Thoughts on the LCS Playoffs

So the Spring Split has come and gone, and with the end of the regular season I didn’t have fantasy LCS to play anymore, which meant that I didn’t talk much about the professional side of the game. Over the past few weeks however, there was plenty of playoff action, which means I have something to talk about once again. It’s been an interesting half of a season so far, which brings us up to the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and then the Summer Split shortly thereafter. There’s also a big ass patch for the mid-season, with a bunch of new features that will likely shake up the summer split for all of us, not just the pros. I’ll get to that bit in another post though. For now, let’s talk about the playoffs.

During the first weekend in April, the Quarterfinals went down. I didn’t watch much of the European LCS, but during the course of that weekend Fnatic beat out Vitality, and that was surprising considering the shaky season Fnatic seemed to have (again, I didn’t watch much of the EULCS), and Vitality seemed to be the superior team prior to playoffs. The same goes for the other matchup between Unicorns of Love and Origen. Though I called Origen as one of the powerhouses for Europe at the beginning of the split, but they didn’t deliver on that as much as I thought. They were no Immortals, let’s put it that way (more on them later).

In NA, more surprises were abound. TSM looked to be a powerhouse for North America, but they struggled throughout the split. Cloud 9 had a shaky start to the season but finished strong and were the clear favorites in this matchup. They managed to take a game in the series, but TSM dismantled them. It was surprising. Where was this TSM all spring? Less surprising was Team Liquid taking down NRG, particularly with how well Matt and Dardoch performed as rookies. NRG never really stood a chance this split. They need to find better talent in a couple of roles.

The following weekend the semi-final matches were played, and in Europe we saw G2 take down Fnatic (expected) along with Origen continuing it’s streak to defeat H2K. The latter team seemed pretty consistent during the split but didn’t have it when it counted. Origen moves on to the finals against G2, but there is a clear expectation there.

In NA, I was rooting for Liquid to take down CLG. Honestly I don’t think CLG is that good of a team, despite winning the summer split last year. Darshan pulls off some pretty amazing stuff, and Aphromoo has his moments, but I’m not too big on their other players. I think CLG of last year was a better team. Liquid felt like the new hotness. I wanted the rookies to win and for Piglet/Fenix to get some real recognition for their efforts. I think a different top-laner might make up all the difference. Why don’t they pick up Impact? Imagine that team? But it was not meant to be, as CLG took the series 3-2, and moved onto the finals.

The most shocking part of the entire playoffs happened in the other semi-final game. Immortals, the team that only lost one game the entire split, though looking a little weaker towards the end, was expected to completely dismantle TSM. But this wasn’t the TSM from the split, nope that part of their lives was already done. They put together a monster series, and swept Immortals right under the rug 3-0. It was incredible to watch. The tilt was real. I’m really beginning to love esports!

The finals were less exciting, and more exciting at the same time. CLG vs TSM, the dream. The rematch. The same result. Meh. Again, less impressed with this year’s CLG as opposed to last year’s. More impressed with TSM stepping up when it mattered, but they still lost overall. In Europe, G2 triumphed over Origen, as I expected. A new crown over there, the same crown for NA. Either way, it was a fun split, and I look forward to watching all summer long. MSI soon, I may have more thoughts.

