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TSM eye steady climb back up into the top four
Vulcan, FBI key to Evil Geniuses success; Guardians need a counter
After underachieving in the first half, 100 Thieves eye playoff berth
We’ve just veered into the halfway mark of LCS Spring 2023, and a clear pattern on teams that can potentially be top-three material and those jostling for the remaining three slots have emerged. If you didn’t know, the top six make the playoffs.
The first of our Saturday matches is a mouth-watering contest of style & substance. Cloud9 are riding a wave of confidence and are currently third with a 7-2 record that puts them joint second at the moment with Evil Geniuses. However, it’s entirely possible this could become 8-2 by the time they play TSM on Saturday. Their Friday clash is against last-placed Dignitas who are the only winless team at this stage of the competition.
Strictly viewed from the outside, TSM aren’t far behind and are currently fifth with a 5-4 record, but two others - CLG and 100 Thieves - are hot on their heels and fighting for sixth. Their Friday fixture against CLG will make it clear if TSM can steer clear of their immediate competition or will be stuck in quicksand. So purely on current form, you will be better off hedging your bets on Cloud9 to take full points from this clash.
TSM have been scaling well, but the fact they haven’t been able to get close to Zeri or Yone, like in the clash against GG, is a sign that they’re still in a bit of a flux. Their plans need a little bit of tweaking; they would do well to not be as predictable as they have been so far.
On the other hand, Cloud9’s encouraging start, way better than their summer performance from 2023, has many hoping for the moon. Suddenly they’re looking among the strongest teams in the competition. There was a considerable hint of doubt around Dimitri ‘Diplex’ Ponomarev and if he could fit in well with the team, but that has been emphatically answered now.
He lands 2.89 kills, 1.33 deaths and 6.11 assists along with a KDA of 6.75 and creep score of 262.11. A mix of his low death and higher-than-average assists has made him an integral part of the squad.
This is as lopsided as a contest could get. You need no second thoughts on who you should be punting for this match. Dignitas don’t know where their next win will come from. As if 0-9 down isn’t bad enough, they have Evil Geniuses to counter on Friday before this game against toppers FlyQuest, who are soaring with an 8-1 record at this stage.
That’s taking on two of the top three in a little under 24 hours. Enough to test a team’s mental reserves, especially with them struggling to buy a point. Expect FlyQuest to continue their joyride.
FlyQuest have been given a reality check lately. A loss against red-hot CLG has come as some sort of an eye-opener. They couldn’t quite manage to limit jungler Contractz, who found success on both sides of the map that allowed him to land the big kills. This was done with clinical precision.
The ease with which FlyQuest caved in at the slightest hint of pressure will concern them. It’s something for them to iron out going into the second half.
Outside the periphery of the playoffs, but still in contention given the talent at their disposal, Liquid and 100 Thieves will hope for a late upward climb. And because these are two identical teams in identical positions, the odds are equal, meaning you will be left scratching your heads if you were to pick an outright winner.
This one’s too close to call. Having said that, both teams have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses which we will try and examine.
When Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng came out of retirement to play for 100 Thieves, there was a hint of apprehension within several groups of people that closely track the LCS landscape. But his reunion with former teammate and star mid-laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg has provided the spark the team has been looking for.
This isn’t to say it’s a partnership for the ages just yet, but there’s potential for them to work with. Doublelift lands 5 kills, the highest for 100 Thieves, along with averaging 2.44 deaths and 4.11 assists for a creep score of 337.
Bjergsen scores when it comes to high kill participation, averaging 6.11. But to put their limited success just to these two would be a gross understatement. Busio and Closer have also played their support roles superbly in victories. Now, for them to be a bit more consistent.
With a 5-4 win-loss record, GG just about have their heads over the water and are currently fourth, tied on points with TSM. There’s no imminent danger of them missing the bus; a top-six finish seems par for the course.
But they’d want to be better than that. GG will be the first ones to admit they have underachieved so far this season, and have a lot to do if they are to challenge the might of Evil Geniuses, who are a win-off toppers Fly Quest. Evil Geniuses are currently 7-2 in the standings, which directly gives them the edge going into this match.
When the sides last met, Evil Geniuses ran helter-skelter before eventually winning. Their gold lead at the end of a draining contest was less than 5k. Evil Geniuses outdid Golden Guardians by just two kills, winning it 18-16.
Inspired and Vulcan led the kill participation charts, while FBI played a key role when it came to offensive proficiency. Expect none of that to change this time around. How Golden Guardians formulate a plan to stop this trio will form the crux of the contest.
Teams: 100 Thieves, Cloud9, Golden Guardians, Evil Geniuses, FlyQuest, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, Dignitas, Immortals
Location: North America
Time: Friday, February 24 at 3 PM ET onwards
How to watch: LCS Twitch channel
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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