What To Watch After #NALCS Week 1

After weeks of speculation and much-discussed roster swaps, the #NALCS Summer Split is here with its brand new Best of 3 format. Everyone from Reddit to the analysis desk has been getting excited about the prospect of more games and larger data sets. And the verdict is in—everyone loves Bo3.

Aside from our first look at the format changes, we’ve also got a week’s worth of games to go over. Some teams have come into the new split looking hungry. Others seem to have suffered in the brief midseason break. In this post, I’ll briefly go over the Winners & the Losers of the past weeks—as well as those who have yet to be judged…

The Winners

With their bright-looking new support player, Team Solomid top this week’s Winners. TSM were the only team to go undefeated in the first week, 2–0ing opponents that both looked strong last split (in CLG and Liquid). The team seemed to really gel with Biofrost and find new heights of aggression in both series.

Immortals follows quick on TSM’s heels. After “misreading the meta” before semifinals, Immortals look like they’ve got a better grasp now—although they’ve not above throwing in the odd Riven pick. Their strong showing against Cloud 9 is the big story; we’ll need to continue to watch their performance against top opponents to see if they can replicate last split’s near-perfect performance.

Joining TSM and IMT in the Winner’s side are two new arrivals: Apex and EnVyUs. Of the two, EnVyUs is the less surprising. Seraph’s claim, that they were the “second best team in NA” last split, may yet be proven true—even without the likes of Freeze. If so, this team will be carried by the might of its solo laners—so keep your eyes on Ninja and Seraph.

Turning to Apex, the latest 10-man roster experiment looks to be going well so far. Saintvicious’ team showed great cohesion this weekend, with strong individuals performances from the likes of Ray, Keane and Xpecial. What many had passed off as a mid-tier team appears to be a genuine challenger, with enough depth in their roster to deal with future adversity.

The Losers

CLG are slumping again. Ye faithful, take heart! Despite decent drafting and some plucky comeback attempts, poor individual play from Darshan and Huhi weighed CLG down. Many are arguing that CLG don’t have a read on the meta yet after MSI. But it seems like the real problem is one of motivation: CLG don’t look hungry enough. Hopefully a 0–2 week will get their appetites back.

Liquid are looking lost—with or without Dardoch. Whatever happened in the Liquid house during the offseason, it wasn’t good. The team is a shadow of its former self and they’ll need to regain their footing quickly, if they want to challenge for Worlds. Steve must be wringing his hands right now. This Summer Split looks destined to be far more competitive than Spring and, at the moment, Liquid aren’t measuring up.

Another team that seems lost, despite extensive roster changes, is NRG. The second incarnation of GBM & company picked up a single game this weekend, but looked very poor at mid-tier opposition. Hopefully they’ll be able to improve with time.

Phoenix1 was always going to written off as a weak link, but their Week 1 showing did nothing to change this assumption. Lacking the unknown talent that buoyed Team Impulse to some early wins in Spring, it’s hard to find any shining light for this team. Gate fans will be sad tonight :(

Yet To Be Decided…

Despite a 2–1 loss to Immortals, Cloud 9 looked decently strong in their takedown of Echo Fox. Both teams hang in the balance. Echo Fox picked up a 2–0 against bottom feeder Phoenix1, which we can’t read too much into… Without a few more games, it’s tough to tell where these squads will fall in the rankings, although both appear decently strong. Cloud 9 in particular will be aiming for a trip to Worlds, but there are many tough competitors in the #NALCS this season!

Power Rankings — Week 1

S Tier — TSM, Immortals

A Tier—Apex, EnVyUs, Cloud 9, Echo Fox

B Tier—CLG, NRG, Liquid, Phoenix1