Thoughts on the NALCS Finals


This weekend’s NALCS action showed exactly why the top teams made it as far as they did. Not only was there a fantastic match for third place between Team Impulse and Team Liquid, but the big grand finale of Team Solomid versus Counter Logic Gaming. You’ll probably recall that I made some predictions last week, and I’ll go over that now.

Saturday’s game was for third place overall, and there were various scenarios where Team Liquid could end up in second place overall going into worlds, or where Team Impulse could have pulled ahead. I called a victory for Liquid last week, but I figured that Impulse would give them a run for their money and to a degree I was right. Liquid did win the overall best of five series, but Impulse made them work for it, actually winning one of the games. It was very clear though that TL was the better team overall at that point, and I still think that goes back to the whole Gate/Xiaoweixiao thing, but I won’t go into that again. Impulse still has a chance to secure that third place spot, but I’ll talk about that in a little bit.

For the main event, Sunday saw the actual summer split finals, where TSM and CLG faced off for the first time in a long time. Storied rivals, but TSM has been at every finals since the LoL pro scene got its start, and this was the first time CLG ever made it this far. They were cursed to this point, always being relegated or ending up in third place. I know since I’ve been watching pro play I’ve never seen CLG at worlds, but they have officially stamped their ticket at this point.

It was surprising that the games were so one sided. I had called TSM as the winner because, well they always end up at the finals and they are usually the #1 or #2 seed at worlds from the NA region, so why would I think this year would be any different? I believe that’s what most people were thinking as well, because CLG were the definite underdogs for this series. Fans of TSM would vote/root for TSM. Fans of other teams would do the same (like me). Fans of CLG were the only ones keeping the faith, and the only ones able to say much of anything at this point. They dominated TSM in all phases of the game: from picks and bans, to laning, to mid game team fights, to closing out the game. They 3-0’d TSM as easily as they did my team, TiP. The games were nothing short of exciting though, as TSM wasn’t going down without a fight, but they consistently fell behind, and had to force things they normally wouldn’t. They are a farm til the late game type of team, and CLG exploited that with early ganks, early lane dominance, and convincing team synergy. They clearly deserved this win, and the naysayers (like me) should shut up at this point.

Towards the end of last week’s post, I had stated that I was confused about how the championship points worked and what would happen with this whole “gauntlet” thing people had mentioned. Here’s a handy graphic that Team Liquid posted on Twitter for illustration:


Basically, because CLG took the win in the finals, they are the #1 seed and are automatically going to Worlds. With the loss, TSM could have dropped into this gauntlet, but they had enough championship points having taken top spots in the spring split to stay ahead of the next team, Liquid. As such, TSM is the #2 and is also going to Worlds, so this loss didn’t affect them as much as it could have. Also with the type of experience the team has in the playoffs and at the World Championship, they might be able to right their wrongs going forward.

Now, since the top two seeds are locked up, there is only one more seed available to go to Worlds. It would seem that Liquid should already have that spot as they won it via the 3rd place match, but for some reason or another, there is a further gauntlet to work through, of which they got the biggest advantage. As the team with the most championship points, they will be slotted where “team 1” is on the image above. Impulse is below them in the “team 2” slot, having less points. Teams 3 and 4 are Gravity and Cloud 9. They had less points than the aforementioned teams, but due to their combined efforts over this split and the spring, they earned a place here (C9 did well in the spring, but failed hard in the summer, while Gravity flip flopped these results).

So basically we have another set of playoffs, but only to determine the 3rd seed for the World Championship. Apparently if you want to avoid two sets of playoffs, you either have to finish 1st or 2nd, or fail completely 😛 Beginning on Saturday, the first match will be Gravity vs C9, and with how poorly C9 did this past split, I imagine they will drop out at this point, but I guess you never know. Whoever wins that game will advance to play Impulse on Sunday. The winner from that match will advance to play Liquid on Monday, and we will then officially know who our NA 3rd seed at Worlds will be. For more information on how the World Championship will work, check out this excellent article from Riot themselves.

Looking forward from there, there is the promotion series where the worst teams from this past split will vie for the ability to return next spring to compete, along with those who one the Challenger Series a bit ago, and the other “best” teams who were in top half of the standings. This is how the LCS landscape changes each year, and I’m glad to have a better understanding of it at this point. More thoughts to come next week.

Tried to replicate yesterday’s fantastic run, but even with Chicken’s passive I was unable to get as far. Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.