Team Solo Mid has already worked one miracle to reverse-sweep their way out of an unfavourable semi-final, but the final against Team Liquid demands a second one. Can the seemingly untouchable Bjergsen do it again?
Not long ago I wrote about Cloud 9 being favourites for the LCS championship. Honestly, if they played their semi-final against TSM again tomorrow, I would still favour them to win. But, as cliched as it might be to say so, one of the great things about sport is that upsets do happen.
It all started so reasonably, so predictably. Kind of. The fact that C9 comfortably won Game 1 was exactly as predicted. The fact that they did so with a Sona-Taric bottom lane added a little bit of spice, but with such a one-sided opener it almost felt like C9 could have turned up with a pair of randomly selected champions and still won.
Bjergsen’s Jayce had zero impact, Akaadian’s Gragas was outmaneuvered by Svenskeren’s Hecarim at every turn and only Broken Blade on Akali offered any real resistance.
Game 2 was worse. The gold gap was bigger, the jungle difference was immeasurable and even Broken Blade struggled to impact the map despite a favourable lane match-up against Gangplank. So far so good for Cloud 9, especially Svenskeren, who was making his former teammates’ lives misery.
Then Game 3 flipped everything on its head. Bjergsen got his hands on Akali, who was banned in Game 2, and enabled god mode – and though 9-0-6 Akalis don’t tend to lose games, when your top lane Jayce is 7-3-7 as well, it’s harder to lose than to win. Importantly, Akaadian had a much better game, picking up 12 assists on Gragas.
Game 3 had taken 40 minutes, nearly 15 minutes more than C9’s wins in games one and two. But, in case you thought Game 3 was an anomaly, TSM took Game 4 in the same convincing fashion that had put C9 2-0 to begin with. Both Bjergsen and Zven ended Game 4 without a single death between them, while Akaadian had clearly grown into the series, going 8-1-6 on Rek’Sai.
After a dose of Silver Scrapes we were treated to the closest game of the series. Game 5 was a back-and-forth affair, another 40-minute slugfest from which TSM emerged victorious. Looking at the numbers, Bjergsen’s third deathless game in a row stands out like a sore thumb, but it was a team effort. Akaadian got the better of Svenskeren again, this time on Kindred, while Broken Blade continued to be a rock for the team. Zven and Smoothie did enough without looking like world-beaters in their own right.
Even the late-game scaling of Sneaky’s Sivir couldn’t prevent the pain of a reverse-sweep in the end despite hitting over 450cs. Nisqy looked miles better on Zoe than he had on Zoe in the previous game, but he was never given room to poke. With Vladimir’s sustain and double revives in the shape of Kindred and Zilean, even potentially fatal poke damage that was landed meant little in siege situations.
After such an impressive and unexpected turnaround, the obvious question now becomes one of whether TSM can pull off a similar feat in the final. My gut reaction is absolutely not, but then I thought C9 would 3-0 them this past weekend.
With Bjergsen having put in his best performance of the split against C9, you have to say that TSM is in its best form for quite some time. Interestingly, TSM even beat Liquid last time the two teams met on the closing day of the regular season. Indeed they beat them quite heavily, with Zven’s Lucian going 4-0-6 into a quiet 0-3-3 Doublelift on the other side of the lane. Akaadian’s Kindred also played a big part in that match and may well be eyed up for bans in the final.
All that being said, I still can’t see it. Yes, TSM look resurgent and, yes, Liquid had some struggles towards the end of the split, but their semi-final match against Flyquest proved that the struggles are behind them. A record of 3-0 can sometimes flatter when the games are close, but that simply wasn’t the case against Flyquest. It looked like men against boys at times and ended on a drubbing, with 10,000 gold difference and a kill score of 13-4.
If TSM can maintain their current form, they should at least give Team Liquid a run for their money, but it won’t be enough for a second surprise win in a row.
Even reaching the final is something for this iteration of TSM to build on for Summer Split, but this is where their Spring Split ends.