LCS 3d Place and Finals Preview
The 3d Place Matches and Finals are closing in fast, and aside from huge honor and pride, the battle for Worlds is getting to it is maximum. Although all 8 teams that have a best-of-five to play are locked in the regional finals, teams fight for those autoqualification spots. We will explore the matchups in this article
EU 3d place: H2k vs Unicorns of Love
Two opposite styles fighting for worlds
Head-to-Head: 2-0 in favor of H2k
Assuming that Fnatic wins the final, which seems to be the most realistic scenario, the winner of this match will go to worlds as the second seed. Unicorns have 70 points, H2k 50, but the winner of the second place will get 70 points, and the loser 40, thus H2k will have more points if they win. In the case that Origen upsets Fnatic, the winner of this match will get the best seed in Regional Finals, while the loser has to play an additional best-of-5 against either ROCCAT or Giants.
Unicorns went down 0-3 against Fnatic, as expected. No one even thought they would win a single game, so we can't really judge them based on that performance. However, they had massive struggles against Roccat, being pushed all the way to game five. Their wild card factor saved them against Roccat, but Fnatic didn't fell for it. H2k on the other hand clean swept Giants as expected but fell 1-3 to Origen. H2k didn't seem to get control of the games they lost. When they did in game 4 they played it out cleanly.
The matchup is interesting because the styles are completely opposite. Unicorns still like to run a chaotic game with a lot of fighting and rely on their individual talent to carry them through. They never stood out as a brilliant strategical and rotational team, in comparison to H2k, who like to play more tactical and make use of laneswaps to get gold advantages, which then amplifies their carries Ryu and Hjarnan.
If one thing was showed during the semifinal of H2k vs Origen then it is that Ryu is the shining light for H2k. Ryu has been getting back in a good shape and played all throughout the series well on an individual basis. He was a major part in the victory in game 4, putting massive pressure on the map with his assassin Fizz. The same game showed that Hjarnan is fantastic as a cleanup AD, if properly setup. However, the top side is struggling. Loulex was never one of the strongest player, and Odoamne lost some of his brilliance.
UoL is always a hard team to predict. Their messy style messes themselves up more than once and they have the wild card factor. PowerOfEvil might have saved some new pocket pick during the semifinals, and that alone can swing a full game. If anything UoL want keep H2k from controlling the game. If H2k can get in control about 15 minutes in, it will be very hard for UoL to save their base from getting methodically destroyed.
Lane to watch: Ryu vs. PowerOfEvil (Midlane). Ryu is the shining light for H2k, with massive individual performances. He has also a ton of experience under his belt and will keep his cool during this important best-of-five. On the other side, POE is the carry for UoL and he has to bring everything he has left to win on Saturday.
NA 3d place: Team Liquid vs. Team Impulse
Head-to-Head: 2-0 in favor of Team Liquid
Some predicted this match to be the finals. Fate was less fortune for Team Liquid and Team Impulse, who after both going on a major rise during the later part of the split saw their dreams crushed in the semifinals. Impulse lost 0-3, Liquid managed to scrape a game of TSM. Especially bitter for Liquid as they finished in first place, beating CLG in the final. They might look back and come to the sad conclusion that they might have better just lost that one game.
Worlds is a major thing for both teams, especially for Liquid, who were just one single game away from worlds last year, until they got reverse swept by LMQ, who rebranded into Impulse, who they face again, but Impulse has a completely different roster. Liquid will try everything to win, because if they win and then TSM wins the split, they go to Worlds as the second seed. And TSM beating CLG might be pretty realistic. In any other scenario then TL and TSM winning, the winner of this match will be seeded in the highest seed of the gauntlet. The loser will always have to beat Cloud9 or Gravity to get to the finals for either a rematch or a match with CLG.
Liquid had great earlygames against TSM. However, after 15 to 20 minutes, things started to go wrong. Especially poor baron calls. Wildturtle's Baron steal on Jinx was probably the prize they paid for Piglets steal in week 7. Anyways, Liquid really need to fix their poor shotcalling, teamplay and strategical play. TSM rolled over them pretty much after laning phase. Also, disappointing was the fact that FeniX didn't show up all, after having great performance during the regular season. If it was nerves, the support staff need to help him. And the support staff really need to start getting their draft right. It was just really weird giving Bjergsen Azir two games in a row, even after they lost the first game, and it is no secret that FeniX is one of the best if not the best Azir player in NA. It is strange to see Liquid, who have a big support staff, mess up their draft once more.
Impulse on the other hand didn't have a lot of things to gain confidence from at all. The 0-3 seep by CLG was humiliating and very uncharacteristic. Impulse had okay earlygames in all 3 games, but starting from the 10 to 15 minute mark, the team fell apart, getting out rotated and outplayed. The team relied on Apollo to carry in the first two games, which unsurprisingly didn't work out very well. Apollo definitely improved compared to his time on Coast, but his efforts were neutralized and outclassed by Doublelift. Normally the team had Impact on more carry type champions, which always worked well. Where Impact rained terror on champions like Yasuo, he played Shen followed by two Maokai's in this series. He tried his best, but couldn't put his mark on the games and the result was that CLG won teamfights. Shifting the carry weight onto Gate on Viktor in game 3 didn't work as well. If Impulse wants to challenge Liquid they need to go back to their old formula and let the best toplaner in NA play carry champions and actually affect the game instead of having him amplify the power of his teammates.
