Rumble in the jungle: Junglers reign supreme in the NA LCS Promotion Tournament

Friday's matches in the NA LCS Promotion Tournament were largely decided by the junglers.

Friday’s matches in the North American LCS Promotion Tournament featured a bevy of lane stars. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong, and Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun are legendary players in the bot, top, and mid lanes, respectively. But the outcome of the matches was largely decided by which team’s jungler showed up the best.

You would think that would mean that Liquid and EnVy would have won based on the strengths of junglers Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo. Unfortunately, only one of these Korean stars would live up to his potential.

Team Liquid .vs. eUnited

If eUnited had any reservations about facing a squad as talented as Liquid, they showed none of it. They simply took it to Liquid in game one. Support player Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam had a coming out party on Zyra, finishing 5/3/15 with some major damage. He got started early when Liquid support Matt Elento flashed in and completely screwed things up.

Zeyzal and top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie stole the show and the game. When he got another early two vs. two kill in game two, Liquid was in extreme danger of going on tilt. Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin was again finding his new role difficult, and Matt was really struggling.

That’s when Reignover calmly stepped in and saved the day. He found kills all around the map on Kha’Zix, a champion he’s struggled on for much of the split. In one play, he saved Piglet and then handed Matt on Lulu a triple kill.

He did all this while quarterbacking the team through some chaotic situations. Much has been made about how good a shot caller Doublelift is, but Reignover is one of the smartest players in the world.

This is the type of performance Liquid need from him—not just in the Promotion tournament, but throughout the split. With a huge advantage at jungle, Reignover helped Liquid win three straight, each under 30 minutes.

Team EnVyUs vs. Gold Coin United

Like Liquid, EnVy should have a had a big advantage in the jungle. The team has looked rejuvenated with LirA in the lineup after some early-season visa issues, but they haven’t been able to translate their strong early game into match wins. LirA would be going against Lucas “Santorin” Larsen of Gold Coin. Santorin has been in LCS teams before, most recently for NRG Esports last summer, but he seems to freeze in big moments.

LirA, North America’s First Blood king, got off to a great start on a gank to the top lane. But Gold Coin had complete control over mid and bot, helping keep Santorin in the game. LirA went back up to the top lane for a 3v1 that went horribly.

LirA would pop off a bit more in game two, putting in a great performance on Graves. But Santorin matched him with some nice plays of his own, not showing the jitters or indecision we’ve seen from him in the past. Even when he just matched LirA, things turned up aces for Gold Coin. EnVy needed LirA to crush this matchup, and Santorin prevented that.

Of course Santorin had a lot of help controlling the jungler, and that’s where the solo lanes came into play. You already saw top laner Colin “Solo” Earnest walk out of an impossible situation. Seraph’s top lane was another spot that EnVy had to win, and again Gold Coin was able to keep pace.

Meanwhile Gold Coin had one lane with priority—mid lane with FeniX. He knocked it out of the park. All series long he styled on Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo. Unfortunately for Ninja, this is just one of Fenix’ highlight kills.

The most consistent members for EnVy turned out to their bot lane, and that is not a recipe for success. Aside from game two, where Ninja exacted some revenge on a fed Ahri, EnVy looked a step off their recent form as they stumbled to a 1-3 loss.

Liquid and Gold Coin United will meet on Saturday, and the winner gets an LCS spot. The loser will face the winner of the EnVy and eUnited in a loser-goes-home series for the final spot in the Summer Split.