Nine weeks of action are in the books, and ten teams have been whittled down to six. After the huge success of the 2016 Summer Finals in Toronto, the LCS finals return to Canada, this time in the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. If you don’t know your TSM from your CLG, don’t fret. The Esportsranks 2017 NALCS Spring Playoffs Preview is here to guide you.
The single-elimination best-of-5 bracket gets under way tomorrow night, with the four wildcard teams fighting to join Team SoloMid and Cloud9 in the semi-finals, and guaranteeing a place in Vancouver.
After the wildcard rounds, TSM will take on the lower ranked wildcard team, whilst C9 will take on the higher seed, before the semi-final winners will fight it out in front of a packed crowd for 2017 NALCS Spring Split bragging rights.
The Top Two
Team SoloMid (1st, 15-3)
No doubt about it, TSM deserve to be at the top of the standings. After a relatively slow start to the season (in terms of performance), there’s no brakes on TSM hype-train. They have an impressive 9-1 record against all the other teams in the playoffs, and are considered heavy favourites by many. Watch out for the Danish Dynamite Duo of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen to wreak havoc on the rift.
Cloud9 (2nd, 14-4)
After an incredible eight series win streak to kick of the season, Cloud9 stumbled for a fair while before settling nicely into second place. They likely have the highest skill ceiling of any team in the playoffs, but their tendency to switch off occasionally has been their undoing on more than one occasion. If C9 are to take it all, they’ll need to rely on top lane veteran Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Danish wonderkid Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen to carry the team to victory.
Phoenix1 (3rd, 11-7)
Hey, remember when Phoenix1 were considered absolute garbage and their fanbase had a grand total of one member? Me neither. The turnaround since the start of the 2016 Summer Split has been nothing short of incredible. An 0-2 week in the final week may look ominous, but seeing as those teams were TSM and C9, I’m willing to give them a pass. Fomer C9 jungler William “Meteos” Hartman has given the team an extra dimension to their play, whilst Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon is widely considered to be the best ADC in the league.
Counter Logic Gaming (4th, 10-8)
The only consistent thing about CLG this split has been their inconsistency. The truth is that they’re capable of beating everyone in the playoffs and winning it all, but they’re also capable of losing 3-0 to FlyQuest in the opening round, they’re that sort of team. Much maligned midlaner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun has come a long way, and is arguably the best player on the team right now. Team captain and support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black will need all of his leadership qualities if CLG are to make an impact in the playoffs this time around, but one thing’s for sure. The CLG that came second at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational is long gone.
FlyQuest (5th, 9-9)
FlyQuest have only two settings. Incredibly Good and Incredibly Rubbish. Watching this team in action is nothing short of frustrating. They seem to live and die by the performances of midlaner Hai “Hai” Du Lam, widely considered to be the best shotcaller in the world. However, some macro missteps this season have cost FlyQuest games, and some are beginning to wonder how long they can keep this up. Jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate has had an incredible season, but will need to do more if FlyQuest want to go to Vancouver.
Team Dignitas (6th, 9-9)
Team Dignitas also only have two settings. Without Cop and With Cop. The switch of head coach to David “Cop” Roberson saw Dignitas have a second-half surge up the rankings to a respectable 9-9 record. Dignitas seem to have all the qualities teams with Cop tend to have, consistent and calculated. Sadly, they also looked capped in terms of how much they can actually do. The top/jungle duo of Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun have managed to finally fully integrate themselves into the team, but whether that’s enough to have a big enough impact in the playoffs remains to be seen.
NALCS Spring Playoffs Schedule
8 Apr 21:00 CEST – Wildcard 1 – Phoenix1 vs Team Dignitas
9 Apr 21:00 CEST – Wildcard 2 – Counter Logic Gaming vs FlyQuest
15 Apr 21:00 CEST – Semi 1 – Cloud9 vs TBD
16 Apr 21:00 CEST – Semi 2 – Team SoloMid vs TBD
22 Apr 21:00 CEST – 3rd Place Playoff
23 Apr 21:00 CEST – Final