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NA LCS 2018 Spring Split Week 9: Breaking Ties

There’s a big meme about Riot’s esports department treating EU LCS like second class citizens. Through not giving visas at the proper times, not stepping in to stop really terrible stuff from happening in the participating organization (shoutouts to MoveYourMothers), and then the shenanigans with giving EU LCS best-of-twos, but NA LCS best-of-threes, it’s kind of true. That, along with making more cash money here in the States, is probably why NA tends to import so many EU players. It seems they’ve now overpowered us though, because they’ve infected our beautiful LCS with something people didn’t expect:

Image from GIPHY

EU loves ties (Riot’s reasoning for giving them best-of-twos), so now NA gets to love ties as much as they do. This past week, we had five additional tiebreaker games, all of them deciding seeding for playoffs. The results of these games will shock you! Well, they shocked me at least.

From second to fifth: A Clown 9 story

A number of analysts started the season placing Cloud 9 at fourth or fifth place. I also placed them at fourth place at the beginning of the split, before deciding they were the best team ever in the middle of the split. In a classic LCS move though, the meta shift completely ruined C9, who spent the last few weeks since 8.4 was introduced losing games to everyone who wasn’t a bottom tier meme team and Clutch Gaming. So how did Cloud 9 go from competing with Echo Fox for the top slot before crashing down into the place many analysts had them at the start?

Well, it really does stem from the meta shift. Early in the split, C9 found success off the back of Licorice playing more damage oriented top lane picks. Kled, Camille, Gnar, Gangplank, it didn’t matter. Licorice would find leads and get enough attention from the tank playing Sven that he could carry. However, now that Tracker’s Knife was removed and tank wall-of-meat junglers fell out of favor compared to picks like Kha’Zix, Olaf, and Skarner who require much more proactive play and build a bit more damage compared to other picks. If teams want a hyper-tank, they’d need the top lane to play it. And Licorice performed well enough in lane, but he failed to play tanks effectively in teamfights. Compared to TL Impact’s Cho’Gath, Licorice’s Shen was basically deadweight, much like the Shen’s in my solo queue games.

This is especially concerning going into playoffs, as C9 will be facing Team Liquid for the third time this next weekend. And let me tell you, I don’t want to see the ways TL is going to embarrass C9. C9 does do well in playoffs though, where TL historically has choked, and has famous choke-artists like Doublelift and Pobelter in key roles. I pray for C9’s success, but they stand in the way of TL getting fourth. Nothing will stop TL from securing fourth, and C9 was complicit before. All for the memes.

Stealing first place from under our noses

I spent much of the split bashing 100 Thieves. I refused to be convinced they were a good team. No, Meteos is washed up garbage, Ryu has no motivation, Cody Sun is a fraud, etc. It turns out, as usual, I am the fraud. My biggest miscalculation in BOTH of my power rankings was counting out the Thieves (and giving too much credit the Counter Logic Gaming). I don’t think anyone truly expected 100 Thieves, especially after their midseason slump, to go on a winning streak and burn everyone to ashes. Then again, I’m pretty sure I predicted that they could make that run if they kept up momentum. And they sure did.

And we never saw it coming.

What changed within 100 Thieves to get them to first place? Honestly, it’s just great play from the team as a whole unit. Aphromoo is a legendary shotcaller, and everyone else has been playing to their level. On top of that, the ADC meta shifted slightly in 8.4 and 8.5, and Cody Sun can start playing champions like Jhin, which he found massive success on. They were able to adapt to the meta faster than their opponents, which got them wins upon wins. On top of that, Echo Fox and C9 both started slumping hardcore, with Echo Fox’s botlane getting exploited by everyone—even freaking OPTIC of all teams. Echo Fox especially has been questionable, not playing Fenix and Adrian, instead playing Damonte and Papachau from their academy roster. Through all of this chaos, 100 Thieves made the ultimate getaway, snatching first place right from the grasp of Echo Fox. Going into playoffs, I wonder if they’ll continue to convert their momentum into a split victory. I have my doubts, considering TSM is always a massive playoff team, but I now know not to count out 100 Thieves. So let me ask you, do you believe in the Phantom 100 Thieves?

Playoff quarterfinals predictions

Saturday at 5 pm EST: Team Liquid v. Cloud 9

This one is hard to call. Obviously, judging by recent results, Cloud 9 would lose, right? They’ve played enough games recently against TL to have already lost a best-of-five, which is worrying. Yet, C9’s coaching staff is some of the best in the NA LCS. If anyone can patch up their weaknesses and find a big win or three, it would be C9. TL will have blue side advantage in three out of their five potential games, which is pretty massive. I’m giving this one to TL, because not only do they need to win to get a shot at fourth place, but also because I’ve lost all hope in Cloud 9.

Sunday at 3 pm EST: Team Solomid v. Clutch Gaming

This one is much easier to call: TSM 100%. I love Clutch Gaming, they are a really good team that will almost certainly improve for next split. Yet, Clutch never actually wins against any team better than them. TSM, right now, is better than Clutch Gaming. On top of that, TSM is always a better playoff team compared to their regular season records. It’s hard to see any scenario where Clutch clutches a victory. TSM all the way. And if they end up facing 100 Thieves in the finals, then I guess I owe my guy Finchy an apology for flaming him this whole split.

Playoffs are here, and then MSI beyond that. Very exciting stuff. What’s more exciting is Patch 8.6! Due to patch delays, I haven’t gotten a chance to try out the new runes and changes on the Patch, but I have a feeling that bruisers are going to be crazy strong. Darius, Tryndamere, Irelia (who’s getting reworked soon), Riven, basically any hero that’s trying to get an early lead with ignite and smash their lane opponent will benefit from these changes. Duskblade is also getting omega-nerfed, which will lead to assassins being less strong, though the compensation buffs for champions like Graves, Wukong, and Zed scare me as someone who likes to not die every fight as Janna, Soraka, and Nami. Varus is also getting removed from the bot lane (again) due to Guinsoo’s Rageblade nerfs, but is replaced with Kai’Sa, who probably got overbuffed like Ornn did. That will be fun to ban every game. As tanks potentially re-enter the jungle to make way for top lane bruisers, I won’t have to deal with Rengars feeding in my solo queue games. Oh, who am I kidding, they’ll keep feeding forever.

Until next week, remember to type “/mute all” after you give first blood, and please don’t take Conqueror on ranged heroes. It will not work for you. Just don’t do it. Unless you are on the enemy team in my games. Then I highly encourage it.

Sources: YouTube, Twitter, Dot Esports

Images: Rift Herald, Giphy, 

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