Photo: Riot Games

After eleven weeks of top-tier play, we have finally come to the 2019 LCS Spring Split conclusion. The road towards this point was long and filled with top-tier play, but also a fair number of mind-boggling fiestas and throws.

In the end, we’ll witness the absolute best and most hype final match-up possible – Team Solo Mid vs. Team Liquid.

This is a Best of 5 for the ages. It’s hard to really emphasize how incredible this series will be, and it’s not even an optimistic stretch – both these titans have what it takes in order to win and dominate on home soil for years to come. They’re frighteningly capable, mechanically talented, and shockingly experienced. They’ve all played on the biggest of stages and their mental fortitude is second to none.

How could this not be one of the best LCS finals in history?

But before delving deeper into how both teams stack against each other, let’s take a closer look at how they got here.

Team Solo Mid are entering this clash as the favorites – although that might not be evident if you take a look at the betting odds. They’re 2-0 in their head to head record against Liquid, and have shown no signs of stopping (nor any glaring weakness) throughout the last couple of weeks. They’ve been mopping the floor with their opposition, and have looked downright spectacular in the process as well.

They’re exceptional in the early game but also potent and capable once the mid and later stages of the game come around. Perhaps most importantly, they’re fantastic on a multitude of different team comps and strategies. They have three lanes through which they can play and attain success. An exceptional top laner in Broken Blade who can dominate and carry his share of the weight on a wide variety of champions, the greatest mid laner that has ever graced the LCS stage in Bjergsen, and a fantastic bottom lane duo that can go blow-for-blow with anyone in the region.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was just how quickly their jungler Akaadian adapted and made a name for himself. His aggressive playstyle was exactly what Team Solo Mid needed, and he unlocked TSM in more ways than one. They’re a lot faster in all stages of the game, a lot more aggressive, they’re snowballing their leads and are commanding when they impose their own will.

By all means, they are the best and most capable team that North America has to offer, although it’s important to highlight that a good portion of that statement comes due to the sheer amount of their momentum. Regardless of the challenge presented, they have always passed with flying colors. They endured every onslaught and have emerged victoriously time after time. No matter the meta or the opponent, they have what it takes in order to play at the highest possible level, and they legitimately have a chance to make a mark on the international stage in 2019.

And if there’s one thing that their recent Best of 5 semifinal clash against Cloud9 highlighted, it is the fact that they have mental fortitude and resilience in spades. How does one approach the TSM puzzle? If you can’t outclass them early, and you can’t out team fight them in the late game, what’s your avenue towards victory? Even if things go awry and they don’t impose their playstyle from the very get-go, they’re still exceptionally resilient and have a ton of grit. They won’t go down without a fight, and they will only lose once their Nexus explodes three times – not a second earlier.

But praising Team Solo Mid is easy – after all, they deserve it fully. Their opponents, however, are far from meek or negligible. They’re titans in their own right. While their level of play did leave a lot to be desired near the end of the regular portion of the split, they have managed to bounce back in spectacular fashion and completely outclass and decimate FlyQuest in clean 3-0 fashion just a week ago.

They needed just a single game in order to figure their opponents out, and once that happened, they were able to kick things into overdrive and demolish FlyQuest towards a spectacular 3-0 finish.

Team Liquid, however, is somewhat one-dimensional. Think of them as the North American Fnatic. Exceptional in a lot of facets of play, but also incredibly easy to read. Then again, reading them is one thing – countering what they do and how they do it is a completely different matter. A team has to be downright spectacular (not to mention confident and mechanically gifted) in order to take them down, but at this level of play those virtues are not as rare as one might think.

If Liquid imposes their will they’re a frightening team, but they mostly just play through Doublelift. If they’re unable to do so, they don’t have a backup plan. Sure, they have Jensen within their ranks – a legendary mid laner by all metrics – but they haven’t been playing through the mid lane in quite a long while. Why they choose to do so is unknown, especially considering the fact that Jensen’s been dominating ever since he joined Cloud9 a couple of years ago.

Not to mention the fact that Bjergsen has been able to – at the very least – match Jensen’s impact and team fight prowess over the years. He’s a much more impactful mid laner right now and has been playing more champions than his counterpart. Whatever Liquid comes out with, TSM should be able to counter. While they might not exactly outclass their opponents, they should be more than capable at getting three wins in a Best of 5 that’s has so much promise.

This series is so darn exciting because it could, in theory, go either way, and yet Team Solo Mid has more tools to work with. They’re much more flexible and they have a chip on their shoulder after dropping the ball in 2018. They’re entering the finals with a ton of momentum and are more than capable of making their dream a reality. They took out Echo Fox, they came back and reverse swept Cloud9, and have even beaten Liquid both times in the Spring Split.

There’s no real challenge at this point – they only have to come out and play as well as they can, and the LCS trophy will be theirs.

The odds are against Team Solo Mid, and there’s no logical reason for it. They’re a stylistic nightmare for Team Liquid and should be more than capable at taking the reigning champions down. The odds are simply too good not to go all-in with the most decorated and respected organization in North America’s history. While it’s not going to be easy or one-sided, Team Solo Mid should be able to get the job done.

There was just a single question mark coming into the playoffs – will they be able to bounce back from a deficit? Do they have enough mental fortitude and grit to claw their way back towards a victory? Fortunately, their incredible reverse sweep against the favorites Cloud9 proved their worth and stellar mental game. To get back into the series and win the whole thing after being down 0-2 and after getting smacked around is worthy of the highest praise.

Liquid definitely have the tools to make this into a highly competitive Best of 5 clash, but they’re going to face their toughest challenge yet – a game Team Solo Mid. While they could take a game or perhaps even two, they shouldn’t be able to defend their throne.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 2.75 (odds @ Betway)