2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs Preview: The Road to Worlds

The 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs will see six of the best teams from the NA LCS fight it out for some well-deserved cash reward and more importantly, a berth at the 2018 LoL Worlds Championship.

The regular season matches are finally over, and we are now headed towards the land of best of fives. For the next few weeks, the top six teams of the NA LCS Summer Split regular season will battle it out for a chance at the championship, and the chance to prove their region’s strength in the coming World Championship in South Korea.

From here on out, the games will matter more, and we can only expect teams to bring their absolute best as we head into the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs: The Playoff Patch

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

Will the changes finally take Trundle out of the jungle meta?

The entirety of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs will be on patch 8.16, which introduces some changes that might impact the metagame.

First, Aatrox’s sustain due to his E passive has been cut by around half, which means that trades would stick with him for longer. In addition, his ultimate’s cooldown is a little bit longer in earlier ranks. This means that Aatrox is no longer the lane bully with almost infinite sustainability.

Trundle has also received some nerfs. His Q has received base damage nerfs, while his scaling has been increased. However, the increase in his AD due to his Q has a shorter duration. This means that Trundle’s capability to duel and skirmish has been greatly lessened.

Zoe’s damage numbers on her passive and her W have also received some heavy nerfs, which means that she will most likely not be a must ban or a first pick champion. Picking Zoe might become more situational from here onwards.

Some of the tanks have been buffed as well, but most of them have not been seeing play across different regions of professional play, except maybe Leona, Nautilus, and Sion.

Damage runes have received some adjustments as well, which is either a nerf or a buff, depending on your point of view. Most of the runes have received base damage and damage ratio nerfs, but most of their cooldowns have been halved.

Theoretically, this means that these runs can be procced twice in extended trades, which could come in handy in longer team fights.

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs: The Playoff Schedule

Saturday, August 25, 2018: Day 1 Quarterfinals (Echo Fox vs Team SoloMid)

Sunday, August 26, 2018: Day 2 Quarterfinals (100 Thieves vs FlyQuest)

Saturday, September 1, 2018: Day 1 Semifinals (Cloud9 vs TBD)

Sunday, September 2, 2018: Day 2 Semifinals (Team Liquid vs TBD)

Saturday, September 8, 2018: Third place match (TBD vs TBD)

Sunday, September 9, 2018: Grand Final (TBD vs TBD)

All the matches will be decided in a best of five series. The number 1 team in the regular season, Team Liquid, will have the power to pick their opponent for the semifinal from the victors of the quarterfinals in the coming weekend. The remaining team will, of course, have to face Cloud9.

The 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs has a prize pool of $200,000, and this split’s champion will be seeded directly into the World Championship.

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs: Power Ranking

1. Cloud9

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

Will Cloud9 have its true redemption by winning the split? (via lolesports Flickr)

Cloud9 might be a little bit better than what their regular season standing suggests.

This is a team that tried out a lot of roster configurations over the course of the summer. They stumbled at first, and at one point they were sitting at 10th place. They soon found their groove and found which parts of the roster work well together and which do not. Now they have a formidable roster of seven, with rotating duos of middle laners and junglers.

The duo of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “GoldenGlue” Gilmer has been a primarily lane-focused one, with Svenskeren lending aid towards laners and getting them ahead. We already saw what happened with Svenskeren’s Lee Sin and Goldenglue’s Syndra. The duo of Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Robert “Blaber” Huang has shown two distinct identities. First is a jungler-focused type of draft, with Jensen on picks that can help Blaber snowball lanes, the most popular example being their Kindred-Zilean combo. Their other drafting identity is a skirmish-heavy one. This was seen with Blaber on a pick like Trundle, and with Jensen on assassins like a Fizz or LeBlanc.

The general flexibility of this team due to the fact that they have a seven-man roster and that most of their players have shown us that they can play a wide variety of champions means that this team will be difficult to prepare for and play against.

If Cloud9 can retain their form, we’ll most likely see them in the finals.

2. Team Liquid

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

Will Team Liquid be the postseason powerhouse that it was last spring? (via lolesports Flickr)

Our spring split champions return to the playoffs, hoping to get a back-to-back championship.

This team has only one way of winning: through Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Doublelift has always had an immense potential to carry in Team Liquid’s games, especially on a pick like the Kai’sa and the Jhin. Eugene “Pobelter” Park is often a consistent middle laner. He could be expected to hold his lane against his opponent, roam when needed, and perform in team fights.

The problem is that Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong have not found their stride. Impact has not looked to be at his best even on tanks. He often finds himself behind in the lanes. That’s a problem because laning used to be what he was known for.

He could be very reliable as a roaming support, but he usually dies in the 2v2 during the laning phase. In addition, Olleh dies while trying to set up vision for his team, or engages too early before his teammates have positioned properly for a team fight.

