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As the end of the Summer Split of the North American League Championship Series (NA LCS) approaches, every game is of vital importance as teams jockey for seeding and a place in the Summer Playoffs. Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and Echo Fox have separated themselves from the chasing pack, but with two weeks left in the Summer Split there is still plenty of time for a team to assemble a run toward the top of the standings.
As traditional NA LCS powers Team SoloMid (6-7) and Counter Logic Gaming (5-9) currently sit out of the Playoffs, fans will be watching very closely over the final four games of the Split to see if they are able to claw their way into the final Playoff spot.
Team Liquid alone at the top
The first matchup of the week also may have been the most anticipated, with both teams tied at the top of the standings facing off to determine who would claim first place. 100 Thieves and Team Liquid had once again risen to the top of the NA LCS, and much like the Spring Finals, their match would once again go to Team Liquid.
After securing their fifth victory in a row, Team Liquid stand alone at the top of the NA LCS standings with a 10-4 record. The reigning Spring Split champions have fought through some early split troubles to find their stride as the Summer Split Playoffs (and the World Championship) approaches.
A large part of their recent success has been the much-improved play of top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. In their five gaming winning streak, Impact has posted an 8.4 KDA and provided one of the top plays of the split with his 3v1 outplay in their most recent match against FlyQuest. If Impact can continue to be a steady contributor, Team Liquid should be able to continue to play through their superior bot lane to victory.
Despite their spot at the top, there’s still much reason to be concerned among the Team Liquid and NA hopeful. As was clearly displayed in their match against 100 Thieves, Team Liquid continue to make costly early mistakes. While their strong laning and superior macro play have allowed them to construct multiple comeback victories, better teams will be quick to punish Team Liquid if they once again find themselves in an early deficit.
Cloud 9 stays hot
While multiple teams have appeared to falter as the Summer Split has progressed (Clutch Gaming, Golden Guardians, Team SoloMid), one team has surged into a playoff position over the past few weeks. Despite multiple changes to their roster early on in the split, Cloud 9 has appeared to settle on their final variation with a roster that includes rookies Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam and Robert “Blaber” Huang.
With an injection of young talent into a team grounded by veterans, Cloud 9 has accumulated a 5-1 record through the past three weeks with this new roster. That record includes a victory over first-place Team Liquid, their only loss in the same span. They have shown an ability to innovate with picks such as Quinn and Zilean, finding success will their willingness to take risks and ability to draft to their players’ strengths.
As playoffs draw near, Cloud 9 have positioned themselves as a team to avoid in a first round match-up. Maybe the hottest team in the NA LCS, their unpredictability can make them a difficult opponent for any team to prepare for. Although not guaranteed a spot in the Playoffs quite yet, if Cloud 9 are able to continue their recent run of success they could challenge Echo Fox and 100 Thieves for the third seed in the Summer Split, a huge accomplishment considering they were in last place just a few weeks ago.