Home to North America’s top talent, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Summer split pitted ten sides against each other for the chance to prove their worth as the best team in the region.
Home to North America’s top talent, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Summer split pitted ten sides against each other for the chance to prove their worth as the best team in the region. Not only did the eventual champion take the bragging rights, but the top three have also secured their spots in this season’s World Championship to be held in China later this month.
The most successful team in LCS history, TSM had struggled to live up to their previous heights since Doublelift’s departure to Team Liquid in 2018. A tumultuous Spring split for the seven-time LCS champion saw him leave TL during the off-season while TSM controversially snatched the chance to get him back (at the expense of previous ADC Kobbe).
The move quickly looked to be paying off as Team SoloMid found themself 3rd place by the fourth week of the regular season and held that position until the final set of games where they slipped down to an eventual 4th place finish. This was still enough to get them into the winner’s bracket of playoffs, however they received a sudden dose of reality by losing 3-0 to a resurgent Golden Guardians who sent them down to the lower tier.
Up next was Dignitas, whose roster shuffles saw them scrape into playoffs with an 8th place finish and a level 5-13 win/loss with 9th place CLG. This time TSM made the regular season difference show as they made light work of Dignitas in a swift 3-0 victory.
A rematch with GG followed in round 2 and TSM were out for revenge. They started the series in the worst way possible by going down 0-2 and putting Golden Guardians a single match away from another clean sweep. However the seven-time LCS winners clawed the series back and managed the reverse sweep that they needed to progress.
Round 3 put TSM up against Spring winners Cloud9 who, despite finishing 2nd in the regular season, had to win the series in order to qualify for the World Championship later in the month. Against all odds, Team SoloMid was able to upset their bitter rivals and quash their Worlds hopes, winning the best-of-five with a 3-1 scoreline and booking their place in round 4.
Opponents Team Liquid, who had topped the regular season table, found themselves in the lower bracket after previously losing to FlyQuest and needed to beat TSM for the chance to take back the LCS trophy from C9. After going down to 1-2 in the series, Doublelift simply would not allow himself to be eliminated by his former side as his subsequent 11/1/8 Senna and 8/1/4 Ashe performances carried TSM over the line and into the grand final.
The momentum from round 4 looked to be in full effect for TSM as they made light work of FlyQuest for the first two games of the series. The latter had also lost the Spring final and began to put up a fight in order to prevent back-to-back grand final defeats, levelling the series at 2-2 with the chance to take the title.
Game 5 saw the TSM winning mentality finally kick into top gear as both Bjergsen and Doublelift, the two most successful LCS players in history, together stepped up to take the match and secure the fourth successive LCS title in splits where the two have played on the same organisation.
Grand final victory has not only crowned Team SoloMid as champions of North America once again, but has earned them the coveted Worlds first seed that goes with it.
Despite playing out full five-game series on three separate occasions during playoffs, it was Team SoloMid’s 3-1 victory over reigning champions Cloud9 that stole the headlines this split.
The matchup had huge implications for this season, with both needing to win in order to keep Worlds and LCS championship hopes alive while also continuing the league’s greatest rivalry which had seen the sides collect 9 LCS titles between them before this split.
Team SoloMid took the opportunity to pull out a new pick in the very first game, using top lane Lucian as a counter to Licorice’s Sett. This would only be Broken Blade’s second-ever professional match on the champion in a game in which he would go on to pick up six kills on the way to a TSM victory.
Game 2 saw Cloud9 answer back with a Spring-like display, in which Blaber’s jungle Graves dominated the map while TSM was limited to only a single turret through the 30-minute match.
The third game of the series then saw the return of BB’s Lucian once again, going up against Sett for the second time as Licorice failed to make an impact on the champion. Bjergsen’s 8/0/8 Twisted Fate garnered a 4k gold lead in the mid lane alone and Team SoloMid was able to take the series to match point within 37 minutes.
Finally, a game 4 win for TSM, in which all of Broken Blade, Bjergsen and Doublelift managed at least five kills each, saw them take the series and eliminate Cloud9 from both the LCS and World Championship running. In doing so, they have ensured that one of NA’s greatest hopes for a solid Worlds performance is now dashed, however they will have done so with great pleasure in instead giving themself the platform to make their region proud and finally see TSM stamp their mark on the biggest stage.
Now an MVP winner with two different ADC partners (Doublelift and Tactical), Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in has once again proved himself to be one of the best players currently in Western League of Legends and a rare example of a Korean player making the big-money switch to NA while still at the peak of their powers.
Playing with a raw talent in Tactical (who himself won Rookie of the Split), CoreJJ allowed his fellow laner to shine in a split where he helped to propel his side to the top spot during the regular season.
Though he was unable to guide TL to another LCS title, or even a final appearance on this occasion, the Korean star has once again shone above his peers and has deservedly been recognised with yet another MVP award.
Cloud9 to fail to qualify for the World Championship
Coming off of the back of Spring, few would have even questioned any other side’s chances at matching Cloud9 for the Summer LCS title. Their Spring split saw an almost perfect run clinch the organisations’ first championship since 2014, while no moves during the off-season gave little indication that their form was to slow down.
The Summer split regular season was not quite as dominant, only finishing in 2nd place behind Team Liquid, however the side had put this down to experimentation as they looked to adopt more varied playstyles in preparation for tougher international opposition later in the season.
What did come as much more of a shock was their 3-1 playoff loss to FlyQuest. This put C9 in the much more precarious lower bracket, where anything other than successive series wins in round 2 and 3 would see them crash out of Worlds contention.
An initial 3-0 victory over Evil Geniuses put them on the right track, however this was followed by the devastating 3-1 loss to arch-rivals TSM who ensured that Cloud9 would miss out on a World Championship appearance for the first time since 2012 (before the org had even qualified for the LCS).