LCS Summer 2020 Playoff Preview: TSM vs Golden Guardians

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We preview the first series of the LCS Summer playoffs, as TSM faces Golden Guardians.

The Summer Split playoffs kick off on Thursday as TSM and Golden Guardians will face off in the first best-of-five series in the upper bracket. While both of these teams have the assurance that a lost series will not end their season, but instead merely drops them to the lower bracket, the stakes remain high. A victory will take each team to the semifinals of the LCS playoffs where a series win would guarantee them a trip to Worlds.


Record: 12-6


Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik
Mingyi “Spica” Lu
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Erik “Treatz” Wessén

The Regular Season

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TSM got off to a slow start to the season, ending Week 2 at 2-2 before rattling off four straight wins to bring them to 6-2 just ahead of the midway point of the Summer Split. After an 0-2 Week 5, though, TSM replaced support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang with Treatz in a controversial decision. It ended up paying dividends, though, as TSM went 6-2 in their last eight games, including a five-game winning streak.

Their primary strength as a team has, in a turn from the last few years, been their mid-to-late game macro. Per Oracle’s Elixir, TSM is the second-best mid-to-late game team in the league. Unfortunately, their early game is quite poor and they have the second-lowest gold difference at 15 minutes of any playoff team.

Golden Guardians

Record: 9-9


Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell
Can “Closer” Çelik
Tanner “Damonte” Damonte
Ian Victor “FBI” Huang
Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun

The Regular Season

The Golden Guardians roster took some time to come together after they brought in Damonte to be their starting mid laner and Huhi was getting more experience in the support role. The team started off the split 4-6, barely holding onto a playoff spot. Down the stretch, though, Golden Guardians managed to rattle off five wins in six games before dropping their final two games of the split to end the season with a .500 record.

The exact opposite of TSM, Golden Guardians are the second-best early game team in the LCS, behind only Cloud9. They average over 900 gold leads over their opponents this split. Unfortunately, they are rarely able to turn those gold leads into objectives. As a result, Golden Guardians are rated the worst mid-to-late game team in the league, behind even Immortals and CLG who missed the playoffs.

Head to Head Matchups

Top Lane: Broken Blade vs. Hauntzer

Not only was Hauntzer the higher-graded player in our end of the season player rankings, he’s also continued to improve as the split has gone on. He beats out BB in most laning stats and, although Broken Blade played the most unique champions of anyone in the LCS, Hauntzer played only one fewer than him. If BB plays up to his potential, he can swing this matchup, but the smart money is betting on the vet.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Jungle: Spica vs. Closer

This is just not fair. Spica is still a developmental player in his first full split as jungler, while Closer has arguably been the most important player on Golden Guardians besides FBI. He’s also a master early game pathing jungler, averaging a 13 farm and almost 700 XP advantage over his opposition at 15 minutes. Spica, on the other hand, is the worst early game jungler. No contest.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Mid Lane: Bjergsen vs. Damonte

Bjergsen has had a resurgent split, one of his best in the past few years, which has led some to put him on their list for MVP (not mine, but some others). On the other hand, Damonte is basically a poor-man’s Nisqy in that he sacrifices laning presence in order to help his teammates. But Damonte also has a lower kill participation than Bjergsen, so this is a big mismatch.

Advantage: TSM

ADC: Doublelift vs. FBI

Doublelift isn’t quite the player he has been in years past, when he was making his case to be the best LCS player of all-time, but he’s not the completely terrible player he was in his tumultuous Spring Split either. He’s good, but perhaps not on the same level of FBI, an underrated player who should be getting a lot more recognition for his play. While the veteran experience Doublelift has can’t be discounted, FBI has been Golden Guardians’ best player this summer.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Support: Treatz vs. Huhi

There was a lot of hype surrounding Treatz after he was brought up from the Academy team and, quite honestly, he does appear to be living up to it. Treatz has only gotten better with more games and he wasn’t even that bad in the first few games of LCS action. Similarly, Huhi has been making tremendous strides in his first full season playing support to become a solid contributor. This is a close matchup, but I’ll give the edge to Treatz.

Advantage: TSM

Keys to the Series

I think this series is going to come down to the junglers, as they are the main drivers of early game action. Obviously, from all the available stats and the eye test, Golden Guardians have a massive advantage in that aspect with Closer.

If TSM wants to have a chance in this series, they’ll obviously need improved play from Spica, but the team will also have to do a better job at enabling him to repel Closer’s aggression. If they leave Spica out to dry, or don’t make sure his teammates are on laners that can get priority easily, it’s going to be rough for them.

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I also think that TSM still have a lot of issues with their drafting as evidenced by some questionable decisions in their loss last week to Liquid. In my opinion, they do not do a very good job at picking to their own players’ strengths, something that teams like GGS do very well. While TSM has gotten a lot better about banning their opponents’ power picks, they need to continue to work to make sure they get the right champions into their players’ hands.

Prediction: Golden Guardians win 3-1