Repeating history: 2018 NA LCS Summer Split semifinal preview

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After a hectic 2018 North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split, the playoffs are upon us.

At the end of an unusually close regular season, six teams rose to the top of the NA LCS. Now, only four remain: Team SoloMid, Cloud9, 100 Thieves and Team Liquid. These four teams will play their semifinal matchups this weekend at the NA LCS studio in Los Angeles.

Saturday, Sept. 1, 2:00 p.m.: Team SoloMid (TSM) vs. Cloud9 (C9)

North America flops at worlds. SK Telecom T1 wins best of fives. Everyone else is trash. TSM faces C9 in the semifinal?

In the 2018 summer playoffs, League of Legends fans will see a new twist on a classic. Over the years, TSM and C9 have faced off in a total of six finals matches (including both spring and summer playoffs), competing for first and second place in seasons three, four, five, six and 7.

Neither team has ever lost a semifinal match. Whatever the outcome, this Sunday is sure to make NA LCS history.

Like Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi in cosplay, C9 has completely transformed since the beginning of the season.

The team sat in last place after week three, with a 1-5 record. Controversial roster changes were made early in the split, prompting heavy backlash from C9 fans. An eight-game winning streak to a second-place finish, however, is sure to give those fans high hopes heading into the semifinal.

TSM seemed to struggle as well in the Summer Split, eking out a fifth-place finish to the regular season after finishing 1-1 in its tiebreaker matches.

Although the team got it together in the last weeks — concluding with four consecutive wins to salvage one of the last four playoff spots — it didn’t look quite as good as C9 did. TSM’s quarterfinal match against Echo Fox went all the way to game five, despite some poor decision-making on the side of Echo Fox and one pentakill each for TSM mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen.

Although both teams are strong in their own right, it seems likely that C9 will be the one to preserve its perfect semifinal record.

Prediction: C9 wins series, 3-1.

Sunday, Sept. 2, 12:00 p.m.: Team Liquid (TL) vs. 100 Thieves (100T)

The second semifinal matchup is one that’s also familiar to League of Legends fans: TL vs. 100T. These two teams went head-to-head in the final match of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs, with TL prevailing 3-0 to lift the NA LCS trophy.

In the Spring Split final, TL clearly dominated its opposition. Although 100T obtained an early lead in two of the three games, the team was unable to translate that into victories, with the gold graph invariably spiraling out of control in favor of TL after 15 minutes of game time.

Furthermore, 100T failed to secure a single dragon, Rift Herald or Baron over the course of the series. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the final was TL jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero stealing Baron just as 100T was on the brink of a comeback in game one.

A lot has changed for 100T since that final match. Jungler William “Meteos” Hartman was traded to FlyQuest in exchange for Andy “AnDa” Hoang before week four. Whether the team has significantly improved, however, is up for debate.

While TL ended this split solidly in first place, 100T tied with TSM, Echo Fox and FlyQuest for playoff seeding. 100T landed in third place after tiebreakers and has since demolished FlyQuest in its quarterfinal match.

TL has been a force to be reckoned with this summer. The team put up a far more consistent performance than any other in this wildly unstable Summer Split, hovering around the top four in the early weeks of the season until it snatched first place.

The 100T roster can’t be overlooked either. Notorious for resilience and staying cool under pressure, 100T emerged victorious in game three of the quarterfinal despite a -9.4K gold deficit. This team of (mostly) veteran players will fight until the end.

But the record between these two teams cannot be denied. 100T’s record against TL is a dismal 1-6, dating back to when 100T joined the NA LCS in the spring. Granted, 100T has only faced TL once with its current roster, but that game was one of those six losses.

Team Liquid’s relatively reliable performance this season seems likely to continue. Unfortunately for 100T, history should repeat itself in this semifinal matchup.

Prediction: TL wins series, 3-0.

Julia Shen covers esports. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @yinglol.