League of Legends: LCS Match of the Week Preview: Team Liquid vs. Team SoloMid

League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /
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Jensen, Impact, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

After almost two months without LCS action, North American League of Legends returns to our screens this weekend with the opening of the summer split. Week 1 provides a whole host of exciting games, the most hype of them all being a spring split final rematch between Team Liquid and Team SoloMid in the Match of the Week!

Fresh off the back of an international final, Team Liquid will be looking to make history and win four North American championships in a row this split following their domination of 2018 and 2019 spring. And there’s no reason why they can’t. TL head into the second half of the season as favourites due to their impeccable roster who have already proven themselves on the international stage this year by taking down current world champions Invictus Gaming in the MSI semi-finals.

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But their opponents on Saturday are no slouches, and they’ll be out for revenge after an incredibly close spring split final that saw TSM take 2 games off the current North American champions. With some slight changes to the line-up, fans and analysts alike are rallying behind Team SoloMid and giving them an outside chance of lifting the summer trophy.

There’s no question that these teams, along with Cloud 9, are the top three heading into the summer split. Saturday’s Match of the Week offers the perfect opportunity for one team to start on the front foot and leave a potential title challenger in the dirt behind them.

Team Liquid

Despite an incredibly one-sided 3-0 defeat in the final against G2 Esports, Team Liquid made North American League of Legends fans proud with their performance at the Mid-Season Invitational. Before the tournament began, making it out of groups and maybe taking 1 game in the semi-finals was all that was expected, but TL blew those expectations out of the water.

It seemed that everyone was predicting a comprehensive Invictus Gaming victory before the semi-finals, but Liquid surprised everyone by taking down the world champions with ease in a 3-1 series. Their hopes of international success may have been quickly shut down by the European giants G2 but becoming the first NA team to reach an international final is enough to give fans hope going into 2019 Worlds.

Not only did Team Liquid establish themselves as one of the world’s best teams, but every individual on the roster showed up when it counted. Impact and Xmithie were the rocks that consistently set up the rest of their team for success, Jensen and Doublelift once again proved that they’re excellent carries, and CoreJJ may have cemented himself as the current best support player in the world.

Therefore its easy to understand why many fans are predicting Team Liquid to once again finish at the top of the standings at the end of the summer split. While there are a number of talented rosters in the LCS, none of them can top the immense individual talent on TL, and that’s why they’re the team to beat going into summer.

One to Watch: Jake Kevin “Xmithie” Puchero

Speaking of individual talent, is there any North American pro that has proved their quality over the years more than Xmithie? The former Counter-Logic Gaming and Immortals player is an LCS veteran and has ranked amongst the best NA junglers consistently throughout the last five seasons. He’s now become the catalyst for the best team in the LCS, and has made his mark on the international stage, out-jungling the likes of Clid, Jankos, and Ning during MSI.

Unlike most jungle players in the chaotic season 9 meta, we rarely see Xmithie stray from the current crop of tank junglers, opting for the likes of Jarvan IV, Olaf, Sejuani, and Skarner, when other carry options are available. This is the essence of Xmithie’s playstyle; instead of single-handedly running the game from minute one, he instead prefers to bring his team-mates into the fray through intelligent pathing and ganks early on.

In the spring split, mid lane and bottom lane were the focus of attention, and it brought TL most of their success, so it’s unlikely that this will change in summer. Expect to see Xmithie set up camp around the dragon area, maintaining full vision control around mid and bot, while Impact is left on an island as usual. It may sound straightforward, but no LCS jungler is capable of controlling a game as well as Xmithie, and this was confirmed by his place on the LCS All-Pro team following the spring split.

Whether he’s facing Akaadian or Grig on Saturday, it’s anticipated that Xmithie should come out on top, and it’s a case of whether he can put his laners in a strong enough position to carry later on in the game. If TSM are to have any chance in the LCS Match of the Week, they’ll need to limit Xmithie’s impact on the map, and target TL’s laners when they’re most vulnerable in 1v2s or 2v3s.