Fans at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada were treated to an extra special treat. It’s the El Clasico of the North American League Championship Series; Cloud 9 vs TSM. And this time, it’s for the 2017 Spring Championship.
TSM has been in every Finals since the NA LCS started in 2013. Spring 2017 marks their 9th straight appearance, and 5th title overall. Although Cloud 9 started a split later than TSM, they also appeared in the finals in their first outing. In their first two meetings – Summer 2013 and Spring 2014, Cloud 9 took home the trophy. But every meeting after that saw TSM walk away the victors.
Two of the most decorated teams in the league, TSM and Cloud 9 get ready for their sixth Finals meeting.
Games 1 and 2 painted a same picture. Team Solo Mid convincingly won the first two games with their superior macro and impressive micro.
In Game 1, TSM secured first blood after C9 rooke jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia stole the enemy blue buff, but not without botlane duo Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang collapsed on him. TSM would weather Cloud 9’s advances, playing a controlled reactive playstyle. TSM close out with an almost perfect game, only giving out 1 kill and 1 dragon to C9. Toplaner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell finished with an impressive 9/0/1 KDA on Camille, despite the slight mismatch against Jeon “Ray” Ji Won’s Kennen.
Game 2 saw Cloud 9 try to change up the tempo by bringing in Jung “Impact” Eon Yeong. But with a 22:38 win, the fastest time this split, TSM would show why they’re defending champions. All-star and team captain Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg had an explosive 9/1/4 game on Syndra.
In a short awarding ceremony intermission, Phoenix 1’s ADC No “Arrow” Dong Hyeon was named NA LCS Regular Season MVP.
Hai may have been long gone from the C9 squad but he’s surely made an impact on the team. One of his trademarks is a reverse sweep (which he did on FlyQuest vs Counter Logic Gaming quarterfinals match). C9 looked to channel their old team captain to save them in the series.
Game 3 was a bloody, grueling, 33-kill, 47-minute deathmatch. It didn’t look that way in the early game though, as fans prepared for the 3-0 sweep and Twitch chat started getting filled with ResidentSleepers. TSM secure first blood 4 mintues in as Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen visits the toplane on Lee Sin. He also picks up a double kill in a small skirmish in the midlane at 13 minutes in. By the 15-minute mark, however, Cloud9 would be up 6-5 in kills, and get a small gold lead. The decisive teamfight came at the tailend of the game, as TSM attempted a Baron. C9 found a flank opportunity, and would take down 4 TSM members (with Zachary”Sneaky” Scuderi getting a triple kill), and their Nexus.
C9 looked to ride their momentum in Game 4. They built up a team composition that looked stronger that their first three. Drafting a strong frontline with engage and disengage in Shen and Gragas, they also had CC provided by Ashe, damage from Graves, and both from Syndra. Games 3 and 4 C9 looked like a totally different team from games 1 and 2 C9. They would mirror TSM’s performance in game 1, dropping only 1 kill. Their 31-minute victory came as a team effort, with Impact finishing 1/0/7, Contractz finishing 4/0/5, Jensen finishing 4/0/6, Sneaky finishing 3/0/5, and hometown hero Andy “Smoothie” Ta finishing 1/1/5.
The next win held so much for these both teams. For TSM, it would mean their 5th NA LCS title. For C9, it would mean their 3rd. It would also be their revenge, as they lost the last 3 meetings against TSM. For both these teams, it would also mean representing North America at the Mid Season Invitational.
Silver Scrapes died down and the players took to the stage for the last game of the series.
With momentum on their side, C9 grabbed first blood with Contractz on Kha’zix. Bjergsen on Syndra would even it up a minute later however. Not wanting him to snowball, C9 tried to focus on shutting the Danish midlaner down. With a roam from top and bottom, they get a kill. Then things got messy. Both teams would trade kills here and there, taking turns holding a gold lead. In a 20-minute stretch the fans would see 18 kills between the two teams. At the 34-minute mark they were tied 12-12 in kills. Both teams had 3 turrets. The gold lead was less than a thousand. Both teams had two dragons a piece. Even the Twitter fan vote was 50-50. The two teams were neck and neck in every aspect.
TSM saw an opportunity at the 38-minute mark. Spotting Jensen in the top lane, they catch out the other 4 in the river. Their engage would only net them Ray’s Guardian Angel. With Jensen dashing to the fight, C9 looked to reengage. Although Bjergsen deletes Contractz from the fight, that’s 1 key ultimate down. WildTurtle also wastes his ultimate, landing Chains of Corruption onto Jensen, who was split from three clumped C9 members. Hauntzer and Camille jump onto Sneaky, but he miraculously survives. In the end, it’s a 4-for-2 in favor of Cloud 9. With 40 second death timers, C9 would have gotten an inhibitor, but opt for Baron instead.
TSM then start Elder Dragon. They’re about halfway through when Ray leads in with Chaaaaaaaarge!!! TSM are prepared for the engage though. Bjergsen takes down Jensen. WildTurtle takes down Ray. Hauntzer takes down Smoothie. TSM take down Elder Dragon.
C9, down three members, go for the Hail Mary. With Baron empowered minions in the midlane, they try to go for the base race. As TSM are pushing down bot lane, Sneaky and Contractz take the inhibitor. But they soon pay for it with their lives as Hauntzer and Svenskeren complete the Ace. The other three are already at C9’s base, and destroy their Nexus.
Both teams fought tooth-and-nail for the title, but only one can hold up the trophy. With their 5th Championship and 9th straight Finals apperance, TSM prove that they’re the most dominant organization in esports history.
Feature photo from Riot Games Flickr.