For the first time in the history of League of Legends, TSM has started a season with 2 consecutive losses. For many teams, going 0-2 in a single week is commonplace, but for TSM, a team with historic amounts of hype coming into the 2018 season, it might be a sign to start raising eyebrows.
TSM has not gone 0-2 in a single week since the Spring of 2016, when the team employed Bora “YellowStar” Kim and Kindred was a meta jungler. Needless to say, it’s been a while since there were this many question marks surrounding NA’s resident powerhouse. Now, after just one week, TSM has already found themselves in a hole to start the season. In both a brutal loss against Team Liquid and a major upset at the hands of Flyquest, the newly formed TSM squad looked uncoordinated, sloppy, and boring. With one week in the books, the most pressing question facing TSM is undoubtedly, “How can a team with so much talent look so uninspiring?”.
It’s important to remember that no team can ever win with sheer talent alone, and as the 2018 season marches on, TSM will have to improve on chemistry and communication issues that have plagued the organization for so long. In order to make the playoffs, it is imperative that TSM develops a play-style that focuses on the cohesion of the team, as a roster featuring 3 brand new players will have plenty of growing pains to overcome. With eight weeks remaining in the Spring Split, TSM has plenty of time to topple any obstacles that are currently facing them, as the team could return to form as soon as this weekend.
As always, mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg has been garnering a majority of attention from all angles, making it easy to forget that TSM’s roster bolsters talent and promise across every position. With Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, Mike Yeung, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez all bringing impressive résumés and immense amounts of talent to the table, it’s safe to say that the current iteration of TSM is too strong to continue losing at this pace. It’s only a matter of time until the team regains its footing, but for now, something has to change if they’re going to compete in the playoffs come April. With an almost entirely new roster, TSM will have to rely on cohesion and teamwork now more than ever, as pure skill alone, while valuable, won’t be enough to secure a spot in the playoffs.
This clip from TSM’s loss to Flyquest on Sunday shows how desperately TSM needs to improve some aspects of their decision making abilities.
During this exchange, it’s easy to note Hauntzer’s unfortunate positioning, as well as Bjergsen grabbing a sneaky retaliation kill from the back line. However, keep an eye on the minimap. Instead of immediately joining the fight, Mike Yeung places a ward at raptors, and proceeds to mosey around the camp while 2 Flyquest players prevent him from joining the fight. On top of that, Mithy starts to walk towards mid lane, but turns up towards red buff where he starts to recall, until he realizes that it’s just better to cut his losses and move towards the inner mid tower. If TSM wants to be a playoff caliber team, decisions like this need to be made much faster. There is no room for down-time in situations like this, and if enough of those types of timing-related mistakes add up, things can get very ugly very fast. TSM must improve upon their decision making going forward, as hesitation and indecisiveness have been a burden on the team’s shoulders for years.
To make a long story short, there are eight weeks left to go in the NA LCS, and while TSM has shown signs of early struggles, it’s definitely not time to start worrying about TSM. In time, a roster featuring 5 star players with 12 World Championship appearances between them will eventually start to win, and when they do, the rest of the league will need to be ready. A team this good cannot struggle for this long, and when they do turn things around, they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
However, the road to a 4th straight Championship will not be easy, as there are plenty of star-studded teams littered throughout North America, and TSM plays one of them this week as they take on a first place squad in Echo Fox on Saturday. 2018’s turning point could come sooner rather than later for TSM, as this weekend could possibly serve as a definitive tempo change for NA’s preseason favorites.