Thoughts on the NALCS Quarterfinals


I had the idea to make my picks for this weekend’s pro LCS games, but the thought came to me too late. I had already witnessed Team Impulse wreck Team Dignitas, so it wouldn’t have been very fair to say “I totally picked Team Impulse to win” after they already won. Still, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. But here’s why.

I’ve been watching the pros play League of Legends for a couple of years now. Back when I first got into ranked play, the concept of the professional gamer intrigued me. Of course, like anyone else who would want to get paid to play games that they love, I had aspirations to do the same. Finding out that most pro players aren’t over 25 and most don’t play for more than three or four years derailed my line of thinking. It also doesn’t help that I can’t seem to get out of Bronze league this year, but I’m close to Silver at this point so I know I’ll at least make it there, though my goal was to make it to Gold this time around (I was in Silver in season 3 and didn’t play ranked at all during season 4). Anyway, I started watching the pros play during the summer split of season 3, which would have been back in 2013. I played the game for a couple of years before that, but wasn’t quite as invested.

This year I was fully invested in the game, playing ranked and whatever seasonal stuff came up, along with watching the spring split. When the summer split came along, I got involved in playing fantasy LoL, which is the game’s equivalent to fantasy football. You draft players, tweak your lineup and pit your team against others. You can read up on my performance during that experience by heading over to the ongoing series page up top. As I notated in the final recap after the season ended, Team Impulse (of which I had ever member but the support at one time or another) performed very well for me. Watching the epic final game between Impulse and Team Liquid solidified my love for the team. To that point I didn’t really care about teams, who won or who lost, but over the years I have come to know the ins and outs of teams and their players and I have finally picked a team for which to root. Unfortunately, LCS teams aren’t like traditional sports teams, in that they change. Sometimes the name changes. Sometimes the roster changes. Sometimes they fall out of favor and aren’t able to play during a split. Some teams have managed to have a presence every year, but others seem to weave in and out of the collective consciousness of the game. So I guess I should say, Team Impulse is my team, for now.

The North American region has received criticism of late, for having so many imports the last couple of years. It used to be solely populated by North American natives, but has since seen the import of both European and Asian players. Some people would criticize me for loving Impulse, because three of its members are from Korea (four, if you count the fact that Xiaoweixiao was suspended and his replacement Gate is also Korean). On the same token, people criticize Team Solomid for having two former European players in Santorin and Bjergsen. The way I look at it is that America is a land of immigrants, so what does it matter? Sure, Xiao, Impact and Rush have seen the Worlds stage while playing for Korean teams, but who cares? They might bring a slightly different playstyle to the game, but really it’s beneficial to the rest of NA. Why? Because NA has struggled when it comes to international play, and this is effectively bringing some of the international scene back home. Meaning NA teams can get a leg up and maybe we’ll see a NA Worlds champion finally, rather than watching that go to Koreans or Chinese year after year. NA needed to become competitive, and this should help. And besides, basically every team has these imports, so it’s theoretically fair. The European scene is starting to look pretty weak due to a lack of diversity in their teams. Sure, Fnatic posted the first ever perfect season, but is that due to superiority or merely playing in a weak division? How do you think the New England Patriots consistently win their division? It’s because they get free wins from Buffalo, the Jets and the Dolphins year after year. This isn’t rocket science people.

So my picks this weekend were for Impulse to beat out Team Dignitas, and for TSM to beat out Gravity. Nothing against Gravity, but they were starting to skid at the end of the split, and TSM simply has too much playoff experience to lose to a team that doesn’t have its shit together. These were the exact outcomes. TiP managed a 3-0 sweep over DIG, though the last game came down to the wire and was almost thrown. TSM dropped one game to Gravity, but still came out with a 3-1 victory. The games were really exciting to watch, and I’d implore those of you with even a passing in the game to check out the VODs for the games. This really is the best time to watch, if you’re not that invested. Just like playoff action in any sport brings out the best competition, this is no exception. You can watch the video replays over here.

Next weekend sees TiP advance to play Counter Logic Gaming, which should be nothing short of a phenomenal watching experience. TiP has one of the best AD carries in the league in Apollo, who has been consistent all year. Their jungler Rush is always making plays, though sometimes gets a little ahead of himself, which is something CLG might be able to capitalize on better than DIG could. The main weak point for Impulse right now is Gate, who was subbed in for Xiao because of the suspension. He played one game as support while TiP were scouting around for another player to take the role, and has only played a handful of games as mid for the team. Adrian stayed as support probably so the boat wouldn’t be rocked too much, and so far they’ve worked pretty well as a unit. CLG on the other hand has another one of the best ADCs in Doublelift, but doesn’t really have star players otherwise in my opinion. They are a solid unit that typically stumbled towards the end of splits or in playoff scenarios. As a result, I’m picking Impulse to take the series, though I think it will take all five games for that to happen.

The other matchup coming this weekend is TSM versus Team Liquid, and this one is a much harder decision to make. TSM were commanding in their victory over Gravity, and GV held first place for much of the season. However, TL did fantastically towards the end of the split, leading them to defeat TiP putting them into a tie for first with CLG, and they also took away the win in the tiebreaker. So I’m hard pressed to say that TSM just take it outright, even with the depth of experience in the playoffs. TL aren’t to be taken as slouches either, as they have a world champion ADC in Piglet, along with experienced players around the board. Quas can be a beast. Xspecial used to play for TSM. Fenix has been beast mode in the past. There are a lot of variables here. Still, I’m going to give TSM the benefit of the doubt, and say that they take it with a win in game five.

Will I be right? Who knows. But I’ll be watching next weekend. Will you?

#leagueoflegends #NALCS #playoffs