fans and critics alike looked to Vulcun to see if they could continue to defy assumptions and bring more upsets to largely predictable tournament. Regrettably, it was not to be: Vulcun's Week 4 resembled their first and second far more than their third with a 1-4 overall record. Their sole victory was over compLexity and says little about Vulcun's skill. Despite their inability to beat other teams, GGU remains Vulcun's Kryptonite and felled them much as they had two weeks prior. Vulcun held an astounding lead against TSM for a solid 40 minutes, but disappointed LCS viewers by trading away their massive mid game advantage for a late-game beatdown. Finally, Vulcun's remaining matches were against Dignitas and Curse, who continue to be leagues ahead of Vulcun. After a stunning Week 3 performance, it's hard not to feel let down by Vulcun's lackluster Super Week. They show promise, but their inconsistency and inexperience put them at #6.
There is no doubt that Vulcun's players are all immensely talented. mandatorycloud, TL's Player of the Week for Week 3, is an AP mid laner capable of incredible 1v1 dueling and awesome teamfighting presence. Xmithie executes incredibly effective ganks and is a quick-draw on Smite. Despite his recent introduction to the team, Sycho Sid proved himself to be a spectacular top laner during the LCS, often securing kills in impossible situations. Yet Vulcun's problem is not a lack of talent, but instead the skill of consistently and effectively playing as a team. When Vulcun is on the same page, they are absolutely devastating. On the other hand, when they are not in sync, the results are catastrophic. Such expertise will only come with more training together, but if Vulcun can gain the level of synergy of the top tier teams, they will become one themselves. Until then, Vulcun will remain in a lower tier.
Regardless of their overall performance, Vulcun still produced some incredible plays. Muffinqt showed off his Alistar mechanics with a brilliant Flash/Pulverize/Headbutt combo that doomed Chaox to a near-immediate death. Vulcun displayed incredible map awareness and teamfight execution against compLexity when mandatorycloud and muffinqt set Vulcun up for a series of easy kills in coL's jungle. Vulcun showed more aptitude for wombo combos against TSM when a series of chain knockups and lasers sent TheOddOne's "tree" to an early grave. Finally, their most impressive smash in their one victorious matchup was the final struggle in which Vulcun Smite steals a desperation Baron away from compLexity before demolishing the team and destroying the Nexus.
Power Rank: #5 - 3
Team Solomid, Team MRN, Counter Logic Gaming
V) Team SoloMid
TSM was in the best position of any team to have an amazing Super Week. With a Week 3 bye, TSM had plenty of time to prepare for their marathon matches, most of which were against teams in the lower half of the LCS standings. Furthermore, TSM's record as Week 4 began was impressive: only Dignitas and Curse, the top teams in the NA LCS, defeated them. However, TSM's Super Week was thoroughly mediocre in spite of their 3-2 record. Two of their wins were straightforward stomps of GGU and compLexity, but all of the odds were in TSM's favor against the current LCS punching bags. TSM was also expected to win over Vulcun and though TSM managed to triumph, it was only because Vulcun collapsed spectacularly and threw their win to the patient Season 2 NA champions. Of their two losses, dropping a game to Curse was expected, but with Curse showing its first vulnerabilities in the LCS, losing to them no longer easily excusable. Especially since the rest of the former Troika managed to do so. More surprising was MRN's victory over TSM, an upset no one could have predicted from the results of earlier weeks. After four weeks of LCS results, TSM's play is simply unexceptional. While they are neck-and-neck with CLG in the official standings, TSM's wins come from beating the newer teams and even that is inconsistent. What's more, TSM cannot challenge the higher tier teams and their 1-3 record against them shows it. In the end, we expect more from the team that once was the best in NA. TSM's middle-of-the-road showing so far earns them #5 in our Power Ranking.
