While most of the games last week weren't the greatest, the lopsidedness of the series revealed what should have been obvious – Bo1 results are pretty meaningless. Who got exposed the hardest? Was it Move's Evelynn? Giants losing game 3 to betongJocke? Or the LiquidLegends staff for being no better than a coinflip at predicting the results?
This week in Europe, the Unicorns of Love, who narrowly lost to Fnatic last Spring finals, are rematched in a semifinals bout. They will probably get smashed this time around, given how sloppy their series against Roccat went and Fnatic's dominance this split over EU. On the other side of the bracket, H2k faces Origen, who 2-0'd them in the regular season. But H2k looked much improved from their late season slump, and Origen didn't have the most spectacular season finish either. Will Ryu come in the clutch in playoffs? Or will Amazing style all over Loulex? This is the matchup to watch.
Over in North America, Team Impulse took a narrow victory over Dignitas in the first game and rode that momentum to a 3-0. TiP, who won games in the regular season with Rush and Impact double-teaming and overrunning the map, played a much more reserved style with Shen and Elise for all 3 games. They face CLG, who narrowly missed finishing first in the regular season, but once again face the challenge of not choking in playoffs. In the other quarterfinal match, TSM picked Olaf and rolled over Gravity. No one was surprised by the match result, but we all had really hoped Gravity, whose games had been endlessly entertaining, could prove to be the real deal. TSM next faces Team Liquid. With Fenix's champion pool being more than just Urgot, and Piglet being stellar on both Sivir and Kalista, Team Liquid should fare much better than Gravity. TL's regular season performance was impressive, but can they keep it together for playoffs? Or will TSM make the finals again, showing us that the NA scene has gone nowhere.
Round of 6 Results
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Round of 4 Previews
Origen vs. H2k
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The first time these two teams faced-off was way back in Week 1 of the split. H2k was looking to build on their 3rd place finishes in the regular season and playoffs. Meanwhile, Origen was riding a spirit bomb of hype and momentum produced by the collective anticipation of millions of fans around the world eagerly awaiting the returns of xPeke and Soaz to the EU LCS stage. Both teams looked strong in their opening day matches, but their Day 2 matchup was the one people were looking at to see who would be the true contender to take Fnatic’s crown.
As it turns out, H2k came out the other side looking like pretenders in the truest sense, managing only to pick up 6 kills and 2 towers in the 28 minute game. To H2k’s credit, they followed up that performance with a 6-game win streak before losing to Fnatic in week 5. On the other hand, Origen continued to perform well, if unremarkably, throughout the split, managing to avoid any 0-2 weeks.
When the teams met for the second time in week 9, it was in a match that ultimately decided the final placings of the two teams, Origen in 2nd and H2k in 3rd. Despite occurring during a rocky time for H2k, the game was much closer than the first encounter. For the first 40 minutes the game was relatively even. However, a lack of vision and neutral objective control allowed Origen to make the picks necessary to secure a 2nd baron and the victory. When all was said and done, Origen secured their first round bye and H2k finished 0-4 against the teams above them in the standings.
STANDING ON THE NEXUS OF GIANTS
ur Ro6 preview called out the lacking individual performances of H2k as the reason for their slump at the end of the split. Namely, Loulex and Odoamne, for their lack of jungle pressure and careless laning, respectively. Well, last weekend, both players showed up to silence their critics. In Game 1, Loulex (Lee Sin) wasted no time in applying pressure onto Fr3deric, invading the enemy jungle and forcing him to flash away at the 5 minute mark. Meanwhile, Odoamne (Shen) stayed even in lane with Werlyb, ulted down bottom to assist with securing First Blood, and teleported back top to protect his domain.
H2k’s rotations were immaculate and there neutral objective control was top-notch. They managed to go deathless through Game 1, and only gave up 2 dragons to Giants through all 3 games. In the final 2 games of the series, Odoamne swapped out Shen for Fizz and continued to show up in lane and make plays with teleport. By Game 3 of the series, H2k felt assured enough to field their substitute jungler, BetongJocke, who went 1/5/14 on Elise in the series-clinching victory. Of course, H2k was 7-0 against Giants going into the series, so slump or no slump, the result was to be expected. Origen is the true test to see if they are back in form.
THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Individually, Origen are no strangers to the LCS playoff stage. Niels might be a rookie, but Mithy has finished 2nd with Lemondogs, Amazing has finished 1st with TSM, and Soaz and xPeke have both finished 1st with Fnatic three times. Collectively, however, this is their first LCS split and the first time they’ll be under pressure since qualifying from the Challenger Series.
Origen have been fairly consistent in their in their play both in the LCS and in the CS before that. They only dropped one game during their time in the CS and immediately grabbed a spot near the top of the standing in the LCS. However, that dominance comes at a price. Origen’s gameplan is to control the pace of the game and use the lead gained from doing so to snowball to victory with their individual skill. However, their shotcalling is sometimes lacking. They make mistakes that, more often than not, go unpunished. They also lack experience playing from behind, which may exacerbate their macro issues in a playoff series against a resurgent H2k.
