We’re down the final eight. In just over a week we will be crowning champions from the two biggest western regions of League of Legends. With the top seed in both regions losing against sides that didn’t make it into the play-offs; We’ve seen shaky performances across the board from all the teams, no team is infallible, and no team is unbeatable.
The Upset: G2 vs Fnatic
No truer is this statement than with the first match of Saturday. By all logic and prediction Fnatic were not meant to be here. They waited till their very last game to come into play-offs, and had H2K in their way which should have been a sure-fire loss. Fnatic beat H2K so decisively, they couldn’t take a single game off them, leading to a landslide 3-0.
Fnatic’s form is truly something to behold.The bringing in of team manager Finlay ’Quaye’ Stuart, into the coaching role has brought a new lease of life to this team of veterans and rookies alike. This “animal-style” of unconventional picks, has a lot of people excited, maybe a little too much so, but is undeniably been producing results. The excitement of these picks hearkens back to the emergence of Unicorns of Love and what won them many a fan with their twisted fate jungle, and even the older flair of the Moscow 5. Fnatic are coming back, and they’re coming back in style.
But now they have an even fiercer opponent. G2 came into the play-off with only one regular season loss under their belts. Their record against Fnatic is not pretty one, 2-0 in series that weren’t particularly close affairs. Neither have G2 really been showing any signs of struggles, an upset loss against Roccat does not a trend set. They almost went 2 full splits without dropping a series, and they won’t be looking to lose another set.
Look for Fnatic to innovate once again and see if they can keep G2 on the back-foot through the series, if not it may be a short lived affair.
The Gatekeepers: UOL vs Misfits
Unicorns of Love are now holding back one of the greatest rookie journeys of League ever told. This is Barney “Alphari” Morris’ and Steven “Hans sama” Liv’s LCS debut. Making it into the finals with two veritable rookies, will be a testament to the players, training, and belief Misfits have been able to generate over the past 10 weeks.
Misfits skirmish strength and ability to pick apart enemy teams is always a great viewing experience. Their mid game roaming has been the bane of many a more experienced team, and a resurgent Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage in mid lane has got the finals in his sight, wanting to prove himself as one of the greats of Europe once again.
Unicorns of Love have never consistently looked this good. Historically loved by fans and hated by analysts, they’ve moved away from their crazy strategies and off-meta picks, to a team that will just beat you at your own game. Mechanically and strategically they are amongst the best. The Unicorns can point their success mainly in two directions, top laner Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás has been going from strength to strength, and support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
This Isn’t the Unicorns of old. Relying on oddball picks and cheesy strategies to win games. This isn’t the Unicorns that could win games, this is a team that is expecting to win games. With only one game played in the regular season between the two teams, Misfits still definitely still have a shot at the title, but even reaching semi-finals in their debut year would be a result the team could be proud of.
Both Teams can arguably take this series, but the strength of UOL is nothing to sniffed at. Misfits could come out on top, but expect a bloody affair, that will provide spectacle for all.
The Coin-flip- Cloud9 vs Phoenix1
Phoenix1 are coming in hot after their 3-0 victory over Team Dignitas. Although a much more competitive series then the scoreline suggests, it still showed a Phoenix1 that will put cloud9 through their paces.
While Team SoloMid and Cloud9 cemented themselves in first and second place respectively through the regular season, Phoenix1 has always been hot in their heels, arguably fighting C9 throughout the split for that second spot. Coming into this series Phoenix1’s mid Laner Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook has been putting in some dominant performances. Against Dignitas, Ryu completely out pressured the “Anti-Carry” Jang “Keane” Lae-young, roaming the map where he pleased, in signature, and lethal fashion. Combined with Rami “Inori” Charagh hot on his heels following up every invade. It’s this combo that Cloud9 will have to be able to control to clinch the finals spot.
Defeating C9 is no easy feat though. The Current ADC meta is veteran AD Carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi’s dream. We’ve seen what he can already do on Lucian in week nine ( boasting a monstrous 14.5 KDA across two games) the Blade of the Ruined King buffs could not have come at a better time. Combined with an already dominant lane pairing with Andy “Smoothie” Ta, this is arguably the strongest bottom lane left in the play-offs.
Phoenix1 have been battling cloud9 for the second spot all year round, and this is their final chance to prove that they deserve to be in the conversation. Ryu will find a harder lane opponent in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, and if Sneaky is allowed to pop-off, there will be no stopping cloud9.
The Longshot- TSM vs FlyQuest
This is the Play-off from History. In the Early days of the NA LCS, TSM and Cloud9 would feature in an epic play-off series almost every season. It was the rivalry that the scene, and many players careers were built on. Although sporting the new FlyQuest banner, these veteran Cloud9 Players have reformed and re-united to take on their nemesis once again.
Already Flyquest have outperformed, beating out the hugely favoured Counter Logic Gaming to make it into the semi-finals. It was almost inconceivable that Flyquest would win, and even more mind-shattering was how they won: in the reverse sweep. Starting down 2-0 is something that breaks many a veterans mindset, but Flyquest powered through. The Highlight of the game was the performance of their Jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate, who not only had the best performance of the series, but probably the best performance of his professional career. His rengar play in game three and four was a decisive part in allowing Flyquest their chance back at success. His efforts were duly noted earning him the player of the series award.
TSM started the split with their iconic AD Carry taking a competitive break. Not the most promising start, as they not only had to replace his incredible mechanical skill, but his shotcalling capability. Which was a large part of TSM’s success the season before. Searching for another star, their consistent and low-eco top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has grown to fill those shoes. Taking up the shot-calling mantle. TSM look as crisp going into this play-offs as they did last season. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s lacklustre mid season seems to be over with crisp play in the last two weeks, putting most of TSM’s worries at bay.
TSM is a team that looks to have been built to win titles, they’re a team who have always performed at the top of NA LCS. FlyQuest have a Herculean task ahead of them to unseat the number one seed.
photo credit: Lolesports