The greatest streak in the history of the North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) has been broken, and by one of the unlikeliest of agents. The 14-0 match record and 17-game win streak of Team SoloMid (TSM) were snapped early Saturday evening in the LCS Arena by Phoenix1 (P1), a club that failed to secure a single victory through the first half of the season. Since the second half of the split, however, P1 has risen from the proverbial ashes to win four of its last six games in the league and raise its record to 4-11.
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“It feels really good, proving that we can conquer any team,” starting support Austin “Gate” Yu told ESPN.com immediately after the massive upset victory. “I knew we could do it the whole time. No one should take us lightly.”
What appeared to be another step toward a flawless 18-0 season turned into TSM’s worst match of the split. Phoenix1, which fought valiantly in its first series of the split versus SoloMid before losing 2-0, came back decisively after dropping the initial map of Saturday’s matchup. The dominant play of rookie jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh turned the tide of the series in Game 2, as his electric Rengar play took the seven-time NA LCS finalists by surprise to force a third game. On the third map, Inori once again overpowered TSM’s Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen to open up an early lead, and a cohesive team effort from all five starting players closed out the stunning upset.
TSM, now 14-1 on the split, heads into its match Sunday against Team Envy (NV, 7-8) hoping to keep up with the first-place Immortals (IMT, 15-1). The two top teams meet next weekend in a matchup that will likely secure the regular-season title for the side that exits victorious.
Phoenix1 entered its series vs. TSM needing a win to keep its faint playoff hopes alive, and the organization’s biggest triumph in the team’s short history — P1 was formed in May — has provided a bit more leeway with three matches remaining. In order for P1 to secure a playoff berth, it would need to win all three matches (vs. Cloud9, NV, IMT) while Envy, the current holders of the sixth and final postseason slot, would have to lose all its remaining matches against TSM, P1 and the last-place Echo Fox. P1 would also need the current seventh-place and eighth-place teams, Apex and NRG, to drop matches along the way to the finish line.
But even with the long odds, there’s hope. And for a team that was criticized heavily and tossed around as a joke in the first half of the season, this newfound legitimacy — and streak-breaking upset — is something no one can ever take away from it.