It is finally that time of year again. The summer split has come to an end and the worthy are advancing to playoffs. Here are some quick thoughts on each team playing in the quarterfinals this week.
After solidifying themselves the 3rd place spot, 100 thieves are looking poised to take control in playoffs. Beating Flyquest and Echofox in the tiebreaker matches proved that their early game dominance can be translated into a late-game victory. With an all-star line up of veterans, 100 Thieves are looking to best Flyquest once again in the quarterfinals this weekend.
100 Thieves have an astonishing early game presence. They never get too cocky and only take fights that they know will not result in a death. They also have excellent team play. The team tends to follow each other’s calls, even if they are poor. While that can be a weakness, there are many teams that seem unsure of what to do in a fight that they don’t agree with. Furthermore, the team keeps a high moral while in game. Cody Sun admitted that when he was “feeding” bottom lane, Ssumday kept his head in the game, helping him pull through a big win. Trust in your teammates can go a long way and 100 Thieves seem to understand that. On top of this, each player shows an advanced knowledge of the overall game and its details. Ssumday, Cody Sun, and Ryu all show mechanical skill while Aphromoo and AnDa have an exceptional understanding of pressure and macro play. Prolly, the team’s coach understands what it takes to make a team work. As a retired player, he respects and admires them. Leading them to do great things on the rift.
While I listed the passive early gameplay as a strength, it can also be abused by other teams. 100 Thieves rarely go past river unless it’s toward or take a camp. They seem to have a plan going in the pre-20 minute portion of the game. That being said, if a team uses this to their advantage by drafting a strong early game roaming composition, 100 Thieves can become reactive and lose sight of the game plan. We typically see this happen once Baron spawns. Someone will become complacent with being the sole playmaker and make a bad call on a seemingly easy target. Since the 100 Thieves’ plans to always follow a call, it typically leads to a disorganized team fight that pushes past river on to the enemy side of the map giving the advantage to the opponents.
Team Solo Mid
Team Solo Mid is the old guard of the LCS. They have been one of a few distinguished names in League’s competitive history. While in previous years TSM would be a top 3 team guaranteed, they haven’t seemed like themselves lately. Poor calls, disorganized team fights, and uncharacteristic mistakes have plagued them in the latest season of the championship series. After almost being relegated from playoffs for the first time in the team’s history, Team Solo Mid had a solid showing to secure a spot. They shut out Optic to gain the lead over them in the standings. Then followed up that performance by decimating Team Liquid with Bjergsen’s Akali. Going 1-1 in the tiebreaker matches, losing only to Echo Fox through a horrible split push call. That being said, they will again be facing Echo Fox in the quarterfinal.
Later in the summer split, TSM started to show some promise. After going 4-0 in their last few games of the season, they showed their complete dominance in objective control. They allowed 5 dragons to their 15. They also didn’t give up a single baron and acquired 8 for themselves. The control of neutral objectives reflects their win ratio in most cases. The prioritization of global threat champions like Gangplank, Tahm Kench, Ryze, and Galio could be a way to push objective control and eventually a victory. On top of this, TSM seems to prioritize lane dominance and split pushing. Applying pressure and forcing opponents to make choices can lead them to an advantageous position.
Even with an advantage in lanes and neutral objectives, Team Solo Mid tend to outplay themselves. Most of the late game fights they take are scrappy. They seem to have a lack of communication or understanding when it comes to playing around the objectives. This could prove to be a hindrance when playing against teams like Team Liquid or 100 Thieves on even ground. The prioritization of splitting should lead to all around advantage in managing objectives, yet Team Solo Mid look foolish when they decide to stay in the side lanes for a little too long. One case of this was during the tiebreaker against Echo Fox. Bjergsen pushed out the top lane so they could control the Echo Fox Baron push. Echo Fox were all bottom, leaving him an open lane to take a top inhibitor tower. However, instead of answering the push top with a recall, Echo Fox used the last seconds of Baron to demolish the bottom lane and take the victory, leaving fans scratching their heads. It seems disorganized shot calling is being masked by great individual play.
The last split, Echo Fox looked poised to take the whole thing. After a bad loss and a couple of switches made to the team’s roster, Echo Fox is looking genuine but still a little unstable at times. This week they look to take on TSM, a team that they have given trouble to in the past.
