While the LEC decided all six teams to play in the Spring Playoffs, its North American counterpart, the LCS, is still wide open one week before the end of the season.
After week 8, Cloud9 remain the only team locked for playoffs and confirmed as the #1 seed. The LCS leaders scored another 2-0 weekend to extend their score to 15-1, their first place far from anyone’s reach.
Below them, six wins away, Evil Geniuses, FlyQuest and Team SoloMid are tied for second place at 9-7 and there’s no telling who will come on top in week 9. EG look most in form as they are now on a five-game win streak, boating wins against Team Liquid and FlyQuest in the last weeks. TSM are also playing better and better, having won three of their last four games, including the upset against Cloud9 on week 7 — the only team to have beaten the leaders so far.
Of the three, FlyQuest look most in trouble. After having a great first half (7-2), they’ve continuously struggled against the top teams in the league. They are 1-3 in their last four matches and will have to play an unconvincing but potentially dangerous Team Liquid in week 9, who will be fighting tooth and nail for a playoffs spot. If FlyQuest enter any kind of tiebreaker, they will be in trouble, having poor head-to-head record against the top teams and a lot of losses in the second half of the split.
Speaking of Liquid, the defending champions are hanging by a thread. Liquid needed a 2-0 weekend to improve their chances for a playoffs spot, but they lost in 36 minutes to Evil Geniuses’ hot-streak march, showing once again poor lane control and losing by 10K gold. They stayed in playoffs contention by defeating Golden Guardians with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng (5/0/4 on Xayah) and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-jin (0/0/16 on Rakan) finally showing signs of life, but they still needed 42 minutes to crack the Nexus. Despite being ahead in kills the entire game, Liquid never got ahead by more than 2K gold until the 30+ minute mark — a worrying sign for their early/mid game form.
This could be what ends Liquid’s playoff chances, as they are to face FlyQuest and Cloud9 in week 9. FlyQuest have not had the best half and they did lose to Liquid in the first half, but that was way back in week 2.
But even if they succeed against FlyQuest, Team Liquid will also need a win against Cloud9, as a 2-0 weekend is the only thing that can keep their playoffs chances alive — and that’s going to be near impossible. Cloud9’s early game has been monstrous: their average game duration is under 30 minutes, their GD@15 is 2,500 and they don’t lost turrets almost ever. This is a critical match for Liquid and it’s looking more and more likely that they are the first defending champions in LCS history to not make playoffs.