In 2018, TSM failed to qualify for an LCS playoff final for the first time in the organization’s history. Now, one year later, TSM are heading to St. Louis in their long-awaited LCS finals return.
In a grueling five-game series, TSM pulled off a magical reverse sweep against longtime rivals Cloud9 to become the first team to qualify for the 2019 LCS Spring Split finals.
“Well it feels absolutely amazing,” TSM support Andy “Smoothie” Ta said after taking down his former team. “I don’t think I’ve won a game against Cloud9 since leaving Cloud9, so removing them from playoffs feels pretty nice.”
Playing Alistar, Galio, and Braum in TSM’s three wins, Smoothie was crucial in both starting fights for TSM, as well as protecting his teammates from enemy crowd control. Smoothie had an MVP-level performance in game five as Braum. He not only found picks onto C9’s carries multiple times, but also routinely blocked C9 top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie’s Ornn ultimates.
But the man awarded MVP of the series was none other than TSM’s marquee player, mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. In his 100th playoff game, Bjergsen led TSM to their first win of the series with an otherworldly performance as Akali. But despite winning multiple domestic titles, Bjergsen revealed that he also still feels nervous at times.
“I think there’s always a little bit of nerves but I’ve learned to deal with them [better] than other players who haven’t played as long as me,” Bjergsen said. “I feel like since I’m the veteran I have to make my teammates feel comfortable, and make them feel just ready to play the games.”
And playing alongside TSM’s veteran mid laner was jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, who fell behind the hardest in TSM’s two game losses today. “I think in the first two games, Svenskeren played way better than me,” Akkadian said. “It was pretty tough to stay super positive, but we ended up pulling out the third game a losing position because we had really great flanks, and teamwork.”
After losing those first two games, Akaadian’s play began to ramp up, outplaying C9 on several occasions as Rek’Sai and Kindred. He also impressed Bjergsen. “[Akaadian] didn’t play very well in the first few games, and I didn’t know if he had it in him to play well in a series like this, but he got better and better every game,” Bjergsen said. “He had a really good Rek’Sai game, where Cloud9 felt they had to take his Rek’Sai away in the last game, and he played Kindred, and he played really well on the Kindred, maybe better then I’ve seen him play Kindred before.”
In poetic fashion, TSM ended Cloud9’s playoff run with Kindred and Zilean, a composition C9 popularized in 2018.
Now heading into the finals, TSM predict the veterans of Team Liquid will beat FlyQuest in tomorrow’s second semifinal series. “I think I can’t say who we’ll be facing but I think most likely due to how long the players on Team Liquid have played, and how comfortable they are in these high pressure situations, I think that they’ll take the series,” Bjergsen said.
Team Liquid will try to make TSM’s prediction a reality when they face FlyQuest tomorrow.