The North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer season came to a close this past weekend, leaving us with just six teams still in contention for the season victory, and a bid to Worlds. With Team Liquid already qualified for the World Championship, that leaves five teams putting all their energy towards that ever-so-coveted spot.
The LCS play-off model allows for the top two teams in the league to get a first-round bye, sending them straight into the semi-finals. The two teams granted those spots this season were Team Liquid and Cloud9.
Team Liquid made a splash on the international stage recently, making a historic run to the Mid-Season Invitational’s Grand Final, where they fell 0-3 to a dominant G2 Esports. This performance came just months after Cloud9’s own historic run to the semi-finals at last year’s World Championship. Considering these results, it’s only fitting that we see these two teams taking those top spots, as well as the first-round bye.
Looking at the regular season, we did see Cloud9 taking consecutive wins over Team Liquid, but other losses only allowed them the second-place spot. Team Liquid topped the league with a 14-4 win/loss record, while Cloud9 came out with a 13-6 record. Though C9 had started out this season with a fair amount of strength, they did end up in a tie-breaker situation. On that last day of regular season play, however, Cloud9 were able to secure dominant wins over both OpTic Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming. Those wins, along with 100 Thieves' win over CLG, were crucial to guaranteeing that semi-final spot.
Tie-breaker games were an integral part of Sunday's gameplay, as the league was left with multiple teams with the same win record. Three teams - OpTic, 100 Thieves, and Golden Guardians - all had eight wins, while both Cloud9 and CLG had 12. After three rounds of tie-breakers, OpTic Gaming had secured the two wins they needed, taking down 100 Thieves and Golden Guardians for a spot in the play-offs. These tie-breakers also allowed for seeding to be decided for the play-off matches, where we will see OpTic face off against CLG, while Clutch Gaming will take on Team SoloMid. The winners of those games will move on to face either Liquid or Cloud9 in the semis.
Considering the strength of the teams in the league, it is incredibly difficult to predict who will win the season. Team Liquid have had the most success on the international stage, but have a losing record this split against Cloud9, who could end up as their opponent in the Grand Final. TSM have looked solid and have a history of performing well in play-off matches, but haven't secured a win over Liquid - their potential semi-final opponent - at all this season.
Regardless of who joins Team Liquid at Worlds, recent results for NA League of Legends breed high hopes for this year's World Championship.