TSM in Season 3 continues to play like Season 2's TSM: Reginald's aggression, TheOddOne's utility jungling, Dyrus's 1v1 and push-centric power. TSM's strongest showings in the LCS are coordinated around comfortable Champion picks, especially slow throughout Week 4 when each member of TSM only played two Champions. Of particular note are Reginald's standbys in Orianna and Xerath: both Champions allow Reginald to exercise his trademark aggression while avoiding vulnerability with range. Moreover, with the Season 3 changes, Xerath's power is far more pronounced and is likely to make him a top pick in the coming weeks. Similarly, Chaox's Miss Fortune is a terror in lane and teamfights alike, and he falls back to Kog'maw and his team's late-game experience when MF is unavailable. The choice to stay with familiar and well-practiced Champions is an optimal decision for the experienced TSM lineup, as it allows them to understand and predict each others' actions. However, these consistent picks could also haunt TSM when they are faced with bans or opponents that deliberately study their compositions. Chaox, for example, seems far more in control on Miss Fortune than other Ranged AD Champions and while TheOddOne popularized and perfected jungle Maokai in Season 2, the Season 3 metagame seems far less friendly to the Twisted Treant. TSM's struggle to beat Vulcun was indicative of the weaknesses of TSM's crutches, since their play-making potential through most of the game was underwhelming. Similar to CLG, TSM relies on their long history of League of Legends play to help them prevail against inexperienced competition, so they should also be mindful of complacency as those teams gain experience throughout the LCS.
Despite their so-so Super Week, their games were not without plays that merited the classic TSM chant. In their first game in Week 4, TSM gained a significant advantage over compLexity through the first 20 minutes, empowering them to take Baron around 28:00. While TheOddOne, Chaox, and Xpecial brought down the purple monster, Reginald and Dyrus pounced upon the full compLexity team, routing them in a 2v5 fight. Even though GGU's ZionSpartan picked up AP Tryndamere in their game against TSM, Dyrus managed to hold an advantage over the Barbarian King while the rest of TSM consistently murdered the rest of GGU in 4v4s. Though Curse bested TSM during most of their match, TSM's game sense and teamfighting allowed them to pick a good fight with Curse after Curse sneaked a Baron. Perhaps the most impressive achievement of TSM's week was their teamfight execution an hour into their match against Vulcun, during which TSM zoned and pressured Vulcun into retreat while Chaox's six-item Kog'maw reduced them to slag, leading to an eventual Baron and a hard-earned victory.
IV) Team MRN
MRN came into this week with something to prove. They managed to pick up a win in week 3, but it wasn’t much of an upset to win against an ailing GGU. This week didn’t look hopeful for them either - the schedule pitted them against every single one of the top 4 teams. It looked like they would be lucky to scrape by with a 1-4 record this week. Instead they finished 3-2, giving us some impressive upsets against both CLG and TSM. By playing solid games, showing careful preparation and improvement, they have earned #4 in the Power Rank.
MRNhas been riding through the early and mid game on map control created by pressure coming out of Clakey and MegaZero. MegaZero creates excellent pressure in 1v1 situations, especially on his comfort champions. Gone are the days where Clakey constantly tries to gank - now he seems to be far more comfortable farming heavily in the jungle and staying out of ward vision, but by playing mobile junglers who can evade wards like Jarvan and Vi, the threat of ganks and counterganks is very high even as he farms heavily. In both their games vs. CLG and TSM, Clakey secures a massive gold and experience lead over the opposing jungler, which is instrumental when teamfights finally break out. Between avoiding 1v2s which usually turn into early turret kills, controlling vision around dragon, and the constant threat of Clakey, MRN draws out the laning phase for a long time - which works very effectively with standard lane compsositions, especially with their Tristana picks, where they want to avoid early/mid brawling as much as possible while Tristana gets the time she needs to scale past her midgame slump.
They clearly plan for specific teams, too. Against CLG, it’s common knowledge that you need to control Doublelift. Right from the picking phase, we can see how MRN wants to do this: Vi and Twisted Fate apply tons of gank pressure during the laning phase, and in team fights Vi and Renekton can crush him with tanky dive power.
Even in the early laning phase, MRN knew how to abuse CLG's predictable strategies to their advantage. Knowing that CLG intends to snowball Doublelift, MRN realizes that Aphromoo is clearing their first Vision Ward to give Chauster a perfect gank. To prepare, AtomicN heavily harasses Aphromoo's Taric while he took out the ward, knowing that the extra damage would be invaluable in the fight and when ClakeyD arrived to countergank. Sure enough, Chauster and Doublelift immediately dive on a stunned AtomicN, but Heartbeat Flashes and catches the weakened Aphromoo for first blood. Meanwhile, AtomicN managed to lead Chauster and Doublelift back to MRN's bottom outer turret, making ClakeyD's countergank an easy cleanup. Not a single auto-attack was wasted in this impressive demonstration of match preparation and duo-lane mechanics. MRN's understanding of their opponents and ability to interpret their actions gave them a massive lead which was no small part of their massive upset victory.
