After nine weeks of matches, the NA LCS has finally selected its six finalists. Those at the top suddenly found themselves fighting for their lives, while the teams at the bottom had hopes of producing a late dash. It was everyone’s game right until the end.
Those that made it will now fight for the trophy in the playoffs, starting with Team Liquid vs Cloud9 this X.
During the regular season, the teams followed a double round robin format. Every team had two matches against the other nine teams.
Cloud9 and Team Liquid met for the first time on week four and the rematch happened on week nine.
Cloud9 started this match as the clear favourites.
Up until this point, the only defeat on Cloud9’s record was against Echo Fox, one of the strongest teams of the Spring Split.
Team Liquid seemingly had no chance against a team that looked assertive and methodical on the rift. However, that week, Team Liquid finished with two defeats and started a losing streak that continued into the following weeks.
Winner: Team Liquid
The rematch came in week nine. The final week of the Spring Split was the most important for the teams in the top six. Every match was vital and the teams couldn’t afford to lose either of their matches.
With a place in the playoffs at stake, both teams jumped into the summoner’s rift determined to win.
Two victories for Cloud9 meant the first place and a direct pass to the semi-finals. Team Liquid, on the other hand, needed at least one win to lock in their place in the playoffs.
The beginning of the match favored Cloud 9, the team had strong rotation and assertive ganks. More than once they found the Team Liquid players out of position and turned those mistakes into gold.
However, this early advantage didn’t last long and Team Liquid found the way to get back into the game. In the end, Liquid destroyed the enemy’s nexus, proving wrong those that had labelled them as overrated.
The Spring Split was anyone’s game. There was a tie for first place and a four way tie for third. This prompted a Team Liquid vs Cloud9 tie-breaker to determine their final position in the table.
As expected, given the performance from early on, Team Liquid took the victory.
After two more matches, it was determined that Team Liquid and Cloud9 would meet again in the quarter-finals.
Team Liquid vs Cloud9: Playoffs
Whoever wins this best of 5 will move on to the semi-finals, where they will go up against 100 Thieves, another team that was written out at the start of the split.
In the final finals of the regular season, 100 Thieves proved to be a dominant team with strong laning phases. Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, the support and shot-caller of the team, is the strongest contender for the split’s MVP award. His assertive decision making and synergy with his team mates took 100 Thieves from being tied in sixth to first place. 100 Thieves is without a doubt the most difficult opponent on the semi-final.
Cloud9 and Team Liquid both defeated 100 Thieves once during the regular season. This record should be kept in mind, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. These three teams aren’t the same sides that met at the start of the split. 100 Thieves improved, Team Liquid has had ups and downs and Cloud9 have been lacklustre of late.
If Team Liquid defeats Cloud9, they have a good chance of winning against 100 Thieves. However, if Cloud9 does make it to the final, they will have a hard time against one of the split’s more dominant sides.
It’s not a secret that the final weeks of the regular season were harsh on Cloud9. According to their own analysis of the situation, playing outside their comfort zone is costing them games. Professional players have a wide champion pool, but only a handful they can actually play to win. Apparently, Cloud9 has been taking way too many chances on that aspect.
Another issue is communication. The shot-calling and macro decision making keeps affecting not only their performances but also the final results.
On a best of five, they could correct the mistakes from match to match, but will it be enough to make it to the finals? Probably not.
How can a team made up of stars end up fighting for its life? This is exactly what has happened to Team Liquid.
The other teams were quickly to discover their strategy, they relied on the bot lane to create an early advantage. If the teams were capable of winning that lane, then the victory was all but guaranteed.
In the later weeks, Team Liquid had to find new ways to play the game.
Team Liquid needs to take advantage of the solo laners to create the early advantages. This is the only way that they will be able to take down Cloud9 and possibly 100 Thieves.
The playoffs will introduce the best of fives for the first time into the new NA LCS. It’s impossible to predict which team will adapt better to this change, but how fast that can react from one game to the next will play a huge part in determining the winner.
If track record is any indication of the outcome, Team Liquid will be the winner. However, ruling out Cloud9 is a mistake.
At this point it is impossible to split the two sides.