It’s no secret that North American Teams have an abysmal record against Korean Teams. Cloud 9’s victory over Najin White Shield in the group stage was the first such victory by a North American Team over a Korean Team (in official competition) in over two years. When one party experiences such consistent defeat at the hands of another, a mental block begins to form. The result is all those tweets from pros in the line of “got a kill on faker, worth”. The Western Players have mind gamed themselves so hard that merely killing a top Korean player is suddenly an accomplishment. It’s extremely hard to get rid of such a sever einferiority complex once it has formed, and it’s that difficulty that Western players have been grappling with all year, even as their region’s are slowly closing the gap on Korea. And it’s that same difficulty that TSM and Cloud 9 face in their matches against Samsung White and Samsung Blue this weekend.
Life isn’t an anime. There is a wall that can’t be overcome by luck, or the power of feelings. When facing the very best that professional league has to offer in a Best of 5, only skill can save you. That begs the question, are North American teams finally up for the challenge? TSM and Cloud 9 in their current state are without a doubt the two best teams the NA region has ever sent to Worlds. But they have real weaknesses that can be exploited, and a history of defeat to over come. Their infrastructure remains 2nd best, even if TSM and C9 have arguably the best in the west in that regard. The odds, and history, are stacked against them. So why should you believe now?
The stage is set, the time is now, and these are the first two North American teams that we can actually hold this discussion with, and not be laughed off the internet. Their opponents are great, but they have weaknesses, and the NA representatives have strengths. There are players on both teams that at least deserve to be mentioned in the discussion for best at their position. They have coaches and analysts that are actually effective, and owners that are willing to invest in the infrastructure and players necessary to reach the next level. Make no mistake, they are underdogs, but there is nothing more American than an underdog story. If there was ever a time, it’s now. Samsung White and Blue represent the very pinnacle of competitive League. It is highly likely that these are two of the three best teams in history. They are the wall that North America must climb. Beating the likes of Najin White Shield is a step in the right direction, but nobody would ever mistake them for the best team in the world. Not after having been the first team to ever be perfected at the World Championship. You have to beat the best. Samsung White and Samsung Blue are the best. Now’s the time.
It’s very likely that Saturday will come and go, and both NA teams will have lost. That’s the chalk bet. But chalk isn’t where the money is. You can buy a bucket of Jumbo at a Dollar Store. Eventually, you have to stop playing safe and take a leap of faith. That’s what TSM and C9 need to do this weekend. They have to raise the bar all NA teams are judged by, stop being okay with just being “competitive”, and make the new standard Victory or bust. Because for Champions, there are only two places. First and Last. And nobody likes being last.
Six hours from now, TSM gets the chance to raise the bar that all future North American teams are judged by. C9 gets their chance a day later. The time is now.