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League of Legends
League of Legends

TSM drift further away from a playoff spot

With the North American League Championship Series now two-thirds of the way through the Summer Split, the cracks in their rosters have continued to widen to the point where multiple teams made roster changes entering the week. While none of the teams saw significant immediate success, the desire (and desperation) from some organisations should only continue to shine through in the final three weeks of the split.

Teams test new rosters with mixed success

On the heels of the roster lock last week, multiple changes were made to the starting lineups of organisations such as Echo Fox and Clutch Gaming. While Clutch Gaming‘s movements felt temporary, to reward the strong play of Academy members, Echo Fox’s changes to their starting lineup were a more permanent decision. In releasing former starters Adrian "Adrian" Ma, Johnny "Altec" Ru, and Kim "Fenix" Jae-hun, Echo Fox made it clear that despite entering the week tied for first place, their 6-4 record up until that point was not good enough. In their place, Echo Fox promoted Academy AD Carry Lawrence "Lost" Hui to a starting position and cemented mid-laner Tanner "Damonte" Damonte’s spot in the starting line-up. Most notably, Echo Fox finalized a transfer with Cloud 9 to acquire support Andy "Smoothie" Ta While the new Echo Fox lineup showed promise with their strong laning phase and ability to carve out early advantages, a poor Baron call in the Cloud 9 game dented Echo Fox's momentum and allowed Cloud 9 enough time to steal away a victory. Despite the 1-1 week, it is still too early to make any judgments about the strength of the new Echo Fox roster. With more work on their laning synergy and improve their communication, their ceiling is still very high. Echo Fox Struggling to replicate the success of the Spring Split, Clutch Gaming used week six as an opportunity to test a few of their top Academy performers. Inserting veterans Galen "Moon" Holgate and Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin into the starting lineup, Clutch Gaming also decided to bring up rookie support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme for his first appearance in the NA LCS. The experience proved to be a harsh lesson for Vulcan, as he and Piglet were bullied in both their match up against 100 Thieves and Team Liquid. In a week were Clutch Gaming went 0-2 (and slipped to sole possession of last place at 4-8), it was clear that this experiment should be short-lived.

Team SoloMid on the edge of playoffs

Clutch Gaming was not the only team to have a winless week, as fan favorite Team SoloMid continued their slide toward the bottom of the standings. Now in a four-way tie for sixth with a 5-7 record, Team SoloMid will need to rebound significantly to secure one of the final playoff positions. Once the titans of the NA LCS, TSM first showed signs of decline at the end of the last Split where they failed to make a Split Final for the first time. Entering the summer, they abruptly ended their experimentation with jungler Mike "MikeYeung" Yeung as their starter and turned instead to former TSM Academy jungler Jonathan "Grig" Armao. Bjergsen While Grig has been consistent but unspectacular, the true disappointment for TSM has been the play of their highly touted bot lane duo of Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "Mithy" Rodriguez. Once heralded as the "best in the west", Zven and especially Mithy have failed to live up to their expectations since joining the NA LCS. With only three weeks remaining in the Summer Split, TSM is in danger of not only missing the Playoffs but also being eliminated from contention for a spot at Worlds for the first time in the organization's history. Unless they are able to find a spark in their lineup – and quickly – the odds of this being realized become more and more likely each week.