LCS: TSM Struggle in Week 5 With Puzzling Drafts

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

After a disappointing Week 5, one big problem with TSM appears to have been exposed: the drafts.

Over the years, the main criticism of TSM has always been their failure to draft team compositions that would put them in a position to win. This past week, TSM showcased their terrible drafts once again, losing to then-undefeated Cloud9, and Immortals, who are tied for last in the LCS.

First, against Cloud9, TSM found themselves on the red side. After C9 picked Wukong first, TSM responded by selecting Volibear and Varus, two strong champions in their own right. C9 rounded out the first stage of the draft with Senna and Azir, signifying the possibility of a Senna and Wukong bottom lane, a strategy that Mad Lions in Europe have popularized.

Here’s where their first major error comes in: TSM chose to give Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg his famous Leblanc in the mid lane, facing Azir. In general, this matchup becomes good for Leblanc in the side lane, as we see Bjergsen get a solo kill of the Emperor of Shurima. However, when looking at their overall team composition through the first three picks, they all seem to want to do different things.

Varus ideally wants to build full lethality and poke, outranging his opponents. On the contrary, Volibear and Leblanc want to use their engage potential early and often to dive onto the backline, as they fall off in the later stages of the game. With these two dissenting ideas, it’s difficult to build a successful team composition to win team fights.

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As an alternative, TSM could have chosen Karma in Leblanc’s spot, using her as a flex pick in Top, Mid, and Support. With Varus and Volibear, she can enable engage while protecting Varus from the backline, allowing him to deal damage consistently.

In the second section of the draft, TSM selected Bard, seemingly as a way to either engage or disengage with his R – Tempered Fate. This champion gives them an influx of magic damage, meaning they will need a physical damage top laner to balance their damage profile.

C9 close out their draft with Sett and Ornn, more tanky, hard engage champions to make Varus’ life even more difficult. As their last pick, TSM decided to go with Mordekaiser, instead of an AD champion to fit with their team. The thought process behind the selection was to use his R – Death Realm to help stall the engage from Wukong, Sett, and Ornn.

However, Mordekaiser leaves Varus as the only source of AD on the team. With a relatively tanky enemy composition, lethality Varus loses lots of his value, as on-hit Varus would be more productive. Unfortunately, the heavy magic damage composition forces him to prioritize lethality, although it is less effective, as TSM needs a source of pure AD. Instead of Mordekaiser, TSM could’ve picked champions such as Gangplank or Camille to help provide AD, round out their team composition, and provide a win condition.

After their loss to C9, an understandable one, TSM felt good about the rest of their week, as they were bound to pick up an easy win against Immortals. Unfortunately, not all went according to plan, eventually losing in 38 minutes.

This time, TSM found themselves on the blue side, banning Malphite, Ezreal, and Karma, to set up a first pick of Aphelios. All of these champions are good against the Weapon of the Faithful, but there are more counters that can be played when he’s picked that early in the draft. Immortals respond with Ashe and Ornn, as Ashe outranges the Aphelios and provides more utility, while Ornn is a steady blind pick top laner with an immense amount of scaling.

TSM choose to pick direct counters to Immortals picks, rather than looking at the big picture. Therefore, they select Trundle as an answer to Ornn, and Wukong as a way to get onto the immobile Ashe. However, this allows Immortals to have the jungle counter pick, as they select Graves to get an early lead on the Troll King.

Moving onto the second phase of the draft, Immortals pick a standard Thresh in the support role, and now TSM makes their crucial blunders. They round out their composition with Zilean and Tahm Kench, two extremely protective champions. This decision gives Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng the keys to the game on Aphelios, yet the champion is getting outranged by the majority of the opposition.

Sure, Zilean is one of Bjergsen’s best champions, and Tahm Kench provides a safety net against a potential Enchanted Crystal Arrow from Ashe. But looking at the overall draft, after Immortals drafts Corki in the mid lane, how are TSM supposed to win any sort of team fights?

They are relying on Wukong as the solo engage champion on their team, when the Monkey King can easily get kited by Graves, Corki, and Ashe. Even if he ends up locking down a carry from the side of Immortals, there’s no way for any member of TSM to follow up with any reasonable damage. Sure, you’ve drafted lots of protection for the Aphelios, but how is he supposed to be able to do any damage in team fights?

Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik ended the game with a 0/5/2 scoreline on Wukong, mainly because he was the only way for TSM to make anything happen on the map. He went for play after play and failed miserably due to the lack of follow up damage from his team composition. The combination of Ornn, Graves, and Thresh control so much area throughout team fights, that it’s impossible for Aphelios to walk up and exert his full damage.

Late in the game TSM got a miracle team fight with a “200 years” Aphelios moment, as 4 Immortals members bunched up into a Moonlight Vigil with Infernum. However, the early deficit was too large, as their Nexus eventually fell.

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Overall, TSM’s drafting style throughout their recent history, and especially this week, is to respond to their opposition’s picks in a vacuum, rather than looking at the entirety of their own team composition. Sure, they found specific counter picks in certain matchups, but they simply had no way to achieve victory with their incoherent compositions, barring major errors from the enemy teams.