The NA LCS spring 2018 playoffs kicked off last weekend and League of Legends fans were excited to see what would happen in what is possibly the most exciting season of the NA LCS to date. Overall, the matches were very exciting, as all four teams had something to prove.
Well oiled machine
The first match of the quarterfinals featured a clash between Team Liquid and Cloud9. Team Liquid, who had struggled in past splits, was looking to fix their tarnished reputation through their super-group roster, while Cloud9 was looking to prove that their recent struggles were not indicative of the team’s true strength.
The match proved exciting, as Team Liquid and Cloud9 were able to draft towards their strengths in all three games. Team Liquid was able to draft Skarner for Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, allowing him to greatly influence how the game was played through Skarner’s pick potential and durability. Team Liquid also benefited from drafting sturdy top lane champions like Swain and Singed for their star top laner, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. Cloud9, on the other hand, looked to play around the composition strategies that had aided them in the first half of the split. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie was placed on strong laners in the top lane, while Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi were placed on champions that were both extremely impactful and familiar.
Though the match score was 3-0 in favor of Team Liquid, the match was certainly a close one. While Cloud9 sported good form in lane and in the early game, their issues around neutral objectives and gold leads continued to plague them. Game 1, for example, demonstrated Cloud9’s late game indecision. Team Liquid out maneuvered C9 in a catch-22 style play at Elder Dragon that allowed TL to come up ahead in the first game of the series. Even when making big plays, like Sneaky’s Game 3 quadra kill, C9’s individual play was not enough to get them over the hump. Team Liquid certainly proved to be the more cohesive team, as they were able to run circles around Cloud9 when it came to decisive macro play and securing neutral objectives even when behind in gold.
Underdogs bite back
The next match of the quarterfinals featured Team Solo Mid, the kings of North American League of Legends, defend their title against the newly minted Clutch Gaming. Again, the narratives proved irresistible in this match. TSM, who experienced a rough start to the split with their new jungler and bot lane, looked to grasp another NA title with Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell leading the charge. Meanwhile, Clutch Gaming was a team that no one believed would be able to make it to playoffs and looked to prove everyone wrong.
The game, much like the C9-TL match, proved to be just as exciting. The series started with TSM drawing first blood with a methodical Game 1 win through Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung’s suffocating counter jungling. While down from Game 1, Clutch was not ready to throw in the towel by any means. The next game saw Clutch ramping up with Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent’s insane playmaking on Thresh and Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo’s scrappy, in-your-face playstyle. After winning a back and forth Game 2, the rest of the series was all Clutch, as TSM was not unable to stop LirA or Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten’s Swain from dominating the rift, and ultimately the series.
With the 3-1 win over TSM, the scrappy band of underdogs known as Clutch Gaming look to prove that new faces are just as strong as the old as they enter the semifinals.
Looking to this weekend, we will see Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming take on Echo Fox and 100 Thieves respectively. 100 Thieves, the first seed, and Echo Fox, the second seed, look to take advantage of their playoff bye and use the information they have scouted to better prepare for their respective matches. Meanwhile, their opponents will look to gain a spot in the finals and make NA LCS history. Will Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming be able to overcome their higher seeded opponent? You’ll have to watch the games this weekend to find out!
Featured Image courtesy of LoL Esports
Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr