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LCS Quarterfinals Staff Picks: let the games begin

by theScore eSports Staff Mar 31 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports / NA LCS Spring 2016 / Riot Games

theScore esports' League of Legends experts have tapped into their inner oracle for the European and North American LCS quarterfinals and offer up predictions for each of the games.

Europe Moser Rand Doucet Doan
VIT vs. FNC VIT VIT VIT VIT
OG vs. UOL OG OG OG UOL
North America Moser Rand Doucet Doan
C9 vs. TSM C9 C9 C9 C9
TL vs. NRG TL TL NRG TL

Team Vitality vs. Fnatic

Kelsey Moser: In both of their previous encounters, Vitality let Fnatic have whichever flavor of picks they wanted and still managed to dismantle them with a style of drafting that countered their preferred selections. Vitality's ability to research and come up with strategies that work around how another team likes to play has defined their sprin split whereas Fnatic appear to lack an identity altogether. This should be a sweep on paper, but a question lingers as to whether Vitality can use their style of draft on the fly — and if Fnatic can bring more depth in their compositions to the table. Team Vitality

Emily Rand: Fnatic almost always manages to pull out wins when they're faced with seemingly dire situations. Unfortunately, they're up against Vitality, who are 4-2 in their final three weeks and have only grown throughout the season whereas Fnatic has started and stopped before starting again. Fnatic's inconsistency and recent downward trend make them a difficult pick. Vitality has shown better coordination and far superior map control, which is why I'm picking them to take this series. Team Vitality

Nic Doucet: This one definitely favors Vitality from both an individual and team perspective — they've moved well past their rocky start to the split and are now fearsome as a well-developed tactical team with more than their fair share of pick-ban mind games. Fnatic have a bit more carry potential out of the jungle thanks to Spirit, but Vitality's greatest individual strength, Cabochard, will trump one of Fnatic's biggest weaknesses, Gamsu. Across the board this one favors VIT. Team Vitality

Lisa Doan: Vitality has proven their raw mechanical skill and versatility over the course of the regular season. Cabochard came up big this split, showing he can play whatever the team needs him to play and still output loads of damage. In addition to how well the team works together, Vitality has shown that they can pull out a pocket pick when needed, giving them the ability to surprise their opponents going into playoffs. If there's a team in the EU LCS to pull out a champion we haven't seen in competitive before, it'll be Vitality. Fnatic have proven their ability to endure and pull off unexpected turnarounds to win games. They're all good players but it just feels like they just haven't found their style within the current meta yet. Either way, it's going to be an interesting best-of-five. Team Vitality

Origen vs. Unicorns of Love

Kelsey Moser: Neither of these teams will make the finals. Neither team has also felt truly stable. Both teams have great AD carries to watch who are often called upon when nothing else seems to work. Perhaps what separates Origen is experience as a unit, and this should prevail in the matchup and allow them to advance in the late game fights. Blue side and red side may give us a different taste for the game depending on whether xPeke plays. Origen

Emily Rand: At the beginning of the season, I thought Origen would be a top two team in Europe. With minimal changes to their roster and a strong initial performance from PowerOfEvil at IEM San Jose, they looked poised to dominate the regular season split. Instead, they're fighting for their postseason future in a Quarterfinals match against UOL, who have had their own specific problems including a rotating spot in the jungle after Diamondprox. I think Origen pulls this one out, but this entire matchup just sadly reminds me of what both teams could have been, had things gone a bit differently throughout the season. Origen

Nic Doucet: Origen, a team which struggled mightily to find their pace over the split, gained a boost of confidence in the final two weeks thanks to four straight wins. On the other hand, UoL have looked more and more inconsistent as the split came to a close. Steeelback is putting on a star level performance, but he alone cannot carry UoL against an Origen squad who have momentum behind them. It'll closer than the other EU quarterfinal, but not by much. Origen

Lisa Doan: This matchup had me stumped for a good while. Origen, on paper, seem like the stronger team. With xPeke returning to play, this is the roster that made it to semifinals at Worlds last year. They dominated the regular season, only losing to Fnatic. They also won their last week of this season. However, those two wins were almost gifted to them because the other team threw. Unicorns of Love had an unexpected regular season, marked by multiple switches in junglers. Despite that, the team stepped up and Steeelback showed how he can be a reliable AD carry. That all said; my heart says Origen but my head says UoL. Unicorns of Love