However, Team Liquid is a team that has looked kind of mediocre in the regular season and then crushed their opposition in the playoffs. They appear to have the identity of being a preparation team, akin to the LCK’s Gen G or the Afreeca Freecs.

While they do not show their adaptation through the drafts like those Korean teams do, they have done their best to respond to their opponents by exploiting and countering their natural tendencies and playstyles.

If Team Liquid shows the level of preparation that they exhibited in spring playoffs, they have a clear shot at taking the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.

3. Echo Fox

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

Echo Fox has a lot to prove, and a lot to improve on. (via lolesports Flickr)

Echo Fox is the scrappiest team in this season of the NA LCS. This is a team that always wants to pick a fight no matter what the current state of the game is.

This natural tendency of the team worked in the spring split when they had noticeably better synergy and they would come on top of every team fight. This was also during the time that their players were on the top of their form. Their form greatly declined over the course of the summer, and the several disruptions to the team did them no favours.

Right now, it’s obvious that there’s a lack of synergy within the team. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has been away from his usual carry performances. He usually dies alone on a side lane with no help or engages with no backup. Tanner “Damonte” Damonte has been kind of lacklustre at best, with Syndra being the only champion that he plays well with.

Their bottom lane has not been a total liability but has had champion pool issues for Lawrence “Lost” Hui as well: his only exceptional pick has been the Varus. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is one of the best junglers in the League but has often had the heaviest burden to carry the team since the rest of the squad is out of sorts.

Andy “Smoothie” Ta has brought better macro into the team and might be the shining light coming into the playoffs. Better communication and better discipline might be the key to unlocking this squad’s true potential.

Nevertheless, even when they’re struggling, this is a team worth fearing, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.

4. Team SoloMid

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

TSM is still looking to regain its glory. (via lolesports Flickr)

Most of the team have won LCS finals multiple times and have made it to Worlds multiple times. Why then, are these players not dominating their opposition?

Two problems stand out for TSM: proactivity and macro. The first problem has been a TSM staple: the team likes to play rather passively, and they just wait for the opponent to make mistakes, which they will, in turn, punish. This is a problem because they have not been drafting lanes with priority, which means that their windows to punish are much smaller. This usually makes them unable to seize opportunities and the games just end in a non-interactive way.

The more surprising thing is that they have not been doing well in terms of macro play either.

To illustrate, Jonathan “Grig” Armao has not been pathing effectively in the jungle. This means that he is wasting time and experience. This also makes him very prone to being punished by more experienced junglers. Their side lane management has not been very good either, often falling victim to split-push team compositions.

Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen has been an extremely capable bottom carry. He has shown proficiency on a midgame carry like Ezreal, with scaling options such as Kai’sa, and with mages such as Heimerdinger and Swain. He can be very flexible, which can be an asset in the drafting phase.

Having said that, we should expect TSM to put up a fight. However, based on their performance this season, they probably won’t go deep into the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.

5. 100 Thieves

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

Expect other more experienced junglers to exploit 100 Thieves rookie Jungler, AnDa, in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs. (via lolesports Flickr)

100 Thieves was hovering on the 2nd place spot for most of the season but then stumbled towards the end.

They are stylistically the same as TSM because they like to play slow, calculated, and reactive. However, they do it better: they incorporate lane priority into their drafts. In addition, their macro is pretty solid: they are one of the teams that are better in setting up their 1-3-1 map plays. Now that Ryze is somewhat back in the metagame, we can count on them to utilize this kind of draft once again.

However, this team has been utilizing only one way to play: that is, play through Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. This kind of unsettling as they could play through Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho as well. In some of their games, Cody Sun was so behind, and it was only Ssumday who was able to bridge the gap and win them the match

The general inexperience of their jungler does not help as well. Although Andy “AnDa” Hoang is an intelligent jungler and is capable of holding his own against some of the League’s best, veteran junglers will look to exploit some of his weaknesses in pathing and in team fights.

100 Thieves might have made it to the final last split, but the road for them is a lot more difficult this time around.

6. FlyQuest

2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs

FlyQuest’s veteran squad might do them some favours in the playoffs. (via lolesports Flickr)

FlyQuest are the clear underdogs coming into the summer playoffs.

They were able to net wins in the regular season when everything was in complete disarray, and when the metagame was stabilizing they started faltering. It always looks like they plan on how to execute specific drafts and when the execution fails they have nothing to fall back on. When they are behind they never make it back and turn the game around.

The good news story for this team is that when they are able to execute properly on their plans for the early to mid game, they net a victory most of the time. In addition, the veteran status on most of their players might give them an edge in a best of five. Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen’s good pathing and mechanics may enable his team to get advantages across the map.

The team needs to pay more attention to Lee “Flame” Ho-jong so he can carry the team and focus less on risky turret dives.

If FlyQuest surge like they did earlier in the season, expect them to give us competitive series in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.

What do you think about our ranking of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs teams? Who do you think will emerge victorious in the end? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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