Sunday afternoon, Team Liquid won its fifth straight game, vaulting the team into sole possession of first place in the NA LCS; a playoff spot is all but clinched. The worst they can finish would be a four-way tie for 4th place (for the memes), which would kick off a series of tiebreaker matches in which, only one of the four teams would fail to make the playoffs.
As a team that refused to adapt to the chaotic changes from earlier in the Summer Split, Team Liquid has settled into patch 8.14 with ease, joining Cloud9 as the only two teams to start the patch 4-0.
Team Liquid has taken this lead without much of a standout player. Certainly, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's stats are all in the top half of AD carries, Eugene "Pobelter" Park has one of the best CS/min marks (9.7), and Jake "Xmithie" Puchero has the top KDA of any jungler (3.9), but Team Liquid's game plan is what truly stands above all the other teams in the NA LCS.
Team Liquid focuses on winning through their bot-lane and making better macro plays than their opponent with their top-laner Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong. Liquid translates its bottom lane dominance into objectives, taking 70 percent of dragons taken in their games (Dragon Control Percentage) with the next best rate in the league being Echo Fox (62.7 percent). Meanwhile, even with the bottom lane focus, Impact manages to join his team for fights when it matters. His kill participation percentage is 71.5 percent, best among top-laners, and far above the average of 60 percent.
Even more surprising, is how quickly Team Liquid ends it's game. Despite its focus on a position that traditionally takes time to gain power, Team Liquid has the fastest average game time of any team in the NA LCS at 31:17. Doublelift manages to do this by excelling on marksmen that don't take quite as many items to become relevant like Kai'Sa and Jhin.
Blue Side Advantage
It certainly helps that during its current five game win-streak, in four of the five games Liquid was able to pick blue side. This split, blue side holds a stunning 64 percent win rate, with the last two weeks on patch 8.14 skewing even more, with blue side taking 15 of 20 games.
Historically, blue side has always held a slight advantage, having a slight terrain advantage as well as getting the first overall pick in the champion draft. It's never been as large as it is right now in the NA LCS. Only one team, Echo Fox (5-3), has avoided a losing record on red side this split, meanwhile two teams, 100 Thieves (6-0) and FlyQuest (6-0), are undefeated on blue side.
With four games left for every team, ESPN Stats & Info projected the final NA LCS standings using expected wins based solely on map side. This model uses the skewed data from patch 8.14 to create more visible separation.
What it shows us is that Team Liquid by no means has a lock on first place, and despite Cloud9's recent run of success, they have three red side games remaining (Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and FlyQuest), meaning they'll still be struggling to make the playoffs.
Obligatory Zilean Stat
This is the second week in a row in which Cloud9 debuted a champion for the 2018 Summer Split. After Quinn went 2-0 last week, Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen followed up the performance with a 2-0 week on Zilean and is now 7-0 on the champion in the NA LCS dating back to 2016.