The seventh week of the League of Legends Championship (LCS) 2020 Spring Split has concluded. TSM ended Cloud9’s bid for a perfect season and beat FlyQuest to move up to second place. Meanwhile, Team Liquid lost twice to tumble out of the playoff picture. We take a look at where things stand in the LCS by looking at the top storylines so far in North America.
TSM END C9’S PERFECT SEASON
For the first 12 games of the LCS season, no team truly challenged Cloud9. They were in control of every game they played and looked unstoppable, especially as no other contenders were separating themselves from the pack. TSM have had the talent, but were plagued by inconsistency. This time, TSM put it all together and pulled off the biggest upset so far this season.
TSM had a good plan from the start. C9 let Sett through on red side, opting to pick Eric “Licorice” Ritchie Shen into it. While that may be a fine matchup for Shen, TSM made sure to attack him early and often, particularly with Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s Jarvan IV. Not only is Shen vulnerable early, but teams always want to attack the champion with the global so the enemy never has an unfair numbers advantage. TSM killed Licorice twice in the first 12 minutes.
TSM were also relentlessly aggressive. That’s easier said than done against a team that was previously undefeated. Opponents start to question whether C9 even make mistakes, considering positioning misplays to be high-level baits. TSM lost trades twice in top lane by overextending on dives, but they kept the tempo up. A 14 minute fight in the river netted them a two for one exchange.
But really, the game came down to two huge team fights from TSM. The first came at 17 minutes. Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik used his The Show Stopper into Facebreaker combo to set up four members of C9 for his team. Dardoch used his Cataclysm to keep them all grouped together, while Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s Zilean double bombed and Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup’s Xayah pulled her feathers across the entire team. It was the perfect wombo-combo, resulting in a four for zero fight and mountain drake for TSM.
The second fight was at 21 minutes. TSM knocked down C9’s outer turret and went for a dive. C9 repelled it, forcing TSM to kite back, but Broken Blade and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang were ready for the re-engage. Biofrost’s Rakan held his The Quickness until C9 were out of turret range, layering his crowd control with Broken Blade’s flash into Facebreaker. It was another perfect looking combination that allowed Bjergsen and Kobbe to instantly blow up C9. TSM picked up another four kills, Baron, and finished off the game with ease in under 27 minutes.
As up and down as the season has been for TSM, they have shown all along that they have the potential to be a great team. But in this win over C9, and their later win over FlyQuest, TSM have shown that they may be closer to unlocking it. This is their fourth 2-0 week of the season, but it was also their cleanest set of games — especially considering the combined 21-7 record of their opponents. C9 have already locked up the first seed, but TSM has four games remaining against teams at or below .500 on the season. They should make a run at the second seed for the Spring playoffs.
TL FALL OUT OF PLAYOFF PICTURE
As surprising as their season has been so far, Team Liquid looked like they had righted the ship in week six. They beat both TSM and 100 Thieves with ease, even with Edward “Tactical” Ra replacing Peter “Doublelift” Peng. TL were confident enough with Tactical that they benched Doublelift to begin week seven, citing his lack of motivation so far this season. Their first game was against the last place Counter Logic Gaming, featuring a mid laner that was their coach only a few weeks ago.
It didn’t go well. In a game that TL were supposed to destroy, they fell behind early before stabilizing with a 3k gold lead at 35 minutes. Considering their Ornn, TL had a much larger effective gold lead and should’ve been able to close out the game. Instead, their former position coach Eugene “Pobelter” Park styled on them, picking up an insane triple kill behind Elder Drake to seal the win for CLG.
It seems that Doublelift’s motivation was restored in a matter of a day, as he was reinserted into the lineup for their second game of the week against Immortals. IMT won their first matchup this season in Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s revenge game, but it was also Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen’s first game after travelling to North America. This time, there would be no excuses for TL.
