NA LCS Finals Preview

Cloud 9 is 10-1 against TSM in games that matter. They’ve never had the biggest fan base compared to the dynasty of TSM, but they are definitely the stronger team. I look to see them win 3-1, with a loss in either Game 2 or Game 3. Continue reading for more in depth predictions and analysis.

Whose Game Is It Anyway?

Patches 4.4 and 4.5 have been rough on TSM. For the large majority of the season, their strategy was “lane for the first 10 minutes, win lane because better laners, snowball objectives”.

Patches 4.4 and 4.5 brought with them rampant 2v1 lanes (see my article on 2v1s for an explanation)

This has made TSM play a game they are not familiar with: early and mid game rotations. They struggled  on the 4.4 patch, going 3-3 with losses to CLG, C9, and XDG. It showed in the semi-finals, when they were dominated in their first game vs CLG, and looked poised to lose game 2 but for a mistake by Link, Dexter, and Doublelift.

However, in Game 3, they were able to force their game, and looked like the TSM of earlier this season.

Cloud 9 has always excelled at the rotations game, so this playoffs series will come down to — in part — who can force the other team to play their game. Expect Cloud 9 to outplay TSM in 2v1 games, but to have a more even showing in 2v2 games.

The Legendary Balls

Talking to Dyrus is always an interesting experience. He is one of the calmest players in League of Legends, and has a sober assessment of his own talent. And there is one thing he is sure of about every top lane he wins: “if it was Balls it probably would have been different”.

We cannot chalk this up to modesty. Balls is head-and-shoulders above every top laner in NA, Dyrus included. In their head-to-head matchup, Balls is 11-2-15, while Dyrus is 1-11-15. The worst of his games have been on Dr. Mundo, the champion he prefers at the moment.

Balls loves Renekton and Shyvana, both of whom bully Dr. Mundo early on. If TSM is able to force standard lanes, they still have to deal with this imbalanced matchup, and make up for it elsewhere. However, Balls most recently has shown great skill on Jax and Trundle, champions who help greatly with 4v0 pushing early game.

Renekton should be a power-pick here, as he beats out Dr. Mundo, Jax, and Trundle — all likely picks for Balls/Dyrus — early on.

Bjerger King

Bjergsen is the league MVP and a stellar playmaker. He holds an overall KDA of 12-4-7 vs C9, but has failed to have the impact he does vs other teams. Hai has only contained him via picks, however, not straight up skill. I give Hai the advantage on red side, where he can counter-pick. But when he’s not counter-picking, look to see him first-pick Soraka, something few have found an answer to. TSM should ban Soraka, to avoid this situation.

Cloud 9’s last victory relied on strong solo laners (Renekton/Soraka) which could enable Meteos to make early plays and snowball the game. Banning Soraka forces Meteos to make plays in or around mid lane, which pushes Cloud 9 into TSM’s game, especially if TheOddOne can counter-gank.

However, I feel that Karma may be a secret counter to Soraka — she has strong wave-clear, disengage, and a heal, so I look to see TSM leave Soraka unbanned in game 1, only to pick Karma into her. If it works out, Cloud 9 will have to find an answer, and if it doesn’t, the subsequent Soraka bans are almost necessary.

On the other side, Syndra, Nidalee, and Karma are all terrors in Bjergsen’s hands. Cloud 9 probably doesn’t want to spend 3 bans mid, but it may be the best choice at this point in time.

Welcome to the Jungle

Elise, the Spider Queen

Meteos is one of two remaining pro Elise players, alongside Jankos. But while everybody else has judged Elise to be weak, Meteos has innovated, busting out a CDR based build that was devastatingly brutal vs % health champions. It destroyed Dr. Mundo vs Curse, so look to see him pull it out again vs TSM. It’s not a priority pick for TSM, and nobody plays Elise like Meteos does, so TSM is best off banning the Spider.

Nocturne, the Eternal Nightmare

Nocturne has been a consistent pick in the playoffs because of his power with Feral Flare. This will be especially relevant in 2v2 matchups, because Nocturne will have the early game to farm. Nocturne has been a pick of TheOddOne, but we shouldn’t forget that Meteos has picked Nocturne several times now, including in the Spring 2014 super week, at the World Championships, and in the Spring 2013 playoffs, so this pick will also be contested.

Lucian, the Purifier

Lucian has been a dominant pick-or-ban ADC in the playoffs, even racking up several first-picks. He is the quintessential safe pick. He is good in 1v1s or 2v1s. He has few poor matchups. He is bursty but also safe. Look to see both teams prioritizing this pickup.


LemonNation is obviously best on Thresh, with a 9-1 record, but he is also 7-0 on Morgana and 3-0 on Karma, and has preferred the latter two picks in Cloud 9’s recent games.

Xpecial largely plays Thresh, Annie, and Leona. There are no true conflicts at support, so look to see these picks less contested. Whichever team gets Thresh, the other team should have a suitable pickup. One thing to worry about is Cloud 9 picking up Karma support to prevent the Karma pick from Bjergsen.


Basically, TSM is about 50/50 if they can force Cloud 9 into a 2v2 lane, but Cloud 9 should be about 66/33 when it comes to 2v1 games.


Dr. Mundo – TSM could easily get Dr. Mundo uncontested, as Cloud 9 doesn’t prioritize him at all. If they do so, they should be worried about Renekton, possibly banning him.

Mid Lane – Syndra and Nidalee should basically force Cloud 9 bans, unless Soraka goes unbanned, which is unlikely.

Cloud 9

Jax – Cloud 9 should only pick Jax if TSM has already revealed their top laner, because the Renekton counter-pick could be brutal.

Elise – TSM can either ban Elise, or pick Nocturne and hope that matchup plays out well for them. They should be careful that Meteos doesn’t secure Nocturne, but in scrims, Meteos has avoided the Feral Flare junglers.

Rumble – We’re unlikely to see the Rumble unless Cloud 9 ends up counter-picking top. But we can hope and dream.


Thresh – Thresh is technically contested, but I’m not sure how high a priority he’ll be, with both Xpecial and LemonNation having other strong options.

Lucian – Lucian has been highly contested in the playoffs. If anything, Sneaky is better at Lucian than WildTurtle is, so letting Lucian fall into Cloud 9’s hands would be a huge mistake. Sneaky would be perfectly comfortable playing Caitlyn, while Wild Turtle is a master Sivir, so this pick won’t determine the game, but it could give one team an advantage. Sneaky also plays Corki, so we’ll have to see how strong a pick that ends up being.

Renekton – People forget that Dyrus plays Renekton, but he is extremely dominant on the Crocodile. Balls and Dyrus could both dominate lane with Renekton, but the edge would definitely go to Balls. TSM hasn’t prioritized Renekton in their previous matchups, so we’ll have to see if that changes. If it does, look to see Balls on Trundle.

Team Compositions


Early Dominance

  • Top – Renekton/Shyvana
  • Jungle – Elise/Lee Sin/Evelynn
  • Mid – Soraka/Lulu
  • ADC – Lucian/Caitlyn/Corki
  • Support – Thresh/Morgana/Karma


  • Top – Rumble/Jax/Trundle
  • Jungle – Nocturne
  • Mid – LeBlanc
  • ADC – Sivir?
  • Support –



  • Top – Dr. Mundo
  • Jungle – Nocturne/Xin Zhao
  • Mid – Nidalee/Karma
  • ADC – Lucian/Caitlyn/Sivir
  • Support – Thresh/Leona/Annie


  • Top – Renekton
  • Jungle –  Elise?
  • Mid – Syndra
  • ADC –
  • Support –

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