18 January 2015 - 15:12
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GP10 NA LCS Rankings: #2 TSM

Team SoloMid Predicted Record: 13 Wins, 5 Losses Roster Breakdown Mid: Bjergsen Top: Dyrus Jungle: Santorin ADC: Widlturtle Support: Lustboy A year ago, Reginald stepped down from his starting role on TSM to make way for their current...
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Team SoloMid

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Predicted Record: 13 Wins, 5 Losses

 

altRoster Breakdown

Mid: Bjergsen

Top: Dyrus

Jungle: Santorin

ADC: Widlturtle

Support: Lustboy

 

A year ago, Reginald stepped down from his starting role on TSM to make way for their current Mid Laner, Bjergsen, who immediately rewarded Reginald for his faith by winning Spring Split MVP and putting on a show of mechanical dominance never before seen in the NA LCS. While he didn't winMVP in the Summer Split, he did carry TSM through Summer Regionals and over Cloud 9 in the finals with exceptional Xerath play. As such,  Bjergsen's mechanical ability has never, and will never be in doubt.  He's Bloodthirsty. A Play Maker. His Champion Pool is impossibly large (He once got a Penta-kill on Karma of all Champions). He's the best Mid Laner in North America by a country mile. But TSM needs him to be something more. They need him to be a Shot-Caller equal to Hai, or at least as close to Hai's level as possible. The mechanic monster that is TSM's roster needs a guide. And that may mean sacrificing some of what makes Bjergsen himself so great. Is that a sacrifice TSM can live with?

There isn't much about Dyrus that hasn't already been said. He's been to all 4 World Championships, three of them with TSM. He's able to mold his Champion Pool to the meta  seemingly at will, though he's confessed that his adaptability is supported by a sincere dedication to Solo Que. He almost never loses lane, and on those rare occasions that he does, still remains relevant. His flexibility gives TSM a huge advantage over other teams. He can fulfill any role that is necessary for his team to win. Whether it's fending off a 2v1 to get their bot lane an advantage, playing an unorthodox champion to fit a composition  or need (Hello, Top Lane Karthus), or even taking over a game to ensure TSM comes out on top, Dyrus can do it. He's a rock, and the emotional heart of TSM. When he gets going, TSM wins. That's just how it is. The question now is, how long can he keep it up? The Old Gods are failing. Any misstep, any bad game, and people are going to wonder if his time is almost up. If his rumble play at worlds is any clue, I'd say that time is pretty far off. Dyrus had made great strides in eliminating his major weakness (tendency to go on tilt and feed when camped), and the meta is right in his wheel house. The Top Pool in North America is stronger than ever before, and those that survive the trial by fire will surely rise up better and stronger. Here's to betting Dyrus makes it through. 

The newest face on TSM is their jungler, Santorin, who comes from Coast Gaming to replace Amazing. While it seems like rumors have been flying around Santorin for a while now, he's still just 17. Part of the young crop of up and coming European junglers that started to take over the EU LCS last year, Santorin is looking to make his mark on the west's most famous team. Like Amazing, Santorin is know for his Lee Sin, though he's generally believed to be a bit more flexible in his play style than the carry-oriented Amazing. With TSM, it's never just about their jungler's mechanics. It's how they fit into TSM's system. For as long as their has been a TSM, that system has involved their jungler camping the Mid Lane while a sturdy top laner holds down the fort and a mechanical bot lane dominates their opponent. Santorin's success or failure will depend on if he can fit into that system. Early results at IEM San Jose were mixed, as Santorin struggled to apply pressure at times in his first game on pantheon, while almost single-handily keeping them in the 2nd game with his exceptional dragon control. TSM fans better hope the latter continues, as TSM was 6th in dragons during the Summer Split.

TSM's ADC is the enigmatic Wildturtle. Fans have long loved his upbeat, goofball demeanor and penchant for over-aggressive play. While that aggressive play style sometimes led to the occasional silly death, he was widely considered to be one of, if not the best ADC in North America. That is, until the 2014 Summer Split. By most measures, Wildturtle was a middle of the pack ADC last Summer. He was 6th in kills, 4th in CS, and 5th in deaths among NA ADCs. Beyond that, it was clear to the naked eye that something was wrong. He and Gleeb/Lustboy lost lane with astounding frequency, even to below average pairings. While this improved a bit at the Summer Regionals, the Wildturtle at the 2014 World Championships was a stark contrast to the Wildturtle that was almost single-handily keeping TSM relevant at the 2013 World Championships. While his performance was better than the community gives him credit for, he got destroyed by Uzi and clearly wasn't on the level of the best ADCs at the tournament. TSM is a team that rightfully enters every Season with a World's or bust mentality, and Wildturtle is going to have to return to form if that's going to happen again. 

