This weekend, from Friday to Sunday, there will be a regional gauntlet run by four hopeful teams that are trying to make their way to Worlds as North America’s third and final seed. Two teams in TSM and Cloud 9 are Worlds veterans, looking to return to a tournament that they have been to nearly every single season. The other teams in Echo Fox and Clutch Gaming have never been to Worlds, and are hoping to break into the most important tournament of the year. We’re going to rundown all 4 teams participating in the gauntlet, and figure out who has the best chance to make it into Worlds this season!
Roster Top: Solo Jungle: LirA Mid: Febiven Bot: Apollo Support: Hakuho
Clutch gaming is, without a doubt, the team with the least hope coming into the gauntlet. They start at the bottom, and will be facing Echo Fox on Friday, September 12th. This team managed a successful Spring Split as a new organization, and finished 4th overall in the season. They were a consistent, middle of the pack team who beat all the teams below them and lost to all the teams above them.
Unfortunately for them, things took a turn for the worst in the Summer Split, where they in 9th place with only a single win ahead of Golden Guardians in 10th place. They barely crept into the Gauntlet, and this team is going to need some serious improvements if they are to even dream about a Worlds spot.
How they make it: Putting Viewers to Sleep
This team has very little flair on it, and there best chance to make Worlds is to play the most simple style possible. Put Solo on Ornn, Febiven on a late game mage, and Apollo on a safe late game ADC. Clutch can’t and shouldn’t be looking to reinvent the wheel in their Gauntlet games, and need to find that consistency they had in the Spring Split to have a shot at Worlds. Apollo and Hakuho are a serviceable bot lane who won’t win but can go even against even the better bot lanes in North America.
A big key for this team will be whether LirA can stay relevant, and if Febiven can bring it home for this roster. Although a lot weaker than most of the other organizations, this team has a shot if Febiven shows up as the player who solo killed Faker twice and LirA pulls his own weight.
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How they don’t make it: Lack of Talent
Again, this is not a superstar roster, where you can just wait for Uzi or Doublelift to come online and single handedly take your team to a victory screen. That isn’t how this team found its success in Spring, and it will never be how this roster finds success in the future. Teamwork is an extremely important quality to have, but it doesn’t matter if the players simply aren’t good enough to compete. Looking forward to their series against Echo Fox, it’s hard to imagine a world where Huni and Dardoch don’t absolutely slam Solo and LirA as a top/jungle duo.
If Solo is down 70 cs before laning phase is over, it won’t matter if Febiven is up 10cs and their bot lane went even, because the game will already be over. Individual players are going to have to, at the very least, contain their lane opponents and wait until Febiven and Apollo can take over in the late game. If a lane or LirA ends up falling very far behind because of a simple outclassment, it’s hard to see this team making it far in the Gauntlet.
Roster Top: Huni Jungle: Dardoch Mid: Damonte Bot: Lost Support: Smoothie
As a team that has consistently been near the top of the standings, it’s surprising to look at what a turbulent season they have had. They began summer with Fenix, Altec, and Adrien/Feng, but made a last second trade for Smoothie at the trade deadline and swapped out Fenix and Altec for Damonte and Lost. Despite the crazy roster moves this team has endured, and are still looking like one of the stronger teams in the NA LCS. The highlights of the team are definitely the top side of the map, Huni and Dardoch. Although Huni has faltered as of late, Dardoch is looking untouchable and is a major reason for Echo Fox’s success. Although placing in the lower half of the Gauntlet, Echo Fox is a very strong team who have a good chance of making it to Worlds.
How they make it: Dardoch
It’s pretty simple. Dardoch is the best player on Echo Fox and he is going to have to put on a clinic if Echo Fox has Worlds hopes. The two carry’s of the team, Damonte and Lost, are rookies who haven’t made a large impact yet. Smoothie is new to the roster, and Huni has been struggling because of his over aggression and his inability to respect the enemy team. That leave Dardoch to do most of the heavy lifting. Fortunately for Echo Fox, Dardoch has proven that he is more than capable of this task. There is no Jungler in the Gauntlet that can come even close to matching Dardoch, so look for Dardoch to be playing any carry he can grab his hands on like Graves or Kindred. If Echo Fox can help Dardoch track the enemy Jungler through vision control, expect him to take over the game.
How they don’t make it: Over Aggression and Inexperience
Over aggression: Huni. Huni needs to show more respect for both his lane opponent and the enemy team. Apparently Huni was sick in their series vs TSM, but there isn’t any excuse to be dying so many times especially when it isn’t for a purpose. Only Contractz, playing on twice 10th placed team GGS, has more deaths than Huni in 2018 in the NA LCS. Huni is going to have to play at a higher level and at a smarter level to give Echo Fox the edge.
Inexperience: Damonte and Lost have played in a whopping 1 playoff series, which they lost 3-2 vs. TSM. Although you have a player like Huni who has been to the Worlds semi-finals and the Worlds finals on Fnatic and SKT respectively, Damonte and Lost have only been starters for half a split. When you compare against other players they are going to have to match up with in the likes of Bjergsen, Zven/Mithy, and Sneaky, who all have mountains of accolades, it’s going to be tough for the two new faces of Echo Fox to not crumble under the pressure.
Top: Hauntzer Jungle: Grig Mid: Bjergsen Bot: Zven Support: Mithy
There isn’t much to be said about TSM that hasn’t already been said. The most decorated, experienced, and successful NA LCS organization of all time finds themselves vying for another Worlds trip, a tournament they have never missed before. But there is something different about this TSM. The confidence has been shattered by playoff defeats, and the overwhelming success that they have had in the past has been seemingly forgotten about in the