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The Upcoming Clash for North America's Third Seed

After Toronto, both Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming breathe easy knowing their positions are set for Worlds. With both teams set to represent North America at the 2016 League of Legends World Championships, a new battle begins for the coveted third seed. Team EnVyUs and Liquid will be in the lowest bracket in the Gauntlet with the winner squaring off to face Cloud9.

Though it’s possible EnVyUs or Liquid could conquer Cloud9, the prevailing wisdom is that C9 is more capable of shutting down either opponent. After Cloud9’s first game in Toronto versus TSM, it’s hard to bet against them.

The Gauntlet's final boss

Cloud9 will have one more obstacle in their way: the Immortals, the team that currently stand as the final boss of the Gauntlet. The two teams are both hungry for Worlds, and every time they’ve met on the Rift, it’s been an entertaining showdown. The Immortals will be entering the Gauntlet at the last stage, and currently stand only one Best of 5 away from not just Worlds, but the chance to prove that as a team, they have what it takes to stand up on the world stage. Red Bull eSports had the chance to talk to Jason "WildTurtle" Tran immediately after the Immortals 3-2 victory over CLG.

"It was breathtaking," the hometown hero said, reflecting on the crowd. During the pause, Toronto had nearly blown the roof off the ACC with a roar of "Let’s go Turtle." The fan energy was part of the reason he knew he had to win — to lose on the LCS stage is one thing; losing in front of 15,000 fans screaming your name is another.

The Immortals were all smiles after their win, but they noted that they were exhausted. "We were all exhausted, I think," WildTurtle said. “It was a draining series, we were all trying to play our best. Those long series take a lot out of you."

Pulling out a 3-2 win over Counter Logic Gaming was a victory in and of itself for the Immortals, a team who has been criticized for struggling after falling behind. Now, they’re close to Worlds, the ultimate stage on which to prove themselves.

Growing as a team

WildTurtle points out that the Immortals are still learning about picks and bans, a critique that has come up during the regular season. However, he does note that they learned and adapted throughout the series with CLG. The Ashe pick quickly fell by the wayside when they noted the pressure that Darshan could put on the utility heavy, low-mobility ADC. Even when the Immortals are surprised by a pick, they work to come out ahead: "We didn’t expect the Kalista [by Stixxay in Game 3]," he says. "It’s a low-popularity pick, and we weren’t sure how to play against it. When it came to teamfights, we were able to play around that and push Stixxay out."

Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9 have both become stronger throughout the series, and while Immortals handily beat both of them during the regular split, there’s a lot more on the line as the Gauntlet draws closer.

"I’m very excited to play in the Gauntlet, I think it’s gonna be pretty close — whichever team we face in the Gauntlet, it’s going to be really, really hard. I think it’s going to be C9 the popular choice. It’s going to be hard."

Everything on the line

When the Immortals were first formed, there were questions as to their performance. WildTurtle and Pobelter had just left North American teams, replaced by new picks. Huni and Reignover had left Europe after their amazing run on Fnatic, leading to concerns that their success had been bolstered by Yellowstar and Fnatic’s management. Adrian was an unproven pick. Their regular season success of 17-1 quickly quashed those doubts, but now a new set of questions have risen around their playoffs performance. Will their inability to make the finals translate over to the international stage?

WildTurtle grins, not phased at all by the question. "I’m really looking forward to proving ourselves as a team. I think we’ve started to do that over this Split and the last Split, but I’m really excited to show what we have at Worlds." It’s a confident answer, and it suggests that he’s prepared to face Cloud9 — or anyone who would stop the Immortals.

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