This was one of those match-ups you see on the schedule and make a mental note to avoid watching. The best team in North America against one of the worst. 9 times out of 10 these games are quick 30 minutes stomps in which the superior team starves the weaker team of any meaningful resources, wins a big team fight, and proceeds to march forward and kill the nexus. This was not one of those games.
TSM closed out the first game following a similar formula. They defeated Phoenix1 without needing for too much blood to be shed. Things took a completely different turn in game 2 when Phoenix1 drafted Rengar for Inori, and Malzahar for mid laner Pirean.
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Things immediately kicked off in P1’s favor when Svenskeren, attempting to rescue Bjergsen’s Taliyah from a gank, E-flashed into the Malzahar + Rengar duo. Despite everybody only being level 3 at this time the P1 tag team killed Sven’s escape-less Gragas and claimed first blood.
Things only got worse for TSM from here. Phoenix1 continued to show excellent jungle-mid synergy and left superstar mid laner Bjergsen in a large deficit. Meanwhile Inori roamed the map and continued to create a lead for his team by counter jungling or ganking whenever his ult was off cooldown. It turns out Malzahar ultimate + Rengar ultimate can kill pretty much whoever you want dead pretty quickly.
Here is how game 1 ended. It’s better if you watch it yourself.
Okay, TSM lost their first game of Summer to one of the bottom tier teams. They’re going to shake it off, come back, and do TSM things, right? Nope.
Despite banning Rengar in competitive play, TSM still could not keep Inori down. This time on Rek’Sai, Inori once again ensured that Phoenix1 would establish an early lead against the North American super team by counter-ganking Svenskeren. This time around it netted Pirean a double kill and put P1 up 2-0.
From that point on Phoenix1 would hold the gold lead. Inori proved that he doesn’t need cheesy picks to carry games by dictating the pace of the game on his Rek’Sai. Pirean’s Malzahar came up big again and finished the game with a team leading 81% kill participation. Phoenix 1 defeated TSM 2-1.
Inori talks about his outstanding performances against TSM with Phreak after the series.
This was the first time we saw TSM faced with adversity, and they didn’t exactly respond how most fans imagined they might. It may be too early to declare P1’s uprising as a fluke, but with how dominant TSM has been you would expect a little more from the top team in North America.
On the bright side, Weldon will have some new experiences to talk to the team about going forward. Phoenix1 sports a 2-2 set record in the NA LCS since I asked the question who really wants to watch Phoenix1? If they keep playing like this, I’ll certainly be watching.