If you didn’t get a chance to watch Mobile Masters that aired on the amazonappstore channel, it was a great midway point to the Autumn Split. It played host to teams from all over the world. North America’s teams were Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Rogue Gaming, NRG eSports, and Echo Fox. Europe’s were Fnatic and SK Gaming, and even Ace Gaming came over from Asia to represent their region. The tournament started off with a best of one, gauntlet format bracket with the winner being invited to take place in the Champion of Champions Robin Round style tournament with Cloud 9 and Rogue Gaming.
Now, I hope you are all ready for the year of TSM reigning over VG8 has your new lords because I know that I am. After a troubling end to the Summer Split and even a weak start to the Autumn Season, TSM has found their groove in the current meta to be able to take over North America, Europe, and now Korea. Honestly, looking at the path that TSM had to trek to get here was rigorous yet they came out with their heads over the water higher than a water polo player.
First Fell Europe
The tournament started with TSM and SK Gaming, well really it was TSM and Echo Fox, but with EF being a Challenger Scene team, it was a little bit unfair. Skipping over this, it was TSM vs SK Gaming. You should already be able to tell where the direction of this article is going to go. If this is a best of one format, gauntlet-style tournament and the team that wins started it off, then you know it’s not going to be a fun time for any of the other attendants.
Back to TSM and SK. With Hegman being the new Captain for SK Gaming all of Autumn thus far, it almost seemed like this could have gone either way. It was definitely a close one for some time, at least until TSM decided that they had had enough of toying around with their opponents. The late game power of a Weapon Power Joule in conjunction to the sustain DPS of Reim has proven strong in the meta already, but it was just another thing in the hands of the NA squad. It was a bit touch and go around the two Krakken, but in the end it was still always TSM.
You could tell that Fnatic was watching and did their homework on TSM as they banned away Lance, and stole away Grace and Reim from FlashX and VONC, respectively. With that going into a Krul as well, it seemed like TSM had been outdrafted. But the problem was that FNC were never able to punish the weaker early game of Skaarf and even lost two turrets really quickly into the game. The gold lead from these along with the ability to have the map completely owned, FNC saw the game fall apart at 12 minutes despite the game not ending for another 4 minutes.
Little Resistance from the NA Challenger Squads
Alright, so like I said before, they did play Echo Fox first. It was a stomp with TSM ending the game with a 12k gold lead, one death, and at 17 minutes. Echo Fox shouldn’t take it that harsh as a best of one format isn’t the greatest to get used to the calibre of opponent they saw themselves against.
After toppling EU, TSM seemed to have another free ride as they got to face off against yet another Challenger Scene team, NRG. To top it off, FlashX was playing against his former teammate from long ago in MICSHE. But just like with Echo Fox, NRG could only manage a single kill onto TSM and even lost a bit quicker with the game being a mere 16 minutes.
And even for NRG and EF, there really wasn’t too much hope for them in besting TSM. Sure a best of one format isn’t ideal, but TSM were on their A-Game this day. FlashX was on point with his Lance, like usual, as well as Grace and Arden. VONC had an easy time securing himself Krul with a lot of prevalence being placed in the bans towards FlashX and BestChuck. That being said, even when there was a little attention given to VONC, he could fall back to Reim. All of this is important as it is showing a clear understanding of the meta from TSM that they seemed to propel them forward for what many thought would be their toughest match.
TSM Ace Ace Gaming
If you don’t know who Ace Gaming are, they are the team that were able to beat the reigning World Champions from last year, Phoenix Armada, over in Korea. This was, without a doubt, the game that everyone wanted to see even with TSM being placed at the beginning of the gauntlet. And looking back to last year, TSM might have placed second at Worlds, but they only were able to make the best of seven go to six with two victories as they lost out to the team that would later be defeated by Ace Gaming. Both teams had a lot to prove as this matchup would be an indication of things to expect for Worlds 2017.
How could you make a better statement as TSM than to pick a Weapon Power Adagio? This was a pick that TSM had used to beat C9 last week in the regular season. However, Ace weren’t here to mess around as they drafted a standard, but extremely powerful comp with Blackfeather, Lance, and Kestrel. Great frontline, great burst, and great backline. Almost felt that TSM were giving up before the game had started with this fringe pick of WP Adagio into such a powerful team and such a strong lineup.
I don’t think many that witnessed the game could argue against this being the closest fought game by any two teams at the tournament. Maybe TSM and C9 later, but even that was still always favored for one team. With ACE and TSM, the game stayed tight for the first 10 minutes before a single turret fell to ACE in the return for a kill. Just a minute later, TSM got a turret. Two won fights for ACE for a Krakken. Game seemed over at this point when ACE took out all the turrets in TSM’s base.
But TSM somehow held onto the game. As the WP Adagio kept scaling up, his burst potential seemed better than even a Kestrel as CreaTion from ACE couldn’t kill off VONC while TSM jumped right onto him. Even though TaSa and ScarShield attempted a great delay to hold the game longer, this was the play that put TSM right back into the game. Off of this one pick, TSM secured a Krakken, and pushed for several turrets. Even though both teams danced around for the next few minutes afterwards, it was another pick onto CreaTion from FlashX’s Lyra to get a risky push without a Krakken for the win at 24 minutes, their longest victory to that point of the day.
Mobile Masters Champion of Champions
To end off the Mobile Masters for VG8 came the tournament for the title of Champion of Champions. A game of pace slightly from the rest of the day, the format moved to a Robin Round with C9, ROG, and the gauntlet winners, TSM, played one game against each other. If any team came out undefeated, they would become the winners.
The only game TSM didn’t play was this one between C9 and ROG. C9 were pulling out all of the stops as well as they wanted to be able to take this title and prove that their recent losses to TSM were merely seasonal flukes. Weapon Power Petal and Koshka. C9 clearly had the mentality to bully early and hold a lead. Sadly, that didn’t work out at all for C9 as ROG were able to get early kills onto Hami’s Blackfeather and even ended the game with a risky backdoor at just short of 20 minutes.
Sadly for ROG, this success over C9 couldn’t even amount to the momentum that TSM was riding from the day. Already sitting 5-0, they wanted to end the day completely undefeated. While the game was about early success for ROG before, it was their enemy this time around as TSM held even for the first 5 minutes and turned up the heat with Reim (irony) and Idris soon after. Just like the majority of TSM’s games, this one ended under the 20 minute mark.
After this win, it is clear to the level that TSM respects the mechanical skill of C9. Even though they were getting kills, they were having a hard time maintaining gold leads and closing out the game. TSM would get picks, gold was even. TSM would get turrets, gold was even. TSM would get an Ace, gold was even. This is why the fight at 23 minutes almost went to C9 to allow them a miraculous comeback, but TSM held off C9 and turned the barely won fight into a Krakken. Even still, C9 continued to hold and fight the amazing fight, but with a Koshka, known for her early game, and multiple Crucibles, it was only a matter of time until TSM won the longest game of the entire tournament at 28 minutes.
With this victory, TSM finally showed the world that they can take down C9 in a high pressure tournament and not just the regular season. This also is showing that NA is in a position to claim the title as the strongest region in the world seeing as TSM were able to take on and battle valiantly against the Korean superstars, Ace Gaming. This is only a small preview of what could come, but it is exciting to see as we get closer and closer to Worlds.