Photo: Riot Games

The seventh week of competitive LCS play will be an incredibly important one. With just six games left to be played, every single win matters. That’s a cliche statement if there ever was one, but it’s the hard truth. A single win or loss could be the difference between locking down a playoff spot or siding on the outskirts, waiting for the Summer Split.

As for North America, as a region, things are far from locked in. We have Team Liquid at the very top with just a single loss to Team Solo Mid a couple of weeks ago, followed by Cloud9 who have looked downright spectacular overall — and have only lost twice over the last six weeks, and finally, sitting comfortably at third place, we have none other than the perennial North American titans Team Solo Mid.

These three teams are, by all accounts, in a league for themselves when compared to the rest of the opposition. They have the best read on the meta, the best players, the highest amounts of cohesion, they’re the most flexible (both individually but also as five-man units) and potent regardless of the state of the game.

You can’t count them out, and even though they might not always start off on the right foot, they’re dangerous and deceptively capable. All three teams need just a single opening (and it doesn’t even have to be a big one) in order to turn things around, as was demonstrated time and time again over the current Spring Split.

It’s hard saying who’s stronger than whom at this point, primarily because TSM outclassed Liquid, only to get demolished by Cloud9 in spectacular fashion after being in control of the game for so long. Cloud9, on the other hand, simply can’t fight against Team Liquid — it is a matter of styles and match-ups, they’re helpless against Liquid’s slow, subdued, macro-oriented playstyle.

Either way, having all three near the top feels like the correct way for things to pan out, and once the playoffs come around, we’re in for a metric ton of hype and top tier League of Legends. Seeing all three teams at the top of their game is a spectacular sight, and things really cannot get any more exciting.

After the top three, absolute chaos begins. We have a confusing four-way tie between Counter Logic Gaming, FlyQuest, Golden Guardians, and OpTic Gaming. These four teams are basically equal in strength and potential, and they can take a game off of one another — depending on the day. They’re incredibly inconsistent, they make egregious errors more often than not, and their drafting tendencies aren’t anything worth being proud of either.

They’re good, but who’s the best among them is completely up in the air. That is one of the main reasons as to why every upcoming match is so darn exciting — anything can happen, and almost anyone can win. It is a four-way tie, so one of these four teams will have to finish seventh — just outside of the playoffs.

Who that’ll be remains to be seen, but it’s going to be one heck of a fight. For these four teams, they simply cannot afford any additional blunders going forward because losing a game they shouldn’t immediately pushes them down a peg.

At the very bottom of the standings we have Echo Fox, Clutch Gaming, and 100 Thieves. They’re all playing at an abysmal level right now, but they’re still somewhat dangerous — especially true for Clutch Gaming. They’re all one win behind the four-way clump and they could, in theory, aim for a playoff spot, but they simply have to step up immensely and start dominating left and right.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on the upcoming games, and how they’ll mostly likely pan out!

DAY ONE

Golden Guardians vs. Counter Logic Gaming — To start things off, we have an incredibly exciting clash between two teams tied for fourth. Predicting the outcome of this game is downright impossible. Both GGS and CLG have shown moments of brilliance over the last six weeks of play, but they’re nowhere near a consistent level of play.

They both have a ton of potential, but at the same time, you simply can’t predict how well they’ll play once they step foot on the LCS stage. Will they draft well? Will they be on the same page? They’re both mid-tier teams for a reason, and they fail to step up more often than not. You could argue that CLG showed less over the last couple of weeks, but it’s a game of inches regardless.

The Golden Guardians should have the edge overall, and the fact that they went blow-for-blow with Cloud9 last week should give them the confidence going forward. Both teams know that this game is a must win because they not only need every game they can get, but taking their opponent down will propel them upwards while at the same time kick their adversaries down a notch.

We’re going with the Golden Guardians on this one, but it’s not going to be clean or dominant. If they draft well and set Froggen up, they should be more than capable at taking CLG down.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

Cloud9 vs. Team Liquid — The game of the day, without a doubt. This is a must watch regardless of your allegiance. Team Liquid has been Cloud9’s kryptonite throughout 2018, and have even managed to outclass them in the opening game of the 2019 Spring Split. Both teams are absolutely immaculate in their play, they’re cohesive, aggressive, and highly capable.

