Spoilers ahead for the CLG vs TSM LCS finals game
The North American League of Legends finals match between CLG and TSM wrapped up on Sunday 8/23 in major victory for CLG and a clean 3 for 0 win. Forget dodgeball, #CLGWIN thats your underdog story.
If history dictates anything TSM should have come out on top victorious over CLG again. They were the crowd favorite, and have had a great showing during the regular season already obtaining their spot in worlds. TSM had everything going for them, having already won tournaments this year and placed first in previous LCS championships and a star team to support their powerhouse mid laner. By all accounts TSM should have had the competitive edge over CLG having defeated them in every match for the past year, no one could have expected TSM to lose, let alone a shutout. TSM’s line up of A-list players like Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, long time veteran Marcus “Dyrus” Hilland, and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, who is considered to be the best mid lane players in the North American league, were all caught off guard by the new CLG.
In previous seasons the highest CLG has ever placed was third. Team CLG had always found themselves falling apart as they reach the North American finals. During previous years CLG would have a great showing during the regular season however if they made it into the finals, their ability to close out games was nonexistent. But that was the old CLG, this is a new era for one of League of Legends’ oldest teams. Under the coaching of Chris “Blurred Limes” Ehrenreich and Tony “Zikzlol” Gray CLG has favored cautious innovation, slowly building early leads and map control that they convert into game winning advantages. Their new gameplay was centered around allowing their players, Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaha and Yiliang “DoubleLift” Peng, to make decisions and leverage their superior champion execution to make plays, pick, and carry.
What was often seen as CLG’s greatest weakness was their lack of team identity, floundering when forced to make decisions outside of their comfort zone and that all disappeared in these last three games. The new individual attention for team CLG decimated their weaknesses and opened the gates for the team to bring home the number one spot in the North American LCS. Players like Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Eugene “Pobelter” Justice Park truly shined with an effective team supporting their engage and plays, enabling the game changing team fights that would invariably clinch the series in their favor.
Link: Game One
Game one will be known most for its two minute fight around Baron leading right into the TSM loss. With both teams showing low health and dancing around the the map objective pushing back and forth to control the Baron side of the map. The struggle only broken when ZionSpartan used teleport homeguard speed to catch WildTurtle out and erase him from the map. Following a brief respite from the small skirmishes, the game ending fight broke out in the midlane when Bjergsen got nicked by Euegene “Pobelter” Park’s slow, CLG capitalized on Bjergsen’s positioning by zeroing him out immediately. With TSM’s star player down and tank line in disarray, ZionSpartan on Yasou, follows through eliminating TSM players alongside CLG DoubleLift. Using the momentum from winning the fight CLG takes Baron and the game.
Link: Game Two
Following their defeat in game one TSM picks a hard engage team composition centered around Bjergson on Yasuo and WildTurtle on Kogmaw. TSM’s strategy to win game two was focused around protecting these two carries with a strong tank line with incredible amounts of crowd control to maximize their carries survivability. However their weakness on this team is that they had little strengths in the early and midgame. CLG took advantage of the early game making picks in the midlane against Bjergson and countering tower dives in the toplane. In a repeat of the first team fight in the toplane both teams engage in a 5v5. Two TSM and one CLG members are immediately killed and in prime example as to why Bjergson is the best midlaner in the North American scene he turns a the 4v3 fight into a win by finishing off three more CLG players. The success is short lived as Bjergson returns to fight ZionSpartan leading to a major outplay and ultimately a lost team fight for TSM. CLG and TSM continue to trade team fights until CLG makes a major decision error by forcing a 4v5 by starting Baron. CLG stays too long at Baron, draining their health and leading to a major win for TSM. In an outstanding turn of events CLG reengages the baron fight pulling TSM into another fight not only picking up the the Baron but getting a clean ace on TSM. The action does not let up as CLG sieges TSM’s bot lane and in an attempt to engage CLG blows a few ults, Bjergson dives CLG in a 3v2 with only DoubleLift alive as a damage dealer. Ultimately DoubleLift snags the pentakill two base towers and an inhibitor. One more short team fight later and CLG takes the game with 27 kills to TSM’s 15.
Link: Game Three
Coming into game three TSM is down two games in a best of five. Looking to polish up their team fighting from game two TSM picks another team composition that focuses on giving Bjergson the late game advantage and opportunity to clean the game on Yasuo. The first skirmish happens at the first red-side red buff where CLG gets caught in TSM’s jungle and has to retreat with a net loss for Xmithie. To become a late game threat Bjergson needs to get early gold to help him through Yasou’s weak early game. To this point TSM attempts to get a kill on Pobelter in the midlane and both teams barely escape without giving up first blood.. A slow game at this point 10 minutes in without a kill on either side with a few skirmishes on opposite sides of the map. The first kills happened in the botlane where CLG out positions TSM pinching WildTurtle and Santorin. All of CLG was involved in this botlane kill with four members of CLG closing in on TSM’s marksman and jungler. From the other side of the map ZionSpartan played an integral role by canceling Dyrus’ teleport to the team fight. TSM’s support Lustboy gets caught outside of dragon handing kill #3 to CLG and starting the first big team fight. Bjergson dives Doublelift in an attempt to delete CLG’s marksman and unfortunately uses his ultimate early only on Doublelift only to see a perfect four person ultimate opportunity slip away moments later. A close fight between CLG and TSM only turns at the last moment when Pobelter and Doublelift score the necessary kills on Bjergson and WildTurtle. Less than two minutes later WildTurtle and Santorin get caught out in the mid lane adding more fuel to the now 9-3 team CLG picks up baron off the kills CLG pushes with baron taking a tower when TSM catches the CLG support Aphromoo in the jungle netting them a kill and igniting a team a prolonged team fight ZionSpartan surely the MVP of this encounter lands a team saving four man ultimate however still losing the encounter 3 to 4. Keeping the action level high a follow up skirmish kicks off in the bottom lane giving up three kills. A fatal mistake by Bjergson and Lustboy in the midlane gave CLG the clean ace putting CLG ahead 17-8. CLG continued to press the advantage forcing TSM to make decisions on uneven ground. The game defining fight begins at the midlane with small skirmishes breaking out over the next two minutes until TSM WildTurtle makes a truly tragic mistake allowing CLG to pick up the ace, Baron and invariably the win. Final score CLG with 25 kills to TSM’s 9.
CLG, always coming up short against TSM, never coming out on top, cleans up the North American LCS netting the #1 spot, the first seed position in worlds.