NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals Recap: Team Liquid and TSM emerge victorious

Four teams headed into this weekend at the  NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals looking to prove their strength, but only two of them emerged victorious in the end.

Summer has come and gone, and we are now closer to Worlds more than ever. The summer split is now officially over. All that’s left now is the Regional Qualifiers. Whoever wins there will join Team Liquid and 100 Thieves at the World Championship in South Korea.

This weekend was where teams proved their strength, hoping to display impressive form and have some confidence into the weeks ahead, whether it is in the gauntlet or Worlds itself.

Here are my thoughts on the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals:

NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals Matches

Third Place Match: Team SoloMid vs 100 Thieves

NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals

TSM has cemented its place as one of the top teams in North America. (via lolesports Flickr)

Result: Team SoloMid 3-2

TSM prove their strength

The match itself had little relevance to TSM as they were sure to go the gauntlet anyway, but it was important for both teams to show their strength as both were still in the running for Worlds contention. As TSM was sure to go into the gauntlet, the momentum of winning this match is important for them in the future.

Coming into this match, TSM was expected to pick an assassin for Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, and to put Grig into a rather tanky jungler. For this series, Bjergsen has been on the Zilean for four games and on the Vel’Koz in one game. These are not picks that we expect him to excel with to be the one to carry the entire team, but we have seen some impressive Zilean play from him nonetheless. His ultimate timings and his bomb layering have been almost perfect. He has won lane against Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook in all five games, being ahead in CS in the laning phase as well.

The team put Zven on Kai’sa for all five games. Although Kai’sa is an excellent late game carry, the team just couldn’t pour the necessary amount of resources into him so he could effectively carry the game for them.

Game 4 of the series showed exactly what TSM can do if they’re firing in all cylinders. That one was almost a perfect game for TSM. TSM took advantage of lane-winning matchups, punished mistakes, and took a mile everytime their opponents gave them an inch.

100 Thieves go to Worlds

NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals

100 Thieves need to work on a lot of issues before they can take on the World Championship. (via lolesports Flickr)

Due to the result of the final, 100 Thieves goes to Worlds, but there are quite a few problems for the team.

First is their usage of Richard “Rikara” Samuel Oh. They used Rikara for Game 1, and put him on a Jhin. They won that game due to Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho’s Gangplank, but even after the victory, Rikara was subbed out for Cody Sun. It seems rather strange to use Rikara for only one game and sub him out even with a win. In the following games, Ssumday was no longer on a carry and was forced into tank duty as most of the resources go to Cody Sun, which was their usual playstyle for most of the regular season. The team’s incapability to play around Ssumday who can be a massive threat when put on a carry is raising some cause for concern.

Another problem for the team is Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. The spring split’s most valuable player has been having a lot of deaths over this split’s playoffs, whether in lane or being caught out in rotation, securing vision, or engaging without the follow-up from his team. While it may be more of a team communication problem rather than a problem for Aphromoo himself, it still needs to be addressed by the team.

Another issue for the team is with Ryu. The lack of middle lane priority has been plaguing the team in the entirety of the playoffs.

100 Thieves may have finished fourth this split, but they have a lot to work on if they want to do better in South Korea for Worlds.

Grand Final: Team Liquid vs Cloud9

Team Liquid is, without a doubt, the best team in North America. (via lolesports Flickr)

Result: Team Liquid 3-0

Team Liquid successfully defending their title at the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals. As a result, they are now back-to-back NA LCS champions. With the championships and the kind of performances they displayed this season, they have earned their well-deserved place as the top team in North America.

It is not to say that this series, in particular, was not even close. There were moments in the series where Cloud9 could have taken the games into their hands. What is different with Team Liquid is their vision control: with the help of Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Team Liquid is capable of placing deep wards into the enemy jungle and track the enemy jungler. While usually on the tanky side of the jungle champion pool, you’d have a hard time finding someone who can match his value both in vision control and playmaking as well.

Eugene “Pobelter” Park also seems to have evolved in this series. He was playing a lot more aggressively in the Irelia pick most especially. This is a big surprise coming from a player known to play safe. Risky all-ins are not part of Pobelter’s usual playstyle. He isn’t even known to deliver a carry performance at all. But in this series, he was able to carry the team alongside Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, and we could look to a future where Team Liquid has two threats in Pobelter and Doublelift.

Cloud9’s 7-Man roster falters

NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals

Cloud9 will have to emerge victorious in the gauntlet to qualify for Worlds. (via lolesports Flickr)

Team Liquid swept Cloud9 in the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals. This is despite going 8-1 in the second half of the regular season. Cloud9 just couldn’t get anything going, and te same problems that plagued them against Team SoloMid in the Semifinals also haunted them in the Grand Finals.

Rotating the roster was definitely not as effective as Cloud9 hoped. The duo of Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Robert “Blaber” Huang did not appear to have the same kind of effectivity in the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals that it had in the regular season. Blaber had a rather lacklustre playoff performance, and he was not able to take control of the game on the Hecarim pick, with Jensen on Malzahar supporting him. They were subbed out on the second game for Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. Cloud9 then decided to put Svenskeren on Lee Sin while Malhazar stayed in the middle lane. This was not successful as well.

Once Team Liquid got to match point in the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals, Cloud9 swapped Goldenglue for Jensen. Despite building synergies between their mid laners and their junglers, C9 decided to put the series in the hands of experienced players that could possibly match their counterparts in Team Liquid. However, this was to no avail in the end.

As a result, Cloud9 will now go to the Gauntlet. Though they will enter as the top seed of the regional qualifiers, they may want to use the remaining time to further improve the employment of their seven-man roster.

Final Thoughts

As a result of the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals, Team Liquid and 100 Thieves will now go to South Korea for the World Championship soon.

This weekend, we’ll find out which of Clutch Gaming, Echo Fox, Team SoloMid, and Cloud9 will join them there.

In any case, all of the teams from NA will have a lot to prove, and we can only hope that the region can finally prove itself as a competitive region in League of Legends.

What did you think of all the action that happened during the NA LCS Summer 2018 Finals? Do you think Team Liquid and 100 Thieves will perform well at Worlds? Which team do you think will be North America’s third seed? Let us know in the comment section below!

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