A BATTLE OF WILLS
All eyes should be on the midlane for the potentially decisive face-off of this series. Even if Ryu and xPeke don’t singlehandedly decide the outcome, the effects their laning has on their teams is irreplaceable. Both players will be looking to take control of the lane in order to out roam the other and arrive at sideline fight first. If xPeke manages to stay even or get ahead, history tells us that Origen’s sidelaners, alongside Amazing, are more likely to come out on top. Conversely, if Ryu can seize control and roam as he pleases, that may just be the opening H2k needs to secure a series victory against Origen.
It’s hard to be certain who will win, but history tells us Origen will advance to the Finals. Not only because H2k has failed to best Origen in their two previous meetings, but also because a loss to Origen would put them in line for a fourth consecutive bronze LCS placing. #Bronze2k
CLG vs. TiP
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Friendship, faith and everything golden. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little team. Unfortunately for Counter Logic Gaming, the golden age they’d so desperately seeked out had evaded their grasp. Until now?
Do you have faith?
After Link’s emphatic departure at the end of the spring split, many wondered if CLG could finally reach their potential. It seemed only right that they’d pick up North America’s crown jewel of potential, Eugene "Pobelter" Park.
The start of the summer split went according to plan for CLG. They ended the first half of the summer split with a 7-2 record. Their early game pressure was too much for most teams as they pulled out to massive leads in the first ten minutes off of intelligent decisions in the lane swap. Then the mid season slump came, and it seemed like it was typical CLG all over again. The Lulu mid pick, the losses to TSM and Team Liquid, you wouldn’t be faulted for doubting CLG’s ability to have a consistent season.
Luckily for CLG, they managed to arrest their mid season decline to end the regular season in second place, narrowly losing to Team Liquid in a tie breaker. The true test for CLG now comes in the playoffs, where they haven’t won a series for over a year. Can they finally prove themselves as a top tier team in North America?
For Team Impulse their 3-0 victory against Dignitas conceals their troubles in that series. Their games were anything, but clean and despite clearly being the better team they had trouble closing out the game with missteps in team fights happening far too regularly.
Teams chose to target ban Rush and Impact, but both Rush and Impact found great success on their chosen champions, Elise and Shen. Impact’s Shen in particular was an important factor in Team Impulse’s early game, as he once again paired up with Rush to create plays across the map.
Their team fighting for the most part was lacklustre though, as Gate was caught out a couple of times. Gate proved the ace card in other fights as well though, and his inconsistency in his first high pressure best of series was probably to be expected. The question now is will he step up against far better opposition.
Rush vs Xmithie
Let’s be honest here, Xmithie hasn’t performed well this split. Despite being on a winning team, he has the second lowest average kill participation of any jungler in the NA LCS and his play on champions not named Gragas has been uninspiring at best. His champion pool issues, coupled with his issues in game play are also about to be pitted against a player whom many regard as the best jungler in NA. This matchup alone for CLG could prove disastrous, and it’s up to Xmithie to step up to the plate and attempt to minimise Rush’s impact on the game.
Rush was a constant thorn in Dignitas’s side despite their attempts to ban him out of the game. His Elise play, while not perfect, was far better than his Nunu play in the Spring playoffs. CLG have two options against Rush. Attempt to ban him out of the game, or devise a strong early game plan where he can not create any pressure on the map.
These are two of the best early game teams in North America, but it won’t be the early game where these games will be decided. The mid-late game shotcalling and teamfighting will be what separates these teams as both of them look very shaky transitioning their early leads to victories. Whichever team has the better mid game will undoubtedly take the series, but it looks like a close affair.
Team Impulse 3-2
Fnatic vs. UoL
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Looking at the regular season, it seems almost impossible to take a game off of Fnatic. But we are talking about the Unicorns of Love, so we should expect a lot of new and cheesy strategies. If they pay off, then the UoL might upset some games, but if Fnatic adapt well to the cheese, it will be a swift 3-0. Either way, it will be an entertaining series.
Unicorns of Love
Unicorns of Love’s performance in the last weeks of the regular split were filled with some good and some bad games. Coming into the playoffs with a new jungler made everything a little more interesting. In the series against Roccat, Unicorns of Love showed that they shouldn’t be counted out. They showed big improvements in their map movement, with beautiful roams by Hylissang, and a huge focus on mid game teamfights. New jungler H0R0 also provides the team with more pressure in the early game with vision control and crucial counter ganks.
Unicorns of Love have been favouring a mid game teamfight style with good pick potential. It will be interesting to see if they are able to answer Fnatic’s scaling compositions with this aggressive style. Unicorn's of Love main weakness remains Vardag's poor champion pool and a questionable Pick/Ban phase. The Unicorns' play has improved, but will it be enough to take a game off of Fnatic?
Fnatic’s unbeaten record in the regular split is already impressive by itself, but it is even more so when we look at the way they achieved their record. Viewers thought they had seen it all and couldn’t be surprised by Fnatic anymore, after many games of impressive macro play, unpredictable comebacks and in general extremely well played games throughout the whole split. However Fnatic didn’t aim for a perfect season and kept on trying new things out and focusing on improving until the end of the split. It is hard to find any weakness in Fnatic’s play after their perfect season, but if there is anything that some teams managed to exploit was it their early game, where they showed some flaws – even though they managed to come back every time to win the game.
