In a league where anyone can beat anyone, either the level of competition is extremely high or extremely low. In each of League of Legends’ major regions across the globe, clear title frontrunners are typically established at an early stage, the one exception to that rule during the 2017 Summer Split: North America.
The dust is yet to settle as North America enters the third week of the LCS Summer Split. Where their European rivals have quickly identified G2 eSports, Fnatic, H2K-Gaming and Unicorns of Love as the most likely competitors for international seeding, North America is none the wiser.
Each of North America’s top three finishers from the spring have misfired since returning from the mid-season break. Still reeling from their Rio de Janeiro hangover, Team SoloMid has suffered defeats at the hands of Immortals and Team Dignitas, though have bizarrely notched their only two victories of the split so far against Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9.
Cloud9 were grateful to face the leagues two of the leagues weaker outfits in Week 2, capitalising on two in-game capitulations and a curious roster swap to best Echo Fox, whilst Phoenix1 is essentially a free win at this stage in the split. P1 are unrecognisable from the squad that defeated FlyQuest eSports to finish third in front of a buoyant Vancouver crowd.
Expected to build upon their remarkable Spring Split success, Phoenix1 were tipped to claim North America’s final seed for the World Championship. Instead, P1 now have sole ownership of last place in the NA LCS, yet to win a single game. Since replacing William “Stunt” Chen with Jordan “Shady” Robinson, the organisation have won just a single series, losing six.
It speaks volumes of a team’s desperation when they opt for a composition featuring Urgot top, Lucian mid and Kalista AD carry in an attempt to catch an opponent off guard and notch a win.
At the table’s summit – where fans might have expected the staples of Team SoloMid and Cloud9 to sit proudly – the NA LCS currently hosts four teams all tied for first place: Counter Logic Gaming, Team Dignitas, Immortals and Team EnVyUs.
Counter Logic Gaming were considered to be the strongest regional side ahead of their typical defeat to Team SoloMid, unsurprisingly stumbling just at the moment when they appeared to be gaining momentum. By contrast, NV have returned to the LCS rejuvenated following their narrow Promotion Tournament survival. Having already dispatched the teams many considered to be their nearest rivals, Team EnVyUs will pose a worrying threat to the perceived regional heavyweights.
As for Immortals and Team Dignitas, their strength is difficult to measure. As is the current state of disarray in the North American region, the two organisations’ victories over Team SoloMid are quickly cancelled out by crushing defeats at the hands of last season’s two relegation-threatened sides.
Currently, Rift Rivals looks set to feature North America’s last placed team, whilst the region’s seeds for the forthcoming World Championship have never been more in doubt. Following a disappointing international appearance at the Mid-Season Invitational, what NA needed more than anything was a period of domestic stability.
Though the element of unpredictability makes for entertaining viewing, with nearly every team equally capable of securing a positive result, the trend does not bode well for NA’s international ambitions. For once, it is true to remark that ‘the gap is closing’… unfortunately it’s the gap between NA’s top and low tier team’s that is becoming increasingly difficult to define.
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