Photo: Riot Games

There are only three Best of 5 left to be played before we see an LCS champion crowned. That’s incredibly exciting, regardless of your allegiance! In the end, we have four exceptional teams looking to make a name for themselves, and they’re all entering the semifinals with different amounts of hype and momentum. Each team carries a different narrative this time around, and who’s going to come out on top is still completely up in the air.

But how so? Shouldn’t anyone be extremely favored? Should Team Liquid be the favorites to win the whole thing? Long story short — no. And that is the main reason why the current Spring Split is so darn exciting and invigorating. We haven’t seen such a ferocious fight at the top of the region for quite a long while. The North American LCS was always a top-heavy region, but the gap between the top teams this year narrowed. Now it’s a somewhat level playing field. Anyone can win, depending on how well they play on the day, and how fast they are when it comes to imposing their own will and playstyle.

We really will witness four exceptional teams duke it out on the Rift, and you do not want to miss either Best of 5. No, really. This is as good as it gets, and we should be in for a couple of insane games. These four teams are deceptively strong and close in regards to overall strength and potential, and each series could potentially go the five-game distance. In that scenario, the viewers win out the most.

All four competitors want to play League of Legends in a slightly different way. Team Liquid are the “by the book” kind of team — they want to win through stellar macro, objective control, and eventually snowball their leads into a commanding late game when they would out-team fight their opponents. That’s a great style overall, but it’s also fairly one-dimensional in a meta that favors a bit of craziness. They can only play a singular style, and when that fails to do the trick, they don’t have anything to fall back on. They haven’t diversified their arsenal over the course of the Spring Split, and in the competitive LCS landscape that’s a problem. They’re the defending champions and they have a target on their back, but they’ve been somewhat complacent, and it’s showing in their play on the Rift as well.

If they get out the gates swinging, they’re often impossible to take down — but they don’t always manage to impose their own will. They’re playing almost exclusively through the bottom lane and that definitely isn’t the best and most optimal way to play the game right now.

Then you have Cloud9 — a team that has lost very little strength even though they no longer have a behemoth in the mid lane. They’re basically just as strong, just as capable and unhinged as they always were. You never know what you’re going to get when Cloud9 come out to play, and that’s a good part of the reason why their games are always a must watch. They can go out, experiment, get outclassed and still come back the next game and dominate. They’re extremely flexible, with some amazing, top-notch players in each and every position. Finally, their team fighting is spectacular, regardless of the way you look at it. They’re playing like they’re ahead even when that’s not the case, and you can be sure they lost only when their Nexus explodes — not a second earlier. They’re a team filled with fortitude and grit, they have multiple veterans, and they fight each and every second of the game. This is exactly what allowed them to dominate on the World’s stage last year and they currently show no signs of stopping or regressing to a prior form.

Then there’s the boys in black and white, the perennial LCS titans — Team Solo Mid. One can argue that they have the biggest chance of winning the whole Split, and even though a good chunk of that aura comes from their recent win streak, they’re actually doing their part of the work and have looked downright spectacular over the last month or so. They have threats in every single lane and each of their players are spectacular in every regard. They’re also deceptively flexible and have been finding success with a wide variety of team comps and strategies throughout the Spring Split. They’re phenomenal and the fact that they’ve been playing for so little and have still attained so much success is worthy of the highest praise. They’re definitely the favorites right now, but they have arguably the toughest test in front of them — Cloud9. But more on that later.

Finally, FlyQuest are perhaps the weakest of the bunch, but they’re far from actually being weak. They’re also somewhat one-dimensional like Team Liquid, but they’re a lot more adept at the current meta than their opponents. They have more threats in every lane, and have looked more aggressive, proactive, and quite frankly dangerous than many give them credit for. They’re not the kind of team that surrenders when behind, and they fight for every nook and cranny on the Summoner’s Rift. They’re a tough nut to crack for any opponent, and are looking to create an upset for the ages come Sunday.

Lastly, all four teams pose different kinds of threats. They want to play League of Legends differently and attain success through different means. Which play style is better remains to be seen, but the odds are stacked in Team Solo Mid and Cloud9’s favor.

With all that said, let’s focus on the two upcoming semifinal matches:

Team Solo Mid vs. Cloud9

What can one say about a TSM vs. C9 clash? We have seen so many over the years and they never fail to deliver. This one, as expected, should be no different. To make matters even more exciting, these two organizations are fielding two rosters that are downright exceptional. They might not be perfect in their play, they might not be on the same page at any given moment, but the sheer amount of mechanical talent and in-depth knowledge of the game is seismic. Both these teams have what it takes to reign over North America as the LCS champions, and yet there can be only one. This time around, it is a clash between the number two and three teams in the region, respectively.