Cloud9 vs. Team SoloMid

Kelsey Moser: Ah, the once glorious battle. This was last year's most exciting clash. Now, Team SoloMid are a scattered shell that can't find one another in a game. Cloud9's unity is tentative, but it definitely makes the difference between success and failure. C9 aren't the strongest team in the west, but they're decisive, and sometimes that's all you need to be to make the Top 3. Cloud9

Emily Rand: Four of the NA LCS's six Grand Finals have featured Cloud9 and Team SoloMid. This year, they meet in the quarterfinals. TSM in particular has struggled this season, ending up in sixth place — their lowest regular season finish — due to their lack of synergy. Meanwhile, C9 seems to be winning by coordination and communication. I'm sad to pick C9 in this instance, if only because I had high hopes for what this TSM roster could achieve. Unfortunately, TSM's offseason acquisitions haven't paid off. Cloud9

Nic Doucet: An old rivalry made anew by fresh faces on both sides, but this time history will favor C9. Rush and Jensen have been playing like absolute monsters lately, ranking among the best at their role in the NA LCS. Across the way, TSM have continued to look lost all split and have wrestled with persistent communication problems. Given the current status of both squads, C9 will take this one without too much trouble as TSM heads back to the drawing board to figure out what happened to their star-studded roster. Cloud9

Lisa Doan: Sad but true — this season may mark the first time we won't see TSM make the Grand Finals. Doublelift and Yellowstar have yet to adapt their playstyles to each other. Doublelift is still taking major risks and Yellowstar is usually never there to save him. And it has to be said — Svenskeren has underperformed as an individual this split. On the other hand, Cloud9 have had a solid performance this season despite the rough start. They typically only lose from making small mistakes in the late game, allowing the other team to come back. Grab your napkins for your tears because it's an end of an era. Cloud9

Team Liquid vs. NRG eSports

Kelsey Moser: The power of early game creativity meets late game tenacity. Team Liquid have gotten strong leads, but NRG are the masters of the comeback, which is where Liquid have been shaky. Between the two rookie junglers, Dardoch has been far stronger overall but Moon has had his way in one matchup which could give him more confidence than he normally seems to exhibit in this series. Overall, I think Liquid have shown more resourcefulness, and though NRG seem to be trending up, Liquid might be the second best team in NA. Team Liquid

Emily Rand: Like C9 vs. TSM, I'm going with the team that looks more cohesive and consistent as of late. NRG has the potential to be an amazing team with flexible players at nearly every position. They also were the first team to target Lourlo's regular top lane picks, which isn't a knock against the TL top laner, but rather disruptive to what the team wants to do with Lourlo on powerful tanky tops like Poppy and Nautilus. Yet, like TSM, NRG cannot be relied on to actually coordinate things together on the rift. At times they look fantastic, at other times they slowly lose without much resistance. Team Liquid has steadily improved throughout the split, and ended the season on a relatively high note with a 2-0 Week 9 and wins against Dignitas and Cloud9. While they do have three rookies in their first playoff series, Team Liquid seems to have a better idea of how they can win together than NRG. Team Liquid

Nic Doucet: This is undoubtedly the closest quarterfinal to call across both EU and NA, with so many factors pulling each way. On one hand, you have a mix of rookie and hardened veterans on both sides and two players carrying a significant carry burden putting up massive numbers (Piglet and GBM) on either team. This will really come down to the flexibility of either team in adapting to a best-of-five, and in that sense the depth of champion pool of GBM and Impact should give the long-term series edge to NRG. Five games should be expected. NRG eSports

Lisa Doan: It surprises me whenever I see people very confidently determine that NRG would win this matchup. It's going to be close, but overall Team Liquid are simply the stronger team. NRG really only plays around GBM and he has expressed that he'll be able to carry games. That's an issue because I don't think a solo lane can carry games anymore. Team Liquid has a dominant jungler, a good support, Piglet (who is one of the best AD carries in NA right now) and their top lane and mid lane can hold their own. NRG can't win with just GBM stepping up. Team Liquid

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