The second half of the 2023 League Championship Series Spring Split is about to begin. And with nine games left to play, the next few weeks will be crucial regarding the post-season picture. Teams at the top will look to avoid a collapse down the stretch while continuing to grow for the best-of-five format of the Spring Playoffs, while teams at the bottom of the standings have a few more chances to reverse their fortune.
Here’s one suggestion for each LCS team at the halfway point of the 2023 Spring Split.
FlyQuest (8-1, 1st): Trust the process
FlyQuest has announced that, at long last, starting support Bill “Eyla” Nguyen would be joining the squad after missing the first half of the Spring Split due to visa issues. Eyla will understandably need some time to acclimate to the team, so if FLY end up stalling a bit for a week or two, the number one thing they need to do is not panic.
🔥Second Round Robin #LCS Roster Update#ShowcaseGreatness | #FLYWIN pic.twitter.com/EwXDHPOvXO
— FlyQuest (@FlyQuest) February 22, 2023
If the team slumps briefly with Eyla, it will be tempting to re-sub FLY Challengers support Kim “Winsome” Dong-keon back into the starting roster given his experience playing with the team and fluency in South Korean, but FLY got to 1st place by trusting their process. A few weeks of less-than-stellar play while Eyla acclimates should not be enough for them to change course.
Cloud9 (7-2, T-2nd): Let EMENES cook
C9 is in a good standing for the Spring Playoffs and, like FlyQuest, have a new player playing LCS this week. Cloud9 Challengers mid laner Jang “EMENES” Min-soo has been promoted, and after a staggering 26 solo kills already in competitive games this year, his LCS debut is understandably hyped.
As a potential sendoff to @EMENESlol here's all 26 of his #NACL solo kills. The dude is an absolute beast. And now he's trialing for @C9LoL to raise hell in the #LCS pic.twitter.com/QiPxQM7ef5
— Erick "Decerux" Beltran (@Decerux) February 20, 2023
C9 has four returning players from last year, and with mid laner Dimitri “Diplex” Ponomarev, the team’s identity didn’t change much compared to their title run last summer. However, C9 should give EMENES whatever he requires to see what he’s truly capable of, and if it goes well, he might be what takes C9 from likely title contender to surefire back-to-back LCS champion.
Evil Geniuses (7-2, T-2nd): Streamline communication
Evil Geniuses has won seven of their first nine games this year, but many of those wins have been far from convincing. EG has maintained a strong early game and regularly jump out to an advantage before their opponent, but their mid game leaves a lot to be desired in the tempo and decisiveness in regards to executing their win condition.
More often than not, EG’s late game has been enough to get the dub at the end of a messy mid game, but if EG want to be a true contender come Playoffs, their mid game will need to be cleaned up.
Golden Guardians (5-4, T-4th): Prepare for more focus bot
Teams around the LCS are starting to become aware just how well Golden Guardians’ bot lane is playing right now. AD carry Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes is having his best split in years, and support Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun has paired stellar play with vital communicator, speaking in both English and Korean during the game to make sure jungler Kim “River” Dong-woo and mid laner Kim “Gori” Tae-woo are in the know.
Though not initially evaluated as one of the best bot lanes in the LCS, Stixxay and huhi are certainly playing like it, and at the very least, more target bans from opponents should be coming their way in the second half.
TSM (5-4, T-4th): Improve early game
TSM’s successes in the first half of the Spring Split have been defined by cohesive mid-game decision making and strong teamfighting, but their Gold Differential at 15 minutes is the third lowest in the league at -1437. The only teams doing worse in that category are 9th place Immortals Progressive and winless, 10th place Dignitas. If TSM wants to continue to tangle with top teams as rosters begin to gel, they’ll need to drastically improve their early game in the second half.
Counter Logic Gaming (4-5, T-6th): Get more dragons
This suggestion could be applied to any team in the current competitive meta: part of the reason bot lane priority is so prevalent is that it gives you significant leverage towards securing vision around the dragon pit and stacking early drakes is a reliable way to help snowball a lead.
CLG often finds early kills through the aggression of jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia, but have the third lowest Dragon Percentage in the league at 38% (all statistics courtesy of Oracle’s Elixir). CLG needs to become more consistent at converting early kills into drakes to remain competitive for a spot in the post-season.
100 Thieves (4-5, T-6th): Shake things up
With Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on the team, it’s going to be rare for 100 Thieves to not play around the bot lane, especially since that is THE way to win League of Legends games right now. However, shaking things up might be what the squad needs after a rough superweek that saw them fall into the bottom half of the standings.
100 Thieves won’t (and shouldn’t) completely abandon playing around their bot lane, but trying to win games in a way other than allowing Doublelift to scale on a hypercarry marksman until the late game might be the invigoration this team needs to play to their potential.
Team Liquid Honda (3-6, 8th): Take notes from G2 Esports
Park “Summit” Woo-tae has a very aggressive playstyle, and while this isn’t the ideal meta to carry through top lane, G2 Esports has shown that it is very much a viable strategy. G2 currently are the best team in the League of Legends European Championship and a defining feature is optimizing their playstyle to support the unique and colorful strengths of top laner Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik.
Summit has had a rough Spring Split thus far, but he is undeniably the primary carry of this TL squad and getting him on the same page as his teammates will be vital in TL beginning to play up to standard.
Immortals Progressive (2-7, 9th): Give Revenge whatever he wants
Top laner Mo “Revenge” Kaddoura has had a quietly excellent Spring Split on a struggling Immortals, and the two wins they’ve been able to secure have featured strong performances from him. At this point, Immortals will require herculean efforts from Revenge to qualify for the LCS Spring Playoffs, and though the meta is bot lane favored, IMT need to lead with their best foot forward if they have any chance at the post-season.
Dignitas (0-9, 10th): Go next
The player on Dignitas are not this bad – that can be seen from the names on the roster alone. The team was expected to start slow due to the late arrival of top laner İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek and the significantly later arrival of support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun, but even with adjusted expectations, DIG has been much, much less than the sum of its parts.
— Dignitas (@dignitas) February 23, 2023
DIG is promoting its Challengers AD carry Frank “Tomo” Lam for week 5 of the LCS Spring Split, and it’s good that the team is trying things, but these should be viewed — and handled — as ways to learn for summer instead of a last chance, desperate attempt at the post-season. It would take a miracle and then some for DIG to qualify for the Spring Playoffs after not recording a win in the first half, and they should prioritize team growth and progress and look towards the Summer Split.