On Sunday, TSM squared off against CLG in the 2016 North American LCS Semifinal. All signs pointed to a close match: a Grand Finals rendezvous between the two teams in the Spring Playoffs had ended in a close 3-2 victory for CLG. Game one of Sunday’s match started off promising for CLG, with midlaner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun putting in work on one of his best heroes, the enigmatic dragon Aurelion Sol.
Then disaster struck.
A 3-0 drubbing of staggeringly one-sided proportions.
TSM began to see Aurelion Sol’s particle effects appearing in bushes far away from Huhi’s actual location. For a while, the match continued, but when it became clear that the bug was not going away, the players hit pause, stopping everyone in their tracks. Twitch chat erupted. Riot’s officials conferred. The game, they announced, would be replayed. And for the rest of the match, they added, Aurelion Sol would be banned from selection.
What followed was a 3-0 drubbing of staggeringly one-sided proportions. At no point in the remainder of the series did it look like CLG stood even the teensiest chance. Without Aurelion Sol, CLG looked like a half-pound bacon burger in the hands of a bloodlusted Guy Fieri.
You can make the argument that, playing the spectacular way that they did, TSM were always going to defeat CLG in this series, celestial mega-dragon or no. And they always could have banned Aurelion Sol themselves, if indeed CLG had managed to come away with a game one win. But it’s unquestionable that CLG’s chances were better with Huhi’s signature hero in the pool than they were without. Forcing TSM to ban it would have at least applied drafting pressure, perhaps allowing CLG to emerge with a stronger lineup than what they were ultimately able to cobble together.
It was certainly just as unexpected.
In traditional sports, circumstances beyond the control of players or organizers interrupt play all the time. Take the 1989 World Series, game three of which was disrupted by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. In addition to postponing the game by several days, the earthquake killed 63 people and wounded almost 4,000 more. Obviously Sunday’s Aurelion Sol-banning wasn’t anywhere near as destructive—although many CLG fans probably felt like they were going to die, it’s safe to say that relatively few of them actually did—but it was certainly just as unexpected.
Well. When fate slaps you across the face with the rotting halibut of bad luck, the best you can do is square your shoulders, press ahead, and hope that next time it goes for someone else. To their credit, CLG’s players seem to be doing just that:
“GGS to TSM. GL in finals to both teams,” tweeted CLG.Aphromoo after the defeat. “See you guys in Toronto for that 3rd place match.”