It’s hard to predict the outcome because both of these titans have played out of their minds over the last couple of weeks. They weren’t perfect, but when they decided to step up and close things out, they were absolutely phenomenal.

It’s going to be an absolute barnburner, and if there’s one match that you should watch this week, make sure to tune in for this one. Regardless, we have to make a pick, and we’re going with Team Liquid. Even though Cloud9 have been on fire, they haven’t been able to take Liquid down in recent history. They have the tools within their arsenal to make this into one incredibly close game, but we can’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Not against this incarnation of Team Liquid — the best one in history.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. 100 Thieves — For our third game of the day, we have a pretty one-sided clash between the North American titans Team Solo Mid and 100 Thieves. You’d think that this would be a top-tier clash seeing the amount of talent within the 100 Thieves roster, but it’s basically a fight between a Top 3 team, an aggressive, playmaking contender, and a bottom three team — if not even the worst team in the region.

Now sure, 100 Thieves have the tools in order to make this a highly contested affair, but the odds are stacked against them, and then some. TSM, on the other hand, are looking like their vintage 2016 incarnation. They’re hungry to win, and even though they’ve been playing as a five-man unit for three/four months, they’ve made incredible strides in an incredibly short time span. They’re one of the best teams in the region, and there’s absolutely no chance that 100 Thieves could upset.

We’re going with Team Solo Mid on this one, and with full confidence.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. FlyQuest — This is where things get incredibly interesting. Well, at least if you’re invested in the region and the playoff picture. FlyQuest are definitely the favorites here, but after witnessing Clutch’s incredible level of play last week, we’re inclined to believe that this won’t be nearly as one-sided as many think it will.

By all accounts, Clutch should have been tied with FlyQuest right now had they not lost a game they had basically won. They had a five thousand gold lead at the fifteen-minute mark against 100 Thieves, and they basically had the game in the bag. After an incredibly hectic early game tempo, they fell off — hard. They wanted to close things out by the book, and as a result, allowed 100 Thieves to claw back.

It was a crushing defeat, but they were able to bounce back just a day afterwards against Echo Fox, and completely outclass their adversaries in what was almost a perfect game.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, failed to do anything worth mentioning. They’re winless over the last two weeks, and they’re simply too out of sync at this point, which is pretty confusing. They’ve been playing at an incredibly high level over the first few weeks of the split, but have regressed considerably. Whether or not they’ll be able to pick up the pace remains to be seen, but they simply don’t deserve any benefit of the doubt at this point.

Clutch have been looking mighty hungry to make the playoffs, and they want to prove people wrong for doubting them. With Piglet, Damonte, and Huni stepping up, they might as well be able to do so. Either way, prepare for a slugfest that will surely deviate into the fiesta realm fairly quickly.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 2.05 (odds @ Betway)

Echo Fox vs. OpTic Gaming — To close out the day, we have a relatively underwhelming clash between a mid-tier gatekeeper and a team that is the poster child for mind-boggling inconsistency and volatility. Echo Fox are currently sharing the “honors” of being a bottom two team along with 100 Thieves, and they have shown no signs of improvement recently. In fact, the opposite.

OpTic, on the other hand, are still an unknown quantity. They’ve been stepping up immensely but at the most random of times. They have some incredibly players within their ranks, but their synergy is still suspect. There are moments of incredible brilliance, but also moments of absolute chaos and bad communication.

Regardless, they should have the edge over Echo Fox almost by default. They know that this is an easy win, and they need one seeing how they’re up against Team Solo Mid a day later.

Winner: OpTic Gaming, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

DAY TWO

Team Liquid vs. Golden Guardians — This is a really interesting match-up, even though it might not look like it at first glance. The last time these two teams fought, things were far closer than anyone had ever anticipated. The Golden Guardians were able to go blow-for-blow with Liquid throughout the game, and even come ahead in the early game. That’s not something anyone would expect from a team that was up against the likes of Doublelift & Co.

While that occurrence does make things somewhat more interesting, it’s downright impossible to side with the Golden Guardians right now. Liquid is simply playing on another level, and their stellar win against Cloud9 yesterday allowed them to not only lock in a playoff spot (with just a single loss on their record), but also differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. They’re playing some insane League of Legends right now, and they’re only getting better with each passing week.

