Week 2 of the NALCS begins tonight, and although there are dozens of star-studded matchups throughout the league, the one that will undoubtedly hold the most importance is a clash between two longtime veterans of the top lane. Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong of Team Liquid and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho of 100 Thieves will face off for the first time in 2018. This game holds an incredible amount of importance for both teams, as 100T and TL are favored to make runs at the playoffs later this year. Directly in the middle of this early season battle is a matchup between two long-storied titans of top, both looking to keep their team’s undefeated streak alive.
While the longtime rivalry between the two players dates back to Korea in 2013, Impact and Ssumday have met as recently as the Quarterfinal of last year’s North American Summer Playoffs, when Team Dignitas upset Cloud 9 in a 4 game set. The focal point of that series was Ssumday’s ability to control the pace of not only top lane, but the game as a whole. Through a combination of lane presence and coordination, Ssumday was able to mount a 7/9/41 KDA throughout the course of the series, while limiting Impact to a KDA of 6/10/30. And although Impact got the last laugh as he eventually reached his 2nd World Championship later that year, it was obvious that the two legendary top laners would eventually meet again. And on Saturday, both players will have something to prove.
The keys to this matchup are quite striking, and with two master performers up top, the result of the laning phase will play heavily into the outcome of the game. With the professional meta shifting strongly towards playmaking top laners such as Camille, Gnar, Gangplank and even Ornn, there are arguably no two better top laners suited for an aggressive playstyle. Whichever player is able to come out of this lane with an advantage will most likely be able to control the pace of the game, no matter which champions are selected.
For all parties involved, tonight’s match is worth much more than a meaningless early season game. For Impact and Ssumday, it’s about longevity, pride, and proving their individual greatness. And for 100 Thieves and Team Liquid, it’s about setting the tone for a successful season. Tonight’s meeting between these early postseason favorites will absolutely be one of the most important games to watch this week, and the top lane matchup will most definitely be one of, if not, the most important matchup all week. And in a game that will be littered with high profile players, look towards the top lane for high profile plays.