Photo: Riot Games

Cloud9 vs. Team Dignitas, August 19th

Watching Dignitas play over the last two weeks was really a mixed bag. When Altec and Adrian became their starting bottom lane, things just “clicked”. They not only started playing better, but they dominated the opposition as well. Wins over CLG, TSM and even IMT were a huge morale boost to all Dignitas fans.

However things settled down, their fast adaptation to the meta was matched by other teams as well, and as the weeks went by they had less tools to work with.

Something really stood out when Dignitas played against CLG in the last week of the regular season. They had the chance to get a higher seeding and face Team Envy in the quarterfinals, and with no offense to Envy, that would have been an easy path to the semifinals, maybe even the finals.

With something that big on the line, what do they do? They lock in Nasus! To be fair, the champion did get some hefty buffs in patch 7.15, however they’re not big enough to warrant him getting played competitively on the LCS stage.

As luck would have it, Darshan had an amazing series, completely shutting down any and all hopes Ssumday had of scaling, and even managed to turn the tides on a lot of fights around the map thanks to his TP’s and Shen ultimates.

How could they do such a thing? They didn’t take the series seriously enough, and that is a red alarm. They have the potential to go higher, they have the individual talent to surprise a lot of people, and yet the faltered at such a stupid road block.

Fighting a game Cloud9 in the playoffs is not something that you should want, especially not in the quarterfinals. As luck would have it, those are exactly the cards that were dealt to Dignitas.

If we take a look at Cloud9, it’s hard not to be impressed. They’re looking as dominant as they ever were. Their wins over Team Envy and Echo Fox we’re statements to all other NA teams. They’re on a six match win streak, and their series against Echo Fox took under 50 minutes of game time.

Individually, Cloud9 players have stepped up immensely.

Over the last couple of weeks, Contractz could do no wrong. He is just as intimidating on tanks as he is on carry junglers. Smoothie is playing like the second best support in the League and can play whatever is necessary, Jensen is arguably the best midlaner in NA with some pristine positioning and insane damage output and we already know how versatile and consistent Sneaky is.

Even Impact, who was arguably their biggest underperformer started playing better, probably due to the meta changing.

They will enter the quarterfinals with some serious momentum.

On the other hand if we take a look at how Dignitas played, one has to be a bit concerned. They’re a great team, and even in their losses they manage to hold on and make things even for as long as possible, but it’s never clean. You rarely see them dominate, even against lower ranked teams. When Altec and Adrian play out of their minds, they contend for the best duo bot, however that isn’t always the case, and if Shrimp wasn’t able to shut down OmarGod in their series against CLG – how does he expect to take on Contractz who is arguably the best performing and most versatile NA jungler at the moment? (or at worst Top 2 if you value Xmithie more highly)

Their third game against CLG was a mess, overchasing when they should have simply backed away, Keane playing without flash and overextending, Adrian using the potentially game-changing Taric ultimate multiple times without any reason or initiation, etc. They don’t always come together as a unit, and that simply isn’t acceptable if they want to contend for the Summer Split trophy.

Best of 5 series are a whole different ball game, and it’s where Cloud9 strive. Expect the boys in white and blue to come out victorious in a somewhat close 3-1 series.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Team Envy, August 20th

Photo: Riot Games

Last week we saw the two sides of CLG that manage to somehow co-exist. The dominant, creative playmaking team that contends for the top spot, and the lost, almost leaderless team that fails to create any game winning plays.

The latter often comes to the stage when they’re against a top tier team, however that wouldn’t be too right to say about CLG. They have the potential to be the number one team, just not this split. They’re pretty inconsistent, and are prone to making a lot of mistakes – especially early. To make matters even more problematic – they have a complete rookie in the jungle! While OmarGod has the potential to improve, he doesn’t have the luxury to do it in time for playoffs. While he shouldn’t have too big of a problem against LirA, it’s hard seeing him having a good time against Contractz, Svenskeren and Xmithie. He is serviceable, and that isn’t what CLG needs.

Individually, they’re all playing super well, with Huhi and Darshan being the two standout performers. They have their ups and downs, but overall have shown some spectacular play on the Rift over the last couple of weeks.

As for Team Envy, when watching their games against top tier teams you can see that they always need just a little bit more. It’s always a mistake in the early or mid game, a call that was unnecessary, an engage that went very wrong very quickly. They’re also a very competent team as well, they just need more time. Nisqy is playing really well and has shown great proficiency on a lot of different champions and Apollo and Hakuho are a very formidable duo that can tango with the very best.

However Envy simply depends too much on LirA performing, and that isn’t happening at the moment. They make too many individual mistakes, and their communication isn’t looking that good, so it’s fairly optimistic to think that they could give CLG a run for their money. After seeing them dismantled by both C9 and IMT (who had an 11k gold lead at the twenty minute mark) it’s hard to get hyped.

In summary, Envy have nothing to be ashamed of, a sixth place ranking in a split this competitive is nothing short of admirable. Could have they gone higher? Not really, not with Seraph and the whole midlaner situation. (Pirean, then Nisqy) However things look promising for this squad, and with another split’s time and perhaps a couple of roster changes they could be a real contender.

CLG will focus on taking Seraph down early so that he becomes a non-factor later on the game, all the meanwhile taming LirA and his impact on the game. Apollo and Hakuho are a threat for sure, but the veteran duo of Stixxay and aphromoo shouldn’t have too big of a problem going even, at the very least.

They want to have a couple of statement games and enter the semifinals with some momentum, and this series is the perfect way to accomplish that. Looking at this series specifically, CLG’s path to the semifinals could not be any easier.

If CLG come prepared, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t (and don’t prioritize Ashe in the draft) they should be able to take this one in clean 3-0 fashion.

Winner: CLG, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)