Tristan ‘PowerOfEvil’ Schrage was on the receiving end of TSM’s glorious LCS Summer 2020 run while on FlyQuest. Now he finds himself in Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg’s shoes, leading the squad from mid lane to fight for a spot at Worlds 2021.
PowerOfEvil knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a TSM storming home in playoffs.
In fact, he was the final boss last year on FlyQuest in LCS Summer 2020.
It’s easy to forget how TSM took home the Summer title last year with the 0-6 Worlds meme floating around. However, the veteran squad dug deep, taking their seventh LCS title home in a tight 3-2 series.
“I feel like in the back of the heads of all of us we have the lower bracket run there even though it was only Spica who actually made it with Bjergsen,” he told Dexerto.
“If we win on Sunday, all of us are going to have that motivation that TSM can do it again; we can run it to finals and win it all.”
However, that first step on Sunday in the LCS Championship is a big one.
After handily putting Immortals aside 3-1 — with only a single blip in Game 3 after Andrei ‘Xerxe’ Dragomir dominated the Rift on Xin Zhao — the scriptwriters have served us up another Cloud9 vs TSM nailbiter for the final Worlds spot.
— TSM FTX Report (@tsmreport) August 21, 2021
It’s a tough nut to crack.
Two months ago, both TSM and Cloud9 were the LCS frontrunners to make Worlds. Cloud9 were having a rocky Summer start after MSI, but everyone expected them to bounce back. TSM were the on-form team, blazing up the ladder next to 100 Thieves.
Now, only one of them can make it.
“It’s going to be a really interesting and exciting series. We match up well into each other and it really comes down to who’s going to show up on the day, who drafts better, and who’s confident,” PowerOfEvil said, rather diplomatically.
“We need to play our game, they need to play their game, and it’s just going to come down to these nailbiters. We’re fighting for our lives for that final Worlds spot and keeping the lower bracket dream alive.”
PowerOfEvil vs Perkz, the EU faceoff
While TSM and Cloud9 boast incredible rosters, all eyes will be on the mid-lane battle between PowerOfEvil and his Croatian rival Luka ‘Perkz’ Perkovic.
The two mid laners have waged war on each other for years, dating all the way back to EU LCS Spring 2016. Perkz’ career has flourished since, gaining notoriety with an MSI title and a Worlds finals under his belt, while PowerOfEvil always lived in the shadow of him.
Even when the German jumped over to North America, all eyes were on Nicolaj ‘Jensen’ Jensen and Bjergsen.
Now though, PowerOfEvil can try and stake a claim for himself as one of the all-time greats — if he wasn’t considered one already.
“I respect Perkz a lot. He’s a great mid laner, but I wouldn’t say I have nerves because we have faced off against him so many times before in so many important matches,” he said.
“[We’ve played against each other in] multiple finals, at least two EU finals, so we’ve had these really important best of fives. Hopefully, I come out on top this time.”
Regaining confidence after Liquid loss
TSM are still dealing with some demons of their own though before they can break through Cloud9. After finishing Summer as the regular season champions, they were handily dismissed by Liquid to force them into this do-or-die lower bracket run.
PowerOfEvil took a moment to reflect on what actually went wrong against the full-strength Liquid — with both of PowerOfEvil’s former teammates Barney ‘Alphari’ Morris and Lucas ‘Santorin’ Larsen back on the Rift — before pointing towards the playoffs format somewhat.
“While the team that has the bye has the advantage of scouting your opponent and having that extra week of practice, when we faced off against TL, they already had one best of five in their shoes so having that extra series actually helps you a lot,” he explained.
“TL obviously with Santorin are just way more coordinated [as well]. Santorin brings a lot of leadership and he’s playing really well around the lanes and he’s sacrificing himself a lot for the laners. I know first hand from last year that he’s a really great jungler to have.
“With Alphari and Santorin back on the roster, they’re a death ball to be reckoned with, and we need to watch out for that.”
Fighting back for the title
However, there were positives from that series. TSM identified their mistakes against Liquid, and used it to demolish Immortals. With a second wind behind them, TSM are prepared to run it all the way to the grand final — just like 2020.
“At this point, I feel like everyone’s eyes are on Sunday only and locking down that series because if we lose in that series we’re all going home, right? It’s either China or home so it’s all going to come down to that Cloud9 series,” he said.
“I think you could see that in the TL series, I felt like that we weren’t that confident and we didn’t take fights we could have taken and missed out on opportunities. It’s important to have that confidence and play towards our strengths and not fall into that trap of ‘that’s what they’re doing good, so let’s steal one pick away and make it work for us.’
“If we win on Sunday then we’re going to, in a sense, regain all that confidence we lost in the TL series.”
Before we parted, PowerOfEvil had some final fighting words for Perkz and Cloud9 with his third Worlds berth on the line — and a chance to redeem himself and TSM’s legacy following a horror 2020 campaign for NA.
“[Cloud9] just need to watch out. We’re going to come out swinging.”