By: Jon Fondo
League of Legends: NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Playoffs Preview
The race for the playoffs is done. Now that we draw nearer to crowning a summer split champion, it is time to take a closer look at the teams vying for qualification to the world championship, glory, and of course, their cut of the $200,000 playoffs prize pool.
This split’s contenders are nearly identical to the spring split’s field with the one difference being the presence of FlyQuest and the absence of Clutch Gaming.
This time around there also appears to be a much clearer difference in strength amongst the competing teams, as the top dogs look poised to lay down some pain while the lower seeded teams need to make some magic if they are going to have any chance of claiming the title.
Without further ado, let’s assess the teams.
- Team Liquid
This super team features ex-C9, ex-Immortals, and ex-CLG players and for the most part has looked unstoppable this split.
Since week six, TL has grinded out a 6-2 record falling only to C9 and TSM at the end of the regular season.
TL’s star ADC player, Doublelift is also one of the frontrunners for summer split MVP. TL appear to be the favorite to win the championship based on their dominant recent results and their resistance to cracking under pressure during intense games.
C9 has been the talk of the league for weeks now and for good reason.
In week three, this team had a 1-5 record and sat all the way at the bottom of the table in 10th place. The coaching staff had been making all sorts of roster changes, bringing in players from their academy team, trying to find a combination that worked and they found it just in the nick of time.
Since week five, C9 has pulled off an incredible 9-1 record dropping a game only to current 7th place team OpTic Gaming. C9 is also the only team in the league to have a 2-0 record over 1st place TL during this split. They’re the hottest team in the league and nobody is eager to face this powerhouse in the playoffs.
- 100 Thieves
When looking at the season as a whole, 100T at first glance seem to be one of the strongest teams in the league. They were able to hold onto first place for a long four-week stretch in the middle of the season and their current top laner Ssumday, the Korean import and former KT Rolster player has proven to be one of the most dominant players to ever set foot on the NA LCS stage.
Despite this, 100T has had a bit of a slide down in the standings at the end. Their end of season losses to TSM, C9, and OpTic Gaming forced them to give up their 2nd place playoff bye to C9.
Thankfully for them, they managed to win their tiebreaker games to secure the 3rd seed, but failed to win in convincing fashion. Many people (myself included) are confident that 100T will still have a strong showing in the playoffs and have a good chance of winning it all, but their weaknesses must be shored up in time.
- Echo Fox
EF is another team that has had a bit of a decline as the split progressed.
During the first seven weeks of the split they were consistently a top three team but crumbled under the pressure at the end when it mattered most. EF have proven that they can win against teams lower than them in the standings but are unable to pick up crucial wins against the top teams.
Late season losses to TL and 100T dashed any hopes of a top two playoff bye. Going into the quarterfinals, EF must make a statement victory so that they can ascend from mediocrity and into the echelons of the top teams.
- Team SoloMid
During the beginning of the second half of the split TSM looked to be dropping out of the playoff race.
Midseason struggles plagued the team as they fought to overcome adversity and managed to claw their way into one of the bottom spots of the playoffs. Top laner Hauntzer who has typically been one of the greatest top laners in the league in past splits has been much quieter this time around.
Many of their later wins came off the back of strong performances from their Danish mid laner Bjergsen who boasts the second highest kda among mid laners in the league. Since week eight, TSM has managed to pull together a 5-1 record, dropping a game only to EF in the tiebreakers.
Despite the low seeding, TSM should not be underestimated, as they are no strangers to deep runs in the NA LCS playoffs.
Rounding out our field for the playoffs are FQ who really need to go back to the drawing board if they want to find any success this weekend.
Going into the final weeks, FQ had the easiest road to playoffs, facing off (and winning) against the worst teams in the league, but couldn’t manage to pick up a win against C9 at the very end. In tiebreakers they lost all of their games and fell to the bottom playoff seed.
At this moment in time, FQ appear to be the weakest contenders for the title and already have a huge challenge ahead of them in their upcoming quarterfinal match against 100T. That being said, where you start matters a lot less than where you end up. Some big wins could shut the mouths of many of their detractors.
The author’s teams to watch
In playoffs I expect 2. Cloud9 and 5. Team SoloMid to find a lot of success. As a C9 fan myself, I tried eliminate biases as much as possible, but couldn’t find any reason to sleep on C9. The consistency and domination this team exudes is reminiscent of their old championship-winning roster from years past. With their intelligent drafting from the coaching staff and the flexibility of their seven-man roster featuring substitute jungler Svenskeren and substitute mid Goldenglue, I expect this team to give any opponent lots of trouble. TSM on the other hand has also been on a strong upswing in recent weeks. Bjergsen and ADC player Zven in particular have looked strong in their bid to keep TSM afloat. Now that they’ve made it into playoffs, I expect to see a bloodthirsty, yet calculating TSM that has everything to prove and nothing to lose.
Where to Watch:
You can watch the quarterfinals live today at https://www.twitch.tv/riotgames. The first quarterfinal will be 4. Echo Fox vs. 5. Team SoloMid this Saturday, August 25 at 2pm PDT/5pm EDT. The second quarterfinal will be 3. 100 Thieves vs. 6. FlyQuest and that will take place the next day, Sunday, August 26 12pm PDT/3pm EDT.