This weekend, the NA LCS regular season wrapped up with the final Week Nine games of the Summer Split. Well, that’s normally what would’ve happened, if the league weren’t riddled with ties.
At the end of the games yesterday, the six playoffs teams were locked in, but their seeding wasn’t. Today, those teams will compete to see who gets the higher spot in the standings.
This might not directly concern the top two teams, but it is crucially important to the teams involved. In a best case scenario, only one of the tied teams today can win the playoffs. The other three want to be able to say, “Yeah, but at least we ended the regular season in third place,” as a consolation prize.
There’s only one tie today, and it’s a giant four-way tie for third place. All four teams tangled in this mess are somewhat surprising in their own way. TSM and FlyQuest surprised us by making it this far, and 100 Thieves and Echo Fox surprised us by both not qualifying for a bye. But hey, the NA LCS is nothing if not surprising.
Here are our five thoughts heading into today’s tiebreaker games, starting at 5pm CT.
1) Nothing makes sense
The first and most prevalent thought at the forefront of any fan’s mind right now, is, “How the hell did we get here.” That’s probably the same thought on Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s mind, too, because the fact that TSM did well enough at the end of the season to contest for third is nothing short of miraculous. No one is sitting around, thinking about the NA LCS, saying to themselves, “Yeah, this makes sense,” because no, it definitely doesn’t make sense.
It’s absolutely mind-boggling to think that yesterday TSM barely managed to skate by into the playoffs, and yet they’re still tied for third. They were literally one game away from missing the whole show—and after winning that one game, they’re suddenly a potential top-three team. If we think back to their performance this year it gets even harder to comprehend, because it’s been a rough ride. Looking back on their split, it’s definitely hard to consider them a top-three team. The scary thing is that it’s hard to consider any of these guys top-three teams, either.
Echo Fox and 100 Thieves were supposed to be top contenders for the title and they’ve flopped more times than we thought possible. FlyQuest is in the same boat as TSM in that no one really thought they’d make it this far—yet here they are. They’re definitely the underdogs of the bunch, and the cherries on top of the collective “someone please explain what’s going on” cake we have here.
2) How long can AnDa last?
100 Thieves dropped their world-class and veteran jungler William “Meteos” Hartman halfway through the split. In return, FlyQuest gave them their Academy jungler, Andy “AnDa” Hoang. To say that this was a gamble is a massive understatement. They traded away their proven successful jungler who could run the map and read an enemy jungler like the back of his hand for an inexperienced Academy player. So far, though, AnDa has performed well. Although 100 Thieves definitely hasn’t been living up to their expectations lately, AnDa hasn’t really ever been the problem.
This begs the question, “How long can it last?” In high-pressure situations, the more experienced players tend to win out, and AnDa doesn’t have much experience. Right now, 100T’s bot and mid lanes have been falling very short lately. If AnDa can’t keep up his momentum today, there’s a good possibility that 100T’s two current issues turn into a triple-threat. He’s shown that he’s not as much of a wildcard as anyone thought he’d be when he first joined the starting roster, but all eyes are on him now when it counts the most.
3) Echo Fox might not actually be that good of a team
One of the biggest disappointments here at the end of the Summer Split is, without a doubt, Echo Fox. They had some pretty darn impressive games earlier this summer, and they ended the playoffs last split in third place. With players like Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, and now Andy “Smoothie” Ta on the lineup, expectations for this squad are incredibly high, and they just have not been able to live up to the hype.
EF is famous for their “fast and loose” strategy, but lately it’s seemed like “fast and loose” is really just another term for “uncoordinated mess.” They run around the map forcing fights, which can end a game quickly in their favor, sure, but they also often end up toppling EF under their own weight, too. EF will force fights when it just isn’t a smart call. They’ll chase enemies long into the jungle with no vision, dive towers with no hope of actually getting an objective afterward, and blow resources left and right to pick up an odd kill or two.
It’s exciting to watch—but as teams figure out how to outpace them, it isn’t working anymore. Without serious change, it’s possible that EF just isn’t that good of a team. Something needs to happen, or this roster is looking at finishing their split in a worse spot than the spring.
4) WildTurtle and Santorin are not past their primes
Two FlyQuest starters, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, are former worlds-qualifying TSM teammates, and both have struggled to find success since their days on that team. We’ve often wondered whether or not the pair are just fizzled out, and that being on TSM is what brought out the best in them. After this split, though, that’s clearly not true.
WildTurtle’s token aggressiveness as a bot lane carry has landed him in many precarious situations that often earn him flame from the LCS fan community shortly afterward, but on FlyQuest, that aggression just works. It’s as simple as that. He’s a playmaker, which is a strange trait to find in any bot lane player, and sometimes that requires a forward Flash or two to fully realize. When Turtle flashes forward into the enemy frontline to start a big play, his team fully commits to helping him seal the deal. That’s something we don’t think we’ve seen surround him since he played for Immortals in 2015. Santorin has impressed us, too, turning into one of the team’s best players over the latter half of the current split. He’s carried FlyQuest on his back more than once. No matter what happens to Fly later today, this guy definitely deserves to be a starter—even with William “Meteos” Hartman now on the bench behind him.
5) TSM! TSM! TSM!
As we mentioned earlier, TSM had to climb past seemingly insurmountable odds to make it to this point. Their season has been absolute and utter garbage, and as the league’s former premier and elite organization, that’s been very difficult to watch. With a star-studded roster like the one they have, TSM should never have struggled as much as they did this year. In fact, it was so difficult to comprehend the fact that they were tripping up so consistently that we found ourselves saying things like “Don’t worry, they’ll probably come back,” despite watching them fail week after week.
As it turns out, it was just a matter of time, because TSM is back, baby. For the first time since the 2017 Summer Split finals in Boston, TSM look like they’re finally all on the same page. Instead of appearing like they have five different shotcallers, like a team full of five Huni that all disagree with one another, they look like one cohesive, well-oiled unit. We don’t know what flipped the magic switch, but it’s exciting to witness this return to form. Each of their most recent games have been swift, with TSM methodically choking out their enemies objective by objective. It looks like they have an actual plan to win as soon as the game starts.
They have momentum on their side, and they play in the first game of the day against Echo Fox at 5pm CT.