Last week’s “calm before the storm” argument turned out to be correct…and exactly what the North American League Championship Series needed heading into the last week of play. While Phoenix1 once again drew our ire for ruining our three team teaser, the fact that they could compete with Team SoloMid and win Game 2 through well-timed engages and proper crowd control chaining is massive for a team whose mere presence was once labeled “disheartening” by Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. Winning the series was a crowning moment for a team whose own coach said they were so used to losing that it didn’t affect them anymore. Now, given the schedule ahead of them this week, it’s nearly impossible for Phoenix1 to avoid relegation…but they don’t seem to be as big a fan of the odds as we are on this podcast.
Of course, one could argue that this said more about Team SoloMid, whose perfect season was ruined by this series. It’s easy to argue that this is the kind of loss that will help the team improve in the long run; after all, once you realize you can be beaten, it’s a perfect example that you can’t take anyone lightly. But the way they lost is indicative of the attitude that Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg has carried with him since he was rightfully crowned as the best player in North America, and arguably in the West. It’s certainly possible that Bjergsen learned that banning champions that you lost against previously is OK, but I think it’s more likely that he and the rest of his team will continue to trust his instincts if he believes he has the counter pick ready to go. Taliyah ended up not being that counter pick…but I don’t see the world in which Bjergsen doesn’t have the confidence to say that he can beat something like Malzahar the next time around. That limitation could be exploitable by a team like Immortals, which now stands a serious chance at grabbing the top seed for themselves, but on the other hand, challenging Bjergsen seems like a tough way to go given his own level of play and the team’s ability to play around him when needed. Phoenix1 may have drawn blood, but time will tell whether this team’s incredibly communication and team play will leave openings for another team to do the same.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rise of Counter Logic Gaming, whose series win over Team Liquid told us a lot about both teams. It’s easy to say that CLG stole that Game 3 victory, given they were down 10k gold and a baron when the closing fight occurred. Team Liquid’s hubris got the better of them, as they failed to properly balance the elder dragon’s aggro and failed to zone out Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun properly before the possibility of landing a perfect ultimate was even possible. On Liquid’s side, this loss goes alongside losses to lower tier teams like Echo Fox and NRG as evidence that they don’t always play with the tenacity necessary to close out games. Liquid’s failure to consistently team fight properly could nullify the play-making abilities Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun have demonstrated time and time again throughout the split. On CLG’s side, this win is everything fans believed in before the split started. The meta has finally shifted in their favor, and this victory cemented the notion that their rise through the standings was no fluke. It remains unclear whether they can hold up to that level of play in a best-of-five (after all, they were down 10k against Team Liquid in the first place; that’s a loss almost every time), but CLG fans are back in the Faith Age, and for good reason.
While most of the spots have been settled, Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I made our way through all of this week’s action as we attempt to find value in a region that has scorned our hopes and dreams time and time again. Much like Phoenix1, we’re looking for a chance to rise from the ashes of the last eight weeks and find you lovely listeners some value once more, while Walter packs as many pop culture references as he can along the way.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Podcast, Chase “RedShirtking” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk begin with a brief moment of reflection on the loss of Team SoloMid’s perfect season. Together, they discuss the Battle for Sixth Place that has been lackluster at best, the Carousel of Potential Third Place teams and how they each need to improve before the playoffs start, and whether TSM or Immortals is truly the best team in the land. After a bit of rage from Walter, they close with their best bets of the week.
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