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What to Take From Week 2 of the NA/EU LCS

We're two weeks into both the North American and EU LCS Summer Splits now and have had time to gauge new rosters and changes both to the game and to the competitive format. Here are the conclusions we've drawn from the opening weeks of the LCS.

Biofrost is TSM's perfect pickup

After two splits which have ended in defeat at their hands of their arch-rivals CLG, TSM have to be feeling really good about the way they've started the summer split. Four games and four victories, all the TSM pieces just seem to fit together. Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg has been firing on all cylinders, Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen's daring invades are paying off, while Kevin 'Hauntzer' Yarnell has shown up in the top-lane in a big way.

But perhaps the most pleasing aspect for TSM is just how well newcomer Vincent "Biofrost" Wang and veteran Yilian "Doublelift" Peng are playing together down in bot-lane. After a failed experiment with Bora "Yellowstar" Kim during Spring, bringing someone who they can tailor and mold to fit Doublelift's style and mentality has proven to be the smart choice. Yellowstar is an all-time great support, but just completely the wrong fit for Doublelift, while he also often appeared to be on a different wavelength to the rest of his team-mates. If Biofrost can continue his early Summer form, it's hard to see TSM making any significant stumbles throughout this season.

Cloud9 have put to bed the 'bad without Hai'

It's been a struggle but C9 are finally improving without having to add a 'but' to qualify that statement. Hai "Hai" Du Lam may be one of the greatest shotcallers North America has seen, yet there was no doubt trying to shoehorn him into unfamiliar roles to keep his presence in the team was holding Cloud 9 back. Finally they seem to have found the right balance, with William "Meteos" Hartman returning from streamer exile and the stoic Impact providing a rock-steady outlet for engages as their top-laner, replacing the inconsistent An 'Balls' Le.

Yes, it's still a shame that Lee "Rush" Yoonjae had to make a step down to Cloud 9's challenger team — let's not forget, this time last year he was wowing the NA LCS with his incredible Lee Sin. But Cloud9's willingness to make a difficult decision and remix their roster looks to be paying off as they mount a challenge on the top half of the LCS.

xPeke's struggles as an ADC

Enrique "xPeke" Martinez is one of the most beloved of all the western mid-laners, remembered for that seminal moment back at 2013's IEM Katowice where he back-doored the SK Gaming Nexus and showed us all just how thrilling League of Legends could be. A season one world champion, and a semi-finalist with two different teams, xPeke's legacy has already been written — he has nothing to prove to anyone. This is just as well, because his performance as an AD Carry was painful to watch this weekend. He moved into the role recently vacated by Konstantinos "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou. Origen's start to the season has been woeful, occasional individual moments from top-laner Paul 'Soaz' Boyer and jungler Maurice "Amazing" Stukenschneider aside, they've looked a long, long way behind Europe's best teams.

The one mitigating factor outside of FORG1VEN's exit is that Origen have traditionally been slow starters, usually only amping up as the play-offs approach. If they don't start picking up points soon though, they may struggle to even qualify, or even find themselves battling for their spot in the LCS. Finding a true replacement for FORG1VEN is of the utmost importance and they don't have the luxury of dawdling, lest the teams above them extend the gap.

Will G2 be strong without Kikis?

G2 are comfortably the best team in Europe right now, yet their flaws are still evident. Luka "Perkz" Perkovic and Kim "Trick" Kang Yoon are both excellent players, but their aggression can see them punished, while G2 rely on advantages to carry them through the late-game, rather than superior team-fighting. Now, top-laner Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek has decided to depart, feeling undervalued thanks to G2's decision to bring in a new top-laner to compete for the role.

Kikis rarely drew the plaudits of his teammates, yet for a team like G2 with skilled players across the board, sometimes you need someone willing to do the ugly work, engaging, zoning the opposition backline and sacrificing himself for his teammates. Korean Dae-han "Expect" Ki moves into a starting position and while he performed well in his debut game against ROCCAT, bringing a new player into a team mid-season can potentially have a negative effect on momentum and team cohesion.

CLG and G2 swapping places

G2 Esports were roundly criticized by the LoL community for their poor performance and lack of preparation at the Mid Season Invitational back in May. They paid the price, by going out in the first stage of the tournament, their ears no doubt ringing from all the angry comments sent their way. However, some pro players and scene commentators suggested that actually they were making the smart choice, giving them more time and energy for the Summer Split and increasing the likelihood of a potential visit to the World Championship.

The contrast between the performances of G2 in the EU and MSI finalists CLG in NA seems to bear this theory out, so far at least. CLG had a wonderful MSI and despite keeping the same roster, they've so far been woeful in North America with just one win in their opening four matches. CLG will hope to rid themselves of this International hangover in the coming week's games against Fox and nV.

Too early to judge Team EnVyUs

While TSM is being hailed as the team to beat this split, nV sit aside them at the top of the NA LCS. Their Korean-heavy lineup may not be making headlines but they've looked like a solid and efficient unit in all of their matches. The real test for nV is yet to come though. They've so far managed to avoid playing any of the other top teams such as TSM, Cloud 9 and this week's opponent Immortals. If they are victorious against Immortals, then we'll know we have a real contender on our hands.

The next couple of weeks are likely to start giving a real shape to the standings in the LCS, whether we see truly dominant teams like Immortals in the spring split, or a far more competitive competition. We're all still trying to parse the two different formats, both the Best of 2 in EU and Best of 3 in NA have their advantages and drawbacks, we'll examine this is more depth in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Riot's dragon changes have yet to fully bed in, some are calling it unwelcome RNG and others claim it adds new strategic elements to the game, that bypass planning and require spontaneous decision-making from players. We'll be keeping a close eye on how teams play around the dragon as the Summer Split continues.

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