Week 3 of the League of Legends LCS 2014 Spring Split Power Rankings sees our first major upsets of the split. In both North America and Europe the number two teams have upset the number ones, with Team SoloMid defeating Cloud 9 and Gambit Gaming chopping down Fnatic. Both games with highly competitive, with the early leaders ultimately falling to their challengers. Ah, if only they played each other every week!
Meanwhile, ranks three through eight continue to be tumultuous. SK Gaming had a particularly promising week in Europe, while Counter Logic Gaming continues to overcome adversity in North America. However, their records still stagnate, meaning week four may lead to just as much turnover as the three weeks preceding it.
Week three was also the first week where teams simply didn't have a match. Millenium and Dignitas had the week off. However, Millenium made the most of the week off and traveled to IEM Sao Paolo, where they won the tournament persuasively. Dignitas was also supposed to go, but, well, didn't. Both teams will be playing in week four of the LCS.
Let's jump into the Power Rankings, where things are starting to calm down as teams get settled into their proper standings. Note that each team's record listing is detailed as follows: (Overall Record, Weekly Record, Power Ranking Position Change)
1.) Gambit Gaming (6-2, 2-0, +2) and Team SoloMid (7-1, 2-0, +1)
- Gambit Gaming - Wrapping up a perfect week, going 2-0, doesn't get any sweeter than defeating the almost unanimously praised European powerhouse Fnatic in the final match of the week. Despite falling behind at level one, Gambit executed a dominating lane performance despite Fnatic's swap top/bot swap. Alex Ich's huge lead as Zed in tandem with an almost omnipresent Diamond on Evelynn spiraled into near uncounterable objective control. A well executed plan may defeat Gambit, but sometimes even that isn't enough. Gambit proved this week that they're currently the biggest threat in the region.
- Team SoloMid - As EU goes, so does NA. In a revenge performance, with Teemo forgotten, Team SoloMid dismantled a Cloud 9 team that seemed uncomfortable in their own skin. Despite an early disadvantage in gold, TSM traded objectives very well. All outer turrets down for both sides, TSM was only a couple thousand gold behind at twenty minutes. That's when they took control. Hai's Zed was caught pushing alone and TSM swung it into five kills, a baron buff and an inhibitor. From there Bjergson and WildTurtle were relentless, all while Xpecial and TheOddOne guaranteed Meteos' Fiddlesticks never contributed to a team-fight. This was the first game of the season where TSM legitimately looked scary, while Cloud 9 looked particularly vulnerable.
2.) Fnatic (7-1, 2-1, -1) and Cloud 9 (7-2, 2-1, -1)
- Fnatic - Fnatic lost? It's hard to believe after two weeks of near flawless play and unmatched talent in all lanes, yet it was not from the lanes but the jungle instead where Fnatic ultimately lost control of their match against Gambit. In their two other matches, first against ROCCAT and then against the Copenhagen Wolves, Fnatic reminded us why the EU LCS is still a two-team show. Fnatic simply moves faster, moves more decisively, and always trades well to minimize the impact of mistakes. You can bet Fnatic will be better prepared for their next match against Gambit.
- Cloud 9 - On Saturday Cloud 9 defeated both Team Coast and Evil Geniuses. Cloud 9 was actually losing to Coast at 15 minutes, behind in both towers and kills, but with exceptional farming and perfect dragon control they rarely lost the gold lead. By 25 minutes the game was all but over as Cloud 9 controlled team-fights, minimizing damage dealt by Shiphtur's Katarina. The Evil Geniuses match was much less competitive, though Pobelter is always a threat. Overall this week Cloud 9 has to rethink some of their mid-lane matchups, as well as ways to increase their activity early game without sacrificing their mid-to-late control that wins them the majority of their games. Will adversity strengthen or weaken Cloud 9?
3.) ROCCAT (5-3, 0-2, +0) and Dignitas (5-2, 0-0, +0)
- ROCCAT - ROCCAT had a very harsh week, losing to both Fnatic and then to a reinvigorated SK. Both losses hinged heavily on the mistake prone bot-lane combination of Celaver and VandeR, as well as the lack of a single leader stepping forward to carry the team. That said, this week they're holding strong at number three despite their losses. Fnatic is, well, Fnatic, and SK's lack of reliability makes it a tough argument to put them farther up the list. ROCCAT's still got a lot to prove though, now more than ever.
- Dignitas - Guess who had the week off? Yup! No games for Dignitas and crew this week. Next week they'll be playing three matches, against Team Coast, Curse and XDG, which will certainly test their resolve. Does Dignitas deserve to be number three behind TSM and C9? We'll know after next week.
4.) Supa Hot Crew (3-5, 2-0, +3) and Counter Logic Gaming (4-5, 2-1, +2)
- Supa Hot Crew - Once we drop past number three on this list it's really anyone's game. Anyone can beat anyone, and this week the Supa Hot Crew went 2-0, defeating an SK Gaming on a hot streak and week two's hot streak winners Copenhagen Wolves too. Hopefully Mimer, Moopz and Mr RalleZ can keep their hot streak going for more than a week or two. We need these teams to establish themselves already!
