The NA LCS Summer Split playoffs are almost underway, and in the second quarterfinal match this weekend, third seed Counter Logic Gaming will take on sixth seed Team Envy.
CLG and Envy faced off twice during the Summer Split, and both times CLG took the series pretty easily. But that was before CLG made a late season roster swap, trading jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to Team Liquid and bringing in rookie Omar “Omargod” Amin just three weeks ago.
That change opens this series up in a few unexpected ways, but it still isn’t quite enough to make Envy the favorites before the games begin. As the third-place team, CLG should be in a pretty safe spot to take this series and move on to the semifinals, but there are a few unanswered questions that might help Envy upset CLG and advance to the next round.
Can Lira take control?
Team Envy’s best player, and one of the best junglers in the league, is Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo. On the CLG side, Amin has only been an NA LCS starter for three weeks. It’s hard to imagine a better situation for Envy heading into this series.
The only question that remains now, is whether or not he has the playstyle to take advantage of Envy’s good fortune. Nam most often focuses on his farming; with the highest CS per minute and the highest gold per minute, he isn’t exactly the most gank heavy jungler in the LCS.
However, if Nam can find a fusion of that playstyle and one that more actively takes over the game, leaving Amin desperately trying to catch up, then it could put Envy out to a favorable early game for the entire series. All of the pieces for an Envy upset are right there, neatly laid out, the only question now is whether or not they can take advantage of them.
Will Huhi be allowed to roam?
Counter Logic Gaming midlaner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun may not have the best stats in the LCS, but we do have a couple things to learn from them. With high average deaths, kills and assists, it’s not hard to see CLG’s midlaner loves to fight. And he doesn’t hesitate to do it early. While Amin might not be CLG’s ticket to controlling the early game, it’s entirely possible Choi decides to take over that role.
If that happens, it’s going to be critical for Envy that Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer slows him down. The best way to do this would be to put the focus on wave clear midlaners like Viktor who could easily punish any move that Choi tries to make with damage on his tower, with Nam following up, it’s easy to see a game where one good Choi roam let’s Envy take an early tower and gain control of the game.
However, if Envy aren’t quick enough to act, and Choi’s roams go unpunished, it’s likely that the CLG midlaner will be able to snowball his entire team, while keeping Amin safe in the jungle, until he is ready to fight with the team.
Tanks or Splitpushers?
The top lane meta for the NA LCS Summer Split playoffs isn’t defined yet and that leaves a lot of questions open for both teams. The ability of CLG’s Darshan Upadhyaya and Envy’s Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong to play both tanks and split-pushers means that this series is likely going to be very open strategically in the top lane.
If one team seems to be taking control of games consistently, then the other will respond by switching their top laner to a split-pushing champion like Shen, or Fiora in hopes of throwing off their opponent’s rhythm. This isn’t the kind of thing that favors one team or another before the series begins, but the ability of the teams to adapt their top lane strategy throughout the series could prove to be the difference between them.