The LCS 2020 season is two weeks in and there's a lot to take in. The meta has deviated from last season and many teams are performing differently than expected. With all this going on, there are a few key things that can be taken away from these opening games. If nothing else, the LCS is bound to be very interesting this split!
Tahm Kench Priority???
First on this list is something most perplexing. Unlike most other regions, Tahm Kench is the highest priority support champion for the LCS. It's not the first time Tahm has been a priority pick but in this meta is extremely strange. That's because he's widely considered to be a weak champion and has hard matchups against other meta champions. Furthermore, he received a series of serious nerfs towards the end of Season Nine that left him in a rough state.
I'm not trying to meme, I'm legit trying to understand. Why is this the case?? Like, I think LEC over prioritizes Braum too but at least it's not FP/Ban first rotation. The pics are LPL, LEC, LCS respectively. What is going on in scrims over there. pic.twitter.com/nWjK0fDPlG
— Andy Day (@RiotVedius) February 2, 2020
As can be seen from Games of Legends' stats, the LEC and LPL put nowhere near the same priority on the champion. They reserve it for certain situations, instead of first picking it like many different LCS teams have done already. Other champions like Braum, Nautilus and Leona are considered simply better champions by most others, so why does the LCS like Tahm Kench so much?
It may be because most of the teams play slower than in other regions and are more prone to mistakes. Tahm Kench allows lesser active teams to stop enemy plays in their tracks and play the game like they want to. The pick must be working in scrims, but it isn't translating well on stage. As of right now, he has a 40% win rate in the LCS.
Pros and Cons
Some players have used the champion to its full potential, for example Vulcan actually looked good on the pick, but others have straight ran it down on Tahm. Some Tahm players, for example, are great at utilizing the ultimate for rotations and Devour for tower dives. Unfortunately, the majority of NA players use it simply to Devour carries in fights. While this can be useful, it isn't enough to keep up with other tanky supports.
Another thing to note is that picking Tahm Kench can lead to serious draft problems. This is easily seen in TSM's game versus Immortals. Here, Tahm Kench was picked among champs like Rumble, Lee Sin and LeBlanc. This made it nearly impossible for TSM to force any plays, even when ahead, since they lacked engage tools. Support has a lot of responsibility for doing so in the meta, which should mean he shouldn't be so high priority. He may be better if he wasn't hit by nerf after nerf. But in his current state, Tahm appears much too weak. Moving forward, teams really should reevaluate Tahm Kench's priority and ensure if they do want it, they get the right team composition for it.
New Top Teams
Looking at the teams, there are some surprises at how the standings are shaking up. Cloud9 is at the #1 spot at 4-0, while FlyQuest and Dignitas are right behind at 3-1 each. This is quite far off from preseason expectations, but are super exciting to see. As for C9, they've been a top-three team in NA for years but has failed to grab the top spot. Finally, they looked poised to. Their new additions of Zven and Vulcan are clear upgrades from last year's bottom lane, and the team's overall synergy is fantastic. With their devastating win over Team Liquid, it's difficult to see any teams overtaking them.
In addition, Dignitas and FlyQuest are making a huge splash. These two may be written off by some as riding a beginning-of-season surge but have shown impressive things. Dignitas has looked a lot more cohesive than the previous Clutch Gaming squad Huni led. Speaking of Huni, the man is on top of his game right now and is displaying the willingness to play differently based on how his team needs him to, as opposed to his dictating it himself. On top of that, rookie Johnsun is looking great both in lane and in team fights. Though Dignitas lost one game, they have huge potential if they keep this form.
Thirdly, FlyQuest is a surprise contender for a top spot. With only two roster changes, many expected them to be a lower mid-tier team like last year. This isn't the case so far, as they did what Team Liquid couldn't do and defeated the Dignitas roster that was previously undefeated. Santorin is still performing admirably well, while Ignar and PowerOfEvil are fitting into the team great. They're offering a lot to the team and will be key to FlyQuest's future success.
New ADCs Reign Supreme
In regards to champions, there are two that are completely defining the meta right now. Funnily enough, they're League of Legends two newest marksmen, Senna and Aphelios. These two champions are considered by many in the community to be completely overpowered, so its no wonder they're consistently picked or banned every game. This isn't in just the LCS either, these two picks are globally considered among the strongest.
