MSI Day Five: Relief For TSM After Reverse Sweep

The NA LCS Champions survive a tough test from GIGABYTE Marines

by Kim Newsome, EIC

It was supposed to be Team SoloMid’s statement match.  The North American LCS Champions were expected to roll into the 2017 MSI Play-In Stage against GIGABYTE Marines and prove that they, and the region, deserved to skip the Play-In rounds and move on to the Group Stage.  The reality was far more interesting for neutral fans, as the challengers from Vietnam came close to pulling off the win against the North American fan favorites, and TSM had to settle in and focus on winning the last three games.

The Match

The crowd at 2017 MSI in Brazil.

GIGABYTE Marines came into the series with serious momentum following their remarkable run through the group stages.  The team topped Group B, dropping only one match along the way.  Team SoloMid last played in the NA LCS Finals, where they only *just* managed to squeak by longtime rivals Cloud9 in a five-set thriller.

TSM needed to play very well in order to beat the fired up Marines, and despite a slow start, they managed to get back on track, forcing a Game 5 in a fight for MSI survival.

The first game was an absolute nightmare from start to finish for TSM.  The team rushed in to invade the raptor camp right under the noses of Marines, and the North Americans wound up paying for the challenge with a first blood on Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnson courtesy of Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh.

Just 24 minutes in, TSM were down 10-15 in kills, and GIGABYTE Marines hammered the nail in the coffin by taking the Baron and picking up a triple kill in the process.

To start Game Two, Marines’ Levi targeted Svenskeren again and soloed him for the first blood.  This time, TSM looked a bit more alert; the team didn’t allow the kill to go for free and took down two Marines players.  From there, TSM began to build a small lead, going up 8-7 in kills after 13 minutes.  The North American team couldn’t keep up the pressure and collapsed just seven minutes later when a rampaging Levi charged in and stole the Dragon.

Do or die time for TSM going into Game Three and a chance for their Vietnamese opposition to make a statement on the international stage with a 3 – 0 sweep.  To keep their tournament hopes alive, Team SoloMid returned to a team composition that works for their individual play styles (Gragas, Lee Sin, Syndra, Ezreal, and Karma) and the comfort picks made a world of difference.  The team played a near perfect game and won with a 15k gold lead in under 30 minutes.

Another match point for GIGABYTE Marines, who started the Game Four on the right foot with a mid-lane gank on Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg to get the first blood.  Team fights all around the map in this game, which was even at 3-3 after 17 minutes.  Five minutes later, Marines took out the enemy turret while TSM quickly responded by picking up four kills.

The match got away from Marines at this point as TSM surged into their base to force a Game Five.

A slow start to the fifth and final game saw a marked change in the pace of the game, as both teams eased off of their fast attacks, and instead concentrated on objectives and gradual map control.  The match finally started to heat up after 17 minutes when Phan ”Stark” Công Minh showed off some fancy footwork, sidestepping an attack from Bjergsen and giving Levi the second he needed to fire off a hit on Vincent “Biofrost” Wang.  The resulting team fight left four dead for TSM.

Team SoloMid recovered quickly, and Svenskeren showed some smooth moves of his own, stealing the Dragon right in front of four members of the Marines team.

Despite the excitement of the steal, TSM appeared to be content with continuing to play a slow and patient game, but the assertive Marines weren’t having it.   The Vietnamese team pushed forward in an attempt to take the Baron but TSM slapped them back with a double kill and chipped away at their lead, calmly taking the Baron Nashor and then sweeping into Marines’ base for the win and the reverse sweep.

GIGABYTE Marines move on to Round 3 of the competition, where they will face the losers of tomorrow’s match between LMS Champions Flash Wolves and Group A winner SuperMassive.  The Round 3 winner will go to the main competition, the Group Stages of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, which starts on May 10th.

Photos courtesy of Riot Games.