After nine weeks of competition, the regular season of LCS' Spring Split has come to a close. Six teams have advanced to the playoffs, where they will fight to win it all. So far, Cloud9 has dominated, but there are worthy competitors vying for their #1 spot.
The six teams competing in the post-season are Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves, FlyQuest, Team SoloMid and Golden Guardians. Despite setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, all of these teams proved they're the best in the region and have their eyes on the title. There's a lot on the line for the players and organizations, so they'll put everything they have into these last few weeks of competition.
As a note, usually the winner of the Spring Split locks in a spot at the Mid-Season Invitational. Unfortunately, due to world health concerns, the fate of MSI is yet unknown, with some speculating that the tournament will not occur at all. As a result, the teams are fighting primarily for just the LCS trophy and domestic pride, which is still a worthy endeavor indeed.
Seed One: Cloud9
As mentioned before, Cloud9 secured first place in the regular season and seems far and ahead the best team in NA. Truth be told, it's hard to see anyone seriously contesting them for this split's title. They've been nearly unstoppable the entire split, only losing a single game to TSM. With Team Liquid down and out, C9 is more than happy to take their place.
Overall, C9 is great as a unit, but also great individually. The additions of Zven and Vulcan proved to be incredible upgrades for the squad, while the three returning members of Licorice, Blaber and Nisqy are playing at the top of their game too. There aren't really any obvious weak links for other teams to attack with this quality of players.
Similar to some European or Chinese teams, C9 like to play fast and skirmish a lot. Their jungle-mid 2v2 is a particular point of strength, and even if behind, the two can pull off great plays. No matter what the game state is, C9 will want to fight, which is terrifying for all the other LCS teams to play against.
All in all, this is almost certainly their split to win. The region has high hopes on them, now they'll have to prove they can live up to them.
Seed Two: Evil Geniuses
At second place is none other than the Evil Geniuses. Its been an up and down split, but in the end, the organization's first LCS split after years away from the scene was a success. This is especially true when considering the last few weeks of competition where EG truly came online. It was hard to judge them at the beginning, but they've grown tremendously throughout the split and deserve this placement.
Similarly to Cloud9, EG has a fantastic jungle-mid duo. Jiizuke has been popping off and is showcasing his aggressive style and confident play. Next to him is Svenskeren, who has returned to his dominant 2019 Summer Split MVP form. Meanwhile, Bang, who has struggled in NA since he's arrived, finally seems to be finding his footing.
This team also excels in skirmishing. Svenskeren and Jiizuke are the main focus of this, but Zeyzal is great in this regard too. It should be noted too that Kumo, who wasn't looking hot at the beginning of the split, is also looking better. He's not Ssumday or Licorice level yet but is much better at holding his own. This is crucial for EG's playoff success.
Seed Three: 100 Thieves
Up third is the 100 Thieves. Many expected this to be a playoff team, but they landed above most people's expectations of fifth or sixth place. It was a great run, but definitely not without slip-ups. A number of players have underperformed at different times in the split, though to their credit, pulled it together to make a strong final push.
There are two stars in this 100T squad. The first is up in the top name and his name is Ssumday. He's been an incredible player this split, winning nearly every lane and carrying the team on his back when need be. No matter the matchup, Ssumday will find a way to be a menace. Besides him, Cody Sun is the other strongest player on the team. He's always been a reliable carry and that's no different this split. His laning is great and he's a force to be reckoned with in team fights.
Though Meteos, Ryoma and Stunt haven't looked the best at certain points this split, there has been significant growth. Ryoma, in particular, deserves praise for adapting to the level of the LCS. Their first match will be a tough one versus C9, but they're not out of it yet.
Seed Four: FlyQuest
Claiming the number four spot is none other than FlyQuest. Surprisingly, they've been near the top of the standings all split, which was definitely more than what many thought before the split began. Unfortunately, they did drop a couple of spots though towards the end, meaning they're the lowest seed in the Winner's Bracket. So long as they can hold their own, that isn't a huge deal.
For the most part, FlyQuest has a couple of distinct advantages to leverage. The first is Ignar, the support with a champion ocean. He's the explosive playmaker a team like this needs to set up plays and engage team fights. Speaking of champion pools, mid-laner PowerofEvil is a long-time player known for his control mages. No matter what, if POE is on one of "his champions," FlyQuest always has a win condition. Eyes are on him to perform in the post-season.
It should be noted that FlyQuest has undergone some shifts in the top lane. V1per was their starter nearly all split, but towards the end, Solo joined the squad and played in their LCS games. They've swapped back and forth too, and without a full commitment on one player, it could cause instability for FlyQuest's top side of the map. This is something that could hurt them moving forward.
Seed Five: Team SoloMid
Despite having high expectations on them, TSM is the first contender hoping to fight their way through the Loser's Bracket. This has been quite the split for them. At times, they've looked like they could challenge C9 for the title. Indeed, they're the only team to beat them this year. But at other times, they appear completely lost, throwing away 10k gold leads for no reason. It won't be easy for them, but it is possible for this organization to regain its former glory.
The easiest way they can do it is through their top laner, Broken Blade. Without a doubt, he's been the best performer of the squad this year. This player has a ton of talent and can take over games with creative counter picks, like the Qiyana into Aatrox for example. TSM found a great deal of success by playing through him, and the results aren't as good if they don't. He isn't the only carry though, of course. Bjergsen is a North American great, while Kobbe is a reliable late-game carry.
This TSM squad has the potential to do great things, even though their playoff ranking is low. It'll all depend on if they can pull it together, work as a team and stop outplaying themselves in draft.
Seed Six: Golden Guardians
Rounding out the sixth playoff spot is the Golden Guardians. The cards looked to be stacked against them this split, but they prevailed and narrowly clinched the final playoff spot. In all likelihood, they won't have a very deep run, but they can always defy the odds again.
One of their pickups during the offseason was Turkish jungler, Closer. Most people honestly didn't know what to expect from him coming into the season. Despite all the question marks though, Closer has delivered time and time again. His team isn't the strongest, but with Closer leading the charge, they can cause upsets to happen. All eyes will be on him to perform to his best and get his team ahead early.
Lastly, it has to be mentioned that the Keith role swap to support project was considered a failure by GG. Though Keith did show improvement, they decided to swap in Huhi towards the end of the split. The results still weren't great, so it will be interesting to see how the Guardians adapt moving forward.
Winner's Bracket Predictions
The first two matches of the playoffs will be played on April 4th and 5th. On the 4th, FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses will square up on Summoner's Rift. This should be an interesting matchup, but EG definitely has the advantage. PowerofEvil isn't the type to roam and make plays, but Jiizuke is, and if he is unleashed, he'll tear FlyQuest apart all over the map. EG's bot lane as a whole is more reliable too, while Svenskeren will probably easily outclass Santorin in the jungle. In the end, it'll likely be a 3-1 series for the Evil Geniuses.
The second series, which occurs on the 5th, is between Cloud9 and 100 Thieves. You never want to count a team out, but its almost impossible for 100 Thieves to defeat C9. C9 is simply too far ahead of the other teams in the regions with a style that no LCS team can match. The Thieves can try to play through Ssumday, possibly Cody Sun, but C9's armor will probably be too thick to crack. Expect a swift 3-0 for C9 in this series.
Images via Riot Games and LoL Esports Flickr.