Liquid seems to be in a better state right now, but if they continue doing weird baron calls or if Impact is allowed to play carry champions, the tides may turn if Liquid doesn't show improvement as well.
Lane to watch: Quas vs. Impact (toplane). Impact as discussed could be the big carry for Team Impulse, while Quas has been a more versatile teammate, playing utility tanks like Maokai to damage champions like Hecarim. The question is if Quas can handle the best toplaner of NA.
EU Finals: Fnatic vs Origen
The Old Guard trying to get their throne back
Head-to-Head: 2-0 in favor of Fnatic
If we ignore the results of this season, you will clearly say that Origen is the more experienced team. If you were to go back and count the amount of professional games played, Origen will end up with many times of Fnatic's. Sadly for xPeke and his squad, experience doesn't mean a higher chance of winning. His team of 4 veterans and a rookie is in the underdog position against the team he left after worlds. Not a single team beat this lineup (although they only played in Europe) and Origen were close in week 7 but they didn't make it in the end. They get at least 3 chances on sunday, so maybe they get the honor of being the first team that lets Fnatic's Nexus explode.
Their playstyle can help them as it may hurt Fnatic's weakest link: Reignover. Even though the korean import did great, his pathing can be punishable, and Origen's tendency to invade with jungler and support for vision and pressure on the jungler might help put Reignover to a halt, which benefits Origen's natural strong lanes. xPeke and sOAZ have amazing synergy from playing almost 3 years together and have styles that fit each other. If Origen can keep Fnatic down in the lane, they might have a good shot at getting the lead. If Amazing and Mithy can punish Reignover, and the solo lanes win the lane, Origen can go into the midgame with a lead.
That is where the trouble starts for Origen as they don't have mastered their playstyle yet and can leads have been slipping through their hands, during both the regular season and the semifinal against H2k. And if you give Fnatic only a bit of your fingertip, your whole arm is gone within seconds. Fnatic are amazing at backing each other up and they have very low deaths across the board. UoL was overpowered easily and Fnatic had an answer for everything the Unicorns threw at them, the same team that pushed them to five games in Madrid. The same might happen to a lesser extent to Origen. Origen need to be aware that Fnatic will punish every mistake they make hard and it can have a big effect on the outcome of the games. Fnatic goes into the series as the big favorites, but they need to be careful. If Origen manages to minimize the amount of mistakes and take of advantage of their playstyle they might have a shot of getting their title back.
Lane to watch: sOAZ vs. Huni (toplane). sOAZ is probably the best western toplaner ever. Huni, even though he is a korean, tries to steal that spot. Both like to play damage champions, especially AP champions. The question is whether the Holoholo tactics will overpower the inconsistent Frenchman with the deep champion pool, sOAZ. NA Finals:
TSM vs CLG
The rivalry and Doublelifts trophy case
Head-to-head: 2-0 in favor of TSM
It was a while when we had the last TSM-CLG matchup in a final. The 10th of June in 2012 to be precisely, the finals of MLG Spring, CLG lost. CLG and TSM actually don't have a history of being the two teams in the finals, they only played against each other in the finals 3 times. TSM won two times, CLG won only one. You have to go even longer back for the last time CLG finished first in a LAN. That was the 10th of August in 2011, where they beat Epik 4-0 (It was an extended Best of 7, the series started 2-0 or 2-1 based on the result of the Best of 3 in the group stages). Maybe some CLG fans still remember that day?
Anyways, both CLG and TSM had good performances in the semifinals. Most, if not all of the problems that haunted the teams during the regular season disappeared. Especially TSM looks a completely different team, if you make a rundown of the problems during the last 4 weeks of the season then most of them are fixed. Passive shotcalling: Fixed. Santorin doing absolutely nothing: Fixed. Bjergsen playing more proactive: Fixed. Lustboy looks like he queued up alone: Fixed. Aside from the fact that the individual talent of Liquid did create close earlygames that weren't the best for TSM, the teamplay and strategical part have been on point. Even though TSM still has low kill games, they do a lot more on the map, unlike before where they just waited for Bjergsen to get in his powerspike. TSM looks as strong as they were last split.
CLG on the other hand also had a very convincing semifinal performance. Shutting down the aggressive machine inside Team Impulse, CLG even won teamfights, something they couldn't do all season long. Remember the Liquid series from spring, where they just couldn't win a single teamfight? It looks pretty good right now. Even Xmithie, who have been criticized hard for being incapable of engaging, showed major improvement across the board. Of course playing Ekko helps you if you mess up, but it looked a lot better then during the regular season, or even worse, in spring. Doublelift didn't choke and put his best performance from this year on the board. It looks promising for CLG, because they all season long, starting in spring, they showed that they are strategically pretty much the best team in NA.If they can get their teamfighting to a level where it can compete with TSM's then TSM cannot take advantage of what used to be CLG's easiest to abuse weakness.
Of course there is still the curse of Doublelift winning not a single LAN in his life, and the old rivalry between CLG and TSM, who met countless times. It all makes up a hyped final. If TSM wins, then they will have the most split wins at 4, leaving Cloud9 behind at 3. If CLG wins, Doublelift will to go to worlds not as an analyst this year and he will for the first time experience what is like to be a champion.
Lane to watch: Xmithie vs Santorin (jungle). The most criticized players on their respective teams, who had the most problems, might have a big influence on the outcome. If one of them falls back in to their old patterns, it can be a quick game over. On the other hand, New York is the stage to prove that they are a top tier NA jungler