The Regional Qualifier or the Gauntlet starts on August 29 to determine who is going to worlds. Gravity, Could 9, Team Impulse, and Team Liquid are all taking place in the Regional Qualifier for North America. Dignitas had the least points so they are unable to play for a chance at worlds. Each of these teams have their strengths and weaknesses that could bring them to that worlds spot however some significantly more likely than others. GV and TIP both look weak, there is hope for C9, and TL is the clear favorite.
I’m going to start with the team I think will get knocked out first and that team is Gravity. In my opinion GV is being completely overrated. They do have a unique bruiser mid style to them and their players are mechanically good but it won’t be enough. GV has some of the worst lane swaps I have ever seen. If you go back and look at their swaps against Team SoloMid in the playoffs they were always behind when it came to taking their towers. Dyrus would be in lane before Hauntzer and would get the gold lead and just become a split push threat because they would leave the tower up or they just couldn’t knock it down fast enough. This was also a cause of questionable decision making as well Move would prioritize buffs over the towers. Their champion pools are brought into question because in playoffs they just played around the same few champions and barely adapted to different ones when absolutely forced. They ran Shen and Tristana in three of their four games and only got one with them. Then you see the fact that they play Could 9 that has a strong shot caller in Hai. It is really hard to see this team get past C9 when they have so many problems.
Now we move onto Cloud 9 that has the potential to do well in the Regional Qualifier. Cloud 9 did not participate in playoffs but they had enough points from the previous split to get a chance in the qualifier. Their two biggest strengths are their experience and their shot caller Hai. Lemonnation, Balls, Sneaky, and Hai all have international experience and a lot of best of series experience that give them an edge of over the other teams since teams like Gravity and Impulse have so little. Hai is also one of these best callers in League of Legends and you take that compared to other teams that suffer from poor communication and miscommunication Hai just looks so valuable. Incarnation is still fresh blood in best of series but I think the rest of team can help him out and put up a fight. They have also had a lot of time to practice which makes me think they could pull out some surprises.
Team Impulse in playoffs had multiple problems. Impact has been relegated to tank tops and Apollo is being thrown into the one carry role. TIP just keeps creating compositions where Apollo gets put on hyper carries and they aren’t working out. Gate’s champion pool can also be brought into question since he seems to default to Lulu a lot which ends up forcing these one carry compositions for TIP. TIP also places little wards which causes people to get caught out in their games which end up with scenarios where Apollo has to rely on his Hawk Shot for vision. Their positioning also comes into question where they tend to cluster for area of effect damage, Apollo being on the opposite side of the front line, and players engaging fights before their teammates are close enough to follow up. These types of positioning and engage problems show so much failure in communication. However one of their strengths is their ability to finds early leads. Impact, Rush, and Adrian are all very skilled players but the problem is when they find their leads they have trouble pushing it. In the third place match against Team Liquid they would find gold leads but were unable break down 2nd tier towers or find fights so TL just waited out the game until Fenix and Piglet had items. TIP just struggles so much in a best of 5 that it really hard to see how they would win a series over a more experienced team like Cloud 9 but they can more than likely still beat Gravity.
Last but not least we have Team Liquid which is the team most would expect to win in the qualifier. TL’s players are mechanically strong with big champion pools but they have their own weaknesses. TL’s biggest struggle is being consistent in their games and series. When TL is doing well they look really good but they also look just as bad when they aren’t playing well. They push their leads hard to win games and aren’t afraid to just straight up force fights to push their lead but they sometimes over reach with their lead and end up giving back gold to the enemy. The same thing even appears in their shot calling where they think they found good fights or picks but they end up over forcing fighting sometimes because someone gets caught out or they think they can burst someone before back up shows up. Positioning also follows a similar role where Piglet sometimes gets caught like when he walked back into the dragon pit because he saw Impacts teleport and then TL gets aced trying to save Piglet. Then you have times where Piglet is in front of his team and he just chunks out Gate’s Lulu before a fight even break out which gives TL a team fight win. TL is just so inconsistent with everything they do and it is so frustrating to watch. Taking how inconsistent TL is and combine it with the fact they are a more emotional team and it just adds to the variables of this team. There is something about this team that makes it hard to tell if they are good or bad and you wonder which TL will show up for the qualifier.
I doubt Gravity has had enough time to fix their problems so I have a hard time seeing them winning against Cloud 9. Hai’s shot calling will give them edge over GV. I expect Hai to be able to abuse GV’s extremely poor lane swaps to give C9 the advantage in their games.
Then for C9 vs Impulse it could go either way but I’m going to say it will be in favor of C9. TIP struggles with pushing their lead and really poor communication which leads me to believe C9 can take this series as well for reasons similar to the Gravity match. I value Hai shot calling a lot because most team in North America seem to suffer from communication issues so it is hard to not see Hai’s shot calling as a big advantage.
Finally C9 vs Team Liquid itself I will put in favor of TL. I already put a lot of faith into the C9 team and they have been historically done well against TL in best of series. I think a lot of this match is up to TL and which version of them shows up. TL needs the version of themselves that is willing to make plays, position well, and push advantages to win the game to show up in this qualifier. If that version does not show up C9 could very well win this series with better communication and rotations. If it is TIP to face TL I don’t see TIP winning they just can’t seem to beat TL in a best of 5.