The NALCS finals are rapidly approaching and Team Liquid and Cloud 9 have proved that they are the top 2 teams in the continent. Team Liquid has proven to be dominant over the entire regular season and handily defeated 100 Thieves in the semi finals. TL’s versatility and consistency in the early and late game has net them many wins and they have not let up. On the other hand, Cloud 9 has had a roller coaster of a split. A few weeks ago, C9 was sitting in 10th place with many people doubting Coach Reapered’s calls of substituting players in and out. However, they have proven almost everyone wrong as they finished the second half of the split 8-1 with their innovative picks and superb teamfighting prowess. These two teams are neck and neck in terms of skill and expectations. There are 2 lanes in my opinion that will determine the outcome of this series.
The Bottom Lane:
Team Liquid’s bottom lane is second to none. Doublelift has always been one of the best ADC’s North America has ever produced and he continues to show why he is a world class caliber player. Olleh is no slouch either. After a bump in the road after facing confidence issues at MSI, Olleh has steadily improved and gained synergy with Doublelift. C9 switched up and finalized their bottom lane later into the split. Choosing to let Smoothie go and keep Zeyzal as a permanent starter, Sneaky and the team had to adjust. Sneaky and Smoothie always had a very “stay safe while I roam” laning phase. Zeyzal brings a new style as his aggressive picks have allowed Sneaky to pick up Quinn. Their laning phase has been more dominant over the split. We can expect the bottom lane to be quintessential to the success of both teams. Jungle attention or global skill champions like Gangplank, Taliyah, or Shen are all in the wheelhouse of both teams.
The Mid Lane:
200 IQ mid laner Pobelter has been a rock for TL. He is constantly going even or winning lane and has one of the best 2v2’s with Xmithie. He is not the best mid laner, but he always plays to enable his team with picks like Malzahar and Galio. Cloud 9 has chosen to use 2 mid laners Goldenglue and Jensen. Jensen was voted the all pro mid laner for the NALCS and his mechanics are unrivaled. However, the usage of Goldenglue throws a wrench in many team’s plans. He does not need as many resources to thrive and allows C9 to run alternate strategies.
Coach Reapered made a ballsy call by having Svenskeren and Goldenglue sub in for the final matches against TSM in the semis, but it worked out. Whatever C9 is doing seems to be working and their ability to make instant adaptations is helping them win series. TL will have to be more prepared than ever and perform their team compositions to perfection to win. TL have already locked their ticket to worlds, but if C9 win, they can secure their spot from 100 Thieves and force them into the Gauntlet.