We’re finally on the road to the World Championship! Five teams are left in contention to take the top prize of the LCO and with it, the right to represent Oceania at League of Legend’s flagship tournament in Shanghai, China.
In the lower bracket, we have Chiefs Esports Club against Peace — the winner will go on to face whoever drops from the upper bracket, either Order or Dire Wolves. Unfortunately, the losing team will wrap up their 2021 campaign.
Chiefs picked up a 14-7 record and eked out with 4th seed, losing out in head-to-head matchups over the season against rivals, Order, and Dire Wolves. Overall they have improved steadily from LCO’s inaugural season to date — and now more than ever, Ryan “Swathe” Gibbons has been quick to push the tempo and snowball leads.
Peace had a turbulent regular season performance landing in 5th seed with a 10-11 record. Peace’s Split 2 campaign began with two huge signings in James “Tally” Shute and Leo “Babip” Romer. The two veterans are no strangers to international play and seemed like a no-brainer to upgrade the team coming into the split. But peppered with frequent roster shifts and flexing roles, it was hard to predict from week to week which Peace would turn up to Summoner’s Rift.
But, in the end, there were signs of life from Split 1’s runners-up.
Can Peace pull off Split 1 re-run?
Peace, Chiefs matched on scoresheet
So in a best of five who comes out on top? Chiefs fans will be quick to remember their Split 1 dreams dashed by dropping their last playoff run to Peace, 1-3, placing them third overall and just outside of the Grand Final bracket. During regular play, Peace holds the advantage 2-1, picking up victories over in Week 1 and 4.
But by the end of Week 6, Chiefs finally took it to the Dragon’s Den, adding a wrinkle to their ever-growing LCO rivalry.
Lived, Swathe to star in playoffs opener
In the DoorDash era of the LCO, Tristan “Lived” Fulcher may hold claim to the most improved player over this calendar year. He has pulled out a wide champion pool from Trundle to Tryndamere. In their most recent faceoff against Peace in Week 6, his Akali obliterated the whole squad with an unofficial Pentakill.
The Chiefs’ aggression comes from the mid-jungle pairing of Ronald “Kisee” Vo and Swathe. Over the season, Kisee has nabbed 22 solo kills, by far the most in the league — averaging 6.2 per game.
Despite Evelynn being a favoured ban against the Chiefs, Swathe has consistently been an X factor on casters like Kayn and Sejuani, quick to impact the map after gaining access to their early mobility — resulting in the uncanny ability to get level 6 before the opposing jungler.
Bot lane the big battle
In the bot lane, Matthew Lionel “Mboma” Desa ends this split with an impressive league-leading 7 KDA (3.1/1.3/6.1). The Chiefs marksman rarely gets caught out and still pumps out huge damage.
In the recent patches, he’s found himself favouring spell slingers like Ziggs, Ezreal, and Varus. While Mboma plays from range, Chiefs’ support, Dragon “Dragku” Guo has been an engage menace favouring the likes of Nautilus, Rell, and Leona.
While Vincent “Violet” Wong has retained some of his aura being a mechanically oppressive late-game carry, this split has seen him take more of a backseat, perhaps in part due to the revolving door of supports only to lane again with Ryan “Aladoric” Gregory Richardson towards the end of the season.
When Peace has looked at their best, Babip has setup devastating combos when linking up with James “Halo” Giacoumakis’ Orianna or Tally’s Viego.
During this series, it will be interesting to track if/how Peace utilises their wide roster now that it seems like Aladoric is here to stay. Yao “Apii” Jian-Jing and Thomas “LeeSA” Ma have been flexible but hardly awe-inspiring.
Peace don’t have enough
Peace has the opportunity to cast away their season as a formality if they can show up here and now. While I expect more from them than I did during the split, particularly in the context of a best of five with fewer player substitutions — I don’t think it will be enough.
Chiefs are playing with a level of comfort and poise that I think can effectively deal with threats from the likes of Babip and Violet.
Don’t be surprised if we have a series though, Chiefs have been occasionally been prone to being gapped in the draft phase.
Tune into the LCO playoffs tonight, with Order vs Dire Wolves at 5pm AEST.