This year’s North American League Championship Series summer split has left analysts in a weird spot. On one hand, the quarterfinal matchups this week each have interesting storylines and organizations desperately fighting for every inch they can grab on their way to a potential worlds berth. On the other hand, there’s a very good chance Team SoloMid and Immortals will kick back this week laughing at the action while the two most powerful teams in the region prepare to dismiss their opponents like a child smashing an ant, just like they did in the regular season.
Perhaps I’m being too cynical. If you believe in the LCS All Pro Teams, Cloud9 is heavily represented on the list, ensuring their role as a potential party crasher when the semifinals come around. There’s some credence to that, as Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi is the same strong objective pusher and team fighter that he’s been for years, with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen fitting comfortably as a major carry threat in this meta and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong holding his own regardless of who is thrown at him in the top lane. Their opponent, EnVyUs, is a team filled with disappointments, with Benjamin “LOD” deMunck as the unlikely hero throughout most of its victories. It would be a major upset if EnVyUs took a single map off Cloud9, but how easily Cloud9 disposes its opponent will tell us a lot about how it’ll match up against the much more dangerous Immortals.
Meanwhile, Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid are fighting to grab as many points as they can in hopes of finding their way into a worlds berth without needing the gauntlet. Despite their best efforts, however, both teams find themselves with significant flaws that could come back to haunt them here. For CLG, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black has been the primary engage tool on this team. On champions like Bard or Braum, he can win team fight after team fight with his well placed ultimates. But when he’s not on point, Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya has shown that he’s just not the same threat he used to be, and Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun’s recent run of impressive performances in the latest meta may come to a close now that standard lanes encourage teams to target him once more.
Despite his increasingly negative reputation off the rift, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is exactly the kind of jungler you want to fill that task, acting both as a potential carry threat and someone who is ready to disrupt his opponent’s plans consistently throughout the game. But it’s unclear how prepared the rest of the team is to follow his lead. Since Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin left for their unsuccessful Challenger Series squad, Jovani “fabbbyyy” Guillen has had the unfortunate task of trying to carry a team without the skill set to do so. Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun’s consistent improvements throughout the split will help, but it’s unclear whether it will be enough to secure the series here.
With one expected blowout and one incredibly tight series, the North American LCS playoffs are sure to start off with a bang. My cohost, Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I have a full podcast breakdown that includes one of my favorite sidebars in our podcast’s history. Enjoy the episode.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk take a look at the potentially irrelevant North American LCS quarterfinals. Together, they discuss whether EnVyUs has any chance against Cloud9, why Team Liquid struggled significantly in the last week of the season, and whether CLG has finally done enough to earn our stubborn hosts’ attention. They close with their smart money bets of the week.
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