MRN’s has weaknesses show in their losses vs. Dignitas and Curse. MegaZero isn’t invulnerable, and MRN looks vulnerable when he isn’t creating significant pressure. OddOne tried camping him to keep him down, even killing him, but at the cost of a few too many pink wards. Dignitas banned him out, removing Renekton and Akali, leaving Megazero as Shen and knocking him clear out of his comfort zone. And vs Curse, even when he teleported into teamfights on Cho’Gath well before Voyboy (on AP Tryndamere) he really didn’t have a great impact on the fights, and he also appeared incapable of handling Voyboy 1v1.
III)Counter Logic Gaming
CLG did not make the grand return for which fans hoped in Week 3, despite their strong opening in the first LCS week. In a shocking turn of events, the oldest team in the NA scene lost not only to mighty Dignitas, but also to the once-winless underdogs of Vulcun Command. The veteran organization held a middling 3-3 record at the start of the arduous Super Week. Compared with the meteoric rises of Curse and Vulcun or the reclaimed preeminence of Dignitas, CLG's star dwindled. Unfortunately for the team's Week 4 opponents (read: the lower half of the bracket and Curse), CLG arrived in the LCS studios at the top of their game, winning four of their five matches, including victories over the upstart Vulcun and the previously-undefeated Curse. The only obstacle which prevented a 5-0 CLG sweep was MRN: another former LCS punching bag who managed to turn the tides on their old guard opponents. With their convincingly strong play, CLG earns a spot near the top of the Power Ranking, but it's weaknesses prevent it from ascending past the titans in Dignitas and Curse.
CLG's Season 3 strategies revolve around three core concepts: feed Doublelift, let HotshotGG distract the enemy, and capitalize on the inexperience of their opponents. Widely regarded as the best Ranged AD in NA, Doublelift is the lynchpin of CLG's victories, relying on his expert mechanics and his hypercarry picks to eviscerate all in his path. Doublelift has favored Vayne throughout the LCS and only picks up another late-game monster (like Kog'maw) when Vayne is banned out. CLG enables Doublelift's dominance by frequently ganking his laning opponents, as shown in CLG's rematch against Vulcun, or by opening up opportunities for him to farm freely. However this is also CLG's greatest flaw: a weak Doublelift is a weak CLG. A successful double kill for Heartbeat around 3:00 began CLG's collapse against MRN, as the fed Kog'max suppressed Doublelift's potent late-game. HotshotGG made his name with his split-pushing style and it continues to be a frequently used tool for CLG, employing Champions like Cho'gath, Malphite, Galio, Nasus, and (of course) Nidalee to create opportunities elsewhere on the Rift for the other four members of the team. Hotshot impressively executed this strategy against compLexity, split-pushing to get the attention of coL while his comrades destroyed inhibitor turrets. On the other hand, when talented top laners such as KiWiKiD and MegaZero challenge HSGG's Champion pool, CLG is placed in awkward and difficult positions. Finally, CLG banks heavily on their veteran status for turning early game deficits into late-game victories. While some of the newer teams manage to eclipse CLG in early teamfights (such as this week's GGU vs CLG), CLG can fall back on their extensive experience to make superior decisions late-game to turn matches in their favor. However, this faith in experience also creates a complacency that leads to upsets such as those against MRN and Vulcun.
There would be no 4-1 weekend without some incredible plays from CLG. The final nail in the GGU coffin was an immaculately executed AoE wombo combo, beginning with a perfectly placed Command:Shockwave from LinK and followed with a Rupture/Pulverize chain-stun which allowed Doublelift's Vayne to safely decimate GGU. The craziest play of the week from CLG came in their game again Vulcun when they were already at a huge advantage and were pressuring Vulcun's mid inner turret. When LinK missed his Arcane Barrage, Vulcun struck back, but CLG merely went all-in under the turret. Even with their substantial lead, CLG's ace came at the cost of four members, but HotshotGG destroyed the turret when the dust cleared. CLG's toughest match of the week was against Curse, but CLG adroitly responded to Curse's draft with a Blue invade that netted them first blood and put Voyboy's AP Tryndamere at an immediate disadvantage. Eight minutes and little action later, CLG engaged Curse while they attempted to take Dragon. The spread-out teamfight ended greatly in CLG's favor with a 2-1 trade and a free Dragon. This battle alone gave CLG enough of a lead to eventually take revenge on Curse for their Week 1 defeat.
