Chauschool: NA LCS Playoffs – CLG vs TSM Analysis


S4 LCS NA Playoffs have just concluded. The match I am choosing to comment on will be the TSM vs CLG BO3 series as this rivalry is significant to anyone that has ever been part of the CLG or TSM organizations. I will be focusing on game 2 in particular as I felt that game had the most potential for outplay for either team. I will be writing my thoughts about game 1 and game 3 although in much more tl;dr fashion.

TSM: Mundo | Khazix | Nidalee | Graves | Morgana
CLG: Shyvana | Nocturne | TF | Lucian | Lulu

I felt like this game was decided in champion select. TSM’s drafting pretty much gave CLG a free mid lane for TF as TF does very well against Nidalee. Both laners are weak in the early game, but TF is still able to skirmish well. This effect was dampened as the game started with the old 2v1 tower pushing to offset the control that CLG would have had had it been standard lanes. Nocturne is also problematic to TSM as Nocturne can single handedly solo Nidalee in the late game and also shuts down all team play during the duration of the ultimate. After the initial 2v1 tower rotation, the game was relatively even until TSM was caught out by the TF + Nocturne combo mid lane as TSM tried to take the middle tower. After that mistake, the global presence and CC that CLG was packing seemed to keep TSM out of their element and they lost control of the game relatively easily.


TSM: Mundo | Xin Zhao | Karma | Lucian | Thresh
CLG: Jax | Nocturne | Orianna | Vayne | Nami

Team composition wise, CLG was far superior to TSM. Jax, Orianna, Vayne, and Nocturne all have incredibly synergy with Orianna and Nami. Although they are a bit lacking in tower siege capabilities, CLG can easily tower dive or control the Baron area to close out the game if they managed to secure a lead into the mid game. CLG’s 5v5 is amazing. A standard fight would entail either Nocturne or Jax initiating followed up by Nami’s Tidal Wave to secure the easy follow-up by both Orianna and Vayne. The key is to execute the play correctly by setting up the right scenario, in this case controlling vision or diving under the right circumstances.

TSM’s team composition led much to be desired. As a mid-late game team composition, they offered nothing. If the game was even at the 25:00 mark, they would just lose. The fight would consist of Xin and Mundo running around with their arms flailing trying starting a fight, followed by Karma’s single nuke and shield + speed. The absence of a true initiation and late game puts a lot of pressure for TSM to win the early game. The only way they could secure a victory was by being far too tanky or Karma dealing way too much burst damage, and that could only be accomplished if TSM was a few thousand gold ahead in the early-mid game.

Basically, TSM had to play the early game correctly and establish a substantial gold lead. This would best be accomplished if lanes were kept standard as Karma and Xin’s 2v2 combo could easily outskirmish Orianna and Nocturne. By establishing control of the middle lane, Karma and Xin could easily influence bottom lane and force free Dragons on cooldown as CLG would be losing in the vision war. However, this theoretical snowball never happened. By the 22:00 mark, CLG was up by 3 towers and 4000 gold. Map control was established by CLG. With a superior team composition, all they had to do was maintain vision control and either map rotate or control vision to victory. However, that never happened. CLG initiated onto TSM sloppily, ultimately resulting in 2 deaths and trading their middle tower for a dragon. This was not much of a momentum swing, but the failed attempt at playmaking seemed to lull CLG into a false sense of inferiority. CLG kept split pushing up 3 lanes, and never properly took control of TSM jungle. Rather than forcing an aggressive move into TSM jungle, they seemed to be playing too scared, and kept it that way until Link was caught out in the enemy jungle. This gave TSM a free Baron and the tiniest positional error cost CLG the game.


TSM: Renekton | Nocturne | Leblanc | Corki | Leona
CLG: Trundle | Lee Sin | Nidalee | Caitlyn | Alistar

This game really felt like it was lost in champion select. Bjergsen’s strength is as a laner, and that is exponentially increased when you give him an assassin. The worst thing would be to give him a matchup where he would be free to run circles around your team, and that is exactly what CLG did. Nidalee into LeBlanc is not a good matchup, and Lee Sin into Leblanc and Renekton is also not the best choice. Renekton can 100-0 Lee Sin if he rushes Tiamat and Leblanc is far too mobile for Lee Sin to have any pressure. Basically, CLG would have to avoid the standard lanes as much as possible, and allow for the game to stall out until Nidalee manages to get decent spear damage to synergize with the poke/siege comp that CLG was going for without the growing pains of laning against terrible lane matchups. With CLG’s team composition, CLG should have played the 2v1 game. That didn’t happen, and CLG lost the laning phase pretty handily. Both Lee Sin and Trundle were getting 1v2’d by Renekton, and Nidalee was getting pushed under tower as TSM’s bottom lane just tried to farm until their solo lanes carried them.


Overall, I felt like CLG definitely played a more tactical game than TSM. At first, they played against their weaknesses and tried to detract TSM from their strengths. Game 1 was a convincing victory, and game 2 looked like it was going to be a quick and easy game also for CLG. However, after one botched initiation attempt, CLG seemed to back off and play scared and ultimately ended up with them losing steam and abruptly the game. Rather than rebounding back, a poor champion select seemed to seal the deal for CLG. Whether it was emotions or faulty planning, CLG lost the series 1:2 to TSM. CLG should have stuck to their strengths, which would be to out rotate the enemy and playing strategically, rather than winning by brute force in the laning phase.

by Steve Chau, on April 21, 2014