Team SoloMid secured its spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split grand final on Sunday when it took down Team Dignitas 3-1 during the Summer Split semifinals in Los Angeles.
Although Team SoloMid looked fantastic, its opponent, Team Dignitas, seemed to have regressed from the historic high of upsetting Cloud9 last weekend. That series was characterized by some of the most bold and aggressive play we've seen this summer by Dignitas.
Unfortunately, Team Dignitas traded in the boldness that got it this far for an unfortunate slice of timidity over the intervening week, as it seemed to all but turn its back on the strategies that managed to get the team to this point. Even when Dignitas managed to take Game 3 off TSM, it did so in the late game by punishing unforced errors on the part of TSM, not by forcing those errors with the up-tempo play that we've come to expect from Team Dignitas.
A couple of very notable mismatches in terms of play were apparent over the course of the series too. The first and most glaring of these was the difference between Team Dignitas mid laner Jang "Keane" Lae-Young and TSM's Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. Put simply, Bjergsen blew Keane away all throughout the series and had a markedly greater impact on teamfights, as well. Not only did Keane lose lane constantly, but he managed to lose what is normally an early game matchup with his Taliyah against Bjergsen's Kassadin.
The mismatch was made even worse because of the discrepancy between Team Dignitas jungler Lee "Shrimp" Byeong-hoon and TSM's Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen. Shrimp's deficit ensured that Keane wouldn't just struggle to take on Bjergsen head-to-head but would also be forced to do so without backup. While the defeat cannot be solely laid at their feet, Keane and Shrimp certainly were both major culprits that contributed to TSM's near-shutout of Dignitas.
The player of the series was, to the surprise of no one, Bjergsen, who outperformed his opponent so thoroughly in the early game that he almost single-handedly kept Dignitas on the back foot. It's no coincidence that the only game Dignitas won was also the only game where it managed to find lane pressure for Keane, which greatly limited Bjergsen's impact on the game. His huge triple kill on Kassadin in the first teamfight of the series set the tone for how all four games eventually played out, as Bjergsen went on to be a dominant teamfight force from then on.
Team SoloMid will next journey to the NA LCS finals next week, where it will face the team that has been snapping at its heels for a year now and which finally reached the finals to issue the challenge: Immortals. Meanwhile, Team Dignitas' next match will be against Counter Logic Gaming in the NA LCS third-place match, before facing the Regional Qualifiers to try to earn a spot at Worlds.