2020 LCS Summer Split Playoffs: Top 5 Narratives to Follow
The 2020 LCS Summer Split playoffs are finally here, so let’s go over the most interesting (and important) narratives you should keep an eye on going forward. These storylines aren’t just important to the fans and players but also to the region. North America has found itself in a state of flux. No one’s quite sure whether it’s still a major region (performance-wise) or if it has regressed to a much less developed state.
The LCS always had at least one potent challenger that created a bit of chaos on the international stage, but other than Cloud9, no one left much of a mark. And for a region as popular and long-standing, that’s quite a problem. 2020 does seem a bit different (with multiple stacked lineups), but it’s still too early to predict anything with confidence.
After all, we’ve been burned on too many occasions in the past.
With that said, let’s focus on the most interesting narratives bound to define the 2020 LCS Summer Split playoffs!
Is Team SoloMid Legit?
The perennial North American titans have been hard to read lately. One glance at their starting lineup is all you need to be impressed, but watching them in action often isn’t all that impressive. They’re mighty inconsistent, and it’s not tied to whom they’re up against. Instead, they’re prone to making egregious mistakes at the most random moments, and certain members of their lineup (top and jungle, specifically) tend to go from “mind-blowing” to “abysmal” in a matter of minutes. Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik has been struggling to stay relevant in today’s meta and Mingyi “Spica” Lu often shows his inexperience and has been severely exploited on multiple occasions by his more seasoned opponents.
Fortunately, Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng have been hard-carrying like there’s no tomorrow and are every bit as good as they were back during TSM’s heyday. Bjergsen, in particular, has quickly risen to MVP-status after putting the team on his back. His Zilean, Zoe, and LeBlanc games are often masterclasses in both laning and team fighting, and the fact that he’s still this darn good after so many years of playing at the highest of levels is a testament to his work ethic and sheer talent.
TSM entering the playoffs is one of the most interesting narratives of the 2020 LCS Summer Split. They had a fair bit of hype after getting a couple of high-profile wins in the second half of the season. Their 12W-6L record speaks volumes as well. But once you delve deeper, things start to fall apart, at least ever so slightly. Wins over Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses certainly sound great and are hype-inducing, but neither team has performed even remotely well over the last couple of weeks. Both C9 and EG lost more than they’ve won in the second half of the Summer Split and are by no means riding any momentum wave.
TSM’s most important wins came over opponents that were struggling to stay afloat. In other words, TSM looked relatively great, but there’s a noticeable asterisk next to their wins, and that’s a problem.
They’re undoubtedly one of the best teams in North America, but they still have lots to prove, and they have to get a couple of statement wins on the board if they intend on challenging for the LCS throne.
FlyQuest — The Real Deal
FlyQuest is the definition of an enigma. Their second-place finish back in Spring certainly made everyone take notice. They didn’t waste much time once Summer came along to solidify their spot at the top. The sheer fact that they once again ranked in the Top 3 boggles the mind, especially seeing how their success seemingly came out of nowhere.
Once you break their team down, you can notice distinct strengths that give this team a kind of sustenance that’s pretty rare in North America. They’re incredibly aggressive, in sync, and on the same page, which allows them to compete with the very best teams the LCS has to offer. They hold wins over everyone other than Cloud9, a match-up that is a stylistic nightmare for the boys in white and green. They’ve beaten Team Liquid along with Team SoloMid. It’s fair to say that they’ve been working around the clock to maintain their respectable position in the region.
Still, they need to capitalize once again and prove their worth in the playoffs. A spot at the World Championship is within reach. If they don’t make any egregious mistakes, they’re bound to represent North America on the biggest of stages. Who would’ve thought that FlyQuest would end up being one of the more entertaining teams in 2020? The Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun mid-support duo are simply mind-blowing when they’re at the top of their game. With Lucas Tao Kilmer “Santorin” Larsen having a renaissance Summer Split, there’s no telling how high FlyQuest will climb once all is said and done.
They’re up against Evil Geniuses next, but seeing how they’ve yet to lose to EG in the second half of 2020. It’s fair to say they’re a lock for the second round of the playoffs.
Cloud9 — A Titan No More?
