NA LCS promotion tournament: Can we even call it that anymore?

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

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    A new season of League of Legends is dawning. (Photo: Twitter)

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    And just like that, all the regular season games for 2017 are finished for the North American LCS.

    We saw plenty of League of Legends, but with basically no upset wins, and the final rankings for the split look pretty reasonable from where I’m sitting.

    Here’s how it’s all panned out.

    1. Team SoloMid (TSM): 14-4 in matches; 30-11 in games
    2. Immortals (IMT): 14-4; 28-15
    3. CounterLogic Gaming (CLG): 12-6; 27-19
    4. Cloud9 (C9): 12-6; 28-18
    5. Team Dignitas (DIG): 11-7; 29-22
    6. Team EnvyUs (NV): 8-10; 21-26
    7. FlyQuest (FLY): 6-12; 28-27
    8. Echo Fox (FOX): 5-13; 26-27
    9. Team Liquid (TL): 4-14; 13-31
    10. Phoenix1 (P1): 4-14; 15-31

    The playoff teams didn’t move at all over the weekend, with TSM, IMT and C9 all going 4-0 in their games. In the bottom half, FLY went 2-0 in matches, pushing them up into seventh and allowing them to keep their handful of championship points from Spring.

    It will take a small miracle for FLY to even be eligible for the Regional Qualifier – they only have 30 points – but it’s enough to keep their hopes alive for now.

    I’m super excited for playoffs this split. If you read these regularly, you know I’m a huge C9 fan, and this is a team that looked decent at the start of the split, had a slump in the middle (which management have said was due to Sneaky being ill) then have had a 6-match win streak in the last three weeks. They’ve beat DIG 2-1 twice before; I’m looking forward to a C9 versus TSM semifinal.

    Speaking of TSM, they have pulled themselves together for a ripper split. They’ve had five weeks where they went 2-0 in matches, and in four of those they didn’t drop a single game. They absolutely deserve the first place finish and playoff bye. They’re all but guaranteed to go to worlds at this point – with 90 points from summer, they are very close to getting into worlds as second seed.

    I’ll take a better look at the playoffs next week though; meanwhile, P1 slipped right down into last place after being 2-0’d by both TSM and FLY. This means that despite their third place finish in spring, they forfeit their 50 points are are ineligible to take part in the Regional Qualifier.

    They instead will have to play in the Promotion Tournament alongside Team Liquid, where they will face off against the top two challenger teams, eUnited (EUN) and Gold Coin United (GCU).

    The thing is, can it even really be called the promotion tournament this time round? Teams considered ‘LCS Teams’ at the time of franchising (i.e. the eight teams from summer plus the two winners of the promotion tournament) will have a marginally lower cost of entry should their franchise application be successful, which is of course going to be important, but in a practical sense there is no actual promoting going on.

    Beyond that, this tournament is really just for bragging rights. I know no one is going to change this tournament just because I think it’s a silly name, but come on now. No one is getting promoted anywhere (or relegated for that matter), so why imply that it’s more important than it really is?

    Still, I will acknowledge that it should be a fun tournament. For the second split running, the Challenger Series Finals were GCU versus EUN, with GCU once again winning 3-1. For the repeat trifecta, TL is also going to be playing from LCS ninth place.

    But it goes further; just looking at the last four weeks in NA, TL lost 6/8 matches, while P1 lost 7/8. If you replace P1 with NV, you’re looking at the results from last split. The big question though of course, is what will be the outcome compared to last time?

    The format this weekend will be a double elimination tournament, played as best of five series. The first two games will be played concurrently; once between P1 and GCU, and one between TL and EUN. The latter game is very likely to go to TL; EUN have definitely improved over the last split, but so have TL, and no matter which team composition they run, they will almost certainly be stronger than in those weeks they had Piglet in Mid.

    The P1 versus GCU game is less clear cut, but short of a serious choke I do still think P1 will take the win. GCU won’t make it easy on them, but their success last time came largely off the back of having role advantages, which they just don’t have this time. Add to that the fact that P1 have both experience playing against stronger teams and have at least some history of looking decent, it’s hard to see GCU winning a series.

    In the end, I think this will actually go better for the LCS teams than last time, despite the improvements and roster moves from the Challenger teams. Last time, GCU won the first match against NV, then lost to them in the final match, but this split I would be surprised if any of the challenger teams took a match.

    Still, I am looking forward to catching all the games this weekend. The first two are at 5am AEST on Saturday, then the next two will be at the same time on Sunday; those Sunday matches will award one spot into the LCS, and eliminate one team from the competition. The final chance game will be at 5am on Monday.

    Who do you think will be the winners and losers for this tournament? Given the minimal importance of the outcomes from a purely spectator perspective, will you even watch it?

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