Worse than the sum of their parts – what is wrong with TSM?

League of Legends.
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League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

After a disappointing 2-4 start through three weeks of LCS play, TSM is a team at the bottom of the standing searching for answers. What is causing TSM to lose these games, despite their strong statistical play, and how can they fix it?

Last weekend, TSM continued to falter dropping both games to Cloud9 and Golden Guardians. The first was disappointing, but not unexpected, as C9 is considered to be one of the best teams in the LCS. The loss to the 1-4 Golden Guardians squad, however, was hugely frustrating.

Statistically speaking, TSM is a talented team. Two of their players – mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham – are ranked in the top two at their respective roles. Two others – top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik and ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen – are ranked in the top three at their roles.

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They should be, by our estimations going off pure stats and raw talent, the third-best team in the LCS. Yet currently, they sit tied for last place with a 2-4 record, preparing to face Liquid and CLG in the last games of the first round robin. What exactly is going wrong for TSM, who’s to blame, and how can they fix it?

Smoothie is a big letdown

You may have noticed that while shouting out TSM’s high statistical rankings, I neglected to leave one member out. Andy “Smoothie” Ta did not make an appearance because, statistically, he is ranked dead last among LCS supports in our metrics.

Smoothie has died the most of any LCS player this season, his 26 deaths outpacing Huni and Rush by three, he has the third-worst KDA of players who have played in all six games this season, and he’s consistently behind in gold at the 10 and 15-minute marks. This issue, unfortunately, trickles down to his teammate in the bot lane, Zven, who is the only one of the top four ADCs in the league to have a negative gold difference at 15.

Now, this isn’t to say that it’s all Smoothie’s fault, and replacing him solves TSM’s woes. In fact, Smoothie has been at the forefront of one of TSM’s spectacular vision control this season. The team ranks in the top half of the league in almost every vision metric, and Smoothie is behind only Liquid’s CoreJJ and Echo Fox’s Hakuho in terms of vision score per minute for supports. Certainly, though, Smoothie needs to dial back on the number of unnecessary deaths to keep his team in the game.