The 2020 Summer Split semi-finals are upon us and we’ve got some bangers lined up, with Cloud9 vs TSM and FlyQuest vs Team Liquid. The most exciting match for most fans is C9 vs TSM, in part because they have strikingly obvious playstyles, but this also means that we get to peer into two teams which have both had their struggles this split and are looking to prove themselves by securing another LCS title. The way in which each team wins this match is starkly different and here we’ll discuss how they can pull out a victory, but also how they can exploit the enemy team's weaknesses.
“C9 needs to enable bot lane and stick to their signature style”
C9 Draft Phase
Cloud9 in their last series against Evil Geniuses showed that once they start playing towards their bottom side, things go much more smoothly from early game into mid game. This means that they should keep Caitlyn banned, but repurpose it when they’re on red side, not blue side, as they have recently been prone to do.
Along with this, Ashe is expected to be a highly contested pick, only because both teams have large focuses around their junglers. This is not to say that TSM play around their jungler, but that they try to get him on comfort champions and shore up his weaknesses as a newer player whenever they find the opportunity. Ashe as a champion allows her team to keep tabs on the enemy jungler via her ‘E’ ability Hawkshot, granting vision across the map with the projectile, and hence keeping enemy jungler routes known and making ganks from the opposing jungler that much more difficult. Likewise, Blaber is the clear catalyst for C9, so having Ashe in their team compositions would prove useful for taking advantage of the weaker enemy jungler Spica, but the only dilemma is that Zven has only played Ashe twice this year, and since then, he hasn’t won on the champion since 2017. It may be best to ban Ashe if C9 are on blue side.
Of course, we can’t forget that C9 need to keep globals at their disposal through means of Twisted Fate, and a ban spent on Shen is probably worth its weight in gold, given that C9 lost to FLY running Shen top lane and made very clear that C9's Gankplank matching pick was not sufficient.
“TSM has to focus on enabling Bjergsen while also helping Brokenblade. Their bot side must play defensive”
TSM Draft Phase
Banning out Bjergsen is literally impossible, as was last shown in their series against Golden Guardians, where they spent 12 out of 14 bans on Bjergsen. TSM don’t need to worry about giving draft resources to Bjergsen, but should be better spent towards their jungler and weak bot side (never thought I would say that about Doublelift or Biofrost). This comes with picks like Ashe, which helps their jungler Spica, and also shuts down Blaber for his aggressive plays. Since I assume C9 have done their homework, that leaves Caitlyn as a possibility that C9 might leave open for TSM on blue side, but even that is unlikely.
A strong consideration should be made to ban or pick Ezreal into C9, as Zven is notoriously known for over-relying on this pick, and if TSM so choose to pick Ezreal due to the response of having both Caitlyn and Ashe banned against them, they might push Zven onto Kalista, but as long as TSM ban out Twisted Fate and Zoe during the second phase, they should be fine.
C9’s Game Plan
If C9 can get a hold of global champions such as Twisted Fate or Shen, this series will be swift. C9 are easily known as the team which enables their jungler and then snowballs that into bot lane, which then leads to priority over drakes, and then the rest of the map. C9, if they cannot get global champions, need to find a way to enable their bot lane to play ahead, while also tempering Blaber’s ridiculous aggression when it’s clearly not necessary, as was evident in Game 1 against FlyQuest.
TSM’s Game Plan
Above all else, hold C9’s bot lane accountable. If TSM can get away with controlling C9’s jungler to then enable their own, perfect, otherwise TSM should look to snowball their top laner and mid lane. The key recipe that has been going for TSM is Bjergsen; he’s been on fire recently, and I don’t expect that to change as the stakes get higher.
With consideration as to all that I’ve said, C9 has the easier route in both the draft phase and also the overall plan and identity of their team. While TSM has a stronger mid lane and a top laner which can take over the odd game, C9 have far more experience snowballing their bottom lane and that happens to be the large glaring weakness of TSM currently. With a disjointed support, TSM look disoriented and their last game against Golden Guardians showed signs of weakness towards the beginning of the series. The fight for this series will truly surround the bot lane, and I think C9 is far more equipped to go to war in that regard.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Special thanks to Leaguepedia
Photo courtesy of Riot Games
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