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Coming into week 2 and the much anticipated match up between possibly the two longest standing organizations, the Team Solo Mid and Counter Logic Gaming match had quite a few different pre-game conotations. Instead of TSM looking like the spring split champions, they came in more like challengers at 1-2, while CLG stood at 3-0, looking to go undefeated in the opening weeks of the summer split. What many thought would be a relatively quick series turned into one of the most nail-biting series, rivalling the Echo Fox and Cloud 9 match just minutes before.
The series was a major swing back and forth in terms of the flow of battle. With a major heavy-handed win by CLG to begin, they looked like they were on the way to completely stomp out the TSM and CLG rivallry and bring back the Golden CLG era. Unfortunately, TSM fell back to their comfort picks after a trouncing, and came back to fully wipe CLG in game two, bringing about the tense game three.
With TSM attempting to experiment with new picks, CLG had free reign to completely shut down their opponents. Playing quite possibly the greatest mind-game of the split thus far by picking Fiora and flexing her top and mid against the blind pick Galio, who was also being flexed. they were able to get a favorable match up against Hauntzer’s Kennen as well by countering with the Gragas. This served two purposes. The first is, by taking both Svenskeren’s Lee Sin and Gragas, this set Sven onto a much more uncomfortable role of primary damage with the Kha’zix. Second, it gave them the favorable top lane match against the Kennen, as Gragas is able to sustain a bit better against Kennen, thus negating the constant pressure he can accrue. The second biggest surprise besides the Fiora mid was the counter to Lulu by Aphromoo’s Blitzcrank.
From there, CLG went to work dismantling the TSM line up in every way possible. By utilizing Lee Sin’s high mobility, Dardoch asserted his presence early on, going for the early 3:00 gank bot lane, as well as the countergank mid lane at 5:00, which set Svenskeren completely behind and gave Huhi free farm on the mid lane Fiora.
Then, a simple rotation towards the TSM duo gave CLG two free kills, first blood, and first tower, gaining a significant advantage in terms of map pressure and rotational advantages at just 10:00.
With things looking bleak, TSM attempted to gain significant advantages during a semi-botched teamfight at 16:00 which saw Dardoch miss a key sonic wave to finish Biofrost off, as well as a disjointed follow-up.
Despite the mistakes, TSM pushed too far, allowing Huhi to gain a foothold by proccing Grand Challenge and reversing the overextension from TSM. This led to CLG completely gaining map pressure, and granting them full macro aggression. With an early 20:00 baron that saw all five members gain the buff, CLG played the perfect macro with Huhi free-pushing bot lane during numerous engages, and saw TSM respond with floundering and wandering in complete confusion. Getting great picks and presence all around the map with Blitzcrank leading the charge, there was nothing for TSM to do but attempt to bandage the open cuts from their own home. With TSM grasping at straws, CLG stormed the base, systematically crushing any tower or inhibitor in their path.
Game two saw a complete reversal from both teams. CLG opted to ban out Galio, which came as a surprise to many as TSM has had a 0% win ratio with Galio on their side. With the experiment denied, TSM were able to pick up comfort picks in both Lee Sin and Taliyah. This placed the presence of Bjergsen back on the table, and gave Svenskeren a much better kit to follow up with. Following up to this was the nab of Gragas and Ashe, effectively granting TSM four ways to start a fight. CLG opted to attempt a pick/skirmish composition, taking the Elise and Blitzcrank again, while Renekton was picked up for Darshan for the duelling power. With a more standardized composition, many figured TSM would put up a better fight, but still fall.
The early game started out in the direction of CLG. An early dive onto Hauntzer in the top lane gave CLG a headway in, but TSM reacted perfectly by collapsing on the bot lane, answering with kill of their own onto Renekton. TSM earned much more though, as the 4-man dive onto Darshan cut him out of essential CS, as well as drew Dardoch to the top side since Renekton had no Teleport.
Then, at 7:50, TSM gained a massive lead. On the back side of TSM grabbing blue buff for Bjergsen, they transferred it into an Infernal drake as Dardoch and Huhi went for the blue buff trade. CLG then attempted to take a somewhat poor engage onto Ashe, unknowingly fighting with Lee Sin extremely close by, which led to them being collapsed on for a double kill plus first tower gold.
Worst of all, CLG actually gave up the 2 man push top side, making it an unanswered tower take, giving TSM the free rotation to defend the top tower from retaliation. With CLG frozen out, the game stalled for a few minutes until an unfortunate mistake from Huhi and a beautiful Crystal Arrow from DoubleLift gave two kills and power over rift herald. This led to an unfortunate struggle as CLG attempted to collapse and deny the Rift Herald. TSM denied them that chance.
