We knew it would be a tight race through the quarterfinals when the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split ended last week.
All four teams in contention for the first round of the playoffs had similar dips and surges throughout the regular season, and all four teams, on any given day, were considered top-tier squads in the region. Today, however, TSM were still clear favorites in their series against Echo Fox, because TSM’s surge was more recent and more dramatic, while Echo Fox had been stumbling a bit recently.
Despite TSM being the clear favorites, Echo Fox put up one hell of a fight in this five-game series.
Here’s how it happened.
Game one – TSM win
TSM had total control in the first game of the series. Echo Fox actually managed to knock on TSM’s base, but after they tragically threw the game by tower-diving into TSM’s base at a really, really bad time, Echo Fox’s fate was sealed.
It was in TSM’s hands for the rest of the game, and after bot lane carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen’s Pentakill and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell’s beautiful ultimate behind the Inhibitor, even EF jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett couldn’t watch anymore.
Game two – EF win
After such a strong start from TSM, we definitely didn’t expect them to struggle so hard in the second game. Nonetheless, Echo Fox pretty much ran the map, although the game wasn’t a total blowout. TSM managed to hold on and make picks here and there, but ultimately, EF had them routed.
EF’s team comp in game two was similar to their first one, but they executed it much cleaner. The Alistar synergized much better with the Draven, and the team as a whole focused more on keeping Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, the team’s best carry, in the game. Hauntzer is often TSM’s most intimidating weapon, so that mattered.
Game three – EF win
Echo Fox’s team comp in game three was significantly different than it was in the second game. Rather than an early cheese bot lane of Draven and Alistar, they picked up a much more defensive bot lane duo with Kai’Sa and Braum. Ultimately, it worked out, because the Kai’Sa completely steamrolled TSM’s frontline.
This game was in EF’s favor, too, just like the second game. Unlike the second game, however, TSM never really seemed like they had a chance. EF curbstomped TSM at every corner, suffocating them by catching out carries (and Trundle) between almost every objective and major fight.
Game four – TSM win
Echo Fox had all the momentum heading into the fourth game of the series, and you could tell. They ran the map, even with TSM picking up a tower here and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg winning a one-vs-two there. For all intents and purposes, we thought the series was over, and TSM would be knocked out here.
Bjergsen had another plan, however. After catching out a couple of players near the top lane, Bjergsen then proceeded to barrel through the enemy jungle to catch even more Echo Fox players and set his team up for Baron. After the Baron, he sprinted across mid lane to chase down the mid lane Lucian (yeah, it’s 2017 again, apparently) to get a kill there, too. At the end, it became the Bjergsen anime, and TSM picked up a win.
Game five – TSM win
Fittingly, the fifth game of the series was the closest one. Echo Fox and TSM both took turns with gold leads, forcing play after play around the top lane where Hauntzer and Huni pushed one another to the limit. For a while, it was easy to forget that there was even a bot lane in the game. In the end, though, it was Bjergsen, like usual, who was the X-factor TSM needed.
With three kills, three assists, 330 farm, and zero deaths at 33 minutes (ha), he had the power to one-shot any carry on Echo Fox’s team, and he did. If he wasn’t able to pick one off right before a huge fight started, he was able to dance into the backline after the start. Echo Fox just couldn’t keep up, and Hauntzer’s stellar performance didn’t hurt TSM’s chances either.
With that, TSM advance to the semifinals.