Fantasy LCS Review: Season 6, Week 5

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week5standingsIt’s that time of week again to break down the past weekend’s LCS action. This time I managed to completely lose the gambles I took in setting my roster up. I dropped Rush because he wasn’t performing at the expected level, and then C9 have a dominant weekend. Of course, Dardoch put up huge points the week before, and this weekend he didn’t, so that swap was immediately reverted. I also put in GBM as a flex, and now NRG look like a middle ground team, and are failing to live up to my expectations. So of course, he put up mediocre numbers. Despite Aprhromoo being a great support, he doesn’t bring in the numbers either. Overall it was just a down day for all of my players so I was thoroughly beaten and I have done a pretty big overhaul of my roster this week just trying to stay competitive. I’ve now dropped to 2-3 and in 3rd place overall, but Judentus is only a game ahead so I have time to re-take 2nd place, but it looks like Derpy is going to win the league overall because just like his IMT players, he can’t lose a game. So at this point I’m basically only fighting for 2nd place, as even Tacktix won’t be able to do much about his positioning on the leader board at this point. Kind of sucks to have the wind taken out of your sails so early into the season, but there’s always the summer split, where we most certainly won’t be letting Derpy get all of the IMT members again. My theft of pobelter and someone else owning the team is the only thing keeping him from godlike fantasy points.

Let’s take a look at the matchup anyway, to see where I went wrong:

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When you see the names on my side of the board when compared to those on the other, I see a pattern. He has a good mix of NA and EU players, I have all NA. I have some of the biggest names (aside from Dardoch) though, and he has a couple questionable players. Seemed like an easy win. But then you get teams like NRG who have really dropped the ball, TL who still can’t stay consistent, and CLG that doesn’t score many points whether they win or lose. On the other hand, he’s got a mix of the same, it’s just that my players dropped the ball a bit more. Needless to say, some sweeping changes were in order.

week6matchup

I now have three slots taken up by the EULCS. It hurt me to do it, but I dropped Impact. He just isn’t getting me the points necessary to stay competitive. He’s a great top laner but their team needs work. Perhaps he’ll be better in the summer. I picked up Odoamne, whom I’m not too familiar with but has decent projections and week-to-week scorelines. H2K is performing well too, so that should keep him more consistent. I brought Rush back because there aren’t really any other good junglers available. I’m sticking with Piglet because he’s consistent and has flashes of brilliance. Support wise I don’t see anyone projecting higher than Aphromoo that isn’t already spoken for. Because of the top players sections on the Fantasy LCS website, I decided to pick up Steeelback, who has managed to crack the top 5 overall in the spring, so he should be a better flex pick than what I’ve had if he keeps it up. Lastly, I picked up G2 esports because they have been doing really well this split over in Europe so I hope they’ll give me more points from the team slot. So yeah, here’s to being hopeful I can right the ship.

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No one on my team did shit last week, so no appearances on the top 5. I still have Pobelter and Piglet up there for the Spring, and as I mentioned, Steeelback is playing for me too, and his numbers are right there with piglet. Hoping for better things out of next weekend!

League Championship Series

The League Championship Series is League of Legend’s pro circuit for both North America and Europe. There are several other divisions across South America and East Asian countries, but for the most part these are the two leagues that I pay the most attention to. Honestly, there are so many changes to the teams that it’s hard to recognize many. Not only have some rosters been completely changed, but some teams are completely new to the tournament, due to the way that relegation and challenger series promotion works. Unlike traditional sports like Football where the same 32 teams play every year and only their rosters change (and usually only by a handful), in the LCS things are in a constant state of flux. This is troublesome for someone like me who believes that you should pick a team and support it, through the good times and the bad. The problem with the LCS is that the team that you enjoy is only made up of 5 players (and sometimes a few substitutes) and if some or all of those players disappear from the team, how do you have any sort of loyalty? I’ve been a fan of certain players on various teams, but for the first couple of seasons that I watched pro play I just watched as a fan of League of Legends, not of any particular team. Having loyalty to a Football team in traditional sports, I felt that it was time to make a choice for a team last year. I didn’t want to jump on the TSM, C9 or CLG bandwagons, as they are some of the oldest and most popular LCS organizations and I am not a bandwagon kind of guy. So I picked Team Impulse, as watching them last year was a pleasure and I really loved watching Rush make some impressive plays for the team. I also had several of the players on my Fantasy team during the course of the summer split and they almost won me the whole competition (Xiaoweixiao screwed me during the last week or I would have won altogether).

