In the North American professional League of Legends, the standings are almost always decided three weeks in, with the better teams rolling over the weaker teams and it becomes a two or three-horse race. So imagine my surprise when this last weekend, major upsets shook the very foundation of the standings. There exists a system in professional sports called the “circle of suck” where you can line up a team’s wins and losses over each other to make a circle. This can only happen when no team remains winless or undefeated, and so far they have not. As it stands, through the first nine games, such a cycle can already be completed. Counter Logic Gaming beat Golden Guardians, who beat Immortals, who beat FlyQuest, who beat TSM, who beat Team Liquid, who beat Dignitas, who beat Evil Geniuses, who beat Cloud9, who beat 100 Thieves, who in turn beat Counter Logic Gaming. The parity is unreal, and this is how the teams stack up after an exciting third week.
1. Cloud9 (7-2) (2-1 this week)
Despite a loss this week to Liquid, Cloud9 remains on top in the standings and in these power rankings, mostly because of their win versus 100 Thieves earlier in the split. They are, as of right now, the best team in the league. Their jungler Blaber is still in MVP form, while their mid laner Perkz is finally starting to return to the form he held in Europe over the last several years. Rookie top laner Fudge is continually looking better and of course the bot lane duo of Zven and Vulcan are capable of taking over any given game.
2. 100 Thieves (6-3) (1-2 this week)
The first proof that head-to-head record isn’t what matters because they did indeed lose to the TSM (6-3) this last week. They were also beaten in a massive upset by Golden Guardians to close out the week. Still, if I had to bet on a team to win any given game other than Cloud9, this would be the one. On paper, their roster is stacked. Ssumday is a top-tier top laner, Damonte can still win any game by himself and Closer is a damn good jungler. The only real uncertain factor is in their bot laner FBI. This isn’t to call him bad but he is indeed the least experienced member on this roster, so his sudden success was surprising to begin with.
3. TSM (6-3) (2-1 this week)
This team is a little more inconsistent than the others, but during their six-game win streak they looked like the best team in the league. It felt like every player had ascended and was the very best version of themselves. SwordArt showed glimpses of the talent that made him a top international support player over the last several years. Mid laner PowerOfEvil is still playing out of his mind. Spica in the jungle and Huni in the top lane have both been reminiscent of their career peaks.
4. Dignitas (6-3) (2-1 this week)
It’s still hard to believe that Dignitas is outperforming the likes of Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid, but I’m not willing to sleep on them any longer. Their jungler Dardoch has evolved into a superstar beyond comparison. His unrivaled champion pool and early game dominance have led his team to a tie for second in the standings. His support Aphromoo has also stepped up big, returning to his old form and earning himself player of the week awards this week.
5. Team Liquid (5-4) (2-1 this week)
A quality win over Cloud9 to cap off the week reminded us just what their roster was capable of. Mid laner Jensen and support CoreJJ are reaching historical levels of domestic dominance, and they’re surrounded by good talent that should be good enough to win the league. Their rocky 5-4 start can be attributed to issues drafting difficult team compositions to execute but there’s no reason this team can’t hang with the best of them.
6. Immortals (4-5) (2-1 this week)
I am a big fan of what Immortals brings to the table, and while they aren’t exactly a top team yet, they aren’t the same slouches that some people expect them to be. Xerxe in the jungle has seemingly broken out of his early-season struggles and has been a dominant force as of late. Insanity has looked like one of the better mid laners in the league and there is no denying top laner Revenge’s talents. The only real question mark on this team is their bot lane duo of Raes and Destiny. Destiny definitely has room to grow but it feels like Raes is only a net negative for this roster. It was particularly weird seeing the team put Raes on a dominant pick like Draven and then not play around him.
7. Evil Geniuses (5-4) (2-1 this week)
They say that when Jiizuke steps onto the Rift, God flips a coin. At his best, mid laner Jiizuke takes over games. At his worst, he literally runs to his death repeatedly. No matter his results, Jiizuke is a healthy player for the league to have, a skill check player who will punish you for your mistakes but can very legitimately be overcome. Something else to note is how their top laner Impact has played this week. In the day two match against Team Liquid, he faced gank after gank, dying six times before turning it all around with expertly played teamfights. Evil Geniuses rounds out what feels like an unprecedented seven competitive teams in the league, any of whom can win it all.
8. FlyQuest (3-6) (1-2 this week)
FlyQuest is in a precarious situation, where they’re leagues ahead of the bottom two teams but not quite competitive with the teams above them. Their jungler Josedeodo has been solidly good so far this season, but the other four members seem to fluctuate between good and awful games. Licorice stands out as the most surprising considering his elite play with Cloud9 during his rookie year. Palafox has shown enough glimpses in the mid lane that he should be able to develop into a good player, at least.
9. Golden Guardians (2-7) (1-2 this week)
In a truly marvelous upset game, Golden Guardians won out against 100 Thieves in a grueling 56-minute grind. It was probably every player’s respective best game of the split. Still it’s hard to bet on them to continue winning games like that. Outside of the last game, every member of the team has been bottom half in the league at their positions. Top laner Niles and jungler Iconic were arguably the very worst at theirs. Still, they somehow showed that they have what it takes to win games, and maybe they’ll be taken a bit more seriously down the stretch.
10. Counter Logic Gaming (1-8) (0-3 this week)
If you can count Golden Guardians as a winner this week, CLG is pretty solidly a loser. Despite impressive performances by Finn in the top lane, even the return of star jungler Broxah was not enough to turn around this team’s fortune. They have a lot to prove, but it’s hard to understand exactly where they will need to draw the power from to eventually win some games. Maybe it’s time to bench mid laner rjs and bring Pobelter back out, but I wouldn’t even bet on that.