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The Jackpot Final: TSM vs CLG

It has been a long spring split for the NA LCS - There have been venture capitalist teams breaking into the scene, promising North American rookies, and even four players dying to the Rift Herald and a turret in a standard lane swap. Immortals, one of those venture capitalist teams, had a stranglehold over the scene, only losing to one of NA’s longest established organizations, Counter Logic Gaming. Just last week, Team Solomid did the same in dominating fashion, in the NA LCS Semifinals and are now set to face CLG in their second straight NA LCS final - Against all expectations, it really is happening again.

Now it is just between the legacy orgs, Counter Logic Gaming and Team Solomid - Considering that both teams have polarizing strengths, the matchup only becomes more interesting. Counter Logic Gaming is the team that stretches the potential of their ceiling with solid vision control and macro, while lacking the ability to face other teams straight on. Team Solomid is still somewhat unproven in higher pressure situations, given their accumulated advantages against Cloud 9 and Immortals, but one thing is for sure - They have no issue squeezing every last bit out of an advantage with their star-studded roster.

Counter Logic Gaming is a surprise finalist for this year’s NA LCS based on their changes in the offseason - After they went to the League of Legends World Championship for the first time in three years, they dropped mid laner, Pobelter, and star AD carry, Doublelift, in favor of the more inexperienced Huhi and Stixxay. While it is debatable that neither player has matched their predecessor, they have snuggly fit into the current top-focused system of CLG’s gameplay, where a great deal is invested into Darshan’s splitpushing escapades. A second place finish in the regular season is more than anyone could have expected from the seemingly downgraded lineup, but they managed it despite the much-warranted skepticism.

Now CLG is recognized most for their hard-focus on the early laneswap, attempting to create advantages for themselves via superior early game decision making. CLG, more often than not, prioritize Darshan’s gold and experience in the laneswap, in hopes of getting him an early lead against the opposing top laner. Xmithie and Aphromoo play a great deal around their top laner, prioritizing vision control and jungle pressure - In most games he reciprocates well, carrying them to victory on numerous occassions via his famed splitpushing. However, their greatest strength is also probably their greatest weakness - Darshan has never been a great teamfighting top laner and as a result CLG has been rather weak in the department. Huhi’s recent carry performances in mid lane and above average teamfighting are a boon for the team, but it may not be quite enough in Vegas.

Team SoloMid is as much of a surprise finalist for the NA LCS finals, although for a reason opposite to Counter Logic Gaming’s. TSM had one of the stronger offseasons, signing away CLG’s star AD carry, Doublelift, European elites, Svenskeren and Yellowstar, and up and coming top laner, Hauntzer. TSM seemingly upgraded at every position and sported one of the most talented lineups in the west - Yet, they barely made it into playoffs as the last seed. Solomid clearly had synergy and teamplay issues during the season, with some of their players citing trust and “coming together” as the key components to their most recent success.

The regular season had Doublelift being the main star for Team Solomid, as he was at the center of most of their victories. Bjergsen held himself as a player individually for TSM as well, but the support cast struggled - That ended in the playoffs. Svenskeren has come to life and been the mighty counter jungling Dane that he was in EU, controlling the enemy jungle and destroying the enemy backline in teamfights. Additionally, Hauntzer’s improvement in playoffs set off TSM’s triple threat laning phase and they haven’t missed a beat since. TSM’s grasp of the meta is great and they have the right role players for it, but they have mostly been able to secure wins off of laning phases that involve strong laning picks and the absence of a lane swap. It’s safe to assume that this will be thoroughly tested in the LCS finals.

When it comes down to it, the matchup is more than likely going to be decided by mid-game teamfights, as both teams have shown strong early games, either via laneswapping or standard lanes. It’s a classic matchup of brains vs brawns, but in a meta where teamfighting and carry junglers rule supreme, it’s hard not to favor Team Solomid. CLG’s struggles with forward teamfighting have been consistent and has only become more exploitable in time. However, it isn’t wise to count CLG out - They may just best TSM enough in the early game to make the same magic they had in Summer 2015. Regardless of the victor, it should be a great clash of different styles, former teammates, and two legendary brands, all in pursuit of the North American crown.

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