This year Team Impulse has a completely new lineup, only two names being recognizable (Gate was a substitute last year, and Mash has been on other teams) and I feel no loyalty to the team as a result. Honestly, TSM has one of the best lineups, but some of the teams new to NA look intriguing as well. Perhaps I should jump on that TSM bandwagon? Or maybe I should just pick a new team to root for every season? It troubles me, but I can’t seem to find any answers. The spring split starts later this week, and the official lineups have been announced for both NA and EU. Let’s take a look at those:

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Basically, on the NA side we have recognizable teams from last year in TSM, C9, CLG, TIP, DIG, and TL. New additions are RNG from the Challenger series, IMT and NRG who bought slots from other teams, and the brand new FOX, that is a new team owned by a former Lakers pro player. The recognizable teams have seen a bunch of trading of recognizable names, and much of that has been known for a while (like the case of Doublelift swapping from CLG to TSM). Team Liquid is the only team that has a secondary team of subs and are saying that they might bounce between 1st and 2nd team players depending on matchups. Cloud 9 picked up Rush who was my favorite NA player last year, but I don’t really care for that team so I can’t see myself rooting for them. TSM holds to most players I like, having picked up Hauntzer from Gravity, still having Bjergsen and getting Doublelift. Yellowstar should also be a great pickup from the EU on support. Liquid is relatively unchanged as well and I like Dom, Fenix and Piglet. Immortals are probably the other best stacked team, picking up Huni and Reignover from Fnatic, Pobelter from CLG and Turtle from TSM, along with Adrian from TIP. CLG and DIG are meh to me. Fox might be ok, but I only really know Froggen. Then there’s Renegades who were impressive in the Challenger tourney, but who knows if they will go places in the LCS. It’s really hard to pick just one team to support, but I foresee TSM, IMT, TL and C9 being towards the top. I guess I’m back to being team-less, for the time being.

On the EU side, well honestly I don’t know much about EU. I know FNC was great last year, but Origen looks pretty stacked this year. There’s new teams and some reshuffling just the same, but I’m not concerned with rooting for any of them, because I’m still holding out for that great NA Worlds performance. All I really care about are those who end up on my fantasy team, but if you follow the LCS you’ll see there have been a lot of changes on that side of the world as well.

So those of you who watch the pros, are you having the same sort of conflict in rooting for one team or particular players?

Thoughts on the NALCS Finals

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This weekend’s NALCS action showed exactly why the top teams made it as far as they did. Not only was there a fantastic match for third place between Team Impulse and Team Liquid, but the big grand finale of Team Solomid versus Counter Logic Gaming. You’ll probably recall that I made some predictions last week, and I’ll go over that now.

Saturday’s game was for third place overall, and there were various scenarios where Team Liquid could end up in second place overall going into worlds, or where Team Impulse could have pulled ahead. I called a victory for Liquid last week, but I figured that Impulse would give them a run for their money and to a degree I was right. Liquid did win the overall best of five series, but Impulse made them work for it, actually winning one of the games. It was very clear though that TL was the better team overall at that point, and I still think that goes back to the whole Gate/Xiaoweixiao thing, but I won’t go into that again. Impulse still has a chance to secure that third place spot, but I’ll talk about that in a little bit.

For the main event, Sunday saw the actual summer split finals, where TSM and CLG faced off for the first time in a long time. Storied rivals, but TSM has been at every finals since the LoL pro scene got its start, and this was the first time CLG ever made it this far. They were cursed to this point, always being relegated or ending up in third place. I know since I’ve been watching pro play I’ve never seen CLG at worlds, but they have officially stamped their ticket at this point.

