League Championship Series: Week 9 Predictions

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League Championship Series: Week 9 Predictions

The last week of the Spring Split is finally upon us! There are multiple matches with important playoff implications set for the weekend. Five teams are fighting it out for the last two remaining playoff spots, while C9, TSM, and FlyQuest are looking to solidify their position in the standings.

The big match of the weekend will be between TSM and TL, even if it does not have any impact on the standings, it can be a potential teaser for this Spring's finals. Our League of Legends writers look to predict each of the upcoming LCS matches.

Saturday, March 23rd

Echo Fox vs. Team Liquid

Team Liquid kicks off our last week of the regular season with a match against Echo Fox. This match clearly means much more to Echo Fox as they are fighting for one of the last two remaining playoff spots. Team Liquid has nothing but pride to play for, as they are locked into first place. It is not impossible to see Fox pull off an upset, something they did against Cloud9 the week prior.


Brandon: Team Liquid. Though Echo Fox took an upset win over Cloud9 and Team Liquid lost to FlyQuest, it's unlikely TL drops another game here. TL, though proven mortal by their two losses, is still far and above the best team in the league.


Manny: Team Liquid. Sadly, I do not believe in the 14-4 dream, and it feels improbable that TL will make the same mistakes that C9 committed against Echo Fox. This is a must-win game for Echo Fox to have a real shot at making it into the playoffs. I do not see TL dropping this game unless they give up Azir.


Major: Team Liquid. This game is much more important from Echo Fox’s point of view than from Liquid’s. However, Liquid is more likely to bounce back from their loss last week than Echo Fox is to win straight up. TL has the power and advantage in every position. Given that FOX doesn’t win on Saturdays, this one goes to TL.


Ibriz: Team Liquid. While inconsequential for their own sakes, I’d say Liquid is more than willing (and capable) to smash this game and make a statement.

OpTic Gaming vs. Golden Guardians

This might not seem like the most important matchup, but it has deep playoff implications; because with a win here from either team, would put them one step closer to securing one of the two remaining spots. GGS has not been playing the most consistent so, It is possible that GGS could falter straight out, even if they are starting with a win more than the rest. OpTic needs the victory to have the highest chance possible to make it into the playoffs, as ending the week 2-0 would result in a tiebreaker at the bare minimum.


Brandon: OpTic Gaming. OPT has struggled, and GGS are looking pretty good, but in my opinion, OPT can be stronger than their record indicates. Their ability to use Meteos and Dardoch is underrated, and Crown looks excellent this season. It will likely be a close game, but OPT definitely has the tools to win.


Manny: Golden Guardians. Roster inconsistencies included I feel like OpTic are the team that looks most vulnerable in this race, it is still likely that they can win, but GGS seems like the favorable matchup. Even when Hauntzer is playing less than optimal, it does still feel that the Guardians can rely on Froggen and Contractz to pull them along to the finish line.


Major: OpTic Gaming. The fact that there is still a tie at this point in the split is fascinating. The fact that OpTic can still make the playoffs is equally as amazing. While they had an unfortunate week last time, they’ll be fighting as hard as possible. It would undoubtedly be an emotional wrecker for them to come within one game of playoffs two splits in a row. While Golden Guardians have been strong lately, OpTic has the tools to win, provided they don’t leave Dhokla out to dry.


Ibriz: Golden Guardians. In an ideal world, playoffs to me look like TL/C9/TSM/FLY/GGS/CLG, but who knows what this week will bring? Ideal scenarios aside, Optic look to be slumping and GGS are on the rise – provided Deftly doesn’t get exposed by the dynamic duo of Crown and Meteos.

TSM vs. Clutch Gaming

TSM is looking to end the split on a high note and Clutch is the perfect team to do it against. Clutch Gaming has always been a thorn on the side of TSM, but a convincing win can show the world that TSM might be gearing up for a comeback. Clutch is looking to win against TSM to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Brandon: TSM. TSM is on the rise, hoping to challenge the like of C9 and TL. CG, on the other hand, has shown sparks of brilliance but fails to bring the wins together. This should be a relatively easy victory for TSM if they stay calm and collected.


Manny: TSM. It really seems like a distant reality to last year when TSM could not make into worlds, and with this TSM lineup, we start to see that the old kings are looking to challenge the throne. TSM is statistically the best team in the second half of the split and could end the split with an 11-1 run if they perform well this weekend, which I feel like will be the likely scenario.


Major: TSM.  As part of the “teams who struggled early but have since dominated” group, TSM is back where they belong. After going 2-4 in the first three weeks, they have since recorded nine wins in ten games. Clutch is in the “teams who started hot and have since struggled” group. While they are still mathematically in reach of the playoffs, TSM is going to crush those dreams.

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Ibriz: TSM. TSM isn't usually my first choice – especially considering what they did to CLG last weekend – but I would be a poor gambler if I didn’t take this as a free win for the boys in black and white.