Unfortunately for them, there would be no redemption, either. IMT exploited the Qiyana/Gragas combo to make life impossible for Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s Zoe, while Paul “sOAZ” Boyer’s Renekton destroyed Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong’s Zac. Even when Broxah’s Olaf tried to gank to relieve pressure, he was under threat of dying himself in a 2v1. In the final team fight of the game, Doublelift’s opponent Apollo “Apollo” Price picked up a pentakill on Aphelios to seal the win for IMT.
It really doesn’t matter who TL are playing at AD carry if they don’t get their drafts cleaned up. TL used to just be able to withstand the early game and outclass teams with their mechanics and macro later in the game. Now with their coordination out of sorts, TL can’t get away with picking multiple losing lanes. The Spring Split may not mean as much this year, but TL’s management has never been afraid of making roster changes. The players and coaching staff are surely feeling the pressure as they fall to 6-8.
Team Liquid’s ADC swaps aren’t the only roster changes going on in the league. Now that teams have a larger sample size of games to judge, teams are more open to moving players up to the main roster for a spark. Dignitas’ Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, Counter Logic Gaming’s Oh “Wind” Myeong-jin, and Golden Guardians’ Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun all got their first starts of the season.
— DIG (@dignitas) March 7, 2020
Dignitas continued their downward spiral with another 0-2, but you could hardly put that on Akaadian. He was easily their best player in their loss to 100 Thieves, picking up First Blood for the team and going 7/2/3 on Lee Sin. There wasn’t much he could do in the loss to Golden Guardians, as GG used their lane advantages to get early turrets and snowball their gold lead. Akaadian has very likely earned more play time going forward.
#LCS Roster Update
To continue building on our positive growth, we are starting Wind on the LCS team this weekend.
Stixxay will play with our Academy team. Thank you to our fans for continuing to support us.
— CLG (@clgaming) March 6, 2020
Wind wasn’t expected to be a factor for CLG this split, but Lee “Crown” Min-ho’s departure opened up an import slot. Wind didn’t make a huge impression one way or another. The team upset TL in their first game, but that was mostly attributed to an 11/1/0 popoff performance from Pobelter. Wind followed that 0/3/11 performance with a 1/3/0 score against Evil Geniuses. With Pobelter the focal point, it feels like whoever CLG puts bot lane is of secondary performance. CLG could go either way, but with the lost season, it might make sense to continue to give Wind stage time.
The coaching staff has determined that we’re making adjustments to the LCS lineup to improve the team’s communication. As such, huhi will be our starting support this weekend.
— Golden Guardians (@GoldenGuardians) March 6, 2020
Golden Guardians interestingly went the opposite direction, promoting a more experienced support at the end of the season. Huhi looked good in his return to the LCS. GG won their opening game against Dignitas, with huhi showcasing Sett in his champion pool. They can definitely be more creative in their drafts with huhi than Yuri “Keith” Jew. GG then got crushed by C9, but huhi hit several really good Nautilus hooks and engaged at the right times. He basically looked as good as one could in a 0/4/2 performance. As long as GG stay in the hunt for playoffs, huhi will continue to start at support.
LOOKING AHEAD: LCS WEEK SEVEN
Saturday, March 14th – 2 p.m. PST: Immortals vs. TSM
Both teams are in LCS playoff position and have a good shot at ending the season in the top four. Immortals have looked improved after reuniting Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent with Apollo and come off an impressive win over Team Liquid. Meanwhile, TSM are coming off the most impressive weekend of the season after beating Cloud9 and FlyQuest. TSM have won consecutive games after drafting red side Sett. Will IMT allow them to have it three games in a row?
Sunday, March 15th – 1 p.m. PST: Golden Guardians vs. Team Liquid
Golden Guardians and Team Liquid are both 6-8, tied for seventh in the LCS. With only four games left in the season, every game is crucial in the standings. With GG’s win over TL in week three, they will hold a virtual two game advantage over TL if they win the rematch. So for TL, this is an absolute must win if they want to avoid missing the playoffs after four straight LCS titles. Look for TL to emphasize stronger lanes in their draft, while GG will want to put Can “Closer” Çelik on a playmaker.