Envy are the kings of the early game. At their best, this lineup can secure game-winning leads even against top-tier opponents like TSM or C9. Unfortunately, their early game prowess seems to be a double-edged sword, and Envy often look lost and disjointed once the mid game hits. Finally, their late game shot calling is so bad that it might seem that Envy are physically incapable of closing out a game.
Gold Coin United come into the tournament with an incredibly stacked roster of Solo in the top lane, Santorin in the jungle, Fenix in the mid lane, Mash in the AD carry position, and Madlife in the support role. This lineup has a lot of individual talent and outplay potential, and its team fighting is on point too. But GCU’s macro game is very much hit or miss, and the team often throws away its leads with risky calls.
I’d like to preface this section by saying that comparing stats is all but moot in this case. GCU have dominated the Challenger scene, which is formidable in its own right but doesn’t accurately reflect how they’ll fare against an LCS-level opponent.
Top Lane Matchup: It’s been a tough season for Seraph. Envy’s top laner has become a shadow of his former self. Nowadays, he’s mostly stuck on tanks, playing a more supportive role on his team, although you can still see him come up with an occasional carry game. Fortunately for him, GCU Solo isn’t going to be the one to exploit his flaws. While Solo’s play isn’t horrid, he’s often struggled to hold his own even against the shallow NA CS top lane talent pool. A close matchup, but Seraph takes the lead due to his vast experience.
Jungle Matchup: Santorin has been one of the stars of the GCU lineup. Gone are the times when he’s been TSM’s walking ward. Nowadays, Santorin is playing a lot of Rengar, Kha’Zix, and Lee Sin, and doesn’t hesitate to make his presence known with an aggressive gank or two. But if there’s one man who can match this pressure, it’s Envy’s LirA. If Santorin shined in the Challenger League, LirA’s stunning play made him one of the best junglers in NA LCS. LirA is the definition of a carry jungler that continuously secures early game leads for his team. A strong advantage for Envy.
Mid Lane Matchup: Ninja is a tricky one. Sometimes he can look like a top-tier mid laner, especially if he gets a lead on a roam-heavy champion. But far more often he’s painfully mediocre and makes no impact in his games. Meanwhile, GCU’s Fenix is his polar opposite. Not only did he retain his form from the Team Liquid days, but he’s got even better. His relentlessly aggressive play style is bound to put Ninja to a test and secures GCU an edge in the mid lane.
Bot Lane Matchup: Perhaps the most anticipated position of the series is the Madlife lane. Unfortunately, Madlife’s form is far from his glory days. Don’t get me wrong, he and Mash still form a strong duo, but don’t expect Madlife to go for flashy plays or his trademark Blitzcrank pick. On the other hand, Envy’s Apollo and Hakuho have also been solid throughout the season. Their team fighting is decent, and they know when to rotate and group up with their team. But if there’s one weakness that they both share, it’s laning. And while Mash and Madlife aren’t the most dominant duo, they’re more than capable of pressuring their opponents and coming up with a 2v2 kill. An advantage to GCU in the bot lane.
This matchup boils down to mid lane and jungle. If LirA can continuously come up with superstar performances, then Team EnVyUs has a solid chance to close out the series. But if he fails to take over the game, then Fenix—and the rest of GCU—will power through their opponents. It will be close, but there’s just too much weight on LirA’s shoulders for a BO5 series. A 3-2 victory for Gold Coin United.