Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Playoffs - QUARTERFINALS TL v. C9 [SPOILERS]
(4) Team Liquid v. (5) Cloud 9 | (3 - 0)
Okay who else predicted a Team Liquid sweep? I know I didn't. Cloud 9 was—without a doubt—on a downturn towards the end of the regular season, but a 3 - 0 exit as 5th/6th place was still unexpected. That being said, the games themselves were much closer than the series score seems to indicate. Game 1 was very back and forth, and C9 actually had themselves a nearly 7k gold lead before 30 minutes, including 5 towers taken, compared to Team Liquid's 1. Despite this, C9's lead stagnated until the 40-minute mark, where they were unable to secure any more objectives other than 1 Mountain Drake, whereas Liquid took down 4 towers and made a pick on Smoothie. After several minutes of Baron dancing, C9 began taking down the Void monster. This Baron play is where the gold lead swings by nearly 3k gold, thanks to a slick Baron steal from Xmithie and a triple kill from Doublelift. From here, the dance makes its away across the map to Elder Dragon. Although C9 secures it, TL Pobelter and TL Impact go for the big play and backdoor the nexus while the rest of Liquid chases down C9.
Game 2 went down similarly, with C9 eventually succumbing to Liquid despite a 3.3k gold lead. This game was highlighted by TL Impact's last-pick Singed into C9 Licorice's Fiora. As Doublelift pointed out in the end-of-series interview, C9's strategy of camping for Licorice to get him ahead was seen time and time again. In game 2, Svenskeren went for a sub-3-minute gank—which looked promising at first thanks to Licorice's Riposte on Impact's Fling—but they'd bit off more than they could chew and traded 2 for 1. As the game continued past the laning phase, C9 built upon their minor gold lead, but when C9 Sneaky and Svenskeren make an unfortunately poor attempt to stop Team Liquid's Baron, it results in both of their deaths, making way for Liquid to Baron down—excuse me, barrel down—the mid lane to end Game 2.
The 3rd game in the series ended up being the final game for C9's Spring Split. Despite Sneaky's best attempts—including a Quadra kill—C9 was unable to win the game. This time, Liquid held on to the lead for nearly the whole game. They gave up the Quadra to Sneaky, but were able to stop the bleeding long enough to secure another Baron and the nexus. Doublelift's Jhin got a Double kill in the last fight of the match, and he finished the series deathless. After getting kicked from TSM, he's back in LCS playoffs with a vengeance.
C9 has only ever been knocked out in Quarterfinals or Finals, and this marks the second split in a row where the former has occurred. Sneaky continues to play out of his mind, but his comrades-in-arms haven't been as clutch. Jensen, in particular, was minimally impactful this series. However, I expect C9 fans not to worry too much. The team has a long history in the LCS, and their infrastructure—and the veteran players—will bounce back from this disappointing decline come next split.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid's roster promised great things, and they're finally delivering. Their mid-split performance left a lot to be desired, but as Doublelift said in the hype video, no one remembers what happens in the regular season. People remember Jensen forgetting to Chronobreak, costing them the series in 2016; people remember Doublelift's Lucian Culling, winning them the championship last summer. People will remember this playoffs too, and it's only getting started.