Team Liquid catches fire at the perfect time
Congratulations are in order for Team Liquid. That’s how you end the Spring Split.
Since IEM, Team Liquid has gone 5-1 over the last three weeks, including upsets over Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, and Cloud 9. You can’t help but root for a team that starts three rookies and has visibly improved week after week to get to this point.
Losing IWDominate and Xpecial at the beginning of the split seemed to be a step back, but Matt in the support position and Dardoch in the jungle have proven to be adequate replacements. Matt has stepped into a much-needed leadership position with his calm demeanor, adding a controlling voice in team fights.
The main concern surrounding Dardoch replacing IWDominiate was if his champion pool could hold up for an entire split. That question has been answered emphatically. Teams have had to ban Nidalee away from him, and his Lee Sin has been on the level of Cloud 9’s Rush. He’s also picked up wins playing Graves and Rek’sai.
Team Liquid’s third rookie, Lourlo, has been a great addition to the top lane as well. He’s found a real niche playing tanky top laners, securing a 100 percent win rate on Nautilus and Tahm Kench. He’s allowed Team Liquid to play the type of game they want to, enabling Fenix in the mid lane and Piglet at AD Carry.
Team Liquid has a great nucleus of players moving forward. Starting the split, the team announced they would field a ten man roster. After some experimenting, it’s evident Liquid has found the core they need moving forward. Securing the fourth place spot in the North America LCS this split is no small feat.
They’ll be a tough out in the playoffs as well.
Oh Team SoloMid, that’s not how you do it
Tean SoloMid seems to be in our weekly recap, but for good reasons. The organization brought in superstar players across the board to pair with one of the best mid laners in the world, Bjergsen. Things haven’t worked out though, and this type of failure is unprecedented for longtime fans of the NA LCS.
Team SoloMid entered week 9 in the fourth place position, only needing to win one of their two games to stay there. Playing against Immortals wasn’t an easy out, but NRG was a winnable game. Losing both meant TSM found themselves in an unusual place – the sixth seed.
The only two series that TSM has won outright this split have been against Echo Fox and Team Impulse. Not exactly top-tier teams. That left the team at 9-9, a record that could have been even worse considering some of the comeback wins that TSM pulled out at the beginning of the split.
Nothing has gone the way TSM planned during the offseason. Fnatic import YellOwStaR has largely disappointed all split, not playing with the same confidence we saw last year. His pairing with former Counter Logic Gaming AD Carry, Doublelift, was projected to be one of the most dominant bottom lanes in North America. Not only do they seem incompatible, but their communication has been extremely lackluster.
Hauntzer started out the split as the most consistent player for TSM, but has since fallen to a 3.0 KDA with a 60 percent Kill Participation. Jungler Svenskeren has performed exactly like the player he was brought in to replace, Santorin, which is not a good thing. He finished the Spring Split with the third-most deaths (61 deaths) and a 2.4 KDA.
Bjergsen has even appeared off at times this split, going away from his assassin/carry champion pool to help stabilize the team with more utility-oriented champions.
This could be the first split in LCS history that doesn’t feature TSM in the finals. When team owner Reginald has to come in and coach, you know the team is in full desperation mode. They can only blame themselves for being in this position though. Now it’s time to step up as a team , forget about their past failures, and try and pull off some upsets in the playoffs.
Now on to our playoff preview, which you’re definitely going to want to read should you plan on making a visit to a top esports betting site during the playoffs.
NA LCS Spring Playoff preview
With our playoff preview we’ll be taking a look at each team, providing our own analysis and rankings for how we feel each team will perform. Our ranking will be in descending order, with our perceived weakest team starting out first.
Immortals will unquestionably be the favorites to win with esports betting odds makers the playoffs after a dominating Spring Split. Dark horse Team Liquid is in a prime position to make a few upsets after closing out the split as one of the hottest teams.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be an exciting NA playoffs with plenty of headlines to follow.
6. NRG eSports
NRG reminds me a lot of TSM, containing some of the same problems that we alluded to in our TSM recap. This is a roster full of individually talented players, but the team has not figured out how to synergize and consistently win.
We’ve seen glimpses of what NRG can do, and week 9 was a great paradigm to their season. When the team plays right and communicates properly, NRG can pull off upsets, like their day two win against TSM. We also saw what can happen when things don’t go right for NRG, such as their performance against Counter Logic Gaming on day one.
A language barrier seems to be one of the biggest inhibiting factors, with half the team composed of Americans and the other half composed of Korean imports. Individual talent is trumped by teamwork, and it’s hard to quickly translate strategies in the middle of a team fight.
Regardless of how NRG finishes in the playoffs, the Spring Split can be seen as a success for them. It may not be as successful as inaugural team Immortals, but making the playoffs is still a great way to end the team’s first-ever split.
