The 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals is here and we’re now finally down to the last week of the NA LCS Summer Split. It is the culmination of the long and winding road that will determine North American’s strongest LoL team.
In addition to the Grand Finals match, we will also see the third-place match played this weekend. As of the moment, Team Liquid has already locked themselves a slot for the World Championship. But, whether or not they will come in as the first or second seed will be determined this weekend.
With so much on the line, be sure to read our preview for this weekend’s 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals:
2018 NA LCS Summer Finals: Champions to Watch
Gnar currently has two build paths– either a split pushing oriented build or a team fighting oriented one. The split push build has Guinsoo’s Rageblade as its core and allows Gnar to both shred tankier opposition and easily take down turrets. The tradeoff is, however, that it can do very little damage in team fights and skirmishes, and is quite squishy.
The team fighting build, of course, has better utility in team fights and can be quite tanky. The problem is that in matchups wherein the Gnar is taken as a counter pick, a Gnar that builds for team fighting does not win the lane as hard as the one with Rageblade does.
Those who would pick Gnar could be counted on to assess the enemy team composition to determine which Gnar he should build towards.
All of the top laners in the top four teams have capable Gnar players, and we might see a lot of Gnars during the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals, or this weekend in general.
Once Gangplank gets to scale until the thirty-minute mark, he will deal absurd amounts of damage. This makes him one of the best-scaling champions in the game today.
Currently there are two keystone rune choices for him. First is the Kleptomancy which we saw more of in the spring. This is the greedier choice, and while it does allow the Gangplank to get to his items faster, it also leaves him a lot more vulnerable to ganks.
The other keystone rune choice is the Grasp of the Undying. Choosing this rune gives the Gangplank more survivability in lane, especially if a counter is taken against him, and may even guarantee the difference between survival and death if he is ganked.
Gangplank is still a popular pick because of the fact that he has a global ultimate with the Cannon Barrage. With this, he can influence other lanes in the laning phase, and can assist in team fights even when he is in a side lane.
Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho’s Gangplank is one that almost surely can draw a ban, whether as a blind pick or a soft counter to tank matchups.
Fizz is one of the best all-in assassins right now: with a capability to dodge skillshots and immense damage once he gets in range, Fizz is a deadly champion in the right player’s hands. He is good into matchups against the Akali, or even mages like Orianna or the Zoe. His ultimate also calls for enemies to buy a stopwatch, and if the enemy does so they are set a little bit behind in gold.
However, as an assassin, Fizz still requires the proper setup for him to be able to carry. Without a proper opportunity presented to him, an even lane means that Fizz’s opponent has succeeded.
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer and Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg are the assassin players in the top four teams right now, and we might see them pick it during the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals under the right circumstances.
Pyke is a support that has not seen much play in the NA LCS. This might be because the bottom lane is one of the focuses of North American teams. Pyke is a champion that is often paired with a bottom lane carry with a great wave clearing ability so that he is able to roam and make plays across the map.
One of the teams that utilizes Pyke is Team SoloMid, with their famous Swain-Pyke combination. Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez would usually pull an opponent with his Q, and the Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen’s Swain would pull it further back. Pyke’s damage is also nothing to be scoffed at: if a late game team fight happens, Pyke can be the one left to clean everything up.
2018 NA LCS Summer Finals Matches
Third place match: 100 Thieves vs TSM
The two teams are similar not in terms of who they wish to allocate resources towards, but rather in the types of games they tend to play. Both teams favor long, macro-driven games with a rather lower kill count. They also favor team compositions with a lot of scaling. In addition, both teams rely on punishing mistakes that the enemy has made and forcing them to make further ones.
The question in this particular match, then, is this: will both teams play the same style and just wait to find out who does it better, or will one of the teams attempt to disrupt the other in their desired style of play?
Of both teams it seems rather likely that Team SoloMid could go for a more snowball-oriented team composition. We have seen them go for the Jayce pick before, there is a clear possibility that they might do so once again. In addition, they could also go for a teamfight-heavy composition, by picking the Swain and Pyke in the bottom lane.
Rikara or Cody Sun?
Last weekend, we saw Cody “Cody Sun” Sun get subbed out for the entirety of the series for Richard “Rikara” Samuel Oh. Whether it was only for the series against Team Liquid or for the rest of the playoffs we do not know. We have seen Rikara lose the lane against a veteran AD carry in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, and if he plays in this series he will play against another veteran AD carry in Zven.
The good news is that Cody Sun seems to be able to hold his own against Zven in the laning phase. This opens up the possibility that 100 Thieves might just play with him in the roster and play their usual “play around Cody Sun” strategy.
If they sub Rikara in during the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals, however, it opens up the possibility of Ssumday carrying and receiving a lot more resources than usual.
Mid lane snowball vs bottom lane late game
100 Thieves always relies on Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook’s stability in the middle lane. However, since he only ever does want to clear waves, defend the turret, and rotate when needed, he falls behind drastically in the laning phase. He silently loses the lane and hopes to assist the winning ones. However, if Ssumday is on a tank, the problem is that no lane exerts any pressure towards the enemy: because of the lack in mid lane priority, they are prone to losing a lot of early objectives.
