Since the regular split of the North American and European regions ends after this weekend’s games, instead of my regular game predictions I’m going to predict how the playoff bracket will look after this weekend. The Korean league still has four series this week followed by their final week, though their results should be a bit easier to predict with King-Zone already clinching a first place finish. Since we have only seen best-of-ones in NA and EU, it’s too volatile to predict how longer series will go in playoffs, so I will only be predicting round one and two seeds for the relevant teams.
In case you’re new to LoLesports or unfamiliar with how the playoff bracket is determined, here’s a quick breakdown:
In North America and Europe, the top six of ten teams move onto playoffs based on their win-loss record after nine weeks of league play. The top two teams receive a first-round bye into the semifinals. While this year saw a return of best-of-one series in the regular split, playoffs will continue to be played in a best-of-five series, where winning three games will net you the victory and move onto the next round or a first place finish.
In the Korean LCK league, only the top five of ten teams are seeded into playoffs, and instead of a two sided bracket it’s a ‘king of the hill’ bracket. In the first round the fourth and fifth place teams from the regular split face off, then the winner faces the third place team and so on until the winners face the first place team from the spring split. Round one is a best-of-three, and every following series is best-of-five.
North American LCS Playoffs
The major storylines most LCS fans are following are CLG’s chance to find a win against TSM and steal a playoff slot from them or Liquid. The difficulty with this scenario for CLG is that in order to match TSM and Liquid’s record, either team would have to lose both of their games this weekend. The classic NA matchup of TSM and CLG could determine CLG’s fate, especially since CLG and Liquid both play OpTic, where both should be expected to win.
With Echo Fox looking weaker in recent weeks, it’s also possible that the winner of 100T and Clutch could sneak past Fox and secure a first round bye, especially if 100T can also win their game against Fox on Sunday. If teams higher in the standings can pick up wins where expected, positions are unlikely to change, but any number of upsets could massively shake up the standings before the playoff bracket is set.
To break down my choices, I examined the games to be played this weekend and also decided to stop sleeping on Clutch Gaming. Most of the teams likely to secure playoff slots have one game against another playoff team and one game against a team at the bottom of the standings. Since most scenarios would end in a 1-1 record after this weekend, most teams are likely to remain in their current position and we might already know how playoffs will play out. The team with the hardest schedule is probably
100T, who have to play Clutch and Echo Fox. A win against either team should lock them in for a third or fourth place finish, though if they can pick up both wins or just against Clutch, there’s a chance 100T could move to second place. If Liquid or TSM can pick up one victory then CLG can’t make playoffs, and while TSM has been steadily improving, Liquid still struggles in games where they fall behind early. CLG still has to hope that either TSM or Liquid will lose their other game if CLG can win both games, so their fate is unfortunately out of their hands even if they perform well.
League of Legends Champions Korea Playoffs
The LCK is easier to predict playoffs compared to other regions, considering that
King-Zone has locked in a first place finish, and the records for the other top teams makes catching up an ambitious task. There’s generally a two-game difference between most teams from second to sixth, meaning any team looking to rise in the standings has to hope the teams above them will lose while still picking up wins. The meme of “can SKT make playoffs” is still alive for LCK fans, and while they have a relaxed schedule remaining, facing KSV, MVP and Kongdoo, ROX likely only has to win one or two games to stay ahead of SKT. ROX has a similar lineup, facing Kongdoo, KSV and Jin Air, so SKT has to hold onto the hope that ROX will drop some matches even if SKT can win two or three. For this reason, I’m predicting SKT will miss playoffs for one of the first times in the organizations history. Even if SKT did manage to sneak into playoffs, their roster would likely struggle against the top three teams, especially since KT was able to defeat SKT in both series, which KT has normally struggled with since 2015.
Based on my predictions, and since King-Zone has already locked in first place, I don’t think the standings are likely to change before the end of the season. Afreeca currently has a two game lead on KT, and since they both play BBQ and MVP, even if KT wins the head-to-head match against Afreeca their positions are unlikely to change. As I said above, ROX should be able to keep their lead over SKT, denying them a playoff spot and playing in the round one best-of-three against KSV, where ROX could upset the current world champions. Looking further into the bracket, King-Zone are still heavy favourites to secure a first place finish, looking like one of the most dominant teams across all LCK seasons.
NA LCS Week 9 Predictions
Winners in Bold
Saturday March 17
100T vs. Clutch
FLY vs. Fox
Liquid vs. Cloud9
GGS vs. TSM
CLG vs. OpTic
Sunday March 18
Cloud9 vs. FLY
GGS vs. Clutch
CLG vs. TSM
Fox vs. 100T
Liquid vs. OpTic
I’m predicting C9 to hold onto their first place position and secure a bye, though I’m going to go with Clutch for second place, especially if they can win vs. 100T. Echo Fox and 100T are my picks for the third and fourth seed, and TSM and Liquid should round out the bottom of the playoff bracket.l