NA LCS Playoffs: CLG Look Solid in Win as Team Liquid Melts

The opening week of the North American LCS summer split playoffs came to an end with the fourth-seeded CLG facing off against the fifth-seeded Team Liquid. CLG return to the playoffs after a rather disappointing regular season but still remain the two-time defending LCS champions. They experienced no roster changes unlike their opponents Team Liquid. Liquid came into the split with very high hopes, but struggled mightily to start the split. Former world champion ADC, Piglet, found himself being benched during the season in favor for Fabbbyyy. Liquid managed an 8-8 record during the regular season and a matchup with CLG in the opening round as they looked to get revenge against CLG for knocking them out of last split’s playoffs. Here’s how it all went down.

Game 1: Classic CLG

CLG opened up the series with a Syndra pick in the mid lane which received plenty of recognition yesterday after Cloud 9’s series. Huhi stumbled out of the gates with it, but managed to outplay Fenix’s LeBlanc on several occasions.  Xmithie was able to gank Lourlo in the top lane and earn his team first blood and the first tower takedown soon after. CLG held their first blood lead the rest of the game and methodically destroyed Team Liquid’s base. CLG showcased their savvy team play and shot calling and were able to win team fights and secure objectives as Team Liquid ran around in circles. Lourlo’s Irelia was non-existent for Team Liquid while Huhi’s Syndra put up a 5-2-7 scoreline and led CLG in kill participation. CLG destroyed the nexus in just under 35 minutes and took an early 1-0 lead in the series.

Game 2: Game of Throws

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Team Liquid entered game 2 with a different strategy and banned out Syndra and Karma who were used in the previous game by Huhi and Aphromoo respectively. They also took away the Gragas and Jihn picks from CLG. CLG picked up Rek’Sai for Xmithie, Viktor for Huhi, Ashe for Stixxay, and Bard for Aprhomoo in response to Team Liquid’s moves. The game started in a different manner with Lourlo picking up first blood on Darshan in the top lane matchup, but a bottom lane disaster left Team Liquid with a 2.3k gold deficit at 12 minutes. However, Team Liquid were able to get 3 kills from picks and a major team fight win to swing the lead back in their favor. Team Liquid had a 1.7k gold lead at 30 minutes and then the throw of the playoffs happened. Dardoch re-engaged a team fight by himself and gave his life away for free essentially. Then to make matters worse, while Dardoch was still dead, the rest of Team Liquid decided to fight a 4v5 team fight and resulted in the entire team dying while only gaining 1 kill. Dardoch respawned and walked into another death. CLG earned 6 kills, took baron after Dardoch’s second death, and took down towers and inhibitors shortly after. Nine minutes after having a 1.7k gold lead, Team Liquid faced an 8.6k gold deficit, a destroyed nexus, and a 0-2 series deficit. A change was needed, and a change was made.

Game 3: The 1 Hit Wonder Jynthe Enters

On the brink of elimination from the playoffs, Team Liquid substituted the unknown ADC Jynthe into their lineup for Fabbbyyy. It looked like a disastrous move when Jynthe flashed into a level 2 fight in the bottom lane and died, but numerous ganks from Dardoch propelled Team Liquid’s bottom lane back into the game and into the lead. Jynthe was able to secure several kills on Ashe in reoccurring team fights and became the strongest member of Team Liquid as the game progressed. From the 13-minute mark till the end of the game, Team Liquid was in full control and owned the map. Dardoch went 6-0-8 on Rek’Sai and helped Jynthe finish with a respectable 7-2-6 scoreline after having a shaky start. Team Liquid finished the game in 33 minutes and now only trailed 1-2 in the series. Dardoch played his best game of the series, but his next performance quickly made you forget game 3 ever happened.

Game 4: The Stixxay Stomping Show

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After suffering their first defeat of the series, CLG reverted to an old composition that they have had plenty of experience with. They selected Sivir for Stixxay, Aurelion Sol for Huhi, and Olaf for Xmithie. CLG built a superior team fighting comp, but it wasn’t even needed as the laning phase determined the entire game. Xmithie ganked the bottom lane at around the 3-minute mark and picked up first blood and another kill while trading his own life. Stixxay and Aphromoo were pushing up the minion wave when Dardoch decided to flash body slam into Aphromoo to kill him, but he missed and ended up dying to Stixxay and handing over a 3rd kill and double buffs to the CLG ADC. The rest was history. CLG never conceded their early gold lead and were able to rotate Stixxay’s Sivir around the map to destroy every turret they sought after. A few team fight wins later, CLG earned themselves a 26-minute victory, a 3-1 series win, and a berth in the semifinals to face off against their longtime rivals TSM.

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The NA LCS playoffs get back underway next Saturday as Immortals and Cloud 9 face off in the first semifinal bout. In the other semifinal, a rematch of the last two LCS finals will take place between TSM and CLG as they battle for a spot in the finals. We’ll be watching. Will you?

By: Jeff “Gravy” Miskin

Twitter: @BigBadGravy