The Deep Dive: Week 2

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The first week of the season is the best time for knee-jerk reactions and wild about-faces in how we perceive all of the rosters we’ve been speculating about for the past few months. Today I’ll share my take on the first impression of three teams: FlyQuest (LCS), Dignitas (LCS), and Schalke 04 (LEC).

FlyQuest (LCS)

Coming into the 2020 season, FlyQuest made some notable improvements to their roster, but they didn’t seem to earn that much respect from the analytical community. In fact, the LCS analyst desk unanimously predicted FlyQuest to lose to Immortals, from which you can draw your own conclusions about FlyQuest’s perceived “power level”.

Led by V1per’s signature Riven, FlyQuest proceeded to blow Immortals away, then followed it up with another decisive victory over Counter Logic Gaming on the back of Santorin’s Rek’Sai carry performance and IgNar’s even more impressive Leona.

FlyQuest posted the highest Gold Percent Rating (GPR) in week 1 at +1.67, which means that, on average, they held 51.67% of the gold in the game at any given point during their games. They got ahead early (+1,098 GD15, second behind Team SoloMid’s +1,906), and they extended their lead by being the first team to take three towers in both games, and by controlling the jungle (55.0% jungle control).

I can’t claim that I knew FlyQuest would come out of the gates this hot, but I did have them pegged as a playoff team in my preseason power rankings. I also put my “money” where my mouth was, by buying into them in the LCS broadcast’s “stock market game”. I think I can call that counter-trend since such a large part of the community saw them outside the top 6 prior to week 1.

Of course, week 1 is only week 1, and neither Immortals nor CLG put up the stiffest resistance. FlyQuest will need to come up against Cloud9, Team Liquid, and the other top-tier LCS squads before we can get a sense of where they truly stand. I remain optimistic about them, though, and if teams like CLG and TSM continue to underperform, I can certainly see FlyQuest holding a spot in the top 4 by the time the playoffs roll around.

Dignitas (LCS)

When a team I power-ranked 8th goes 2-0 against mid-tier opponents, it’s worthy of at least some brief comment. So, briefly, I’ll acknowledge that Dignitas looked stronger in week 1 than might have been expected, but I’ll also point out that the first week of the season is exactly when a roster like DIG’s should be expected to look best.

With Huni and Froggen leading the way, DIG was very well poised to succeed during the portion of the season where individual skill counts for the most, and team coordination and game-planning is at its lowest point. That’s why I tweeted this before the first game:

Sure enough, Froggen and Huni posted a combined KDA of 15.0, with Froggen, in particular, standing out on the virtue of 670 DPM and the team posting +999 GD15 and a 4.5:1 kill-to-death ratio.

The real surprise was how poised Johnsun looked in his first LCS games. I haven’t had time to watch him closely on ProView, and I’m reserving any meaningful judgment of his performances until I’ve done so, but it’s safe to say that he didn’t look out of place. That’s already a good start!

Schalke 04 (LEC)

It’s very exciting to see Forg1ven back in the LEC, given his personality, his legacy, and the great storyline of his return after mandatory military service. Fans want to see this team succeed, no question.

But unlike FlyQuest (LCS) and Dignitas (LCS), Schalke 04 (LEC) didn’t go 2-0. In fact, they did the opposite, posting two losses in their first week. LEC insiders I speak with tend to have a pretty low opinion of Schalke 04’s potential, saying they should be expected to fall decisively outside of the playoff picture, but Excel Esports and Origen are two of the better teams in the LEC, on paper, and Schalke didn’t look out of place against them. Could this team round into shape as a legitimate top-4 threat?

If expectations were low for S04, then playing Origen fairly close through the first 15 minutes is pretty impressive and earning a lead against Excel is respectable. Numbers from the weekend like +271 GD15, 100% First Turret, 54.5% jungle control, and 100% Baron control (granted, one was a steal!) are all very good signs for S04 as a team. Abbedagge, Dreams, and Odoamne all had some good moments as individuals, especially against Excel.

That being said, S04 drafted Renekton, Elise, and a Varus/Braum bot lane against Origen, all of which should perform well in the laning phase, so the expectation for the composition should have actually been a decisive lead going into the midgame. Xerxe picked Gilius apart, and Origen stole Abbedagge’s lunch money with repeated plays from Destiny and Xerxe to give Nukeduck the little boost he needed to turn his laning advantage into a stomp. S04 did look better against OG than I might have expected, but that doesn’t mean they looked good, exactly. The Excel game was better, overall, but it required the aforementioned Baron steal and some pretty poor play from Mickey.

There are signs that S04 can be competitive, at least, but so far my expectations for them remain low.

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