A new chapter has been added to the oldest rivalry in League of Legends as Counter Logic Gaming faced off against Team SoloMid in the finals of the NA LCS Spring Split Playoffs. After an underwhelming regular season, TSM looked as if they had finally put it together and had their extremely talented line up running on all cylinders. CLG had finished second in the regular season riding superior teamwork and map play with a lineup many believed was not skilled enough to succeed. The NA LCS Final would not just be a match-up between old foes, but it would be a true contest to see which was superior: talent or teamwork?
The first game found TSM taking an early gold lead through kills and minion farm. CLG was able to slow down TSM and not allow them to snowball their advantage by swapping lanes and forcing TSM to adapt to different lane match ups. After securing a couple of turrets on the back of their slight gold advantage, TSM would push into the mid lane and attempt to take CLG’s inner mid turret. However, CLG would expertly counter this siege with their double teleport composition, as Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya were both able to port in behind TSM on a flank allowing CLG to win a team fight and secure the baron. With the baron buff CLG would begin shoving in to take turrets, turning the gold difference in their favor. CLG grouped in the top lane and attempted to break TSM’s base, but a teleport flank from Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell as well as a package delivery from Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s Corki would allow TSM to ace CLG. However, CLG would not let up the pressure and won a team fight in the bot lane off the back of a great teleport from Huhi. This allowed CLG to take the bot inhibitor turret, opening up TSM’s base. TSM would answer back at the next baron respawn, securing the objective and escaping with low health as CLG chased them back to their base. Another team fight would be won by CLG in the bot lane, securing them the bot and top inhibitors. Another baron respawn would lead to another baron fight but while the two teams went at it, super minions would ravage TSM’s base. TSM would win the team fight but would not be to get back in time as the winions would destroy the nexus.
This time it would be TSM using their own double teleport composition to get ahead in the game. They would use their ports to get Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng ahead on Kalista despite Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes having the advantage in the lane match-up. With the early lead and a better team fight composition, TSM never gave up control of the game and extended their gold lead through skirmishes, objective trades, and building their turret lead. At the second dragon, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen was not positioned correctly, allowing CLG to take the objective. However, this would not stop TSM from continuing to apply pressure as they would win a team fight in the mid lane and take another two turrets and the mid inhibitor. Off of that push, TSM would fall back to the baron to try and take it as well. After the respawns, CLG would rush to contest the objective but TSM would secure the baron and win the resulting fight allowing them to run right back up the mid lane and end the game.
CLG would win both top and bot lane due to some early pressure from Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s Nidalee. However, it was TSM who would strike first as they picked up two kills in the mid lane including First Blood onto Bjergsen. CLG quickly answered back, though, as Hauntzer was caught out overextending in the top lane. He tried to retreat down the river and meet his teammates but would get killed along with Doublelift. CLG would go up four turrets to none and build their gold lead. However, despite the large gold deficit, TSM was very competitive in team fights often going even with CLG, and winning a couple. TSM were able to stall out the game with their impressive team fighting but the map control of CLG would be too much to overcome. Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black was especially impressive on his Bard as he consistently used his ultimate to catch out members of TSM, or save his carries allowing the rest of the team to collapse. The two teams would clash repeatedly, but it was also on TSM’s side of the map and they could never close the gap in gold. After two baron power plays from CLG, the third baron respawn would lead to a fight in the mid lane. CLG would ace TSM and with Stixxay and Darshan left alive and such long death timers, they would push up and win the game.
With a gank in the top lane, Svenskeren secured First Blood for TSM along with Hauntzer. CLG would try to get it back with a tower dive in the bot lane but TSM would collapse and turn the fight, trading two kills for one. TSM had an early gold lead and with the two carries on CLG waiting to scale up with stacking items, they were able to seize control of the map. TSM extended their gold lead by taking turrets and pressuring the map. A mid lane siege and an inhibitor turret being destroyed by TSM would lead to a fight in which the teams would trade one for one, but the damage was done as TSM had an opening to CLG’s base. TSM would move into the baron pit and start the objective. CLG would rush to contest and Xmithie was able to come in and steal it. He would die for it; however, and TSM would also chase down Huhi. With the numbers in their favor, TSM did not need the baron buff to take the open mid inhibitor and the top inhibitor turret. As TSM were backing away from their base, CLG would attempt to run them down as Huhi respawned and tried to teleport in for a team fight. TSM’s gold lead would prove to be too much as they turned and got the clean ace, netting them the victory and sending the series to game five.
This time around it was CLG being proactive in the early game as Xmithie secured First Blood with a top lane gank. Svenskeren would get caught trying to invade on the bot side and give another kill over to CLG. A double teleport gank in the top lane would get CLG two more kills as Doublelift and Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim were caught out. With Stixxay’s Rageblade Tristana so far ahead, CLG were to move around the map and take all three outer turrets. TSM got back a couple of kills in an exchange but the gold lead remained with CLG. Exploiting the traps on Doublelift’s Caitlyn, TSM were able to stall out the game and hinder CLG’s ability to siege, slowly closing the gold gap. CLG would secure the first baron but TSM would win the fight afterwards allowing them to even up on turrets and gold. However, with the baron buff still on three members of CLG, they would siege a couple of turrets and build up another gold lead. TSM would have control of the baron pit for the baron respawn and peeled off the objective for a team fight. TSM’s triple AD carry composition would win the fight getting three kills for two, and with all three AD carries alive they would return and take the baron. Off of the baron power play, TSM would even up the turrets and have a slight gold advantage. The two teams would square off one last time at the dragon pit, Hauntzer initiated off of a flank on Gragas. Stixxay’s Tristana would find the resets as he collected a triple kill, netting CLG an ace, the series, and the NA LCS Spring Championship.
All images provided by Riot Games’ Flickr Page
Written by Oscar Left
Edited by Williaf