Mar 24, 2023
Mar 24, 2023

LCS Spring Split Playoffs Preview

What teams are in the LCS Playoffs?

Which team are the favourites to win?

Which players will shine in the LCS Playoffs?

LCS Spring Split Playoffs Preview

It’s an exhilarating time in North America as the LCS Spring Playoffs are about to commence. The final week of the regular season brought pure chaos and THREE tiebreakers, but now that the dust has settled, six teams are left with two spots at the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) up for grabs.

The reduced number of participants in this year’s playoffs - down from eight - means the level of competition is fiercer than ever. Especially with two very strong teams - Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses - already in the losers’ bracket waiting for their chance to eliminate someone.

There’s a lot we can discern from the huge amount of games Week 8 gave us, but as history has always shown, the outcome of the playoffs is rarely written in stone.

There will almost certainly be surprises, but nonetheless, we’re going to take a look at the form of the top six and try to predict just who will be competing with the best in London at MSI next month.

Let’s start with the top two - and the early favourites - to do just that: Cloud9 and FlyQuest. The two clashed twice last week, and both times Cloud9 came out victorious, which makes them obvious favourites for the title.

The first meeting was complete domination. FlyQuest’s excellent team fighting ability had no chance of being a factor as Cloud9 quickly disposed of them in just 26 minutes. Robert "Blaber" Huang had a phenomenal game, once again putting himself forward as the best Jungler in the league. Currently, he leads in his role for average kills, CS per minute, gold per minute, and damage per minute.

But then in the tiebreaker for first place, it was a much closer bout, with the sheer quality of both squads on full display. However, one individual stood above them all, and that was Kim "Berserker" Min-cheol. The Korean Bot Laner was unstoppable on Draven, to the point where he was ludicrously able to claim a Quadra Kill in a 2v4 fight.

Although, that doesn’t mean Cloud9 are unbeatable. Far from it in fact, as proven in Week 8 by Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), the team who will be their first opponents in the winners’ bracket.

CLG were in danger of missing out on the playoffs altogether, but had a fantastic superweek, going 3-0 (before tiebreakers) while also taking down Golden Guardians and eliminating Team Liquid. While they did then lose their third-place tiebreaker with 100 Thieves (more on them later), CLG have once again rewarded fans’ faith in them with gutsy and entertaining performances.

Cristian "Palafox" Palafox has had an incredible rise in recent weeks. He leads LCS Mid Laners in Week 8 (excluding tiebreakers) in highest average kills, least average deaths, gold per minute, and smashed his lanes with remarkable averages of gold difference at 15 (1223), and experience difference at 15 (1010). No other LCS player hit four digits that week.

And that was partly enabled by Jungler Juan Arturo "Contractz" Garcia, who ripped Cloud9 apart in the early game, and sported an impressive KDA of 11.5 last week. The only LCS player that topped that was his Bot Laner, Fatih "Luger" Güven, who sported an absurd KDA of 37, with only a single death in three games.

Cloud9 will still be heavy favourites, but CLG shouldn’t be underestimated, as all five of their players have the capability of single-handedly changing a game. At the same time, that’s still going to be extremely difficult against the ridiculous amount of talent among Cloud9’s ranks - although the impressive Jang "EMENES" Min-soo did show in that CLG encounter that he still has a volatile, high-death game in him.

Elsewhere, FlyQuest - who have led the LCS for the majority of Spring’s eight weeks - could be in genuine trouble against 100 Thieves. While they did win their other Week 8 games versus TSM and Golden Guardians, the team’s drop in form and early-game struggles have been clear to see.

Meanwhile, 100 Thieves have been doing very well, winning their last seven games – with five of those wins coming during Week 8 - as they took down CLG and Evil Geniuses in tiebreakers. That means they have won more games in Week 8 than Dignitas and Immortals have all season.

After a terrible mid-season slump that saw the team drop all the way down to seventh after Week 6, 100 Thieves now find themselves as third seeds, and genuine title contenders.

Yiliang "Peter" “Doublelift” Peng has been particularly impressive, popping off in the two tiebreakers despite being target-banned in both. His stellar play will be crucial in shutting down FlyQuest’s star man Lee "Prince" Chae-hwan.

Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg also had a fantastic week, and has shown tremendous improvement after a sluggish start to the year. The experience and flexibility that he and “Doublelift” offer put 100 Thieves in a fantastic position heading into best-of-fives. Though, there are questions surrounding how well rookie Milan "Tenacity" Oleksij can perform when not playing a Tank, so there could be a weakness there.

And while 100 Thieves are in immense form, they still haven’t beaten FlyQuest this year. Both teams like to team fight, but FlyQuest likely have the edge in that regard, which might make them a stylistic mismatch for 100 Thieves. Putting “Doublelift” on a scaling Carry like Jinx won’t be enough to take down FlyQuest, so it will be up to Jungler Can "Closer" Çelik and how well he can affect the laning phase with his ganks to punish FlyQuest’s tenderness early.

Finally, despite having very impressive seasons, both Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses suffered meltdowns in Week 8 which knocked them down into the losers’ bracket.

Golden Guardians have been the surprise package of the Spring, and genuinely looked like one of the best teams in the league at one point, so it’s unlikely that they’ve completely forgotten how to play. In fact, they gave FlyQuest a good run for their money last week.

It makes them the wild card of the top six, a team that is completely unpredictable and can very easily catch their opponents off-guard if they aren’t careful.

As for Evil Geniuses, they had been regularly competing with Cloud9 and FlyQuest for the top spots, so seeing them this low is a major surprise. While they did have some players who were sick, and were forced to play from their offices due to Covid, it also feels like this drop has been on the cards for a while.

In our previous power rankings, we mentioned that Evil Geniuses kept failing to close out games and have a very shaky mid-game, so it’s entirely plausible that they’ve been exposed for what they really are. They have extremely talented players, but you know things are bad when your Mid Laner can’t take advantage of his 2/0/4 lead as Veigar and proceeds to go 2/6/4.

If they do start playing to their full potential, Evil Geniuses will suddenly be back in the title race. But with how many mistakes they’ve been making recently, the Spring Playoffs have probably come too soon for them.

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About the author

Jack Stewart

With a sports journalism background, Jack began his esports career a couple of years ago when he became the first full-time esports journalist at a British newspaper. He has followed League of Legends religiously over the last few years and now shares his expert knowledge with Pinnacle

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