TSM is the stronger team, but Gigabyte still has a shot at winning on Wednesday
The Gigabyte Marines smashed their way through the first round of the play-in stage of MSI, and now they advance to take on the North American titans, TSM, in a knock-out best-of-five on Wednesday. The winner moves onto the groups stage, and that makes the upcoming match the most important series of both teams' season so far.
Despite their commanding victories in the first round, Gigabyte still has some glaring weaknesses, and they probably don't have what it takes to upset down the North American champions, but anything's possible.
Gigabyte's laning phase is their specialty. The early stages of the game are always full of reckless aggression and crazy plays. Despite this show of confidence, the laners are still noticeably subpar when compared to TSM’s laning titans: Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell at top and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg at mid. Van Cuong "Optimus" Tran may be Gigabyte's saving grace, however, as he's a formidable mid laner at least. He still isn't quite as respectable as Bjergsen.
Ngoc Hung "Slay" Nguyen and Minh Nhut "Archie" Tran, Gigabyte's ADC and support respectively, are also formidable, but still behind TSM. Slay finds himself at home on CC-oriented marksmen, like Ashe, but seems to struggle a bit when playing poke or more damage-oriented champions, like Caitlyn. Archie, the team's support, has tried his hand at three different roles in his professional career, yet he's mastered none of them. His support game-play is adequate in most circumstances, but it will likely be a struggle to compete against the likes of Vincent "Biofrost" Wang, TSM's support and one of the best in North America. Sometimes, Archie can really show up to a game and carry the team, but usually, it looks a little different.
In Levi we trust
Despite some lacking performances out of Gigabyte's aggressive laners, they're confident making those reckless plays when their exceptional jungler has their back. Duy Kanh "Levi" Do, Gigabyte's jungler, may be the team's best shot at shutting down TSM.
Hopes are high for Levi at MSI. He's one of Southeast Asia's most promising young players, and he finds himself at home in the current high-damage meta of the jungle. When he began playing professionally, he was an assassin-oriented mid laner, and when he made the switch to jungle, he definitely retained his affinity for those assassins. It isn't rare to see Levi pull off some amazing games playing as Kha'zix, Graves, and Lee Sin.
TSM’s jungler, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, had a pretty horrid Spring Split, so Levi may be able to capitalize there. Svenskeren had a stand-out performance during the Playoffs, though, and if he can hold onto that surge of confidence, Gigabyte might not be able to cling onto that to win.
TSM has always had one much larger problem, however, and if Gigabyte can pull off the victory on Wednesday, it will be because of TSM’s arrogance.
Even in the Finals against Cloud9, in the most important series of TSM’s season so far, their arrogance shined through. After smashing Cloud9 into the dust in the first two rounds of the series, they clearly eased up when the third game came around. They looked sloppy. Their messy positioning and decision-making, likely due to the assumption that Cloud9 was down and out, gave C9 the window they needed to regain momentum. It was because of that newly found momentum that C9 was almost able to pull off a reverse sweep. If TSM hadn’t let their guard down during the third round, it would have never been that close.
Tune into LoL Esports to catch the underdog Gigabyte Marines facing off against TSM at 2pm ET on Wednesday.