Looking back at the NA Promotion Tournament
Both Team Liquid and Team Envy are back in the LCS and the LCS dreams of EUN (eUnited) and GCU (Gold Coin United) have been setback for at least another split. Going into the tournament, it seemed like both of the LCS teams had some synergy issues and the CS teams challenging them felt like more complete packages in terms of teamplay. Despite all of their shortcomings during the regular split, the troubled Team Liquid managed to be the first team to re-qualify for the LCS for the upcoming season. They won their first series against EUN, sweeping them after losing the first longwinded game against them. Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, GCU beat Envy, sending the 10th place regular season team into the more troublesome losers bracket, which meant that they would have win two best of five series in order to re-qualify.
Focusing on the triumphant Team Liquid and their final series against GCU, it was still possible to see the rough edges that got them into the situation in the first place, questionable calls were still made all the way up to game 4, after which everything seemed to click for the previously troubled squad. Game 5 ended up being a very one-sided affair, a game during which all of TL’s players seemed to be in perfect synch, only losing two turrets during the sub 30-minute game. What made the series more interesting was the juxtaposition of old members from TL going up against their former teammates and staff. GCU had signed the team’s former coach, “Locodoco”, and their former midlaner “Fenix”, who had been playing by the side of “Piglet”, ever since he had joined TL back in Season 4. GCU had also signed TL “Matt”‘s (formerly known as “Mattlife”) icon, “Madlife”, making the match-up down bottom lane into a story on how someone got the rare chance of playing against their hero. Considering that 2016 was the rookie year for “Matt” and how long “Madlife” has been playing the game for, it was extremely unlikely for the two, but for it to happen in the Challenger Series Promotion tournament, is very unlikely. In the end, “Piglet” had a chance to play against the midlaner he wanted to the most in “Fenix” and “Matt” got to play his hero “Madlife” in a 5 game long series. The win means that recently hired “Doublelift” finished his contract with the team, meaning that TL is currently down to 4 players, and I will be keeping an eye out on any rumours on how their roster is going shape up during the off-season.
Looking at Team Envy, however, their road through the Promotion tournament was significantly rougher. Their first series against GCU highlighted their weaker laners who were outmatched and simply weren’t allowed to win through their regular laning phase. As I expected in the NA LCS Round-up article, Team Envy had to be carried through the games by “Lira”, who played exceptionally well during their series wins. Their 2nd series of the tournament was against EUN, who had clear issues when it came to players trying to play the hero during games, as both ex-EU LCS talents, “Gilius” and “Fox” had difficulties finding their footing against Envy’s players. While losing their first series against GCU, their rematch during the final series was more competitive from the team, going 2-2 before the final game, during which GCU gained the early advantage over Envy. The team fought back hard, and in the end, “Lira” produced one of the highlight plays from the tournament during the final moments of the game. Now that Team Envy are safe from relegations, its time for their off-season and considering how their regular season went, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if they choose to part way with many of their players, while simultaneously trying to hold onto the teams MVP, “Lira”.
For GCU, the tournament was more gut-wrenching than anything else. Winning their first series against Envy made them look and feel like a team that could get promoted into the proper LCS line-up. However, after their final game loss against TL, the team were forced to play against Envy one last time. Many expected the series to go in a similar fashion, but it turned out that Envy had learned more about GCU than they had about them, leading to the situation where it all came down to the last stretch. Considering the roster that GCU had, it was obvious that their goal was to qualify for the LCS in their first season as they hired ex-LCS players, an LCK legend and a coach that has been on TL and TSM. Their status as a dominant team in the Challenger Series may change if their players are not retained by the organization and their current future is unlikely.
In the case of EUN, their dreams of being promoted into the LCS were the first to die as they were to first to lose two series. While they had ex-LCS players on their roster, both “Fox” and “Gilius” failed to show their fullest potential during the games. “Gilius” went on to state that he wasn’t in a good mental state after their first series against Team Liquid, which was apparent in their 2nd series against Team Envy. With their loss, not much has been heard from the team as they are still in the Challenger series. It is currently unknown if any players are leaving the team during the off-season, but if the team does stick together, it is somewhat likely that we will see them again the next promotion tournament.