Echo Fox is an aggressive team. They like to stack the odds in their favor by attempting to take any early leads they can. Huni and Dardoch both know how to apply pressure on a losing lane. Dardoch seems to have some divine power to be at the right place at the right time. He effectively bullies other junglers, forcing them to make bad decisions in the early game. That being said once Echo Fox finds a fight past their side of the river, it’s up to fate. Drafting a strong early game, as well as holding strong late game utility can prove effective for Echo Fox. This is why they typically do well against TSM. If they find a fight near an objective, they will look for the kills rather than withdrawing up to a favorable position. With some stronger calls and a stronger late game presence, Echo Fox could see some more wins.
With an aggressive playstyle, Echo Fox can find themselves in fights they weren’t even looking to start. Sometimes they take skirmishes when they don’t have the big picture of what is happening around them. Early game this could prove beneficial due to a lack of vision and champion abilities, but when that 20-minute mark hits, Other teams see an opening to use Echo Fox’s aggressive playstyle against them. This is especially true with the stopwatch, where a heavily outnumbered and out of position enemy can gain extra time for teammates to bail them out. In the tiebreaker games, a fight would break out and Echo Fox would wind up turning tail and drop to the enemy carries. This is due to the fact a fight was started without complete awareness of what was around them. Even after successful disengages, a player saw an opportunity to pounce and was burned for it.
It may seem FlyQuest made it to the top of the standings in some extraordinary set of break out games to push them into a chance to claim a 3rd place spot, but this is not the case. The last 4 games, excluding the game against C9, were against teams that were below them in the standings. FlyQuest still does deserve to be in playoffs. They showed that they are better than the teams below them in the standings. They even took some games from higher ranked teams like Liquid and 100 Thieves in the middle of the split.
WILDTURTLE went crazy in his first game on Monday. He abused Cody Sun and picked up a couple of solo kills to boot. Turtle knows what to do when it comes to taking advantage of a lead. Santorin is proving to be a problem for other junglers. He is threatening yet methodical in his playstyle. They have this unusual talent to make teams look stupid. Against both 100 Thieves and TSM, during the regular season, FlyQuest saw themselves in a losing scenario only to walk up a lane and steal a win. On top of this, Flame and Keane are strong mechanically and with some efficient peel, they might be able to really pull out some clean wins. Securing an engage jungle for Santoren and a bruiser top lane for Flame can leave Jayj to play a stronger peel support like Braum or Tahm Kench. Leaving Keane to pick last to counter pick his lane opponent.
While Santoren and Turtle show moments of brilliance, they are still only as strong as their team. Flame and Keane are poised for a rough time against some of the leagues best in their respective lanes. If they make it past Ssumday and Ryu, they will most likely face off against Pobelter and Impact. While Turtle lit up Cody Sun last time they faced off, they couldn’t secure the win. After losing a skirmish a little later in the game, FlyQuest seemed to become timid. They were still in the lead but they lost their poise. Since 100 Thieves had drafted a stronger late game team, they made their way back and took down FlyQuest. The team looks messy in fights. This might be why some of the games they took away from top teams were by pushing down a lane rather than fighting. In fights, they try to find a pick on a carry rather than peel their own. If they want to upset 100 Thieves this week, they will need to allow Turtle and Keane to start fights with utility picks like Ashe, Varus, Orianna, and Zoe.
Echo Fox 3 – 2 Team Solo Mid
Even with their strong showing before the end of the summer split, TSM just doesn’t have what it takes to win right now. Echo Fox is 3-0 this split against TSM. Even when TSM had a lead in neutral objectives, Echo Fox found a way to win. Dardoch and Huni out match TSM’s respective top and jungle. Grig feels like he is being told what to do rather than doing what he feels is right. On top of this, Hauntzer is not having a great season. I expect it to be close because of TSM’s great objective and split pushing pressure but I think Echo Fox will seal the deal on game 5.
100 Thieves 3 – 1 FlyQuest
FlyQuest made it to playoffs fair and square. They, However, feel really disorganized. They take early triumphs and push it into late game to secure a victory. This is exactly what 100 Thieves are expecting. 100 Thieves excel at a slow and safe early game, meaning FlyQuest will most likely find themselves behind at 20. With a cool-headed approach, 100 Thieves will not rush things. That being said, I expect FlyQuest to completely decimate 100 Thieves to take a win before falling. 100 Thieves will take it in game 4.