TSM finished the regular season in fourth place, followed by Golden Guardians in fifth. TSM and Golden Guardians played two times in the regular season, and on both occasions, TSM walked away with the victory. In these matches, TSM showed that it has a perfect read on Golden Guardians’ style.
The two matches followed a similar pattern. Mingyi “Spica” Lu played early through the top lane, setting up Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik for a successful laning phase. The early kills top created a deficit that Golden Guardians couldn’t make up anywhere else. From that point, Spica played through the bot lane, prioritizing the dragons.
Spica rarely ganks the mid lane, in part because Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is constantly roaming. When it came to dragons, it is never a one-versus-one between jungler. From the early levels, TSM fights for the objectives as a team, burning teleports if necessary. This is a way to support Spica against Can “Closer” Çelik, arguably the best jungler in the LCS behind Team Liquid’s Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen.
What TSM achieves with this strategy is not only getting its laners ahead, but also the neutralizing of Closer. Golden Guardians’ jungler is accustomed to playing carry champions that allow him to be the star of the game. With his lanes under constant fire, Closer is forced to play more defenisively and cannot easily set up plays.
TSM found a way to make Closer play passive by never giving him a fair fight. TSM also prioritizes Closer over the rest of the team’s targets, as TSM understands that Closer is the real force powering Golden Guardians.
TSM is always the first of the two teams to make a play, forcing situations that are to their advantage. Golden Guardians is then forced to play reactively, a strategy that doesn’t fit with the team’s desired style.
Unfortunately for Golden Guardians, it will play the worst opponent possible in the first round. Odds have TSM the winner with 1.3 against Golden Guardians’ 3.38. Not everything is lost for Golden Guardians, as the team might get a strong punch in. The series is likely to end with a 3-1 score or even a clean 3-0 in favor of TSM.
The loser will not be out of the race just yet. The team that fails to advance instead falls into the loser’s bracket, while the winner moves one step closer to qualifying for the 2020 World Championship.