LCS Regional Qualifier Preview

The NA and EU LCS Playoffs wrapped up this past weekend in spectacular fashion, and that leaves only one thing to take care of before Worlds — deciding who will take the last seed for each region. Regional qualifiers take place this weekend, September 3-5, when the four next best teams from each region will battle it out for that coveted spot in the World Championship. In case you missed it, below are the brackets for each region.

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EU Qualifier Bracket

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NA Qualifier Bracket

 

It’s at about this point where analysts, enthusiasts, and fans of each of the teams ask themselves: what does my team have to do to make it to the game’s biggest stage? Each team will have a very unique potential path to victory.

 

EU Regional Qualifier

 

Giants

Spring Split: 10th Place

Summer Split: 5/6th Place

 

It’s been an odd year for Giants, as seasons go. After an abysmal Spring Split and losing an iconic mid-laner, the team rallied back to regain their LCS spot in the Summer Promotion Tournament, finish 3rd in the summer regular season, and make it into the playoffs. Now the team is trading that previous chance of relegation for a chance at Worlds, which is an accomplishment in itself.

 

It won’t be easy though, and the odds are greatly stacked against them. In order for this miracle run to happen, the team will have to work around the EU All-Pro team mid-laner and Outstanding Rookie Gun-woo “Night” Ma and Jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Safarian to possibly shut down Unicorns of Love through the mid lane and then turn their attention to helping out their side lanes. This kind of team play will be important, as Night led all mid-laners in kill participation this split, while Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg led the entire league in the same metric. Look for them to use this team-wide contribution to hopefully close out games better than they have in the past, and maybe win against a team they went 1-3 against both during the season and in their playoff match.

 

Unicorns of Love

Spring Split: 5/6th Place

Summer Split: 4th Place

 

The Unicorns of Love have seemed a bit more lackluster than in previous seasons, and they’ll need to remedy this if they want to make to the international stage this time around. If Giants will have a tough first match, then certainly the Unicorns have an advantage in moving on. As I’ve hinted at already, look for them to try to split up Giants using intense pressure from Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert, who each ranked in the top 20 for kills this split.

 

If they can survive that however, then their next matchup would depend heavily on mitigating the risk of that “intense pressure”, as both Vizicsacsi and Exileh landed in the top ten in the league in deaths for it. Taking safer risks would be immensely important, as Fnatic have proven year in and year out that they are a team that will punish unruly play and small mistakes, and even this roster is very much capable of it. The same would be true against Splyce, were the Unicorns to make it that far.

 

Fnatic

Spring Split: 3rd Place

Summer Split: 5/6th Place

 

Oh, how the mighty have fallen — or at least slipped. We’ve all but forgotten the undefeated summer they had a year ago, and after Bora “Yellowstar” Kim’s return, they look almost worse than they did without him, though he is not the only factor in that. But this team is still pretty good at the game, and can use their vast experience to dismantle thoughtless decision-making by either of the teams mentioned above, and this would (and likely will) be their ticket to a matchup with Splyce.

 

Similarly, this would have to be the way they would defeat Splyce, but that’s only if Yellowstar and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson can avoid taking bad early fights and snowball his league-leading CS per minute into a cross-map advantage. This also hinges on seeing the Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten of old, and may rely on Chres “Sencux” Laursen having an off-day. But if smart macro-play can win out, and they can force Splyce to play at their tempo, Fnatic can avoid missing their first World Championship ever.

 

Splyce

Spring Split: 8th Place

Summer Split: 2nd Place

 

Another team that has had night and day splits this year, Splyce have momentum on their side, as they have been streaking through the EU teams for the past few months, with the exception of last weekend’s finals against G2. Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi has coached this team to a drastic improvement, and their plan will be largely the same regardless of who their opponent is (though it’s likely Fnatic).

 

Rest assured, Jonas “Trashy” Andersen will be all over the map, devoting special attention to making sure Sencux goes off. If he can make Da-yun “Spirit” Lee (or any other Jungler) struggle to keep up, it will spell victory for the Danes (and Slovenian). However, the team as a whole will have to avoid getting out-rotated and run around the map themselves after lane phase to keep the advantage going, as we partially saw against G2. By that point, it won’t matter where Trashy is if he doesn’t have a number advantage with him.

