With the rumor of TSM acquiring SwordArt now appearing less likely, here are three alternatives NA’s reigning champions could sign for support.
Last week, multiple sources were reporting that TSM would be adding veteran support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh to pair with their AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Now, however, there appears to be doubt that this duo will ever join on the Rift.
According to Jacob Wolf, the former Suning support appears to have immigration and payment issues that would prohibit his signing with TSM. This move would certainly have a massive domino effect, as TSM would not only be left without a support late into the free agent carousel, but there is also the possibility that Doublelift would retire if he is not able to play with a strong support, leading to a ripple effect of other roster moves.
While those downstream roster moves are fascinating to debate, at the moment the main concern TSM fans have is about whether or not SwordArt is coming at all. Every day, the likelihood of SwordArt joining fluctuates. If he is not able to join TSM, here are three of the best free agent options they could get.
1. Tian “Meiko” Ye
Surprisingly still a free agent, Meiko fits the mold of what Doublelift is looking for – a foreign, veteran support – to a tee. He has four Worlds appearances under his belt, including making it out of the group stage in two of those appearances.
While this year has been a bit of a down year for Meiko, as EDG finished the Summer Split in 10th place (after finishing in 6th during the Spring Split), it’s worth noting that Meiko did have to switch lane partners this year. After two years with iBoy, he paired up with 20-year old Hope this year and the duo did not work out. Perhaps he and Doublelift would be able to revitalize each other’s careers in this union?
2. No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong
If TSM doesn’t want to poach the LPL’s best (make no mistake, though, Meiko is not on the same level as SwordArt), maybe they can look to an LCK veteran as an option. SnowFlower did not have the greatest track record during his time in the LCK with Afreeca Freecs, Jin Air, and KT Rolster, but he dominated during his two stints in Turkey. He made Worlds in 2018 and 2020 as support for SuperMassive, both times paired with Zeitnot, who is one of the lowest-rated ADCs at Worlds 2020.
This isn’t a slam dunk, though, as SnowFlower has played with strong AD Carries in the past like Teddy with Jin Air (who finished sixth in Summer 2017) and PraY at the tail end of his time with KT Rolster (who finished eighth and missed the playoffs). That said, his level of play in the TCL makes me optimistic that he can at least be an above-average support in the LCS. His experience and the fact that he can somewhat communicate with non-Koreas is also a plus.
3. Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam
I continue to maintain that Zeyzal is one of the most underrated players in the LCS. He isn’t a flashy player with the engage flair of an Ignar or the cool clutch of CoreJJ, but he never makes the mistakes that players like Smoothie or Stunt make that can cost your team games.
Now that he’s been booted from Evil Geniuses to make room for Ignar, Zeyzal would be a great option for a TSM team that doesn’t have a lot of options. He’s not SwordArt, by a long-shot, but he has the experience (with two Worlds appearances that included Cloud9’s run to quarterfinals in 2018) that could make TSM’s bot lane solid, if not spectacular.