When TSM picked up Lustboy in the middle of the Summer Split, fans wondered whether this was Locodoco doing his old friend a solid. While the move failed to have the immediate impact of past TSM roster changes, it's become clear in  the time since that the decision was an inspired one. Lustboy brings a level of vision control that is unmatched in the west, making him a tremendous addition to TSM. Fans love to bring up that famous RNGesus play at Summer Regionals against TSM where a supposed lucky crit and a wandering minion allowed TSM to pick up the victory. In reality, it was a smart ward placed at the very beginning of the team fight that gave TSM the vision they needed to pickup the kill on Sneaky and win the game. Sometimes, it's something as small as that one ward. While Lustboy isn't necessarily the mechanical god that Xpecial is, his mechanics are better than average, and his Champion Pool is much bigger than advertised. It's not his fault that teams seemed perfectly willing to continuously give him his best Champion (Nami). I'm guessing they don't make that mistake this season.

How they got here:

Quite simply. They won the Summer Split. The road wasn't easy of course. A late season slump cost TSM their shot at a first round bye in the playoffs, and they had to play 3 best of fives to win the tournament. They certainly didn't take the easy route, losing the first game in all three series. Against LMQ and C9, they didn't hold the outright lead once until they actually won the series, falling behind 0-1 and 1-2 in both matches before coming back and winning the last two games of each series. If those had been Best of 3's, we might have been having a different conversation today.

At Worlds, TSM managed to fight their way through the group stage and secure their spot in the Quarterfinals, picking up a surprise win against SHRC in the process. Unfortunately, they had the bad luck of drawing Samsung White in the Quarterfinals. While they were eventually able to make SSW pay their disrespect with a surprisingly cohesive and dominant game 3 win, they still fell 3-1 to the eventual World Champions.

Biggest Headline: What's wrong with Wildturtle?

This has been a never-ending question since the struggles first surfaced in the beginning of the Summer Split. Suddenly, TSM's bot lane was losing lane to everyone and TSM was struggling to win games against teams they really had no business losing to. After dominating most of the Spring Split until a sudden and massive meta change brought upon by a crazy patch right before playoffs, TSM found themselves fighting to stay in the top half of the split (TSM spent more weeks in 5th than any other spot), needing a hot streak and a collapse by CLG and Dignitas in order to finish 3rd. While some credit must be given to the fact that Wildturtle had to deal with two support changes in just a few months, most of the community wondered whether Xpecial had been carrying Wildturtle through lane all along. The real answer is likely somewhere in the middle. Wildturtle has always needed someone to reign in his wilder tendencies, and the language barrier probably din't help much. However, six months into their partnership, the training wheels are off for Wildturtle and Lustboy. They've had enough time to mesh, and enough time for Locodoco to make his imprint on the TSM bot lane. There aren't anymore excuses. We'll know the answer by the end of the split. 

altFuture Outlook

TSM has faced a lot of doubters heading into the 2015 season for a team that went to the quarterfinals of the World Championship and finished at the top of their region. A lot of it has to do with a general gloomy attitude about the prospects of Wildturtle regaining his mojo and whether Santorin can adequately fill Amazing's shoes. The latter is an interesting trend considering the community's overall disdain for Amazing's play last split. The truth of the matter is that TSM returns 4/5ths of a roster that went to Worlds as the #1 Seed from North America, was the first NA team to ever win a best of five against Cloud 9, and made it to the Quarterfinals at Worlds. Even if Wildturtle never regains his previous form, TSM was good enough to make Worlds as he is now. So that can hardly count as a major check against them. Furthermore, TSM's bot lane was much better at Regionals and Worlds than they were during the Regular Season of the LCS. So it's quite likely that they are improved compared to the last time they faced domestic competition.

