The LCS Summer Split playoffs are already under way and there more exciting best-of-fives to come this weekend as we find out who will be the top two teams competing in the finals in Detroit.
Cloud9 and Team Liquid received a bye into this round for finishing in the top two and the latter also had the option to choose their opponent after finishing top. Liquid have unsurprisingly opted to face Clutch Gaming which leaves us with an explosive best of five between C9 and CLG.
Here are our thoughts going into the crucial League of Legends matches and our LCS playoff predictions
Team Liquid (1.07) vs Clutch Gaming (6.50)
August 18th | 10pm BST / 11pm CEST / 5pm ET / 2pm PT | live stream
While chronologically this isn't the first semi-final, we thought we'd start with this series considering it's fairly easy to predict who will win.
MSI finalists and Spring Split champions Team Liquid have long been the best team in North America and it's extremely unlikely that will change any time soon. The sheer star-power on the team is incredible with the likes of legendary ADC Peter "Doublelift" Peng, impressive European mid-laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen as well as former World Champion and potentially best player in the league, support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in.
Though, Clutch Gaming aren't slouches either and showed that last week. History repeated itself as Clutch eliminated TSM from the Summer Playoffs for the secondyear running following a convincing 3-1 win.
TSM were simply outclassed, especially by ADC Cody Sun who is found an incredible patch of form as he looks to reach the World Championships for the third time in a row. Teamfights almost felt like a boss battle at times as Sun refused to go down and was spitting out tonnes of damage. You also of course have to look at former SK Telecom T1 top-laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon who seems to finally be back to the kind of form that has seen him become a Worlds finalist in previous years.
Clutch appear to get stronger and stronger as each week goes on but a victory against a weak TSM side doesn't give us a true idea of their strength. And frankly, Team Liquid are simply too good and probably won't have many problems advancing into the finals.
LCS playoff prediction: Team Liquid win 3-0
Counter Logic Gaming (3.40) vs Cloud9 (1.27)
August 17th | 10pm BST / 11pm CEST / 5pm ET / 2pm PT | live stream
Now we have the extremely unpredictable game between Cloud9 and CLG, the two teams who competed all Summer for second place in the standings.
Like Clutch, CLG also looked very good in the Playoffs and made short work of OpTic, though the first game was anything but smooth. Jungler Raymond "Wiggily" Griffin has been the star-man for the team this year but looked a bit nervous in his first game. Though he grew into the series and with that experience under his belt, should be in a good spot to challenge C9.
CLG still play very good League of Legends with clean macro play which should serve them well in this tough semi-final.
However, clean and controlled isn't actually the strongest style at the moment as LPL teams and G2 have shown that calculated aggression and risk-taking is the way to go. That's exactly what Cloud9 will look to replicate with their mechanically gifted roster.
C9 also have the advantage of substitutes with junglers Robert "Blaber" Huang and Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen both looking impressive this split - the latter was even voted the league's top jungler in the All-Pro vote and was the only Liquid player to appear in that All-Pro team.
C9's adaptability and unpredictability, especially with head coach Bok "Reapered" Han-gyu's drafts, makes them a serious force in best-of-five series and we have to give them the slight edge considering they recently defeated CLG just a couple of weeks back in the tiebreaker.
Yet, this series could easily go either way and CLG's intelligent play could quite easily frustrate Cloud9's plans. For now though, we're giving this to Cloud9 but it's going to be a tight series in which we hopefully get to hear Silver Scrapes.
LCS playoff prediction: Cloud9 win 3-2
Pictures: LoL Esports / Riot