The biggest move between splits was undoubtedly the arrival of star jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to Counter Logic Gaming. An undeniable talent, Dardoch had failed to synergize both in-game and as a teammate with his former squads Team Liquid and Immortals. Now on CLG, Dardoch was expected to be the carrying force CLG had lacked, propelling them into contention for the North American League Championship Series title.
It may only be two weeks into his competitive career with Counter Logic Gaming, but Dardoch has so far flattered to deceive while he adjusts to his new teammates. The other members of the CLG lineup however, have stepped up significantly around him.
Since he first emerged onto the LCS scene as a rookie with Team Liquid, Dardoch immediately garnered a reputation as an aggressive player with the invaluable ability to carry games almost single-handedly. Although his play on the rift separated him as one of NA’s top talents, he struggled to find the right organizational fit.
With his arrival to CLG, Dardoch was expected to immediately boost a roster that appeared to lack the raw star power of many of their other top competitors in the NA LCS (TSM, C9, etc.). Many expect the jungler to re-establish himself as a top level jungler in NA, but his play has been nothing above average in the first two weeks of the NA LCS Summer Split, notably leading the NA LCS in his total number of deaths.
Yet, an unexpected occurrence in the wake of his arrival has been the rise of CLG’s solo laners in the early weeks of the split. After receiving widespread criticism in Counter Logic Gaming’s premature playoff exit, CLG mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun has asserted himself as a top tier mid laner in North America (behind Froggen, Bjergsen, and Jensen).
Using picks such as Ahri and his pocket pick Aurelion Sol, HuHi has shown he is capable of being much more than a placeholder for CLG in the opening weeks.
Possibly more unexpected has been the revival of top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha, a player for whom rumours were circling that he was well past his prime. Once known for his split-pushing prowess and top lane carries, Darshan had fallen off considerably in recent splits.
Showing strong play on picks such as Galio and Gragas however, Darshan has proven himself once again to be a more than capable top laner who can open up Dardoch to confidently pick more carry-oriented champions.
Amongst all of the LCS junglers (who have started every series), Dardoch is currently the lowest in kill participation. While it is true that Dardoch has not been as effective so far as in previous splits, this statistic is also a reflection of just how strong CLG’s laners have been, more specifically their ability to secure kills in lane without Dardoch’s presence.
The exciting fact for Counter Logic Gaming fans is that the roster still has ample time and opportunity to grow as a team. Dardoch will undoubtedly continue to elevate his play as the season progresses, making CLG an even more threatening force for the top teams of the NA LCS. If HuHi and Darshan can maintain their high level of performance, CLG will be amongst the favorites to capture the NA crown.
CLICKON eSports 2017 NA LCS Pre-Summer Split Power Rankings
CLICKON eSports NA LCS Power Rankings
On the heels of Rift Rivals, CLICKON ranks the teams of the NA LCS.
9th: Echo Fox
After a hot start to the split, Echo Fox has cooled off considerably. Although their mid laner Froggen continues to play at an exceptional level, he still has not received consistent enough play from his teammates to push Echo Fox above a bottom tier team. With a new season approaching, expect Echo Fox to make multiple moves in the off-season if they fail to make the playoffs once again.
The surprise of the season so far has been the resurgence of Immortals behind their new jungler Xmithie. Maintaining the top spot for most of the season so far, Immortals find themselves coming off their first 0-2 week. Whether this is an anamoly, or a sign of things to come, Immortals have proven they can compete with NA's best.
7th: Team EnVyUs
Team NV could be a dark horse in NA moving forward, with a star jungler and consistent bot lane play that has led to significant improvement from their last place finish in the Spring Split. WIth both Pirean and Nisqy showing they can hold their own in the mid lane, NV should finish the season as a contender for a playoff spot.
10th: Team Liquid
Team Liquid may have hit rock bottom halfway through the second split of the 2017 season. With constant substitutions in their starting lineup, Team Liquid have yet to find the right combination to push them forward. For Team Liquid, it is time to start thinking about next season already.
8th: FlyQuest eSports
The addition of former TSM AD Carry WildTurtle has failed to provide the positive spark that FLyQuest were hoping for, and in response they have fallen quickly from their former perch near the top of the standings. Still a fringe playoff team, FlyQuest remains a dangerous team that can not be ignored on any given week. If Hai and Moon are able to rekindle some of their Spring Split synergy, FlyQuest could make a run to end the year.
5th: Team Dignitas
Team Dignitas may be the biggest wildcard of the upcoming split, a team loaded with potential and talent who had a very tumultuous first split. The addition of subs Shrimp and Big should provide flexibility to a roster that has continued to synergize as the season progressed. If LOD is able to keep up with the other ADCs in NA, Dignitas will be a team to watch out for.
2nd: Counter Logic Gaming
Expectations were high for Counter Logic Gaming entering the split after the arrival of Dardoch, and those expectation have been mostly met as CLG currently sits atop the NA LCS standings. With greatly improved play from top laner Darshan, CLG have become a favorite to capture another NA LCS title. Do not be surprised to find them as one of the two teams playing in the Finals in Boston.
Following their third place finish in the Spring Split, do not expect much drop off from Phoenix1 in the upcoming split. NA MVP Arrow should excel in a meta that emphasizes ADCs, and both Ryu and Zig have proven to be more than competent solo laners. The only unknown for Phoenix1 seems to be new support Shady, who was given the starting position despite his poor performances near the end of the last split.
Coming off a 2-1 series victory over Team SoloMid, Cloud9 had a less than impressive showing at Rift RIvals. With the news that the majority of the team was sick at the event, we will cut C9 a break and still have them as a top three team in NA. If they can find consistency from their two top laners, Cloud9 could challenge for the NA LCS crown once again.
1st: Team SoloMid
Following their dominant showing at Rift Rivals, Team SoloMid should once again be considered the favorites in NA. With string laners and great macro play, TSM have shown significant growth already in the split. The return of Doublelift and the emphasis on improvement has paid dividends for the reigning NA LCS Champions, and could easily lead to another title.