Over the last five years worth of splits, TSM has never missed a North American finals. It’s been two years since another team, Counter Logic Gaming, was able to beat them in the finals and become NA LCS Champions and four years since Cloud9 managed the same feat. Now, for the first time in NA LCS history, TSM won’t be in the finals, but none of the other champions will either.
The first former champion to be eliminated from contention this split was Counter Logic Gaming who missed playoffs entirely, but with TSM and Cloud9 surging, it still seemed like NA might maintain some semblance of the old order. Then Cloud9 began to falter in the later stages of the season, leading up to a playoff series against Team Liquid, in which C9 were the underdogs. As expected, TL took the series with almost no issues, 3-0.
For TSM, every part of this journey was reversed, a terrible early split gave way to a team that seemed to break through their struggles and establish themselves as one of the best in North America. Through the last three weeks of the season, it was hard to think of a team that could even hold a candle to TSM. But when it came time for their quarterfinal series against Clutch Gaming, where they were heavy favorites, TSM turned back into the early season version of themselves, struggling to gain a foothold against the incredible play-makers of Clutch Gaming. TSM lost that series 3-1, and their perfect run of finals appearances came to an end.
So, with all previous NA LCS Finalists eliminated from playoffs — or the league in the case of Immortals and Good Game University — North America is finally going to get a new champion. While there will always be something a little melancholy about the death of a tradition, this is an opportunity for fans to find a new team to love and for a new group of players to cement themselves as some of the best of all time in the NA LCS.
And it’s not like your old favorites are gone entirely. Familiar faces from finals past will still be around when the NA LCS heads to Miami. Players like Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, who has been to the finals before, or even William “Meteos” Hartman and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng who have both won in the past will be showing up in either the fourth place match or the finals. But even if these familiar faces show up in the finals, one thing’s for sure, with no Cloud9, CLG, or TSM, it’s the beginning of a brand new era in the NA LCS.