Team SoloMid’s phenomenal winning streak is over – they couldn’t quite equal the record set by Fnatic during last summer split, falling just short of their 18-0 record. Everyone expected Immortals to challenge TSM’s dominance, but it was Phoenix1, one of the teams most likely to be relegated from the LCS, who tarnished their flawless reputation. A fluke though it may be, it’s a warning sign for a team that wants to seriously compete at the World Championship this October.
After their humiliating defeat, TSM now share first place in the standings with their closest rivals Immortals, with the most important match of the season on the horizon; the two rosters face off this Friday to decide who will clinch first place heading into the summer playoffs. For all the memes and jokes that were spawned as a result of TSM’s loss to Phoenix – serious attention needs to be paid to the manner in which Bjergsen and Co. lost: not on a macro level, but with cheesy picks and unorthodox strategies.
Our @TeamSoloMid punishment is we have to read every comment in all reddit threads.
— Weldon Green (@MindGamesWeldon) 24 July 2016
TSM entered the LCS studio with a single goal: to continue their undefeated streak and perhaps experiment with a few new picks/strategies against weaker opposition. Phoenix 1 arguably boast the worst roster in NA, potentially worse than Echofox who lie 10th on the ladder as P1 lack any star talents in any position – all five players have demonstrated that their level is not high enough to compete with the LCS big boys… or so everyone thought. The first game of the series went according to plan with TSM controlling the tempo, taking every turret and having an easy first game, but from that point onwards, fans sat up and took notice of the biggest upset the NA scene has seen in a while.
The second game was strange… very strange. Phoenix1 appeared to have forgotten everything they had learnt from this season’s LCS and acted like they were playing at home in their pyjamas – they went full solo-queue mode and it paid off massively.
Rami “Inori” Charagh, remorselessly locked-in Rengar, probably the riskiest draft in the game, but a pick TSM failed to respect. Team SoloMid started diving towers, attempting two-man barons and rashly over-extending and got punished time and time again by the blood-lusting Rengar. Inori pulled the cheese move and he destroyed TSM almost single-handedly.
Game 3 was the first time Rengar got banned this split, a respect ban towards Inori who was then forced onto Reksai, the champion he chose for the first game of the series. The first 10 minutes of the game showed us two different teams, a solid Phoenix1 with a game plan and strategy, matched up against a fully tilted TSM.
TSM’s all star roster clearly aren’t used to losing. The third game was a closer affair, but P1 emerged triumphant – Inori was game changing once more for the underdogs.
TSM own the most expensive roster in the western scene and for the majority of the summer split, this fact has been evident in the team’s results. The roster has demonstrated that their strategies are steady and their ability to close out a game appear to convincing.
But as Phoenix 1 demonstrated last weekend, what will happen when TSM faces unfamiliar strategies and team compositions from Korean and Chinese teams? It may not be a Rengar, but it could well be a Lee sin jungle, or a Talon in the mid lane. For all the analysts they employ, Phoenix1 may have discovered TSM’s kryptonite and TSM’s potential World Championship competitors won’t have been turning a blind eye.