2018 NA LCS Regional Finals Recap: Cloud9 Emerges Triumphant

The very last games of the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals have just finished playing, and we now have determined North America’s third and final representative into the World Championship Tournament in South Korea this coming October.

Much to the surprise of many, the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals have been rather short. Each series have ended with a clean 3-0 sweep by the winning teams. But, even so, that doesn’t mean there isn’t much for us to talk about. On the contrary, there’s a lot to discuss.

Having said that, below are our thoughts about the recently-concluded 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals.

Gauntlet Seeding = Result

2018 NA LCS Regional Finals

The gauntlet format and the schedule is extremely punishing for lower-seeded teams such as Clutch Gaming. (via lolesports Flickr)

Cast your mind back a few weeks and attempt to remember what happened on the tiebreaker day to determine playoff seeding for the summer playoffs. The first matchups of the day (Team SoloMid vs Echo Fox and 100 Thieves vs FlyQuest) became the matchups that the tiebreakers resulted into. What happened in the whole of the gauntlet is similar to that.

In all of the matches, the higher seed won over the lower seed. This means that we should not have had the Regional Qualifier in the first place, we should have just sent Cloud9 as third seed!

Kidding aside, the results were a little unexpected.

There are a lot of reasons why this appears to be so, but what sticks out to me is that the format of the NA and EU Regional Qualifiers is rather punishing for lower-seeded teams.

In NA, the best of fives are scheduled one day apart from each other. This means that after playing a best of five, the next match is less than twenty-four hours away. Teams just don’t have enough time to rest and prepare for their next opponent. Worse still, their next opponent has a series worth of games to analyze. As a result, matches are rather momentum-based than actual capability to extensively prepare for opponents.

If one team is capable of carrying over its form towards the next match, we might be able to see upsets, but this was certainly not the case at the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals.

Where Do TSM Go From Here?

2018 NA LCS Regional Finals

TSM performed more towards expectations near the end of the season, but their poor spring split caught up with them. (via lolesports Flickr)

Team SoloMid was the only team to have made it to Worlds since the tournament’s inception in 2011. That streak has now been broken.

While their streak was something that the organization holds as its legacy, perhaps they could use the time off to re-assess their approach towards roster formations and how to get better results in the domestic scene, and the eventual international tournaments in the future.

Going to Worlds, after all, is not quite a sizeable achievement if one continues to underperform as the years go by.

The good news is that TSM showed a lot of promise towards the end of the season. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez started coming up huge in the bottom lane, netting 2v2 kills against their opponents. Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg showed improvement playing supportive and tankier picks like the Zileana nd Urgon, which should give the team more drafting possibilities down the line.

Having shown improvement, my worry si that TSM might interpret this year’s results as a sign of weakness instead of the roster just needing more time to play together. Sure, that was certainly the case. But,  when they did get the time, TSM started performing towards expectations more.

What TSM should do to further enable the roster is to keep this iteration of the squad.

If TSM can keep their performances consistent next season, there’s a huge chance that this roster will work their way to a berth at Worlds 2019.

How Far Can Cloud9 Go?

2018 NA LCS Regional Finals

Cloud9 prove themselves as the “Gauntlet Kings” of North America. (via lolesports Flickr)

Since its formation in 2013, Cloud9 has always made it to Worlds and are usually the only North American team to make it out of the group stages.

After defeating Team SoloMid, Cloud9 have salvaged their rather up-and-down season to keep their streak alive. However, this iteration of Cloud9 faces more questions as they approach the international stage.

For example, how will their three rookies in Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam, and Robert “Blaber” Huang fare against some seasoned veterans from other regions? Judging by their performances in the regular season, in the playoffs and the gauntlet, more experinced teams and junglers will look to capitalize and exploit on Blalber’s untamed aggression. Zeyzal has shown strength in team fights and in playmaking, but he has a tendency to die far too many times during the 2v2 laning phase.

Secondly, who will Cloud9 play as a sub for the tournament? Worlds is not quite the same as the NA LCS playoffs. They’ll have to choose who they’ll play as a sub between Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. This might resistrict Cloud9’s playstyle and make them a lot more predictable. It also doesn’t help that they won’t have a chance to show off the synergy they have built up between their jungle and mid duos in the international stage.

Nevertheless, just experiencing worlds will prove invaluable for the rookies, regardless of whether they go far or not.

North American Drafting

2018 NA LCS Regional Finals

Drafting is usually a problem area with some North American teams, and it might be a problem coming into Worlds. (via lolesports Flickr)

Drafting is a serious problem for teams from North America. This was evident all season long, including the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals.

For starters, North American teams have a tendency to become slaves to region’s metas. They also often look like they still draft what they prepared for, even if the champions they have in mind are not set to make proper responses to what the other teams do.

As a result, North American teams draft themselves into a corner, and more often than not, to lose.

These are problems that teams from other regions can address immediately. They know what they want to get in the drafting phase and they can adapt on the fly if they don’t. For North American teams, they must make it a point to try to exercise more flexibility during the draft. More importantly, they need to know how to respond to what the enemy wants to pick, regardless of whether it’s a champion they want to play themselves or a champion meant to counter their lineup.

Comfort picks can only get you so far, and at Worlds 2018, other teams will have no problem beating you on comfort champions just to make a point.

Final Thoughts

With the conclusion of the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals, we now finally know which three teams from the NA LCS will play in the 2018 LoL World Championship.

We’ve had quite a competitive split so far, and it’s mostly thanks to the franchising. The only question now is, will an NA team finally make it past the quarterfinals? Or better yet, will we finally see some difference this year to years past, or will it be more of the same?

We’ll have answers to these questions on october as the representatives from the NA LCS emet teams from other regions in South Korea.

What do you think about Cloud9 emerging victorious in the 2018 NA LCS Regional Finals? Do you think the NA teams will be performing well at Worlds? Or do you think the gap is still wide between other regions and North America? Let us know in the comments below!

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