League of Legends LCS Playoffs: Aug. 15
Christopher Troeh guides you through Saturday's League of Legends North American Championship Playoffs (LCS) for esports DFS contests.
An upset by Golden Guardians has sent TSM to face off in the losers bracket against 8th seed Dignitas. Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses showed signs of life against the red hot FlyQuest who had been surging through the league near the end of the regular split. These match-ups leave us with a wealth of fantastic players to choose from!
Despite being knocked down to losers by Golden Guardians, one must not forget: Golden Guardians were surging before play-offs, and while TSM bested them in week 9, it is clear that GGS learned from their defeat. It’s also easy to forget that it was an unconvincing 3-0, the first two games were heavily in the favor of TSM before some inopportune plays, specifically from their bottom lane. Otherwise, Bjergsen, Spica, and Broken Blade each played admirably. Bjergsen was voted best mid laner of the split for a clear reason: his individual strength in lane has leveraged TSM advantages across the map. Meanwhile, despite Dignitas getting their bearings later in the split, their fumbling into 8th place was barely attributable to their own merits, and mostly due to the absolute collapse of CLG. There are two TSM captains worth taking: Bjergsen and Broken Blade. Broken Blade showed up on the day against Golden Guardians despite TSM’s defeat, and while Hauntzer isn’t a big threat in the top lane, V1per is even less of one. That being said, our alternative choice for captain is an unlikely candidate: Contractz. 100 Thieves definitely took a page out of Golden Guardians’ book with their mid/jungle dynamic, and while their bottom side is much weaker, their top side is actually superior with Ssumday in the top lane. Svenskeren has been having an awful split, and it may be time for Contractz to regain his glory against the lacking Svenskeren.
Alternatives to consider: Contractz ($9,300)
Speaking of Ssumday, he’s solidly our pick for top lane against wildcard Huni in the top lane. Huni had a relatively lukewarm game into FlyQuest, and he picked up back to back wins on splitpushers Gnar and Shen. Meanwhile, Ssumday has favored bruiser threats such as Renekton, Ornn, and Camille; the final of which specifically poses a large threat to Huni’s favored side laning style he implemented to success against FlyQuest. Statistically, Ssumday held the best KDA out of any starting top laner, while Huni held a mediocre 8th. There’s little else to say for Ssumday: while this split hasn’t been complete domination, he is definitely a stronger player for 100 Thieves, and him coming in cheap further sweetens the deal. Broken Blade vs V1per is similarly favored for TSM, but Broken Blade’s propensity for tanks such as Ornn in combination with V1per’s odd pool creates an uncomfortable amount of volatility: Broken Blade is the gambler’s choice, but we’re not willing to throw big money at such a gamble at this point, ourselves.
Alternatives to consider: Broken Blade ($6,600)
Contractz has been a much needed breath of fresh air for 100 Thieves, the former Cloud9 jungler has dominated on picks that thrive when given attention: Graves, Lee sin, and Olaf amongst others. Contractz holding the 4th highest KDA out of each starting jungler despite being on the 7th placed team is no coincidence either; he is certainly someone capable of punching far above his weight class. 100 Thieves with Contractz have created a dynamic much like what Golden Guardians has: a fast paced style involving a mid laner who plays to support his jungler. This style has paid out big for 100 Thieves, who found themselves capable of running through the more orthodox slower pace “control style” junglers featured in other teams. Evil Geniuses have become a Frankenstein abomination with players who pull in each direction, perfect for a big bashing from Contractz. Svenskeren in particular has been looking abysmal this split, but did show some signs of life on Friday. If you’re looking for a different jungler, we’d have to recommend Spica, who faces off against Dardoch on Dignitas. This is a relatively soft recommendation, since Dardoch has been playing quite well, but Spica did look convincing against Closer on Thursday, who may just be the best jungler in the entire league.
Alternatives to consider: Spica ($6,800)
I honestly can’t believe that there’s a timeline where I recommend Ryoma for mid lane, but this is definitely the one. Golden Glue has been a direct downgrade to Jiizuke, and his style is at odds with his jungler’s and is generally just too slow paced relative to the rest of the league. Ryoma isn’t good per say, but he has been accommodating to his new jungler in Contractz, and their 2v2 isn’t typically a hindrance to the success of the Thieves. Even statistically, Ryoma in 7th is above 9th place Golden Glue. Additionally, Golden Glue has had a hard time punishing his opponents in lane, which is an aspect where Ryoma is clearly lacking in: stylistically, the mid laners are very similar, but Ryoma having a more cohesive and all around better team is very much to his advantage.
I should say, all of this is being said under the assumption that Bjergsen is your captain. If he’s not, pick him up here. There’s no other good mid laner on the day, and while Fenix is worth brief consideration, he just doesn’t stack up to his competition in Bjergsen.
Alternatives to consider: Bjergsen ($7,600)
Looking through the list of ADCs is difficult, as each of them are good players but are fettered by their own hamartia. That being said, Doublelift is still likely the best bet over Johnsun and Aphromoo. FBI and Huhi conquering Doublelift and Treatz was unlikely, but possible. On the otherhand, Johnsun and Aphromoo despite being LCS caliber lack the raw firepower an ADC like FBI brings: they are good, but not FBI good. Doublelift’s Achilles’ has clearly been his hot & cold nature: he’s either on, or he’s not. Generally, even a cold Doublelift is more than enough to beat the lesser bottom lanes in the league, and while Johnsun and Aphromoo have been a very bright spot for Dignitas, come on. It’s Doublelift and Treatz, compared to them A&J are bottom tier.
