LCS Summer 2020 Playoff Preview: Team Liquid vs FlyQuest

Team Liquid and FlyQuest face off with a spot in the LCS Summer Split Championship on the line!

With the three LCS teams – Team Liquid, FlyQuest, and __ – are already locked in to go to Worlds, it’s time now to determine which seed each team will secure and who will be crowned the Summer Split championship. TL and FlyQuest will face off in the first match, with the winner going straight to the Finals, and the loser forced to battle __ before getting a chance for a rematch.

Team Liquid

Record: 15-3

Roster

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

Playoffs: Defeated Golden Guardians (3-0)

Team Liquid, the best team in the LCS all Summer Split, easily dispatched with Golden Guardians 3-0 in the second round of the playoffs. They were led mainly by their star mid laner Jensen, who died only twice in those three games while putting up 13 kills. The team also saw some massively improved play from long-maligned jungler Broxah, who finally looked to be fully gelled with his team and drove the early action in those games.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for TL. They continued to play their games very slowly, with their fastest win of the series coming in over 36 minutes. They were also usually behind in gold after the early game in their games against Golden Guardians, who were admittedly a very strong early game team.

Team Liquid’s mid and late game macro continued to be their strong suit, as they managed

FlyQuest

Record: 12-6

Roster

Colin “Solo” Earnest
Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen
Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran
Lee “Ignar” Dong-geun

Playoffs: Defeated Evil Geniuses (3-2), defeated Cloud9 (3-1)

FlyQuest managed to take down Cloud9 in four games in order to secure their spot at Worlds. While this was a fairly big upset at the time, given C9’s subsequent downturn that’s looking like a somewhat less-impressive achievement. 

FLY got strong play up and down their lineup, with only one player, Solo, having more than four deaths in a single game. The biggest bonus from that series was their bot lane of WildTurtle and Ignar – which was previously the team’s biggest liability – having an incredibly strong series. With FlyQuest realizing that they could just put Turtle on a utility ADC like Ashe and Senna, jungler Santorin was able to get the top side of the map rolling en route to a 3-1 series win.

Head to Head Matchups

Top Lane: Impact vs. Solo

If you’re giving me the option between two top laners who need to play weak side, I would take Solo over Impact nine times out of ten. Yes, Impact is the better one about absorbing pressure in lane, but Solo is a better overall laner and his play translates to teamfights much better. Expect to see Shen as a high first-pick option for both teams, since both players are very skilled on the champion.

Advantage: FlyQuest

Jungle: Broxah vs. Santorin

Santorin was in the MVP conversation and for good reason. Although he is a fairly weak early game jungler, he’s a master at getting his lanes ahead with an 80.3% kill participation in the Summer Split. Broxah has stepped his game up as the summer went along, but he’s arguably a weaker early game jungler than Santorin and doesn’t impact the map nearly as hard.

Advantage: FlyQuest

Mid Lane: Jensen vs. PowerofEvil

Jensen remains a front-runner for LCS MVP this split and deservedly so. Statistically, he was the strongest-laning mid in the league by a wide margin and managed to translate those early leads into strong skirmishes for his team.

While PowerofEvil did not make the final five for LCS MVP, in my opinion, he was the better choice and the better all-around player. While his laning wasn’t quite as good as Jensen’s, his damage output was insane (569.1 adjusted GPM) and he had a much higher damage-to-gold ratio than Jensen, meaning that he was more efficient about using the resources he was given. This is going to probably be the lane that swings the series, as these are the two best mids in the world, but to me, PoE is the slightly better player.

Advantage: FlyQuest

ADC: Tactical vs. WildTurtle

Although we’ve seen a renaissance from WildTurtle in the latter part of the split, thanks to him finding his form on utility ADCs, this is the biggest mismatch on the Rift. Tactical gets labeled as a product of CoreJJ’s tutelage (deservedly so) but I think this narrative under-estimates how damn good he is at pumping out damage while not dying. Not only was he the clear best Rookie of the Split, to me he was deserving of being an all-pro and maybe even in the MVP conversation.

Advantage: Team Liquid

Support: CoreJJ vs. Ignar

Part of the reason I’m so hard on CoreJJ (beyond his pitiful damage output) is that he’s not actually a very strong laner despite playing with a top-two laning ADC. He actually manages to average a -92 XP differential at 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Ignar, who is known to be a notorious roaming support who sacrifices his lane experience, averages -67 XPD at 15 while also playing with a much weaker ADC in terms of laning (and he also played with Mash for most of the split, who’s an even worse laner than WildTurtle).

CoreJJ is the king of vision when it comes to supports (3.15 VSPM) but Ignar is not far behind (3.08 VSPM). And, while Ignar does die more than CoreJJ (2.1 deaths per game versus 1.3 deaths per game) it’s because he puts himself in a position to do more damage and help his team (74.2% kill participation for Ignar versus 70.5% KP for CoreJJ). I’ll shock a lot of people by saying this, but I give the advantage to Ignar.

Advantage: FlyQuest

Keys to the Series

Honestly, I think Team Liquid fans should have been dreading this series and rooting for C9 in the FlyQuest/Cloud9 series because FlyQuest is probably the worst matchup for TL in the playoffs. Not only is their top half of the map much stronger, but their bot side plays in a way that they can neutralize Team Liquid’s two main carries – Tactical and Jensen.

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On top of that, FlyQuest have actually been the best early game team in these playoffs per Oracle’s Elixir. Team Liquid is the best team in terms of the mid and late game rating by a mile, but the late game is never guaranteed. It will come down to whether or not FlyQuest are able to close out their games cleanly more than if Team Liquid can battle back, which is not the position you’d expect a 15-3 team and the LCS number one seed to be in.

Prediction: FlyQuest wins 3-2

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