Seven-game winning streak leads Cloud9 to NA LCS playoffs

Team Liquid AD carry Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, left, and mid laner Eugene "Pobelter" Park relax backstage during Week 7 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series on Saturday in Los Angeles. Provided by Riot Games

Cloud9 1, 100 Thieves 0

Cloud9 continued its tear through the North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split and earned its seventh straight win by taking down 100 Thieves to set up a tie for second place on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Cloud9 (10-7), which was 1-5 at one point in the split, locked up a playoff spot with the win over 100 Thieves (10-7). Both teams drafted damage-orientated team compositions, making for a skirmish-heavy game. Throughout the mid game, 100 Thieves and Cloud9 traded kills back and forth, leaving the gold even heading into the late game.

However, Cloud9 started to find the winning engages in the key teamfights. In those fights, it was either Cloud9's mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen's Fizz wreaking havoc on the damage-dealers or AD carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi's Quinn ripping through the 100 Thieves from front to back.

100 Thieves showed some life as it was able to turn around some engages on the back of plays made by support Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black's Alistar. The few teamfight victories did little to stop Cloud9's momentum, though.

Once the team respawned, Cloud9 went right back to being in control by setting up sieges and waiting for the right time to obliterate 100 Thieves in a teamfight. The right time came around the 33-minute mark when Cloud9 pulled the trigger on a fight that resulted in a 5-for-0 teamfight victory. The respawn timers gave Cloud9 all the time that was needed to quickly burn through four turrets and knock down the Nexus.

The victory for Cloud9 means that it has officially locked in a playoff spot and has the chance of securing a playoff bye. It also evens out the Summer split record between 100 Thieves and Cloud9, meaning there will be a tiebreaker needed to decide who gets the playoff bye if both teams finish the split with the same record.

100 Thieves will bump heads with OpTic Gaming at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Cloud9 looks to add another win to the streak against FlyQuest at 6 p.m. ET later that day.

-- Ben Wong

Team Liquid 1, Echo Fox 0

Team Liquid secured a playoff bye by handing Echo Fox its third-straight loss in the first game of the day.

While Team Liquid (12-5) dominated the teamfights in the early game, Echo Fox (9-8) managed to keep the gold race close thanks to smart macro plays. When Echo Fox was taking a beating on one side of the Rift, there was almost always someone on the opposite side of the map pushing lane and knocking down turrets to take a lead in that objective.

Soon, Echo Fox held all of the side lane pressures and became extremely difficult to kill in teamfights thanks to jungler Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett's Kindred and mid laner Tanner "Damonte" Damonte's Zilean that kept alive teammates or instantly resurrected them.

Echo Fox's crutch of Lamb's Respite and Chronoshift propped it up in teamfights for a while throughout the mid-game, but it wasn't strong enough to outlast Team Liquid in the late game. Team Liquid started to fight around those abilities, getting Echo Fox to burn the ultimates before fully committing to kills.

After Echo Fox got aced around the 30-minute mark, Team Liquid took firm control of the game with a Baron power play that gave it the lead in turrets. It took a few more minutes, but eventually Liquid found another opening and won a 4-for-1 teamfight victory that sealed the game and its playoff bye.

Echo Fox's late split slump has come at the worst time possible, as the team is now entering the final day without a playoff spot locked in. Given how close the standings are, it is quite likely that Echo Fox will have to fight for a spot in a tiebreaker depending on how the final two days shake out.

Echo Fox look to stop its slump against Clutch Gaming at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Team Liquid have the chance to play spoiler against Team SoloMid at 7 p.m. ET to close out the Summer Split.

-- Wong

Team SoloMid 1, OpTic Gaming 0

Team SoloMid picked up a huge win by slowly dismantling OpTic Gaming to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Team SoloMid (9-8) had all of the early lane pressure as both mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg's Ryze and AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen's Ezreal kept minions pushed in while building leads in creep score. There weren't many teamfights, but when one did break out, Team SoloMid racked up kills. The advantage gave Team SoloMid all the map pressure it needed to take a lead in turrets as well as stack all of the drake buffs, which included three damage-boosting Infernal Drakes.

