It’s not often that you get to see the clear-cut top 3 teams of a League fall in 3 subsequent games. It’s even more uncommon for said defeats to come directly from teams on the opposite end of the leaderboard. Week 6 of LCS 2021 Summer was one for the history books, and we’re about to tell you why.
Given that there had been many a split since Counter Logic Gaming had so much taken a game off of once-upon-a-time rivals TSM, fans of League of Legends’ oldest franchise had their expectations tempered heading into Week 6 of LCS 2021 Summer. Combine this with their back-to-back 0-3 weeks leading into this game, and there wasn’t a great deal to be said in favour of CLG’s prospective victory.
One explosive, backs-against-the-wall slugfest later, however, and CLG opened up Week 6 of the LCS with what would surely be the craziest upset of the weekend.
Said triumph for CLG would quickly be overshadowed by that of FlyQuest Academy, who would be taking the stage in place of their main roster; another team on the downturn with three subsequent 0-3 weeks under their belts. This last-ditch effort by the FLY organisation - subbing in their entire Academy line-up after a last-minute trade of Eric “Licorice” Ritchie to Golden Guardians - had fans writing off the team’s chances at making play-offs. After all, not only would they be fielding their Academy team, but due to Licorice being traded for money rather than a player, Academy toplaner Colin “Kumo” Zhao would be playing in both franchised leagues until further notice.
Spread thin, changed at the last minute, and fielding a roster that was essentially an (admittedly rather big, given their superb record) Academy fish in the LCS pond, FLY took down Spring champions Cloud9 in a stellar combination of aggression and teamwork.
The third and final upset of the day would come immediately afterwards, with fellow precariously-positioned squad Golden Guardians vying for the same play-offs spot CLG and FLY made a solid claim towards earlier in the day. Augmenting their development-focused roster with another veteran in the form of Licorice, it would still be a tall task for the 10th-placed team in the League to take down the 1st.
Until they did - largely thanks to how seamlessly Licorice slot into the line-up. Not only was Licorice winning his lane convincingly, the top laner also ensured that Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson was able to freely move around the river, Licorice’s Gwen pick bailing his rookie jungler out of some difficult situations.
CLG vs. TSM
After a glimmer of hope in Week 3 - a close defeat at the hands of 100T, followed by two strong wins over middle-of-the-pack contenders and potential rivals down the line in Evil Geniuses and Dignitas - CLG’s fans and LCS team alike were met with crushing defeat after crushing defeat.
Draft concerns have plagued CLG all split long, and this game should have been no exception - both of TSM’s sololaners, Tristan “PowerofEvil” Schrage and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, are renowned for their unconventional picks and deep champion pools.
Huni is widely considered to be the best Rumble player in the entire LCS, and potentially one of the best in the world overall. Mingyi “Spica” Lu doesn’t have quite the same reputation on Lee Sin, but his success on the champion cannot be understated - which is why it becomes even more of a question mark that TSM decided to field Rumble in the jungle and Lee Sin in mid.
PowerofEvil is almost unparalleled when it comes to control mage prowess in North America, and his Lucian missteps have become somewhat of a running gag in the LCS community. A tendency to farm until the later stages of the game and pressure out his opponents in strict laning benefits champions like Viktor and Azir, but the TSM midlaner has historically struggled with aggressive early-game champions. His Lee Sin would unfortunately fall under similar scrutiny this game, and PowerofEvil was helpless to stop Eugene “Pobelter” Park from roaming down and securing an early kill in favour of CLG.
A chain of kills and objectives in favour of CLG between the 12 and 21-minute marks went relatively unanswered by TSM, and despite some back-and-forth teamfights the game slipped out of TSM’s hands. A stellar early game from Spica aside, this is a VoD to watch time and time again in the TSM training grounds.
FlyQuest vs. Cloud9
After the aforementioned horrendous showing by FLY’s all-star roster throughout the Summer Split, bringing in their entire Academy squad was seen as the team already writing their playoffs chances off. After all, even though FLY Academy were certainly formidable in their own league, on paper their individual players were much worse than their counterparts in the main FLY roster.
Or so we thought.
With their offloading of the admittedly KDA-suffering (a solid 2.0 through Spring) David “Diamond” Bérubé in exchange for premier import support Han “Dreams” Min-kook in the Spring-Summer off-season, FLY upgraded their roster’s star power dramatically. Unfortunately, their efforts in the shotcalling department took a hit, and as such FLY’s stacked main roster moved around the map with little regard for macro after a given point in time.