It was surprising that the games were so one sided. I had called TSM as the winner because, well they always end up at the finals and they are usually the #1 or #2 seed at worlds from the NA region, so why would I think this year would be any different? I believe that’s what most people were thinking as well, because CLG were the definite underdogs for this series. Fans of TSM would vote/root for TSM. Fans of other teams would do the same (like me). Fans of CLG were the only ones keeping the faith, and the only ones able to say much of anything at this point. They dominated TSM in all phases of the game: from picks and bans, to laning, to mid game team fights, to closing out the game. They 3-0’d TSM as easily as they did my team, TiP. The games were nothing short of exciting though, as TSM wasn’t going down without a fight, but they consistently fell behind, and had to force things they normally wouldn’t. They are a farm til the late game type of team, and CLG exploited that with early ganks, early lane dominance, and convincing team synergy. They clearly deserved this win, and the naysayers (like me) should shut up at this point.

Towards the end of last week’s post, I had stated that I was confused about how the championship points worked and what would happen with this whole “gauntlet” thing people had mentioned. Here’s a handy graphic that Team Liquid posted on Twitter for illustration:

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Basically, because CLG took the win in the finals, they are the #1 seed and are automatically going to Worlds. With the loss, TSM could have dropped into this gauntlet, but they had enough championship points having taken top spots in the spring split to stay ahead of the next team, Liquid. As such, TSM is the #2 and is also going to Worlds, so this loss didn’t affect them as much as it could have. Also with the type of experience the team has in the playoffs and at the World Championship, they might be able to right their wrongs going forward.

Now, since the top two seeds are locked up, there is only one more seed available to go to Worlds. It would seem that Liquid should already have that spot as they won it via the 3rd place match, but for some reason or another, there is a further gauntlet to work through, of which they got the biggest advantage. As the team with the most championship points, they will be slotted where “team 1” is on the image above. Impulse is below them in the “team 2” slot, having less points. Teams 3 and 4 are Gravity and Cloud 9. They had less points than the aforementioned teams, but due to their combined efforts over this split and the spring, they earned a place here (C9 did well in the spring, but failed hard in the summer, while Gravity flip flopped these results).

So basically we have another set of playoffs, but only to determine the 3rd seed for the World Championship. Apparently if you want to avoid two sets of playoffs, you either have to finish 1st or 2nd, or fail completely 😛 Beginning on Saturday, the first match will be Gravity vs C9, and with how poorly C9 did this past split, I imagine they will drop out at this point, but I guess you never know. Whoever wins that game will advance to play Impulse on Sunday. The winner from that match will advance to play Liquid on Monday, and we will then officially know who our NA 3rd seed at Worlds will be. For more information on how the World Championship will work, check out this excellent article from Riot themselves.

Looking forward from there, there is the promotion series where the worst teams from this past split will vie for the ability to return next spring to compete, along with those who one the Challenger Series a bit ago, and the other “best” teams who were in top half of the standings. This is how the LCS landscape changes each year, and I’m glad to have a better understanding of it at this point. More thoughts to come next week.


Tried to replicate yesterday’s fantastic run, but even with Chicken’s passive I was unable to get as far. Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.

Thoughts on the NALCS Semi-finals

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This weekend saw the coming and going of the NALCS Semi-finals.

I was disappointed that both of the teams that I have been rooting for, for most of the season were eliminated. However, there were some exciting games that could have gone either way, and I think the major caveat here is that Team Impulse was down a man that was with them for all but one game of the regular season, and had a backup player in his stead, who hadn’t really played much during the season. Xiaoweixiao really screwed over his team with the ELO-boosting shenanigans.  I think TiP would have taken their series against Counter Logic Gaming a lot further if not won it altogether had it not been for this fact.

