Week 8, and every team still has a chance to make it into playoffs. I mean, I think some lines are pretty easy to draw when assuming which teams will or will not make it, but this weekend should still be one hell of a ride. Looking back last weekend though, I think teams learned a pretty big lesson; Zoe is broken. Not shocking news, but some teams got a wake up call, and while Zoe did not win every single one of her performances, she was unarguably a menace. It will be interesting to see how things evolve this weekend though, now that new Akali is in the mix. These pick/ban decisions could very well be the biggest factor in whether or not a team is going to make it to playoffs. Who knows, by the end of the weekend, the teams going to playoffs could already be decided.
Game 1: 100 Thieves vs. Echo Fox
8/11, 5:00pm EST
Looking at the overall performances of these teams, I am really tempted to say Echo Fox can secure 2nd place for itself. I will have to forgo temptation though and foretell a 100 Thieves victory. When all of Echo Fox is working in tandem and on the same page, I would argue they are the best team in the league. It just so happens, Echo Fox’s decision making stifles their bid for the best performing team in North America. Echo Fox is clearly not devoid of good decision making, made clear by their split push victory against TSM last week, but becomes prevalent around the topic of “when” to fight. Echo Fox’s overeagerness to fight puts them in tough situations and against a team like 100 Thieves, that spells disaster. Just as a rough example, let’s say that 100 THieves only opt into fights that have a 80% chance of success. Echo Fox on other the other hand are already fighting before you cant tell them their chance of victory is only 1%. 100 Thieves have shown over the course of the split they know how to avoid fights. In this game Echo Fox is going to eventually get themselves caught out and shut out of this game.
Prediction: 100 Thieves
Game 2: Cloud9 vs. Golden Guardians
8/11, 6:00pm EST.
I think the Golden Guardians have officially been kicked off the Heimerdinger train. Last week I mentioned that Golden Guardian’s had more options to rely on than Heimerdinger, but I was quite wrong. The pressure Deftly and Matt created with Heim/Fiddle enabled Contractz to do whatever he wanted. Without that pressure, Contractz is now delegated to help his team not crumble during laning phase. Golden Guardians living and dying on whether they can free up their jungler does not bode well, especially against Contractz’s old team’s new jungler Blaber. Blaber is demonstrating far and above how he performed on his debut, and this can be attributed in large part to the rest of Cloud9. Unlike Golden Guardians, Cloud9 provides sufficient support to their jungler, which lets Blaber have a field day. Unless Golden Guardians have crafted some new strategy, I find any success doubtful.
Game 3: Counter Logic Gaming vs. TSM
8/11, 7:00pm EST
It is really rough to not only keep saying how good of a team I thought Counter Logic Gaming was, but for them to go 0–2 last weekend and get rid of their coach was shocking. Maybe I am to balme and just gave them way too much credit. It is just so surprising to see Zikz getting kicked out of Counter Logic Gaming, especially when I can confidently say other teams will be running to have Zikz coach their own squads. If I can speculate for a moment though, maybe this is something Counter Logic Gaming can find some good out of. With this kind of adversity in Counter Logic Gaming’s way, maybe they can come together and get some wins. Maybe Zikz was going too far off the deep end with his strategies and actually inhibiting Counter Logic Gaming? Maybe I am just vamping and trying to find a way to make this section longer than just a line about how Counter Logic Gaming don’t stand a chance?
Game 4: OpTic Gaming vs. Team Liquid
8/11, 8:00pm EST
OpTic Gaming’s winning streak was finally broken last week and I don’t see them picking it back up here. Everything is just lining up so perfectly for Team Liquid right now as they are on their own win streak. Whether split pushing is the most optimal strategy or not has yet to be determined, as it stands that appears to be OpTic Gaming’s best chance of winning. That strategy in particular is heavily dependent on Dhokla, who admittedly has been doing a phenomenal job in the role. Only problem for Dhokla ,this time around is his matchup against Impact will likely deny any split push opportunities. While I think OpTic could throw Team Liquid for a loop, we now know Team Liquid is competent enough to comeback from a rough early game.
Prediction: Team Liquid
Game 5: Clutch vs. FlyQuest
8/11, 9:00pm EST
Clutch are living up to their name right now and hanging on in the playoff race. Lira might finally be returning to form after getting the opportunity to play aggressive champions. While I can hope to see Lira become a titan in the jungle once more, it is just too late in the season for that to matter. Just last week FlyQuest were putting Team Liquid against a wall and although they ended up losing, they showed they are not afraid to tower dive. Clutch Gaming may have looked competent last weekend, but the aggressive tendencies of FlyQuest will likely be too much to sort through.
Game 1: Echo Fox vs. OpTic Gaming
8/12, 3:00pm EST
Sorry OpTic Gaming, but I really think a losing streak is more in line for you right now. Echo Fox heavily outmans OpTic Gaming at almost every turn. I will say though, watching OpTic Gaming has become quite fun. This is in large part of OpTic Gaming giving Dhokla more agency to show what he is made of. I keep running my mouth off about him, but I really can’t expound upon how low my expectations were for him earlier this split. Perhaps if Huni is too aggressive and misplays, Dhokla can find OpTic Gaming the footing they need to win this game. That footing though can still get swept away by any other member of Echo Fox.
Prediction: Echo Fox
Game 2: Golden Guardians vs. Clutch Gaming
8/12, 4:00pm EST
This is one of the toughest matches of the week to predict right now. Both of these teams sit at the bottom of the standings with the same record and could have already had their playoff dreams shattered on Saturday. Perhaps motivation will be the biggest factor coming into this game, but for now I will just default to what we saw last weekend. Clutch showed a little bit of life after winning against OpTic Gaming, while Golden Guardians continue to get shuttered by a lack of Heimerdinger. I will take a chance on Clutch, but I still think this game could fall either way.
Prediction: Clutch Gaming
Game 3: TSM vs. 100 Thieves
8/12, 5:00pm EST
Getting a win proves TSM have a heartbeat, I just don’t think enough blood is reaching their brain.Two weeks in a row, TSM have been caught running down midlane only to have their base cut down behind them. TSM are not exerting any kind of pressure to force their opponents to make tough decisions. Instead, anyone TSM faces is alloted ample time to find a way to pull off a win. 100 Thieves will be ecstatic to have such an abundance of free thinking while they crush TSM into their base. If 100 Thieves as a whole doesn’t do the crushing, Ssumday will just split push TSM to death. The only real weakness 100 Thieves have demonstrated is their early game, but TSM doesn’t have one either.
Prediction: 100 Thieves
Game 4: Team Liquid vs. Cloud9
8/12, 6:00pm EST
Both Cloud9 and Team Liquid are at the top of their games right now. Something both of these teams are probably thankful for, is the direction of the game right now. Mainstream AD carries are back into the fold and both Sneaky and Doublelift have already been smacking their opponents on such champions. The bottom lane is not the only exciting thing going on in this match up though, as we should expect some major interactions between the junglers and top laners. It is difficult for me to outright say which side has the best chance of winning, but I am just going to look at the standing to solve that. While Cloud9 have depended on winning games in late teamfights, Team Liquid has shown they can now do the same.
Prediction: Team Liquid
Game 5: FlyQuest vs Counter Logic Gaming
8/12, 7:00pm EST
Look, I know I speculated how Counter Logic Gaming might be better off without Zikz and you are probably thinking that means they should be able to win games…. I just can’t see them winning against the teams this weekend though…