The Action Aldridge NA LCS Playoffs Special!
The time is finally here. After nine weeks of exciting matches (and even more surprising upsets), the NA LCS Spring Split playoffs are upon us, promising to bring with it an exciting weekend of ups and downs.
The time is finally here. After nine weeks of exciting matches (and even more surprising upsets), the NA LCS Spring Split playoffs are upon us, promising to bring with it an exciting weekend of ups and downs. Six teams enter Saturday, some aiming to show that they still are the perennial top dogs of the LCS, and others looking to prove themselves as premier competitive teams in the Champions Series, while all are looking to finish as high as possible in the seeding before the Summer Split. Two teams in particular, Team Gravity (GV) and Team Liquid (TL), have higher stakes than the rest of the competitors in the tournament. Whereas Team Gravity looks to prove that they shouldn’t be taken lightly because of their older lineup, sporting two of the oldest players in the league, Saintvicious (27) and Cop (22), on their lineup. Team Liquid’s road to the tournament has been anything but smooth. After struggling throughout the split, and several roster changes at the AD Carry position, Team Liquid managed to pull out the 6 th place seed after defeating Team Dignitas for their final game and beating Team 8 in the tiebreaker for the final seed in the tournament. For teams Cloud9 (C9) and Team Impulse (TiP), this tournament is their chance to prove that they really are who they say they are. After many highs and lows during the spring split, and a disappointing finish at IEM Katowice, Cloud9 finished with a 3-0 run defeating such lauded teams as Counter Logic Gaming, Gravity (not so lauded, but still very good), and Team SoloMid (but who really thinks TSM tried to win that game). This tournament is Cloud9’s chance to show North America that they still belong in the top 3, and aren’t just another middle-of-the-pack team. Similarly, Team Impulse has had a split of surprising inconsistency. Although they had considerably the longest win streak of any team this split, their record is littered with confusing losses to bottom/middle-of-the-pack teams such as Winterfox, Team Dignitas, Team 8, and Team Liquid. Whether this is just blatant underestimation by TiP or some bigger problem we shall see. Last but not certainly not least, the biggest headline of the tournament, barring some huge (and I mean HUGE) upset, is the power struggle between Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Team SoloMid (TSM) for first place. Even though both teams ended the season on loss, TSM to Cloud9 and CLG to the same team (TSM’s “loss” setting CLG up for their loss, but more on that later), both teams are poised to make it to finals, especially TSM with their first round bye. Although we have already seen both teams duke it out on the rift plenty of times, look for their inevitable best of 5 series to be the most exciting games of the tournament. With so much information to be digested by those new and old to the rift, it’s only proper to have a breakdown of the upcoming playoff.TSM’s Tournament to LoseThis is quite obvious, but I felt like the subject needed to be examined in more detail. For the first half of the split, Team SoloMid had a simple strategy going into every game: Feed Bjergsen, protect Bjergsen, allow Bjergsen to make plays. While this worked against some of the weaker teams in the split, unless Lustboy or Santorin could provide constant protection and support for Bjergsen in lane (which after teams began banning Lustboy’s Annie was near impossible), Bjergsen could get to a good power spike but not good enough to secure wins against stronger teams on a consistent basis. Not denying Bjergsen’s godlike plays (some of which won TSM close games against CLG and C9), but after several close call against CLG and losses to teams such as TiP, Team 8 and Cloud 9, it was obvious that the team needed a change in strategy. Then along came IEM Katowice, a perfect setting for TSM to try new things, as getting knocked out of the tournament may lower them in power ranking’s but would not affect their place in the split. The new strategy was seemingly simple but a dynamic change: not only did they feed Bjergsen, but they got Santorin more involved, allowed Lustboy to be Lustboy, and (here’s the real kicker) they PROTECTED Dyrus. For all the flack that Dyrus gets from fans for sometimes feeding other teams, when Bjerg is essentially fed, Dyrus’s lane is the only other lane teams can pick on when TSM is in full throttle. However, with the new team oriented strategy, Dyrus has proven that he can be the playmaker he has said he was, especially on tanky or high damage champs such as Sion, Rumble, Maokai and Lulu. With the legendary Lustboy (not an over exaggeration, the man is the most dangerous support in North America, arguably the world) on support, it is rare for TSM to have to worry about protecting WildTurtle. Before, TSM was already a formidable opponent, but now this TSM shell will be a hard one to crack come this weekend (do I hear final boss-like status hear?).
