This past week, the top 8 teams in each region competed to see what seeding they would end up in going into the live championships. On the NA side of things, TSM was dominating. Going into the second match of the semi-finals, TSM was guaranteed first seed. Their first game in the semi-finals series had been very one-sided, Phoenix only gaining one kill in the entire game. Everyone expected TSM to easily take first in the seeding week, mowing over both Phoenix teams on their way. Everyone knew TSM had been dominating every match up in the past few weeks. Then, things got weird. TSM drafted roam Koshka, jungle WP Rona, and CP Saw. They even topped things off with a Samuel ban: the equivalent of banning nothing considering Samuel was globally banned this week due to him being in early access.
There were quite a few opinions from the audience and the casters. I personally thought it was a legit strategy, using Koshka’s early game damage to snowball. The casters thought that it was another spin on Team Secret’s lane Rona, jungle Koshka comp. The majority of the audience, however, accused TSM of getting overly confident or throwing since they were guaranteed first either way. Looking back, I think that this game, as well as the other bizarre compositions that TSM played in the remaining matches, plays into a much larger plan, a plan that will give them a huge edge in the live championships.
In my opinion, TSM was not throwing, or even just trying some bizarre comps against an easy match up. I think that their behavior was a power play, one that will effectively play mind games with the teams they’ll be facing in the live championships. Everyone knew TSM had the week in the bag, so the fact that they went off on a limb and “threw” the games just speaks to how confident they are in their ability to beat the other top 8 teams. In addition, everyone watching the final game of the semi-finals would agree that at one point TSM had a sizable advantage, and had their teamfights gone better, could have even won: with a lane CP Joule, jungle crit Blackfeather, and roam Adagio. The fact that they came so close to winning with such an off-meta comp tells their opponents “Just wait until we get a comp that is more viable”, making them doubt their abilities and realise that they won, not because they out played TSM, but because TSM let them.
What does this mean for the live championships?
Team SoloMid is still the favorite to take it all this season. Their shenanigans last weekend only go to show how confident they are: and they want everyone to know it. Team SoloMid is known for their careful planning and deliberate execution of complex strategies, often out drafting their opponents, giving them an advantage before they even start playing. In the past, we have seen TSM play comps that were strong the previous patch, but not so much in the current patch, to leave their opponents to wonder what they have up their sleeves going into the live championships. By playing strategies that no one in their right mind would try in a competitive atmosphere, they not only intimidate their opponents, but also show very few new strategies that they have been practicing on the new patch.
Tune in starting September 2nd(stream only, on the 3rd starts the live audience matches) to watch as TSM, and all the other North American teams battle for the Summer Season title. Also, as the live championships grow closer and closer, make sure to check back here at VainRank to see previews, strategies, and more. Until then: #TSMWIN