The NA LCS Spring Championship Bo5 Series:
Date: Sunday, April 17th, 2o16
Time: 3pm ET/12pm PT
If you were to ask NA LCS fans one month ago who they thought would have been in the finals at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, you would have heard “Immortals” being mentioned. But in what is being called the best “scripting” Riot Games could come up with, Immortals will travel to Las Vegas. But not for the finals. They will play Team Liquid in the 3rd Place series. Instead, Counter Logic Gaming will play Team SoloMid. But to understand why this is a big deal, we need to look back at the offseason.
The big story in the offseason was Yiliang “DoubleLift” Peng, long time Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) AD Carry, was kicked off CLG and joined the rival team, Team SoloMid (TSM). The already bad blood between these two teams was now at an all-time high. With the addition of Fnatic’s former Support player, Bora “Yellowstar” Kim, TSM was seen as the “Dream Team.”
This brings us back to the start of the split. The storylines were incredible. Could CLG win without DoubleLift? Would the All Star team of TSM dominate the league? Many at the start of the split would have told you that the ideal matchup for the NA title series would have been CLG vs TSM. Unfortunately, TSM showed that teamwork is harder than it looks when you have no team chemistry. And no one really thought the LCS newbies, Immortals, would live up to their name.
Team SoloMid came into Season 6 with major roster changes. Aside from the addition of Doublelift and Yellowstar, they added Denis “Sevnskeren” Johnsen in the jungle, and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell in the top lane. The mid lane god, Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg was the only remaining member from Season 5. There were high hopes for this team, but TSM would go 1-1 most weeks with really bad losses followed by really good wins, normally against the bottom tier teams. There was no communication. It was painful to watch Yellowstar call for a team fight, engage, and the 4 other members run away. Or seeing 3 players push top while 1 player is trying for dragon, and the last player roaming around with what looks like no plan in mind. It was hard to watch. TSM traveled to IEM Katowice where they had to go up against some of the best teams in the world. What we learned was that TSM could adapt. They started to come together as a team. Those moments were scary for TSM-hates. TSM looked like the all-star team many pegged them to be at the start of the split. Nonetheless, they survived and got that precious last playoff spot. In what some are calling “The Best LCS Script,” TSM not only managed to secure a playoff spot after a rocky split, but they swept Immortals in the Semifinals. The same Immortals that destroyed them twice in the split. Could this TSM team finally come together after IEM Katowice? It looks like the same ol’ TSM: Built for the playoffs, not the season. TSM would finish the split at .500.
COUNTER LOGIC GAMING
CLG had the offseason no team wants. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes came in to replace Doublelift. Eugene “Pobelter” Park left CLG for newcomers Immortals and the mid lane was filled by Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun. CLG had new and unproven players come in. How would it turn out? Look no further than IEM San Jose. Huhi selected odd champions for the mid lane. One example was Kindred. Huhi would also show his lack of pro experience by make simple mistakes. Mistakes that had many CLG fans upset. Going into the split, these problems overshadowed any positive strides the team made, especially from Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha, who was the only bright spot on a team that many wrote off after IEM. As the split would go on, these errors and misplays would be overcome. Huhi turned in several MVP-worthy performances as well as Darshan. Stixxay managed to hold his own, mainly due to the veteran Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black playing as his support. Once Immortals started on their rampage through the NA LCS, the question became, “What team could possibly beat Immortals?” CLG had a plan. And Darshan back-doored Immortals so hard, the king of the backdoor xPeke would have been proud! CLG beat Immortals. They took a slight break to travel to IEM Katowice where they turned in a sub-par performance. When they returned, the race for second place was on. They secured 2nd place on the last week due to a bad week by Cloud 9.
Both teams would go on to have amazing playoff runs. CLG stared with a Bye-Week, then faced Team Liquid and sent them packing in what was a very exciting series. TSM took care of Cloud 9 and them swept top-seeded Immortals in what is probably the biggest upset in the NA LCS playoffs.
This brings us to the finals. CLG vs TSM. Storied rivals with even more hatred between them with the roster changes. The team owners HotshotGG and Reginald don’t like each other. Fans of both teams don’t like each other. This isn’t the first time they met in the finals. This was the matchup everyone hoped for, that no one saw coming.
The real question is this: Which TSM team will show up on Sunday? Will it be the TSM of the Spring Split? The inconsistent, no chemistry, no teamwork, individual moments of pure brilliance? Or will it be the TSM that manhandled Immortals? If that TSM shows up, the Best of 5 series could easily go the distance. If the TSM of the Split shows up, we could see a three game sweep.
Jon “Phiask0” Byrum is the Coordinator of ESports for The Overtime Network. You can find him on Twitter here
Featured Image LCS Logo courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports.com; CLG Logo courtesy of Counter Logic Gaming/CLGaming.net; TSM logo courtesy of Team SoloMid/TSM.gg