Diamond’s confident calls are what give FLY’s Academy team their distinct aggression, however, and the results of FLY.A’s all too brief appearance on the LCS stage this weekend are testament to that.
Ending the organisation’s loss streak in your first game on the big stage as this line-up of 5 is one thing, but doing it versus a title contender is another entirely - and yet that is exactly what FLY.A did.
A quick first blood in favour of Cloud9 was not enough to shake the confidence of FLY.A or their veteran midlaner, Oceanic all-star Stephen “Triple” Li. Having spent the past year and a half in the Academy circuit on FLY, Triple has often been the talk of the town when it comes to promising resident midlane talent. A KDA of 7.5 after this weekend is decent to say the least, but perhaps most promising is that Triple has performed on Azir, Lucian, and LeBlanc - all of whom fulfil drastically different roles within the game.
The longest-tenured member of the players under the FlyQuest banner delivered massively in his first step onto the LCS stage, maintaining a commanding presence on Lucian and posting a 28.8% damage share in this game. His early aggression allowed more flexibility for both Diamond’s Leona roams and engages, as well as for rookie jungler Hoangan Xin “Nxi” Dinh to have free reign of the jungle as Diana.
It wasn’t an easy game by any stretch - Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami was particularly notable, standing out with a stellar Akali that coincidentally also shared 28% of his team’s damage and matched Triple on 24.3% of his team’s Gold Share - but FLY did not falter in the face of one of the most stacked rosters in LCS history.
As a matter of fact, they flourished - and ran with their momentum from taking down C9 all the way to a 3-0 weekend. FLY will apparently return to their intended starting line-up this weekend, but - if Golden Guardians’ success is anything to go by - their playoffs spot is far from secure.
Golden Guardians vs. 100 Thieves
Licorice has been a topic of contention within the League of Legends community for some time. C9’s best-performing player in 2018 looked like North America’s only toplaner capable of going blow-for-blow with international competition, a cornerstone of any roster that he would be a part of and one that the organisation could and did build around.
A slow fall from his peak was to be expected, but Licorice was no longer dominating his opponents, often just going even or losing gracefully. Despite this - due to C9 narrowly missing out on Worlds in 2020 despite winning Spring - Licorice was one of the most hotly contested free agents of the off-season. TSM and GG were among the teams rumoured to be in talks with the player, and yet it was FLY that Licorice found a home on.
A home where he would be shoehorned into a shotcalling position, unable to focus on his own gameplay anymore and truly looking washed up in the grand scheme of things. The Licorice to GG mid-split overnight trade (his own inconsistencies in-game being a contributing factor to FLY’s massive loss streak) came as somewhat of a surprise, but nothing was as shocking as the drastic difference in play we’d see from the veteran toplaner this week.
Posting a 6/1/3 KDA as a toplaner is one thing - they don’t get to be involved in fights very often - but doing so while spearheading a bottom-tier team versus the number one team in the league? Almost unheard of.
And yet that’s exactly what Licorice did, putting up a stellar stat line versus Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, once upon a time considered to be Licorice’s rival for NA’s toplane crown.
GG jungler and relative rookie Iconic has struggled all year round to find his footing in both the LCS and this line-up, and yet with Licorice in the line-up the jungler has been reinvigorated. A solid gank setup botlane saw both Iconic’s Volibear and Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes’ Kalista post 1/0/1 scorelines, snowballing over the opposition from that point on.
The game does swing back and forth in terms of both kills and tempo, but GG remain in control of neutral objectives. By the time the first Baron falls at the 21:40 mark, GG have 3 drakes to their name, as well as one of the cleanest and most decisive Rell engages ever seen on stage - courtesy of another rookie in Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio.
Perhaps the most notable difference in this game, however, would be consistent GG performer Nicholas Antonio “Ablazeolive” Abbott. Matched up against this off-season’s hottest acquisition in Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, the GG midlaner actually dealt 10% more of his team’s damage share than his counterpart.
This game set the precedent for GG’s weekend, and even if they were not able to post a flawless record, they still looked very impressive. The playoffs dream remains very much alive for the league’s currently last-placed team, and this game proved that nobody is safe.
Join us for more LCS coverage this week, as we see all three of these teams chase Immortals and Dignitas for the precious few remaining playoffs spots!