NA LCS Summer Playoffs: Semifinals

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By , Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru

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    I think I’m just going to opt out of the North American LCS for the rest of the postseason. I’m done. I can only have my heart torn out so many times.

    This weekend was full of surprises, upsets, and great League of Legends. With Team Dignitas (DIG) beating Cloud9 (C9) with an impressive 3-1, Team SoloMid (TSM) can no longer be beaten on championship points, and have secured a ticket to Worlds before their playoff run has even begun.

    On the other side of the table, CounterLogic Gaming (CLG) narrowly beat out Team EnvyUs (NV) in an intense five-game series. Unfortunately for NV, regardless of any other outcomes, they will not have enough points to get into the regional qualifier, and their journey for 2017 is over.

    They gave CLG a real run for their money though, in a much closer series than most expected.

    TSM and Immortals (IMT) will be stepping up this weekend to try to make it to the finals. IMT have a history of doing very poorly in their first round of playoffs, and yet with this split, they still have very high hopes.

    Due to the dynamic seeding, they will be playing against CLG, with TSM playing against DIG.

    IMT versus CLG: 5am AEST Sunday
    First Match: IMT Win, 2-0 (Week 4, Day 1)
    Second Match: IMT Win, 2-1 (W7D3)
    All-time Head-to-Head (matches): 9-4

    These teams have spent a lot of their respective careers near the top, although the first half of this year was touch-and-go for IMT.

    It bears noting that over the course of any given split, though, the best CLG have managed is to go even with IMT head-to-head, and overall, in the splits that IMT has made playoffs, they have come out the stronger team.

    IMT have an extra bit of directive, too. Only four teams have ever played in the NA LCS finals; Good Game University (once, in season three), TSM, C9, and CLG.

    If IMT can win this match, they will be the first new finalist in years to make the cut. I’m certain they’re aiming to add some new colours to the LCS studio walls, too.

    It’s so hard to know whether they will manage to do it. IMT performed amazingly in their first two regular seasons, then fell completely short in playoffs after misreading meta changes.

    With the number of adjustments in 7.16, IMT fans have reasonable cause to be worried. Still, between the significant experience advantage for Xmithie over OmarGod, the recent powerhouse performances of IMT’s bot lane, and the support of Coach of the Split Ssong, we’ve gotta feel like this is IMT’s best shot yet at making finals.

    But in order to do all that, they will need to get through CLG first.

    Although CLG have a losing record against IMT, when we drill down to the game records, CLG look a lot closer to IMT. CLG also have a bit of a reputation for under-performing against lower teams – such as NV last weekend – and over-performing against the stronger teams.

    As individuals, the players already mentioned have their work cut out for them, but Darshan and Huhi were shining in the quarters.

    Between them, they have the top 2/3 half of the map somewhat covered in the early to mid game, and the botlane looked significantly better once the team was out of laning phase.

    If they can win or go even in Mid and Top, CLG may be able to use their tried-and-true Teamwork Buff to translate that into game wins.

    Even if CLG show up stronger than last weekend though, I think IMT are still more likely to take the win here – or at least, I would really like to see a new face in the finals next week.

    I also don’t expect CLG to up their performance; I don’t know if OmarGod is capable of it – no shade on him, but he is going very high very fast – while Stixxay and Aphromoo just don’t inspire me right now.

    I think this is going to go to IMT 3-0; if that doesn’t happen, this will be five close games.

    DIG versus TSM: 5am Monday
    First Match: DIG Win, 2-1 (Week 2, Day 2)
    Second Match: DIG Win, 2-0 (W7D2)
    All-time Head-to-Head (matches): 19-11

    Like some of last weeks’ matches, the history between these teams goes well back – right through to the first LCS season – which skews the all-time numbers pretty far in TSM’s favour.

    In fact, if you restrict it to just the last few years, it becomes a much more competitive 4-4, although these teams haven’t met in the playoffs in that timeframe.

    Of the four teams remaining, DIG seems to have some of the best chances of beating TSM.

    With the games from the regular season overwhelmingly in their favour and a dominant win in the quarter-finals, DIG should be feeling pretty confident coming into these matches. That confidence boost really can’t hurt against the most dominant team in LCS history!

    A bit of experience on the new patch can’t have hurt them either. Although I doubt Ssumday will be given the gift of the Maokai again – unless TSM have a grand plan to beat it – he’s not exactly a one-trick pony.

    I’m sure DIG have other plans up their sleeve if they are actually pushed to pull them out.

    If anyone is going to force a re-think of DIG’s strategy, it’s going to be TSM. Fresh off an extra week of rest, this team looked formidable in the back half of the split.

    It’s always gotta be scary to face TSM, but they absolutely thrive in playoffs, and with all their players apparently at the top of their game – they didn’t drop a game in week nine – they will not just let DIG win.

    TSM are, in general, a better team than DIG. Their games have been cleaner, they play more consistently, and the individual players are overall higher calibre than DIG’s.

    They have sometimes had trouble adapting to new patches in the past, which is the main thing I can see working against them, but with so many games to observe, and so much time for them to practice, I don’t see it slowing them down too much.

    As much as I want this to be a DIG win – imagine a DIG versus IMT finals! – I just can’t see it happening.

    I’m sure they’ll take a game, or maybe even two if they bring their A-game, but TSM have their eyes on the prize, and should be able to win this match 3-1.

    While I’m disappointed with my team’s performance last week, the four teams that are in the final stages of playoffs are all incredibly deserving. Who are you going to be cheering for this weekend?