 

NA Regional Qualifier

 

EnVyUs

Spring Split: N/A

Summer Split: 5th/6th Place

 

EnVyUs took the former LCS spot of Renegades between splits and left all of the struggles Renegades had in the past. The newer, stronger roster now has an extremely small, but possible, chance of making it to Worlds after only a single split in the LCS. Their road will begin with Team Liquid.

 

With lane swaps being discouraged now, games rely more heavily on individual matchups, and it would seem that EnVyUs may have an advantage in their safe, somewhat reliable bot lane, and a disadvantage in their remarkably average top lane. Therefore, mid-jungle synergy will be incredibly important, and will likely come down to whether Se-young “Proxcin” Kim can beat Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to the punch on objectives, and whether Geon-woo “Ninja” Noh can put early pressure on the mid lane, junglers notwithstanding. EnVyUs may also have to display some prowess on more meta picks this time around, as too many off-key picks have inhibited them before, and won’t help too much against Team Liquid, and will spell disaster against Cloud9 and Immortals, should the chance arise.

 

Team Liquid

Spring Split: 4th Place

Summer Split: 5th/6th Place

 

After a slight detour from fourth place this split, Team Liquid hope to make this their chance to go to Worlds, after missing out so narrowly last year. I’ve outlined above how they can (and, barring any flukes, probably will) advance through the first match, so let’s talk about potential later matchups. Dardoch again would be key here, needing to get advantages wherever he could find them, and exploiting Cloud9’s pattern of poor dragon control.

 

Picks and bans become increasingly important here, as Liquid will have to choose between banning or stealing away signature champions (such as Syndra or Jhin), or developing counterpicks to them or others, which Liquid may not currently have. Of course, we have no way of seeing what they’re working on in scrims, but we’ll likely see what kind of preparation they’ve done for it on Sunday. Lastly, heavy top lane pressure would be paramount in addition to the rest of the points, if they indeed faced Immortals on Monday.

 

Cloud9

Spring Split: 5/6th Place

Summer Split: 2nd Place

 

Cloud9 looked like a very different team this summer, but the spring split still matters. For that, Cloud9 will have to go through the gauntlet, though they shouldn’t need two reverse-sweeps like last year. Cloud9 has a distinct advantage over Team Liquid (and especially EnVyUs) through the sheer individual skill of Eon-young “Impact” Jeong and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. If they can be strong early and take objectives more cleanly, they’ll move on to Immortals.

 

Cloud9 dropped two matches to Immortals this season, but beat them in five games in the playoff semifinals. They’ll have to do it again to go to Worlds, and in more convincing fashion. They’ll once again have to force Seung-hoon “Huni” Heo to make tough decisions, and Impact and Jensen will have to be able to gracefullydMeteos” Hartman to split his time between carefully monitoring objectives and lighting the Impact fuse in what could be a very bloody series.

 

Immortals

Spring Split: 3rd Place

Summer Split: 3rd Place

 

Immortals have been very much mortal against one force: the semifinals. Assuming the likely matchup against Cloud9, they have a chance for revenge and a trip to Worlds all in one go. Cloud9 will be looking to the top side of the map, which means Reignover needs to stop the death-machine that can be Huni from being exactly that, but what may be a smarter option is working through Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, especially if they can work up safer picks for Huni. If Reignover can help fight pressure with pressure in the mid and bot lanes, they may be able to stay ahead in a matchup where likely opponent Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi often struggles to keep up when on his heels.

 

Speaking of keeping up, Immortals will absolutely need to work on strategies while playing from behind. They haven’t been put behind early often this season, but when they have, it’s proven costly. Immortals will have to figure out more than one way to win these games. If they can start to figure this out before this weekend, then they might be a team that can find some success in their first international appearance together.

 

Be sure to tune in Saturday through Monday, September 3-5, for all the action, and to find out who will represent these regions as the #3 seeds. EU games will begin at 8 AM PST each day, with NA games following at approximately 12 PM PST.

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Mr Fidori

Obsesses over League of Legends a little too much. Writes for Break the Game. In that order.

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