Power Rank: #2 - 1
Curse Gaming, Team Dignitas
Up until now, Curse was undefeated. However, despite going 8-0, they never really looked invulnerable - scraping through with some sloppy wins, even being left with a naked nexus against GGU in week 1. This week, their mistakes were punished by Dignitas and CLG. Still, they held their ground against upsets - something CLG and TSM failed to do, which prevented them from falling further in the power ranking.
Against MRN they had a clever team comp based around AP tryndamere, using Lux, MF and Jarvan to great effect to stall 4v5 while Tryndamere splitpushed. Voyboy was also capable of bullying Megazero’s Cho’gath and creating immense pressure. However, their draft against CLG, also featuring AP Tryndamere, was not so well-thought-out. They picked Kayle Alistar in response to CLG’s J4 firstpick, allowing CLG to take Lux, which Link would utilise to create powerful siege/poke scenarios while Curse had few ways to force them back without going all-in due to the inferior range on their wave clear.
Lux also lent them considerable level 1 power with her snare - in tandem with a pink ward on a late blue invade, CLG would pick up first blood on Tryndamere, and the shield and snare would prove incredibly powerful again when CLG picks up a very early dragon despite Curse attempting to contest it. I’m not sure what Curse was thinking when they picked Kayle over Lux. Kayle is strong, but she doesn’t fit the composition. It appeared that they were just trying to pick OP champions rather than put together a composition that makes sense.
With their amazing performance in the Super Week, Dignitas proved they were the real deal. Going 5-0, they were the only team to make it through without dropping a single game. This showing made it clear we had underestimated them up until this point. Their last successful LAN showing was at the North American Qualifiers for the Season 2 World Championships at PAX Prime where they took second behind TSM. However the passing of time and the pre-season roster changes we haven’t had an opportunity to see them play a sustain set of games like a LAN tournament would provide. A big issue with our original assessment of Dignitas was the first week confirmed our perceived bias as dig went a 0-2 and looked fairly sloppy. In two weeks that followed they went 5-0 and it was clear that they had a lot of potential after all. In their Super Week games it became apparent that they are finally reaching their full potential as one of the strongest team currently in the LCS.
Dignitas’s recent success can be traced back to just how strong their lanes currently are. imaqtpie and Patoy are a nightmare to opposing Bot laners. Breaking out champs like Dravan and Twitch, imaqtpie is a lane bully who is able to force the enemy ADC into bad trades. Patoy is also making a name for himself with his clean plays and insanely high KDA. Some have even called him the best NA Support. Scarra has proven he's still one of the best NA Mids, keeping up high CS in addition to securing many 1v1 kills and roaming around the map to aid his teammates. Newcomer KiWiKid is also performing extremely well having huge impacts and team fights as well as winning lanes against talented Top laners such as MegaZero and Voyboy. Crumbzz's return to the Jungle has also been a very successful one, as he applies pressure all over the map and seems to appear out of nowhere at some times turning fights into Dignitas’s favor.
Of course this would mean nothing if they didn't have the teamwork to go along with the individual talent. Barring Week 1, dig's team fights have been top notch, making amazing picks, often times without a single casualty. Also absent so far are dig's signature throws. They have been able to establish leads and keep them while closing out games in a convincing fashion. Their new philosophy of extending the laning phase till the very end of the game is working wonders to prevent them from reverting to their old strong armed selves.
In the King's Name
The top four teams of the NA LCS are filled with familiar faces. Every player, save one, had some sort of presence in professional League of Legends during Season 2. Even teams that have undergone roster changes brought in players with prior experience, including Voyboy on Curse and Aphromoo on CLG. There is one player on these teams that stands out as being the new kid on the block, and that's KiWiKid on Dignitas. Prior to joining Dignitas, he was a member of UT Austin's LoL team where he played both AD and AP carry. Despite this being his first foray into pro LoL, KiWiKid isn't completely new to competitive MOBAs as he played on compLexity's Heroes of Newerth team.
