The culmination of another fiery Summer split has us with an exciting postseason in the NA LCS. The heated competition of the multi-week campaign of the teams has left six in the final contention for the best in North America, and, maybe more importantly, a place at Worlds. With all eyes locked on the teams and their players, let’s take a look at some of the matchups in the playoffs, their storylines, and what the stakes are.
The win-loss stats between these two are 2-1, with 100 Thieves claiming the extra win over Flyquest in the four way tiebreaker that happened earlier in the week. The statline, as is often the case, doesn’t reveal the whole story between these two teams though. Flyquest’s one win was in a incredibly ballsy base race while behind for the majority of the game. On the other end of things, while 100 Thieves trademark decisiveness in the late game is still present in their games against Flyquest, 100 Thieves don’t look their usual shakey selves in the early game either. Flyquest, outside of some impressive individual plays, don’t seem to have an effective, non-base race answer for the Thieves (yet).
That being said, regular split games are not fully a testament of a teams playoff strength, as Bo1s are a very different beast from the playoff bo5. Experience, depth, and tenacity become the name of the game. A flashy or ballsy play isn’t going to work three games in a series. The interesting feature of both 100 Thieves and Flyquest is the impressive skill and performance out of each teams top laners, Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho and Lee "Flame" Ho-jong respectively. Both have been spoken of as MVP candidates for their team, and have had statement splits for themselves after a less than stellar Spring. And in all three of their meetings, it’s been Ssumday who has come out looking the better top laner. If Ssumday can carry on his dominance over Flame, or whether Flame can show up when he needs to most may be the deciding factor between the two teams.
But, overall, 100 Thieves have the edge in the matchup. They’ve got a wealth of experience and veterans, and while Andy "AnDa" Hoang may be still young, he hasn’t seemed a liability for 100 Thieves. Flyquest, on the other hand, hold their own wealth of experience, but without quite as much flair as the team who managed to get to the finals last split. Strong performances from older players like Jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen and ADC Jason "WildTurtle" Tran are nothing to scoff at though. If Flyquest can harness their ADCs (over) aggressive nature and win early, they stand a chance against 100 Thieves. 100 Thieves, on the other hand, need to maintain their tried and true, slow and steady late game approach. But if previous games are anything to go off of, they may not even need to play it that cautiously.
In the Spring split, storylines often circulate around the future of a team, or how well they handled the previous years’ off season. In the Summer, it’s all about Worlds. 100 Thieves have had a spectacular entrance into the NA LCS, not only winning their first regular split (not the playoffs, mind you,) but also representing their region at Rift Rivals. What better way for the young organization to assert itself as a team to keep an eye on then to go to Worlds in their first split? That’s what 100 Thieves are arguably set up to do too, having quite a generous amount of Championship Points from their Spring Split performance to help too. This is 100 Thieves chance to cement themselves as a real contender team and not just a flash in the pan.
Flyquest have been about a little longer than 100 Thieves, but aren’t quite “Old Guards” of the NA LCS either. Their first year was a… largely forgettable one, and while this year they’ve improved immensely, missing out entirely on Spring Split means that this is their only real shot to make a deep run and secure a good place for the Worlds gauntlet. Or, as crazy as it is, maybe win it all. If Wildturtle can channel his ‘Solo killing Cody Sun like a million times’ mantra from their first encounter, he may be able to effectively remove a key player from 100 Thieves entirely. Flyquest can’t really count on that though. They’ve defied expectations and flown higher than many would have predicted, but they’ll need to continue the miracles to really make this a split to remember for their fans.
100 Thieves enter the Semis with a pretty easy breezy feeling. Their previous split Championship Points put them almost automatically in the Gauntlet tournament, but given their strong performances throughout the split and the memories of a crushing tiebreaker win against Flyquest, they’re set up to move onto the quarters. Outside of Team Liquid imploding (which, let’s be frank, is possible) they could even auto-qualify off of CPs alone. That doesn’t mean they can blow off this series, as it still has huge Worlds implications. Additionally, maybe more importantly, this series is a real testament to their current strength heading into that premier event. A strong win against an unlikely to even be there opponent is exactly what 100 Thieves need to silence some of the questions surrounding their ability to perform.
On the complete opposite end of the stress spectrum is Flyquest. They didn’t make it into the playoffs at all for Spring, so this is basically their only real chance to determine their fate for either the Gauntlet and a crazy cinderella run to Worlds. A victory here secures a placement in the Gauntlet, and depending on the results across the whole tournament, whether they’ll even have a by into the first part of the gauntlet. More importantly, Flyquest has a lot of convincing to do even if they do take down 100 Thieves. They were never even really a favoured team to make it into the playoffs, let alone to represent NA at Worlds. Their first step may be one of their hardest, given their record against 100 Thieves though. If they can find a workaround their previous mishaps, it’s now or never.