Cloud9 vs. FlyQuest

Cloud9 suffered an uncharacteristic loss to Echo Fox the last week, but it feels that was a fluke. It would be ludicrous to believe that C9 is not in the Top 3 teams in NA. FlyQUest, on the other hand, encountered a resurgence, surging behind some impressive WildTurtle performances. This should be a straightforward game for Cloud9, but do not count out FlyQuest that wants to challenge TSM for a 3rd place finish.


Brandon: Cloud9. FLY defeated TL, which is a truly stunning feat, but it was an upset. They happen, and bringing down C9 too would be a long shot. C9 are still seated nicely in second place and demonstrate many great characteristics; while FLY has struggled to stay in the top four.


Manny: FlyQuest. This game is a close one, but I feel that the last week usually has surprises. Cloud9 only require one win to be locked into second place. But I do think that this will be a tough match against an up swinging FlyQuest and thus believe that FLY will be able to pull through.


Major: Cloud 9. Sure, FlyQuest pulled off a miracle against TL. Sure, Cloud 9 is not as strong a team, on paper, as TL. But Cloud9 is also not TL in almost every way, including the losing to FlyQuest part. While C9 had a slip-up against Echo Fox, they rebounded immediately against OpTic. FlyQuest will be feeling good, and C9 have a chance to knock them down a peg.


Ibriz: FlyQuest. What was a bigger surprise? Fox’s victory over Cloud9, or Fly’s over Liquid? Either way, you’re looking at a contender for a potential semifinals appearance versus a team that only just got back into some semblance of their form from earlier in the split. Flyquest looks to continue their punishing macro from last weekend, especially with Zeyzal looking as uncharacteristically disjointed as he has as of recent.

CLG vs. 100 Thieves

100 Thieves is the only team that is officially out of the playoff race, this, however, does not mean that they can’t play spoiler against some of the other teams that are in the clump. CLG showed some improvement when they faced TSM last week, but they are not one of the favorite teams, in my opinion, to make it into the last two spots. They will prove that they should be in everyone’s minds if they are able to cleanly pull off a win against the last team in the league.


Brandon: CLG. CLG is on the hunt for a playoffs spot, and it's doubtful they'll lose it to 100T. The 100T roster is still performing poorly even after swapping out Huhi for Soligo, and it's unlikely the rookie will be able to stand up to CLG's strong mid laner, PowerOfEvil.


Manny: CLG.  I feel like the only way you vote against CLG in this game is that you are delusional, or you just really hate CLG. Realistically CLG can drop this game due to the massive inconsistencies that have been shown throughout the year, but I still profoundly believe that CLG can pull off this win with ease.


Major: CLG. The last time I trusted 100 Thieves, they let me down. I think there are simply too many glaring problems with 100T that won’t be fixed by Saturday. CLG, on the other hand, has made great strides since the early weeks, and look like a solid, playoff-capable team.


Ibriz: CLG. This is their last chance to prove that they too deserve a playoffs spot, and I believe they can make a statement versus “CLG Red” as it were – unfortunately no longtime CLG mid laner Huhi to face down a surging PoE, but there’s still the gigantic question for 100t in former CLG franchise player Aphromoo running it down bot lane.

Sunday, March 24th

Golden Guardians vs. FlyQuest

This is probably the biggest match of the week in terms of impact on playoffs qualification. GGS really want the chance to qualify for their first playoffs and the only way to guarantee that is by winning two matches. If the Golden Guardians are able to go 1-1for the weekend, they could force a tiebreaker game, in a worst-case scenario. FlyQuest would want to go for the 3rd place finish, but that would require TSM to drop both of their games as well.


Brandon: FlyQuest. These two teams are right next to each other in the standings, but FLY looks far ahead of GGS. FLY has tremendous momentum with their victory against TL, and if they perform at that level; this match should be no problem.


Manny: FlyQuest. Flyquest started off strong and then seemed to have disappeared during the midpoint of the split. Now they seem to be back in form and will be looking to finish the split as strong as possible. GGS can win, but it does not appear that they are able to break through against the top half of the standings. I think it is unlikely that they will do so now.


Major: FlyQuest. The outcome of FLY/C9 and OPT/GGS may affect the outcome here heavily. If GGS wins against OpTic and FlyQuest loses, then this one gets interesting. I think FlyQuest should take this one regardless. It’s mathematically impossible for them to drop out of playoffs, so that lets them play their best games.


Ibriz: Flyquest. I have been pleasantly surprised with this team so far, and large parts of that have to be attributed to the solo lanes that changed in the off-season – credit where credit is due, I can only assume that a very much in-form Viper can work his magic versus Hauntzer in the top.

Echo Fox vs. CLG

CLG has the ball in their court to make into playoffs, and if they are unable to do so for a third consecutive split; I feel like even more changes will be necessary if they want to challenge again.  FOX can force a tiebreaker against CLG if they pull off the victory on this one so it might be a powerful momentum boost for them, in the potential result of tiebreaker games.

