“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Despite an influx of new organizations and money, the North American League Championship Series finals have settled into a trench of predictability with a familiar matchup: the old guard of Team SoloMid against second generation org Cloud9. It’s a story of familiarity that turned into one of the marquee matchups in North America from its very first champion select. The failure of modern orgs, or conversely the consistent success of its forebearers, has lead a monotony only broken up by Riot’s recent shifting of finals venues. Madison Square Garden (New York City), Mandalay Bay Resort (Las Vegas), and the Air Canada Centre (Toronto) have provided traditional backdrops to mix mainstream fans with endemic. TSM vs. Cloud9 may be the finals, and Colin Nimer covers the matchup beautifully, but the more interesting matchup might happen in the third place match as old guard Counter Logic Gaming stands guard against modern VC org Immortals.
Last summer, CLG finally overcame its bugaboo in defeating TSM and winning its first NA championship. Its return to the world championships for the first time since Season 2, and success in the spring and at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational, led to lofty summer expectations. The replacement of superstar AD Carry and face of the franchise Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng had worked and the further improvement of his replacement Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes had most analysts placing the team as the best in the region heading into the season. Early season failures had CLG struggling to keep its head in the playoff race before a late season surge led to to a fourth place finish. The strength of its nearly year-long run seemed to wane but its success in the spring has strengthened its position to automatically qualify for worlds via circuit points.
Immortals, on the other hand, has ripped through regular season competition dropping only three “series” in its history. Immortals has set the bar for VC funded orgs in the region, flexing its financial muscle to acquire not only the best talent but accentuating its success with those players’ personalities. Its money may have bought a pair of superstar Koreans, but its scouting brought flawed players with strengths to accent the team as a whole. CLG may rely on its veterans’ macro decision making, but Immortals relies on pure talent and early game skirmishing to establish its success. Immortals has been the most successful of the modern VC orgs, but it has still failed to live up to the lofty expectations the old guard has set among the region’s fans. Depressing losses to TSM in the spring and Cloud9 in the summer have placed Immortals on the outside looking in. A victory against CLG would place them in top spot of the regional gauntlet, but for a modern org to make worlds, Immortals will have to prove it has what it takes to knock off one of its predecessors.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Guess the Lines Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk take a look at the upcoming North American finals and how the North American LCS wheel of great storylines continues to turn. First, they break down each semifinal series, including whether Immortals has failed to adjust to the new meta and if Counter Logic Gaming showed anything to get excited about moving forward. They then move on to this week’s Toronto action, as they discuss whether Immortals will bounce back, and if Cloud9 can find a way to upset the titans of the region. They close with their new segment, “Stats with Steve” with Steve Caffmeyer from eSportsfanz, who helps them get a handle on their smart money bets.
Special thanks to Steve Caffmeyer from eSportsfanz for coming on to the show.
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