Cloud9 and TSM were an inch away from closing out the worst season of their entire careers in the NA LCS. They fell hard in the spring by being knocked out of the quarterfinals in playoffs and inventing a brand-new roadblock every single week of the regular season.
This summer started off the exact same way, but then they flipped a switch. Call it luck, call it a miracle, or call it a comeback—it doesn’t matter. Something clicked for C9 after flopping around the aftermath of coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu’s seemingly-deranged roster decisions for weeks. Whatever caused this snap back to reality, the C9 roster could suddenly work together again, Academy subs included.
The same went for TSM, who were praised for their grit in scrims despite losing game after game due to miscommunication and pressure, until eventually, they began to trust one another after the season’s midway point. This weekend, both former titans of the LCS have the chance to reclaim their spot as top-tier teams. If they win their games of the semifinals, they advance to finally get the chance to earn another title.
There’s a problem, though. They’re facing one another, and that means only one of them will carry on, and only one of them will be able to return to the top.
This battle is years in the making. TSM and C9 have clashed in the finals more times than most teams have faced one another in any important capacity in North America. TSM’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and C9’s Nicolaj Jensen have competed for the title of best mid laner in the region for years. And despite all that, this best-of-five series, a semifinals match that doesn’t even decide the championship, might be the most important fight of their careers.
Why? Because this could mark their comeback. Without this win, the whole last half of the season of finally starting to rack up wins and look like their former selves could have been for nothing. Sure, it would still be progress, but they wouldn’t have anything to show for it. The scary part is that one of them will definitely be in that position after this weekend, so the stakes haven’t been this high in a while.
C9 are certainly the favorites going into Saturday’s series, but not by much. While it’s true C9 haven’t lost a game in weeks, it’s also true that many of their games haven’t looked terribly convincing, and this will be the first real test for their new interchangeable roster. TSM’s wins, while fewer, have been more devastating and more calculated. Honestly, it could be anyone’s game.
The series kicks off tomorrow at 4pm CT.