This weekend marks the close of the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split/Playoffs, with the best talent in League of Legends in the region facing off against each other for the title of champion and the position of #1 NA seed at Worlds. Team SoloMid finds themselves in their 10th straight finals match up, continuing a now long-standing legacy of dominance in North America. Making their first entrance into a finals match is Immortals, following big changes this season after a streak of lackluster performances. Both teams have been playing well, winning their semifinal matches handily (TSM beat Dig 3-1, Immortals beat CLG 3-0). So who has the better chance going into finals? Let’s look at the lanes.
Top Lane: TSM Hauntzer and IMT Flame
It’s an interesting cased of mirrored experiences in the top lanes of both of these organizations. Hauntzer and Flame were both standout players in Spring, but for different reasons. Hauntzer stepped up big time to fill the shoes left by Doublelift’s spring hiatus, while Flame proved to be a strong link in a disorganized chain. The TSM of Spring had no problem defeating the struggling IMT of spring, but bringing on Xmithie and coach SSONG changed things across the board.
I am the best, I’ll prove it next week
— Kevin (@lolHauntzer) August 28, 2017
And while Flame has continued to dominate his lane, Hauntzer has had a disappointing season, at least in terms of trajectory. TSM seems to have fallen completely back on Bjergsen, with Doublelift popping off on the occasional snowball, as opposed to the pressure and roams Hauntzer was able to implement last split. Looking at the regular season, it seems like Hauntzer will have to make the best of favorable match ups if he wants to win lane.
Advantage: IMT Flame
Jungle: TSM Svenskeren and IMT Xmithie
Despite occasionally dropping the ball in high pressure matches, Svenskeren enjoys a tenure in the TSM jungle that was previously unknown in the tumultuous position. Part of TSM’s strength is the synergy and experience of its players, and in that regard, Svenskeren has one over on Xmithie.
But there can no longer be any question of who got the better trade before Summer Split started. Since joining Immortals, Xmithie has proved he has more to offer than just support junglers. He’s not to be underestimated, and contributes heavily to his team’s lanes across the map. He’s also an extremely consistent player, whereas Svenskeren has been at different times hot and cold. If Svenskeren shows up in top form, his ganks, strategy, and mechanics are hard to match. But much like at MSI, it sometimes seems like he’s just fooling around, making questionable mistakes, and failing to secure neutral objectives.
So with that making things seem even, the fact that Xmithie’s kill participation so far in the playoffs is a good deal higher (80% compared to Svenskeren’s 65%), plus the fact that Xmithie was chosen for the All-LCS team, means that Immortals could have the edge in the jungle.
Congratulations to the 2017 #NALCS Summer All-Pro Team!
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 16, 2017
Advantage: IMT Xmithie
Mid Lane: TSM Bjergsen and IMT Pobelter
As shown in the teaser for the NA LCS Summer Finals, Bjergsen has won an astounding four split championships. The fact that they’ve all been with TSM means that the Dane is truly the linchpin for the dominant organization. It’s insanely hard to get the better of Bjergsen. Of all the players on TSM, he seems the least likely to make a mistake, and puts up the toughest and most consistent lane pressure.
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 29, 2017
Pobelter is certainly no slouch. The crafty NA-born mid laner has strong mechanics, a solid champion pool, and exhibits extremely intelligent game play at all times. Noah Winston, CEO of Immortals, during a joint interview with TSM founder Andy Dinh after the NA LCS partnership announcement, likened the relationship between the organizations to David and Goliath. And this mid lane match up is exactly that. Bjergsen, with his reputation and near-unmatched skill in the region is certain Goliath. If there is anyone in North America sly enough to play the part of David, it’s Pobelter.
But that means, plain and simple, that for Pobelter to win would be an upset in the lane.
Bot Lane: TSM Doublelift/TSM Biofrost and IMT CodySun/ IMT Olleh
Doublelift is undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the region, part for his straight up skill and part for his penchant for trash talk. CodySun, in turn, is still relatively new to the LCS, and has only just come into his own this split. Meanwhile, Biofrost is a solid and consistent support who has demonstrable synergy with his ADC. But Olleh has been on fire this split, with casters and analysts even putting him in the running for MVP of the split with his playmaking and early game roams.
So who takes the cake in the bot lane? Is it the tried and true duo who won summer last year? Or is it the hot new young things from Immortals who have been lighting up their lane all split? It’s awfully close, but in terms of who can actually carry a game, the advantage goes to the better ADC over the better support.
As an aspiring ADC in NA I’ve always looked up to Doublelift. It’s going to be cool to test my abilities against him in the finals!
— Cody Sun (@Cody_Sun1) August 27, 2017
Advantage: TSM Doubelift/TSM Biofrost
Once games are out of the laning phase, both teams have a track record for strong team fighting, solid map control, and great vision. This means early game is super important, as that will be when teams set up their advantages for later, or fall behind. Looking at it lane by lane, it does seem like Team SoloMid has an advantage over Immortals, at least if they show up in top form. It’ll be no surprise at all if Immortals is able to take a game or even two off the reigning champions. But at the end of the day, the skill and synergy of TSM’s players, the power and legacy of its organization, and that incessant chanting from the crowd combine to form a pretty tall mountain to climb for any other team hoping to hoist the North American LCS trophy.