Source: http://na.lolesports.com/na-lcs/2015/spring/teams/team-solomid*Expect Good Play from Team Gravity
|Players||Avg. KDA Ratio||Avg. Gold per Minute||Avg. Total Gold|
|Marcus “Dyrus” HillLucas “Santorin” LarsenSoren “Bjergsen” BjergJason “WildTurtle” TranJang-sik “Lustboy” Ham||22.214.171.124.96.5||339323402422247||13k12k15k16k9.3k|
Team Gravity had an impressive end to the spring split. Unlike other teams in the LCS, Gravity stuck by their initial roster throughout the split and after a rocky start, gradually improved their level of play. No one (including me) expected Gravity to make it to this point. Sporting a roster with two players who have been in the LCS since the leagues inception, Saintvicious and Cop, it wasn’t a lack of experienced leadership that made observers skeptical of this relatively new team (born out of the ashes of Curse Academy due to the League’s New Sale of Sponsorship Rule, see link below) but a lack of experience from the team’s other members. None of the other three members Hauntzer, Keane and Bunny FuFuu have had much experience in the LCS. However, Gravity has seemingly overcome this obstacle. Relying on Saintvicious’s shot calling, Keane’s unique playstyles, Bunny FuFuu and Hauntzer’s amazing playmaking ability along with Cop’s consistent play in the bottom lane, the team’s split has made a turn for the better, giving them a 10-8 record at the end of the split and a spot in playoffs. The group has finally found a playstyle that they are comfortable with, and it’s this exact style that will help them make a good run in the playoffs. I’m putting it out there right now: Gravity will beat Team Impulse in the second biggest upset (given if Team Liquid can upset CLG) of the tournament. Team Impulse has a history of inconsistent play against weaker teams this split. Whether this is TiP underestimating their competition, or just some maniacal jinx of underachievement handed down by the League gods is yet to be seen, but if they cannot find an answer Team Gravity will move on to the semifinals. It sounds farfetched, but given what has just been written, here are reasons why it could happen:
- Keane’s Picks. Lae-Young “Keane” Jang is a rarity in LoL eSports. Not only does he have a diverse pool of champions, but he is not afraid to use them in competitive play! Most notable for his mid lane Urgot (which helped them net a win against TSM), he was also the first to play mid lane Rumble, Vladimir and Hecarim. Even though not all of these picks resulted in wins for Gravity, forcing the other team to waste picks and bans on these unorthodox champions allows Gravity to take their stronger picks and giving them a greater advantage going into the game.
- Hauntzer’s Wins Lane. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell is the scariest top laner going into this tournament. That’s right, THE. While ZionSpartan is the best with Team Liquid’s Quas a close second, neither has the ability to turn a disadvantage into an advantage like Hauntzer. The last two weeks, we’ve seen Hauntzer win a 2 versus 1 fight on Hecarim and a 3 versus 1 fight on Rumble, both for first blood. After both plays, his team has fed off his energy and snowballed their way to victory. However, the biggest factor in these fights is that he was not behind in the lane when the initiations happened. If Hauntzer falls behind Impact in the top lane, these big plays become impossible.
- Bunny FuFuu. Really, there is not much to be said here about Micheal “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo’s play. The kid is an animal. He makes more plays than the LCS announcers can puns. Given the other reasons why Gravity can win, he may be the only one they need. If TiP allow Bunny to pick Thresh, the odds will tip considerably in Gravity’s favor.