Even though Dignitas picked up KiWiKid to fill the Top lane role, he didn't have any competitive experience in this position. Not only did he have to learn to work with new teammates, but he had to do so from an unfamiliar position. This was one of the few examples of a pro NA team drafting for future potential instead of immediate talent. Currently on a 10 win streak and on sitting on top of the NA LCS standings, this addition seems to be working out for Dignitas.
KiWiKid has been a crucial component in Dignitas' impressive run. Whether it's split pushing with impunity on Singed, or being a straight up lane bully on Elise, Kiwi found a way to benefit his team even if he falls behind. During the Super Week he went up against some of the best NA Top laners and constantly found ways to show he belongs in the same league as them. In their game against Good Game University, KiWi was able to abuse ZionSpartan, picking up several 1v1 kills and keeping ZionSpartan's Akali in check. In his match-ups against Voyboy and MegaZero he beat them in both kills and farm and shut down two of the most important members for their respective teams. Even in the games where he was put in a 2v1 situation he managed to out farm his lane counterpart.
KiWiKid has already proven he fully deserves his spot on Dignitas. Props must also be given for Dignitas for seeing talent in a player and having enough confidence in him to give him a starting spot in a position he isn't used to. If Dignitas continues their dominant performance, expect KiWiKid to be there making big plays along side the rest of his team and looking even better as their teamwork continues to evolve.
With Overwhelming Force
Counter Logic Gaming vs Team MRN
11 Counter Logic Gaming 58.2K
19 Team MRN 76.8K
19 Team MRN 76.8K
MRN came into Super Week a single victory to their name, and a crushing loss to Curse made for a disappointing (if expected) start to MRN's Super Week. CLG, on the other hand, not only defeated their Week 3-upsetters, Vulcun, but had just taken down another "one win" team in GGU with ease. No one expected much of Team MRN as they entered Champion Select, while CLG was poised to take the third win of the week.
CLG's bans came mostly from respect, taking away Heartbeat's Tristana and ClakeyD's Jarvan while removing the strength of the Xin Zhao jungle as well. MRN's aimed at removing some of HotshotGG's more dangerous picks and dismissing the power and utility of Kayle from the pool. Other than the obvious target bans, neither team attempted to pick away favored Champions of their opponents. On CLG, Hotshot grabbed his legendary Nidalee while Doublelift secured the Vayne he had played for the entire LCS. Taric and Orianna were standard but powerful picks on support and AP, leaving only one strange choice: Chauster's jungle Wukong. The composition followed the standard CLG strategy: get Doublelift Vayne, get Hotshot a distracting and dangerous split-pusher, and provide for powerful initiation on the rest, secured easily with the potential Dazzle/Cyclone/Command:Shockwave combo on the other three players. MRN too got signature Champions in MegaZero's Renekton and ClakeyD's favorite non-Jarvan jungler, Vi. With a Sona and a Twisted Fate also on the team, MRN's composition appeared to focus on heavy lockdown to allow Heartbeat's Kog'maw to safely tear through their opponents (with the help of TF's passive to quickly buy late game items).
Perhaps CLG's first mistake was choosing a standard lane setup against MRN. MegaZero is famously weak in 1v2 matchups, but an absolute terror in 1v1, especially on Renekton. Perhaps CLG intended to take advantage of Doublelift's strengths to impair MRN's AD/Support duo in the early game, effective destroying their late game damage dealer. As both junglers went towards the bot lane, Doublelift, Aphromoo, and Chauster engaged, but they prioritized AtomicN's Sona over Heartbeat's Kog'maw. As such, Heartbeat not only managed to get first blood from the fleeing Aphromoo, but proceeded to kill Doublelift afterwards when ClakeyD arrived to the party. Suddenly, Heartbeat was two kills ahead of Doublelift (Chauster got the Sona kill) and Vayne is not a Ranged AD that fights effectively from such a deficit. With a critical element of CLG's strategy hampered from 3:20, MRN's chances were far greater, especially because Heartbeat also favors the extreme late-game. To add insult to injury, MegaZero already doubled HotshotGG's farm, putting him far ahead of CLG's other focal player.
