Week six of the 2017 spring split was a week devoted to confirmations. Almost every league in the world gave us the results they were supposed to, and showed some of the world’s best teams in great form.
In North America, that meant Team SoloMid and Cloud9 both looking to be in peak form and finally, officially coming into their own as teams in 2017. Meanwhile, in China, Royal Never Give Up faced their toughest test of the split so far in Edward Gaming, and passed with flying colors. In Europe, the top teams continue to breeze past the opponents on the bottom half of the standings, while Misfits continued to improve their case as the second best team in Europe.
In fact, the only series that didn’t seem written in stone this week was given to us by the LCK:
The LCK Super teams
The Telecom War is the gift that keeps on giving in League of Legends. Since season three, a series between SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster has always been one of the best of the year. This week, that happened twice.
It’s always a special series when the two best teams in the world are playing, but rarely does it live up to expectations. Often times one team proves far better than the other and we get two or three fairly decisive games. In these two series, however, we got multiple knock-down, drag-out games that forced both teams to levels we hadn’t seen from them this split, revealing a little more about the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.
For KT Rolster, these weaknesses are familiar. Since their first series this split, the issue with this KT roster so far seems to be their ability to finish games. While they have been able to make up for this for pure skill so far, it wasn’t quite enough against SKT. However, they should take some comfort in the fact that they were able to establish early leads in five of the six games. With as many changes as their roster went through over the off-season though, this still isn’t surprising or a good reason to panic, just a path for them to develop.
On the SKT side, the problem is the exactly opposite. Their ability to close games is unparalleled, despite their poor early game and fairly frequent deficits there. There is something important to be said for a team that can effectively play from behind, but if SKT want to enter that next level, though it seems few can threaten them on this one, it will come with Wang-ho “Peanut” Yoon playing more effectively in the early game to earn his team gold leads.
Perhaps the best news about this series, for us the viewers, is that it’s likely not the last time these two teams will meet this season. Instead, this is probably a preview of the final or semi-final of the LCK Spring Split.
Is IEM worth it?
The real winner of IEM Katowice this year was Cloud9.
During week five Cloud9 struggled for the first time in the 2017 Spring Split, losing both of their series that week. While they were scheduled to go to IEM the next week, they opted instead to drop out of IEM and focus on the LCS.
While I can’t say for sure that Cloud9 wouldn’t have won their games this week if they had gone to Katowice, what I can say is that they came out looking like an entirely new team. Before their off-week C9 had played a sort of haphazard style that more often than not threw the early game out the window. In their first week back, Cloud9 looked like a team reborn. Their early game was calculated and their execution was precise.
Sure, they weren’t perfect, but none of their games ever felt out of their control and victory always seemed inevitable -- something that couldn’t have been said earlier this split. Most importantly, C9, finally, looked to be fully in control of the games they won.
While one week of good games isn’t enough to say anything for sure. It certainly appears that the off-week helped Cloud9 to better position themselves and to grow as a team after their losses two weeks ago.
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice was a tournament rife with struggles outside of participation too. The weekend had massive delays, a jam packed schedule, and a best of three finals, all adding up to a fairly lackluster tournament. Now with an example of success for a team that stayed home from IEM, along with some of the domestic leagues getting more competitive, we could be looking at a future where IEM becomes difficult to justify for many League of Legends teams.