If you want a different choice, I’d recommend picking up Bang, who is likely the only player on EG worth your time. Bang is a good ADC, but his natural issues with lane are being exacerbated by playing with a fellow weak laner in Zeyzal. Poome and Cody haven’t worked great together so far and don’t play a particularly threatening lane, perhaps allowing Bang to scale up into the teamfight threat which he is most prolific for.
Alternatives to consider: Bang ($7,600)
Another iffy player on Thursday was Treatz, who posted mediocre performances against Huhi’s Morgana. Something that gets lost in the noise of anti-TSM arguments is the fact that Huhi’s history naturally leaves him predisposed to picks like Morgana or Zyra, since he was a former professional mid laner for years before he swapped to support. While Treatz lacked respect, Aphromoo is a much more orthodox support relative to mad scientist Huhi, which will allow Treatz to play a much more comfortable game of League of Legends. Despite their failure on Thursday, I give TSM’s bottom lane by full approval. That being said, our secondary support choice would actually be Treatz’s opponent, Aphromoo, as he’s objectively the 2nd best support of the day relative to Zeyzal and Poome. The distance between Treatz and Aphromoo is likely larger than the gap between Zeyzal and Poome, but Dignitas are a team who come with their own bag of tricks.
Alternatives to consider: Aphromoo ($4,800)
Team SoloMid ($5,400)
While GGS vs TSM was an upset, you need to put it in perspective: both were teams who faced success entering play-offs, and while it may seem like there were miles between them going into play-offs in TSM’s favor, Golden Guardians was seed #5 and TSM were seed #4. Sure, #4 is favored, but it wouldn’t be super uncommon to see #5 win. Golden Guardians were on the upswing, and were learning from their mistakes, meanwhile TSM stagnated with success. Hopefully, TSM will learn from their mistakes, but to be honest, even a bad TSM could likely beat Dignitas on the day. If you’re looking for a different team, we have high expectations that 100 Thieves will be able to win over Evil Geniuses.
Alternatives to consider: 100 Thieves ($4,600)
Bjergsen & Doublelift
The carries for TSM. Despite Doublelift’s mediocre performance on Thursday, it’s easy to forget that Doublelift has singlehandedly carried games from the brink in the favor of TSM. Everyone remembers the flash being off cooldown, the Viktor laser, the red buff execute. However, Doublelift coming to TSM had rejuvinated the team which had spent so long in mediocrity. These two fundamentally work well together, they view the game similarly, and they have similar objectives. Don’t be fooled by one off day: TSM will triumph against Dignitas off the back of these two.
Ryoma & Contractz
I still can’t believe I’m recommending Ryoma. That being said, Ryoma is a lesser version of Damonte without the dramatic flair or the charisma: he supports his jungler. While Damonte favors roaming champions and has his bag of tricks, such as what we saw with Ziggs on Thursday, Ryoma favors more conventional picks like Galio or Orianna to assist Contractz in his aggression. There’s no issue with that, but with these two you know what you’re getting: the hammer and the anvil. Svenskeren has been having a hard time this split, and Contractz is a jungler who loves to give hard times to his opponents.
Johnsun & Aphromoo
In a purely hypothetical world where Dignitas beat TSM, it’ll likely be off the back of these two. Aphromoo has been playing one of the best splits in his recent career, despite it ending in an 8th place finish in regular season. Substituting Akaadian and Froggen out for Dardoch and Fenix gave Dignitas a little pizazz beyond being just another “Froggen team” Johnsun is that last bit of flair: while his statistics in lane are inflated off the back of playing Ashe, Johnsun is a consistent positive for the side of Dignitas, and Aphromoo’s playmaking ability has returned in spades this split.
Top Picks: Bjergsen, Broken Blade, Ssumday
Each of these players are expected to gap their opposition relatively hard, while Huni may be a more even match-up for Ssumday, Broken Blade’s propensity to pick “sack laners” such as Ornn creates a degree of volatility towards giving him our full recommendations. There’s a chance Broken Blade will just take some absurd carry and dumpster V1per to shreds, but there’s an even higher probability that he’ll just play Ornn 3 matches and end with a 2-1-2 scoreline each match. Decisions, decisions. Either way, these three have the most space skill-wise between them and their opponents. Don’t let these guys go by without a consideration.
Top Value: Ssumday, Aphromoo, Contractz
100 Thieves being speculated to lose is equally as fascinating as TSM’s members generally being more expensive than FlyQuest’s for the winners bracket. That being said, the trend is clear: buy fast. Dignitas is a strange case, as each of their players do have a degree of pop-off potential, but Aphromoo is the catalyst that allows their team to truly make progress. It’s no mistake their first victory came off of the back of Aphromoo’s insane Bard plays: while he may not be better than Treatz, it’s not as far as one may expect from a #4 seed facing off against a #8 seed.