By Tanner Kinney
Historically, the race for playoffs tends to have some excitement, but many things are already locked in. The top teams are generally already guaranteed a playoff-bye in the final week, but this year no team has been confirmed their playoff-bye. On top of that, the playoff teams themselves qualifying are still on a razor’s edge, with some fates being in the hands of the individual teams, and other fates in the hands of teams like the Golden Guardians. Over the past two weeks, only Echo Fox, Cloud 9, Clutch Gaming, and 100 Thieves have secured a spot. Team Solomid, Team Liquid, and the surprise contender of Counter Logic Gaming are all still competing for those final two spots. Who will claim them? Which meme team will play spoiler? As there’s a lot to cover but not a lot of time, I’m going to touch on something everyone loves: scenarios!
There are a few different combinations of who takes that final spot (for those who love math), but I’ll go over the basic path each team has to make to get that last playoff spot.
Despite an impressive start, Team Liquid find themselves in an awkward situation. Their strategy has been exposed week after week by teams that definitely shouldn’t be beating them, and as a result their standing have taken a huge hit. TL hasn’t had a 2-0 week since week 3, and have been consistently been going 1-1. It’s hard to tell what’s going on with the TL roster that’s causing them to tank so hard. People have their theories, but from my perspective it seems the whole team as a unit is slumping, aka the classic TL problem. Xmithe and Olleh seem to be having the worst of it, but Impact and Doublelift also have their games. It doesn’t help that they lose to teams like CLG, but when Biofrost is so good at bullying in and out of game, there’s not much you can do.
@TLDoublelift hey Peter nice haircut
— Vincent (@Biofrostlol) February 11, 2018
On the brightside, a 1-1 week is all TL needs to secure a spot in playoffs. Fortunately, they face OpTic in their last week, and OpTic has somehow managed to look worse than the Golden Guardians. Then again, TL has lost to Golden Guardians before. Even if TL loses to Cloud 9 (which is likely), they will still be fine as long as they don’t crash headfirst into the #GREENWALL. Gatekeeping TL from playoffs would be pretty funny for OpTic to do, considering the disparity between the two teams in early power rankings. Knowing this team though, they’ll beat C9 then lose to OpTic, because that’s just bound to happen.
Team Solomid have made quite the recovery from their early split. It was obvious the team had some kinks to work out, and even though I placed them 8th place in the middle of the split, they don’t deserve that ranking. Their wins have been much more impressive and consistent than TL, and it’s clear improvements are being made. After taking down C9 in week 8, TSM is riding high on momentum that should carry them into the last week. In fact, considering they’ve only lost to 100 Thieves in the past two weeks, I’d say TSM has a good shot of going deep into playoffs, as long as they don’t get an unlucky first draw.
To get to playoffs, though, TSM has to first win at least one game. Their opponents, however, are much scarier than TL’s. While TL is facing an OpTic team that have tilted beyond recognition, TSM is facing a steadily improving Golden Guardians who have nothing to lose as they have no chance of making playoffs. If Golden Guardians can play on TSM’s weaknesses, or even just do some dumb cheese-strategy that will only work once, TSM can lose that game. TSM also faces another playoff contender: Counter Logic Gaming, who have gone 4-0 in the past two weeks. But we’ll get to Counter Logic Gaming in a second. It’s believable that TSM could lose both of these games, but it’s admittedly unlikely. Losing to CLG? Sure, I can see that. Losing to the Golden Guardians? Definitely less believable. But CLG is praying. They have faith in their golden brothers.
— Counter Logic Gaming (@clgaming) March 11, 2018
Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming started rough like TSM, but failed to show that much improvement for a while. Many people wrote them off as dumpster tier, unable to win any games, possibly worse than Golden Guardians. I’ve been a CLG fan long enough that I’ve never lost the #FAITH, and gave them honest odds of reaching playoffs. That didn’t seem to be the case in week six, as they took another crushing 0-2 to the solar plexus. At that point, they only way CLG could make playoffs is by winning every single game, and having key rivals losing games. It seemed like it would take a miracle.
Fortunately, the moment you count CLG out is the moment they become their most powerful. That is why they are known as Counter Logic Gaming (among other, real reasons).
After changing shot-calling duties to Biofrost – taking pressure off of Huhi – and luckily having the meta shift in their favor, CLG has had a complete revival. In the past two weeks, as stated before, they have not dropped a single game. This includes taking down teams like Echo Fox in week 8 and C9 and TL both in week 7. The faithful were rewarded once again. They haven’t completed the salty runback yet though, thanks to the top teams giving TL and TSM too many free wins.
Unlike TL and TSM, CLG needs to win both of their games, one against OpTic and one against TSM. If they keep playing like they have been, that’s definitely possible, but beating TSM will be a battle. They also need ONE of TSM or TL to lose BOTH of their games. If TSM and TL both win a single game, the playoff dream is dead. Even if one of those teams loses, CLG still has to beat that team in a tiebreaker game, as they would be tied in head-to-head with either team that loses both of their games. Then, and only THEN will CLG take that last playoff spot. The odds are pretty much completely stacked against CLG. Any analyst worth their salt has already counted them out at this point. But I’m not worth any salt, I’m a zealot with complete and total #FAITH in my boys in blue. I want to see them finish the fight. For me.
Games to Watch: All of Them
The best part about this last week is that every single game matters. The top teams are looking for playoff-byes, while the mid-tier teams I talked about all are looking to secure the last two playoff spots. Of course, most people can’t watch every single game, so I’d say just watch the ones that are vital in deciding the final two teams going into playoffs. Will TL finish their disappointment spree? Will TSM choke before playoffs? Will CLG fail in finishing their flight to the top? So many questions. So many scenarios! This is what makes League of Legends really good.
Well, the final week is upon us, unfortunately. Then we have playoffs, then the Mid-season Invitational. If I continue to do updates for that, I’ll probably have to do a quick rundown of the teams from other regions that aren’t as bad as North America. God bless the USA (and Canada and Mexico) for being bad at League of Legends.
In other news, Patch 8.5 will be played for rest of the split. This patch brings buffs to a number of junglers, namely Nocturne, Olaf, and Rengar. Cinderhulk has also been nerfed, which will make it harder for tank junglers to reach hypertank status. Generally, this means bruisers and assassins re-enter the jungle, but we’ll see. Tristana got altered, somewhat, but we’ll see if that changes her pick or win rate. I have my doubts. Jhin also received some nice buffs, and considering Jhin has been a decent counter to Trist’s weak laning in the past, I think bot lane will be slightly more dynamic. Kai’Sa was also released, and she’s made quite the non-impact. Let’s just say picking her in almost every situation is borderline trolling. The best part of last patch were the Swain buffs, as he’s now a champion! He’s probably a bit too strong, but now that Vladimir has fallen out of favor and Galio got a fat nerf slapped on him, we may see Swain as the new tanky AP option. I’ve been having success with Swain in my solo queue games, but don’t take my word for it, take mid lane expert Scarra’s opinion on it:
My match history:
3 swain wins 1 swain loss
16 losses on other champs
— scarra (@scarra) March 12, 2018
Until next week, please stop picking Rengar and Kha’Zix in my solo queue games, all you do is steal kills early then go full Finchy thinking you’re indestructible. No, ending the game 14/20 is NOT a good thing, you were NOT carrying this game, PLEASE uninstall. Thank you.
Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.