The 2016 NA LCS Summer Split has concluded, and now we’re gearing up for the first round of playoffs action. We saw lots of roster experimentation over the course of Summer(return of Kiwikid, the TL Moon era, the fall of Bunnyfufuu), as well as the LCS debut of brand new teams such as Phoenix1, Team Envy, and Apex. All of those storylines have run their course. Now it’s time to determine the best team in North America.
NA LCS Summer Playoffs Quarter-Final Match-ups
The teams competing for the 2016 NA LCS Summer Championship title are: TSM, Immortals, Cloud 9, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid, and Team Envy. The top 2 teams (TSM and Immortals) have earned a direct bye into the semi-finals for finishing atop of the league. That leaves us with Cloud 9 versus Team Envy, and CLG versus Team Liquid for the quarter-final match-ups.
Cloud 9 Versus Team Envy
Remember back in the day when Cloud 9 never made any tweaks to their team whatsoever? A lot has changed since then. This split featured the return of longtime C9 jungler Meteos, Korean top laner Impact’s C9 debut, the emergence of support Smoothie, and former EDG coach Reapered‘s first split holding the reigns. It turns out this was the formula required to finally cure the team’s dependency on mid/jungle/support player Hai. Cloud 9 have looked good, but not great.
Team Envy, formed from the ashes of former LCS team Renegades, continued where they left off prior to disbanding – for the most part. They didn’t quite live up to the “top 2” expectation put on them by Seraph last split, but earning a playoff spot as a “kind of” deserves praise. Coming off a 2-6 set record over the past 4 weeks, Envy will have to show us something new if they want to take a couple games off C9.
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The winner is…
I would be surprised if Envy take a single game off Cloud 9. C9 have NV dominated in terms of individual skill in every lane. Cloud 9’s weak point has been their lack of cohesive team play, but even if they go full dynamic queue in this one they should be alright. Barring a Cloud 9 collapse, or a series of clever cheese strategies from NV, C9 should move on to face Immortals relatively easily.
Prediction: 3-0 for Cloud 9. I don’t think NV has a good cheese strategy in them.
CLG Versus Team Liquid
CLG’s superior strategic play tilts close matchups in their favor.
This has not been the same CLG we saw reach the grand finals of MSI just months ago. This hasn’t even been the same CLG we watched take their second consecutive NA LCS championship. This Summer’s CLG has failed to execute on the high level team play strategies made possible by excellent shot calling which made them such a dangerous threat over the past year. We’ve seen glimpses, but the teams lack of consistency is certainly worrisome. Has all the magic fizzled out?
Team Liquid kicked off the split by suspending their best player due to “insubordination”. The Moon experiment didn’t last long, but shortly after Dardoch’s return the team sent former world champion Piglet down to Team Liquid Academy (NACS). With Piglet gone, Team Liquid’s style of play has changed significantly. Mid laner FeniX is now in charge of carrying games, sometimes with help from Lourlo, with AD carry Fabby acting mostly as a source of utility.
The winner is…
This will be a bloody series. Both teams would love to establish an early lead to boost their confidence and regain their footing. CLG will look to force as many difficult decisions as possible to allow the less experienced Team Liquid to lose games by means of poor shot calling. Team Liquid needs Dardoch to get ahead in order to get FeniX ahead. Huhi has been shaky and will almost certainly be a target for TL.
Prediction: 3-2 for CLG. CLG’s planning and preparation is too good to allow Team Liquid to continue winning the way they have been without Piglet. CLG can absolutely lose this series, especially if they get tilted after an early loss, but I give the edge to Aphromoo’s team here.
Cloud 9 take on Team Envy in a best-of-5 series on August 13th, 2016, at 3PM EST.
Counter-Logic Gaming will face off against Team Liquid in a best-of-5 series on August 14th, 2016, at 3PM EST.