LCS: Why this Weekend is Cause for Big Concern from TSM

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games.
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games. /
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TSM Bjergsen. League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

3. Maokai Mid?

A lot of very smart people are saying that Maokai mid pick for Bjergsen wasn’t the problem with that draft. While, theoretically, I understand why this pick would be good, to me it’s still a bafflingly bad pick given TSM’s issues over the course of the split. Putting Bjergsen on a no-damage, utility champion isn’t necessarily a bad thing (see, there’s this champion named Zilean that was left unbanned), but this pick gave TSM heavy AP across the top of the map and no early pushing lanes.

That’s the biggest problem, that they handed TL an easy early advantage, while trying to limit-test their mid and late game play without having the same early game advantage they normally had. But not only did they cede the early game to TL, I’m not sure how well their comp actually scales.

Yes, they have Kayle in the late game with Tahm Kench to devour him, but they also had Varus who isn’t exactly the best-scaling ADC and then three tanks. Their late game plan was basically to keep Kayle and Varus alive and hope a heavy dive team with Gragas, Zoe, and Sett can’t blow them up instantly. Getting an anti-dive champion like Morgana or Zilean in the mid lane would have been infinitely better to give them extra damage, give the team a lane that could actually win the push battle early, and give Bjergsen an opportunity to play his way out of a slump.

4. Too Smart for Their Own Good

The drafts that TSM ran out this weekend reeked of arrogance. Their first draft against TL basically required them to be able to withstand heavy pressure early (they didn’t) and then execute fights perfectly late game to protect Broken Blade (they didn’t). Against CLG, they ran a more standard comp, but it also relied on the team to hit a lot of crucial skill shots and layer their abilities (particularly Senna and Jarvan ults) to withstand CLG’s initial damage.

The biggest problem I had with the drafts is that they don’t recognize that the biggest issue TSM has been having is playing together reliably. TSM has been able to pick a lot of very unique champions (Pantheon jungle, Qiyana top) with varying levels of success.

Yes, we’ve seen the “fasting Senna” or Senna/Ezreal lane work in other regions, but TSM still hasn’t yet shown that they have their mid game macro down well enough to execute these more-scaling comps. I’d much rather the team stick to some more easy-to-execute comps that are a bit more on the scaling side so that the team understands how the team comp should work together.

TSM, as a team, has some of the most unique picks on LCS stage. While C9 players like Blaber, Vulcan, and Zven have all played five or fewer unique champions this split, no TSM player has fewer than six unique champions. When you look at the players at the top of the list for unique champions played, Broken Blade, Crown, Ignar, Eika, Jensen, Bjergsen, that’s not a crowd of players with the most solid record for this season.

I think this team really needs to go back to basics, stop thinking that they can play everything under the sun, and find a few picks and comps that they know work together and get those down. This will allow the team to work out their coordination issues and then begin to expand their champion pool and comp pool going forward.

5. Mental boom

While I respect what TSM was attempting to do yesterday, running mid-game teamfight comps to improve their greatest weakness so far, the end result is going to be more dispiriting than anything. All the work TSM did this week was likely undone by how poorly they executed their plans this weekend.

This can take a large toll on a team’s psychological state of mind, especially when you started the weekend firmly ahead of the pack only to end it right back in a dog fight for the playoffs. Not only that, TSM losing to these two teams undoes their previous confidence and could cause the team to spiral.

Like it or not, Team Liquid is probably TSM’s number one or two rival and losing to them without Doublelift is a double-whammy. Not only does it take the wind out of TSM’s sails, it also cost them a golden opportunity to kneecap a hated rival and possibly eliminate them from the playoff hunt. Now, TL ends the weekend tied with TSM in record.

And losing to CLG should be a no-brainer as to why that hurts. Not only is it a loss to a rival, but a loss to a team that was firmly in the basement of the league. Every team is penciling in CLG as a free win and TSM just gave that up.

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Finally, the fact that TSM didn’t just lose those two games, but got smoked in both of them, is going to weigh on this team. With players like Dardoch who have a history of imploding, a bad weekend like this could push TSM into a spiral like they had in summer of last year. TSM didn’t need to get these wins entering last weekend, but the fact that they lost both games in such poor fashion is going to make the rest of the season that much harder.