Where does one even begin with Cloud9? The most dominant champion in the region’s history has regressed performance-wise far beyond what anyone could’ve expected. Heck, they imploded about as fast as they rose through the ranks back in Spring, and now, as things stand, no one has the faintest idea whether they’re as good as they once were (but have had a couple of slip-ups) or have been overtaken by their peers?
This is certainly one of the more enticing stories of the Summer Split, and we cannot wait to see it resolve. One thing is for certain: Cloud9 isn’t as dominant early on, which invariably affects their potency and ability to dominate once the game’s mid and later stages come along.
Robert “Blaber” Huang simply isn’t playing as well as he did in Spring and his champion pool is proving quite problematic as well. It’s like he’s a binary jungler playstyle-wise. He’ll dominate beyond measure through aggressive play or implode trying. The problem is that he’s not playing what’s meta, and other junglers caught up. His synergy with Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer is also quite baffling. It’s 10 times worse than it was mere weeks ago. Nisqy hasn’t roamed quite as much, nor is he impacting the map as hard as he once did.
Why that’s the case remains to be seen, but if you’re a Cloud9 fan, it’s impossible not to be at least a little bit worried coming into the playoffs. Everyone wants to see this lineup compete on the international stage, but they’ll face an uphill battle to get there if their recent level of play is any indication.
Fortunately, if there was ever a team graced with supreme and absolute resilience, it has to be Cloud9. Fingers crossed!
A Different Kind of Liquid
What’s more surprising: the fact that Liquid fell from first to ninth in just a couple of weeks, or that they were able to make an equally dramatic turnaround in about the same time? What an incredible couple of months this has been for Team Liquid as a whole, filled with trials and tribulations that would crush almost any other team.
But Liquid, as it turns out, is a different kind of beast.
Their 2020 LCS Summer Split run has been a strange one, making them one of the top narratives to follow. On paper, it’s a resounding success with fifteen wins and just three losses — a record for the organization. In reality, however, their play hasn’t been all that consistent. Fortunately, they have some of the best players (and laners) in the West, so even if they’re not performing optimally, they’re still miles ahead of the competition. Their synergy with Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen (of Fnatic fame) is also worrying. Liquid has won games where Broxah just power formed on end. Imagine being so strong that you can easily win even in a four vs. five scenario. Absolute madness. Sometimes Broxah performs up to expectations, but you never really know whether that’ll be the case. If anything, he’s playing what’s meta and has a breadth of experience, but he hasn’t been that integral in Liquid’s success.
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, on the other hand, are playing like their lives depend on it, and watching them flex over their opposition has been nothing short of mesmerizing. CoreJJ, in particular, is the frontrunner for the MVP of the Split. You only need to watch just a game or two to understand why. He’s not only laning like a madman (with a rookie ADC) but also roaming all over the map, creating leads for his allies and pressuring whenever possible.
At the time of this writing, Liquid is, without a doubt, the best and most well-rounded team in North America, but not by a considerable margin. They have their distinct flaws and could be exploited going forward.
In any case, watching them compete (and potentially reclaim their throne) will be an absolute must.
What’s the Deal with GGS?
The Golden Guardians have always been a confusing bunch. There’s just no other way to put it. They’re the only team in North American history that has finished in tenth place for two splits. That’s not exactly a record you want tied to your name, but it’s there nonetheless. After that debacle, GGS (unexpectedly) corrected course and has low-key been a well-rounded mid-tier gatekeeper for multiple splits in succession.
The thing is, they never look that dangerous, and yet they almost always end up in the playoffs. 2020 has been no different in that regard. But once you start digging a bit deeper, things get even more confusing. Victor “FBI” Huang and Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun have been among the most dominant duos in the entire region — an unexpected twist that simply boggles the mind. Everyone’s carrying their fair share of the weight. While GGS is by no means a top-tier behemoth, they’re much better than most people give them credit for. They’re above average but not great, at least not when they’re up against the LCS’s best teams.
Still, they’re performing at a very respectable level and have earned everyone’s benefit. Hopefully, they’ll accomplish something in the playoffs so that once 2021 comes around, they’re no longer deemed as a bottom-tier dweller by default. They deserve a much better narrative, especially with such a solid lineup under their banner.
The 2020 LCS Summer Split playoffs are bound to deliver with these interesting narratives! Make sure to mark your calendars because you do not want to miss any of the action!