We’re going with Liquid on this one, and even though they might not exactly outclass the Golden Guardians as many would expect, they should still be more than capable at taking them down.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.15 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Echo Fox — After the exciting opener, things get downhill for a bit. This isn’t exactly the pinnacle of top tier League of Legends, but for both of these two teams this is an incredibly important match. People are already writing Echo Fox out of the playoff race, and with good reason. They’re simply a bad team right now, and they would have to overcome too big of a hurdle in order to get into playoff contention.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, are a potent, deceptively strong mid tier contender. That said, they’re inconsistent and fairly volatile. Fortunately, they’re focusing on the things that made them strong back when the split began, so they should get back to their winning ways sooner rather than later. Their win against Clutch Gaming yesterday was a necessary step in the right direction.

Taking Echo Fox down should be an easy hurdle to overcome, and that might even be an understatement. While they shouldn’t take anything for granted, this should be an easy, one-sided win.

Winner: FlyQuest, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

OpTic Gaming vs. Team Solo Mid — This is where things get extremely interesting.  While Team Solo Mid have sole possession of third place, their spot is far from secure. They’re only two wins up over the mid-tier clump, and they could, by all means, lose their spot if things go awry. Their showing yesterday against 100 Thieves was abysmal, in every way, shape, and form. They didn’t look like a top tier team, nor did they play like one. They were reactive, making egregious errors across the board, and nearly lost the game.

Sure, they did bounce back, but the fact that they were put in such a thankless position by one of the worst teams in the entire region is not a good sign. Either way, we can chalk this one up as a “one-off” blunder, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

OpTic Gaming, on the other hand, are quietly rising up the ranks. They have a respectable 6W-7L record, and have looked good every single week. They’re not exactly a world beater just yet, but they have some extremely solid players within their ten-man roster. Meteos has been stepping up immensely, and the same goes for former World Champion Crown and Arrow. They’re deceptively strong and definitely have the tools to make this a highly contested affair.

What’ll happen is completely up in the air. They could, by all accounts, take TSM down. That wouldn’t be such a huge upset seeing how badly TSM played yesterday. We’re siding with TSM on this one, but if you’re betting, perhaps it would be best if you just skipped this match entirely. It really can go either way.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Cloud9 — For our fourth game of the day, we have a clash between one of the best teams in the region — Cloud9, and one  of the worst — 100 Thieves. It’s easy to say that Cloud9 should, by all means, outclass 100 Thieves, but the former 2018 Spring Split finalists have been picking up steam lately. While they’re not doing it at a fast pace, they are improving.

They shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, they have immense talent within their five-man line-up, and it’s only a matter of time before they consolidate all that talent and start playing as well as they can. Then again, other than Team Liquid, Cloud9 are literally the hardest and most complex team to tackle right now. They’re exceptionally strong and have shown no signs of stopping.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one, but seeing how both teams love to fight from the very get-go, you can expect a back-and-forth game filled with fireworks. Cloud9 should be able to get the win, regardless of how the game develops.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.22 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Clutch Gaming — To close out the week, we have a pretty interesting clash between CLG and Clutch Gaming. This is by no means a must watch game, but it should deliver regardless. Both teams love to skirmish throughout the game, and they’re looking to make a statement. They’re still not out of the running for playoffs, but seeing their level of play yesterday doesn’t exactly instill any confidence. Both rosters have some potential, but the odds are stacked against them. They have both had flashes of brilliance, but they were too few and far between in order to warrant a spot higher up the rankings.

If we had to describe both teams in a single phrase, that would be “painful inconsistency”. Regardless, we’re going with Clutch Gaming on this one. CLG have opted to start with two of their Academy players, which seriously hindered their synergy — as was evident from their loss to the Golden Guardians yesterday. While they do have the tools within their arsenal to make this into a highly competitive game, Clutch should be able to step up and dominate.

That said, much like with the TSM vs. OpTic Gaming game, if you’re betting perhaps it would be best to skip this match altogether. It will be a game of inches, and it could go either way.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.90 (odds @ Betway)