Whenever these two giants clash, fireworks are almost always guaranteed. They can prepare all they want, but once they step foot on the Summoner’s Rift and see each other, it is as if they go completely insane and just skirmish non-stop. That’s great — for the viewers — but when betting on either team, this fact makes things incredibly difficult. What can happen this time around? No one knows for sure, but high octane top-tier play is almost a given. Both teams have incredibly deep champion pools, and they’ve shown fantastic proficiency at a wide variety of team comps and strategies. They have insane early games, they can kick things up a notch and start dominating in the mid game, but they’re also behemoths once the late game comes around. Their team fighting are second to none.

And it isn’t dependent on their leads either. Both teams ignore the gold tally and just fight like they’re winning regardless of the score. This readiness to skirmish when ever and where ever allows them to turn things around even when they’re playing from a deficit. They don’t acknowledge it, and by proxy start making the right moves around the map and eventually even things out.

To make matters even more interesting, both rosters have some of the best players not just in the region but in the world as well. Both teams have exceptional top laners that can shine and hard carry on bruisers and tanks alike, aggressive playmaking junglers that are known for their mechanical prowess and early game impact, highly talented mid laners that can go for assassins and mages much like utility picks like Zilean and Galio, and highly talented bottom lane duos that are among the best in the entire region.

No one really has an edge either way, and even though you can chalk up a point for TSM since Bjergsen is the more seasoned and mechanically dominant player, Nisqy manages to even things out when the mid and late game team fighting comes around. Cloud9 always want to skirmish, whereas Team Solo Mid wants to do the same but on their own accord. When they have a lead, and when they know what they’re up against, that is the moment when they want to strike and deal the coup de grâce.

In many ways, this is an impossible clash to predict. Both these teams had their incredible ups and downs throughout the Spring Split, and they both have pretty different ways of playing the game. Saying that one style is better or more suited to the meta than the other is impossible at this point in time. Cloud9 do, however, have a 2-0 score in their head-to-head tally with Team Solo Mid, but in the grand scheme of things that holds little to no impact right now.

We have to pick a side, and we simply have to go with Team Solo Mid — although this is far, far from a one-sided affair. Both teams have the tools to make this into an insanely close Best of 5, and it’ll be decided by the slimmest of margins. Cloud9 have shown more tenacity and flexibility over the last year and a half, and they made just a single change to their line-up from 2018, so they should be able to whether the storm if things go awry in the beginning. Then again, TSM has shown so much proficiency in the current meta that it’s impossible to bet against them right now. They also played a Best of 5 before this one so they’re more relaxed, and they won’t need as much time in order to acclimate to the LCS stage as their adversaries might.

Cloud9 are definitely the safer choice here, but the boys in black and white definitely have a big chance to upset and reach the 2019 Spring Split finals.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Team Liquid

After the TSM vs. Cloud9 semifinal match-up, this one doesn’t seem overly engaging — at least not on first glance. But this match-up has just as much potential for back-and-forth action. Unlike the one preceding it, it doesn’t exactly warrant non-stop action — and that isn’t a bad thing per se. Why it is interesting, however, is the fact that FlyQuest actually have a chance. There’s a ton of pressure mounting for Team Liquid, that’s just a fact. They’re not only the defending champions, but they haven’t looked as good near the end of the split as one might expect.

In fact, they looked pretty meek and average. For a team with so much inherent talent, that’s downright unacceptable. Their arsenal is pretty limited, and it shows in their play as well. And even though we haven’t seen them on the Summoner’s Rift in quite some time now, we doubt they diversified their playstyle by a considerable amount. They’ve surely fixed a lot of their early game problems, but whether or not that’ll be enough still remains to be seen.

FlyQuest, on the other hand are entering this semifinal clash after a spectacular five-game series over the Golden Guardians, and are looking to pull off an upset for the ages. They have multiple threats and have been underestimated throughout the entire split. They might not be perfect, but they’re deceptively strong once the mid and later stages of the game come around. Their early game isn’t exactly spectacular, but they mostly lose if they get overwhelmed early on. Seeing how Liquid likes to do things “by the book,” FlyQuest have a solid puncher’s chance.

All that said, we have to side with Team Liquid on this one, but if you’re in the mood for betting on the underdog, now could be a good time to do so. Obviously, the odds are heavily stacked against FlyQuest, but they really do have a chance to upset. It’s important to highlight that a lot has to go in their favor in order for them to win, but at least there’s a chance. Regardless of the final outcome, this Best of 5 will surely be a lot closer than most people expect.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.07 (odds @ Betway)