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Thoughts of Bduhmana: As we head into the Quarterfinals, we have seen the fall of many due to the rise of a few. And now we are about to see some brawl outs. Because of how the bracket is set up, this week might have some of the spiciest matchups yet, and I am living for each and every moment of it! Who doesn’t want to see the top tier of their own division duke it out in order to definitively say they were the best in their bracket and deserving to take on the best of the other side. Now it comes down to who will win the battle? Will it be the battle of the wit, the brawn, the comm, or the synergy that will win it all? Each of these teams has a distinct playstyle that has gotten them to this point in the game, and now we find out whether or not it can help them advance. And with that, let the semifinals predictions begin!
Your ZGG Gold Semifinal League Teams:
Oasis Nails and Day Spa
The Comfy Cartel
Goon Squad Gamma
Feed the Nightmare
Pod of Dolphins
Matchup: Literal Monkeys vs. Oasis Nail and Day Spa
How Literal Monkeys Win: This week’s matchup against Literal Monkeys and Oasis Nail and Days Spa is sure to be explosive, because both of these teams are dominant in their own playstyle. What makes Literal Monkeys so, so good is what also makes them fairly confident in their matchup tonight: they have a tendency to force their opponents into playing their game before they even know they are losing because of it. That being said, this team has had their only loss handed to them by Oasis Nail and Day Spa. So I hope they come into this game confident, because they have earned that. Their consistency and confidence is their literal secret weapon in this game and I want them to use it before the match even begins.
It is no secret that Literal Monkeys play through PacaPaul. This jungler has mastered the art of forcing an entire team to play to his tempo, and he thrives in that type of environment. So I want their team to do just that: thrive. Give Literal Monkeys the strongest jungler, and then find ways to unlock Questz and Just Bobo and have some fun! Ravage the side lanes, take all the objectives, and then the nexus will just be what is next to be had on the list. Then take that, too, and repeat.
How NADS Win: Oasis Nail and day Spa is up against quite possibly the strongest team in the entire tournament, so the name of their game needs to be their execution. And just because a team is the strongest on paper doesn’t mean they are also going to be the most challenging team they will face for their playstyle. Oasis Nail and Day Spa do not have the same playstyle as Literal Monkeys, and that is their advantage.
I want NADS to lean into what make them terrifying and exploit it. Don’t play Literal Monkeys game-play their game. Continue to farm champions. Continue to choke out your opponents. And if the tempo of the game isn’t in their control, they can always rely on teamfighting to muscle what they want. Which means their win condition is just that: win through botlane. Secure confident picks that allow your solo lanes to maintain control of their lanes, and send those resources bot. You know ClassyTrux and AintEZbngCheezy can deliver, and there is no reason to not trust in that for the semifinals.
Matchup: Imperial Ignis vs. Goon Squad Sigma
How Imperial Ignis Win: Imperial Ignis took out Goon Squad Gamma 2-1, and they did it with their signature game style throughout both their wins,a s well as the loss. They have a different challenge this week against Goon Squad Sigma, however, and they can’t ignore what makes GSS great if they want to win this series. In fact, I hope they took time to really analyze it in order for them to continue playing their game. Trust in the synergy, but also ensure they have a stronger ProDraft. I know they are fairly strong with their ProDraft strategy (perks of having a lot of experienced players and an experienced captain), so they should lean into their strategic planning as a strength. Ensure their team gets the champions that compliment their best playstyle and then use it.
The flipside of this, of course, is that it is a different playstyle than their opponents. Rather than try and shift the botlane’s playstyle, this is an opportunity for Azurexfire to shine through his adaptability. Don’t try to match the engage potential of GSS (people have tried-people have failed). Instead, use their strong CC-oriented teamfight picks to do the brunt of the work for them. Then all that is left is their communication and execution in game-which is what this team excels at. So their win condition is really that simple: strategic planning and in-game teamwork will win this game.
How GSS Win: Goon Squad Sigma has everything they could possibly want coming into this week in order to win this series. And they even have a little bit of help, because has probably been the team everyone has underestimated throughout the entirety of this split-playoffs included. And I just can’t fathom why. I will requote myself when I say, “Goon Squad Sigma does what Goon Squad Sigma does-” but now I will add: they just do it better than their opponents can. But this isn’t even their win condition for this week, nor should that be considered this week. With good reason-Imperial Ignis isn’t the type of team to disrespect players and not do their research-they go into ProDrafts well prepared. But I hope that just bolsters Goon Squad Sigma’s confidence, because teams need to go into each game prepared to even have a shot at beating them.
