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TSM and CLG, A Rivalry For The Ages

TSM and CLG, A Rivalry For The Ages
Images via Riot Games

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

25th Feb 2022 00:32

Rivals prior to the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) even being formed, Team SoloMid (TSM) and Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) have been at each other's necks for as long as they possibly could be.

Although Team SoloMid has been the more celebrated in recent memory, the spectre of a TSM/CLG rivalry has always loomed. And that is now even more emphasized as both of the teams are drastically underperforming and are set on a collision course on Saturday.

A Battle Pitched In The Offseason

Prior to the 2022 offseason even beginning, TSM found themselves at the centre of the conversation. Be it due to longtime mid-laner and later head coach, Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg leaving the organisation after eight years, or the fact that the team missed Worlds for only the second time in the last four years, TSM was again dominating the discourse. But once the offseason started, those conversations reached a fever pitch when news of their new roster became known.

The organisation revealed a roster quite unlike anything that had come before. Remaining on the squad were reigning MVP, Mingyi “Spica” Lu and top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon - but then came the curveballs, as TSM went younger and farther than they had ever gone before, nabbing the juvenile ADC from Team Liquid, Edward “Tactical” Ra, mid-laner Zhu “Keaiduo” Xiong from the LDL and support Wei “Shenyi” Zi-Jie from FPX’s Academy team. 

 

In the case of CLG, they had possibly one of the worst seasons relative to their roster in 2021. A roster that had five starting veterans, they struggled immensely. As although they were able to garner themselves early-game leads, particularly in the Spring Spit, they weren't ultimately able to close those games out. This led to missing not just both the Spring and Summer Split Playoffs, but an earlier Lock-In tournament as well — yet another failed season for an organisation that had previously won back-to-back LCS championships.

For 2022, they decided a radical change was needed to reverse the side's fortunes. From the General Manager to the support, CLG was to start anew, and they did so by not bringing in veteran players, but instead, going for less experienced or passed over talents that had much to prove. 

They acquired Thomas “Jenkins” Tran, a top laner who impressed in 2021 after he filled in for now-former Team Liquid top laner, Barney “Alphari” Morris. To give him, and the rest of the team ganks, they went for jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, an up and coming NA talent that showed his worth during his brief stint at Evil Geniuses last year. This was supplemented with mid-laner Palafox “Palafox” Palafox, ADC Fatih “Luger” Guven and support Philippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere. The latter two, a promising duo from the 100 Thieves Academy who were considered one of the best pairings in that league.

A Rivalry In Development

In a way, both TSM and CLG's rosters can be considered development teams. Both contain very young players, aside from Huni who’s been to the World finals and has played for six years, Spica who has been in the league a bit longer than the newly acquired players, and Contractz who has been in and out of the league for over five years. This inexperience means that both were likely to struggle at the outset, which is exactly what happened.

 

At first, during the 2022 LCS Lock-In tournament, CLG showed some pretty impressive results, ones that ultimately wouldn’t last as they were knocked out by Cloud9 in the quarterfinals. While on the other hand, TSM weren’t able to show anything, as visa issues meant they had to field their Academy roster, keeping their main team away from inquisitive eyes.

Then it was onto the Spring Split, with both teams faring equally poorly, recording a dismal 1-5 record in the first three weeks. It’s also worth noting that both of their wins came on the first day of Week 3 in which TSM took down a lacklustre Immortals squad and CLG took down a Cloud9 side reeling from the unexpected departure of their unorthodox coach, Nick "LS" De Cesare.

Add the fact that there also was the issue in which TSM had to move Shenyi down to the Academy roster after an odd sequence of events, and both of these teams are in rough spots.

Their match-up tomorrow (February 26) means everything, when rivals face off the form book goes out the window and a win means everything. For such young squads, it could prove the making of them or the breaking of them. This old rivalry has a new story but it's just not clear yet where it is going.

 

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