In another recent, much anticipated finale, Tyrion Lannister stated a simple timeless fact: “There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story.” Luckily for fans of the LCS, there is no shortage of compelling story lines in this year’s finals. When Team Liquid face off against Cloud9 in the best of five series, there will be a lot more on the line than just a trophy.
Team Liquid finds themselves in an unprecedented position this split, with the ability to take home four championship trophies in a row. In a game that changes so rapidly, both with the players on the teams and the meta of the game itself, it takes something extra for a team to stay on top for so long. Whatever that something is, Team Liquid has had it in spades for the past two years. With incredible talent, and a solid organization to back it up, they seem to only get stronger as time goes on. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng recently stated in the LoL Esports 2019 LCS Summer Finals Tease that he’s just “looking for competition” in this final series. Considering their opponents, he’s likely to get it, and may end up with more than he bargained for.
C9 have long been a big name in the LCS, but despite multiple trips to the finals and international success, they haven’t lifted the domestic trophy in five years. For a team as skilled as C9, that is too long of a drought. The weight of that pressure on the team is tangible. Fighting their way through injuries and roster changes this split, they have stepped things up in the playoffs, and are looking like the team that can topple the reigning champs.
The MVP award went to TL Support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in in the 2019 Spring Split, and many expected him to retain the title in the second half of the year. However, it was just announced that the honor went to C9 Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen for the Summer. Debates can be had all day about who is more deserving of the award, but the fact remains that the Spring and Summer MVPs will be facing off in this finals. This is yet another indicator that these really are the top two teams in the league, and that they are ready to make this a historic series.
Going into the finals, both of these teams have qualified to represent NA at Worlds. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing on the line. Seeding matters. Whichever team wins the trophy will also take the higher seed for the international tournament, and will be facing the lower seeds from the other regions. Considering how strong some of the other regions are looking, avoiding their higher ranked teams could make the difference between making a run through the knockout rounds and crashing out in the group stage.
One of the best storylines in sports and esports alike is when players return to face their former team. On Sunday, not one, but two players will be doing just that. Both Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen from Team Liquid used to wear C9 jerseys, and were major players on that team as well. They will be setting up across the stage from former teammates as well as their replacements, which will play mind games with both teams. How much did they learn about each other as teammates? How much has Cloud9’s secret strategy changed since they left? What knowledge can they use to their advantage? Realistically, maybe nothing. But just the fact that that may be on their minds can be enough to affect some plans and plays.
Any final series is exciting to watch, but one with all of these layers will be one for the ages.