There were a few moments of concern last weekend, after Cloud9 was pushed to game 5 and Team Liquid dropped their first game to 100 Thieves. In the end though, both Cloud9 and Team Liquid were able to rely on either, banning Kindred or bringing in Goldenglue and Svenskeren to grab their victories. Team Liquid is probably only team in North America running high right now, as they are the only team from the NA LCS currently locked in for Worlds. A great deal of things can happen for the race to Worlds, but after this weekend we will have one more team locked in. The Gauntlet might be on the horizon for a number of teams, but for now lets talk about this coming weekend.
TSM vs. 100 Thieves
9/8, 5:00pm EST
The trend of predicting series involving 100 Thieves has been easy this playoffs and that is only going to continue. It all seems inevitable for 100 Thieves to drop to TSM, especially when you consider that this series doesn’t matter to 100 Thieves. Whether 100 Thieves wins or loses this series, they are going to have the most championship points compared to any other team. With the most championship points ensured, 100 Thieves are going to be the final team lined up in the gauntlet race for worlds. With this in mind, 100 Thieves should be doing everything they can to break their current mold and become something more than a late game team. If that means giving RIkara more stage time, then go for it. It that means, putting Ssumday only on carry champions, DEAR LORD YES PLEASE!!!! I MEAN COME ON!!!!!! LET HIM CARRY YOU!!!!!!
But, let’s say 100 Thieves just bring back Cody Sun and return to their usual late game tendencies. If that is the case, I still don’t see 100 Thieves pulling out a single win as long as TSM puts Bjergsen on an assassin. I know I have said it before, but Bjergsen can easily 1v9 any match as long as Malzahar is not there. Maybe, 100 Thieves uses the “pick Malzahar” strategy themselves, but they will need to make sure a sidelane can carry. Heck, for all we know though, 100 Thieves might just be looking for Sunday’s final match. If Team Liquid win, 100 Thieves skip out on the Gauntlet and punch their ticket for worlds.
Prediction: TSM 3–0
Cloud9 vs. Team Liquid.
9/9, 5:00pm EST
I am quite happy to say, this is one of the hardest set of games to call this season. It feels like we actually have two legitimate contenders for the throne this split, who did not just stubble into their success. Team Liquid remained at the top of the standings and showed their ability to gradually adapt. Cloud9 clawed their way from last place, with an abundance of roster swaps, all the way to second place. While both teams have shown significant strengths, they do have some issues that may or may not be exploited.
Team Liquid have an extreme dependence on Doublelift doing well to win their games. While it may be a one dimensional strategy, it works quite well. Little to no one in the NA LCS has been able to stand up to Doublelift during the laning phase. When the rest of Team Liquid either holds or even wins their lane, they can always count on Doublelift to carry. When one of those lanes fails though, that is when things getting rather dicey. During the regular season, we saw Cloud9 take advantage of this and forged a significant lead by camping Pobelter. While this may have worked in the regular season, I have my doubts that we will see the same amount of success, more than once this series. Team Liquid has done a great job of making adjustments, week to week, to resolve any kinks in their armor. I almost more than expect Team Liquid to drop game one against Cloud9, but to bounce back immediately in game 2.
Cloud9 have more than enough tricks up their sleeves though, with their ability to swap out players. Cloud9 can easily inject their roster with a shot of adrenaline, by moving around some players during a series. One thing that seems recurring though, between whatever iteration Cloud9 has running, they have the tendency to stick around for too long. Whenever Cloud9 is only a few shots away from securing a tower and aware of the impending doom of their opponent, they almost always stay to get the turret. While this might secure additional gold and a positive mark toward turrets taken, they can end up stumbling and get caught out. This adds quite a bit of variance to Cloud9’s success, because although they are great at team fighting, those fights don’t always go their way.
With those variable factors floating around though, I think this series is going to all the way to 5 games. While it took me a while to even make that claim, it took far longer to assign Team Liquid as the victor in this prediction. I expect Cloud9 to trip Team Liquid up with their roster swapping, but Team Liquid are sure to come back with a new and tighter plan each game to grab the win in this series.
Prediction: Team Liquid 3–2