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

League of Legends.
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Wasting Leads

Oracle’s Elixir, a fantastic website that tracks pro stats, evaluates every team in the LCS on how well it performs in the early, mid, and late game. Through Week 3, TSM has the third-best “early game rating” according to Oracle’s Elixir, behind only OpTic and Liquid.

This makes sense, given that TSM is third in the LCS in terms of average gold difference at 15, and is in the top three teams in terms of first tower blood, first three towers taken Rift Herald’s taken, first dragons taken, and overall dragons taken. In short, TSM is a team that is very good at getting ahead early. So what happens that is the problem.

In a few words, TSM is terrible at closing out games. They average the second-longest average game length in the LCS, despite having the third best gold difference at 15. And they do it by taking bad fights and not playing around them together in the mid-game.

Take their most recent loss to Golden Guardians. At the 15-minute mark, TSM had just taken a fight at the dragon pit, going 3-0 and getting the Mountain Drake. This gave TSM a 1.7k gold lead, along with a 2-0 dragon lead (an infernal to go along with the mountain), and a 2-1 lead in turrets.

Four minutes later, TSM was up over 2.2k gold – only a 500 gold increase in almost five minutes. But they then took a risky invade onto the Guardians’ red buff with Broken Blade’s Urgot and Hauntzer’s Sion both in mid lane (Urgot having no teleport) and being split by a wall, Bjergsen on one side away from the collapsing Guardians and Smoothie/Akaadian on the other.

Akaadian went for a very risky steal, forcing TSM to take a disadvantageous fight, dying while popping Contractz’s ult on Aatrox. Cut off from the rest of the team – Zven teleported to the side of his wall with Smoothie and Broken Blade was following Hauntzer’s collapse – the fed Bjergsen wasn’t able to contribute his damage to the fight, nor take down Froggen. On the other side of the fight, Smoothie was taken down, Broken Blade’s Urgot ult was denied by a timely Tahm Kench devour, and Zven couldn’t do any damage to Sion.

These kind of bad, risky fights are how TSM throws their leads. They don’t play together around objectives or use their lead to contest or take important objectives. Stealing a red buff is helpful, yes. But forcing a fight from a disadvantageous spot put Golden Guardians within 800 gold, over a 1.5k gold swing.