Run It Down - 2018 NA LCS Spring Playoffs - SEMIFINALS 100 v. CG [SPOILERS]
(1) 100 Thieves v. (6) Clutch Gaming | (3 - 2)
We were treated to a clinic on clean games by Team Liquid in the first semifinals matchup of the weekend. On Sunday, we were treated to...something else. Instead of a game-by-game breakdown this time, I'm just going to talk more generally about the play from both teams. Let me be perfectly clear: this series went to five games—and Riot Games bestowed upon us the legendary Silver Scrapes—but this was not a well-played series, especially Game 5. Just because there's a lot of back and forth does not mean both teams played spectacularly. Multiple instances of indecision went unpunished, and 100 Thieves barely scraped by to win this series.
The first thing that 100 Thieves did correctly was ban Hakuho's Thresh in the first rotation whenever they were on blue side. It doesn't take a Riot analyst to draw the conclusion that BAN THRESH would've been a good idea for TSM in their quarterfinals matchup against Clutch. Second, they banned Febiven's Azir in four out of five games (although the one game he played the Emperor, Clutch won). Last, but not least, they first picked Caitlyn for Cody Sun every time they had blue side, and banned Caitlyn in the first rotation whenever they were on red side. Incidentally, blue side won every game—so the Caitlyn ban didn't matter—but at least the sentiment was there. 100 Thieves knew their draft plan and executed it, but when they play Team Liquid—whose players have significantly larger champion pools than their CG counterparts—they're going to need to rely on more than a few target bans to get them through that series.
Something I noticed throughout the cast was how much emphasis was being placed on Clutch being a 6th place team. I mean, they are, but it wasn't as if they were middle-of-the-pack all season. Clutch was a top-3 team until the last day when they lost two tiebreakers in a row. I'm not trying to discredit or downplay anything, I really just want to make sure Clutch victories aren't seen as unlikely or miraculous incidents. In any case, Clutch's victories came from the back of carry performances across the map. Solo has, without a doubt, proved his ability to go toe-to-toe against the best top-laners NA has to offer, and LirA reminded everyone why he was voted the top jungler in NA last Spring. Apollo and Hakuho also somewhat held their own against the current all-pro bot-lane of Cody Sun and aphromoo, but it was clear—even in their victories—that aphroSun was outperforming. Febiven unquestionably played better than Ryu, and his Orianna Shockwaves continually pulled CG back from the claws of death, but he was unable to straight carry his team like the beginning of the split.
The largest issue I found, which applies to both teams, is indecisiveness—most notably in the 74-minute Game 5. That game is now in the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest game of Chicken, by the way. Even 100 Thieves, with veteran shotcaller aphromoo, struggled to commit to Barons and other potentially game-ending objectives. Yes, it's Game 5, and yes, winner plays in the Finals so a lot's on the line, but this kind of hesitancy will be exploited by Team Liquid to no end this coming weekend in Miami. 100 Thieves has a lot to clean up if they want a chance at becoming NA LCS champions.