League of Legends: North America Championship Series Playoff

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After nine grueling weeks, the North American League of Legends Championship Series has eliminated the two weakest squads and will progress to the eight-team playoffs.

TSM and 100 Thieves finished in the top two and earned the privilege of a bye-week, advancing straight to the second round of the playoffs. As a result, they will only have to win one best-of-five match to solidify their spot at the World Championship tournament this fall. Coincidentally, they were the only teams in the LCS that used the same five players the entire split.

TSM placed first with a 30-15 total record, and were largely bolstered by their ability to have any of their players step up and win any given game. While they have no particular weak points, all players individually can struggle on occasion so if they aren’t playing at their peak, they could fall.

100 Thieves finished just one game back of first place at 29-16. Their success hinged on the elite performance by mid-laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun and his team’s ability to support his play. Through him, they have seemingly hit a stride that just can’t be matched by the rest of the league. Of course, if he falters, then the rest of the team suffers dramatically. This particularly applies to top-laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho who in recent weeks has shown a tendency to get bullied around by some other top-laners in the league.

The teams that finished 3-6 in the standings all play in the first round. Evil Geniuses, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Dignitas must win in the first rounds to compete against one of the top two teams in the winner’s bracket.

Evil Geniuses shocked everyone this split, going on streaks of sheer dominance over other teams. Finishing at 28-17, they won the tiebreaker over Cloud9 by winning the season series 4-1. They are up against the sixth seed Dignitas, whose record was held up by their remarkable spring, with just a 12-15 record in the summer. Dignitas does have the edge in the series record, winning three of the five matches over the year, but it’s hard to believe Evil Geniuses won’t cleanly stomp them.

The other first-round matchup will be a classic between the fourth seed Cloud9 (C9) and the fifth seed Team Liquid. Two long-time dominant forces in the league will be forced to fight in the first round. That fight starts in the top lane. C9’s Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami and TL’s Barney “Alphari” Morris consistently perform as the best top laners in the LCS. Alphari’s success was predictable, but Fudge rose up as a rookie and has shocked the league. Currently, C9 holds the season series 3-2.

The losers of the first round matchups are sent to a loser’s bracket, where the final two teams await them: the seventh seed Immortals and the eighth seed Golden Guardians. This means these two are just one loss away from pure elimination. Both have shown to be substantially weaker than the top six and will need to have one hell of a gauntlet if they want to win. The playoffs will be commencing over the next few weeks in order to decide the top three teams that will represent the North American region at Worlds 2021.