NA LCS Quarterfinals kicked off with Echo Fox (“FOX”) taking on Team SoloMid (“TSM”). Both teams have very different style, with FOX being aggressive and TSM being passive. FOX will fight you tooth and nail, even if behind. On the other hand, TSM is reactive and more clinical in their play. Being the first best-of-five, these teams got the chance to debut why, or why not, they deserve to continue in playoffs. With their post-season hopes on the line, both teams came ready to play their hearts out and give fans a great series!
Both teams set the stage for a great series with just the first game. TSM managed to edge out the win in the end, but spent much of the game behind. FOX was proactive very early, with Smoothie and Dardoch roaming. They got First Blood onto Bjergsen in the middle lane. They made one fatal mistake soon afterwards that gave TSM a foothold. FOX started the Ocean Dragon and TSM collapsed on it. Hauntzer Telported in while Huni did not, and TSM ended up smashing the fight three-for-zero and taking the Dragon.
Huni, who has faced considerable criticism for his aggressive positioning, demonstrated why. He was constantly caught out in side lanes, and gave TSM a considerable amount of kills. Thankfully for him, FOX always was in position to take towers, and their lead came through them. At 22 minutes, Huni was unable to contest Hauntzer’s split push, so the team started the Baron. FOX secured it with the help of Dardoch’s Keeper’s Verdict. The buff allowed FOX to take a middle Inhibitor and some outer towers. They couldn’t get much else because of a bad play leading to multiple members dying, but they still held a small gold lead, along with the pressure.
TSM, though they were behind, constantly proved they had better team fighting. This was apparent when a team fight erupted in the middle lane at 30 minutes. TSM cut down FOX, winning the fight four-for-one, as well as taking the Baron right after. TSM utilized the Baron much more effectively, taking two Inhibitors quickly. Though FOX managed to sneak the Elder Dragon away from TSM, when TSM grouped at the last Inhibitor bottom, they stood no chance. FOX made a last ditch effort to defend, but brought themselves a team fight disaster. Zven’s Kai’Sa got a Pentakill, and TSM lost no members. TSM took the Nexus soon after at 37 minutes.
FOX tied up the series with a win in the second game. They almost threw it like they did in the first game, but played much better with their leads. The Draven pick proved more useful for laning this time, as he was able to kill Zven in the two-versus-two and take the First Tower bonus. FOX took Rift Herald and two Dragons early on, allowing them to take objectives easier and apply pressure. Kills went back and forth for both teams, but thankfully for FOX, Huni gave up less kills than the game before. At 20 minutes the gold was near even, but FOX had more map control.
At around 21 minutes, a fight broke out in the middle lane. FOX forced it hard, and it worked wonderfully, netting them two easy kills. They immediately went for Baron Nashor, while Grig positioned himself over the wall. Dardoch had wasted his Smite on a kill seconds before, so it was all up to Huni. Huni missed his Feast execute by over 200 HP, and Grig managed to Flash into the pit to Smite steal it. TSM wasn’t able to get too much off of the Baron, but swung the gold back to give themselves a better position and avoid disaster.
Disaster would strike soon however. At 29 minutes FOX rushed Baron again. This time Huni secured it, and they also won the team fight afterwards four-for-one. This gave them two Inhibitors and multiple towers. The game stalled for a few minutes as FOX kept the pressure applied. At 35 minutes, Damonte was caught out and killed. FOX tried to surprise TSM in their own Jungle, but stalled long enough to allow Damonte to respawn while also getting a kill. Once he Teleported in, FOX committed. They dominated TSM, killing all five members. It didn’t take them long to charge into the base and take their Nexus at 37 minutes.
