The NA Battle to Avoid Relegation: Apex, Phoenix1, NRG

Jul 28, 2016

The final games of the 2016 Summer Split kick off this weekend beginning with what should be the most popular set of the season, TSM versus Immortals. The winner of that game will secure first place in North America, but perhaps more importantly, they will also earn a psychological edge over their opponent for playoffs.

While I’m certainly excited for that set, there’s more than just the top teams to watch this weekend. This weekend has serious implications on the season’s-end promotion tournament that will decide which team is swapped out of the NA LCS for the top performing NA CS team. Echo Fox have already secured a last place finish. Now it’s up to Apex, Phoenix1, and NRG to control their fate.

NRG’s GBM hasn’t been able to consistently perform as well as he did playing in the LCK. Despite starting the split off strong, GBM hasn’t been NRG’s best player for a while now. Photo via GBM Twitter.

P1 and NRG enter the weekend with identical 4-12 records, while Apex is ahead with a cozy 6-12 record of their own. This means that as long as either Phoenix1 or NRG lose a single set, Apex avoids relegations. The real battle is between NRG and Phoenix1. Whoever earns the most wins this weekend will safely avoid a showing in the relegation tournament.

Just a couple weeks ago I asked the question, “who really wants to watch Phoenix1“? Since then P1 has won 50% of their sets, including a masterful upset against TSM. To answer my own question, I really want to watch Phoenix1. Jungler Inori and his no holds barred attitude has added personality to this young team. It’s hard not to get Dardoch-lite vibes.

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Much to the pleasure of NRG, Phoenix1 will face off against 6th place Envy, and the first place (tied) Immortals. NRG doesn’t have it any easier, though. GBM and the rest of NRG have CLG and TSM to deal with. Can either of these teams manage to steal a win off a higher ranked team with their LCS life on the line?

The most likely scenario might be a tie breaker. A winner takes all game between P1 and NRG may be the most even potential match. The bottom line is, one of these three teams (APX, P1, NRG) will be forced to fight for their LCS lives based on their results this weekend.

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Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs is a bot lane main who once won 17 consecutive Janna games. His favorite champions are Thresh, Kalista, and Bard. Jamie writes about competitive League of Legends and the professional gaming scene every week at Esports Edition.
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