With a bot lane already far ahead, CLG searched for somewhere else to make a critical play. Dragon was off the table, as MRN utilized their bot lane control to take it around 8:00. They saw an opportunity when HotshotGG won a trade against MegaZero in the top lane, but the tower dive failed when Chauster missed his Flash-Cyclone, putting him under tower when ClakeyD showed up Assault and Battery and ecco with Destiny/Gate. The monkey fell with ease, giving MRN a slight edge in another essential lane. These leads continued to grow through the mid game with additional farm, turrets, and a Dragon despite CLG getting easy kills when MRN was reckless or poorly positioned.
CLG knew that they would get impossibly behind without a big move, so they positioned themselves at Dragon for the beast's third respawn. Predictably, MRN viciously attacked the occupied team with MegaZero leading the charge directly onto Doublelift. CLG attempted to strike back but were completely thwarted by an amazing Crescendo from AtomicN followed by Assault and Battery through four players. Though Chauster laid down his Cyclone in an optimal location, MRN's damage output was too great for the already-trailing CLG. Only HotshotGG escaped from the carnage while only ecco fell to CLG's counterattack. MRN took the Dragon immediately afterwards, leaving CLG at a 6.7K gold deficit at 23:00. MRN's lead was now firmly established and they demonstrated teamfighting talent with immaculate target selection and ultimate timing.
The rest of the game was a tale of three Baron fights. At 25:00, MRN attempted to take Baron while Doublelift was farming and CLG pressured 4v5, hoping that the Baron and positioning would help them until Vayne arrived. Though the fight looked to be going CLG's way when Doublelift returned, he accidentally tumbled into MegaZero and exploded, letting MRN pull ahead into a 3-2 trade. After this CLG managed to take a few objectives and teamfights, casting doubts on MRN's ability to close out the game in spite of their lead. This all changed when they jumped onto Baron again at 35:45 and promptly destroyed it before pouncing on the approaching CLG. Ecco initiated the fight with a marvelous Misaya-Gate to draw out LinK's Command:Shockwave, then the rest of MRN leapt successfully onto Doublelift once again. Exalted with Baron Nashor, MRN took the mid and top inner turrets before backing off with nearly 11K gold* over the veteran CLG. Once again, CLG endured MRN assaults with few losses, even while MRN held the Baron buff. The last Baron skirmish began at 43:00. Similarly to the previous one, decimated the monster before CLG could engage, then turned on the old guard lineup. Another set of perfect ultimates from AtomicN and ClakeyD and Doublelift dive from MegaZero destroyed CLG's back line while Heartbeat massacred the front for a 5-1 MRN victory. With this swing, MRN immediately plowed through the middle lane and took down the Nexus for an exceptional upset victory over CLG.
*enough to buy two Lichbanes
Keys to Victory
[Day 1] March 15, 2013
TSM vs GGU
A match against TSM, a top-tier team with many months of experience, will be extremely tough for GGU, especially if Shiphtur is still unable to participate. The only way for them to gain a victory is to closely study TSM's favored heroes and either ban them, pick them, or discover a counter for them. It's possible (however unlikely) that GGU discovers a crack in TSM's armor with strategies to counter their favored Champions. Yet a GGU victory is more likely to come from TSM mistakes or inconsistencies rather than anything else and even that is improbable. With odds highly stacked in TSM's favor, they should stick to their planned strategies and practiced compositions since consistency and execution is their easiest path to victory. If TSM play with appropriate caution, humility, and routine, GGU will certainly fall to their strength.
coL vs dig
The second match on Friday is between the literal opposite ends of the LCS bracket. For Dignitas, this means that victory will be theirs if they stick to their strengths. They've played nothing but solid LoL for the last three weeks and there's no reason to switch things up to beat compLexity. For compLexity, obtaining a win over Dignitas will require them to play at their absolute best and have a good deal of luck. Hopefully the post-Super Week break gave them an opportunity to practice their early game execution so they can stave off the Dignitas' aggression until the teamfighting stage. At that point, if Dignitas isn't already too big to fail, then compLexity may be able to make use of their strong teamwork to win fights and take objectives. Unfortunately, this will likely require some mistakes from Dignitas, but such throws are historically not without precedent. Good luck compLexity, you're going to need it.
