NA LCS Quarterfinals Preview, C9 vs Dignitas

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The LCS playoffs are about to begin. First up on Saturday is Cloud 9 vs Team Dignitas. Then on Sunday it’s Counter Logic Gaming vs Team Envy. The winners of those matches move on to the Semifinals next week. Let’s get into the first series;

Team Dignitas, Glass Half Empty

Look at that video for a second, neither LOD, Chaser or Xpecial are still on this team. Its impressive Dignitas have had this much success despite their volatile roster. In their 2-1 win over Team Liquid, Dignitas looked uneven. In game one Dignitas looked fairly good and they never allowed Team Liquid to get into this game. Dignitas capitalized on Team Liquid’s mistakes, which combined with better rotations & teamfighting easily won them this game. Game two is where the problems really begin. Liquid locked in Vayne after Dignitas picked Blitzcrank and Tristana. To me Blitzcrank is a win-more champion. When Blitzcrank is picked and his team is ahead Blitzcrank can easily help snowball the lead with picks onto the enemy team. When Blitzcrank is picked and his team falls behind Blitzcrank slowly becomes useless; there’s no reason to chance hooks when you can’t start a teamfight. Tristana also has a historic weakness in lane that only superior AD Carry players can overcome, Altec is not the caliber of those players. Tristana could have been fine with a different support pick but the Blitzcrank lock-in sealed her fate. Dignitas botlane got wrecked early in this game. Piglet can hard carry on Vayne, he and Dardoch both had great games. In game three Dignitas pulled it together again and wisely drafted a much better bot lane. The ease with which game three was won calls into question Dignitas whole strategy for game two. It makes no sense to reveal more information playing another game when your team is capable of sweeping their opponent. Especially right before playoffs are about to begin.

Ssumday can really carry this team when he gets the right pick and a solid matchup. Dignitas should focus on empowering Ssumday, last picking his champion or giving him a lane dominant pick needs to be a priority for Dignitas. I like what Keane has slowly become, he’s come a very long way from picking Hecarim against CLG in 2015. Keane has looked solid on control mages this split. While he doesn’t have the deepest champion pool among Mids, Keane won’t be a liability to Dignitas in this series. Shrimp has shown flashes of potential this split and I think with the right pick he could easily get Keane or Altec really ahead in any one game. My biggest issue with Dignitas is their botlane. Altec and Adrian are well known to most NA LCS fans. Both players have had short stretches of brilliance or have been in the conversation for player of the week; but ultimately they share a low ceiling. There’s no need to talk about potential with how long they’ve been playing, this is it. Ssumday is the only true hard carry on this squad and ultimately that’s why they won’t win the Summer Split Playoffs. I’m happy Dignitas have finally gotten their act together, this is a respectable roster but as a unit they;re not ready for this.

Cloud9, Glass Half Full

Cloud 9 are in a strange place. Against Echo Fox they looked great, Cloud9 took less than 50 minutes combined to win both games. In a similar sweep of Team Envy, Cloud9 won game one in little over 24 minutes and were up over 14K gold. Game two of this series is what gives me pause about Cloud 9. Both teams traded leads for the first 20 minutes before Cloud 9 pulled ahead by about 3K. They then squandered that lead and let Team Envy back in, Envy then snowballed to go up 5.1K. The only reason Cloud9 won this game was because of a critical teamfight win at Baron. Team Envy had made this teamfight win possible by pointlessly banning Orianna, enabling Cloud 9 to firstpick Zac. While Orianna is C9 Jensen’s most played champion there’s no tangible reason Team Envy banned Orianna over Zac, its completely nonsensical. Cloud9 cannot rely on their opponents making stupid decisions if they want to win the Summer Split.

Jensen & Sneaky are the most consistent players on Cloud9’s roster. Jensen & Sneaky are two of the best players at their position in the NALCS and Jensen was the All-Pro for the NA LCS. Both Jensen & Sneaky can hard carry games as well, neither will be a weakness in their upcoming series. Impact is a relatively consistent as of late and he too won’t be a problem for Cloud9. Contractz as a boatload of potential and he’s only been with this team since the Spring Split. Contractz has little experience in best-of-five series and he’s never proven himself on a big stage. Smoothie is without doubt the weakest player on Cloud9. Smoothie’s champion pool is irrelevant when he doesn’t seem to perform on any particular type of Champion. He’s got a losing record on Thresh and yet Cloud9 insist upon picking that hero for him. I think Cloud9’s inconsistent macro play stems from a combination of Contractz and Smoothie. In an ideal situation the jungler and support player should work in tandem to provide the shot-caller relevant information. Without knowing more about Cloud9’s system for decision making I must assume it comes from the support position. The biggest evidence for that comes from Hai’s history with they team and the problems they’ve had with the support position.

Cloud9(3) vs Team Dignitas(1)

That’s really what I expect from Cloud9. I know Dignitas will win at least one game. Dignitas could take game one or game two on this series based on quirky drafting. For me this series is about Dignitas more than Cloud9. Both teams are inconsistent but Dignitas will probably have at least one game where they’ll lead for at least 20 minutes before a disastrous team fight ruins everything. Cloud9 need only have solid drafts and there’s no reason they need to reveal anything special to beat Dignitas. Beating a team like Dignitas should almost be muscle memory for Cloud9 at this point. I do see a scenario where Dignitas can push this series into a game five. Ssumday can hard carry a game if he gets a last pick and he doesnt get camped in lane. Its also possible Cloud9 could simply blow a lead and let Dignitas win a game they had no business being in at all. Dignitas will benefit from this experience and they should try to keep as much of this roster together as possible. If Cloud9 does win this series they have a hard series against Immortals in the Semifinals. Cloud9 will need to place at least fourth to avoid playing in the Regional Qualifier. If they cant manage that theyll need to play in the Regional Qualifier which they are more than capable of winning. Cloud9 are at least a top four team in the NALCS, CLG are their closest competition for the last spot at worlds.