Photo: Riot Games

After five exciting weeks of play, we have finally reached the middle point of the 2019 Spring Split. We’ve had a ton of fantastic, close games, but also a lot of one-sided shellackings and abysmal fiestas. Overall, the LCS is a mystery right now. There are some top tier contenders like Team Liquid, TSM, Cloud9, and perhaps FlyQuest, but a good portion of them are still finding their footing in 2019.

Anyone below them, however, is completely volatile. They’re prone to having exceptional games and flashes of brilliance, but also moments of immense weakness. Predicting how the middle of standings will pan out is an impossible task right now, and it’ll probably remain that way over the next week or two as well.

This week, however, is incredibly important. Teams that are at the top need to maintain their level of play, while those who aren’t as high in the standings need to step up as quickly as possible and get some wins on the board in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

So without any further ado, let’s go over this week’s games!

DAY ONE

OpTic Gaming vs. 100 Thieves — This is pretty much an even fight, standings-wise. Both teams displayed a lot of potential throughout the first few weeks of play, but they were also painfully mediocre more often than not. You can argue that 100 Thieves had a small resurgence two weeks ago, only to fall back into the bottom of the standings.

They’re currently tied for seventh with a somewhat acceptable three wins and five losses score. It’s underwhelming regardless of the way you look at things, seeing how they were supposed to come into the 2019 season and start dominating left and right with the sheer amount of talent that’s present within their five-man roster.

OpTic, on the other hand, looked somewhat better last week with their “A team”, but it wasn’t enough to land them a win. They’re on a five-game losing streak, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to pick up the pace going forward. They’re still a strong contender overall, but their strengths aren’t that prevalent.

This is a hard game to predict, basically, mainly because you don’t really know how bad either team will look. It’s more of a matter of “who’ll make less mistakes”, and when a game degrades to that point, it’s completely up in the air.

Regardless, 100 Thieves arguably showed a bit more over the last couple of weeks, so we’re going with them on this one. That said, if you’re betting this week, perhaps it’s best to skip this game altogether seeing how it’s basically a coin toss.

Winner: 100 Thieves, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. Echo Fox — This is where things pick up the pace considerably. Team Liquid are entering the game with a bit less hype than most were expecting, seeing how they were recently handed their first loss of the 2019 season by Team Solo Mid. What can we say about Liquid right about now? They’re an exceptional team, and they’re arguably the best North America has to offer.

That said, they have an unexpectedly weak early game. You don’t really expect a team to be this weak early on, especially not with this much talent within their ranks. But many teams were able to go blow-for-blow with Liquid throughout the last couple of weeks, with TSM being the only one that managed to break the mold and actually snowball their leads towards a victory.

There’s no messing around with Liquid, and their recent loss will surely make them angry. They’re looking for redemption and they want to have a couple of statement games this week. Fortunately for them, with Echo Fox and 100 Thieves lined up, they should be more than capable enough of taking both down with relative ease.

Echo Fox are currently tied for fourth, and how they’ve achieved such a thing while also being so painfully inconsistent and volatile is beyond any comprehension. They’re good, but their games and strengths are extremely uneven. You never know which Echo Fox will come out and play (perhaps that’s the de facto Echo Fox, their DNA), and that’s a problem at this level of play.

Regardless, they have some potential and they could challenge Liquid early on. Conversely, Liquid has the tools at their disposal to make quick work of Echo Fox through their stellar mid and late game shotcalling and team fighting. If a team wants to take Liquid down, they basically have to play a perfect game — something Echo Fox isn’t capable of doing.

Betting on Liquid is the better and more logical choice.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.20 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. Golden Guardians — This is where things get exceptionally interesting, at least from a betting perspective. The Golden Guardians are, for reasons unknown, even odds-wise with the 2W-6L Clutch Gaming. This is your chance to make a big win, and even though betting on a mid-tier team isn’t always that safe, the Guardians are currently a Top 5 team, without a shadow of a doubt.

They’re deceptively strong and capable, and they’re on the upswing. They recently took down Counter Logic Gaming, and even TSM. In what world would they lose out to Clutch Gaming? A team that has failed to register a win over the last three weeks. The only two wins they have on the board are from week one, and they’ve been looking relatively abysmal in their recent outings. They’re just not playing good League of Legends right now, and it’s evident with each of their game on the Rift as well.

They’re not exactly a pushover, to be fair, but if we were to judge based on recent results, they are definitely the worst team in the entire region. There’s some potential, and you can never count their mid laner Damonte out, but as a whole, as a five-man unit, they shouldn’t be able to compete with the likes of Golden Guardians.

Betting on this one should, by all means, pay off big time.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 1.85 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Cloud9 — The hardest game of the day to predict, without a doubt. Both teams are entering the week with a ton of hype and momentum, and even though that was expected from Cloud9, seeing FlyQuest this high up the rankings is still a shocking sight. They’re exceptional, in a strange way, and they’re playing their hearts out each and every time they step foot on the Rift.