- Counter Logic Gaming - A new week and a new roster for CLG, with old support/jungle/mid-laner Chauster coming out of retirement for one last romp. He took over for HotshotGG mid-lane with Link still forced into the jungle. Guess what? It worked. The guys stuck together to win 2 out of 3 games, losing only to the one team they should absolutely have beaten, XDG. Still, they beat Curse and Team Coast, which says a lot about the comradery they had going on. Next week Dexter arrives, taking over for Link in the jungle and Link will move back to mid-lane. I wonder if they'll still be the team I have ranked at number four this week.
5.) SK Gaming (4-5, 2-1, +3) and Evil Geniuses (3-6, 1-1, +2)
- SK Gaming - Who are these guys? I had them ranked last out of the EU last week and they step up and pummel both the still stumbling Alliance as well as the highly competitive ROCCAT. It seems like the key to their success is jungler Svenskeren, who carried the team quite strongly as Elise and Pantheon this week. Their loss to Supa Hot Crew saw Svenskeren go 0/6 on Lee Sin and despite both CandyPanda and Jesiz being farmed the team couldn't overcome. Target on your back, Svenskeren.
- Evil Geniuses - It's not say much to be in this position right now, as ranks 5-8 in the NA LCS are all within one or two games of each other in the overall standings. In week three, however, Evil Geniuses performed adequately. They managed to defeat Curse, though they put little fight into their loss against Cloud 9. Pobelter continues to impress as EG's mid-laner, and YellowPete is always a top tier AD, but the rest of the team seems to be struggling with how to help their carries win games.
6.) Millenium (2-5, 0-2, +0) and Curse (3-5, 0-2, -2)
- Millenium - Millenium didn't have to play this week! Now to see if the team's big win at IEM Sao Paulo will turn into momentum in week four of the LCS. For now, they've still got a lot to prove before jumping ahead of other teams with proven wins.
- Curse - Curse was looking better than ever prior to week three, but then they lost all of their energy and put up a couple of dismal performances against Counter Logic Gaming and Evil Geniuses. It's not that they don't have the talent, because with Voyboy mid and Cop bottom they have proven experience. It's that they don't seem to have any idea how to win beyond getting ahead in early game and trying to take towers. They're constantly losing out in map vision and overall trades. It's one area that's harder to improve in than any other: leadership.
7.) Copenhagen Wolves (3-5, 0-2, -2) and Team Coast (2-6, 0-2, -2)
- Copenhagen Wolves - A disappointing 0-2 week for the Copenhagen Wolves. Fnatic was probably an expected loss, but the Supa Hot Crew loss had to be surprising. Yet they lost both games in a similar fashion. The bled kills, couldn't muster any early towers, and had sloppy objective control overall. If anything they should be very happy with the performances of cowTard and Forg1ven, but until they figure out how to maintain even gold or take the lead earlier they'll be hard pressed to win games this season.
- Team Coast - It appears that the NA LCS has figured it out -- Shiphtur is the linchpin of Team Coast. It's impossible to stop his early domination and roaming, but in team-fights if you control the Shiphtur you control the game. Well, that and Daydreaming is as farmable as the wraith camp. Hopefully Coast can figure out a way to get ZionSpartan to contribute more, because Shiphtur's shoulders can't carry that much weight.
8.) Alliance (2-6, 0-2, -4) and XDG (2-6, 1-1, +0)
- Alliance - Up and down we go. The Alliance that showed a brief flash of life in week two disappeared again in week three. It's coming down one very apparent fact. Alliance's slow-scaling strategies are ill-prepared to react to trades. Even when Alliance wins a fight or takes an objective, often they come out behind due to the enemy team reacting faster and countering. Complacency kills and Alliance needs to set a fire under their chairs.
- XDG - They managed to sneak a win off of a ramshackle CLG with little practice together, but XDG still has a lot to prove in 2014. Against Team SoloMid XDG managed only a single kill, which should paint the picture quite clear for the team. They need to do more. Whether that means taking more risks ganking, forcing fights on objectives or building more aggressive team comps, XDG can't expect to win games without at least putting themselves in a situation where they can force games to be played the way they want.
EU LCS: An outstanding game between Gambit Gaming and Fnatic really made this week, but there were also some other surprises. SK Gaming really impressed this week, going 2-1 overall. Supa Hot Crew was also very impressive. Unfortunately, after those four there weren't very many wins for the rest of the teams to find. Rankings from 4-8 continue to sit at 5-6 losses apiece, meaning the standings can still flip upside down any given week.
NA LCS: Perhaps the greatest revelation this week isn't that Team SoloMid looks fantastic, but that Cloud 9 seems to be struggling to find ways to win games. Teemo mid against TSM week one worked out, but Fiddlesticks jungle this week just looked uncomfortable on Meteos. Meanwhile, Counter Logic Gaming continues to impress (and sometimes disappoint) even though they're working with subs and role-shifts. EG also looked better this week. Finally, Curse and Team Coast seem to be having identity crises.
Here are my final thoughts for the week. Both the EU and NA LCS continue to look like teams are still struggling with consistency. Only two or three teams in each league are proving they are better than the rest of the field. When those teams match up the play can be very impressive. Otherwise we have ranks four through eight racking up losses and scavenging wins where they can.
We're looking at a season where the leading teams seemed clearly represented in the first week or two and then the true competition lies not at the highest levels, but among the teams struggling to remain in the LCS. Is this good for viewers in the long run? Well, Gambit Gaming can't play Fnatic every week. Week four may just prove how exciting the rest of the split may be.
Follow Rory Young on Twitter @bluexy or read his news, reviews and features every day here at Neoseeker.