The Undefeated and the 'New' Underdogs of the Four Major Leagues

It has been nearly a month since the Spring Split started. Many different metas have been attempted thus far, such as Frostmancy Zilean in the top lane or triple-flex Cassiopeia. In the four major leagues, the LCS, LEC, LCK, and LPL, some teams have been standing tall and proud while others lament their drop in performance and in the standings.

There have been many battles fought on the Rift, with a number of newer or reformed teams even making it through without a single loss. Meanwhile, the teams that were considered powerhouse of their respective regions have been struggling through the split.


LCSTeam Liquid - TSM

In the LCS, Team Liquid is on a roll with a 6-0 record up to week 3. They haven’t given up a single game against the powerhouses of the LCS. Starting with their victory against Cloud9 in the opening match, they also defeated 100 Thieves, Clutch Gaming, OpTic Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, and FlyQuest.

They’re carefully calculating the possibility that they might go 18-0 for the split. Doublelift still has been dominant in the bot lane - now not needing to play any mages - with the help of his new support, CoreJJ, and Jensen is as strong as ever with his on-stage performance.

Apparently, the two new players have been a big help for the team. Cain mentioned that these two have been the keys to success in the current spring split.

"CoreJJ adds stability to the team’s macro and helps the team to draw the correct solution. Jensen is a weapon. A well-sharpened sword."

While commenting on the two new players, he picked TSM as the biggest threat in the remaining Round 1.

On the other hand, TSM, who have had many glorious moments within the league, haven’t been themselves lately. After failing to reach Worlds for the first time in the organization’s history last year, their start to this year hasn’t been a smooth ride.

Although they started off with a win against 100 Thieves, they went 1-4 in the five matches that followed and are down at 7th (last) place with a 2-4 record. Although they say that they’re not at peak condition, they need to step up their game if they want to get there before it’s too late.


LECG2 Esports - Fnatic

G2 Esports has started the season with a massive 8-game winning streak. Many fans expressed both excitement and concern when Caps made his controversial move to the team, with Perkz transitioning to the bot lane - but as it turns out, there was nothing to worry about.

In an interview with the Shotcaller, Ocelote shared something that may be the secret to their successful start.

“If you hear the comms, it’s unbelievable. They’re stone-cold while having fun. The calls are so clear, and then, they are doing rock paper scissors for blue buff.”

He was aware that there may be losses in the future, but given their performance up to now, it seems opponents will need to bring more to the fight if they want to take G2 down. With only 1 game remaining in the first round of the spring split, it seems they have already reserved a spot at this year’s MSI at Vietnam and Taiwan.

It’s good to hear Caps is having fun and getting along well with Perkz and the team, but the other team that was involved in the transfer isn’t having as much fun. Fnatic has been falling behind after their glorious 2nd place finish at Worlds 2018 and after losing Caps to G2 Esports. They’re in 8th place with only 2 wins and 6 losses. Nemesis has big shoes to fill in the mid lane, but he isn’t the only reason for Fnatic’s struggles. The whole team hasn’t been very impressive in the eight games they’ve played, especially in the most recent game against G2; Fnatic’s performance was nearly abysmal, trailing 10K gold behind at 16 minutes and giving up the fastest loss this spring at 20 minutes 30 seconds.

One fun fact pointed out by a user on Reddit is that the teams whose player(s) were “stolen” by G2 Esports in the past ended up leaving the league two years after the transfer. Fnatic needs change- and fast - if they want to break the “curse” of G2 Esports.


LCKGriffin - Gen.G

Since their hot run in the 2018 LCK Summer Split, Griffin has been considered one of the best teams in the world despite the fact that they have zero international appearances. Not being able to win the summer championship or get to Worlds just became another source of motivation for the team. All of the players extended their contracts by three years and now, they’ve been dominating the LCK for a whole month.

“Winning all matches. I’d like to get perfect wins, including Worlds. I think it’s not impossible.”

Chovy asserted this ambition in an interview after their victory against Jin Air, and Tarzan also mentioned that with a bit of luck, it may become a reality. At one point, Chovy accumulated 115 kills and assists with only 1 death (up to game 1 against Sandbox Gaming). His unbelievable streak was cut to a third, but his KDA is still at 42.67.

Currently, Griffin is standing proudly at the top with 6 wins, no losses, and a set score difference of +11. They gave up Game 2 in the match against Sandbox Gaming, but the game that followed showed how angry they were to have lost.

Near the other end of the leaderboard stands Gen.G. The 2017 World Champion (previously Samsung Galaxy) reached Worlds last year, but fell out of groups. After losing CoreJJ to Team Liquid and with Ambition retiring, Gen.G has been struggling through the league. They're currently placed at 9th just above Jin Air Green Wings, who have no wins.

Life was given the important role of CoreJJ, and Peanut was considered an upgrade from Haru and Ambition but they have yet to match their expectations. Looking at what CoreJJ is doing in Team Liquid and seeing Gen.G down so low may mean that CoreJJ may have been the real core of the team.

Gen.G will be facing SK Telecom T1 and Griffin in their next two matches. It sure doesn't seem like it will be easy for them to start their climb back up.


LPLFunPlus Phoenix - RNG

It is difficult to say much about the LPL since they haven’t played many matches yet; three teams have played five matches, most teams only four, and RNG has played only two. Among these teams, there still is an undefeated team: FunPlus Phoenix. While the 2018 World Champion Invictus Gaming gave up a game to JD Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix has managed to stay undefeated up to the Lunar New Year break.

Not many predicted that FunPlus Phoenix would do so well this season. Compared to the teams that were considered top-tier, their roster is quite undecorated. No one in their roster has ever won a major tournament. Doinb would be the most decorated player; in his previous team, Rogue Warriors, he won the LPL 2018 Summer regular season in the West division.

Compared to the teams that played four matches - and compared to other regions - the number of games played by RNG is an anomaly. Their star bot laner Uzi has been on a break, missing the only two matches the team has played. However, since the new patches to the game favor marksmen champions, Uzi’s return may be an especially impactful one. A 1-1 record isn’t very satisfying for the previous MSI champions; they will be aiming to catch up with the leader group ASAP.

But yeah, they've only played two games to be considered the 'new underdogs'. Most of the favorites in the LPL are doing quite alright; it is definitely too early to say which team isn't doing well. More on the LPL will be covered on Inven Global, stay tuned!

The LEC will be finishing their first battles with each team this weekend, and most regions will be halfway through their seasons soon as well. Having an 8-0, 6-0, or 4-0 record at this point does not guarantee a season-long winning streak, but hopes are high for the fans - and especially for the players; one of those teams may just make history this season.

※ Image source: Riot Games
※ Images for LPL: LPL English Twitter


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