On Saturday, it was the aforementioned best of five: TiP vs CLG. I had called TiP as the winner, but that the series would take all five games to determine. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Just as they had done to Dignitas the week before, TiP was swept, 3-0 by CLG. Watching the games was difficult, because I know that Rush and co could have won, but they made mistakes that CLG was able to capitalize on. During the first match, TiP came out strong and had a lead to begin with. They made a few mistakes, Rush did his best but then started to throw a bit, and next thing you know CLG took their nexus. It seems like they threw the entire series after that; everyone was on tilt. Apollo had a steady performance game after game, and Gate actually didn’t do all that bad but was put on what are considered “safe” champions for two out of the three games. He didn’t have the carry mid-lane presence that XwX typically brought to the table. This put all of the weight on the shoulders of Apollo to carry, along with Impact and Rush needing to synergize well and make plays. There were plays, sure, but in the end CLG took all the victories and that’s what matters. Doublelift was in god mode, and surely carried his team to victory, though there were solid contributions from the rest of his team as well. CLG managed to push every advantage and not let up, and that seemed to be the key for them to win. This is actually going to be their first finals ever I believe, so they are in all new territory. Time will tell as to what they can do with this position.

I had to watch the VODs of Sunday’s games, as I was out of the house most of the day, but I took some notes as to what happened and it was an impressive series, mostly by Team Solo Mid though nearly every game of the series could have gone either way. Team Liquid was on point in most things, but made some fatal flaws that ultimately cost them the series. Here’s my notes as I wrote them, because I’m lazy.

Game 1: TL takes early leads in all lanes, but back to back shitty team fights throw the match. Wildturtle hits too many Jinx ultimates. Ridiculous Bjergsen quadra to win it. TSM win.

Game 2: Steady game, staying even for damn near the whole thing. Potential game changer where Quas gets fucked by Azir ult bouncing him back twice. Comes down to a failed team fight for TL when trying to get 5th dragon. TSM win.

Game 3: Very even game; poor dragon team fight gives TSM a clean ace. Then several great team fights in favor of TL. Piglet is a god on Vayne. Actually a bit of a throw by TSM from the early game where they were ahead. TL win.

Game 4: TSM in firm control this match, GG take the series 3-1.

Obviously when you’re looking at nearly four hours of video material, this isn’t every single detail, but you get the gist. So now we move onto next weekend’s matchups:

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TSM vs CLG in the NALCS Finals
and
TiP vs TL in the 3rd place matchup.

There are some interesting scenarios here, because of the way League points work, and honestly I only know a little when it comes to the topic. I know that finishing first in the Spring split netted TSM quite a few points, and they are already in Worlds because they are in the finals here, regardless of if they win. However, Team Liquid was first place in the Summer split, so they have a lot of points and will be ready for Worlds if they take third place? Again, not really sure how it will work out, but basically league points are a secondary system that takes into account a team’s performance during the first portion of the season (spring split), and along with their performance during the second half they get a total that can help them into worlds even if eliminated in playoffs. It’s something to that effect.

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As you can see, TSM holds the most points from being awesome in the spring, and mostly good in the summer. CLG is right behind them but so is TL. However, TL losing this weekend might push them out. There were some scenarios where Cloud 9 might make Worlds due to a good performance in the spring, but I think they shot themselves in the foot enough during the summer it’s not possible. I think there are only two seeds that make it from each region to worlds, so I imagine that would be TSM and CLG, however I know there’s this thing called “the gauntlet” and even the MSI from earlier in the year are counted towards getting into Worlds. If I get a better understanding of this I might be able to explain it better, but for now I’m just going to call it how I see it for next weekend.

Though CLG hasn’t choked like they have in past splits/playoffs, I think they will choke against TSM. TSM is just so utterly dominant when it comes to the playoffs, I think they’ll take the series but that it will take all five games. For the third place matchup between TiP and TL, I think TL will take the win, only because I’ve lost a bit of faith in TiP. I think TiP will be dominant next year, with a fresh batch of new challengers to face (Renegades make the spring split from the Challenger series and TiP and other squads like C9 might have new roster members), but I think they’ve tilted too much at this point and TL seem determined to make Worlds. I’ll see if I can get a better understanding of championship points in the meantime so I can explain it better after next weekend. I’m sure the analysts and casters will be talking more about it then.


This run went a bit further, but I’m still not making it as far as I would like.

#leagueoflegends #nalcs #progaming