This week, Team SoloMid ("TSM") and Optic Gaming will battle on the Rift to break away from the six-team clump in the standings. Both teams have a lot to prove and defeating the other is crucial for them. OPT started off this split undefeated, but lost games against Cloud9 and Team Liquid. TSM is the last top team they have a chance to beat to show they're truly a top team.
On the other hand TSM is eager to break through the 4-2 clump and re-establish themselves as a top three team. They had a great post-season, reverse sweeping Cloud9 and nearly defeating Team Liquid in the Finals. With such a huge legacy behind them TSM has one thing on their mind: to win back the LCS title. This match will likely be very close and exciting for all LCS viewers with great significance for the standings.
To start, Optic has some very distinct strengths. Mid laner Crown has performed exceptionally well this split and is largely the focus of the team. He can play meta picks, like Ryze and Azir, well, but he can also bust out picks like Twisted Fate to have the team play a new style. Along with him, Meteos is the other star on this team. He is a smart player who can control the jungle, while setting his team up for success. Meteos prefers tank junglers, like Sejuani, which gives him fantastic late game impact too.
The rest of the team is stepping up too. Dhokla has still played some carries but has shown proficiency on Poppy, who has much more use to his team. Arrow and Big are looking better on aggressive duos, and Optic has improved on their team fighting. If they can follow up on Meteos' and Crown's play making, Optic looks quite strong.
Meanwhile TSM has some of the premier talent in NA. No one will question Bjergsen is one of, if not he best mid laners in the LCS. He has a deep champion pool as well, and certainly the potential to solo carry games. In addition, TSM has the option to play either Akaadian or Grig in the jungle spot. Grig is probably the better choice for this game because he had some fantastic games and exerts a lot of pressure early.
Broken Blade is another crucial part of this team. He is great on carry champions like Irelia, Jayce and Kennen, and can be a menace in the side lane with a lead. The TSM bottom lane is pretty consistent, and though they have some struggles in lane, they are decent in those all-important team fights.
Keys to Victory
Optic and TSM both have pretty similar strengths and styles, so this match is hard to call. Optic looks great this season, but as they lost to the other two top teams of C9 and TL, they may not be among the best yet. TSM, on the other hand, is a bit inconsistent this split and barely managed to win over teams worse than them.
The key to this game will be in the middle lane and jungle. Crown and Bjergsen have similar champion pools and share unique picks, like the Twisted Fate. Whichever of them can get a lead will have the ability to spread his lead to other lanes or snowball it themselves. The junglers are different in how they play, but both are very important to enabling their team. Meteos and Grig will need to be focused by the teams heavily. The biggest discrepancy may come from the top lane, as if Broken Blade gets a lead on Dhokla it's likely to snowball out of control for Optic.
In the end TSM have the advantage. Its hard to argue against their experience and the fact that they finished second last split. Optic looks great this split, but with their two losses there's a lot of skepticism that they're truly a top tier team, especially with their poor performance last split. Overall TSM has generally better players, and though Optic definitely has a chance to win it will be an uphill battle for them.
Featured image via LoL Esports.