The one thing all Western fans wanted to see when some of the best teams in the world gathered in Poland for the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice event actually occurred.
Omg did we just beat a Korean team
— Andy Dinh (@TSMReginald) March 13, 2015
Yes, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, you did.
Wow that just happened! Some of the best play by an NA team I’ve ever seen. #IEM
— erik lonnquist (@ggDoA) March 13, 2015
The Americans looked flawless in winning what ran as a close match for 20 minutes until they took over. In a flurry of perfectly executed engages and rotations to secure objectives that capitalized on those picks, Team SoloMid closed out the match at the 29-minute mark.
At the Riot World Championships, Team SoloMid took a game off a Korean team for the first time when it beat eventual champions Samsung Galaxy White in the third game of a best-of-five series. But in that game, Samsung picked a poor team composition and looked disengaged, coasting after winning two quick matches.
Here, SoloMid picked a team with a solid mid-game power spike and executed on it before the scaling of CJ Entus’ Dr. Mundo and Xerath made late-game runs. Marcus “Dyrus” Hill on Maoaki showed his strength as a front-line tank, clearing space for his carries, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran on Sivir and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg on Victor.
CJ Entus looked a step slow, struggling to control its own bottom-side jungle after constant invades by Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen and Ham “Lustboy” Jang-sik. That prevented Xerath from making an impact, losing his blue buff multiple times, and gave Team SoloMid the vision necessary to secure towers and picks.
It wasn’t a flashy victory by any means, but it was a mistake-free one, and in many ways that’s more encouraging.
The Team SoloMid win marks the second game the American squad has won against a Korean team in its history. That’s either an exciting milestone showing the squad’s growth or a depressing monument to the team’s—and the region’s—failure at succeeding on the international stage. Whatever your perspective, though, it was a well-deserved win and an extremely solid showing by a prepared squad, even if it was in a best-of-one setting.
The players certainly enjoyed it.
Holy shit we did it boys!
— Søren Bjerg (@Bjergsen) March 13, 2015
I LOVE LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
— Jason Tran (@IMTWILDTURTLE) March 13, 2015
The upset was particularly sweet for support player Lustboy, who was all smiles after beating his former team. Last year he left CJ Entus Blaze after the spring season, joining Team SoloMid soon after.
On Saturday Team SoloMid will face the winner of SK Gaming and yoe Flash Wolves in a best-of-three semifinal game, giving it a solid chance at advancing to the tournament finals where it would likely face a Korean foe a second time. GE Tigers looked unstoppable in the group stage, and the team will face the winner of CJ Entus and World Elite in the other semifinal.
Those seedings, with Team SoloMid topping the group, set the stage for a Korea vs. Korea and North America vs. Europe semifinal, should CJ Entus and SK Gaming win their final best-of-one group stage matches. Of course, both Flash Wolves and World Elite managed to upset Cloud9 and Gambit Gaming, respectively, on Friday so anything is possible.
But right now a Korea vs. the West final seems like the most likely scenario, and if Team SoloMid makes it there and plays like it did against CJ Entus, that should be an extremely fun series to watch.