So, what is their win condition? Goon Squad Sigma’s win condition is the consistency they have had all split: their botlane duo. This is probably the only team out of all the gold divisions that I can definitively say wins weekly through their botlane duo, and a lot of that credit has been given to ThatDeckerGuy in the past, so I want to take time this week to really honor BaaMmm. BaaMmm is more than good-BaaMmm is the best carry on their team and the entire team knows how to trust this. BaaMmm is so disgustingly strong that they are the second highest in kills out of all the teams in every gold division. From ProDraft to ingame execution. Pick strong solo lakers, and continue picking junglers that match their playstyle that also work in this meta. And go into this week’s series unwilling to sacrifice their picks they need to win botlane and then give them the resources they need to succeed. If they can do that, then I am confident this team will advance.
Matchup: Airport Speedrun vs. Agni Kai
How ASR Win: Airport Speedrun fought hard for their chance to compete against Agni Kai this week, and I am looking to see how they improve from their wins last week in order to take out the toughest competition they are going to face on this side of the bracket. In some ways that can be a blessing in disguise, however. If they can beat Agni Kai, then they already have what they need to take out the rest of the competition in their division.
And they do: have it. Whatever weaknesses that were shore up last week, they have also had an entire week to hone in on what they need to do in order for their team to come into this week stronger. One of which is being able to play while behind and know how to punish a team when it counts. This adaptability is a strength in playoffs, especially if their opponent is a bit one-note. Agni Kai wins consistently and each win can showcase a very similar story. Although that story is a formidable one, it is also a predictable one that you can practice and prepare for. If Airport Speedrun continues to rely upon their communication, then their ability to adapt could become a power to employ insead of a weakness to exploit. I would urge them to pay attention to their ProDraft and get their newer player a comfort pick that is more easily executable when playing from ahead and behind. That way it is an intentional strategy.
How Agni Win: Once again, Agni Kai has proven they are the team that needs to be beaten on this side of the bracket if other teams want to advance. And what better way to advance than to take out their biggest competition now? Agni Kai and Airport Speedrun have both beaten the rest of this bracket previously, so this is the game. This is the one. If Agni Kai can beat Airport Speedrun now, they get to be called an unstoppable force.
What I would like to see them do is force Airport Speedrun out of their comfort zone. Since this is a jungle-heavy matchup, where both teams have dominated through the jungler’s success, it is important to ensure this team has a winning botlane. Last week was a refreshing performance of proving just how powerful their botlane win condition can be, so I want to see this prioritized in ProDraft. I would caution leaving it all up to Rosalinã, though. Not because this carry isn’t up for the task, but because that could be dangerous waters against a team that knows how to heavily punish lanes through jungle control. Get two strong carries for Rosalinã and Hohenheim, and let the rest of the team do what they do best. Infact, Agni can punish the weaknesses Airport Speedrun have shown since their roster changes topside if they ensure they win ProDraft botside.
Matchup: Final Esports vs. Pod of Dolphins
How Final Win: Not only did Final Esports beat their opponents last week, they destroyed them in a way that really showcases their power. And what makes this week’s matchup so awesome is that both of these teams have been underestimated throughout the split. But make no mistake: Final Esports will take you for everything you have if you do underestimate this team. Their win condition is the same as last week’s: win through jungle control by getting heavy leads in your carry lanes and taking all of the objectives off the map..
This can be a huge advantage for them against POD, because they have been consistent with this. Each player knows how to adjust their role in order to ensure they do get the leads they need everywhere on the Rift so that there is no comeback for the other team. Although POD did secure at least one neutral objective each game the last time they competed in the regular split, so my goal for Final Esports is: don’t even give them one. But also-don’t underestimate the growth this team has done to get to where they are. Respect and Destroy. That is the Final Esports win condition.
How Pod Win: I was so impressed to see Pod beat TFF last week in such a dominant fashion. Not only do they understand their playstyle, they know how to execute flawlessly when it matters most. Game 2 of last week’s series is a perfect example of this. They had a fairly close call in game 1, where they showcased their ability to play from behind and secure the win. Game 1 was probably more the expectation of this team’s abilities in the playoffs, but game 2 was them hitting their potential in ways that can’t be ignored.
Each player, across the board, was better than their opponents in every way. And the ability to do bot is exactly how this team can beat Final Esports. Rather than play Final Esports’ game in a reactive fashion, they have proven they can play their game regardless of how the laning phase plays out. They also have shown they can beat a top tier team from start to finish without giving them an inch. That is the potential I have been so excited to see, and I want to see it again.