A grudge match between two of the most storied franchises in the League of Legends Championship Series ended with Team SoloMid beating Cloud9 at their own game, ending their bid for a perfect split.
C9 have been on a historic tear through 12 games in the first half of the season. Going up against an embattled TSM, the game was heavily favored toward the league’s top memers to pick up their second win against Andy ‘Reginald’ Dinh’s org and inch one step closer to TSM's regular-season record.
But a determined TSM, backed with explosive teamfights fueled by Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg’s surprise pick Zilean, defended their 2016 LCS record (then called the NALCS featuring a BO3 format) of a 13-0 game win streak in the Summer split by putting an end to C9’s stake to tie it.
“C9 is a really strong team and they have really solid fundamentals,” Bjergsen said after the match. "We had really comfortable picks. We had Xayah/Rakan in the bottom, obviously Zilean is a comfortable pick of mine. And we showed in our game today that all of our players were individually comfortable on their champions and just out-fought [Cloud9].”
The Danish veteran ended the match with a perfect 7/0/11 KDA and 604 damage/m, which helped him secure the Player of the Game.
Bjerg said TSM’s gameplan headed into the weekend was to work with each player’s strengths, something that was fully on display throughout the game.
Cloud9’s aggression and willingness to extend teamfights kept the early game exciting and arguably in their favor, despite having a slight deficit in gold at 15 minutes. At times, a TSM fight would yield a kill just for C9 to come back and even up the scoreline or better.
But it was decisive fights in the mid lane and bot-side river that heavily swung the game in TSM’s favor.
This could be the start of a new theme for TSM in 2020. In the lead up to this weekend, their drafts consisted of scaling comps featuring characters like Kayle or champs that prioritized team fights like Bjerg’s mid lane Moakai.
In their first outing against C9 in Week 6, it was all about comfort picks, which could be integrated more to their scheme after a wildly successful change of pace. It's because of their potential for a strong mid-season adaptation that C9's star support Philippe 'Vulcan' Laflamme called TSM their greatest threat weeks prior to their rematch.
The massive AoE arsenal from TSM’s Jarven IV and Sett’s ult to Zilean’s bombs and Rakan’s R+W gave them a deadly combo that they used in two successive fights to batter C9’s comp.
Moreover, it was Bjerg’s ability (and the rest of TSM, overall) to keep Kasper ‘Kobbe’ Kobberup’s Xayah alive to dwindle C9’s lifebars while getting locked up by the frontline of Sett and Jarvin.
Coming into this game, only TSM had a better First Blood percentage than C9 at 75% and 67%, respectively. They were able to translate numbers into results by getting the first blood on Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie’s Shen, just before C9 hit back with two kills of their own.
TSM also snapped C9’s 100% first Baron take, according to stats from Oracle Elixir, using the buff to push into the opponent’s bot and mid lane inhibitor turrets.
With the win, TSM improves to 7-6 and take hold of third place in the LCS (before the rest of Week 6's matches), while C9 maintain firm control of first place at 12-1.
C9 have been one of the scariest teams in the history of the LCS so far, particularly because of their map control, brutish team fights and sheer confidence in every position; something TSM met with vigor this round to tie the regular-season series against C9 at 1-1.