TSM defeats C9, CLG keeps its playoff dreams alive

A fan in cosplay poses for the camera at the North American League Championship Series. Provided by Riot Games

100 Thieves closed out the penultimate week in the North American League of Legends Championship Series with a commanding win over OpTic Gaming on Sunday in Los Angeles.

With a playoff spot already locked up heading into this match, 100 Thieves (10-6) wanted to prove that it was a threat heading into the postseason, using the already eliminated OpTic Gaming (4-12) as a punching bag. While AD carry Cody "Cody Sun" Sun has seen a resurgence in the second half of the Spring Split, only dying three times in the last seven games, 100T showed that it could win through the top lane as well, giving top laner Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho a surprise Darius pick to annihilate the opposition. Receiving constant resources from the rest of his team, Ssumday was a one-man wrecking crew, creating space and preventing OpTic from doing much of anything.

The rest of 100 Thieves played well too, rotating around as a team and dominating the objective game. Taking a Baron buff not a minute after it spawned at 20 minutes, 100 Thieves held a staggering 7,000-gold lead at the 21-minute mark, and was even on track for a perfect game until Ssumday got killed by all five members of OpTic in a side lane. With the postseason in its sights, and the third seed up for grabs, 100 Thieves used OpTic to show the rest of the league that it might just steal a spot in the Spring Split finals.

100 Thieves prepare for a huge clash against Clutch Gaming at 5 p.m ET on Saturday, while OpTic will try to play spoiler to Counter Logic Gaming's dream playoff run at 8 p.m ET that same day.

--Ben Wong

Team SoloMid's quest for a playoff bye, however remote it may be, stayed alive Sunday with its victory over Cloud9 in the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split in Los Angeles.

The historic rivalry started out a close affair with Cloud9 (11-5) striking first, securing first blood and first turret thanks to a decisive roam into the bottom lane. This allowed AD carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi's Tristana to rotate and pressure the other lanes, but that pressure vanished as Cloud9 struggled to execute its split pushing composition in the second half. With the Rift opening up in its favor, Team SoloMid (9-7) began to capitalize on slow map rotations from Cloud9, allowing it to pick up kills and even up objectives. Mid laner Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg's Syndra was a critical part of TSM's mid game, as he found a multitude of picks, whittling away Cloud9 members who may have strayed too far onto its side of the Rift.

Thanks to Bjergsen's aggressive mid game push, TSM managed to gain a strangehold on the majority of the neutral objectives, including the Rift Herald and Baron. With a bloated gold lead, Bjergsen and company began to siege Cloud9 and its base, with the mid laner finishing the contest with the most damage dealt to champions and a 7/0/6 KDA (kills/deaths/assists). A second Baron power play was all Team SoloMid needed before plowing through Cloud9 and what remained of its base.

Cloud9 look to secure its playoff bye when it faces off with Team Liquid at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, while Team SoloMid look to continue its climb up the standings later that day against the Golden Guardians at 6 p.m. ET.

--Ben Wong

Team Liquid bounced back from Saturday's loss to take down Clutch Gaming in Week 8 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split.

Right from the start, this was a bloody game, and dead even. First blood came through for Team Liquid (9-7) at the six-minute mark, but Clutch Gaming (10-6) traded a kill back moments later. The trades continued throughout the early game, leaving the kill score at 5-4 in favor of Liquid after the first 15 minutes of play. Liquid found an early edge in objectives, controlling dragon and taking a turret lead, but a solo kill by Clutch ADC Apollo "Apollo" Price's Xayah onto counterpart Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's Caitlyn allowed CG to even the score with a Rift Herald.

With the gold difference refusing to grow much over 1,000, it was up to someone to make a definitive play, and Team Liquid pulled the trigger. Shy of 24 minutes, Liquid needed only a positional error on the part of Clutch Gaming to immediately start Baron, rushing it down with the power of two Mountain Drakes. The game's early violence gave way to controlled play, with Liquid using Caitlyn's range and the split-push presence of top laner Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong's Gnar to systematically break open the CG base.

