Team SoloMid vs Team Liquid
The very first Best of 5 of the 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown is a real treat: Team Liquid vs. Team SoloMid is about as good a clash as we could've asked for, and if you've got the time, tuning in should be at the top of your list of priorities! This is, after all, a fight between some of the most revered and talented players who've ever stepped foot on stage to compete. So what's not to like? It's bound to deliver in all the right ways and you'd be wise to prepare enough popcorn as it might go the distance, too!
So, let's take a somewhat approach this time around -- let's get down to the nitty-gritty right from the very get-go. Which of these two teams is favored to advance further into the playoffs? The answer is simple: Team Liquid. Still, there's a whole more to it than what first meets the eye. Are they better than Team SoloMid? Absolutely. They have the better players, the higher skill ceiling, and they've also done more than enough to warrant our benefit of the doubt, unlike TSM who've struggled at the most random moments throughout the split. To be fair, it's not like Liquid didn't have their own ups and downs, but they shored up their weaknesses in time for the playoffs and are rightfully considered as one of the biggest favorites to go the distance and eventually hoist the LCS trophy for the fifth time.
Still, there's always this peculiar question of styles of match-ups. Team Liquid, by the looks of it, has Cloud9's number. Heck, we're putting it mildly here. By the same token, they struggled mightily against Team SoloMid who, for all intents and purposes, are nowhere near as strong or flexible as Liquid. So it's a rock-paper-scissors kind of thing, and is definitely one of the more interesting question marks coming into the 2021 Mid-Season Showdown.
Based on everything that we know, and everything that we've seen thus far, it's impossible to bet against Team Liquid. They're just in a league of their own and even though they've had their fair share of inconsistent moments, they *did* stabilize quite a bit as the season came to an end, so take that as you will. There is, however, one huge issue and it may or may not end up giving TSM an avenue towards success -- Liquid's AD carry Tactical. Simply put, this young marksman has been fumbling in every which way over the last couple of years. Is he the worst-performing AD carry in North America right now? That's hard to say given how he's playing for one of the absolute best teams, but he's definitely a bottom three performer. Let that one sink in. To not have a clutch marksman in today's meta would, for the vast majority of teams, be a death sentence. Fortunately for Liquid, they're so obscenely stacked in other areas that this one weakness -- crucial and huge though it is -- has yet to come back and bite them. Still, it could happen any moment now, and it all depends on Tactical and whether or not he'll be able to step up now that it matters most.
His laning is still pretty okay but it's in the mid and later stages of the game that he starts getting caught out of position and making the most egregious mistakes imaginable. If he were playing for the Golden Guardians, for example, his flaws wouldn't be nearly as visible. But on a team as stacked and potent as Liquid, his mistakes are impossible to ignore. And, at the highest of levels, getting caught out of position *once* can often be the difference between victory and defeat. The thing is, he didn't really improve as the weeks went on, which doesn't mean he won't deliver tonight against Team SoloMid. We know what he's truly capable of and we certainly hope he's been working around the clock to shore up his weaknesses and start carrying his fair share of the weight.
There's also yet another peculiar difference between these two teams: the way they approach the game. Team SoloMid don't like to fight early on but instead focus on objectives and late game team fighting. That's when their strengths shine the most. Team Liquid, on the other hand, start off swinging and are most dangerous in the early parts of the game. So we're talking about two vastly different philosophies and approaches to the game. Liquid, of course, can play a wide variety of styles but they haven't always been perfect in execution. By the same token, just because TSM prefers to wait things out doesn't mean they always manage to *survive* long enough to reach those oh-so-important late game teamfights. Their laning is also far from impressive, but what they lack in early aggression they more than make up for in sheer grit and resilience.
Still, it's hard to imagine them beating Team Liquid in a Best of 5 -- on the assumption that the four-time LCS champs prepared well. Liquid are more flexible, more dangerous, and have more avenues for success when compared to TSM who, in all fairness, aren't far off either. It'll all come down to preparation and execution and in those two areas Team Liquid was ever so slightly more consistent throughout the last couple of weeks.
So, as always, we have to pick a side, and we're going with Team Liquid on this one. They're truly a cut above the rest and have done more than enough to warrant our benefit of the doubt. That doesn't mean they'll have an easy time against TSM. On the contrary -- the boys in black and white will surely trade blows right from the very get-go and definitely have a shot at pulling off an upset. Still, we're betting on Liquid's veterancy and sheer talent here. They have more synergy as well and that should, by all means, end up being the determining factor in this exceptional Best of 5!