With the Season 4 Spring Split in the books, six North American teams look to fight their way to the top of the standings. Cloud 9 and TSM were awarded first round byes for their top two finishes, and eagerly await the results of CLG vs. Coast and Curse vs. Dignitas. The winners will advance to the quarter final round of four, and the losers will have to play each other for 5th place. The winner of the 5th place match will have their summer spot in the LCS secured, while the loser will face relegation prior to the 2014 Summer Split. With a new patch that brings huge changes to runes and a new jungle item, we will have to see how quickly teams can adapt. Lets take a look at the Season 4 Spring Split playoffs.
After years of waiting, CLG fans finally got to see the true potential of the team that they love. Prior to the beginning of the season, long time CLG member HotShotGG stepped down from the team to make way for former EULCS Lemondogs jungler Dexter. Aphromoo rounded out the roster and for the first time in a long time, each member of CLG was playing a role that they felt comfortable with. With the help of coach MonteCristo and a few guest appearances by Chauster and HotShotGG, CLG was able to climb to third place in the round-robin phase of the split. The team has looked very strong as of late, with amazing rotations and map-wide objective control. Their team fighting has been very strong, and CLG will close out a game if given the opportunity. The only gray area of the team right now is Nien in the top lane. He tends to get ahead early and then get caught out overextending, so we will have to see if he can fix that by this weekend.
Team Coast has had a less than optimal season, finding themselves at the bottom of the standings for most of the split. Prior to the season starting, DontMashMe left the team and was replaced by WizfujiiN. The team has had some growing pains this season, and seem to rely on either Shiphtur or ZionSpartan to carry the game for the team. If both of them get shut down early by enemy junglers, the team seems to stall out and fall flat. Coast also has trouble closing games out. As Scarra says, “up until they lose the game they’re winning.” A majority of the problem with throwing away an early lead stems from Coast letting teams stall out during the mid game. A great example of this was their week 6 win over TSM. They had an amazing lead early, but allowed TSM to stall out the game until they could successfully teamfight towards the late game. They finished the game with an amazing play by Shiphtur, but the game could have easily swung in TSM’s favor if they had lost the last teamfight.
I don’t think that CLG will have a problem handling Coast in a best of 3. CLG took all 4 games from Coast during the round robin stage of the split, and there has to be a huge change in Coast’s playstyle. Link has been playing amazing as of late, and I don’t think that he will have a problem with Shiphtur in the mid lane. If Link can successfully roam to other lanes–especially top–it may be enough to snowball into a mid/late game victory. From what I’ve seen from Coast over the season, I don’t think that they can deal with the rotations that CLG is going to bring. While the 2v1/3v1 fast-push strategy is still dominating the LCS meta, I don’t think that Coast will benefit from skipping the early laning phase and entering straight into the mid-game rotations of CLG. Unless Coast cal pull off a Cinderella run in the playoffs like they did in Season 3, I see curse taking the quarterfinal matchup.
Prior to the season starting, the team announced that Patoy would step down from the support position and be replaced by KiWiKiD. A tryout was held and CruzerTheBruzer was eventually chosen as the new top laner for Dignitas. With their new lineup, Dignitas started off the season strong with a 5-2 record going into their bye week that was supposed to be a trip to IEM Sau Paulo. Even though they had a strong start, the team struggled through the rest of the season, only taking 7 of their next 21 games. In Week 10, it was announced that Scarra would step down as a mid laner for the team and be replaced by GoldenGlue. The team finished the split as best as they could, picking up three more wins to cement their fourth place finish. From what I can see so far, GoldenGlue is a solid mid laner. He hasn’t really had a chance to put Dignitas on his back yet and carry the game, but seems to work well with the playstyle of his team.
Curse made huge changes to their lineup for Season 4. Voyboy moved from top to mid lane, Saint was replaced by IWillDominate in the jungle, Quas was recruited to the top lane, and after many different supports, BunnyFufuu finally rounded out the roster. Historically a middle of the pack team, Curse had trouble finding a perfect roster. Even though they showed some flashes of brilliance throughout the season, Curse–much like Dignitas–could never string together more than a few wins at a time. Curse seems to have the same problems that a lot of middle-tier have–the mid game. IWillDominate’s early jungle aggression generally leads to an early lead for Curse, but they tend to stall and not really do anything with their lead. They will have to decisively rotate around the map for objectives and try to snowball their early leads.
I think a lot of this matchup is going to boil down to the bottom lane. Both Imaqtpie and Cop have been playing amazing as of late, and I think each team will be relying on their ADCs to carry them into the late game. With the new rune changes in 4.5, ADCs have become more of a threat at every point of the game. If Qtpie can get going on a hyper carry like Jinx, I think Dignitas will be able to pull out a win. With the fast-push meta that has been popular in the LCS, I’m curious to see if any of the teams will opt to swap for a standard 2v2 lane, or just try to base race right into mid game.
Prior to season 4, Reginald announced that he would step down as the mid laner for TSM and superstar EU midlaner Bjergsen would take his place. The decision paid off in dividends for the team, with TSM holding their place at the top of the leaderboard for most of the split. The communication issues that they experienced during season 3 have all but disappeared, and their team fighting synergy is as strong as ever. They have, however, seen a slip up in the past few weeks. TSM went 2-2 in super week, losing their first place seeding with losses to XDG and Cloud 9. TheOddOne seemed to fall flat in the past couple of weeks, and needs to step his game up if TSM wants to continue on in the playoffs. I’m also not sure if the team was practicing on the 4.5 patch before super week, but something definitely seemed off about their level of play. They were making a lot of mental mistakes and forcing fights that just were not there. WildTurtle has also made some questionable plays in the past few weeks. I’m not sure if he is “bored” or if he’s been playing too much solo que, but many of his deaths could have been avoided if he wasn’t overly aggressive. I expect TSM to come into their semifinal match prepared for both teams and will try to cement their claim as a top team in North America.
In true Cloud 9 fashion, the Season 3 Summer Split champions rolled through most of their competition during the round robin stage. With only four losses on the year, Cloud 9 is still a powerhouse in the North American scene. All of their lanes generally come out on top, and Meteos has been amazing in his transition into the new Season 4 jungle. Cloud 9 is also infamous for their team fighting abilities. The few times that Cloud 9 have been defeated were mostly due to the pick/ban phase. If they can get the champions that they want–which shouldn’t be a problem with Hai drawing yet another ban from Soraka–Cloud 9 shouldn’t have any trouble with Curse or Dignitas.
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