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 4? 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 4, we'll look at Echo Foxes return to Earth, the Old Guard’s striking back and going 4-0, 100 Thieves struggles, and Impact’s comment towards his old team mates in Cloud 9.


Echo Fox’s Mortality is Showing: Going 1-1 no cause for alarm, but a sign that they can bleed

TL;DR: A loss to CLG isn't the end of the world for Echo Fox, but it does show that the team can lose. It's too early to call for any real alarm, but Echo Fox will need to return to their winning ways.

CLG Echo Fox

One loss does not a slump make, but it’s always worth noting when and how a strong team losses. Bo1 format throws off a lot of strength measurements (maybe it was a bad draft, or an early game disadvantage, or a Baron smite etc. etc.) because the variables are higher than in a Bo3 series. However, Echo Fox’s first loss being to a lower tier team… Is interesting. Upsets happen, but Echo Fox's loss showed for many that the team can still be defeated.

With the storylines around the meeting of Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin again, a lot of hype went into this match. With CLG taking the win, question marks start to appear around Echo Fox's roster. This is CLG, too, the team that many have deep concerns about their legitimacy, showed up strong against the roster that’s taken the first few weeks of the NA LCS by storm. The undefeated team losing to CLG either speaks extremely highly of a new CLG, or of Echo Fox’s possible decline into ‘A/B tier team’ rather than god tier. Whether Echo Fox can maintain their winning ways or not will determine a lot of their longevity as being one of the top teams in the league. But it's far too early to raise any real alarm signals.

The Old Guard Strike Back: a 2-0 week for both TSM and CLG is a positive sign for the older teams

TL;DR: A bounce back week for the old guard teams in TSM and CLG is a positive movement. Both teams seemed more like how we imagined they would coming out of the off season. Can they continue to show us their potential in Week 4 is the big question.

Last week fans were scratching their heads (or pulling their hair out, depending on their loyalty to their teams) as to what exactly was going on with the NA LCS’ two oldest franchises, TSM and CLG. The two looked completely lost, in an off season that was touted as a ‘win’ by both organizations (TSM acquiring star European botlane in Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez, while CLG was able to nab long-sought-after Reignover and ex-TSM support and diamond in the rough Vincent "Biofrost" Wang.)

Team SoloMid TSM

Well, up until Week 3 of the NA LCS, you would be surprised that these were considered moves to strengthen the rosters. Finally, though, the two teams collectively set themselves aright, particularly as far as standings go. Both went from a 1-3 record to a 3-3, not the grandest of win-loss ratio, but a passable on. One they can hope to build off of in the coming weeks, as playoff consideration begin to loom overhead of teams. Missing the playoffs for teams hoping to return to Worlds can be devastating for that campaign come Summer. A 2-0 week for a team that previously only managed one win is a big win, and a sign of (hopefully) better days for the struggling old guard.

Stealing away the Win: 100 Thieves struggles on finishing a game cleanly

TL;DR: 100 Thieves are 4-2, but some of those wins have been too close for comfort. The team needs to tighten up their late game and acting on win conditions better.

100 Thieves enter the NA LCS Week 4 in a pretty strong position as far as standings go. A 4-2 in the opening weeks of the split is a decent showing, and doesn’t put the team in any real ‘panic button’ mode at all. They’re a young team, as far as working together goes (and are filled with some very long tenured veterans,) so not being able to close out games consistently and with gumption can be… forgiven. But it’s an alarming trend.

100 Thieves aphromoo

100 Thieves thrive in the Bo1 format of the regular split. Games can be long and drawn out, and while their composure under pressure and resilience is admirable, their inability to close in on win conditions is cause for concern. In a Bo3 format, a team may be able to adapt to a slogfest game 1 that 100 Thieves prevails, and adapt. The next two games, if that team learns throughout the series, could be drafting to a decisive win condition that 100 Thieves won't be able to drag out into that late game battle of attrition.

Impact with the Impactful quote on whether he misses Cloud 9: “I don’t miss it too much. I think it is because they play a bit dumb…”

TL;DR: Clickbaity snippet aside, Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong's point was more a statement on the reality of Cloud 9's position in the league than a stab at them. Breaking down what this means, that Cloud 9's dominance is through mechanical plays and not being punished for a lack luster macro, is worrisome.

Team Liquid Impact

Oooooouuufffffph. Impact went no filter for his interview with Invern Global about his past team, Cloud 9. While Impact has seen considerably strong play throughout this split, and seems to be showing form from his peak on Cloud 9, many fans (myself included) were taken aback by the backhanded comment towards his old team. But, truthfully, it wasn’t as aggressive as the ‘clickbait snippet’ makes it out to be.

Impact’s point is this: Cloud 9’s ability to dominant the NA LCS is less because of their strength as a team, and more from their individual prowess and the fact that their opponents to do not capitalize off their mistakes. When you’re laning against Jensen or Sneaky, it’s difficult to think of the macro if you’re barely able to focus on your farming. Impact points to this fact and seems to imply that, macro wise or team play wise, C9 are not the strongest in the region. If teams could take a more clinical or surgical approach to C9, the team may fall apart and buckle under the pressure (he mentions specifically side lane management as one of these worries.)