5. Team SoloMid
Team SoloMid was supposed to be competing against Immortals for the top spot, but that’s why we play the game. It’s been a rough split, but nothing can make those struggles a distant memory more than making it to the finals in the playoffs. In order to do that, a lot has to change.
For starters, the team has to communicate amongst each other at all levels of the game. Losing lane swaps, abandoning lanes, and just not finding the right plays at the right time in the early game have to change. This also applies to team fights in the mid-to-late game, where the team’s lack of synergy clearly comes out.
A couple weeks of scrimmaging before the playoffs will help this team, but not enough to make it out of the first round. Cloud 9 is a far superior team that doesn’t have the same communication issues that TSM has.
4. Team Liquid
Just making it to the fourth seed in the playoffs is a huge success for Team Liquid after the start they had. This is also the same organization that finished in first place in the last split, only to lose to Cloud 9 during the gauntlet tournament and completely miss out on Worlds.
After replacing 60 percent of their roster during the Spring Split, Team Liquid has really come into their own. In the last week, they’ve taken down two of the teams ranked above them.
They’ll be a huge threat in the playoffs, and we can see them taking care of business against NRG eSports in round one.
3. Counter Logic Gaming
The offseason wasn’t exciting for CLG, dropping both their AD Carry, Doublelift, and mid laner, Pobelter in favor of other players within the organization.
They adapted to their new team composition, primarily focusing on the split pushing ability of Darshan. Stixxay has shown glimmers of greatness at AD Carry, but he also suffers from inconsistent play that we often see from rookies.
CLG was the only team to take a game off of Immortals this split and they’re well deserved of the second seed and first round bye that they achieved. However, the team will need to develop new strategies to earn victory. The top lane meta is starting to shift, and teams have learned how to play against CLG when Darshan just split pushes the entire game.
We’ve seen what happens when teams shut down Darshan, and Team Liquid, Cloud 9, or Immortals have the ability to do just that. CLG hasn’t shown enough when this win condition is taken away, and that’s a huge weakness for a top tier team.
For that reason, we’ve ranked CLG in third place.
2. Cloud 9
Cloud 9 will be disappointed with the way they ended their Spring Split, but if you had told them at the beginning of the year they would finish in third place they would be more than satisfied. We don’t anticipate the loss to Team Liquid to have any impact on the team’s mentality, either.
The infusion of Hai at the support position has been a huge boost to the team. His shot calling and play making abilities are still world class, something Bunny FuFu struggled with at the beginning of the split. The team remains one of North America’s favorite, and they’ll have plenty of fan support during the playoffs.
The addition of Rush in the jungle started out rocky, but he’s really come into his own as the split has progressed. Jensen has also continued to improve and it’s likely he will surpass Bjergsen as the top mid laner in North America very soon.
Balls still suffers from consistency issues, but his game play has improved as well from last year.
Cloud 9’s major weakness has been their team composition. They’ve elected to go with early aggressive champions, often neglecting to even draft tanky, front line champions. It’s been great at times, such as Balls Gangplank against TSM. It’s also been a huge detriment, such as their game against CLG where they couldn’t stand up to their tanky damage.
Cloud 9 will look to find that magic they displayed during the summer gauntlet tournament last year, but this time from a more favorable seeding position and without needing reverse sweeps.
Unlike TSM, Immortals has lived up to the preseason hype. A roster filled with veteran talent hit it off right away, securing an 18 minute and 20 second victory against Team Impulse in week one (an NA LCS record). They haven’t looked back since, only losing to Counter Logic Gaming in an epic game, finishing the Spring Split at 17-1.
Huni and Reignover proved they were a huge reason that Fnatic went undefeated last year in Europe. Reignover currently has the third highest KDA at 8.3.
WildTurtle was an unknown commodity after being cut by TSM, but has bounced back to claim the title of top AD Carry in North America in almost every category. He’s currently number one in KDA (7.0) and total kills (104) for AD Carries.
Adrian currently holds the top KDA (8.7) in the NA LCS and is a large reason for WildTurtle’s bounce back year. He’s played amazingly all split and was a great find for Immortals. Rounding out the roster is CLG castoff, Pobelter. All he’s done this split is post the second highest KDA (8.5) in the NA LCS.
Despite the 17-1 record, Immortals has shown subtle weaknesses. CLG was able to abuse Huni early, allowing Darshan to become the split pushing beast that ultimately ended Immortals perfect season. The team also struggled against bottom-tier talent, such as Dignitas and Renegades.
Immortals suffer from some of the same issues that Cloud 9 does. At times, the team neglects to draft any front line champions, leaving themselves vulnerable in team fights that they don’t engage in. Their draft and ban phase has also felt stale at times, with teams figuring out how to deal with Huni.
This will be Immortals’ first playoff as a team, and we’ll get to see how they adapt within a best of three series. So far, there’s no indication that Immortals won’t translate their regular season success into the playoffs.