This weekend Team Liquid (“TL”) and Team SoloMid (“TSM”) will fight for the 2019 LCS Spring Split title. TL looks to continue their dominance and win their third split in a row. On the other hand, TSM is seeking to take back their former glory. They want to reassert themselves as the best team in North America and knock TL down off of the throne.
TL is the favorites for this series, but fans watched TSM defeat TL twice during the split. They then reverse swept Cloud9 and are looking like a force to be reckoned with. But TL is a giant. Their super team has dominated all sorts of opponents this year and has some of the best talent in NA. There are so many intricacies to this matchup that it is bound to be an exciting series.
TL’s Win Conditions
TL have been the favorites to win the title as early as the beginning of the season. Their roster that dominated last year only improved with the additions of Jensen and CoreJJ. These two bolstered the team, but the primary focus of the team is still on Doublelift. Their most successful strategy revolves around playing around the bottom side of the map, getting a lead for their AD Carry and snowballing it. This will likely be their main strategy going into the Finals, though they certainly can play other styles to success.
With that said, there should be special attention given to their solo laners in the draft. Impact has shown more proficiency on carry style picks lately, but has received criticism when he’s played them in the past. Broken Blade prefers to be on carries, so it will be important to put him in a matchup he can win or go even in and have more usefulness in team fights.
Jensen and Bjergsen have one of the most iconic rivalries in the LCS. The mid lane matchup will be a highlight of the series, and is Bjergsen favored. He’s historically had a leg up on Jensen, and with his recent preference towards assassin-style champions, Jensen will need some attention. TL will likely put him on a mage and they need to make sure he isn't put in a bad situation.
Lastly, the team can look to exploit Akaadian. He showed clear weaknesses in the first two games in his series against C9 that the veteran jungler Xmithie can use to his advantage. If Xmithie can dominate the jungle, he can nullify Akaadian’s early game impact, stop a TSM snowball and scale into the mid-late game. This is where TL prospers and is rarely beatable.
TSM’s Win Conditions
TSM are hungry to take back their throne from TL and have a decent possibility to do so. Their drafts focus more around counter picks and side lane pressure. This strategy can completely unravel standard compositions if executed properly. Broken Blade’s carry play is some of the best in the league and he is likely to be put on a split pushing role. Bjergsen can also play with a side lane focus. One of TSM’s main strategic goals should be to set up either one-three-one or four-one lane assignments to enable their solo lanes to create map advantages.
The first way they achieve this is in draft. Akali is one of Bjergsen’s best picks and is one he has monster performances on. An early Akali pick is great for him but can also be flexed to the top lane if need be. Secondly, Ezreal will probably be a high priority champion for Zven. He is arguably the best Ezreal player in the league and this pick works well for their style. It is safe and can absorb bottom lane pressure so the solo laners can get more attention. Lastly, Broken Blade’s pick should wait until late into the draft. His counter picks can be creative and deadly, meaning he can generate significant leads early on without requiring many resources.
Another important thing to touch on is the Sona-Taric bottom lane. C9 demolished TSM with it, and TL won with it last week against FlyQuest. It does warrant consideration, whether that is with a ban or clever draft. To wrap it up, TSM is going to look to find leads early and snowball them. TL’s late game is hard to beat, but TSM can win by playing the early games very well.
This best-of-five series is going to be an exciting one. All of the players are top tier and the teams have interesting dynamics. The rivalries and legacies surrounding this series weigh heavy on the minds of the players, but it will fuel their fires to ensure fans get the best they have to offer. It’s difficult to say just how this series will go because of the caliber of players and the expertise of the coaching staff. In the end though, Team Liquid is likely to take the series 3-2. It will be close, but TL’s players are considered the best in NA, and should be able to weather any storm. TSM will have to perform well past expectations if they want a chance to take all three games against TL.
Featured image via LoL Esports.