LCS Playoffs are reaching their final phases, as 100 Thieves and Team Liquid push to the Upper Bracket Finals. The winner of this match moves on to the 2022 Spring Finals, and the loser must play the top team from the Lower Bracket (Cloud9, Golden Guardians, Evil Geniuses, FlyQuest) for the other Finals spot. 100T and TL are going the distance, but only one will win in their faceoff. Here are the key points for Liquid to come out victorious.
Ban Lee Sin
This is the most obvious takeaway from 100 Thieves’ 3-0 over Cloud9. Closer is the best Lee Sin in the LCS right now. Do not give it to him without a clear game plan. Santorin has performed okay on the pick in the past, but it’s probably best to ban Lee and pick Viego. Volibear, Diana and Jarvan IV look like the next tier of junglers, which should put a damper on Closer. Regardless, Lee Sin and Viego are going to be the most contested picks of the series. With both junglers winning MVP of their previous series, 100T and TL are both probably targeting the role.
Pick Red Side
Team Liquid gets side selection for the first game of the series, since they are the higher seeded team from the regular season. This is actually a significant advantage, considering red side has won seven of eight playoff games so far. Evil Geniuses took their two games off TL on red side. 100T showed they could beat C9 once on blue side in their series, but red side has reigned supreme otherwise. 100T used their final picks for Abbedagge while TL, EG and C9 all held out for their top lane picks.
Speaking of 100T’s mid laner, Abbedagge has been their biggest liability throughout most of the regular season. He has been an average role player this year, and now that he is showing up the Thieves look much more threatening. Last time Team Liquid faced 100 Thieves, he died three times in the first 10 minutes as Ryze and was a non-factor. FBI-Huni are a consistently strong bottom lane. Closer is always a beast. Ssumday is a rock. Mid lane will be the biggest mismatch, as Bjergsen was considered first team All-Pro by many.
Prepare Level 1
Several teams have fallen prey to Level 1 setups this year, but Team Liquid has had multiple recent blunders. So far in the Spring Playoffs, teams picked or banned Nautilus in the first round in seven of eight games. He is strongest in the Level 1 “blitz mid” setup that nets kills and Flashes in the best case, bot river and mid lane priority in the worst. TL either need to keep their Level 1s safe or create surprising setups themselves.
Bwipo has rightfully received criticism for some of his picks and play so far in 2022. However, he is the wildcard on Team Liquid that could net them the win in this best-of-five. 100T read C9 like a book because they brought a one-dimensional top lane strategy to the Rift. TL could do the opposite with Bwipo. 100T will not have the convenience of just banning Jayce and Gnar every game. Hopefully, Bwipo has Sett, Fiora or Aatrox in his pocket to dominate Ssumday’s Ornn pick (NOT RENEKTON). Otherwise, he and Bjergsen could appropriate EG’s top-mid swap strategy to have additional flexibility and throw off the Thieves’ preparation.
Of course, these strategies are easier said than done, and going into a best-of-five relying too much on one strategy can cause issues when they don’t work in Game One. 100 Thieves should be a formidable opponent that will challenge Team Liquid even more than Evil Geniuses. A win in Upper Bracket Finals would book TL’s trip to their fifth straight Finals (including Lock-Ins) as the favorite to win the 2022 Spring title.
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