NA LCS Sunday: The end of the regular season and the playoffs home stretch

After today, there's a chance TSM won't make it through.

Photo via Riot Games

Today is the final day of the NA LCS Summer Split regular season, and that means we’re staring down the barrel of the playoffs. We’re reached the end of the line—where the would-nots of Golden Guardians, Clutch, and CLG take their bow, the top-dogs lock in their seeding, and Echo Fox, OpTic, and TSM struggle to hold onto the final spot of the playoffs.

Depending on the results of today’s final games, there’s a chance that we’ll get a number of tiebreaker matches. For the most part, these will probably just decide playoff seeding, but there could be one very important tiebreaker to decide the sixth and final slot of knockouts. It’s all on the line today.

OpTic keep their dreams alive

In their game against split frontrunners 100 Thieves, OpTic had a lot to play for. Yesterday, they lost to TSM and dramatically lowered their chances of making playoffs. In today’s game, however, they mounted a miraculous comeback against 100 Thieves to hold on for dear life.

The game, for the most part, went in 100T’s favor. Although they dropped some kills to OpTic, they ran the map with a lot more pressure. For all intents and purposes, they were in control. When OpTic decided to take an extremely risky Baron around the mid-game, 100T cleaned them up, pushed for an Inhibitor, and the game appeared to be done.

OpTic held on, though, and after picking off a couple of 100T players here and there, they managed to stall the end of their season. 100T then did exactly what OpTic had done earlier by taking an extremely risky Baron. The difference between OpTic’s Baron earlier and this one, though, was that it was much later in the game. When OpTic wiped 100T off the map in the Baron pit, they rushed down the mid lane and into 100T’s base. Within moments, OpTic closed it out and held onto their playoff dreams.

Even CLG can beat the Golden Guardians

The least-interesting game of the day was between Golden Guardians and CLG, the league’s resident bottom dwellers. Both teams had stints of greatness this split at one point or another, but here at the end of the road, they’re playing just as poorly as their records imply.

This game proved something, though, even if it didn’t prove much. When these two go head-to-head, CLG are the better bad team, if that makes any sense. CLG made plenty of mistakes, sure, but they proved that all you need to beat the Golden Guardians are good fundamentals. Well, decent fundamentals. There isn’t anything that’s very “good” about CLG at this point.

The fundamental they used to beat GGS today? Vision. Yes, that’s it. At one point, CLG support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang had a vision score of 66, over double GGS support Matt Alento’s 32. GGS’ jungle and river were almost constantly dark, and CLG had them routed.

Clutch Gaming is Clutch Gaming

There was (technically) a chance that Echo Fox would lose their game against Clutch Gaming today, which would throw EF into contention for the sixth-place tiebreaker. We’re not sure anyone actually thought they’d lose to Clutch, though. 

And sure, North America as a region hasn’t been the most impressive this year, but even by those standards, Clutch have struggled during the Summer Split. This game was no exception. During one of their final pushes on Clutch’s base, there was a point where Echo Fox were up over 13,000 gold. For a team that’s had some issues with finding consistent winning strategies over the past few weeks, a smash this dramatic probably felt great. If it’s going to happen against anyone, though, it’s probably Clutch.

Cloud9 keep the pain train rolling

FlyQuest have showed up this split to surprise most of their naysayers, but even they couldn’t stop Cloud9 in the middle of their tear. C9 made bumbling roster decision after bumbling roster decision all throughout the split, but it seems like coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu finally rolled the right dice. This starting squad he’s landed on is absolutely on fire.

Mid laner Nicolaj Jensen was the real miracle maker in today’s game. His LeBlanc, paired with jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang’s Camille, completely tore through FlyQuest as C9 routed them across the map. Since C9 settled on the best starting roster possible, they’ve played very aggressively—much more than their fans are used to. Today, they played the same style, and ran over FlyQuest with it.

TSM made it through

TSM had momentum on their side heading into their game against Team Liquid today. The last few weeks of their split showed a renewed TSM—one that looked reminiscent of the old guard that earned three titles in a row. Luckily for their fans, they held onto that momentum, and TSM demolished TL today to lock in their spot in the playoffs.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg was the man of the hour. He locked in Akali, and he had a lot to prove in today’s game. All year, he’s been a shadow of his former self, and even as TSM have been crawling back into the limelight, he hasn’t had that special something in a long time. For TSM to truly be back, Bjergsen has to be back, and today, he proved that’s the case.

He hard-carried his team today, navigating the back line of late teamfights and roaming early on to rack up kills. Without him, the end of TSM’s season may have been a lot more tragic.