The LCS 2019 Playoffs continue on April 6. The stakes are much higher, and we’re in for two thrilling series in TSM vs. Cloud9 and Team Liquid vs. FlyQuest. Only two of these teams will advance to the finals, so let’s break down these matchups and separate the favorites from the underdogs!
TSM vs. Cloud9
TSM are going strong. It took them some time to refine their top-focused playstyle, but once they figured things out, TSM quickly rose to the top of the LCS standings. They’re also one of the few North American teams capable of pressuring its opponents in the laning phase and running 1-3-1 setups in the late game. That’s a huge asset to have in a Bo5 setting.
Shadows and spotlights
TSM invest a lot of resources into their top lane—and it’s easy to see why! Broken Blade is one of the most explosive top laners in the league. It’s common to see him break open games with decisive flanks and constant side lane pressure. His dominance is emphasized by the relentless jungler pressure from Akaadian, who does a good job of highlighting the strengths of his top lane carry. Unfortunately, the two have a tendency to overstep their limits. Hence, they can fall victim to their own aggression.
TSM can make up for this with stability in the other parts of the map. Bjergsen is the rock in the mid lane, and you can count on him to secure lane priority and put on a clinic in teamfights. The same applies to Zven and Smoothie, who can take over the bot lane even if they get zero help from their teammates.
Cloud9 won’t be phased by TSM’s strategies. They seek to get into the driver’s seat from the first minutes of the game, and they always seem several steps ahead of their opponents. On top of that, Cloud9 have the most creative drafts and intricate strategies in the region. Thus, they will attack TSM from several different angles throughout this series.
Strength and synergy
Much like TSM, Cloud9 are at their best around the top lane. Licorice is an absolute monster on carry champions, but he’s equally dominant on tanks and utility picks. He’s also excellent at working with his veteran jungler Svenskeren, giving C9 a top/jungle duo that can even put a team of TSM’s caliber on the back foot.
Granted, Cloud9 aren’t as overwhelming in other positions. Nisqy is a strong, well-rounded mid laner with a habit of stepping his game up for the playoffs. But even then, he won’t hold a candle to Bjergsen. And while Sneaky and Zeyzal are a potent duo, they won’t be able to outmuscle Zven and Smoothie in the bot lane. Yet even if Cloud9 are at a slight disadvantage in terms of individual firepower, they’re much better at working together as a unit, and, in the end, this will be way more important in a Bo5 series.
PREDICTION: Cloud9 will outmaneuver TSM to score a 3-2 victory.
Team Liquid vs. FlyQuest
It’s too early to write off Team Liquid. Their season might’ve ended on a three-game losing streak, but they still have a ton of talent on their roster. Combine that with the fact that they’re very smart and calculated about the way they approach the game, and it’s hard to imagine them not showing up in the playoffs.
Best in NA
Team Liquid are the definition of a late-game powerhouse. Doublelift has always been a force to be reckoned with in the AD carry position, but he’s looking even sharper now that he’s paired up with a world-class playmaker in CoreJJ. Throw in a massive mid lane threat in Jensen, and Team Liquid have a great three-man core.
Of course, they wouldn’t get this far without solid supportive pieces. Impact might catch some flack for his carry play, but few top laners can match him on tanks and bruisers. Meanwhile, Xmithie has mastered the art of selfless jungling, and it’s largely because of him that Team Liquid’s carries shine so bright in most of their matches.
FlyQuest went through a lot to get to this point. Their series against Golden Guardians came down to the wire, and they found a 3-2 win through sheer persistence and willpower. Their players are strong, but none of them are in the top two of their positions. And while FlyQuest try to outmaneuver their opponents with solid teamwork and structured game plans, they tend to falter in high-pressure situations.
The closest thing FlyQuest have to a superstar is their jungler. Santorin has been absolutely killing it in the 2019 Spring Split, and his measured aggression is the pillar of FlyQuest’s early game. The carries aren’t too shabby either. WildTurtle is renowned for his ability to make marksmen look like playmakers, and Pobetler is recognized as one of the most-rounded mid laners in the league.
Their top laner and support aren’t as refined. V1per can look like an MVP candidate when he’s at his A-game, but he can also cost his team by overextending in a key skirmish. To make matters worse, JayJ is unremarkable on anything other than defensive tanks, and he will have a hard time keeping up with CoreJJ in the bot lane.
PREDICTION: Team Liquid will outmuscle FlyQuest to score a 3-1 victory.
Image credit: LoL Esports/Riot Games