Ultimately, Impact's pressure was too much for Clutch Gaming to handle. While the rest of both teams faced off at the next Baron, Impact pushed into CG's base, forcing Clutch into an awkward engage. Team Liquid easily took the fight with its gold advantage, ending the game in 33 minutes.

As the race to playoffs hurtles toward its conclusion, neither team's challenges are behind them, as Clutch Gaming takes on 100 Thieves to start off the final week of split on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. Later on, Team Liquid faces off with second-place Cloud9 at 7 p.m. ET.

--Brendan Hickey

With a win on Sunday, FlyQuest overtook opponent Golden Guardians in the standings during Week 8 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split.

FlyQuest (5-11) did not look in position to take this game at the start, as its weak early champions of Gangplank, Sejuani and Ezreal produced a predictable opening. Golden Guardians (4-12) capitalized well on FLY's vulnerability, with jungler Juan "Contractz" Garcia using Kha'Zix to not only find the first two kills of the game for his team, but also maintain an early monopoly on neutral objectives and turrets alike.

Unfortunately for Golden Guardians, everything fell apart after the 20-minute mark. In an effort to aggressively push its lead, GGS gave up a slew of kills throughout the mid game, tossing the gold lead to FlyQuest by the 27-minute mark. Seemingly desperate, mid laner Hai "Hai" Lam entered the FlyQuest base alone on Corki to take an inhibitor, but GGS gave up a kill on the other side of the map trying to stall for him.

With the strength of the Baron buff combined with Banner of Command on the current patch, FlyQuest had no trouble blowing the game wide open with a 4,000-gold Baron power play. With its base falling apart, Golden Guardians had little choice but to attempt to fight FlyQuest off of the subsequent Baron. However, between FlyQuest's superior frontline and commanding gold lead, it took the fight 4-for-1 and ended the game in 41-and-a-half minutes.

While both teams are out of playoff contention, FlyQuest will have a chance to save face against Echo Fox at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. Golden Guardians, meanwhile, may get to play spoiler against Team SoloMid at 8 p.m. ET later that day.

--Brendan Hickey

Counter Logic Gaming made a statement on Sunday, taking a game off first-place Echo Fox during Week 8 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split.

Everyone stuck to the script in this game, as the recent storylines of both teams maintained their courses. For fans of Counter Logic Gaming (7-9) the season-long struggle followed by a surge heading into playoffs is certainly nothing new, while the early dominance of Echo Fox (11-5) continues to slowly fade, matching the predictions of many analysts.

For CLG, much of the recent success is thanks in part to support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang, and this game was no exception. Playing his signature Thresh, Biofrost was all over the map in this game. His movements and excellent accuracy with Death Sentence earned CLG its early kill lead single-handedly, and his roam at the 10-minute mark even allowed it to snatch a Rift Herald right out from under Echo Fox. He ended the game with a 2/1/14 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) participating in 16 of 19 CLG kills, and seems to be settling into his new role as shotcaller admirably.

On the side of Echo Fox, top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon was once again the shining light for his team in defeat. Selecting Trundle into the enemy Cho'Gath, Huni's task was to take over the solo matchup, which he did to the best of his ability. His early CS advantage and lane pressure allowed him to take first turret, and he soon found another in the bottom lane, keeping Echo Fox even in gold despite a kill deficit. However, CLG's ability to force fights quickly eliminated Huni's presence, and its superior frontline allowed it to crush Echo Fox, ending the game at the 31-minute mark.

Counter Logic Gaming kept its playoff hopes alive with this win, and looks to be in top shape heading into its match against OpTic Gaming at 9 p.m. ET Saturday to close out Day 1 of Week 9. Echo Fox will look to bounce back against FlyQuest at 6 p.m. ET.

--Brendan Hickey