TSM: The Great Western Hope

TSM’s chances in the group stages of 2016 Worlds. – Originally posted 09/28/2016 at LiquidLegends   At the start of the spring split, it was widely thought that TSM would be the super team, the unbeatable titan. With their superstar roster of Svenskeren, Hauntzer, Bjergsen, Doublelift and YellOwStaR, many assumed that TSM would take the spring split without contest. However, this wasn’t the case as they went even in a 9–9 record during the split. It looked like a poor coordination of bot lane together, possible mis-calls between the jungle and top. They started to pick it up during playoffs, however in the end lost to CLG in the final match, which sent CLG to the Mid Season Invitational, and TSM on a mission to find a new support as YellOwStaR left the

team. Through various tryouts, TSM picks up Biofrost. At this time, TSM also picked up Weldon Green as full time head coach, and he started to implement a training schedule that would pay off large in the coming split.

The change from spring to summer split was drastic; TSM went from being a sixth place team to winning the Summer split. Only dropping one series against Phoenix One in the Summer split, TSM were the new titans of the season taking the title from the Immortals. Their teamwork improved dramatically, and bringing on Biofrost forced to learn more about each other, playing for 10–12 hours a day together, and they learned how to play as a team more cohesively. Biofrost being brought onto the team really made TSM look at themselves, and how they communicated.

With no defined shot callers, as all of them function in that regard, TSM has learned how to naturally share the shot calling. Doublelift focuses on wave management, side lane control, and large objective calls like Baron moving into late game, where Bjergsen focuses Dragon and vision control, and when Doublelift needs to group and stop farming side lanes. This was a big change from Spring to Summer because players would be making calls, but not everyone was following it in Spring split,

Looking at the teams left in the Gauntlet for the final spot going to Worlds from North America, Doublelift got his wish that C9 will make it through and beat Immortals again. Looking at Worlds, the TSM bot lane is looking forward to facing off against Royal Never Give Up because of Uzi and Mata pulling off intense 2v2s, however, Biofrost also looked forward to facing off against ROX Tigers, and EDG’s bottom lane.

Splyce

Over the Summer split Splyce did well in the lane swaps. Trashy had a good defense of his top laner Wunder, with his jungle pressure that allowed the top laner to pick non favourable matchups and still maintain his lead. Their bot lane was consistent, not winning, but not losing either. Wunder and Trashy were great at abusing the top lane meta during the time when it isn’t standard lanes. They got to Worlds on their team fighting alone.

In this match up, TSM should win off lanes alone. Wunder can’t draw that much of a lead from Hauntzer and Trashy VS Svenskeren is the match up to watch for. Bjergsen is better than Sencux and Biofrost and Doublelift are better than Mikyx and Kobbe. Baring badly coordinated team fights, TSM should win both games against Splyce.

Samsung Galaxy

This is possibly the best benchmark game for East vs West in the group stage. SSG has a well rounded group of players, with Crown being the midlaner in the best shape as an individual player. Ruler is a rookie, and completely new to the competitive scene, and is arguably in the top 3 ADC’s in Korea. Ambition is the X factor to this, with his aggressive play style, invading constantly regardless of how favourable it is. This play style has cost him in the past, but this split, Crown has provided him with good lane pressure, and Wraith has roamed up, so that Ambition is not alone. Most of SSG’s leads come from the jungle pressure exerted by Ambition, and he translates this lead top or mid.

SSG runs a double support, and this will be a wildcard. If Wraith is supporting he’s a well rounded support, but he doesn’t have the widest pool of champions. CoreJJ on the other hand, comes in with the mentality of an ADC player. He thrives in the laning phase and is a great Bard player. His aggressiveness in the 2v2 is probably what made Samsung pick him over Wraith in the standard lane meta.

CuVee has had a pretty rocky Summer split, at times he’s able to dictate the game, but at others he seems to become a detriment to his team. Bjergsen is the best mid laner in the West, facing off against Crown who’s coming into Worlds with a head of steam looking to prove himself on the World Stage. TSM needs to shut down Crown in team fights in order to win. Given how close they are in skill level and baring first time jitters from both team’s less experienced players, TSM should only be able to take one game off SSG.

Royal Never Give Up

RNG has good early pressure, which is their strongest point. MLXG applies strong lane pressure, baits skirmishes and takes advantages through that. Looper has good TP ganks because of Mata’s calls. RNG excels more with the current standard lanes over Lane swap. Xiaohu is probably the best surprise, and the unexpected one. A few weeks before boot camps started, he was placed #1 in the KR SoloQ Ladder. Despite that he’s floundered in a more supportive role where he gets far less gold than he did on RNG in Spring. We can’t blame it all on his gold share though, it’s even the little things like 1v1 laning and positioning that are making him struggle. If he’s to challenge Bjergsen and recapture his late Spring form he’s going to have to hope his Solo Queue success translates to success on stage.

Uzi is playing just like Uzi has always played. He’s got one of the strongest laning phases in the world and thrives on certain picks, but ultimately one has to wonder if he hinders his team’s growth with so many resources being piled onto him. Mata is the player to watch on RNG; mechanically good, strategically sound. And yet, this split he’s shown none of that. He’s constantly been caught out of position and struggled with even basic skillshots and the team’s strategy has taken a backwards step. Mata needs to find form and fast, otherwise, RNG are headed home for an early vacation.

Biofrost and Doublelift against Mata and Uzi is the lane to watch, because many fans are discussing who the better ADC is, but it all comes down to playstyles. Unless RNG drastically change their style they’ll be going into Worlds with high predictability. TSM has shown to be an intelligent team in terms of rotations and success with decision making. TSM is more coordinated, so they have higher chances to beat them using the map. Their win conditions are around wave management, playing the map and neutral objectives. RNG’s win conditions, on the other hand, are around snowballing the early game, winning the 2v2 bot and putting high pressure on Bjergsen by way of the jungler. Based on TSM’s strategic superiority it’s not a stretch to tip them to win both games against RNG especially with RNG’s well documented problems coming into Worlds.

With TSM’s group announced, it is very possible that an NA team will finally make a large impact at Worlds. If TSM can bring their fire from the NA LCS Summer Split right into Worlds, then they stand a strong chance to do better than NA has in years. It’s time for NA to shine, and TSM are the ones who are going to spearhead their charge.

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