Worlds or bust: Stalwart TSM set to meet surging Team Liquid in high-stakes second round LCS playoff match

There was annually the place a possible assembly between Group Liquid and TSM wouldn’t happen till at the very least the semifinals of any LCS playoff bracket. This weekend, although, the 2 titans of the North American League of Legends scene will meet in simply the second spherical of the 2021 LCS Championship, marking the earliest playoff assembly ever between the 2 franchises of their long-tenured histories. 

Largely, the reasoning behind the unreasonably early assembly between the 2 groups boils all the way down to TSM securing their first high playoff seed in any LCS cut up since 2017, along with Liquid snagging their lowest playoff-qualifying seed since they final completed in fifth place in the summertime of 2016. These two oppositely trending damaged droughts have resulted in a rematch of certainly one of final summer season’s semifinal matches simply two rounds into this yr’s LCS playoff bracket. 

However simply because the 2 former champions are assembly within the second weekend of the playoffs, it doesn’t essentially spell out an anticlimactic assembly. Actually, the reward for successful this collection couldn’t be extra coveted. 

The winner of this weekend’s match between Liquid and TSM will earn not only a ticket straight to the semifinals of the LCS Championship, however a berth at this yr’s League of Legends World Championship. Whether or not the victor will attend that match as North America’s high seed or as its second or third seed is but to be decided. However what’s clear is the stakes are nonetheless comparatively excessive for this early-bracket match—even when the LCS trophy and a championship banner aren’t essentially on the road simply but. 

And for Liquid particularly, the highway by way of the LCS Championship—simply two matches in—has been downright grueling. After taking down final cut up’s champions in Cloud9 last weekend, the staff must face off towards TSM, who received the LCS as lately as final season. For Liquid, these two all-important weekends mark the primary time in LCS historical past any staff has needed to face the champions of the earlier two splits within the first two rounds of the playoffs. 

It’s all coming collectively

Picture by Colin Younger-Wolff by way of ESPAT/Riot Video games

Lastly, after working out of a continually revolving door all through your complete back-half of the season, Liquid’s roster lastly appears to be set in stone. And whereas the arguably greatest high laner within the West in Alphari being again within the lineup on a full-time foundation is a large boon for Liquid, the stellar play of the staff’s beginning jungler Santorin has been equally as useful for the squad.

Santorin, whose absence left a gaping gap within the Liquid beginning roster, has come roaring again to the LCS stage. Within the first spherical of the playoffs towards Cloud9, the seven-year LCS veteran erupted for his cleanest private efficiency in properly over a yr. The skilled jungler posted a scoreline of 10/6/35, which resulted in a kill-participation mark of 87 % throughout your complete four-game collection.

Understand that Santorin missed the majority of Liquid’s Spring Playoff run a number of months in the past as a result of accidents. Again then, the staff got here only one recreation away from successful your complete playoffs whereas fielding a substitute-laden roster. With their trump card again within the combine, an LCS title might very properly be on the desk. 

After enjoying in simply 15 of Liquid’s earlier 38 video games previous to final weekend, Santorin has jumped proper again into the fold, seamlessly selecting up proper the place he left off earlier within the yr. And after making fast work of a former MVP in Blaber final weekend, the Liquid star must duel one of many league’s present MVP frontrunners within the second spherical of the playoffs, Spica. 

The second-year LCS professional and de facto face of TSM has skilled a breakout sophomore season like no different, and simply stands out as one of many principal the reason why TSM discover themselves in such an advantageous place because the league’s high seed within the postseason. The recently declared All-Pro jungler Spica has been on hearth as of late, too, as he’s posted a 7.18 KDA, in line with League stats web site Games of Legends, over the span of TSM’s final eight video games—a stretch through which the staff posted a file of 6-2 en path to a first-place end within the common season. 

Punching the ticket

Picture by Colin Younger-Wolff by way of ESPAT/Riot Video games

However whereas the eyes of the followers needs to be glued to Satorin and Spica, the 2 junglers’ focuses needs to be on their solo laners. On any given day, TSM and Liquid’s laners—Huni, Alphari, Jensen and PowerOfEvil—all have the potential to be one of the best gamers of their respective positions with out a lot debate or fuss. Whoever between Santorin and Spica can allot extra assets and benefits to their solo laners all through the course of Sunday’s collection will almost certainly discover the victory and ship their squad to Worlds. 

And for both staff, a visit to Worlds needs to be on the high of the precedence checklist. After each franchises washed out of final yr’s match to the tune of immensely underwhelming performances, a redemptive look at this yr’s version of the World Championship would wipe the style of final yr’s debacles out of each organizations’ fanbases. The 2 groups mixed for a file of 3-9 at Worlds 2020, with TSM notably making doubtful historical past as the primary champion of a significant area staff to go winless at the World Championship.  

And positive, this may not be the yr the place Liquid and TSM spend your complete postseason avoiding each other, dramatically constructing as much as a gathering within the LCS Finals. But when each groups proceed to play at their present tempo, there’s good motive to imagine this weekend’s second-round matchup—you understand, the one the place a ticket to the worldwide stage is on the road simply two weeks into the playoffs—may simply be a preview to a fair higher-stakes encounter between these two squads later within the LCS Championship.  

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