With some teams already denied the chance for a playoff appearance,there are a few games this coming weekend that do not matter at all. I will do my best to not trail off into the ramblings about some teams upcoming vacation, but I will just not have a great deal to say. If you push those matches aside though, there are plenty of other high pressure games going on this weekend. The standings still have a lot of wiggle room for playoff spots and playoff byes. Last weekend Akali saw some play time, but it feels like everyone is only daring each other to take the assassin at the risk of falling massively behind. When Akali hasn’t shown up though, she is getting herself added to the ban list alongside the usual culprits of Aatrox and Zoe. This dynamic in pick/ban will clearly force teams to make some tough decisions, which will be the building blocks to teams success or failure. Everything is on the line this weekend and game ends will be full of both cheers and tears.
Game 1: Echo Fox vs. Team Liquid
8/18, 5:00pm EST
While Team Liquid is locked in for playoffs, there is still a chance Echo Fox may not be. Like I mentioned last week, Echo Fox can look like the best team in the league, but only for a few moments before they lose control of the game. Echo Fox’s lust to simply outpower their opponents through combat, seems to reduce any kind of cognitive thinking. While Echo Fox enters game with a hubris sharpened spear, it quickly turns brittle at the mention of having to make a decision as a team. It has become far too difficult to depend on Echo Fox to pick up wins even against some of the league’s weakest teams. At one point the mention of both Huni and Dardoch struck fear into opponents, but as the season has gone on that threat has whittled away. Even if Echo Fox can somehow overcome a lack of coordination within a week, I doubt they can match Team Liquid in anyway. Team Liquid should be able to snuff out Echo Fox easily.
Prediction: Team Liquid
Game 2: 100 Thieves vs. Cloud9
8/18, 6:00pm EST.
Considering how last weekend went, I am absolutely going to expect Reapered to take home the Coach of the Split award. Reapered seems to have created the perfect environment within Cloud9. Members might be gunning for each others their shared role, but they are also learning from each other and improving significantly. Cloud9’s members are kept on their toes by Reapered, because they don’t know when they could get substituted out. Similarly, know one else in the league is going to know either, which adds to the threat of Cloud9 significantly. This uncertainty could very well propel Cloud9 over 100Thieves who might be too busy preparing various strategies. THe only real problem I have with the last statement is 100 Thieves preparing for another strategy. 100 Thieves has become quite one-dimensional and that means easily mapped out. If Cloud9 can now subsititue players on the fly, I expect them to map out a way to defeat 100 Thieves.
Game 3: OpTic Gaming vs TSM
8/18, 7:00pm EST
This might just be the single most important game this weekend, as this game is a significant factor to a post-season appearance. While some may have already bought their ticket aboard the TSM hype-train, after an upset victory over 100 Thieves last weekend, lets just take a second look. TSM had the best opponent in 100 Thieves, because both teams play a slow game. TSM were able to comfortably stretch out the game and end it on their terms, but just barely. Had the final teamfight not gone their way, they would have lost the match. The amount of dependence TSM has on ending a game via a teamfight, results in picking up numerous losses against other strategies such as split pushing. It just so happens that OpTic Gaming are quite adept at performing such a maneuver. If TSM can somehow force the game to reach the later stages, I can still only see them falling prey to OpTic Gaming.
Prediction: OpTic Gaming
Game 4: Golden Guardians vs. FlyQuest
8/18, 8:00pm EST
This is the perfect time of the day to run out and go take care of some business, because that is what FlyQuest is going to do. Golden Guardians can’t really rely on Heimerdinger anymore and without that they are dead in the water. FlyQuest have slowly crept up the standings and actually have a chance to get a playoff bye. If I wasn’t already so confident that Reapered was going to run away with the Coach of the Split award, I would easily have handed it to Saintvicious. Saintvicious was able to take a broken team and turn them into an aggressively paced unit . Unless FlyQuest get too crazy when they turret dive, they be able pick up a win easily.
Game 5: Counter Logic Gaming vs. Clutch Gaming
8/18, 9:00pm EST
If you skipped the previous match, you might want to continue with your errands as it has no bearing on the playoff race. But if you are fans of either of these teams you might want to stick around. Considering the rough finishes suffered by both of these teams, this is quite likely one of the last times we see these rosters together. Although that doesn’t suggest the potential for a great game, we might actually see some sparks fly. Whether it is the final hoorah of a team or the desperate attempt of a player to show why they should stay, we could get an over the top explosive game. In the end though, I am going to give this match to Clutch Gaming to win, slightly on the bases that they can still squeak into the gauntlet for Worlds. I understand that is hardly an answer worth stating, because it is quite likely Clutch would get knocked out of the gauntlet very quickly regardless. The real reason is that I am going to be spiteful and vote against Counter Logic Gaming, because they really messed up my predictions this split.
