By all means, the 2017 Worlds should’ve been TSM’s moment.
After getting seeded into Group D, the North American champions were facing Misfits, Flash Wolves, and Team WE—three teams that were considered equal or below TSM’s level. And while the sentiment held true for Flash Wolves, the other two teams beat TSM to a pulp and qualified for the Quarterfinals.
So… how did this happen?
The day began with a game between Misfits and Flash Wolves. The #1 LMS seed managed to get a few early game kills and translated those into a 26-minute Baron. But a single pick onto the overextending Maple turned the tide and let Misfits stall long enough to hit their powerspikes and secure a Baron. Once they had a lead, the Europeans pushed it until they were at the Wolves’ Nexus.
In game 2, TSM faced off against Team WE, a foe they already defeated once in the past. But Team WE nailed the draft by bringing out Caitlyn, Rumble, and Jayce to counter TSM’s scaling composition. The North Americans fell behind in laning phase and never really recovered, allowing WE to score a confident 24-minute victory.
Game 3 saw WE establish their status as the top dogs of Group D by dismantling Flash Wolves. Mystic’s Caitlyn once again reigned supreme in the bot lane as his team found another quick, convincing win.
As for TSM, they could still mount their comeback by taking down Misfits in game 4. But that was easier said than done since the Europeans drafted an incredibly aggressive comp of Yasuo, Jarvan, Ryze, Xayah, and Blitzcrank to exploit TSM’s sluggish early game. At first, the plan seemed to work, and Misfits managed to secure a hefty 5k gold lead 15 minutes into the game. But the game dragged long enough for TSM’s teamfighting to kick into full force, and North American champions found their first win of the day.
With this, TSM could seal the deal by winning game 5 against the struggling Flash Wolves. But inexplicably, Flash Wolves showed up with their most explosive early game yet. As TSM began bleeding gold in both side lanes and Flash Wolves’ Kog’Maw got further and further ahead. It seemed like only Bjergsen was trying to fight back. Naturally, it wasn’t enough.
TSM had another glimmer of hope when Team WE bounced back against Misfits’ dominant early game, resulting in both Western teams having 3-3 records. Now, everything came down to the Tiebreaker.
In their final game, it seemed like TSM chose to borrow a page from Longzhu’s book by drafting Jayce into Cho’Gath. Unfortunately, they forgot that you also have to provide support to your carry, and with one top lane gank after another, Hauntzer slowly lost the momentum he needed to challenge Alphari.
Eventually, Cho’Gath got too fed for Jayce to deal with, and TSM got stuck trying to 5v5 with a splitpushing team comp. Considering that Doublelift couldn’t come online on his Kog’Maw, Misfits’s final victory seemed almost too easy.
In the end, TSM were stuck in the same mindset that crippled them last year. They weren’t playing to win, they were playing not to lose. And Misfits and Team WE simply were much more decisive than their North American competitors.
What do you think about Group D and TSM’s failure to perform at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship? Share your opinion in the comments!