LCS Summer 2020 Playoff Preview: Team Liquid vs. Golden Guardians

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We preview the second series of round two of the LCS Summer playoffs, as Team Liquid faces Golden Guardians.

The upper bracket of the 2020 LCS playoffs continues as the number one team in the league, Team Liquid, takes on the surprise contenders in the Golden Guardians. After FlyQuest upset Cloud9 in the first series yesterday, many fans might be wondering if we’re due for a second upset today.

Team Liquid

Record: 15-3


Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong
Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen
Edward “Tactical” Ra
Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in

The Regular Season

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The best team in the LCS this summer, Team Liquid rebounded from a disastrous Spring Split with the biggest offseason move, replacing longtime AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng with Tactical. The rookie has stepped up and arguably outperformed the veteran, but the roster move also seems to have allowed the rest of the roster to shine.

Both Jensen and CoreJJ have had massive resurgences this summer. CoreJJ is largely considered the frontrunner for MVP (though I disagree) and Jensen has been the best or second-best mid laner in the league this year depending on who you ask.

Team Liquid have largely been a solid early game team (they’re rated the third-best early game team by Oracle’s Elixir) but the best mid-to-late game team. In a league full of terrible macro decisions, Team Liquid is the best of the bunch. Or maybe just the least-worst.

Golden Guardians

Record: 9-9


Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell
Can “Closer” Çelik
Tanner “Damonte” Damonte
Ian Victor “FBI” Huang
Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun

Playoffs: Defeated TSM (3-0)

A lot of spectators were shocked when Golden Guardians took down TSM in a decisive fashion, but it was honestly not surprising if you looked objectively at where GGS had their strengths. Golden Guardians got some help from TSM’s bot lane playing awful, sure, but they also leveraged their drafts and strategy perfectly.

Not only did they ban out Bjergsen in every game, neutralizing TSM’s biggest matchup advantage, but they also made sure that their bot lane could get laning advantages. Again, TSM’s poor drafts helped them out here too, something I doubt Team Liquid will do so easily.

Head to Head Matchups

Top Lane: Impact vs. Hauntzer

Impact is heralded as the best weak-side top laner, but I call bull. Impact has shown himself to be incredibly reliant on three picks – Mordekaiser, Ornn, and Shen – both of those champions are strong in the meta, yes, but his lack of champion diversity is an easy target for GGS. In addition, he’s facing Hauntzer, who is (in my opinion) the actual best weak-side top laner in the LCS. With his ability to play more diverse champions than Impact, I think this matchup tilts heavily in GGS favor.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Jungle: Broxah vs. Closer

Closer is solidly among the top three junglers this split, but Broxah has quietly been having a decent split himself after a disappointing spring. The biggest problem is, ironically, that Broxah tends to be a much greedier and less efficient jungler, with the lowest damage-to-gold ratio for the position. Closer, on the other hand, has one of the best and is one of the best early game junglers, which should punish Broxah’s biggest weakness.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Mid Lane: Jensen vs. Damonte

Just like against TSM, the mid lane is probably going to be Golden Guardians’ biggest hurdle to overcome. They attacked it by banning out Bjergsen in all three games, throwing literally every ban at him, but it will be just as hard to ban out Jensen. In addition, Jensen outperformed Bjergsen this split (and is the most deserving MVP candidate on Liquid in my opinion) and has a team that actually will draft smartly and leverage their advantages, making that “throw all your bans at mid” strategy a bit riskier.

Advantage: Team Liquid

ADC: Tactical vs. FBI

FBI showed up Doublelift in the first round, which was beautiful for me to see, but now he faces a much tougher task. In my opinion, Tactical actually outperformed FBI overall as an ADC, with fewer deaths and better gold counts. I give Tactical the edge here, but this is the closest line between any of the two positions and I would not count FBI out by any means.

Advantage: Team Liquid

Support: CoreJJ vs. Huhi

What I’m about to say is going to be quite controversial, but here it goes: there is not that big a gap between CoreJJ and Huhi. Core was easily the best support in terms of vision control, but he sucked in terms of damage output and kill participation. He had a lot of “big play” moments, but Huhi actually seemed to drive more of the action than the TL support. That said, if I’m giving the edge to one player it’s CoreJJ.

Advantage: Team Liquid

Keys to the Series

Draft could easily decide this series and it’s such an interesting thought experiment because there are two competing issues for each team. On the one hand, Team Liquid drafts very face-up and predictably. They don’t use a lot of flex picks, they have very defined and narrow champion pools (no TL player has played more than eight champions in the Summer Split and Broxah has only played four), and their comps really only tend to succeed when the other team makes mistakes (which, to be fair, happens all the time in the LCS).

On the other hand, Golden Guardians found a formula that worked very well against TSM by forcing the side lanes to carry. I think if they take that same gambit against Team Liquid, they actually could find success, especially if they manage to get their desired matchup in the bot lane and force TL to win through their top and jungle. I also think that GGS is more capable of winning through the top and jungle, even if that’s not their style.

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The rub is that if Golden Guardians follow this plan of making sure Jensen can’t carry (he is the TL member with the most unique champs this split) it lets TL get those comfort picks like they’ve done all year. If they don’t, though, they risk Jensen taking advantage of that mid lane matchup. It’s going to be very interesting to see which tactic Golden Guardians take. I think this series will be much closer than fans think and it could swing on one poor decision in draft.

Prediction: Team Liquid wins 3-2