LCS Summer 2019, Play-offs preview

LCS SUMMER PLAYOFFS PREVIEW
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The six play-off teams for the League of Legends Championship Series Summer season are now set with Team Liquid and Cloud9 picking up first-round byes.

The first best-of-five series sees Team SoloMid matching up against Clutch Gaming on Saturday.

Decision time for TSM

Team SoloMid have been a hot topic of discussion within the North American scene, with an incredibly late switch to Spica as the starting jungler.

However, it remains unclear as to who will be starting in the jungle in the play-offs and how many losses they can suffer before being swapped out.

TSM worked heavily towards changing their style of play in the latter part of the split, meaning they had some uncharacteristic losses but hopefully gained a higher ceiling for the play-offs.

Many TSM players have struggled throughout this split, with eyes on star mid-laner Bjergsen to carry the team through at least the opening round. They are 1.409 with Dafabet to make progress.

Clutch must step up

Clutch, 2.950 outsiders for the clash, have been consistent all year long, falling to top squads while being routinely able to defeat those below them in the standings.

Damonte and Huni as the solo-laners give Clutch lots of flexibility and strength, but they have previously struggled to maintain a steady pace against a team like TSM and now the pressure is on them to show some improvement.

Things could change in a best-of-five contest as the team get more and more acquainted to the opposition and Clutch certainly have a knack of pulling out unique champion picks for their aforementioned solo-laners.

Much of this match-up will come down to whether or not Cody Sun and Vulcan can dominate Zven and Smoothie, who have been struggling for TSM, with LirA potentially focusing on that lane as a possible path to victory.

The winners will face Liquid in the semi-finals.

OpTic look dangerous

The other side of the bracket sees Counter Logic Gaming, who stumbled at the end of the regular season, taking on the dangerous OpTic Gaming for the right to face Cloud9.

Counter Logic Gaming, the favourites at 1.354, have hovered around the top of the standings all split long, only missing out on the second seeding (and a first-round bye) due to back-to back-losses to first 100 Thieves in the final week of the regular season and then to Cloud9 in the tie-breaker.

With Wiggily having massive growth this split as a jungler, the addition of Ruin as a consistent top-laner changed the way CLG played and allowed them to finally find sustained success after a prolonged period of struggle.

On paper this team does not blow teams such as Liquid out of the water in terms of talent, but their team play and mid-to-late game shot-calling are second to none and the ability to find key individual outplays from the likes of PowerOfEvil can put them over the top.

Stixxay and Biofrost have done a much better job this split compared to last, with their potential to 2v2 being a point of contention for Wiggily to focus his efforts upon.

Pick and ban crucial

As for OpTic, they have had two players – Meteos and Crown – near the top of the MVP standings for much of the year, while there has also been a stark improvement from Arrow in the Summer campaign.

OpTic did falter heavily in the middle of the split but they showed some decent composure in the final week with the team finally focusing on giving Dhokla Aatrox, a champion he has performed incredibly well on.

Unfortunately for them it is unlikely CLG will let Aatrox through the ban phase given OpTic’s clear reliance on the pick, so perhaps another favourite of Dhokla’s, Poppy, will be selected instead.

Meteos looks to be the make-or-break player of this series. He is one of the longest-tenured veterans in the league with the proven ability to perform under pressure and he’ll be up against Wiggily, who is only lacking in experience now.

OpTic a threat to Liquid

While Team Liquid were the clear class of the regular season, the team to watch out for in the play-offs may well be OpTic, who look good value at 3.230 to beat CLG.

Losers of four in a row to end the regular season, OpTic got the better of 100 Thieves and Golden Guardians in tie-breakers.

That ability to step up and dismiss a short slump could serve them well in the best-of-five series which lie ahead.