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 lower bracket matchup in the LCS Summer playoffs, as TSM faces Golden Guardians.

The second round of the LCS Summer Split concludes tomorrow as TSM and Golden Guardians play in their second best-of-five series in as many weeks. One team will advance and be one series victory away from a trip to the World Championship, while the other’s season ends.


Record: 12-6


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

Playoffs: Lost to Golden Guardians (0-3), defeated Dignitas (3-0)

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TSM followed their up-and-down regular season by having an up-and-down start to their playoff run. It began with a surprising sweep at the hands of the their future opponent. Then TSM followed it up with a fairly solid series in which they swept Dignitas.

But even that victory over the worst team in the LCS wasn’t enough to inspire most observers considering how badly they were manhandled by GGS in the first series. A lot of criticism was directed at the TSM drafts, which have been a big problem long before the playoffs began.

Now, they’re going to have to not only fix those drafts but also address their uneven play out of the bot lane. TSM has said that they may swap back from Treatz to Biofrost depending on who they feel is playing better, but they’re also going to need veteran ADC Doublelift to step up his performance from the first two series.

Golden Guardians

Record: 9-9


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

Playoffs: Defeated TSM (3-0), lost to Team Liquid (0-3)

Golden Guardians followed their sweep of TSM by getting swept by the best team in the LCS, Team Liquid. That’s hardly a surprise but the biggest issue with Golden Guardians loss is that they largely outdrafted TL and were not able to use those advantages to secure a win.

In just about every one of the games against TL, GGS was able to get an advantageous matchup in the top lane for Hauntzer into Impact, a decent jungle matchup for Closer, and a comfort pick for Damonte. They should have been in a fantastic position to win the early game in those games, but they just weren’t able to take advantage.

Head to Head Matchups

Top Lane: Broken Blade vs. Hauntzer

Most people forget that Broken Blade was largely ahead in this matchup when the teams first met, securing the gold lead in two of the three games. However, when it came to teamfighting, Hauntzer was infinitely more valuable than Broken Blade, especially in those Mordekaiser games. While GGS put their top laner on a stable, scaling carry all three games, TSM largely lost because they put BB on two of his weaker champions, Ornn and Gangplank.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Jungle: Spica vs. Closer

I said in the first preview that the jungle was a massive mis-match for TSM, but honestly Spica largely out-performed Closer in their series. He wasn’t great, but Closer had a fairly mediocre showing, which he followed up with another dud against TL. The fact that one of the best junglers in the LCS from the regular season has laid eggs in his first two series is quite disappointing, but I’ll still give him the edge on the hope that he bounces back in this do-or-die series.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Mid Lane: Bjergsen vs. Damonte

Bjergsen has been TSM’s best player all split and playoffs, including in their series against Golden Guardians. GGS had to expend 12 of their 15 bans over those three games and Bjerg still ended up being one of the team’s only bright spots. I really hope that TSM will just early pick Bjergsen a strong mid laner and play through him to counter this strategy. GGS seems fine with letting Damonte play scaling, defensive mages like the Ziggs and Orianna, so the pressure is on TSM to give Bjerg the tools to win this matchup harder than he did last time.

Advantage: TSM

ADC: Doublelift vs. FBI

Doublelift put up an absolute clunker of a series against GGS, but seemed to get his groove back against Dignitas in the next round, dying only twice in their three games. That’s good, because they will certainly need Doublelift to step his level of play up now that he’s facing the best ADC in the league that people are finally talking about.

Even though FBI faltered against Team Liquid in Game 1 of the TL series, he stepped up in the final two games despite being relegated to Senna duty. That said, I really want to see GGS index more into giving him those power picks like the Caitlyn, Aphelios, or Ashe.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Support: Treatz/Biofrost vs. Huhi

Finally, we have the dicotomy of supports where on one side Huhi has grown to become one of the strongest supports in the league. He has a diverse pool of pocket picks including the Sett and Pantheon, and he managed to stand up against likely MVP finalist CoreJJ in the TL series.

On the other side, we literally don’t know who will show up for TSM after their announcement that they would be splitting time between Treatz and Biofrost. This certainly harkens most TSM fans back to last split, when the team constantly shifted back and forth between junglers and ultimately lost all momentum and synergy (sort of similar to this year). My guess is that we will see Biofrost back in the starting lineup because of his synergy with Doublelift, but Treatz has been the better player overall this split.

Advantage: Golden Guardians

Keys to the Series

The burden is all on TSM to overcome the one area that they’ve struggled with all season and where Golden Guardians absolutely spanked them in their last meeting: the draft. TSM still largely appears to be drafting based on which matchups they think are good for individual lanes, rather than having an overall theme for their draft.

GGS exploited this last time by making sure that their weakest lane, mid, could not be attacked by TSM and Bjergsen. By banning out most of his champions and giving Damonte counterpick in two of the three games (in Game 3 Bjerg played the Sett which was a flex pick, but GGS still picked Damonte’s mid last), they ensured that the mid lane wouldn’t snowball out of control.

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As I noted above, I’m perfectly fine if TSM wants to use that to get an advantageous bot lane matchup like Caitlyn/Morgana or Caitlyn/Thresh, but they need to make sure they get Bjergsen on a solid carry champion like his famous Syndra or even the Azir or Leblanc. With his deep champion pool, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t either take a power pick early before the second ban phase or just give Bjergsen a counterpick.

If TSM has managed to fix their catastrophic drafting mistakes, I still don’t have much confidence they can win. Even when the stars aligned last time and Spica outplayed Closer and Broken Blade was ahead of Hauntzer, and Bjerg had an advantage in mid lane, TSM wasn’t able to pull out the win. Golden Guardians just matches up too well against TSM and I predict it will be another quick series.

Prediction: Golden Guardians wins 3-0