They’re all playing on an incredibly high level, but it is their stellar sinergy that is allowing them to compete with the very best teams in the region. Pobelter is at the top of his game, Santorin is playing better than in year’s past, and their bottom lane is deceptively strong and capable, especially when it comes to mid and late game team fighting and skirmishing.

Even their latest addition to the roster, streamer-extraordinaire V1per has been doing a ton of heavy lifting regardless of the champion he gets put on. Overall, they’re extremely capable, even though they might not look the part, and should not be underestimated.

Cloud9, on the other hand, are on a four-game win streak, and they’re as capable as ever. The loss of Jensen didn’t backtrack them too much, and they’re still playing at the highest possible level. There’s really not a lot that you can say about Cloud9 that hasn’t already been said. They’re extremely flexible, highly talented, they can pull off a wide variety of team comps and they can fight and dominate even when they’re at a gold deficit. There’s really no team like Cloud9 in the region, and perhaps in the world as well.

That said, we’ve seen their skill ceiling against Team Liquid, and that limit may or may not be temporary. They’re still meshing with Nisqy, and the fact that they’ve managed to lock down a spot right behind the mammoth Team Liquid even with such a key change in the roster is worthy of the highest praise. They’re poised to make yet another deep run in the season, and they’re looking to have a repeat performance from last year.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one, although it’ll probably be an unnervingly close game that’ll be decided by the slimmest of margins. We’re giving Cloud9 the benefit of the doubt, and with good reason. They know FlyQuest are breathing on their neck standings-wise, and they know this is a key game to win if they want to keep onto their second spot.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. Counter Logic Gaming — To close out the day, we have a perennial match-up, one that’s exciting and close regardless of the meta and season. TSM and CLG always come out to play, and it’s always filled with fireworks. Both teams are currently tied for fourth, but you have to give the edge over to Team Solo Mid for a wide variety of reasons. While both rosters looked volatile over the lat couple of weeks, it was TSM that was able to step up and start playing like an incredibly potent five-man unit.

So much so that they were able to outclass Team Liquid last weekend. It was a picture-perfect game, without any mistakes or blunders, and they were able to execute their game plan to a tee. It was an aggressive, in-your-face kind of TSM that we haven’t seen for year — since 2016, to be more exact. They were proactive, making plays across the map, and when they accrued a big enough lead, they didn’t hesitate when they had to close things out.

CLG, on the other hand, won a game against Clutch Gaming (which was expected), and lost to the Golden Guardians. They’re a solid mid-tier team, but they don’t have what it takes in order to take down a game TSM that’s aggressive and in-sync. We’re going with the boys in black and white for this one.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

DAY TWO

Golden Guardians vs. Echo Fox — We’re going with the Guardians on this one, although it could be a lot more even than people expect it to. Echo Fox are extremely volatile, and you never really know what’ll happen. That said, the Guardians are on an upswing and they’ve looked a lot better with each new outing.

They should be able to take down Echo Fox in relatively clean fashion. They know this is make or break, and that by winning this game they’re getting much closer to the playoffs.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 2.10 (odds @ Betway)

OpTic Gaming vs. Clutch Gaming — A fight between two bottom tier teams — literally. We’re siding with OpTic gaming on this one purely because of the sheer talent and experience that they have on the roster, although it’s important to highlight that it’s pretty much a 50/50 kind of game.

Winner: OpTic Gaming, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

Cloud9 vs. Counter Logic Gaming — Cloud9 should have the edge on paper, and in reality as well. They’re the more calculated, but also the more aggressive team. They’re more in sync and they have better players in every single lane. That said, Cloud9 and CLG games always end up being insanely close for a wide variety of reasons. These two teams always bring out the best in each other, and this game should be no exception.

Expect a ton of bloodshed and hectic five-on-five team fighting throughout the game — just how we like it.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Team Solo Mid — Another hard game to call. You should really focus on how well both of these teams play on Saturday, because that’ll heavily impact the outcome of this game as well. Both FlyQuest and TSM are exceptionally strong, but they’re also somewhat volatile. Case in point, TSM recently lost to the Golden Guardians whereas FlyQuest got outclassed by Echo Fox, of all teams.

We’re siding with Team Solo Mid, primarily because their win over Team Liquid should have “unlocked” them and their potential. They’re entering the middle point of the split with a ton of hype and momentum, and they should be able to use it fully. That said, FlyQuest are deceptively capable, and should not be underestimated.

They have the tools at their disposal in order to make this into a highly competitive scrap.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. 100 Thieves — To close out the week, we have a pretty one-sided, rather uneventful conclusion. Even after their awful blunder against TSM, they’re still predicted as the best and most capable team in the region, and with good reason. While they might have lost some stock coming into week five, they’re an LCS behemoth regardless and should, by all means, be more than capable at taking 100 Thieves down in relatively easy and dominant fashion.

Betting on Liquid would be the more logical choice.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)