Heading into Rift Rivals, the first half of the NA LCS Summer Split has concluded. Teams had 10 games each, which comes out to be 50 games in total. If history counts for anything, it’ll be a time for reflecting of the first half and time to predict what comes in the second half.
▣ The hottest team on the block: Immortals
If someone were to pick one team who showed the most interesting results so far in the split, it would have to be Immortals. Finishing in 7th place with a 8-10 record last split, Immortals now stands strong in the 2nd place alongside TSM with a 7-3 record.
Their unprecedented success can be attributed to the new jungler trade with CLG, Xmithie, as well as the new coach, Ssong. Though Xmithie may not possess the flashy mechanical skills of Dardoch, who suffered from issues outside gameplay, Xmithie excels in looking at the bigger picture and leads the team in macro plays.
Another point of interest is that Immortals’ players have newfound initiative. The last season’s Immortals often fell apart, not knowing what to do with the leads they had. As a result, they were strong against weak teams but couldn’t quite compete against the usual powerhouses. For this split, though, they are no longer the old Immortals. Each player on the team understands exactly what needs to be done and works as a part of the team to pull off some outstanding power plays. Thanks to the improved teamwork, laners’ matchup statistics have improved as well.
Despite failing to achieve 1st place finish after losing to TSM and Phoenix1 in Week 5, Immortals still has a grasp on a macro game that is top-notch in NA. Coach Ssong said in an interview with Inven Global, “We’re extremely short on time,” referring to the lack of time the team had in adjusting to a new style of coaching. Perhaps, the much-needed week-long break, thanks to Rift Rivals, is what Immortals needed to push them over the edge for the second half of the split. People have been impressed by their performance thus far, and it’s likely that they’ll come even more prepared in the second half.
▣ Early gap between strong and weak teams is closing
Early in the split, the gap between the strong and weak teams was quite apparent. Teams like TSM, IMT, CLG, and DIG got a huge head start while only taking a couple losses, while FLY, TL, and P1 fell into losing streaks with their records making their standings painfully obvious.
The most drastic fall from grace was P1, which had a respectable 3rd place finish in the last split. P1 couldn’t seem to find their bearings early in the season and continued to be ineffective in securing victory. After signing the rookie jungler, Mike Yeung, P1 finally cut the vicious cycle of defeat in the match against Echo Fox. However, due to the losses they’ve accrued, P1 may have the deck stacked against them in regards to advancing to the playoffs, but they might have a chance if they start to win every match moving forward.
The early discrepancy between teams seems to be ironing itself out as time goes on. Looking at the current standings up to Week 5, CLG, IMT, and TSM have taken the top 3 spots, while C9, EV, DIG, and FOX fill up the middle of the pack. FLY, P1, and TL are still rounding out the bottom, but judging from players’ comments on the possibility of a rebound, the struggling teams can’t be written off just yet.
▣ Teams to look out for in the second half: FlyQuest and Immortals
Though FlyQuest finished with an underwhelming 3-7 record in the first half, it’s highly likely that they have the potential to upset the scales in the second half. Many people, including players of the current top teams, pointed to FLY as being one of the big threats and cautiously predicted that if one of the bottom teams were to take off, it would probably be FLY.
FLY’s potential lays with each player. From the masterful draft of the support player, LemonNation, to the renowned shotcalling of Hai, FLY can pop off at any moment. Evidently, they were pushed aside early in the split without putting up much of a fight, but they started to turn it around as their teamwork began to take form. However, as Hai said in a recent interview, “We’re definitely on the back foot,” and time is of the essence. Considering they’re currently in 8th place alongside P1, FLY must move past at least two teams, which means that they’ll have to bring out their new and improved selves.
Another team likely to surge back is Immortals. They oddly remind me of a baby elephant who enjoys stomping everyone but then stopped after everyone else grew up towards the end of the first half. Keep in mind that elephants take a long while to grow fully, and, once they have matured, there’s no match for that behemoth of a creature. Of course, that sort of prediction may only come to pass if coach Ssong’s statement about needing time was true.
Immortals’ performance has swung up and down until the midway point, but what they deliver on a good rivals even the top LCK teams. Their true potential has yet to be unleashed, and yet they’re already in 2nd place. Imagine what they’ll be capable of in the second half when they have had more time to work on consistency.