In just a little under a day many of us will find ourselves at PAX Prime and those of us who can’t make it will be watching in glorious HD. Several things are for sure though, all of us will be trying to hunt down the new PAX skins and we’ll all be wondering what 3 teams are going to be representing North America at the World Finals in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look at the match ups and see just what’s in store for us next week.
The world will be shocked if Hai, Meteos, Balls, Sneaky, and Lemonation don’t end up being one of the NA teams at worlds especially since they’ve dominated just about every team in NA. Luckily for them they have a first round Bye due to their stellar record and they’ll be facing off against either Curse or Dignitas in the semifinals: two teams that were unable to claim a victory over them in the preseason. The only time we’ve seen Cloud 9 falter has been due to terrible level 1’s or a bad early game in general. If anyone is going to pick up a win off of Cloud 9 at PAX they’re going to have to exploit their early game weaknesses or shut down Meteos before he can dominate the pace of the game. The majority of fans believe that we’ll be seeing Cloud 9 in the finals, but anything can happen at PAX.
In the last two weeks Vulcun has looked unstoppable: not even dropping a single game during Super Week. Vulcun, however, have a tougher match up in their semifinals bracket than Cloud 9 does. They will be facing off against the winner of TSM Vs. CLG: both teams that have been hit or miss for them as their record is 2-2 against both of them. What Vulcun has going in their favor that these two teams don’t is: momentum. Yet, TSM has been on a roller coaster ride all season, either looking like the Team Solo Mid of season two or dropping games that were highly uncharacteristic of them. Luckily for them they had a relatively easy schedule during Super Week, allowing them to pick up 2 out of their three wins against Velocity and the ailing Coast to lock themselves into 3rd place. On the other hand, CLG had quite the opposite experience during Super Week: only picking up 2 wins and almost dropping out of playoff contention entirely. The real question is though: will Vulcun be facing off against the TSM and CLG of old or will they face off against one of their more inconsistent performances?
If TSM was planning on returning to their dominant form of Season 2 or even their first place finish from the Spring Split, now’s the time to do it. Especially since they’re facing off against a CLG team in the playoffs that they haven’t been able to pick up a win against in the regular season. Luckily for TSM, CLG looked rocky during the Super Week and was only able to pick up 2 wins out of their five matches; allowing TSM to snatch away their third place spot. If TSM is going to beat CLG it is going to have to be off of the strength of their legendary team fighting, which has looked hit or miss this season; a riddle they’ll definitely have to solve come PAX. The other problem TSM faces is that CLG has become more multi-dimensional than they used to be, and if TSM isn’t careful they might take the old bait and focus Doublelift: the problem with that is that lately Link has been just as much of a factor in their wins as Doublelift has. If TSM wants to clinch at least a 3rd place birth into Worlds they’re going to have to make sure that they not only focus Doublelift, but Link as well.
Out of nowhere and against all odds, Curse is currently the 4th seed in the LCS. Truly this is the shock of the season considering their track record. Jokes aside, Curse came on strong when it mattered, going 4-1 in the superweek and securing the traditional 4th place spot. They finally showed some team cohesion after a long season of misplays and team communication problems. Saint seems to have resolved his smite issues and is even letting his teammates get the kills in his ganks. With the recent buffs to Corki, Cop seems to be playing as well as he has in a longtime since he has another comfort pick in his champion pool now. Voyboy continues to show that he can play outside of his old roster of lane dominant assassin with his Kennen and Zac play, even taking Teleport on some occasions and still managing to duel other top laners. Voyboy will also look to defeat his old teammates from Dignitas as Curse seeks to finally clinch the berth for worlds that many Curse fans will tell you they should have had a season ago.
With the new fire in the belly that CLG has gotten from coach MonteCristo, look for CLG to come up big this week in the playoff games against not only TSM, but even potentially the nearly flawless Cloud9 in the possible 1st place match. Their new map-objective based gameplay with 3 threats (Link, Nien, Doublelift) instead of the old 4 protect 1 and let Doublelift farm style has been impressive to say the least. Nien has really risen to the challenge of top laning, as well as Jiji rising to the challenge of being one of the top junglers in the LCS. Link, for reasons known only to ManCloud is not talked about by many people, even though he joins Mancloud on the tier of best mid NA. Even Chauster has returned to his old form as a support, so it seems highly unlikely that CLG as a team will stop winning against a TSM team that hasn’t scored a win on them this season. Even if they lose against Vulcun, look for CLG to take the third place match against Curse or Dignitas and advance to worlds.
Team Dignitas has been a little more consistent in their mediocrity than Curse this season, but that doesn’t mean they are without flaw. As a team that was literally scared of doing Baron Nashor for about 3 weeks and a team that despite having 2 of the top 6 leaders in kills during the LCS (Scarra and Imaqtpie), it never really felt like Dignitas was in control of most of the season. Add on to the fact that KiWikid secured his title as the Skeleton King with the most deaths over the entire LCS season and Dignitas has some pretty big questions that they need to find the answers for at Regionals if they wish to not only compete in the World Finals, but even to compete in NA during Season 4 since relegation is a real threat. It’s not all gloom and doom for Dignitas though, as their team does not seem to be having any internal strife and has experience as a team in high pressure LAN situations. Don’t count Dignitas out of contention just quite yet, for both worlds and the future Season 4 of the LCS.