The semifinals of the LCS playoffs were a doozy, as fabled rivals Cloud9 and Team SoloMid met once again. Cloud9 came in as the fairly heavy favorites as the #2 seed and having already swept TSM in the regular season. Even so, calling TSM an underdog wouldn’t have been doing the team justice. As the only squad to sweep the reigning champions and number one team, Team Liquid, all eyes were on them in this rematch of the Summer semifinals.
Oddball strategies have been the bread and butter of the 2018 Worlds semifinalists, and C9 did not disappoint with the Sona and Taric bottom lane. While it was the mobility of Svenskeren’s Hecarim that set the pace for the early game, it was the pocket Sona that secured a relevant lead by stealing the Rift Herald from under Akaadian’s nose. While the bottom lane wasn’t flashy, it helped get the carries ahead of their TSM opponents. As Nisqy and Sven reaped the rewards, it turned into a siege resulting in an inhibitor, a Baron Nashor, a teamfight win, and the game.
In game two the drafts were more even, but Akaadian’s smite woes are what will linger. The TSM jungler missed another important objective, this time an Ocean Drake to a Morgana W from Nisqy. The dragon troubles would keep at TSM, as an attempt at the Cloud Drake turned into a big win for Cloud9, who took four unanswered kills. TSM eventually slowed their pace, taking skirmishes where they could, but once again, a catch onto Akaadian led to the Baron and the end of the game quickly thereafter.
With their backs against the wall, TSM went into game three with the early game in mind. With three winning lanes and a late game composition for Cloud9, it would be all up to execution. The fans screamed, “TSM will smurf soon!” and smurf they did, in the early game. However, a mid-game fight went all for Cloud9 and the game was equalized via Baron Nashor. A beautiful sequence of wombo abilities swung the pendulum back hard in favor of TSM, who took a fight with a clean four-for-zero. TSM then took the Baron and the next few fights, and were able to eventually secure the game to stave off the sweep.
The fourth game saw the return of Zed to the LCS stage in the hand of Cloud9’s Nisqy. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t a glorious return. Akaadian was clutch in an early dragon fight, securing a big lead for Bjergsen and himself. This allowed the Dane to neuter the shadow ninja and take a few more kills. Cloud9 tried to take objectives, but the bulk of TSM was too much for the carries to take out. Cloud9 lost the Baron, the fight, their lunch money, and then the game.
The final game of the series started fairly uneventful, with the first exciting moment coming when Sven broke a hand warmer all over Nisqy. Once the game resumed, action was a near constant. Fights erupted without much rhyme or reason, with neither team pulling ahead. Then, after a few key catches on Zeyzal, TSM took Baron, kills, and two inhibitors. After trying to pick up the final inhibitor, TSM were caught for two more fights, leading to a C9 Elder versus a TSM Baron. It ended in a climactic team-fight win for TSM, who completed the miracle reverse-sweep.
Making their first finals in a year in a half, TSM will face the winner of Team Liquid and FlyQuest in St. Louis for the chance to represent North America at MSI.