This past weekend was a show for the ages on the biggest stage in North American League of Legends. Team SoloMid, the most successful team in LCS history, battled first-place Team Liquid in an epic five-match series to decide the winner of the 2019 LCS Spring Finals. This came after a grueling regular season, where TSM bested Team Liquid in their first two matches against each other. However, it seemed that Team Liquid was ready to face their fears.
At the top Once More
This Spring Finals match-up was loaded with plenty of hype and expectations, mostly circulating around the stars of each team. Yiliang ‘Doublelift‘ Peng and Søren ‘Bjergsen‘ Bjerg, both five-time LCS champions, were looking to carry their teams and get bragging rights over each other. Their relationship has turned from strictly competitive, to mostly competitive as they’re now good friends, but neither was willing to let the other walk over them.
Team SoloMid came into the playoffs with a lot of momentum after ending the regular season on an 11-1 run. This transitioned well, as they dominated Echo Fox in round one and took down Cloud9 in round two. Their great play carried over into the finals, where they jumped out to a two-match lead over Team Liquid. Panic seemed to strike for the members of TL as they faced elimination, but the next three matches would prove why Team Liquid is deserving of it all.
After two dominating performances from Bjergsen and his TSM squad, Team Liquid was able to escape game three with a win to stay alive. This little spark of hope turned into an ever-growing wildfire, as Team Liquid began to roll. Jake ‘Xmithie‘ Puchero was finally able to hit his stride, while Doublelift maintained his laser-focus, resulting in a reverse-sweep over TSM.
Where it All Turned Around
Game three of this series was a huge turning point for Team Liquid. It all technically started in champion select, where Xmithie picked one of his favorite jungle champions in Skarner. He stayed on this champion for each of their remaining three matches, all of which resulted in wins. His consistent play-making ability put a lot of pressure on TSM’s Matthew ‘Akaadian’ Higginbottham, which led to misplays from the rest of the opposition.
The change in jungle pressure lifted weight off of Team Liquid’s shoulders and put them in a position to crawl back. Xmithie did a great job of keeping his teammates involved, especially on the bottom side of the map. Doublelift was shut down early in the series and eventually became a huge threat to TSM, thanks to Xmithie. Allowing the best bot-lane duo in North America to get back into the series is certainly one way of turning the tides.
Doublelift may have received the finals MVP award, but it’s safe to say that Xmithie is just as, if not more deserving. His play in the jungle completely shifted the momentum in Team Liquid’s favor, where his teammates were able to capitalize on their advantages.
Honorable Mentions: Bjergsen and Broken Blade
The losing team typically doesn’t get much credit in a big loss, but Team SoloMid still put on an amazing performance. Their run to get to the finals was nothing short of fantastic, as well as their play during the rest of the playoffs. However, little mistakes and miscues gave Team Liquid the chance to come back.
One aspect of TSM’s game that had very few mistakes was the play from their mid-laner, Bjergsen. Time and time again, Bjergsen has proven that he’s a world-class talent that can play on any stage, and he certainly proved it again. His scoreline of 12/7/26 through five matches was the most consistent and impactful on his team. If this series ended after the first two matches, Bjergsen would be the clear pick for finals MVP. Unfortunately for TSM, it was a best-of-five and not a best-of-three.
Last, but not least, is Sergen ‘Broken Blade‘ Çelik. This was his first ever spring finals, but it didn’t feel like that was the case. Broken Blade immediately left an impact by ending the first match of the series 11/1/6 on Vladimir. Along with high DPS and CS totals, Broken Blade dominated the map by split-pushing. His eventual carry potential made TSM’s top-heavy scheme look nearly flawless through two matches. This would soon fade away, as Team Liquid began to sniff out TSM’s game-plan.
This only fuels the competition that is present in North American League of Legends. Who will come out on top next time?
Featured Image Courtesy of @TeamLiquidLoL on Twitter.
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