The NA LCS 2017 Summer Split Finals have arrived as Team SoloMid will face off against Immortals with North America’s number one seed to the World Championship on the line.
This is TSM’s tenth straight NA LCS Finals appearance and undoubtedly one of the strongest rosters they have ever entered the tournament with. When this same roster just last year, TSM managed to take down Cloud9 in the finals with no struggle at all. While the team faltered slightly in the last two matches last week in their semifinal against Team Dignitas, the first two matches were as good as any North American team has looked recently.
For Immortals, this will be their first ever Finals appearance, after finally breaking their 2016 run of disappointing playoff eliminations. Thanks to their arrival at the Finals, a trip to Worlds is already guaranteed, and while the top spot won’t mean as much as it has in previous years, thanks to the new format, Immortals are finally in a chance to prove themselves as one of North America’s premier teams, on level with the other three organizations that have been crowned NA LCS Champions in the past.
Hauntzer vs Flame
In the Team SoloMid vs Team Dignitas semifinal last week, the biggest advantage that Dignitas had going into the series was the strength of top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho against TSM top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell. However, instead of press this advantage, using split pushing or even just allowing Kim to push his lane to put pressure on the tower or the rest of the map, Dignitas opted for a passive top lane that largely negated their primary advantage. Immortals can’t make the same mistake.
IMT top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong isn’t as strong a player as Kim, and doesn’t perform quite as well on tanks, but he is one of the NA LCS’s best aggressive top laners. Yarnell on the other hand has never quite mastered the art of aggression in the 2017 Summer Split, instead trying to force a passive lane that TSM are fantastic at getting a lead off of.
If Immortals are going to take advantage of this tendency, it’s going to start with Lee playing an aggressive top lane that forces TSM jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnson to spend time there, rather than assisting the carries in the other lanes. This should give Jake “Xmithie” Puchero free reign of the map to help give his mid laner and bottom lane significant advantages going into mid game.
Pick and Ban
The draft phase of this series is likely to be a fairly straight forward affair. Based on their semifinal performances, we know both teams will be putting a high emphasis on Kog’Maw and Cassiopeia, so we can expect those champions to be picked or banned almost every match. Meanwhile, the team’s as a whole largely favor team fighting over just about anything else. That means tanks on both sides, and laners who like to scale.
If the teams do decide to break from their team fighting roots however, they’re likely to gravitate towards two completely different styles. Immortals have all the makings of a great split push team. They have one of the most famously lane dominant top laners of all time, they have a fantastic utility jungler and a support who has proven more than capable of strong disengage. The problem is they simply haven’t run split push comps. If the plan was to hide the split push until the most surprising possible moment, then there’s no better time than in the finals against Team SoloMid.
For TSM, the split push has never really seemed to be an option. Instead, they’ll move towards a pick composition with strong tower taking potential. The key to pick and ban for both teams in every game after the first, will be keeping these possible variations in mind, and responding to them quickly.
Immortals will try to shutdown the TSM carries
One of the biggest roadblocks that Team Dignitas faced in their semifinal match last week against TSM was finding a way to shut down their carries. In the end, they put their priorities elsewhere and failed to stop either AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng or mid laner, Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg from carrying the game. Immortals aren’t likely to make the same mistake, as we saw them win by doing exactly this against Counter Logic Gaming just last weekend.
If Immortals can develop a strong plan for stopping those two players from scaling into the game quickly, they could stand a chance at finishing games early and taking TSM’s two biggest threats out of contention. For Team SoloMid, this means that if they are going to play around the idea of those two players hyper scaling, their most consistent and strongest method of play so far this split, they will also need to be more careful then usual in choosing a supporting case to protect their most valuable assets.