Brandon Sturak

Brandon Sturak

Brandon is a Niagara University graduate with a passion for esports. He writes about League of Legends and esports, with analysis and commentary on both. He is a founding member Niagara University Esports, the previous mid laner and current Head Coach for the NU Esports LoL team. Twitter @GhandiLoL

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League of Legends: LCS Summer 2019 Playoff Preview

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The LCS Summer Split is reaching its inevitable end. Six teams emerged from the fires of the regular season and are ready to take to Summoner's Rift to fight for a spot in the Finals. These six teams fought hard to secure their spots with hopes of making their way to the World Championships. Many of the teams in the post-season are staples in North American League of Legends, including Team Liquid, Cloud9, Team SoloMid ("TSM") and Counter Logic Gaming ("CLG"). Clutch Gaming and OpTic Gaming are newer to the scene but definitely proved their worth this split.

All the teams have a lot to prove in playoffs. The likes of Team Liquid and Cloud9 have high expectations to perform for, especially since they're predicted to go to Worlds. Meanwhile, TSM and CLG are out to restore themselves to their former glory and show they're still contenders for the title. Lastly, Clutch and OpTic want to create their own legacies in the league. With so much on the line, these series will be incredible to watch!

The Top Teams

Going into the post-season, Team Liquid is the most likely team to win it all. They ended the Summer Split with a 14-4 record and were extremely dominant throughout the season. In addition, they won the Spring Split and even made it to the MSI Finals this year, so it's hard to downplay their talent. Their players are arguably the best in their roles in NA, so adding their fantastic teamwork to that creates a team that may be unstoppable. Their bottom lane is the focus of this team, as Doublelift and CoreJJ are a powerful duo, but Impact improved significantly this year. His champion pool expanded greatly and he's strong carry player now.

Cloud9 is pretty closely behind Team Liquid though. They always manage to make their way to Worlds, and even when they're considered weaker than other NA teams, they make it farther than the rest. This year, Cloud9 has solidified themselves as the second-best team but has the potential to be the best. Their creativity in draft and with substitutes can give them distinct advantages against many other teams. Cloud9 also has some great talent of their own, especially in Svenskeren and Nisqy, who've had a superb split.

Its been a while since CLG has been a top-tier team, but they're back and ready to fight. CLG has struggled the past couple of years, but the changes they made this year certainly worked out for them. Wiggily, despite a relative lack of experience, is a top-performer for the team and is a catalyst for his laners' success. Furthermore, PowerOfEvil continues to perform at a very high level. His performances are noteworthy and a big reason for many of his team's victories. CLG slumped at the end of the split, their peak form is terrifying.

The Underdogs

Long-time fans of the LCS will certainly remember the time of TSM dominance. They own a host of LCS titles, but ever since Team Liquid's rise, they've failed to reach that place again. They came close last split but were reverse swept by Liquid in the Finals. Though they have capable players, such as Bjergsen, Zven and Smoothie, they haven't been able to bring it all together. Their playoff run will come down to how well they play with their new jungler, Mingyi "Spica" Lu, who is replacing Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham. TSM has the potential to go far but if they don't show improvement it will be difficult for them.

Next up is Clutch Gaming, who made quite an exceptional run this season. Clutch ended with a 5-13 record in the Spring Split, so no one expected much from them this split, but they refined their aggressive playstyle and grabbed the fifth playoff spot. The team is finally able to make better decisions and looks quite a bit more coordinated. They still have that all-in mentality, which is beneficial for players like Huni and Lira, but are performing more as a team. They probably won't hoist the trophy, but can play upset for other teams.

Last but not least is OpTic Gaming. OpTic, like Clutch, had a lackluster record last split and failed to make playoffs. Seeing as they didn't make any roster moves, most placed little faith in them to make any significant improvements. But OpTic defied the odds, coming out swinging and defeating opponent after opponent at the beginning of the split. Though they fell off in the middle of the split, they fought hard and well on the last day of the split to secure their playoffs spot.

Upcoming Matches

The first two games of the post-season start this weekend. First off is TSM versus Clutch, a rematch from the 2018 Spring Split Quarterfinals. In that series, Clutch did pull off the huge upset on TSM and knocked the iconic LCS team out of playoffs. It is totally possible that this happens again, but TSM is still favored. Clutch's aggressive style with unexpected flex picks is best in a single game match. On the other hand, TSM plays a more standard style and has a wealth of experience to draw from for a best-of-five series. The biggest question will lie on TSM Spica's performance. If Clutch can bully him around, they can find advantages all over the map and snowball a lead to victory. If Spica does perform to the level he needs to, then it will be a close series, with TSM more likely to be victorious.

The second series will be played by CLG and OpTic. Last weekend, viewers witnessed these two teams go up against each other, and CLG won. If the teams play at the same levels here, it should be in favor of CLG again. Their recent games cause a lot of worry for the team, but at their peak they were fantastic. If CLG returns to the form they used to contest the top-two spot, they'll have the definite advantage. The main focus of this matchup will be on the mid-jungle duos, as both teams' star players are in those roles. The top and bottom lanes are relatively even in terms of strength, but considering Dhokla's recent pop-off performances, it may be enough to tip the scales in OpTic's favor.

LCS Playoffs Broadcast

No matter who wins, these matchups will deliver a ton of exciting games! These first two series will be played this weekend. TSM versus Clutch will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. PST/5 p.m. EST. CLG versus OpTic will take place on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. PST/ 3:00 EST.

Watch the LCS here at ESTNN TV. For more information on the tournament, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Stay tuned here at ESTNN and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more League of Legends news, articles, opinions and more.


Images via LoL Esports and LoL Esports Flickr.

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