We’re nearing the end of the 2020 LCS Summer Split playoffs and two of the three remaining teams—TSM and Team Liquid—are meeting in the losers bracket finals. TSM were sent down to the losers bracket earlier in the playoffs after falling to Golden Guardians in the first round, while Liquid lost in the semifinals last weekend to FlyQuest, who secured a spot in the finals with that victory.
While all of these teams qualified for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship with their strong playoff performances, Liquid and TSM will fight for a chance to return to their former glory of being LCS champions.
Even though both teams had splendid resurgences in the latter halves of the regular split and playoffs, TSM have looked like a powerhouse after winning three of their recent best-of-five matches. But despite their recent loss, Liquid are an equally potent contender to reach the finals.
Both Liquid and TSM, and their players, have a lot to prove going into this weekend. TSM are aiming to get their first LCS championship since 2017, while Liquid hope to win five LCS titles in three years.
Here’s what you can expect from this weekend’s playoff match between TSM and Liquid.
Doublelift’s quest for revenge against his former team and the importance of the draft
During the regular season of the 2020 LCS Spring Split, Doublelift was a notable aspect of Liquid’s downfall that prevented them from reaching the playoffs. Now on TSM, Doublelift is making a claim to prove his merit and prevent Liquid from getting another championship. The playoff meta where bottom lane champions have had a dominant presence in the draft phase provides Doublelift with the perfect chance to enact his revenge.
With so many high priority bottom lane carries in champion select, both teams will need to navigate which champions to give up and figure out what carries they can pick up after bans. Caitlyn, Ashe, Senna, and Kalista are the main focus of most teams since they have above a 50-percent pick and ban rate during the playoffs, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Among these highlighted picks, Caitlyn has a near-perfect pick or ban presence at 97.4 percent.
Aside from proper navigation through champion select, Doublelift will be going against his former support duo and MVP for the regular split, CoreJJ, who’s been instrumental and a rock in the bottom lane for Liquid. Doublelift will be facing an MVP who’s shown the ability to play proactively and reactively stifle many plays, as well as Rookie of the Year Tactical, who had a standout Kalista game against FlyQuest last week. But despite most of the obstacles that have been thrown at Doublelift in North America, the veteran ADC has thrived under pressure during the playoffs in the past.
One more draft factor that TSM needs to consider involves the opposing top laner, Impact. During their playoff run, Impact has only played three champions: Shen, Ornn, and Mordekaiser. This is the smallest pool of champion selections when compared to the rest of his team. While spending too many resources in the draft trying to take him off these low-priority champions that are close in playstyle may not seem fruitful, pressuring him off comfort picks will forcibly change his pacing and how he approaches the game.
Jensen vs. Bjergsen, and major lanes that Liquid must focus on
Even when Liquid’s mid laner Jensen spent time on Cloud9, one storyline that always persisted in NA was his matchup with TSM’s mid laner, Bjergsen. Both players have achieved major accomplishments in the past domestically and internationally. But when the stakes were at their highest, Bjergsen has proven to be able to provide his team with huge opportunities when put under immense pressure. With all of these factors considered, Liquid will need to collectively work together to prevent Bjergsen from getting the resources to carry.
Despite the historic mid lane matchup here, Liquid can’t afford to sink all of their resources and focus into assisting Jensen. A majority of TSM’s success has come from Bjergsen generating these advantages on his own—and Jensen needs to rise to match that. Liquid must also pay attention to roles that have been focused and overperforming on TSM, like Broken Blade in the top lane and Spica in the jungle.
Both Impact in the top lane and Broxah in the jungle have shown equal amounts of synergy and the ability to put up impressive stats and make plays. If Impact can continue drawing a ton of TSM’s attention to himself on the Rift without giving up too much in return, Liquid will have a huge boon added to their chances of success. But if TSM decide to force Impact off of his comfort tank and bruiser picks in the draft, Impact will need to prove his ability to play carry champions outside of Mordekaiser and tanks outside of Shen and Ornn.
Prediction: TSM 3-2
Both teams are evenly matched going into this series. But with the momentum of successively strong showings from the side of TSM, Liquid have a lot more pressure on them to perform. With every player needing to make clutch plays in the heat of the moment, TSM’s roster has shown that they can make important decisions when the tension is high. If TSM can keep up their potent playoff run, they might have what it takes to reach the finals against FlyQuest.
Although some fans might feel like TSM are favored in this series, Liquid have shown dominance over them throughout the Summer Split, holding a clean 2-0 record against them. If any team can adapt properly against TSM in the middle of a best-of-five series, it should be Liquid. Their playoff match record against TSM since the 2018 season has also been without a loss. In a playoff atmosphere filled with upsets, Liquid has a strong chance to avert this prediction and get a rematch with FlyQuest.
You can watch this playoff match between Liquid and TSM on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 3pm CT.