TSM vs C9 :
Arguably the most interesting rivalry in LCS history face each other one more time. They have claimed five out of six NA LCS titles, they have faced each other in multiple finals and they have dominated the NA region since S3 (with the exception of summer of S5).
TSM and C9 have historically been the two best NA teams in bo5 series. In the early days of the LCS era, C9 was undefeated for two consecutive splits in playoffs. However, on the other side TSM has historically been the best team in preparation for a tournament or for a series. They have not been the best team, but it favors them multiple games against a single team than a bo1.
The clear favorite is C9. C9 finished higher in the standings, they have a 1-1 record against TSM this split and have looked like a cohesive unit over the last 10 weeks. However, they seem to have hit their potential. Individually, one is not expecting more out of any player. No player has been under-performing recently in C9, therefore, it is logical to assume that the team that will show up in the playoffs will be very similar than the one that showed up in the regular season.
When we evaluate how C9 plays, one has to look at strong individual players. Rush will play a over aggressive style of jungling, Jensen will be solid in the mid-lane, Balls will look to have late-game impact and the bot lane is looking to transition into the mid-game without falling behind, but with limited resources. Their shot-calling used to be impeccable, but since Hai swap positions a couple times, it has not been world class. Nonetheless, one of the best in the region. Unless C9 has practiced cheesy counters or strange strategies, which has not historically characterized them, one knows what C9 will bring to the table. Individual talent coupled with strong macro-level strategies.
On the other hand TSM has looked shaky throughout the split. Arguably the team with the most talent, at least in terms of what the players have accomplished, has struggled to even maintain a winning record. TSM brings the most talented individual players, coupled with one of the least decisive and weakest shot-calling in the region. TSM is a team that historically has performed better than expected in playoffs and are still a strong contender to make it to the finals. TSM has made it to all six finals of all six NA LCS splits, they have won half of those series. For the most part, they have not been the favorites to win it all, yet they always manage to make it to the finals. This is arguably the time it will be the most challenging since they beat LMQ in the semifinals before finally beating C9. TSM comes in as the underdog, but they have been here many times and always deliver. Therefore, it would not be surprising if they manage to improve tremendously the week before playoffs, and the area they should be looking at, is macro-level strategies and shot-calling.
NRG vs TL:
The two teams that have performed most unlike each other face each other in the first round of playoffs. TL started things off very slow with an almost 0-4 start, they actually started in last place with a 1-3 record after coming back from an incredible gold deficit in their fourth game. NRG on the other side got things rolling the first two weeks with a 3-1 record and their loss came against Immortals. NRG’s strong early came to a halt as they only managed to secure a spot in the playoffs with a 9-9 record. On the other polar opposite, TL turned around a season with he help of Dardoch, ending with a 10-8 record, meaning they had a 9-5 record in their last 14 games. Taking into consideration the fact that 2 of the losses in their last 14 games came against Immortals, that means they had a 9-3 record in their last 12 games non-including Immortals. The reason why I take that into consideration is because everyone lost both of their games to Immortals (except CLG). The above statistic is also relevant considering Dardoch is a rookie and it took him a couple of weeks before getting used to performing on stage.
NRG has tremendous trouble beating teams with a winning record. They had a 0-2 record against Immortals, CLG and C9. NRG lost all six games against the top three teams, and only managed to win one game against the fourth placed team (TL). NRG has a combined record of 1-7 against teams with a winning record. In a playoffs scenario, where you have to beat a top team three times, it looks challenging for NRG to do something three times which they did once in 8 games.
There is an advantage that NRG has that we have not mentioned, their only win against a team with a winning record came late into the split in week eight. Not only did they manage to secure an important win that would serve as a confidence booster coming into playoffs, but they managed to do so against Team Liquid. That means that amidst all the struggles NRG had beating good teams, they beat the team they would face in playoffs two weeks ago. Although that match will have no effect in the eyes of the viewer, one has to take into account that it will give NRG the confidence it needs to battle toe to toe with Team Liquid.
I was excited to see how the brackets were filled in. I am excited to see C9 and TSM battle it out one more time. I cannot wait for the winner to play against CLG. And I am also excited to see NRG and TL face each other. I think they are very different teams and will be interesting to see what ideology works best. Spring Split usually has not had the importance that this years has, and I think is due to the increase in level of play. My prediction? It will be awesome to watch.
courtesy of lolesportspedia.com and youtube.com,