Photo: Riot Games

The playoffs have never been this close and we are in for a real treat this weekend as we get to watch two premier matchups.

Let’s dive deeper into analysis.

Immortals vs. CLG

Immortals are entering the playoffs on a high note. While many are still reserved due to the organization’s history of choking when it mattered the most, this is the first time this team managed to perform on the highest level without star players. They win through teamwork, smart play and great coordination. They’re always on the same page and it shows in key moments. They were on fire for the last week of the regular season. Every time they played on the stage it looked effortless. Every game they played was a statement, and even though they failed to end the season as the number one team, they’re entering the semifinals with their heads held high as they know that they performed at the highest possible level.

CLG on the other hand have a lot to be worried about. They will live to fight another day as they managed to best Team Envy in the quartefinals. Barely.

It was a slugfest from the very beginning, with CLG drafting late game team comps while Envy always went for early game power. We witnessed which strategy and playstyle prevailed in the end, however veteran experience and the ability to perform under pressure made a huge difference on the side of CLG.

They won, but they shouldn’t be too satisfied. They barely managed to win against the sixth and absolute worst team in playoffs. They were expected to steamroll NV but failed to do so. To be fair, NV exceeded all expectations. They fought to the very last breath, and even managed to individually outplay CLG on multiple occasions. In the end, the team that made less mistakes won. They have a lot of work in front of them and only a week’s time to prepare for arguably the best and cleanest team in North America.

To CLG’s credit, they persevered. They endured everything Envy threw at them and even managed to win the fourth and most important game from a deficit.

As for Immortals, thanks to their playoff bye they had a bonus week to recuperate and adapt to the meta. If that wasn’t enough they also had the opportunity to dissect CLG’s play against Team Envy which will surely allow them to come up with a solid gameplan.

CLG’s flaws

  • Inconsistent bottom lane. While both Stixxay and aphromoo are veteran players, they haven’t been performing at the highest level for quite some time now. Stixxay in particular has serious ups and downs and we never really know which one will show up on the stage. Aphromoo is still a fantastic playmaker, however if the opposing team keeps him from Alistar and Bard then they shouldn’t have too much trouble.
  • OmarGod is still their biggest liability. While he did have a fantastic Baron steal in game one of their series against NV, he still made a ton of mistakes and always had the largest number of deaths. It’s not fair to be too harsh on him, however he is playing on the biggest stage and against top tier opposition and if he can’t perform then his team will suffer. It’s tough seeing him having an even matchup against a game Xmithie who is one of the frontrunners for MVP of the Split. He never showed anything worth mentioning and his champion pool is alarming as well.

While it’s tough to say with absolute certainty, Immortals look like the best North American team at the moment. While TSM will surely question that statement, they have the cleanest macro and some of the best performing players. Seeing how sloppy and inconsistent CLG looked, the odds are against them and with good reason. Immortals are simply on another level and they shouldn’t have too much trouble taking CLG down, even with Darshan and Huhi popping off.

Obviously it’s a clash of styles, so expect CLG to come in with the underdog mentality, wanting to fulfil their redemption story. Sadly for all CLG fans, this is where the road stops. It could go to five games, however CLG simply aren’t playing well enough as a five man unit to take down an uprising Immortals squad.

Expect this one to go 3-1 in Immortal’s favor.

Winner: Immortals, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

TSM vs. Team Dignitas

Photo: Riot Games

Number one against number five. You would be mistaken if you thought this will be a one-sided match. Team Dignitas entered uncharted territory after taking down Cloud9 for the first time this split, and did so with a bang! However let’s focus first on the number one NA team – TSM.

Their Week 9 matches of the regular season weren’t too hot. While they managed to take down both Phoenix1 and CLG, their play wasn’t too clean. (at least not for the number one team) They only managed to be a bit faster when it mattered the most. However we had the chance to see the dominant, vintage TSM in small fragments. How fast they responded in clutch situations, how well they fought in close corridors. However they looked lost and out of sync the very next game against the same opponent.

As for Dignitas, those watching their last week’s series against Cloud9 were in for a fantastic couple of back-and-forth games.

In the end, Altec was simply too fed on Sivir, he had too much protection, and the frontline that Dignitas was able to pull up was too much for an AD heavy teamp comp on C9’s side. Unlike Cloud9, Dignitas had a very threatning Taliyah in the middle lane and a hyper carry in the bottom with a fantastic, CC heavy frontline consisting of Maokai and Nunu.

They drafted heavy amounts of engage, however disengage as well and they were able to utilize both to their favor in clutch moments.

While Cloud9 fans must be devastated, it is a very refreshing change of pace. No long will we witness the age-old TSM vs. Cloud9 final. (that eventually goes in TSM’s favor in game five) This is a breath of fresh air, and as with all new things – prediction and odds will be all over the place which is hypothetically a good time to make some money.

Dignitas’ fresh bottom lane duo managed to do what they do best – hard carry. They’re in the contention for the best bottom lane in NA, and that is no small achievement alongside the likes of TSM, IMT, C9, CLG and even NV’s bottom lanes.

They can play a plethora of champions, and they always manage to do very well, great even. More importantly, they can be counted on to both perform and carry which makes them irreplaceable on Team Dignitas. While other members fluctuate from game to game, Altec and Adrian are a rock and the foundation that Dignitas always builds upon.

They know just how mechanically sound Altec is, so they don’t have a problem with drafting a lot of CC and frontline in order to protect him. That, while a somewhat one-dimensional strategy, has been working wonders so far.

Where Dignitas could capitalize on

  • They will not back down. Bad Baron call? You can expect them at the Baron pit the very next minute. They will not be deterred, and they will either pull off their plan successfully or lose trying.
  • They came back and won the fourth game with three inhibs down. That is an insane comeback no matter how you look at it, and it speaks volumes about their mental fortitude and willingness to fight until the last second.
  • All of the starting players are performing very, very well. Even Keane who was thought to be the weakest link manages to step up against better opposition. If he keeps safe and predicts early ganks (unlike his games versus Cloud9) then he be a big factor when the late game comes.

They’re looking really good overall, however we have to be realistic as well. Cloud9 didn’t play that well, at all. They even managed to lose every game in the draft, always giving Dignitas the picks they wanted and were most comfortable with. TSM is a team that adapts a lot better mid series, and they don’t just have a single carry (Jensen) but multiple ones.

If there is one thing that is certain with TSM, it is the fact that people should never count them out. They always manage to play on an extremely high level when the playoffs come and this split should be no exception. Even though their Worlds seed is guaranteed, they still want to at the very least reach the finals and continue their legacy. It is a matter of prestige, and after all – there has never been a NA LCS finals without TSM.

Expect this one to be insanely close, possibly going to five games but ultimately ending in TSM’s favor.

Winner: TSM, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)