From there on, TSM rolled CLG and played them like a fiddle. By successfully out-macroing them, TSM were able to grab objective after objective, quickly working their way around the map to shatter the rest of the outer towers. While CLG made a valiant effort to push back by attempting picks onto solo pushers, they were not rewarded. During an attempt in the bottom lane against a lone DoubleLift at the 23:00 mark, a beautiful collapse from TSM fired back with a massive 4 man sweep, breaking open the base by taking the bottom inhibitor, and effectively sealing CLG into their own base. A desperate last attempt to gain a foothold back into the game saw Aphromoo pull in Gragas, but with TSM being right around the corner, resulted in an extended teamfight ending with 4 dead and TSM closing the game at a respectable 30:00.
With both teams showing impressive smack-downs, everything rode on game 3. CLG changed things up to a decent extent by leaving both Lee Sin and Thresh up for TSM to get, instead opting for the Xayah/Rakan duo, as well as the Galio. Rounding out their comp with Graves and Ahri afforded CLG multiple engages and initiations, while TSM got the bully lane of Renekton for Hauntzer and Taliyah for Bjergsen. With both comps relying on great teamfights, the game delivered in every aspect.
The early game passed through relatively quietly, with neither team wanting to give away any advantages. Because of this, the first kill comes from a big teamfight which saw all five from each team collapse on the bottom lane. With Hauntzer teleporting in behind and Biofrost flashing in to box Aphromoo and Stixxay, it looked like a surefire kill against CLG. But, with a beautiful knockup from Rakan stopping Lee Sin from executing the Insec, CLG bought enough time for Darshan to teleport in and follow up with a great Hero’s Entrance to seal Svenskeren’s fate, securing first blood and first tower.
With CLG gaining leverage in the bottom lane, all focus shifted to the top lane. A good collapse from TSM at 15:00 forced CLG to decide between fighting under tower and gain some kills, or take the tower and run. Unfortunately, they chose both and lost. CLG attempted to teamfight under tower with the tower being only three to four hits left, and did not collapse the tower, allowing Hauntzer to complete his channeled teleport and swiftly annihilate Dardoch and Aphromoo.
Simultaneously, Bjergsen gained a kill against Huhi after a major outplay in the mid lane pulled out both of Huhi’s summoners. With Ahri’s escape and outplay abilities on cooldown, Bjergsen cleaned up Huhi, shutting down a possible retaliation against the top lane fight.
From there, it was constant back and forth picks and fights, with TSM and CLG both only willing to concede a single kill before backing off. It wasn’t until TSM attempted a collapse onto Stixxay at 28:00 that both sides pulled the trigger, resulting in Hauntzer showing how far ahead he had gotten from the early skirmishes. With Hauntzer completely flexing on CLG, TSM were able to clean up the kills.
Following that up with a great baron rush, TSM forced down all but the last top outer tower, while CLG scrambled to stop the bleeding. This allowed TSM to continue setting up vision control around the top side river, and chained into a great 3-sided pincer that saw Hauntzer and Svenskeren split open CLG like a ripe coconut.
Then came possibly the most action packed six minutes of the whole series. In what seemed like an overstep by TSM after burning all their summoners and item activations, CLG initiated a beautiful engage onto TSM’s mid lane, catching TSM completely off guard and dropping Bjergsen and DoubleLift in quick succession.
TSM then responded in quite possibly the most astounding way possible. Hauntzer completed his teleport and forcibly buried himself within CLG, stalling out their push forward to end the game. Although he did fall, he got every single member decently low, forcing CLG to play at a slightly slower pace. Then came the second part of the stall. As CLG pressed into the base with Galio tanking the towers, Svenskeren and Biofrost cut off the minion supply moving into their base, giving TSM’s towers the backdoor buff, and cutting down CLG’s push even more. Because of this, the time it took for CLG to reach the nexus towers was just enough time for TSM’s primaries to respawn and follow up Svenskeren’s three man dragon kick at the nexus, effectively ending the game.
What to take note of:
TSM proved today that they still have what it takes to crush any enemy in their path. With a solid grasp with their usual strengths, many can say that they are now just attempting to experiment with different styles of play. This does not really exclude their poor play, but is definitely a push in the right direction.
CLG had quite possibly the greatest reaction gut calls of the week. Not only were their calls snap and clean, they never let their disadvantages sway their options. Even with defeat close at hand, they pushed on and gambled on one last teamfight, which nearly gave them the win.