Stories Around the Rift will bring you the overarching storylines week to week in the NA LCS. Which team is on the up and up in NA LCS Week 3? Who needs to prove themselves, or bounce back from a bad week? Which players are surprising and which are disappointing? Esports is just as much about the stories and the narratives as it is the gameplay. So sit down, grab some cookies and milk, and get ready for storytime kiddos.
This week, for NA LCS Week 3, we’ll look at the upstart Echo Fox, the continuing struggle of the Old Guard in the NA LCS, and some optimism around OpTic, even at 1-3. Of course, we’ll also look at how strong Team Liquid are looking after a thunderous start to the season.
TL;DR: Echo Fox are probably the hottest team in the league, currently undefeated and with World Finalist Huni back in form, well, Echo Fox are proving doubters wrong. But can they maintain the momentum into the NA LCS Week 3?
The single most surprising situation, from offseason to NA LCS Week 3, is to say that Echo Fox, yes Echo Fox, is currently first in the league and undefeated. Alright, so, our first question could be, maybe they had an easy schedule? Surely that could happen, particularly with a league filled with four new teams.
That’s not the case though. Echo Fox took down not just TSM (which, in their current state, is maybe not that big of a feat…) and Cloud9. Two of the three representatives that went to Worlds last year were thumped by Echo Fox. With the Holo Knight in the top lane looking more in form (or, maybe, against less stacked top lane talent than LCK) Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and surprise carry potential from returning Kim "Fenix" Jae-hun and Johnny "Altec" Ru have lead Echo Fox to a 4-0 start. Echo Fox doesn’t have to so much prove their new roster has strength, they’ve done that. But they have to prove themselves real contenders by continuing with at least a strong showing, even if they lose. If, somehow, they keep going undefeated… Well, yea. I don't think the universe is prepared for that.
TL;DR: In a league with four new teams, it's the leagues oldest two teams, TSM and CLG, that look the shakiest. For different reasons, TSM's bot lane problems and CLG's overall cohesion, the two rivals look to be considerably outclassed.
It’s one helluva season when I have to look at the standings for NA LCS Week 3, and they have TSM at… 1-3. And that one victory wasn’t necessarily the most dominant showing. TSM. The NA LCS dominant team. NA’s darlings. And they look like garbage. Their imported bot lane looked second rate against the rejected Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, now on Team Liquid. Even Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg looked… out of sorts. TSM needs to bounce back, not necessarily just for standings, but to prove that they made the right roster moves to take TSM places they have never been: success on the international stage. So far, they've just faltered on the scene they usually dominant, the domestic one.
CLG’s the other surprising fall from grace, although many could see this as more likely. An offseason that saw them lose cornerstone and captain Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black and a large question mark in the jungle. Would rookie and shaky Omar "OmarGod" Amin fill the starter position again? Ultimately, they landed on (apparently long sought after) Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin. While the roster still is new, having a new Support replacing the shotcalling captain in Vincent "Biofrost" Wang, and a Jungler, require a lot of time to mesh. But a 1-3 start is still pretty rough, particularly a practical blowout to newcomers Clutch Gaming. CLG need to bounce back to prove to their fans that their Faith isn't misplaced.
TL;DR: Even though OpTic sit at 1-3, the team and fans have a lot to be proud of. They look better than many slated them to be, and their two hard carries in Arrow and Power of Evil are looking strong. They just need to work on finishing out games.
OpTic share a similar win rate with some of the other teams that need to bounce back. But they’re not in the same position as TSM or CLG, or the current last-place Golden Guardians. OpTic has looked strong where many thought that they would, mainly, in the carry roles: previous Spring Split MVP Noh "Arrow" Dong-hyeon and “traitor to EU” Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage.
OpTic have looked competitive in two of their losses. That’s impressive. A loss to the downwards spiral TSM may be bad, but it was close and competitive. Their loss to 100 Thieves… well… it was very back and forth. OpTic show promise, a lot more promise than many pundits had slated for them. If they can keep their form and if Arrow and Power of Evil can put their carry pants on, and the rest of the team can support them, OpTic look to be in a good place going into Week 3. Facing Echo Fox and Cloud 9 will be a true test of this rosters ability to contend for the top spots. They've shown they have the talent to challenge, but their biggest weakness is decisively closing out games.
TL;DR: With a 3-1 record and an absolute crushing victory over NA LCS Finalists TSM, Team Liquid are making the case for their off season hype. Whether the horse heads can continue their campaign back into relevancy will ride on their next few weeks of performance.
Last, but certainly not least, Team Liquid. This is kind of the storyline that everyone has been talking about, and it’s the least surprising. Team Liquids #PaidBySteve dream team has been trashing teams they’ve played (alright, minus 100 Thieves…). Shocking the scene by taking down TSM, not simply in a close match, but in a way that made TSM look like a bottom tier team. It was their bot lane, too, that just outclassed the imported, highly hyped European duo for TSM.
A team with arguably one of the best top laners in the West in Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong and (again, arguably) the best ADC in the West of Doublelift, nobody is overly shocked on this fact. But it’s how well this team has come together, how they’ve clicked so well. Talks of Doublelift and Kim "Olleh" Joo-sung’s synergy are scary, given how tyrannical they’ve already been in the bot lane. With a supporting cast in the Jungle and Mid lane with Jake "Xmithie" Puchero and Eugene "Pobelter" Park, Team Liquid look to have found the 'perfect mix' for a real top flight team. While it's way too early to call, there's already mumbling about Team Liquid being real favourites to take the NA LCS' Spring Split. Something Liquid fans have dreamed of for quite some time (well, they've more dreamed of at least not being in relegation spots every split...)
Come by the fire next week, reader, for more of the storylines and narratives as the NA LCS continues on. Will we see the same actors and teams leading the story? Or will new heroes rise? Will the same threads reappear?