With the last 2016 North America League Championship Series (NA LCS) Summer Regular Season matches completed, the six teams competing in the playoffs are locked in.
- Team SoloMid (17-1)
- Immortals (16-2)
- Cloud9 (12-6)
- Counter Logic Gaming (10-8)
- Team Liquid (9-9)
- Team EnVyUs (8-10)
Having secured the 1st and 2nd seed, Team SoloMid and Immortals, respectively, are given a first round bye. Cloud9 will face off against Team EnVyUs while Counter Logic Gaming must play against Team Liquid in the quarterfinals. The lower seed between the two victorious teams must then compete against Team SoloMid for a spot in the grand finals. The remaining team must play against Immortals in the second semifinals match. Each match will be a Bo5 series.
Cloud9 (12-6) vs. Team EnVyUs (8-10)
After a shaky 2016 Spring Split and some roster changes, Cloud9 (C9) has emerged as the 3rd seed going into playoffs. Their six loses were to Team SoloMid (0-2), Immortals (0-2), Counter Logic Gaming (1-1), and Team Liquid (1-1). Notice that those four teams are all at the top of the standings along with C9. In other words, they are undefeated against the mid to lower-tier teams. With Sneaky’s consistent all-star performances, and Meteos and Jensen finally working efficiently together, C9 is a force to be reckoned with.
Team EnVyUs (NV) started this split strong, but failed to maintain their dominant performance. As other teams began to improve their strategies and synergy, NV flatlined. This reality is made apparent by observing their horrendous 2-7 record in the second half of the split. To say NV is struggling right now would be an understatement. Nevertheless, their star players Seraph and Ninja are still threats to respect.
There is not much analysis to be done for this matchup. Cloud9 has better players in every single role and a more developed playbook. C9 should be able to sweep NV 3-0 or lose one game at most. I believe C9 will stay consistent with their regular season record and not lose to a mid-tier team like NV. If C9 wins this series as predicted, then they will play against Immortals in the semifinals, which would be a much closer and exciting series.
Counter Logic Gaming (10-8) vs. Team Liquid (9-9)
Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) was a huge disappointment at the beginning of the regular season. After winning the 2016 North America Spring Split and placing second at the Mid-Season Invitational, CLG was expected to destroy their opposition during this split. This was obviously not the case when their record settled at 4-5 after the first half of the split, only managing to beat the four worst teams at the time.
Their performance in the second half of the split was much more impressive, only losing to Team SoloMid, Immortals, and Team Apex. Under the leadership of veteran Support player Aphromoo, CLG’s underrated all-star roster is looking to make a resurgence in power.
CLG might be returning to their previous form, but there is no denying that the gap between them and Team SoloMid and Immortals is far too wide. The biggest concern I have for CLG is their tendency to lose early on. An early deficit against much weaker teams is not an immense problem, but top-tier teams will snowball a small lead into a victory.
Team Liquid (TL) has historically been a squad that always fell a bit short. When they look good, they look great, but unfortunately for them, they are far too inconsistent. At the beginning of the split, TL surprised viewers by announcing that they would be starting Moon in the Jungle role instead of Dardoch, the “Rookie of the Split” for the 2016 Spring Split. Moon was not able to deliver an acceptable performance and was subsequently replaced by Dardoch, who clearly functions much better with their roster.
Shortly after, TL announced another big change to their roster. Former World Champion Marksman, Piglet, was replaced by Fabbbyyy. The news wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t too surprising either. Piglet displayed a significant decrease in mechanical skill, and was falling further and further behind the other contenders for the best Marksman player in North America, such as Sneaky from Cloud9 and Doublelift from Team SoloMid. Overall, the changes TL made to their roster had a positive influence on their results.
TL ended 5-4 after the first half of the split, mainly losing to the top teams at the time (with the exception of CLG, but that can be somewhat attributed to their weaker starting roster at that point). Their record in the second half of the split was 4-5, again, mainly losing to the top teams. The biggest focus for TL should be consistency. If they can find consistency in their performance, then they have a shot at finally contending with the top teams.
Both Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid has shown strengths and weaknesses throughout the 2016 Summer Regular Season. CLG is 2-0 in their head-to-head matchup, but that is not indicative of how close these two teams are. Either team can emerge victorious in this series, but I believe CLG is slightly favored. CLG’s growth through the regular season has been far greater than that of TL’s. With more time to practice and improve, CLG should be able to beat TL 3-2 or 3-1.
I might CLG in this matchup, but TL has a real possibility to take this series. As previously stated, CLG tends to lose the early game. If TL can successfully play aggressively and gain momentum early on without making large mistakes, then they can fully expose CLG’s biggest weakness.
Now that you have read my thoughts on the quarterfinal matchups for the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split Playoffs, make sure to let me know if you agree or disagree with my predictions!