Only two weeks remain. Each squad has four games left on the slate. The top is pulling away from the bottom. Team Liquid and Cloud9 have separated themselves from the pack and have turned into the definitive championship contenders in the LCS. Or have they? Don’t be fooled, there’s more than two titans vying for a title this split.
In the race for a first place finish and a possible LCS championship, TL and C9 have dominated the conversation ever since the two started to break away from the rest of the league a few weeks back. However, there’s a team that’s been quietly keeping pace with the two North American behemoths step by step. One that’s quickly climbing up the standings ready to snatch a potential playoff bye right out of the hands of one of the two prime challengers. That team is TSM, who, with a roster that has come together nicely over the course of the past few weeks, is finally looking ready to pounce and secure a spot in the upper echelons of the LCS standings.
Riding one of the hottest streaks in the league right now, TSM has won 7 of its previous 8 games. What’s even crazier is that the team can solidify itself as a serious threat by closing the split on an even more intense run – potentially winning out and closing out the season on a massive eight game winning streak. The scary part? It’s not out of the question, at all.
Three of Solomid’s next four games come against teams that currently sit below the .500 mark, while the other contest on the schedule is a matchup with Team Liquid, who the squad thoroughly beat down last month in a win that showcased TSM as a force that was back on a serious upswing. After becoming the only team in North America to take a game off the region’s best, it became clear that TSM had something to prove. Not only did they beat Team Liquid, they beat them convincingly, winning by 10 kills, 8 towers, and a gold differential that sat just under 10k. Immediately after this jaw-dropping performance, it was obvious that TSM had skyrocketed themselves right back into the forefront of the LCS race, proving that they could contend with even the most formidable of foes. With all of this in mind, it’s certainly plausible that TSM runs the table right into playoffs, capping off the season with yet another win over TL and finishing the spring split with a record of 13 wins and 5 losses.
However, winning outright wouldn’t guarantee the team a first-round bye. They’d also need a little bit of help from the rest of the league. Of course, a win over Team Liquid on the final day of the split would give TSM the season sweep, but it would ultimately amount to nothing if Liquid wins just one game before that contest – preventing TSM from passing them in the standings. All TL has to do is win just one game of the three before their week 9 matchup with Solomid, a task that shouldn’t necessarily be hard when Clutch Gaming, FlyQuest and Echo Fox make up their lineup of upcoming opponents.
Additionally, when you consider that Cloud9 has already secured 11 wins (and the season sweep of TSM), TSM would need C9 to lose 3 of their last 4 on the split in order to steal a bye from them. This is where things get a bit complicated and downright barren for TSM. Cloud9 plays its final four games against Echo Fox, Optic, FlyQuest, and Clutch – teams that they’ve already beaten so far this season in quite dominating fashion.
In fact, the average winning percentage of Cloud9’s remaining opponents amounts to a whopping 39.5%, while C9 has beaten them by an average of 8.5k gold each time out. When you combine this notion with the fact that C9 has a 100% win-rate against any potential playoff opponent (save TL and Counter Logic Gaming, who C9 split the season series with), the team becomes a serious opponent – not just for TSM, but the entirety of the league.
If there’s any one team TSM should be afraid of, it’s definitely Cloud9, who has had Solomid’s number in 2019, winning both games where the two squads faced off by an average of 7.35k gold. If TSM were to run into C9 in the latter part of the playoffs, the most momentous train in all of North America could be derailed quite easily.
However, a first-round bye would be nothing more than an added bonus to an already successful split for TSM. If anything, the 3rd seed in the playoffs would give the team a direct route to either Cloud9 or Liquid’s jugular in a star-studded (and essentially limitless) semifinal matchup – that is, of course, assuming that TSM can topple one of the league’s .500-or-worse teams during the first round of the playoffs if they were to fall to 3rd after the dust settles.
Over the course of the past few weeks, TSM has proved that its resilience levels are immense. A 2-4 start could derail most seasons, but after rebounding back to a record of 7-1 over the team’s past 8 games, it’s clear that TSM has left its rocky start in the rearview mirror. In fact, since week 3, TSM has the same record as TL and C9, proving that the race at the top of the standings might be a lot closer than it actually seems to be. It’s entirely possible that the hot starts of both Liquid and Cloud9 are definitive evidence that they are a step ahead of TSM, but even still, when you take into account the total run of dominance that TSM has gone on in just 4 weeks, it’s fair to say that the team is on the same level as the two that stand above them.
When the playoffs arrive, however, all bets are off. TSM could definitely challenge both TL and C9 down the stretch – especially if the team keeps playing like this. They certainly have the firepower to do so. More importantly, while the momentum may be rolling for all three organizations, TSM’s redemption tour is showcasing nothing short of pure dominance. If they can take same aura of dominance with them into the playoffs, there’s no telling how high this team’s ceiling actually is.