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Brandon: FOX. This is going to be a relatively close game, but FOX should come out on top. They clearly have a bunch of problems, but with Rush coming back to form, they proved strong enough to defeat C9. If they can tap into that magic again, they can take a game off of CLG for sure.


Manny: CLG. I will have faith that CLG has fixed some of the issues they showed in previous weeks and will be able to prove that they really deserve a spot in the playoffs. Echo Fox, however, do come strongly from a win against C9 and could prove to be troublesome in this game.


Major: CLG. Echo Fox desperately need to win this game. The real question, though, is “can they?” I think the answer is no. Echo Fox just hasn’t been able to rise above the teams around them, despite their obvious potential to do so.


Ibriz: CLG. Playoffs are theirs for the taking; if they can’t at least beat a similarly floundering Echo Fox lineup, then I doubt we were ever going to make a deep run anyway. I keep the faith alive.

Cloud9 vs. Clutch Gaming

Cloud9 has a pretty straight forward weekend in order to reach the playoff bye, and as they face Clutch Gaming, it is highly unlikely, that they are not able to get a win. Clutch Gaming can surprise, but it really does seem unlikely. Clutch will need a miracle to have a chance at playoffs, but truth be told weirder things have happened.


Brandon: Cloud9. C9 is the second best team in the league and CG is sitting as second worst. Both teams have great individual talent, but C9 has brought it together much better than CG. In the end, it shouldn't be too much of a contest.


Manny: Cloud9. Cloud9 are set up to fail because of the relatively easy schedule. It does seem unlikely that C9 will finish below second place. So, this should be a straightforward game for them. Clutch Gaming has not had a good season overall, and I think the best for them is to reset mentally for the summer split.


Major: Cloud 9. Clutch is headed for an unfortunate ending to their split. Cloud9 have gone stride-for-stride with Liquid so far, and this game allows them to continue doing that. While Clutch has shown they can occasionally steal games away, they’ve simply been too inconsistent for me to reliably say that this is one of those times.


Ibriz: Cloud9. Unless Huni shows the hell up and somehow exposes Licorice (who, as we all know, has looked like the best top in NA for quite some time now), I doubt Damonte can put the rest of the team on his back this time around.

TSM vs. Team Liquid

The last big match of the regular season is the match between TSM and TL. It is highly unlikely that this will have any implications in standings. This match is most likely going to be played out for pride and to show fans that they are well prepared for the playoffs.


Brandon: Team Liquid. If TSM somehow does defeat TL, it'll be surprising and concerning, but it's unlikely. TL gave TSM a free win with the Yorick first pick, but they won't let it happen again. TL is still on top, and TSM will have their work cut out for them this weekend.


Manny: TSM. TSM has usually been better off against TL, and I believe that this will still be the case. TL will also have the benefit of the doubt to say that they will be trying things that are not ready for the stage. TSM will want to show that the first win is not just about the Yorick first pick and I think the growth of the squad can show that they really are one of the favorites to win the game.


Major: Team Liquid. Ending the split with one of the most exciting rivalries in the LCS is the only way to go. Last time out, TSM ran over Liquid. TSM is also in much better form than week 4, and Team Liquid has been consistently strong so far. The key match-ups are once again mid and jungle, and I think Jensen wants revenge against Bjergsen more than anything.


Ibriz: Team Liquid. Despite losing to the arguably weaker team of FlyQuest, Liquid tend to do very well versus teams that don’t take complete control of the early game-like TSM. Xmithie versus Akaadian is the matchup to watch here, as Doublelift looks to show his former organization just why they should have been a little more apprehensive in his replacement.

100 Thieves vs. OpTic Gaming

OpTic Gaming wants to have a chance at the playoffs, and I think that the best opportunity to do so is by beating the worst team in the league. This also has the classic rivalry between NadeShot’s 100 Thieves and OpTic Gaming. This can be a fun game, but with how all the games we have seen from 100 Thieves so far, you can imagine this can end up being a snore fest.


Brandon: OpTic Gaming. OPT is in the playoff hunt, and it's hard to think that 100T will come together this late to stop them. It shouldn't be as lopsided as some other matches, but it would be disappointing if OPT lost here.


Manny: OpTic Gaming. OpTic Gaming needs to show that they are far superior from the bottom of the pack. I have faith that they can win against the worst team in the league, just thanks to mid lane difference.


Major: OpTic Gaming. It’s only fair that an OpTic/100 Thieves rivalry match would decide if a team goes to the playoffs. While OpTic looked shaky last week, they’ve shown in the past that they can bounce back. Despite that, 100T is likely an easy opponent for them to wrap up their split.


Ibriz: 100Thieves. The stars align to give CLG a playoffs spot. Please. Please 100thieves. Aphro. Do it for us.

Do you agree with our picks? Which are your favorite teams going into playoffs? Let us know via Twitter.

Manny Gomez
Manny ‘Manstr’ graduated with a degree in game design and development but fell in love with the thrill of esports. Manny has always enjoyed talking about professional League of Legends and FIFA. He has been a published video game journalist in Colombia for two different publications. Twitter: @Manster415