Crs vs CLG
These teams are at 1-1 in the LCS, and Week 5 brings them to a decisive game for NA followers, if not for the LCS standings. While Curse seemed unbreakable in the first three weeks of the LCS, their Week 4 match against CLG made it seem as through they were playing with FotM ideals rather than their own strategies. They should be more careful in the early game (though CLG is unlikely to try the same trick twice) and pick their battles wisely. Curse should exploit their talent in the top and mid lanes where CLG is most vulnerable and prone to throws, while keeping as much pressure as possible on Doublelift as he farms towards his nigh-unstoppable late game. CLG, on the other hand, should keeping playing League of Protect Doublelift to the best of their abilities since he is their most certain and consistent path to victory. They should also keep constant tabs on Saintvicious, a player whose aggression can be exploited to CLG's benefit. Finally, drafting a powerful and familiar Champion for HotshotGG will ensure his presence is as threatening in the solo lane as CLG intends it to be. This should be a close match and will set expectations going into the second half of the Spring season.
Vul vs MRN
Friday's final match is a duel between the Week 3 surprise and the Week 4 surprise. The most promising lower bracket teams will face off in another deciding matchup for the fans, allowing us to better predict from which team the most reliable upsets will arise. Vulcun would do well to take advantage of some of MRN's obvious weaknesses, such as MegaZero's difficulties in 1v2 play or Heartbeat's preference for Tristana and her mid-game slump. Allowing MRN to play to their strengths would be a mistake, as they've proven that their late-game decision-making and execution is top notch, but making it that far is a struggle. Some choice picks and bans would not go amiss for Vulcun either, since no one wants to fight MegaZero's Renekton or ClakeyD's Jarvan. Selective picks and bans will also be essential for MRN, who will want to keep mandatorycloud and Sycho Sid away from their strongest Champions. Overall, shutting down mancloud is a must, since he tends to be the driving force behind Vulcun's victories. MRN should also plan around Xmithie's lane-camping preferences to set up opportunities to pull ahead in the laning phase. Barring devastating mistakes from one (or both) teams, this should be quite the entertaining match as well.
[Day 2] March 16, 2013
Crs vs TSM
Of the old NA Troika, TSM was the only team to drop their game against Curse during the Super Week. In order to beat Curse this week, they are going to have to do a better job at shutting down Voyboy. While this is a blanket statement that could be applied to all teams, during the Super Week TSM specifically had a hard time dealing with Voyboy's tendency to dive and make big plays. There were several fights that looked to be in TSM's favor, but were quickly turned around by Voyboy ignoring the front line and engaging on TSM's carries. Curse will need to be mindful of TSM's Bot lane if they want a repeat victory. While solid, it's clear Curse's Bot can be overwhelmed, a fact that was exploited by Dignitas in their victory over Curse. If Curse let's TSM get their Bot lane going, it may be difficult for them to slow down.
dig vs GGU
At the time of writing this article, there is no news of Shiphtur returning to GGU for Week 5. Dignitas can take advantage of this as Scarra should be able to abuse Jintae in the Mid lane. By playing champs with high roaming potential such as Diana or Gragas, Scarra can apply pressure around the map and make sure the rest of dig's lanes get fed. In order for GGU to pull off the victory they are going to have to reply on Nintendudex. Each individual lane for dig is arguably stronger than GGU, but the Jungler is the great equalizer. If Nintendudex can pull of several successful early ganks this lead should allow for GGU's lane to keep dig's players in check. If they can accomplish this, they will also have to be sure to use their superior map control to secure Dragon control over dig.
coL vs Vul
The Super Week wasn't kind to coL or Vulcun, each team going 1-4 and 0-5 respectively. Vulcun's only win was actually against coL. In order to repeat their success, they should focus on keeping Lautemortis down. So far, Lautemortis' LCS performances have been somewhat lack luster, having trouble making any huge impact on the games and generally not dealing well playing from behind. If Vulcun can pull off some invades or secure an early kill on Lautemortis in his own Jungle they can keep this trend going. coL needs to focus on Bot lane if they want to pull off the victory. Zuna on Vulcun is already well known for his signature team fight screaming, and keeping him in check is a great way to keep Vulcun grounded. Shutting down Zuna early means breaking Vulcun's spirit which is important to beating them.
