While the results were expected, the NA LCS semifinals were still filled with surprises. Now, the teams make their way to Oakland, with two huge matchups set to take place.
In the finals, we’ll have Cloud9, after a historic run going from 10th to 2nd, looking to take back their throne. Against them, Team Liquid will be looking to defend their title, and join the ranks of Team SoloMid, Cloud9, and Counter Logic Gaming as repeat champions. One of these teams will take their seat on the throne of NA and represent the region as the number one seed going into Worlds.
But first, Oakland will be the site for another battle to take place as Team SoloMid will take on 100 Thieves for 3rd place. Both teams come into the third place match in very different situations. 100 Thieves enter the match with plenty of questions surrounding their roster and their overall performance. The team needs to prove that they’re still a top team in NA and deserve to compete at Worlds. Meanwhile, TSM come into the third place match with one of their best performances in recent memory. Despite coming up short, they must now prove that they’ve found their stride and are ready to show they’re once again a top team in NA.
Two matches, four teams, all with one goal: qualify for Worlds. Which teams will make it? Which teams will bite the dust and fight for their lives in the gauntlet? Let’s take a look at these matchups and find out.
3rd Place Match:100 Thieves (3rd) vs Team SoloMid (5th)
At the start of the playoffs, the advantage in this matchup would’ve likely gone to 100 Thieves. But a lot has happened since then. On 100 Thieves’ side, the team has opted to bench ADC Cody Sun and use Academy ADC Richard “Rikara” Samuel instead in their semifinal loss to Team Liquid. With no clear intention of ever using Cody Sun in the semifinals and potentially even the third place match, 100 Thieves will look a lot weaker, especially as they often played around Cody Sun.
Meanwhile on TSM’s side, the teams have looked better and better through each series. Despite a rough five game series that saw the team lose to Cloud9, the team looked like a top team in the region once again. Now they come into the 3rd place match looking to get a better seeding in the gauntlet and to still qualify for Worlds.
The key matchup for this series will be in the top lane. Without Cody Sun being able to provide the carry threat, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho will be relied upon even more to carry the team and make the plays needed to get them the win. As such, TSM will be relying on Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell to not only contain Ssumday but hopefully dominate the lane. If Hauntzer can succeed in keeping Ssumday in check, we could see a victorious TSM in Oakland.
While this matchup should’ve been close, the benching of Cody Sun makes it hard to see TSM losing an entire series to 100 Thieves. While 100 Thieves have an advantage in the top lane and jungle, the rest of the map advantage goes to TSM. If 100 Thieves want a chance to win, jungler Andy “AnDa” Hoang will need to have a fantastic performance and get the other lanes rolling.
Ultimately, I see this series going to TSM by a score of 3-1.
Finals:Team Liquid (1st) vs Cloud9 (2nd)
Both teams come into this finals with a lot to prove and momentum. For Liquid, guaranteed qualifications after their victory over 100 Thieves has the team coming in on a high note. Now, the goal of becoming repeat champions is within arm’s reach.
On the other side, C9 has slain their playoff demons in TSM after a spectacular five game series (seriously, go back and watch that series). C9 must complete their fairy tale run by defeating Liquid in the finals now. Both teams will be aiming for victory and the first seed for Worlds qualification. No matter who wins, it’ll definitely be an intense series.
The key matchup for this series will be in the jungle. This series will likely be decided based on which jungler can get their lanes going. While Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is a great jungler, he’ll have a rough time adjusting to the switching jungler of Robert “Blaber” Huang and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. This played a big part in C9’s recent victory over Liquid as the team was unable to properly adjust to the roster change of C9.
While Team Liquid has looked very dominant throughout the regular season, Cloud9 has simply looked unstoppable recently. While it’s always hard to count out the ability of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to drag his team across the finish line. C9 as a whole has proven they’re able to completely shut down star players and win the game through superior team play. While the series will be very close, I see C9 triumphing in the end with a score of 3-2, completing their fairy tale run to Worlds.
Like the quarterfinals, we head into the finals with some uncertainty. But this time, it’s in a good way as it’s hard to tell which team is playing better rather than worse. As Worlds inches closer, the possible NA representatives are looking good and some hope has been restored to the region. Whether this will continue is yet to be seen. But for now, the future of NA is looking bright.
To watch the NA LCS, visit watch.na.lolesports.com. For more information on the split, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Recaps of former weeks and other LoL content can be found at https://thegamehaus.com/league-of-legends/.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Twitter.
Follow Rui on Twitter @ruixu38.
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