The second half was all about Team SoloMid picking OpTic Gaming (8-9) apart with split-push pressure. The methodical rotations of Team SoloMid were aided by the multiple Teleports from Ryze's Realm Warp and Tahm Kench's Abyssal Voyage. The slow burn from Team SoloMid put OpTic Gaming in such a gold deficit that it couldn't even win a teamfight with a 5-vs.-3 advantage. Team SoloMid was able to push in all lanes to the inhibitor before OpTic Gaming decided to make a final stand, which its opponent easily brushed OpTic Gaming aside in a 3-for-0 teamfight victory before knocking down the Nexus.

The win for Team SoloMid evened out the head-to-head against OpTic Gaming, meaning it has some wiggle room in the outcome of its final game of the season. With either a win or loss, Team SoloMid is most likely going to find itself in some kind of tiebreaker game where a playoff berth will be on the line.

OpTic Gaming's competition isn't going to get any easier as it takes on 100 Thieves at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Team SoloMid hopes to end the split by taking down first-place Team Liquid at 7 p.m. ET.

-- Wong

FlyQuest 1, Golden Guardians 0

FlyQuest locked up a spot in the playoffs by taking a win off of Golden Guardians.

Although FlyQuest (10-7) was expected to take down Golden Guardians (5-12), this win is still huge for this organization. After a less-than-stellar spring split, FlyQuest's perseverance in this split has paid off.

Against Golden Guardians, FlyQuest didn't face much opposition early on as jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen dominated the early game as Trundle, shutting down the Guardians' Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia's Nocturne with a first blood kill before 10 minutes had passed. From there, FlyQuest's potent teamfighting composition simply played out its win conditions by corralling the Guardians into Equalizers from FlyQuest top laner Lee "Flame" Ho-jong's Rumble. This win was as by-the-numbers as you can ask for, but it's an important one as FlyQuest now prepares for the postseason.

Meanwhile, Golden Guardians' growth from laughingstock to legitimate threat, albeit one with a poor record, has been impressive to watch. Growth continues to be the theme of this team in its first year in the NA LCS. The squad fielded Academy mid laner Boyuan "bobqin" Qin, rewarding him for a year of hard work with his first ever NA LCS start.

Things didn't go the way Golden Guardians wanted, with Contractz getting bodied and the team falling apart in the late game, but it wasn't all bad. Support Matthew "Matt" Elento played beautifully in the laning phase as Rakan, and the team showed some signs of life rather than rolling over and accepting defeat.

Golden Guardians closes out its Season 8 campaign against Counter Logic Gaming at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, followed by FlyQuest battling Cloud9 at 6 p.m. ET later that day.

-- Noah Waltzer

Counter Logic Gaming 1, Clutch Gaming 0

Counter Logic Gaming closed out Saturday's action with a win over Clutch Gaming in Los Angeles.

Counter Logic Gaming (6-11) made the decision to field some of its Academy players, including top laner Kevin "FallenBandit" Wu and jungler Raymond "Wiggily" Griffin. FallenBandit looked solid on his signature Dr. Mundo pick, keeping Clutch top laner Colin "Solo" Earnest's Gangplank down, while Wiggily dominated the jungle as Graves and put CLG ahead early on.

CLG's problems with late game shotcalling were still an issue, but CLG's solution of just stacking raw damage on its roster seemed to work out. Even support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang got in on the damage-dealing with his full AP Bard, preventing Clutch from doing much of anything as CLG rumbled to a 39-minute win, its first in the second half of the split.

Clutch Gaming (6-11), on the other hand, looked like a shell of the team that finished fourth in the spring split. The usually solid bottom lane of AD carry Apollo "Apollo" Price and Nickolas "Hakuho" Surgent got smashed early on, jungler Nam "LirA" Tae-yoo couldn't make an impact at all and Clutch simply bled out kills and objectives until the end of the match.

Clutch never found a chance to fight on an even playing field, and its members were caught out of position or else simply showing up late to objectives. If Clutch hoped to finish the summer split on a high note, especially against a team near the bottom of the NA LCS table, those hopes have been sufficiently dashed as the team now waits for the merciful end of the split.

CLG finishes Season 8 against the Golden Guardians at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, followed immediately by Clutch taking on Echo Fox at 5 p.m. ET.

-- Waltzer