LGD-Gaming were perhaps the most shameless in their race to find better Playoff seeding. They threw several games with picks like Ashe and Riven mid lane to ensure a sixth place seed in playoffs, allowing them to avoid Edward Gaming until finals. The question is whether their bid will payoff, or if they'll regret underestimating OMG.
Since their 1-1 split with Edward Gaming, OMG have been saying that they've been playing "things they're bad at" and ended the season with 11 1-1 splits — more than any other team besides Gamtee — and a third place finish. Third place is the lowest OMG has ever placed in the regular split of LPL, which may as well be inexcusable given the power play roster move they made at the start of the season.
It's likely that, of the teams that made Playoffs, these two squads will play the least like their regular season selves.
Last we checked, LGD-Gaming's strengths were in roaming and late game wave clear, setting themselves behind in favor of protecting their jungler for comebacks in late game team fights. OMG pressures hard in the early game, dropping towers with fast push and a pick-oriented playstyle.
OMG loses much more Game 1s in the regular season than Game 2s, so they should be able to adapt while LGD remains restricted to their style because of a roster weakness. They're likely to lose Game 1, but they're favored if playstyles remain consistent from the beginning of the regular season. The likelihood of that is slim, making this the hardest series of the quarterfinals to call.
The Preshow: Gamtee vs Legend Dragon
Despite only placing fourth, Legend Dragon made a crucial last minute roster change for Kabe that tips them as the favorite LSPL team to make LPL. Their jungler, mid laner, and AD carry now all hail from Hong Kong Attitude, and the strong trio makes the team click.
Gamtee's inconsistency will be the major factor. Splitting 1-1 repeatedly with top and lower tier teams alike in LPL shows they have a high skill ceiling as a group, but a poor sense of direction. If they can get it together, they might be the toughest available matchup for Legend Dragon from the LPL crop. If not, they're the easiest.
Look out for the mid lane matchup either way as PaSa takes on young prodigy xiaohu.
Imp and Uzi again
At this point the "worlds finals rematch" storyline has almost become trite, so it's a good thing I'm not using it.
On paper, Uzi-Cloud and Imp-Pyl are two of the strongest 2v2s in the game. When Pyl remains in lane, this is the most aggressive bottom lane face off the LPL has to offer.
LGD succeeds when Pyl roams, which means Imp is often left in a 2v1 laning situation. For this reason, he's fallen under the radar. Deft and Meiko and Uzi and Cloud have carved their ways through opposing bottom lanes, but Imp might actually be the strongest laner by virtue of being able to clear and keep expert duos at bay with Graves.
The interesting thing about this matchup is that Imp has shown new dimensions on LGD-Gaming. He can play a more conservative style and hold waves or go all-in on picks like Kalista or Twitch when Pyl deigns to bless the lane with his presence. It's clear now that Mata wasn't the sole secret behind Imp's performances.
Uzi, on the other hand, is still the same Uzi. He wants to go for lane kills, contest every creep as it comes into play, and play alongside a powerful Thresh. Imp has arguably developed into more of a team player and less of a reckless playmaker in China. Uzi, taking up the mantel of OMG's most consistent role, hasn't adapted.
Imp is the hidden elite AD carry in LPL, but Uzi demands attention. Imp's surprise factor against Uzi's commanding presence could well be the decider of the entire series.
The weights on We1less
When We1less joined LGD-Gaming, he did so turning down an offer to join Team WE. He wanted to play under the leadership of Pyl, a player described as having strong shot-calling and a "mediator" personality. Vici Gaming, his previous team, let him go. The manager confessed he thought We1less was a bit of a selfish playmaker, going "too hero" and not playing for the team.
Last season We1less developed a heavy farm style, using Spirit of the Spectral Wraith to clear out camps, command a massive farm lead with minion manipulation, and destroy enemy teams in fights. This season, jungle creeps are fewer are further between. With TBQ's weaknesses showing through more than ever, the last thing LGD would want is to set their jungler further behind.
When We1less gets a lead, he invests in vision. He roams to keep enemy junglers form abusing his team and using kills as a map pressure mechanism. He's also a strong initiator, and as Orianna sees more play, We1less will be able to perform on more than just the likes of Diana or Leblanc.
We1less has changed a lot from the headstrong player on Vici Gaming, but you can see it shine through when he chose champions that seem unfavorable. His Vladimir on Patch 5.4 had no game impact in the Demacia Cup, and We1less looked more like he was messing around than taking the game seriously.
As with Edward Gaming and Clearlove, LGD always seems to perform to We1less' ceiling. Against a player like Cool, that's more crucial than ever.
Down to Loveling
For both splits in which Loveling jungled for OMG in the past two years, he was the best jungler in LPL. Even last summer, after inSec joined LPL, Loveling had steep competition. In most domestic best-of-five series, Loveling could get the advantage over Star Horn's jungler. Games were won off Loveling's larger champion pool and ability to invade and kill inSec in playoffs.
Loveling's command of the map as both a support and jungler have been more fundamental to OMG's identity as a pick-oriented team than either Cool or Gogoing. After OMG chose to sub in San top in the last series against LGD, Loveling became the only OMG player to have played every single match with the team in LPL. Fans call him OMG's master tactician.
This split, Loveling isn't a top four jungler in LPL. He's outclassed by heavyweight Koreans like KaKAO, DanDy, and Spirit. Even Clearlove, a long time rival, has developed to the point where he can make Loveling's life in his own jungle a living hell.
On top of that, Loveling has said in a recent interview that he feels less comfortable on the more "meta" picks of the current patch. He even fell back on Rengar in the series against Energy Pacemaker. To make matters worse, he has a five game losing streak on his self-professed favorite champion, Lee Sin. A Nidalee pickup for OMG may be crucial to their ability to win games.
But the jungle matchup in OMG vs LGD-Gaming should be the one matchup that goes most heavily in OMG's favor. All eyes are on Loveling to perform. If he can excel, he will save OMG from an unthinkable quarterfinals finish. If he falters, LGD-Gaming will advance to the semifinals against Snake.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for the Score eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.