With a win in game three, FOX brought TSM to match point. FOX won convincingly, primarily on the backs of Dardoch and Huni. Dardoch was able to gank Hauntzer and kill him for First Blood, as well as stay to help Huni get the First Tower bonus. Dardoch was a menace this match, smashing Grig in the Jungle. He was ahead in levels, gold and kill participation the entire game. FOX did make a couple of missteps and lost two skirmishes, which kept the gold even for TSM. At 20 minutes, the gold was only slightly in the favor of FOX and the kills and towers were equal.
FOX, despite having a losing bottom lane, were able to secure three Dragons. They managed to minimize their losses while allowing Dardoch and Huni to carry them through the early game. The two certainly did. This was most clear in a 24 minute team fight, with Huni using his Teleport to set up a magnificent flank to use his Equalizer. Only one TSM member died, but crucially it was Grig. With no chance of a Smite steal, FOX secured Baron, along with two more kills afterwards.
Once FOX spent their money and reemerged from their base, both teams met again at the Infernal Dragon. FOX pressured TSM off it and took it, picking off Zven right after. This allowed FOX to take two towers and the Inhibitor in the middle lane. After another reset, FOX grouped to push bottom. The last team fight began in TSM’s Jungle. FOX decimated the TSM members, killing four of them while losing none. Virtually uncontested, FOX simply walked into TSM’s base and destroyed their structures and Nexus at 29 minutes.
TSM tied the series this time with their backs against the wall. Bjergsen hard carried his team, as he had with Akali not so long ago. FOX’s team composition was questionable, but it was ultimately TSM’s better mid game shot calling and team fighting that won them the game. It started rough for them, as it has all series. Damonte got First Blood onto Zven with a great roam, and FOX got an Infernal Dragon early on as well. Bjergsen, on Irelia, found two kills in a 10 minute team fight, which also got his team the Rift Herald buff.
FOX pushed the tempo, but TSM adequately answered with tower and objective trades of their own. Bjergsen’s Irelia continued to farm and scale to monstrous levels, growing on the lead he had. He was even able to trade a kill in a one-versus-two scenario. Meanwhile, Huni was scaling and winning his side lane against Hauntzer, who bullied him before. FOX reacted well to some of TSM’s moves, and they had a small advantage of 2k at 20 minutes.
The game broke wide open at 23 minutes with TSM aggression. TSM collapsed on two FOX members, quickly killing one. They threatened Baron, and when FOX showed themselves to contest, they killed two more and the Baron afterwards. After shopping, the team grouped in the bottom lane to push down the towers. They sieged the Inhibitor Tower for a while until they dove FOX under it. Bjergsen popped off with the help of his team, killing every single FOX member. He matched Zven’s Pentakill from earlier and lead his team to take a 27 minute victory.
TSM won the final game in this exciting, tense quarterfinals series. Where they lost the early game in previous games, this game was different. Hauntzer found a solo kill on Huni for First Blood at five minutes. FOX did seem like they were creating a lead with a few plays soon after, but TSM proved to be the better team today. An early 16 minute team fight went the way of TSM, as they killed two FOX members for none of their own. This snowballed into the First Tower bonus getting taken in the top lane and the Rift Herald, which took a tower later.
TSM also managed to get an Infernal Dragon and accumulate a 3k gold lead by 20 minutes. From here, members from both teams were caught out, but these didn’t result in much. The real game changer came at 25 minutes. FOX won a team fight two-for-zero and turned for Baron despite being low on health. Huni tried to make a hero play and solo kill Grig on a flank, but only ended up dying, causing his team to pull of the Baron.
This mistake was costly after FOX lost a team fight at 29 minutes. This fight gave TSM the opportunity to go for Baron Nashor and secured it uncontested. FOX was unable to combat TSM’s pressure, especially after Bjergsen one-shot Dardoch. TSM took all three Inhibitors and a second Infernal Dragon by 33 minutes. They were fully prepared to dominate FOX when they initiated a team fight a minute later. TSM smashed their opposition here, killing all five members. Finally, TSM destroyed the final Nexus of the series at 34 minutes, advancing them to the semifinal matches next weekend.
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