In this particular matchup, this might be a problem for 100 Thieves as Team SoloMid almost always plays through the middle lane. If Bjergsen is given a chance to take over the lane, he might snowball the game out of control. As a remedy, 100 Thieves can look at trying to ban Bjergsen out of champions that can be dangerous if given a lead.
What can be a problem for TSM is that 100 Thieves likes to rely on Cody Sun to be the carry in the late game and more often than not, they are able to stall until Cody Sun is in a comfortable spot to do so. If they manage to set Cody Sun behind enough so that the late game would not spell the end for TSM, I imagine it would be enough for them to take games off of 100 Thieves.
Will 100 Thieves go to Worlds?
100 Thieves are in a spot where their chances of going to Worlds are not entirely in their hands. If Team Liquid wins the split, they automatically go to the World Championship. However, if Cloud9 wins the grand final, 100 Thieves will be the last team in the Regional Qualifier. The third place match means very little for this squad as it will not even seem to change their seeding in the gauntlet if they still have to be there.
However, if they are worthy of representing North America, they must prove it in their last playoff match.
I predict TSM to take the match 3-1. Team SoloMid is also fighting for a contention at Worlds, and following a rather close loss to Cloud9, they were the ones with a better showing in their semifinal match. I expect Bjergsen to take over his matchups in every single game of this series.
Betting: Correct Score 3:1 (In Maps) in favour of TSM at 3.75 odds. (GGbet)
Grand Final: Team Liquid vs Cloud9
This is a rematch of the Spring Split quarterfinal, and while that match ended in a 3-0 in favor of Team Liquid, it had very close games that went back and forth.
Storyline-wise, Cloud9 seek redemption for their early finish last playoffs, and for their mishaps earlier in the split. This match means very little for Team Liquid as they go to Worlds anyway, but the title of being North America’s best in the 2018 season, and being back-to-back champions, is something that they could be proud of if they walk away from the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals as the winners.
Macro-focus vs teamfight focus
There are stark differences between the two teams. Team Liquid often wants to focus on objectives, fight as a team in the middle to later stages of the game, and then just crush their opposition by playing the map properly. Even if they appear to fight a lot, they usually take the fights that they are certain they would emerge victorious from.
Cloud9, on the other hand, likes skirmishing and team fighting at most stages of the game. They have mechanically good players, and their possibility of outplaying opponents is huge. The problem is that this style of play is rather risky. While we saw the team run away with it during the regular season, we saw its disadvantages in the semifinals against TSM. If they take one fight that is not in their favor, they might end up misjudging the next ones and just further the opposing team’s lead.
In the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals, we will get a chance to see which style is better.
Will Cloud9’s aggression do them favours in this series or is Team Liquid’s balance of brawn and brain triumph?
Will C9 camp mid again?
In their last match in the regular season, Cloud9 had Goldenglue and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, and they just kept on killing Eugene “Pobelter” Park over and over. Pobelter was set so far behind that Cloud9 was able to end the game because Goldenglue was so far ahead.
This is the problem with Pobelter’s playstyle: as he consistently just holds the lane and seeks to help the side lanes as Ryu does, an aggressive laner can take advantage of him. If the enemy jungle ganks him over and over, he could end up just losing the turret. Cloud9 could replicate what they did in their last match against Team Liquid and just dismantle Pobelter, whose consistency the rest of the team depends on.
Other Ways for Cloud9
Another way for Cloud9 to potentially have a way to winning against Team Liquid is vertical jungling— if they split the map and Robert “Blaber” Huang or Svenskeren gets the bottom half of the map and cut it off from help from Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Pobelter, or Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, they can take over the lane. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi has shown that he can carry the team if given the proper resources and Blaber’s aggression is something that the whole squad can play around.
What Cloud9 should not do during the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals is what they did in last split’s quarterfinal: they attempted to ban Impact out from tankier champions, and force him into a carry matchup. This soon backfired as Impact showed a proficiency on Swain and Singed, and he was always the first in rotations and teleport plays.
All Eyes on Doublelift
The fact of the matter is that the entirety of the match will depend on Doublelift. If he is set behind by Cloud9, he will not be able to be useful in late game team fights. However, if he is given enough time and resources to scale, he will make all the difference for Team Liquid. He is currently the best AD Carry in the league, and his team usually plays around him.
Sneaky usually falls behind in lane, which means that Doublelift will most likely be first to get item completions and would have better power spike timings. A necessary part of Team Liquid’s strategy is to get a most of their team in the bottom lane and either force a fight or dive the opponent under their turret.
Cloud9 could look to punish these riskier moves by Team Liquid.
Cloud9 has looked like it has had Team Liquid’s number in the regular season, and I think this would be a rather close series.
In the end, though, we believe Cloud9 will walk away from the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals victorious, 3-2.
Betting: Total Maps over 4.5 at 2.43 odds (GGbet).
What do you think of our analysis of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals weekend? Will we see an upset? Let us know in the comments below!