TSM vs CLG Now who would have thought it? TSM vs CLG in the finals? With the rise of new powers (Immortals) in the NA LCS many thought that a repeat of last year’s finals in Madison Square Garden was nothing more than a dream, but here we are. TSM vs CLG in Las Vegas. Of course TSM and CLG have one of the oldest rivalries in esports which goes all the way back to the closed beta era. To boot, you can add on top of that the rivalry between CEOs Reginald and HotshotGG, now household names in the world of esports. The rivalry took an interesting turn during the offseason when long-time CLG AD carry Doublelift was dropped by his team and picked up by TSM within hours of the announcement, much to the disbelief of fans. Last year at Madison Square Garden, Doublelift played out of his mind, securing a Pentakill, and CLG’s first ever NA LCS trophy. Now, almost exactly one year later, the two teams are to meet again, both looking at the top of their game and both looking hungry to prove themselves. Toplane In the toplane, we have Hauntzer vs Darshan. This matchup is interesting, not because it is a clash of styles but because the players are intrinsically similar. Both are known to be good duellists, enjoying the tense 1v1 atmosphere of the toplane, but both are also willing to take the spotlight off of themselves and allow their team-mates to shine. The only difference between the two, I would say, is that Hauntzer is a jack of all trades, master of none, whereas Darshan is a jack of all trades, and a master of some of them. Probably the best duellist and splitpusher in NA, Darshan frequently puts CLG on his back and creates a world of pressure for his opponents. On the other hand Hauntzer is more of a consistent backbone, being what TSM need him to be, and performing his job adequately. Hauntzer was key in TSM’s victory over IMT because he was willing to play tanks, something that his opponent, Huni seemingly refuses to do. Darshan often opts for similar champions to Huni, like Graves and Yasuo, but will play whatever his team needs him to play to win. Expect to see both of these players on tanks, with Poppy and Maokai being bog picks for the series. Midlane Through the split we have seen Huhi play a multitude of roles from assassin to control mage and do very well at both. However, this matchup has a similar dynamic to the toplane as every style that Huhi has played and succeeded on, Bjergsen has mastered. It is hard to say what to expect in the midlane, as both players are so versatile but Huhi showed his preference towards Ryze in CLG’s match against Liquid, which is a champion which Bjergsen has also been practising in solo-queue. It is likely that one of these players will pick him if he is available, but there is always the chance of an exciting Assassin vs Assassin midlane match as both players have shown great skill on both Le Blanc and Zed this season. Jungle TSM’s success seems to be largely dependant on Svenskeren. Either he goes absolutely crazy on aggressive picks, such as Graves or Nidalee, or he will solo lose TSM the game (everyone remembers his Gragas 1v5 engage vs NRG in TSM’s last game of the regular season. Whilst Sven has looked very good in both series vs C9 and IMT so far, it is hard to say how he will perform vs Xsmithie as CLG play a style unlike that of C9 or IMT. Because CLG tend to laneswap, it may be difficult for Sven to be the aggressive early-game presence that he has been so far in the playoffs. Botlane Doublelift and Yellowstar have improved massively in the last few weeks, showing that, given time, they can become a botlane to contend with as Doublelift said at the beginning of the season. The bottom lane they have to contend with is Aphromoo and Stixxay. Doublelift and Aphro were for a long time known as the best botlane in NA, if not the west, and were respected internationally for their synergy and their prowess in a 2v2. It seems fitting that the two meet again in the finals but this time at opposite sides of the rift. It is unlikely we will see a 2v2 due to CLG’s tendency to laneswap, but if TSM are able to trick CLG into standard lanes we will see some interesting dynamics in play. On paper, TSM should be able to garner an advantage in the botlane, due to their aggressive nature. Prediction This will be an exciting match to watch and a close battle with both teams on the upswing. CLG have just come off a close and tight series with Liquid, and TSM have defeated the number 1 and 3 seeds so far in playoffs. In the end, I think CLG will take the series 3-1 since they have so many points of power and superior map play. TSM’s victories so far have been largely due to snowball, in the case of Cloud 9, and in the case of Immortals, a superior understanding of the meta (or a lack thereof in the case of IMT). CLG showed in their series against Liquid that they have a firm grasp of the meta with Darshan playing Maokai and Poppy (2 of the most contested picks on this patch) and their solid team-play and communication when under pressure. Both of these are areas where TSM have struggled so far but if they are able to gain an advantage in the early game, then we may see an upset.