Hylissang vs Yellowstar
Both supports are crucial to the wins of both teams. They are usually the ones who call out and start teamfights, while also being the leading playmakers of the teams. Adding to that, both supports tend to roam a lot. Who will be able to get their team into favourable situations?
It’s hard to predict the outcome of this series, even though Fnatic’s performance has been on another level and would indicate an easy 3-0. For Unicorns of Love to be able to win, they will not only need to have an answer to Fnatics map movement and scaling comps, but also to find a way to beat Fnatic’s mental strength. But if there is a team that has the potential to take a game off Fnatic it is the new Unicorns of Love with H0R0. They improved a lot in terms of map movement and the synergy between H0R0 and Hylissang seems to be working, so I wouldn’t count out the possibility to be surprised by Unicorns of Love in this series. Nevertheless it will be Fnatic’s match to lose and will come down to Unicorns of Love’s ability to abuse any mistake in the early game and not to give it away later if Unicorns are to pull out the win.
TL vs. TSM
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Each team grabbed a win when these teams met in the regular season. However, Team Liquid probably think they should’ve won the first game as well. After tipping a close game in their favor with a successful fight at baron, TL managed to secure the buff and siege to even the gold. Then, only a couple of minutes later, Team SoloMid showed them what happens when you forget about Bjergsen and Azir. TSM gets a 5-for-1 ace and end the game. That heartbreaking loss came during TL’s only 0-2 week of the split. A week that also featured a 50+ minute loss to Dignitas where TL got aced with baron buff. It was a definite low point, but they didn’t stay down for long.
When TL and TSM met again in Week 7, things looked similar to the first match. The game was close, TL won a fight around baron, secured the buff, and began to siege. TSM even managed to win a fight and put the pressure back onto TL. Then there was a pause. Everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting to see if this game would end the same way as the first. Luckily for TL, the second time around they had fortune and Azir on their side. Piglet’s blind baron steal kept them in the game early on and Fenix’s Azir turned the late game fight that led to victory in their favor with a nice Emperor’s Divide.
DYRUS GETS TO PLAY LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
There is only one word, or rather, one name necessary to describe TSM’s Ro6 series against Gravity: Olaf. For the first time in what feels like forever, TSM played through someone other than Bjergsen. The superstar midlaner took on a more supportive role with Lulu and Oriana in the first three games of the set while Dyrus ran amok with Olaf. Of course, that isn’t to say Dyrus won the games on his own, all five members played well. What’s important is that TSM proved that they aren’t solely reliant on Bjergsen doing tons of damage to achieve victories.
They were also aided by Gravity’s awful picks and bans. After running away with Game 2, Gravity must’ve been convinced they figured out Olaf. It wasn’t until they lost Game 3 that they decided to ban him for Game 4. However, with a first pick Shen, Gravity gave TSM Elise, Alistar, and Sivir for the deciding game of the series. Add on Dyrus and Bjergsen going deathless on Gnar and Ahri, respectively, and it’s clear to see why TSM advanced and Gravity didn’t.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
As evidenced by the matches discussed above, TL has consistency issues. The main problem is inconsistent shotcalling. Calls for when to take objectives and which fights to engage are extremely hit or miss. Most of the times, the mistakes are covered up by individual skill, but that’ll only get you so far in a bo5 playoff series. The other problem that is likely to arise in a long series, is that while Fenix isn’t quite a one-trick pony, Azir is by far his best champion. He is 5-0 on Azir this split and not likely to get his hands on him in this series. Time will tell if he can step up to the same level on other champions.
Your Attention Please
Before last week, the clear answer would be midlane. TSM played through Bjergsen for so long that it was the only matchup that mattered. However, it’s possible that now the lane to focus on is up top. Dyrus played out of his mind against Gravity and Quas is a cornerstone for TL. The toplaners and their teleports just may be the key that unlocks the finals for one of these teams.
There is no clear favorite in this series. TL looked much better during the regular season but there is still time for them to finish 4th. Meanwhile, TSM was in a bit of a rut this split, but once again they are showing up in a big way for playoffs. No matter who comes out on top, this should be an entertaining series.
Team Liquid 3-2
How fraudulent will we be this time? 739 is currently the Liquibet leader, but went a measly 2-2 in predictions. DrPuppet, a coach and proclaimed follower of All Five Major Leagues, went a paltry 1-3. If you're trying to win those sweet 3 pt Liquibet playoff matches, you'd probably do best to follow oo_Wonderful_oo, but he's a CLG fanboy, so who knows how accurate his predictions will be this time.
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|Liquibets Here I Come (4-0)||oo_Wonderful_oo|
|Second Place is the First Loser (3-1)||CSheep|
|Could've Just Flipped a Coin (2-2)||739|
|I Don't Actually Watch LCS (1-3)||DrPuppet|