The 2019 LCS Summer Split will come to a close this Sunday, August 25 with a clash between Team Liquid and Cloud9, who will fight it out at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan for $100,000 in prize money and the title of 2019 LCS summer champions.
It's been an exciting two months for all North American League of Legends fans, who got to witness what can only be described as one of the most exciting splits in the history of LCS. What was once a region dominated by only a handful of teams has this summer turned into an incredibly competitive league, which throughout the nine weeks produced countless upset wins and nail-biting matches. While those did play a part in making the 2019 summer split highly memorable, it was the rebirth of CLG, which made 2019 summer split one to remember.
Entering the playoffs, we got to see two surprise appearances in Clutch Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming who impressed throughout the season as well as in quarter-finals. Clutch Gaming shook the world as they crushed TSM (3-1), whereas CLG demolished OpTic (3-0) to secure a semi-finals appearance for the first time in two years.
While incredibly ambitious, both teams failed to deliver in the semi-finals, where they had to admit defeat to our two finalists. Team Liquid defeated Clutch Gaming (3-2) in a closely fought series, whereas CLG ran out of steam and had to kneel down to C9 (3-1), who joined TL in the grand finals.
Proving they are the best of the best LCS has to offer, Team Liquid and Cloud9 will now clash against each other for the third time this split, hoping to showcase their full might as they look to establish themselves as alpha dogs of NA.
With impressive performances in last couple of seasons, Team Liquid have earned themselves a status of the most dominant NA team and it would be hard to argue with that statement, considering they are on the verge of the fourth consecutive Championship title. While we talk about the achievements of Team Liquid, we cannot simply ignore the fact Jang "Cain" Nu-ri and his men wrote history in May, when they crushed the reigning world champions Invictus Gaming and became the first-ever North American outfit to reach the finals of MSI.
As far as their LCS summer season is concerned, Team Liquid started off slow with two consecutive 1-1 weeks. Nonetheless, they produced an incredible run of nine wins and only one defeat in the five weeks that followed, which secured them a spot in the finals only seven weeks into the season. While incredibly dominant throughout the season, Team Liquid did not have an easy time against Clutch Gaming in the semi-finals (3-2) where they had to fight hard to earn their fourth consecutive appearance in the LCS finals. TL secured a win on that day, yet they have shown some weakness, leaving us to believe even they have an Achilles heel.
If there is one word to describe Cloud9 it would be inconsistent, however, there is much more to that than meets the eye. It would be fair to say Cloud9 have had some questionable performances throughout the season, however, they still emerged as the second-best team of the summer season with a 12-6 record.
A lot of their so-called inconsistency comes from C9's unique playstyle. Unlike Team Liquid who approach games very organized and slow, Cloud9 are known to be the complete opposite. They are a team that plays at a very fast pace and tends to take a lot of risks, which more times than not, works in their favour, especially against teams like Team Liquid. The two NA titans met twice this season, and it was C9 who won both of the fixtures, which makes them one of the only three teams in the split that managed to defeat TL at least once.
Team Liquid will enter the Sunday finals as heavy favourites ($1.38 at Skrilla) to defeat Cloud9 ($2.90 at Skrilla), which could come as a surprise, considering Cloud9 defeated TL twice during the season. However, there is one thing we need to consider ahead of the grand finals. Cloud9 have not won the championship in five long years.
Cloud9 are without a doubt one of the elite NA teams, which they have proven year after year, yet they have the tendency to underperform when it's time to enter the playoffs. The last time Cloud9 won the championship was in Spring of 2014, when they demolished TSM (3-0). Since then, Cloud9 reached the finals five times and lost every single time. Their most recent appearance in the finals was in September 2018, when they suffered a painful defeat against no other than Team Liquid (3-0).
Their run of nine playoffs appearances without a title is without a doubt the biggest reason why Cloud9 enter the 2019 summer finals as underdogs. Nonetheless, there is a reason to believe they have a solid chance to derail Team Liquid and avenge the defeat they suffered last year. As we have mentioned Cloud9 are in a great form ahead of the finals, whereas Team Liquid showed signs of weakness in their semi-finals match against Clutch Gaming, who proved even TL can bleed.
In the end, the C9 v TL fixture will be decided based on the performances of their strongest lanes. Team Liquid will trust Doublelift and CoreJJ to deliver and bring them the title. On the other side, we can expect C9 to counter the bottom lane pressure by utilizing Licorice and his dominant top lane presence. Which team will manage to execute their plan successfully is yet to be seen. TL might have the experience on their side, however, it's Cloud9 who have proven before they know how to deal with Team Liquid. Expect a close fight between two NA titans, which could easily stretch into five games.
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