LPL is winding down with only two weeks of the regular season remaining; it’s crunch time for teams in search of optimal seeding whether the objective is to have an easier time in the quarterfinals or to avoid possible relegation.
It's the perfect time for a weekend off — or not. Those who followed IEM Katowice may wonder why a week off from LPL comes so suddenly when the biggest argument against sending a top LPL team to Katowice was the rescheduling time crunch.
Tencent sponsors a massive Round of 32 tournament between LoL Secondary Pro League and LoL Pro League teams. After several weeks of matches taking place on Mondays, the tournament has settled to a quarterfinals bracket (see also: Esportspedia details in English).
This weekend will contain Bo5s between seven LPL teams and one remaining LSPL team at the Yubei District Stadium. It’s an excellent chance to watch some of the highest level of competition China has to offer and preview the playoffs. Here are my top five reasons to watch Demacia Cup this weekend.
1. WE vs Star Horn Royal Club — again
The Bo5 quarterfinal between Star Horn Royal Club and Team WE seems the least interesting. WE took a 2-0 against Star Horn Royal Club last weekend in LPL through a sloppy series, and both of these teams are struggling to avoid relegation.
But that’s exactly why this series is important. Currently sitting in ninth and tenth place in LPL, seeding dictates these two teams would have the best shot at returning to the league.
News of the LPL Promotion tournament structure just hit the west. Ninth and tenth place will be on opposite sides of a quarterfinal bracket involving both the third through sixth place LSPL teams and the bottom four LPL teams. Ninth place LPL will face sixth place LSPL, and tenth place will face fifth. Winners advance to semifinals, and the top two teams return for LPL Summer.
It’s likely, given the difficulty of Star Horn’s coming matches in LPL, that WE will overtake them for ninth place. However, both teams are still the favorites of the bottom four. Another best-of-five will not only give both teams more practice with their brand new rosters, but will give viewers a guess as to who has what it takes to make it back, and who will crumble in the Promotion.
2. The near three-way tie for fourth
A couple of weeks ago, LGD Gaming had a firm grasp on fourth place and was contesting for third against Snake. Since then, putting themselves behind in the early game has been punished more and more, and they've dropped while both Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming have found a groove.
In LPL, only two points separate Vici Gaming from LGD and iG. LGD has played one less best-of-two than both iG and VG, so a quick 2-0 against the first team they face coming back from the break, with King in seventh place, could allow them to reclaim fourth. This makes the race close across the board.
Vici Gaming won’t be at Demacia Cup. They already dropped to iG in the Round of 16, but LGD and iG will face each other in the quarterfinals.
LGD vs iG should be the closest quarterfinal of the tournament, if not the closest Bo5 of the event. The LGD stylistic conflict and the mid lane matchup make it well worth the watch. Considering iG and LGD are clumped toward the middle of the standings, this could be an LPL Playoffs quarterfinal preview in the making.
3. How slippery is Snake?
Snake had a rough week against teams they should be seeded above in LPL. They dropped two games to Vici Gaming and split 1-1 with Invictus Gaming. Both teams took advantage of Snake’s one-dimensional fixation on their AD carry in the picks and bans phase, either by countering their low mobility, high health composition or by banning out kRYST4L's champions.
Bo5 slogs against the cream of the Demacia Cup crop will test Snake’s mettle. How many compositions do they have up their sleeves? How will a new team adapt from game to game if their compositions are banned out? Demacia Cup may be a chance for onlookers to see some new things from Snake. They'll adapt, or they won't make the Finals here or in the Playoffs.
4. OMG isn’t at this event because of Qiao Gu
Vici Gaming isn’t the only top LPL team that fell out of contention in the Round of 16, as OMG also dropped. VG’s loss to Invictus Gaming is understandable, given their similar place in the standings. It was expected that poor seeding resulted in OMG facing Edward Gaming early and dropping out.
OMG lost to an LSPL team. However, Qiao Gu isn't just any LSPL team. They are current favorites to take the LSPL tournament in first place, which means that they’ll be auto-promoted, and we’ll be seeing them in LPL Summer. On top of that, their jungler is Swift, ex-CJ Entus jungler touted last year as potentially one of the top four in the world.
If one watches the QG Bo5 against OMG, it’s plagued by signs of OMG shooting themselves in the foot — something that can be common. They trotted out the Juggermaw after its disastrous showing in LPL against Vici Gaming. They left open Veigar on Patch 5.2. They let Swift have Rek’Sai. More than once.
But that doesn't undercut QG’s performance. Swift has been commanding the LSPL jungle in a vein similar to Spirit’s control in LPL with intense pressure. QG’s bottom lane also impressed, even against the likes of Uzi and Cloud. Fans of LMQ in the NA LCS will recognize TcT as Mor; he has found success with his old bottom lane partner from when LMQ played in LPL, now called TnT.
QG plays a fast, brutal game, and a second upset isn't out of the question.
5. Edward Gaming’s tenth domestic title
We’ve long-since passed the point where predicting that any team besides Edward Gaming will win a Chinese tournament is crazy. Since their formation, EDG hasn't failed to make the finals of a domestic event, and they've won nine of eleven events they've attended.
That was last year, when Edward Gaming didn't play like they were dominant. The team would win by slipping in at the end with immaculate team fighting and occasionally ramp up early game pressure.
This year, EDG has lost five games of 38 in LPL. This year, EDG flattens their opposition with picks like Corki mid and Lux. They are able to chase their prey well across the map in ill-advised ventures and still win because they’re so far ahead.
To make matters worse, two of LPL’s top five teams won’t be attending the Demacia Cup event, worsening chances that opponents will take them out. It’s almost certain that EDG will break double digits in domestic titles, just a year and a half after their inception.
Unless they don’t. There is a possibility that a team at the tournament, whether it be Master3, a team that almost took a game by punishing EDG’s recklessness, or Snake, the only team in LPL with a positive record against EDG, can take them down in a hard-fought Bo5.
It could be a massive upset that defines LPL for the rest of the year, just as EDG’s International eSports Tournament victory did at about this time last year.
Even if it isn't, which is more likely — even if EDG 3-0s their way to their tenth domestic title — that kind of immaculate play has analysts pitting them as the best team in the World. Who doesn't want to watch the best team in the world play three Bo5s in one weekend?
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. She enjoys tower dives and hot coffee at midnight. You can follow her on Twitter.