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LCS 2022 Spring Split Playoffs: Second Round Analysis

Nikhil Kalro

Four of the best teams in the LCS remain in the spring season as the playoffs move to the second round this weekend. Team Liquid will face 100 Thieves in a direct qualifier to the final while Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses will meet in the eliminator. Here is a breakdown of both matches along with a matchup analysis. 

lcs spring 2022 santorin

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - OCTOBER 18: Team Liquid's Lucas “Santorin” Larsen at the League of Legends World Championship Groups Stage on October 18, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Lance Skundrich/Riot Games)

Team Liquid vs 100 Thieves

No. 1 seed Team Liquid were taken all the way by Evil Geniuses but they came out on top in a fifth map. This has been the way for Liquid this season: finding a way to win despite facing a stiff challenge from multiple avenues. They have won scrappily and have also won by thrashing their opponents, an indicator of the quality of this team. 

100 Thieves, reigning LCS champions, razed their way past Cloud9 without losing a map in their opening encounter of the postseason. 100 Thieves finished third in the regular season standings, with a 12-6 record. Even though 100 Thieves lost several key players during the offseason, the delta was not significant as they found a way to stay afloat by bringing in players that fit beautifully within their style of lane play. There is certainly not much between these teams but it may be the subtle factors that will play a part. 

“I think we are very similar teams. I think people underestimate how similar we are in our drafts and I think approach to draft will determine who will win or lose,” Liquid top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau told Inven Global of their upcoming matchup. “100 Thieves like playing Ornn and playing scaling compositions where if their top laner doesn’t die, their mid and bot lane usually have strong enough scaling that their team will be fine, no matter what. I think that’s the name of the game for them, and it’s the same thing with us.

“Obviously, there are a lot of nuances in the jungle and the bot lane in terms of how that will exactly play out. There are windows for difference in gameplay. I consider our bot lane to be stronger than theirs by a very reasonable margin and I believe that, one way or another, they will be able to get 2v2 leads. At the same time, I think Ssumday is a great player, so I think top lane will come down to who first makes mistakes.”

Liquid have been so consistent, not just in the lanes but also in the jungle. Lucas “Santorin” Larsen has been responsible for that proficiency, producing 3.67 kills, 1.72 deaths and 6.89 assists per map at a KDA of 6.13. In fact, he had the second highest KDA in Liquid during the regular season, an indicator of his flanking prowess from the jungle into team fights. 

During the regular season, Liquid got plenty of offensive production from all three lanes, led by Steven “Hans sama” Liv in the bot lane. He had 3.94 kills, 1.89 deaths and 6.44 assists per map at a KDA of 5.5 and a creep score of 331. He led Liquid in kills, CS and CSPM. But the efficiency was led by newly-unretired mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, who produced stellar returns of 3.33 kills, 1.17 deaths and 7.06 assists at a KDA of 8.9. 

There is simply too much offensive firepower in this Liquid unit. This was not the case in the last few splits, where they had some defensive compactness but they simply weren’t able to win sufficient team fights. Now, with all lanes producing at least three kills per map, it seems like this Liquid team should be able to breeze through most maps, even against a steady 100 Thieves unit. 

100 Thieves, however, will not be pushed over with any degree of comfort. They have also found able and proficient offense in a strong mid and bot laner pairing in Felix “Abbedagge” Braun and Ian “FBI” Huang respectively. Both of those players combined for a total of 8.11 kills in the regular season. If these two players perform to expectations, then 100 Thieves could certainly carry Liquid to a fifth map. From there, it’s a shootout for the elemental dragons that could so easily define the match. 

“I think in terms of laning we had a very good understanding of pretty much every matchup that was in the meta last year,” FBI said. “Our level of understanding is not quite at the level it was last year. In addition, there have kind of been some int moments from our bot lane. That was still present last year, but this year, I feel it has been a bit excessive and egregious. I think it’s just about working on our focus and I think that we are starting to get there.”

Cloud9 vs Evil Geniuses

Cloud9 had a terrific regular season to return to contention for the top of the LCS again, but they were blanked in the first round of the playoffs by a strong 100 Thieves unit. On the other hand, Evil Geniuses cruised their way past FlyQuest 3-1 in their first round. That result was further proof that this EG team is starting to find their best at just the right time. 

This is clearly not a match between styles or firepower in the lanes. It could, in fact, be a battle between the resurgence of EG and Cloud9’s lessons from the last few splits. EG have found some inspirational individual performances in the last few matches, including from their bot laner Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki, who has simply dominated the fights in his lane. In the regular season, he managed 4.89 kills, 1.89 deaths and 3.53 assists per map at a KDA of 4.44. 

“Even though EG has struggled pretty hard on stage, they are pretty strong in terms of practice,” 100 Thieves’ FBI said of the current EG lineup. “They have a pretty solid core of players in Vulcan, Danny, and Inspired. Impact and jojopyun are good too but I’d say jojo is very inconsistent.”

“Danny has improved a lot as a player. I think last year he was a bit of a joke in the laning phase, but he and Vulcan are pretty solid. Danny’s always been an aggressive player and a good team fighter, and the kind of AD carry I respect is someone who is willing to take the game into their own hands and try to carry.”

Cloud9 will need to recover quickly from an awful start to their postseason as they were battered by a superior 100 Thieves team. However, they came storming back in the losers’ bracket to beat Golden Guardians without dropping a map. It was the kind of performance that could catalyze their offensive core into action against EG. And that might be their best chance against a team that is starting to pick up the pace after a slow start. 

So far in the playoffs, it has been mid laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, who has been at the top of his own game, producing 5.5 kills and 6 assists with a death rate of just 1.33 at a team-leading KDA of 8.63. He had similar metrics in the regular season as well, with 3 kills, 1.61 deaths and 6.28 assists at a KDA of 5.76, a creep score of 281.39 and a CSPM of 8.84. Not too dissimilar, apart from that kill rate. He will have the experience mismatch against EG’s mid laner, and that could be the pivotal point of difference in this game. 

Cloud9 have relied on their offensive core and aggressive template for years now. It worked excellently in 2020 but there was a major dip in form last year. This year, Cloud9 have picked up the baton again from the previous rosters, and have used that aggression well. That might be the style they would need to deploy over the course of five maps in Summoner’s Rift, if needed, to overcome a strong EG unit.