LoL eSports – 6 thoughts going into Semifinals

Kien Lam – League of Legions eSports

Marvel: “Infinity Wars is the most ambitious crossover event in history.”
NA LCS: Finals with two teams who’ve never won before

TSM and C9’s unceremonious exits from the playoffs opens the door for a brand new champion. For the first time in NA LCS history, TSM will not be in the Finals. This is less the end of an era and more of a “even the Patriots miss a Superbowl here or there” kind of event, but it is truly exciting as a spectator to see who will rise to fill the gap. Here’s 6 thoughts going into Semis:

The sun never sets on the 100 empire

I’m actually perplexed by the low fanfare around Cody Sun this split. Like, sure, he’s surrounded by a lot of veteran talent and them enabling him helps, but I think you need to recognize he’s still their primary carry. He led the regular season in kills and kill participation which was an absurd 85.4% (the next highest was 78.2%). For comparison, Ryu was dead last in the league in that category. Cody’s also putting up a 38.8% damage share which is also league leading (second place is 34.3%). Dude’s smashing! I think so much of it is tied to name perception — if Doublelift had posted these numbers, I think he’d have been the runaway MVP. This 100 bot lane (with MVP-caliber play from Aphromoo) is scary as hell!

They studied the blade

I think if you’re a FOX fan, part of you is a little relieved that you’re facing Team Liquid instead of TSM. The other part of you is looking at the 3-0 score TL posted and sweating about the prospects of your recently struggling bot lane taking on an in-form Doublelift. Ultimately, though, FOX is a team that shouldn’t stress out too much over their opponent’s style or recent form. This team’s best and most defined win condition is thrusting their sword (Huni) right through the opposition. Dardoch sharpens said sword and the others follow. Sure, the other team can prepare countermeasures — and teams have this split, but sometimes the sword is too sharp.

The meme not taken

The winner of this split will become the… 4th franchise to win a championship? By god, that’s Team Liquid’s music. Or maybe they just lose here and also the 3rd place match to become 4th in the playoffs. There are only two possible options. It is law. Doublelift has been playing out of his mind the last couple weeks, but I think the big hero of the C9 match was Pobelter. I honestly expected him to get exposed by Jensen, but that was decidedly not the case. The remaining mid lane pool isn’t really that terrifying, so perhaps it is time for Pobelter to show that NA mids still have some life.

Loyola Chicago Clutch advances

CG had a good season, but ultimately they fell just short against TS… wait. They went off script! CG’s victory over TSM is probably the greatest upset in NA LCS Playoff history — I remember talking to multiple people before the set that said TSM was a 100 to 0 favorite. I thought it was more like 99% — the proletariat confidence! But ultimately, CG never really had to face off against the TSM that made 10 straight finals. They just had to face this iteration of TSM, and all the weight of that history doesn’t matter when you find yourself surrendering kills and losing team fights. CG just outmuscled TSM in team fights — every member contributed, but perhaps none more-so than Hakuho and his Thresh. He distributed copies of Hooked on Phonics all set as he read TSM’s juking patterns like a book. Now CG’s task is to not get caught up in the hype. Beating TSM was huge, yes, but losing now would be like if Cinderella ended at midnight.

Fall of the king

No king rules forever — I’m reminded of the scene where Arthas returns from Northrend and it’s all gloomy and whatnot and then he just straight up impales his father. Thus marking the end of a kingdom. TSM’s defeat was shocking. I don’t normally include blurbs about eliminated teams, but this felt like a pretty momentous occasion. I hope TSM finds the break at least relieving — a guy like Bjergsen has been going at it without any semblance of a break for years now, and perhaps this opportunity to step back will give them the perspective they need to come back stronger in the summer. As they always seem to do.

Close strikeout

It was an 0-3, but C9 could have (and should have a couple times) won all of those games. I saw a lot of fans clamoring for the team to make some changes in the off-season because they don’t think the team is good enough to make a Worlds run. Which kind of feels ridiculous to me considering this was Licorice’s first split and C9 still found a way to hang in there with the best of them. I don’t think expecting them to pull far ahead of this pack is fair — the NA LCS’s top teams are actually just strong this year. A few things going one way or the other could have been the difference for C9, but particularly they need to work on mid and late game shotcalling. The macro play has been lackluster, and it was exposed big time by TL’s decisiveness. That’s not a product of individual talent deficiencies so much as it is not having a defined or effective comms structure.


This match is actually going to be played on the Crystal Scar. Only one team shall claim dominion, and the winner shall be crowned the April’s Fool. If Huni is the sword, then Impact is decidedly the shield. This makes top lane a super compelling matchup for me — the two former SKT top laners (kind of a weird thing to say!) will duke it out in the Semis, and the push and pull nature of their exchange could very well determine the outcome of this set. Across the map, though, there are a lot of dichotomies on display — Dardoch’s more aggressive carry mentality against Xmithie’s tempered supportive style. Or the bot lanes which feature a more stable approach from Altec against Doublelift’s Vaynespotting. The two teams have had some of the most volatile results across this split, and now they’ve both come to more defined styles. I don’t really expect mid lane to dictate the game that much, so it’s a matter of how long Impact can weather the pressure or if Doublelift and Olleh can force a big advantage bot lane.


100 probably started preparing for the horse when Team Liquid won, but instead a bunch of men poured out. It’s a tale as old as time. The clash between these two teams will feature a matchup we’ve seen play out plenty of times in the EU LCS and Febiven and Ryu clash once again. This season hasn’t been particularly strong for Ryu, so I think there will be extra onus (and there was a ton already) on Febiven to dominate this matchup. Mid lane is the shortest lane and is frequently really hard to snowball, but if you do get pressure, then you can pressure both side lanes easily. That’s going to be the key for CG, because the side lanes have tall tasks staring them down. Hakuho and Apollo had a spectacular set against Zven and mithy, and if they can keep that pressure up against Cody Sun and Aphromoo, then it’ll be a long day for 100, who relied heavily on their bot lane in their dominance over the second half of the split. CG’s struggled all split against teams above them in the standings — knocking off the #1 seed will upend that perception entirely.