Despite what DOTA2 has been claiming lately, League of Legends remains the most popular video game and eSport in the world. The League Championship Series is the top dog in eSports, routinely drawing 200-300k watchers on any given weekend in just the English language channels.
The games this week were fairly crazy with some very long, very back and forth games mixed in with a host of surprises.
Continued Champion Surprises
I thought that last week's Annie was the most surprising thing out of the LCS lately, but this week's GGU vs. Complexity match may take that title. Not only did we see a support LeBlanc, but moments later, we saw a top lane Viktor get selected. Neither champion has been seen much at all during the LCS, and it was a crazy game with a surprisingly good showing from LeBlanc.
Earlier, Complexity produced another surprise comp with support Kayle, mid Janna and jungle Alistar. In the same game, Curse busted out mid lane Morgana and showed a Jungle Nautilus against TSM. Yikes!
Neither of Complexity's big surprises worked out well this week, however. That's the thing about these unusual comps; while they often start strong just from the surprise factor, if you struggled with closing games out before (and this tends to be the stumbling block for most lower-tier teams), you're unlikely to do much better in the long run with unfamiliar champions.
Through 9 weeks of LCS on both sides of the Atlantic, we've seen 92 champions played with 81 having clocked in at least one victory. The champions that are remaining are a mixed bag. They include champions too new for the players to be comfortable with (Karma, Zac), champions that are perceived to be unplayable or too narrow (Heimerdinger, Sion, Sejuani), those that don't fit into the current meta cleanly (Fiora, Skarner), and finally those that are just out of favor with the LCS crowd but get played elsewhere (Rammus, Zilean, Pantheon).
I expect to see a larger number of surprises this week as teams that are out of contention decide to have fun and teams that are desperate for that all important win feel pressed to break out unusual team comps. Keep an eye on Gambit's and Fnatic's games against GIANTS! and Dragonborns particularly. Those four games are all considered "auto-wins" for the title contenders so you could really see some craziness there as caution is thrown to the wind. Complexity has already shown a predilection for weird strats and they play Dignitas, TSM and Curse this week. Those are three more games that could be "anything can happen craziness".
If you want a big home-run prediction from me, I'd bet that Heimerdinger and Teemo both get played at least once in week 10.
At the top of the bracket, TSM beat Curse for the second week in a row in dominant fashion. That puts TSM and Curse 2-2 in the season against each other. TSM remains 2 games back and tied with Dignitas going into the final week. Dignitas has games against Curse and TSM, essentially needing to win both to stay in 2nd place. On the other hand, TSM plays the still struggling CLG early and then has three lower tier teams to play against before finishing with Dignitas. That last game seems destined to decide second place.
TSM has been absolutely resurgent since Chaox was kicked out and WildTurtle came to the lineup. The general consensus seems to be that Chaox was a better technician but both personality and playstyle wise, WildTurtle is a better fit. I like Chaox a lot; he's funny on his stream and actually talks through his decisions, which makes his streams worth watching (unlike some other streamers who simply stare at their screens and never share anything). He's done a couple great series of A-Z champion walkthroughs that were really well done as well. That being said, TSM is clearly the team with momentum coming into this last week. It won't be easy, but it's possible TSM could slide into first place.