LCS playoffs begin tomorrow, starting with the Quarterfinals matches between TSM and Clutch Gaming, and CLG and OpTic Gaming. All four teams have had rough roads to the postseason (whether in attempting to turn things around from last split or scraping together wins in the last few weeks). Reaching the Semifinals would be a major achievement for any of these teams.
None of these teams looked like true contenders to meet favorites Team Liquid in the Finals in their regular season games. In that same vein, we've also seen them defy the odds time and time again in the past. These games will definitely be close given how the teams' styles match up; here are my predictions for the weekend.
Take my word for it when I say that this game will be the absolute hardest to predict out of all playoff games.
After a roller coaster of inconsistent play and apparent synergy issues, TSM threw a curve ball at everyone in week nine by subbing in their academy jungler, Mingyi "Spica" Lu. Now, he's been confirmed as TSM's starting jungler for the entirety of playoffs. Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham and Jonathan "Grig" Armao aren't even listed as subs.
TSM is clearly going through it in one way or another right now, but their opponents here are Clutch. Regular season head-to-head aside (2-0 TSM), on paper, Clutch should be the exact team TSM fears. They're unafraid to wedge odd picks into draft and throw themselves at the enemy headfirst in-game.
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This series boils down to individual skill. TSM laners outclass all of Clutch's laners in nearly every regard. Assuming everyone is firing on all cylinders, TSM will likely come out on top of this one. Given their track record, we can expect to see the strongest version of TSM we've seen so far in Summer, but that doesn't mean it'll be pretty. This game will be a fiesta for sure.
Two five-game series in one weekend? Yes, that's correct. CLG should actually win this series 3-1, judging by the level of play they've displayed over the course of the split. Since this is NA, however, that won't happen.
Both OpTic and CLG want this badly. This is OpTic's first ever playoffs, and for CLG, this is the redemption arc of a lifetime. There will likely be mistakes on their side specifically that will cause the series to go on for longer than it needs to, simply because they're slightly favored.
In all seriousness, though, while CLG have been a hot commodity in their own right, OpTic is loaded to the brim with experience. Their jungle/mid duo is literally made up of a world champion (Lee “ Crown” Min-ho) and a jungler who was considered to ahead of his time when he was in his prime (William "Meteos" Hartman).
The game will come down to which topside is effectively neutralized throughout. CLG needs to take Niship "Dhokla" Doshi off of his comfort Aatrox pick, and force him into a more volatile match up while tracking Meteos closely throughout the early game. They're more than capable of doing this, however, as they've shown against top teams like Cloud9 and Team Liquid.
TSM play Clutch on Saturday August 10 at 2 p.m. PDT, and CLG play OpTic on Sunday August 11 at 12 p.m.