While it remains to be seen whether Santorin is a match for even Amazing's mechanics, as I said above, it's all about whether he fits into TSM's system. It bodes well for both that he and Bjergsen seem to get along great and have been spamming Solo Que together for the better part of three months now. A level of commitment that hasn't been seen from other Mid/Jungle pairings in the NA LCS, at least not publicly. Santorin and Amazing share Champions across their pools, so the overall adjustment shouldn't be too hard. The big X Factor is that it would be a huge boon for TSM if Santorin could somehow take over shot calling responsibilities. The Jungle is the ideal position for the role, and being able to focus solely on his lane would likely mark the return of the Bjergsen that dominated all comers in the Spring Split. That seems unlikely for now considering Santorin's age and the fact that TSM has already put a lot of time into making Bjergsen the shot caller. Just don't be surprised if TSM moves to a more split style of shot calling as the players get more acclimated to each other.

TSM's strength remains their exceptional team fighting. Dyrus excels at diving into the fight and causing mayhem, allowing Wildturtle to attack from a safe distance (if he wants to) and Bjergsen to dive in and out of the fight or poke from the outside depending on the situation and Champion he is playing. While TSM's macro shot calling has been a glaring weakness since Reginald stepped down (the perceived improvement by Bjergsen at Summer Regionals was likely a mirage brought upon by the addition of Lustboy. Vision Control makes shot calling much easier as it's easier to make the right decision when you have all the information. That said, as long as Lustboy is on TSM, he helps mask their greatest weakness), their micro shot calling in team fights has always been exceptional. Every member of TSM seems to know what their exact role is in each fight and executes it well. This needs to translate into more Dragons, as TSM went from one of the best teams at acquiring Dragon in the Spring Split, to one of the worst in the Summer Split. With first Dragon being worth so much now, this is a clear and necessary area of improvement for TSM. The other is in their ability to adapt to the meta. TSM has always been a team that is somewhat slow at figuring out meta changes, but great at executing it once they do. But that slow adaptation cost them the Spring Split Championship, and with the Spring Split actually worth something now, TSM can't afford to let themselves get caught off guard by a patch. Enter Locodoco. Since he joined TSM, there has been a marked improvement in TSM's picks and bans, rotations and macro strategy.

 

TSM

   SMG        AVG

Bjergsen

10

10

10

10

10

10

Dyrus

8

8

8

8

9

8.2

Santorin

5

7

4

5

5

5.2

Wildturtle

6

7

5

6

7

6.2

Lustboy

8

8

7

6

8

7.4

7.4

7.4

8

6.8

7

7.8

 

Mechanical Ability

9

8

8

9

8

8.4

Shotcalling

6

6

5

5

7

5.8

Understanding of the Meta

7

8

9

7

9

8

Objective Control

7

9

7

7

7

7.4

Picks and Bans

8

7

6

6

8

7

7.32

7.4

7.6

7

6.8

7.8

14.72

Bjergsen was the only player to receive a 10 from every member of the panel, and as such, is rated as not only the best Mid Laner in the LCS, but the best player. Members of the panel look highly upon his ability to play a wide variety of Champions at an exceptional level and single handily carry the game. Dyrus was rated the third best Top Laner, and is part of a top four of Quas, Balls, Impact and himself that was considered by the panel to be significantly better than the rest of the Top Laners in the LCS. Santorin rated out as the 8th best Jungler due to his lack of experience at the highest level of competitive play. Wildturtle was rated as the 5th best ADC, albeit with a significant gap between himself and the top four. Lustboy finished tied for 3rd among Supports with Bunnyfufu. 

Wrap Up

You could make a compelling argument that most of the holdover teams from last split have gotten worse. Dignitas, Winterfox and Team Impulse all took step backs at multiple positions, while CLG failed to fix their mid lane situation and replaced one of the best junglers in NA with a player that has struggled to regain his former form. Coast and Team 8 will likely struggle to get more than a few wins. Considering the climate, it's hard to create a scenario where TSM isn't top 3. And when you take into consideration the fact that TL will be without Piglet and Fenix for at least a week due to visa issues, it's quite likely that TSM finishes in 2nd place. If Santorin fits into TSM's system well, or Wildturtle returns to form, TSM could easily finish in first. And that's just the regular season. Locodoco's impact on TSM's performance in the Summer Regionals cannot be underestimated, and his ability to be a part of picks and bans and coach between games in a best of five series is a huge boon for TSM. If they can secure a solid seed in the playoffs, watch out.

Previous Breakdowns:

#3: Team Liquid

#4:Gravity Gaming

#5:Counter Logic Gaming

#6:Winterfox

#7:Team Impulse

#8:Dignitas

#9:Team Coast

#10:Team8

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