Both Senna and Aphelios do different things generally but have insane damage and scaling. Senna starts the game with long-range and, due to her soul-stacking passive, can scale up her stats to huge proportions. She also has utility in her kit that sets her apart from others. Having the ability to heal, shield and shroud herself and her allies makes her all the more threatening as an ADC with a lot of gold and damage.
Aphelios, on the other hand, is more focused on delivering maximum damage. His five guns give him a ton of options and because of his complexity, it's common to see non-ADC players not know his kit's potential. Aphelios, as of right now, has very high damage output that easily surpasses that of any other ADC. That alone is enough to warrant him as top-tier, but his ability to have CC, long-range, lifesteal, and AOE waveclear makes him a distinct threat.
Riot Games is nerfing both champions in patch 10.3, but the changes are small. Don't expect these two to be leaving the meta any time soon.
Old Greats are Faltering
NA's premier talents that have dominated the scene for so long aren't finding the same level of success as they had in the past. Of course, these organizations are of high caliber and can bounce back, but TSM, CLG and even Team Liquid have displayed some worrying gameplay.
First up is TL. They're the ones to worry about the least. They can excuse some of their faults on having substitute jungler Shernfire in over Broxah, but should still be held to a high standard. TL was expected to be on top this split, as they have been the past two years. Their two losses were to C9 and Dignitas, which is a worrying sign and brings up doubts that TL can retake their throne this split. Their match last weekend against FlyQuest did feature what looked like a return to form for the roster though. This should bode well for them moving forward.
TSM isn't in a bad spot either, though did have a rough first week. Here, they lost to TSM and, more importantly, Immortals, who are considered a low-tier team. They still show that lack of playmaking TSM has struggled with for the past few years, but looked better in their games versus Evil Geniuses and CLG. It's hard to see them overtaking teams like C9 or TL now, but can improve into a good playoff team at this pace.
Finally, we come to CLG. Hopes were high for the team this year since they ended third in the 2019 Summer Split. Unfortunately, CLG looks in absolute shambles. They're 0-4 against decent teams, but haven't even played against the likes of C9 or TL yet. It's safe to say they have a lot to work on if they want to even make playoffs this split.
Control/Wave Clear Mages are In
Last, but not least, we have to talk about the mid lane meta. It may be in part because of players like PowerOfEvil and Froggen, but control mages are solidly back in the meta. Champions like Syndra, Orianna, Rumble and Viktor have all been played to good success in the LCS and are a good fit for many teams. Zoe, though being a poke mage primarily, does have attributes similar to a control mage too. She's been perhaps the best mid laner thus far, having a 6-1 W/L record.
These champs are typically very potent in the mid-lane, team fighting meta that exists for LCS teams. They have a lot of damage and zone control that can turn fights around in a heartbeat. Furthermore, their scaling is prized in games that are hard to close out. There are a few LCS teams in particular that aren't great at ending games quickly, so reliance on the control mage champions will probably continue for now. This is especially so with Corki and Azir receiving buffs in 10.3.
It should also be noted that, although there is a high priority on LeBlanc, it hasn't performed well. It has a 1-6 W/L record in the LCS. Other similar picks, like Lucian, Diana and Ekko, haven't done well either. Unless a major meta shift happens, the LCS should stick to more team fight centric mages.
Week Three and Beyond
So far, the LCS has been quite interesting to watch develop. The most intriguing thing is the rise and fall of teams, but it will be crucial for teams like Dignitas and FlyQuest to show consistency, or else they can fall into the middle of the pack again. They and all the other teams will be chasing Cloud9's coattails though, which is something else nobody expected before the split began.
Looking forward, the standings are likely to change quite a bit. TL and TSM, based on their most recent performances, will rise. Dignitas and FlyQuest might also fall a bit at the same time. Meanwhile, the meta is probably going to stay about the same. The patch 10.3 nerfs don't hit any champions too hard and only go to advance the control mage meta. The worrying thing is the LCS' priority of Tahm Kench, but with the lackluster results so far, most teams will reevaluate that.
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