Echo Fox bounces back against OpTic Gaming, Team SoloMid improves to 3-3

Esports Top 10 of January, 2018 (5:34)

We recap some of the best plays from the first month of 2018 (5:34)

Echo Fox 1 - OpTic Gaming 0

As expected, Echo Fox knocked down OpTic Gaming to kick off Sunday's action in the North American League Championship Series in Los Angeles.

Both teams kicked off the game passively, opting to farm and occasionally poke in the early game. Once Echo Fox AD carry Johnny "Altec" Ru's Kalista managed to earn a double kill and first blood, however, the game snowballed in Echo Fox's favor. OpTic Gaming (1-5) fought back by forcing fights to claw back into the game, but it did little to close the 10,000-gold lead. After the teams went back and forth skirmishing for 30 minutes, Echo Fox (5-1) slowed the game down and took objectives to completely shut OpTic Gaming out of the game. Once it snuck in the third Baron of the game, Echo Fox pushed into the OpTic Gaming base to improve to 5-1 on the season.

Echo Fox came in expected to win based on its performance this split, and it didn't disappoint. The team looks like the best team in North America by a wide margin despite suffering its first loss Saturday against Counter Logic Gaming. While 100 Thieves and Cloud9, each 4-1 going into Sunday, are at the top of the standings with Echo Fox, neither team has looked consistently as proactive around the map as Echo Fox has. On the other hand, OpTic Gaming is stuck in ninth, with only winless Golden Guardians below it in the standings. While OpTic Gaming did show some positives with its fearless engages to narrow the kill deficit during the mid-game, a lack of solid macro level play kept OpTic Gaming from closing the gold lead.

OpTic Gaming will look to climb the standings against Counter Logic Gaming at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, while Echo Fox will take on the Golden Guardians at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Dylan Sen

Team SoloMid 1 - 100 Thieves 0

Finally overcoming a slow start to the season, Team SoloMid took down 100 Thieves on Sunday in the North American League Championship Series.

Both teams selected scaling compositions, and it showed in the passive early game from both sides. 100 Thieves support Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black's slick engage as Alistar earned his team first blood, but that was the only aggression seen from either team for a long while. While 100 Thieves (4-2) was a little more proactive on attempting fights, the aggression didn't give it much of an advantage as Team SoloMid (3-3) focused on bringing down objectives to scale into the late game. After bleeding 100 Thieves dry of objectives for most of the game, Team SoloMid won a final teamfight at 41 minutes to lock up the big win.

100 Thieves has spent the first two weeks of the split aiming to prove its doubters wrong, and it's done a good job for the most part. Despite the loss to Team SoloMid, 100 Thieves showed many positives throughout the game, especially AD Carry Cody "Cody Sun" Sun's performance on Kog'Maw. His positioning showed improvement from previous weeks, and he maintained poise when his team was backed against the wall.

Team SoloMid, meanwhile, has fought its way back from a slow start by attempting risky Elder Dragon and Baron sneaks that the team has historically shied away from in the past. While one game doesn't define the future, its shift in philosophy to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Team SoloMid will return to the Rift to play Clutch Gaming at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, while 100 Thieves will play FlyQuest at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Dylan Sen

Team Liquid 1 - Golden Guardians 0

Team Liquid broke its own record for fastest game time in the 2018 North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split for the second day in a row when it walked all over Golden Guardians on Sunday for an easy victory.

Team Liquid (5-1) continues to look like the most dominant team in North America, picking up yet another lightning-fast victory against Golden Guardians (0-6), which looked outclassed both mechanically and strategically. Liquid mid laner Eugene "Pobelter" Park opened up the carnage as Azir with a double kill for first blood, the first two kills of what would become an 8/0/4 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) in the 26-minute match. Following Liquid's trend of setting up its carries do the heavy lifting this split, AD carry Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's Tristana got in on the action before long, waltzing his way to a flawless 4/0/5 KDA of his own.

Guardians managed to prevent Liquid from notching a perfect game with a kill during a mid-game teamfight, but it was nowhere near enough to stop Liquid from walking away with the easy win. Liquid entered the day in a four-way tie for first place, while Golden Guardians was still searching for its first win. Still, it was another strong win for a Liquid team that just matched its 2017 Summer Split win total in Week 3 of the 2018 season.

Team Liquid will hope to make it four straight when it takes on Cloud9 at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, while Golden Guardians will try and pick up its elusive first win against the vaunted Echo Fox at 9 p.m. ET to close out Saturday's slate.

-- Wyatt Donigan

Cloud9 1 - Clutch Gaming 0

Cloud9 maintained its share of first place in the NA LCS with a victory over Clutch Gaming on Sunday.

Kills were traded back and forth early on in this game, but with a key difference: Cloud9 (5-1) found its kills on out-of-position members of Clutch Gaming with little effort; Clutch Gaming (2-4), on the other hand, could only find kills onto C9's top laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie, and never for free. Licorice's Gnar had immense lane pressure and forced multiple members to come up to kill him, allowing his team to push objectives elsewhere. Despite the focus he drew, Licorice still managed to take the first turret of the game and nab a solo kill onto his lane opponent.

Licorice's play granted Cloud9 an huge early tower lead even as the kills remained even, and jungler Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen on Sejuani also secured the first two Elemental Drakes of the game. Cloud9's airtight objective control continued throughout the game, as it managed to take three Barons and an Elder Drake while keeping Clutch Gaming to only two turrets taken, leading to a massive C9 gold lead.

Clutch Gaming made a solid defensive effort around its base, taking a couple of small teamfight victories to keep its inhibitors alive, but it couldn't hope to hold out forever. The scaling carries of Cassiopeia from Cloud9 mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen and Kog'Maw from AD carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi were accelerated into late-game form by C9's gold advantage, and Cloud9 finally brute forced its way into the CG base to end the game in 46 minutes.

Clutch Gaming will get its next shot at victory against Team SoloMid to open Week 4 at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, after which Cloud9 will look to tighten its hold on the standings against fellow first-place Team Liquid.

-- Brendan Hickey

Counter Logic Gaming 1 - FlyQuest 0

Counter Logic Gaming continued its recent streak of wins with a victory over FlyQuest on Sunday in the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

CLG (3-3) ran a team composition that was transparent but effective. It centered around the pick of Zilean for mid laner Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun, pairing his lifesaving Chronoshift ultimate with the diving champions of Alistar and Jarvan IV and the scaling carries of Gangplank and Kog'Maw. The composition played predictably, as a sluggish start gave way to a second-tier turret dive at 16 minutes, in which CLG traded four kills for one, nabbing the turret in the deal.

The objectives also went the way of CLG early on, as it secured the first three Elemental Drakes of the game while maintaining a turret lead through smart cross-map play. Confident with its lead, CLG played a proactive mid-game, with support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang repeatedly looking for flanks on Alistar, which he seemed to find every time. Meanwhile, AD carry Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes' Kog'Maw was able to play fearlessly thanks to the Zilean ultimate, putting out massive damage at almost no risk.

FlyQuest AD carry Jason "WildTurtle" Tran put up a valiant fight on Tristana, forcing CLG away from his team's base on multiple occasions, but he simply didn't have the same kind of freedom to carry fights that his counterpart did, not to mention the gold income. Unable to win a major teamfight, FlyQuest (2-4) gave multiple Barons over to the side of Counter Logic Gaming, who ended the match in 43 minutes.

Having won its last three matches, CLG will look to continue its streak up against OpTic Gaming at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. FlyQuest, on the other hand, will look to turn around its recent results against 100 Thieves directly afterward.

-- Brendan Hickey