If there’s one position in League of Legends that’s been a point of problems for franchises across the world, it’s the jungle. Many teams will avoid building a team surrounding the jungle position, and even more burn through junglers like they’re nothing. In fact, half of the teams in the LCS have a different jungler than they did 365 days ago.

One of those teams is TSM, who, after losing Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen to free agency, shoveled their way through three different junglers over the course of a year and change. As it turns out, that third player might just have the staying power to not only give TSM a chance in 2019, but provide the team with a sense of stability at the jungle position for years to come.

Of course, that player is Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham – a player who had lived eternally on the cusp of mediocrity since making his debut in 2017, failing to get any chance to shine while playing for sub-par teams such as the 2017 iteration of Echo Fox and the 2018 lineups of OpTic Gaming and even OpTic Academy. However, here in 2019, Akaadian has done nothing short of come into his own and help lead TSM to another playoff appearance. Not only has he improved his stats in almost every possible category, he’s emerged as a leader on a team filled with a mix of stalwart veterans and budding, young talent.

In fact, 2019 has been Akaadian’s best season to date, with the Spring Split providing the foundation for a massive statistical improvement. He’s climbed upwards from last year when it comes to KDA, CS/M, GPM, DPM and DMG%, proving that he can perform at a high level when given the right supporting cast.

It seems as if this season has been a complete godsend for Akaadian – a resurrection of a career, if you will. From someone who had never finished above 7th place in any single split, a trip to the playoffs as the 3rd seed with a team that is proving to be the hottest squad in all of North America is certainly a change of pace.

It’s quite obvious that the incredible hot streak TSM has found itself on is a pretty significant factor for Akaadian’s success. Throughout the course of the past 12 games, TSM has emerged victorious in 11 of them, with Akaadian providing a large portion of the firepower during the team’s rampage through the LCS. His play has been seriously efficient throughout the streak, as there hasn’t been a single instance where a game has featured more than three deaths from Akaadian, while his last five performances haven’t played host to a single-game KDA lower than 6.0 – with one even reaching as high as 16.0 at one point.

While on the subject, it’s important to mention that KDA has been a point of personal improvement for Akaadian this split, as his mark of 3.6 in 2019 outshines the KDAs of 3.2 and 2.6 that he put on the board in 2018, and 2017, respectively. Additionally, that 3.6 number is good enough for 3rd in the league amongst all qualified junglers, as the only ones that top Akaadian’s statistical greatness are former TSM jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen with a KDA of 4.6 and Team Liquid’s longtime veteran at the position, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, who posts a mark of 4.3 in the KDA department.

On top of his success when it comes to his efficiency regarding KDA, Akaadian ranks 2nd in CS/M with an average of 5.3 and 3rd in GPM at 336, further proving the point that his value in a statiscal sense has only increased, and he’s evolved from being just “halfway-decent”.

And still, it’s the intangibles that Akaadian brings to the table that far outweigh his statistcal prowess. If anything, Akaadian gives TSM a sense of security at the jungle position that the organization hasn’t had since the days of Svenskeren. That secure sureness is far more desirable than any statistic, and that’s what makes Akaadian so valued at TSM.

A stellar split like this proves that the team needn’t worry moving forward as the position appears to be on lock. Any questions surrounding the jungler job at Solomid have been answered – with Akaadian doing the talking.

 

Photo Credit: Riot Games, Lolesports, TSM

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