Counter Logic Gaming vs. Team Impulse (Saturday, August 15)
My Quarterfinals predictions featured Team Impulse defeating Team Dignitas 3-1. Counter Logic Gaming, however, will prove to be more challenging – if they don't choke. Team Impulse is still dealing with a recent roster change, while CLG maintained the same roster during the Summer Split. While Pobelter isn't the best mid laner in the North American LCS, I'm positive that he will be able to outperform Gate. In the top lane, ZionSpartan versus Impact should be interesting. Arguably two of the best top laners in North America, both are fully capable of carrying and have performed very well during the Summer Split. Doublelift is more experienced and skilled than Altec, though not by much. Also, Doublelift is known to make poor macro decisions and rely on his superb mechanics to extricate himself from situations a more prudent player wouldn't be in. The main skill disparity lies in the jungle – Rush is far better than Xmithie. This is about as uncontroversial a claim as can be made here. To be fair, though, Xmithie is definitely capable of fulfilling his role as a utility jungler by setting the stage for ZionSpartan and Doublelift to carry. When CLG is confident, they look incredibly strong. As long as they don't give up more than one loss (which will trigger the infamous CLG tilt), things should work out for them.
Doublelift overextends and nearly dies, but relies on his mechanics to survive - a perfect example of both his strengths and weaknesses.
Final Prediction: CLG 3-1 TIP
Team Liquid vs. Team SoloMid (Sunday, August 16)
After defeating Gravity 3-2, TSM will face Team Liquid. While it has often been said that Team Liquid possesses the best players in each position, a more accurate claim would be that they have the second or third best players in each role. This is still significant, however, as they do not have any individual weak links. With the exception of Bjergsen (and possibly Lustboy), Team Liquid has stronger players than TSM in every role. IWillDominate is regarded as the second best jungler in North America; he's not afraid to make plays and, if necessary, die to get his team ahead. Santorin, meanwhile, has been heavily criticized for his passivity. Both teams have their issues, however. In Team Liquid's most recent game against Team Impulse, Piglet's poor positioning in team fights was instrumental to TL throwing away their lead and almost losing the game. Despite these recent mistakes, Piglet is still far better at this point in time than WildTurtle.
Piglet makes a positional error and dies quite early in the team fight.
Unless TSM manages to miraculously outsmart Team Liquid in picks & bans, it's quite unlikely that they will win a single game during this series. TSM's strategy of getting Bjergsen ahead simply isn't as effective as it once was, considering that Dyrus, WildTurtle and Santorin have not been playing well. On average, Team SoloMid is up a meager 175.9 gold on their opponents at the fifteen minute mark. Team Liquid, meanwhile, are up 1,069.4 at the same point in most games. Furthermore, Team Liquid's early game is one of the best in North America, whereas Team SoloMid's is one of the worst.
Final Prediction: TL 3-0 TSM
Counter Logic Gaming vs. Team Liquid (Sunday, August 23)
The North American LCS Finals will most likely feature second place Counter Logic Gaming taking on first place Team Liquid. This should be a very exciting series for a number of reasons. Both teams possess very talented marksmen; Doublelift boasted the most kills, best CS differential at ten minutes, and second highest damage per minute out of all North American marksmen, while Piglet held the best KDA and was the third highest in CS per minute, damage per minute and percentage of team's total damage amongs his peers. These two players have somewhat of a rivalry as well – Piglet once bragged that he was able to beat Doublelift with one hand. Both teams also have talented top laners, but ZionSpartan generally receives far more gold than Quas, and is thus more of a threat. Team Liquid's mid laner, Fenix, is often cited as the second best mid laner in North America; his Azir is something to be feared! For CLG's sake, they will have hopefully learned by this point to prevent Fenix from playing his signature champion. CLG's mid laner, Pobelter, is capable of fulfilling his mid lane duties, but is far from great – he has the second lowest kill participation out of all North American mid laners. Also, his statistics in just about every other parameter are mediocre at best, though some of this can be attributed to CLG's emphasis on getting ZionSpartan and Doublelift ahead. While Aphromoo and Xpecial are fairly evenly matched in skill, Aphromoo is one of the lowest warding supports, placing an average of .99 wards per minute, compared with Xpecial's 1.15. As for the junglers, it should come as no surprise that IWillDominate is superior to Xmithie. While IWillDominate has definitely had a few bad games this split, he is better than Xmithie in terms of kill participation, KDA, CS differential at ten minutes, gold difference at ten minutes, damage per minute and percentage of team's total damage.
Fenix unleases his Azir prowress on an unwitting CLG.
I don't think Counter Logic Gaming will choke during playoffs this time around. However, I find it unlikely that they will be able to win this series against Team Liquid. Both teams excel at the early game; Team Liquid has the highest gold differential at fifteen minutes, with CLG trailing close behind in second. CLG also sports the highest first blood, first dragon and first tower rate. Yet, Team Liquid retained a 2-1 record against Counter Logic Gaming in the Summer Split, and will most likely emerge victorious in this series.
Final Prediction: TL 3-2 CLG
Winners of playoffs will recieve the first available spot at Worlds, but there's still plenty of North American LCS action before the 2015 World Championship. The remaining two spots will still have yet to be claimed; the second will go to the team with the most circuit points and the third to the winner of the regional qualifier, colloquially referred to as the gauntlet. Playoffs begin on Saturday, August 8, and can be found on the Riot Games Twitch Channel, as usual.
If you enjoyed this content, follow the author for more on twitter at @NephilimPatrick. Photo credits to Riot Games. Statistics found on oracleselixir.com/
For Quarterfinal predictions, go here.