Prediction: Clutch Gaming
Game 1: Counter Logic Gaming vs. Golden Guardians
8/19, 3:00pm EST
Welp, here we are. The bottom of the standings. Nothing to do except purge rosters and throw coaches around. I guess we can all take a second to sort of speculate what these teams can maybe do to improve their teams? For Counter Logic Gaming, I think I just want to see a new coach and see if that is enough to sort them out. Assuming TSM removes Ssong from their coaching staff after the teams abysmal year, I think he would work quite well under the CLG banner. Counter Logic Gaming’s struggles seem to reflect that of Ssong’s previous team Immortals; a directionless roster full of talent. As for Golden Guardians, there is plenty of room for things to happen here. My immediate thought is to get a stronger bottom lane duo and top laner. Matt and Deftly only performed well this split when using Heimerdinger and Fiddlesticks. I can only see Golden Guardians keeping one of these players at all, and maybe just getting two new players entirely. Lourlo has had only a few explosive performances this split, but still falls under nearly every other top laner in the league. There are plenty of upgrades to grab in one of these positions as Golden Guardian’s still have an available import slot.
Oh and for a prediction I just flipped a coin.
Prediction: Golden Guardians
Game 2: OpTic Gaming vs. 100 Thieves
8/19, 4:00pm EST
This is a tough match for me call, which only stems from my overall admiration of OpTic Gaming. I had high expectations for several teams this split, that not only fell to the bottom of the league, but were also able to climb themselves out of a pit of losses. For OpTic Gaming though, I had next to nothing concerning expectations. I had fully expected the Green Wall to mirror their performance in the spring split and stay at the bottom of the standings. They proved me wrong though and figured out a way to carve out their own path in the league. It was just such a nice smack in the face. Unfortunately, I think 100 Thieves are going to be able to smack OpTic Gaming in the face. Although 100 Thieves do love stretching out their games, I find it unlikely they will enable OpTic Gaming to set up any kind of split push strategy. Dhokla has found ways in the past to slowly grind his way down a lane, but when Ssumday is in the way, it gets hard to grind away anything.
Prediction: 100 Thieves
Game 3: Echo Fox vs. Clutch Gaming
8/19, 5:00pm EST
Don’t worry Echo Fox fans, I only made their match against Team Liquid seem all gloom and doom to set up for a more satisfying ending. Echo Fox could not have asked for a better last match of the split. Echo Fox has an unblemished record against Clutch Gaming and I expect it to continue. Clutch are far too set in their ways of a slow and methodical playstyle to deal with the rampaging members of Echo Fox. There is the looming threat around Echo Fox’s decision making, which is making me sweat my prediction, but not enough for me to think Echo Fox will not secure their playoff spot here.
Prediction: Echo Fox
Game 4: FlyQuest vs. Cloud9
8/19, 6:00pm EST
Regardless of Cloud9’s lineup, this should be an exciting matchup. Both teams are explosive and push their leads effectively. The only tipping factor I can account for in this match could be a result of FlyQuest blundering a turret dive. Their tendency to be a tad too aggressive, is something they share with Echo Fox, but on a smaller scale. In most cases FlyQuest can pressure lesser opponents into poor positions under their turrets. Cloud9 however doesn’t fit that bill and I think are smart enough to avoid such plays. I am though, very interested in how the top lane matchup plays out in this game. Both Flame and Licorice have been putting up allstar performances and have acted as pillars for their respective teams. The junglers will probably spend quite a bit of time topside providing attempting to chip away at their opponents foundation.
Game 5: TSM vs. Team Liquid
8/19, 7:00pm EST
This match may or may not be an exciting end to the regular season depending on what happens Saturday. Team Liquid may still need to secure a first week bye in playoffs and TSM could still desperately be holding onto playoff dreams. If this is the case, I still think TSM are going to do what they have done this entire split;nothing. Alright, TSM is doing more than “nothing” now, but they have been predominantly passive throughout a majority of the year and I don’t expect that to change. Unless TSM can somehow mimic what Cloud9 did last weekend , Team Liquid should walk away with a win. Heck, even if TSM were able to map out Cloud9’s strategy, I don’t think it would be to much success. Several times throughout the course of the split, there was speculation of Team Liquids imminent collapse after a rough loss, but each time they have comeback the following week that much stronger. Team Liquid has the ability to adapt and overcome obstacles, while TSM is stuck trying to figure out how to close out a game.
Prediction: Team Liquid