MRN vs CLG
Team MRN stunned CLG during the Super Week handing them their only loss. In order for CLG to prevent a similar outcome, they are going to have to keep MegaZero shut down. When left alone in a 1v1 lane MegaZero is able to wreak havoc picking up solo kills with alarming regularity. Putting Doublelift and Aphromoo into a 2v1 not only guarantee free farm for Doublelift, but it will go a long way in shutting down MegaZero. Team MRN is going to have to be adaptive to accomplish a repeat victory. The lane swap for CLG seems like a no brainer, so MRN will have to deal with it accordingly. If MegaZero ends up in a 2v1, MRN will have to make sure that their Bot lane shuts down HotshotGG just as hard as CLG will try to shut down MegaZero. The way in which MRN reacts to this almost inevitable 2v1 is key to their success in this match-up.
[Day 3] March 17, 2013
coL vs TSM
After a one-sided defeat in the Super Week, defeating TSM will be a tall order for the eighth place compLexity. Banning Chaox's Miss Fortune and Reginald's Xerath is a must, though TSM's Champion pools are large enough for bans to be only a minor hindrance. Much like GGU, compLexity's greatest chance comes from TSM's tendency to overaggress or misplay when they are overconfident. If coL can bait them into being so bold, perhaps they can enter the mid game with a lead. If so, coL will want to take TSM out as quickly as possible, since Vulcun's Super Week game against TSM proved that a patient TSM can beat inexperienced teams. Additionally, since coL will be on the Blue side, they should try to grab secret Dragons in the same way that they did against Curse in Week 2. This might give them a strength that TSM won't expect. For TSM, victory is theirs to take, but only (as before) if they play with caution and pragmatism. TSM will need to throw pretty hard to lose this one, but stranger things have happened.
Vul vs dig
The Week 3 superstars clash with NA LCS superstars in the second Sunday match of Week 5. Fighting Dignitas is not easy for any team, much less a lower bracket team that went 1-4 in Super Week (including a loss to dig). However, Vulcun proved that they are capable of incredible upsets and could bring that ability to bear against the three week win streak of Dignitas. Critical to this effort would be an even laning phase for Vulcun. Dignitas crushed its recent opponents with powerful lane swaps, particularly with 2v1 mid lanes, as well as their individual laning talents. Figuring out the best way to escape the laning phase without falling far behind would be essential. One of the best ways to do so might be to ensure that mandatorycloud lanes against scarra: if anyone can fight back against scarra's aggression, it's mancloud. The best plan for Dignitas would be to continue to play to their strengths. Their champion pools are already too broad for Vulcun to effectively dismantle in picks/bans and their players are likely to destroy lane opponents even in a typical 1/1/2 laning setup. If they don't just go for all-out aggression (totally possible), Dignitas will want to take the most care around mancloud and Sycho Sid, the most individually dangerous Vulcun members. Similarly, remembering that Xmithie will likely only gank bot lane will highly benefit the team, allowing them to plan counterganks effectively. Finally, Zuna and Muffinqt can be baited into mistakes due to their aggressive plays, so Dignitas should use that tendency against Vulcun wherever possible.
CLG vs GGU
Unfortunately for Good Game University, CLG will be playing with their full roster for their final game of MLG Dallas. Team MRN and Curse will get to play against an unusual CLG line-up that features the return of bigfatlp and HotshotGG in the Jungle. Back at full strength CLG will be a much harder opponent to deal with. As with most teams, the fate of GGU really depends on making sure Doublelift doesn't get fed. If GGU can do this while also feeding DontMashMe a couple kills they will be in good shape. CLG is often the Doublelift show and when he's behind it shows. CLG have a lot of faith in Doublelift, but they have other options available. If Jintae returns to the Mid lane for GGU, CLG can make an effort to get LiNk fed and let him carry the game. With teams focusing on shutting down Doublelift, this could catch a lot of them off guard.
MRN vs Crs
As a result of their Week 4 performance Team MRN has made a name for themselves pulling off big upsets. Beating CLG was a nice surprise, but beating TSM as well was a statement. If a team is going to underestimate MRN's ability they are going to punish them for that. The result of this meeting will rely heavily on the Top lane performances as both MegaZero and Voyboy are key contributors to the success of their respective teams. In this scenario winning lane is more than just getting ahead, it's about setting the enemy even further behind by limiting a crucial component of their line-up. Curse also needs to pay special attention to MRN's Bot lane as Heartbeattt has looked particularity scary coming out of the Super Week and letting him get a few early kills could spell doom for Curse.
Art by ~tunako (Deviantart)