The North American League of Legends Championship Series opened with a Teemo pick from the best team in the division against its top rival.
That was just the start of the cognitive dissonance that defined the opening week in the North American division, where nobody was quite who they seemed to be and nothing completely made sense.
Now About That Teemo Pick...
Everyone always pretends they're about to pick Teemo. Audiences love it (half of them are wearing those fuzzy hats, anyway), so you're guaranteed to get some cheers and hollers just for hovering over the furry dweeb during picks and bans. Only Heimerdinger might get a bigger reaction.
But the champ hasn't really been competitively relevant for quite some time, and when TSM picked him in their final game at Worlds last year, it was a bit of fan service to close out an otherwise crummy performance.
That's why it was so stunning to see Cloud 9 start their season with a surprise Teemo pick against their clearest rival, Team SoloMid, in the opening game of the season. Then they went ahead and won the game. Don't expect Teemo to become the hot pick of the 2014 season, however, because despite Teemo's improved performance in the current version of the game, he still didn't do all that great against TSM. More importantly, from start to finish it didn't seem like TSM and Cloud 9 were treating their first game like a serious contest.
Nobody was trying to throw the game, but TSM and Cloud 9 might both be pointing to the fact that the regular-season emperor has no clothes. The regular season isn't too important for top teams, since they will all make it into the playoffs anyway. In fact, it might actually be counterproductive to show their best strategies for almost three months with so little on the line. Don't be surprised, then, if you start seeing top teams like Cloud 9 getting more experimental with their compositions during the spring split. Besides, now everyone they face has to be thinking, "What if we end up facing a Teemo?"
Reports of Dignitas' Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
We can admit it now that we all thought Dignitas was doomed, right? After the Battle of the Atlantic, Dignitas looked like they were headed for a relegation slot. They were obliterated by the Alliance, and there was nothing to be positive about.
From that standpoint, their 2-2 record after the first week is a huge moral victory. Even that's selling Dignitas short, though, because they took a great win off of Cloud 9, which seemed unthinkable just last week. Nor were their losses all that bad. They might just be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Where Dignitas looked really sharp was in the full five-on-five teamfights. The coordination that was lacking in December looked much, much better in this last week. That favored them against a snowballing-type of team like Cloud 9, who are used to playing from a comfortable lead and a stronger position. While Cloud 9 were still relentless gold farmers, all the fights were going against them, and their attempts to win the bottom lane backfired horribly as they wasted time and spells in failed ganks.
If Dignitas can keep their games close, the teamfighting skills they showcased could be their ticket to a top three finish. That's a huge turnaround from where they were just a month ago.
No Clear Winners
The first week of the North American season was more confusing that Europe's. Cloud 9 weren't supposed to lose, except perhaps to Team SoloMid. Evil Geniuses were supposed to bring their European heat and start mopping the floor with their American competition, and they ended up finishing 1-3, dropping games to both Coast and XDG.
That's great news for fans who want to see a competitive division. Still, for teams like TSM and Cloud 9, who have their sights set on good World Championship results, this is not where they want to be competing. They want to be steamrolling North America and getting ready to win tournaments against the likes of Fnatic and Gambit. For now, that doesn't seem to be going according to plan.
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