We’re down to the final week of North American LCS play, and five out of six playoff spots are locked in. The final berth will go to either OpTic Gaming or TSM, making the match between the two on Saturday perhaps the most important one of the split for them.
Both teams sit in sixth place with an 8-8 record, but only one can advance to the postseason. OpTic placed ninth in their inaugural split, and making the playoffs in their second one would be a huge step forward for the organization. Their opponents, however, are TSM, a team that made the NA LCS finals in ten straight splits and have yet to miss the playoffs. A loss here would almost certainly spell the end of this iteration of TSM, so this might quite literally be a fight for survival.
TSM: Old dog missing new tricks
For years, TSM has focused on drafting late game team compositions and using talent to outclass opponents in long, drawn-out games. This year, however, that style simply hasn’t worked. Other teams in the league have consistently improved over the years, while TSM has remained stagnant despite roster upheavals.
Specifically, star mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg has had an off split. His passive play often allowed the enemy mid laner to roam and collect kills in side lanes while Bjergsen slowly created a small CS lead. While he’s rarely the reason the team loses, Bjergsen’s reluctance to leave mid and impact his side laners often forces TSM into early deficits.
Losing their former win condition seems to have shaken TSM to their core. For the majority of the split, the squad played like everyone was on different pages, though they started to turn it around last week in wins over 100 Thieves and CLG. If TSM can continue their upward trend and create the chemistry they sorely lack, they will be a major threat come playoffs.
OpTic: Eyes on the prize
OpTic came into the summer looking much like they did during the Spring Split—unable to impact side lanes, similar to the TSM of old. Top laner Niship “Dhokla” Doshi was left to fend for himself, and mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage couldn’t hard carry by himself.
Over time, however, the team learned how to not only keep Dhokla alive, but play around him. On picks like Fiora and Yorick, Dhokla kicked off a massive winning streak for the team by splitpushing and drawing pressure toward himself. Against a reactive team like TSM, OpTic’s side lane focus should grant them a large advantage.
Going into the match, OpTic’s chances at making playoffs are much more favorable. Since they beat TSM in week five, OpTic only need to win again to secure their playoff hopes. Since they would own the head-to-head, even if they lost to 100 Thieves on Sunday and TSM upset Team Liquid, OpTic would make the postseason.
This game is a must-win for TSM, and a victory for OpTic would mean everything for the organization. The match kicks off tomorrow at 6pm CT.