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Esports League of Legends

NA LCS: Gauntlet Preview

With a Yiliang “Peter” “Doublelift” Peng-led Team Liquid dominating Cloud9 3-0 in the finals, the four teams fighting for a spot at Worlds in the gauntlet are set. All four teams have struggled throughout the season, but now, they’re graced with one final shot at Worlds.

Will the changes to Echo Fox’s roster work out for them? Is Clutch Gaming able to prove their dark horse status in the Spring Split wasn’t a fluke? Can Team SoloMid continue their legacy of making Worlds? Or will Cloud9 find their form again and continue their magical run? These questions will all be answered soon. But first, let’s take a look at the teams.

Clutch Gaming vs Echo Fox

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

Echo Fox comes into the gauntlet with a lot to prove. Since making drastic roster changes near the end of the season, the team has yet to find success. An early exit in the quarterfinals to Team SoloMid killed any hopes of avoiding the gauntlet for the team. Now they find themselves in a tough spot, at the very start of the gauntlet against Clutch. For this team to find any success, ADC Lawrence “Lost” Hui needs to show that he is able to be a dominant ADC. Especially considering he has the help of support Andy “Smoothie” Ta throughout the game.  

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

On the other side of this initial matchup is Clutch Gaming. Despite a solid run in the Spring Split, Clutch has fallen hard and found themselves in 9th place at the end of the Summer Split. Now Clutch find themselves as the underdogs once again. Will they be able to make a run similar to their Spring Split as a result? While it is quite unlikely considering the state of the team’s form by the regular season’s end, any good results will have to come off of their jungler Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo. While mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten is the primary carry of the team, their ability to gain a lead will rely heavily on LirA to do well and stay consistent.

As a result, it’s hard to see this matchup going in Clutch’s favor. Echo Fox’s Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is simply playing much better than LirA. While Febiven will have the advantage mid, without an advantageous jungle matchup, Clutch will likely still fall. However, due to Echo Fox’s own inconsistencies, I still see Clutch keeping it close. Ultimately, I give the series to Echo Fox 3-1.

Team SoloMid

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

While a 3rd place finish with their 3-2 victory over 100 Thieves was a nice result, it’s nowhere near the results we’ve come to expect from Team SoloMid As a result, for the first time, TSM find themselves fighting for the final qualification spot. While the team has looked better in recent matches, it still might not be enough with Cloud9 waiting for them in the final gauntlet match. Even before that, there is a good chance that TSM could easily lose to Echo Fox or Clutch, two teams that have both given TSM trouble in the past.

If TSM want to convincingly win and move on to their rematch against Cloud9, they need their bot lane tandem of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez to maintain the form they showed throughout the playoffs. If their bot lane can remain a strong duo and be a carry threat, TSM will have a very easy time. Especially once you account for world-class mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell.

Overall, TSM still have a solid chance to make Worlds. But first, they need to ensure they can maintain the level of play that saw them take the 3rd place match.

Cloud9

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

Despite their 0-3 loss to Team liquid in the finals, fans of Cloud9 should feel confident about the team’s chances at Worlds. With a single BO5 series standing in between the team and qualification, C9 shouldn’t have any problems. As long as the team that shows up is the C9 that made the run to second in the regular season and not the team that went 2-6 in the first half of the split. While C9 looked bad at various points against Team Liquid, the overall performance of the team was still solid, with some highlight plays from the like of jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.

Look for top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie to remain a consistent playmaker for the team as they play around with their jungle and mid throughout a series. Along with that, fans should expect mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen to have some big performances to make up for his mediocre play during the playoffs. If these two players perform at the level that is expected from them, C9 should breeze through their series and qualify for Worlds once again.

Conclusion

While every team remaining has something to prove, only one will be able to make their point and qualify for Worlds. In the end, the likely matchup to decide it all will be another classic showdown between TSM and C9. Will we see another back and forth battle once again? Or will one team simply dominate the other? Based on their performances in Oakland, this matchup could be even closer than their semifinals matchup. In the end, I see C9 taking the final spot at Worlds for NA.

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/.

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Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Twitter.

Follow Rui on Twitter @ruixu38.

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