I’m going to get this out of the way quick. Amazing leaving TSM is the best for both teams. The relationship clearly did not play out as either side predicted. Instead of shoring up TSM’s weaknesses, Amazing contributed to them. TSM has long struggled with adaptation in all forms. They are slow to adapt to Meta changes, and they struggle with in game adaptation. Now, this is something they are clearly working on, as shown by TSM’s pow wow sessions inbetween their matches at NA Regionals. They are improving on this front, but they have a long way to go. Amazing was inarguably the biggest contributor to this problem. For the vast majority of the split, his Champion Pool was a pool of two. On Lee Sin and Elise, he won 15 of 18 games. TSM won only one game out of the 10 they played that Amazing did not get either of those Champions. This clearly led to a confidence issue that showed in his play. It frequently seemed like Amazing didn’t know what to do next. He’d clear the Jungle and then walk around checking on lanes, but never really doing anything. Toss in predictable Jungle pathing that stems from TSM’s go to “camp mid” strategy they’ve been running for years and you have a problem.
Amazing is clearly a player whose performance depends on comfort level, and a return to EU might go a long way towards improving his play. There are likely a few EU LCS teams that would love to pick him up, and a different team mentality will likely be beneficial. Amazing clearly struggled with his pidgeonholed role on TSM, and might prove better in the EU LCS where innovation is more welcome, and Junglers tend to brawl with each other more.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s important to note that replacing Amazing won’t fix all of TSM’s problems with the Jungle. As mentioned above, TSM has been running a “camp mid” strategy since the beginning of Season 3 when Reginald’s mechanics began to fall. This makes TSM’s jungler very predictable. Now, if your Jungler and your Laners are all mechanical beasts, this doesn’t matter. Even if the enemy Jungler knows exactly where you’re going to be and counters, if you’re just better at the game, you’ll still win. But this isn’t the case. Like most teams and players, every player on TSM has flaws. Dyrus can go on tilt. Bjergsen has confidence problems sometimes. Lustboy is a known quantity who plays a specific subset of Champions, albeit very well. Wildturtle has struggled in lane, and can be overly aggressive. The point of a team is to work together to shore up each other’s weaknesses. TSM is never going to be a true world contender if their win conditions every game are “get bjergsen fed”. They need to develop other strategies, and have a jungler who can adapt his play style depending on the flow of the game.
Considering that the last 3 times a North American LCS Team needed a jungler, they recruited from other regions, it’s not surprising that most consider NA’s talent pool to be extremely thin, especially at Jungle. But there are some possibilities. Below you’ll find a short list of possible replacements, and their pros and cons
Long-standing player with a good-sized Champion pool. His longetivity indicates that he’s able to adapt to changing metas. Could be beneficial for both sides. TSM gets him as a one year replacement while they wait for player’s like Grigne to age up. Saint gets one last decent shot at Worlds.
Pros: Years of Professional Experience, including a previous stint on TSM. Is comfortable in a shot-calling position. Extremely dedicated and Self-Motivated.
Cons: Despite recent showings, age indicates impending mechanical decline. Older a player gets, more practice they need to stay in top form. Is currently a member of Curse Academy and may qualify for LCS via Expansion Tournament.
Neutral: Opinionated. Could lead to personality clashes, but could also be the strong voice TSM needs in their comms.
Relatively new to Competitive Scene. He showed well as part of Franken-CLG, and is very likely the best “upside” pick available as Grigne is too young
Pros: Has already tasted LCS actions. Clearly has the mechanics to compete at the top level. Room to improve. Could be molded to fit TSM’s needs.
Cons: Young, and unproven. Like playing for CLG, playing for TSM requires a thick skin. Community turns on players quickly, and expects a lot.
Neutral: Sub for CLG, and his team, Team LoLPro, is currently trying to qualify for LCS through the expansion tournament.
Formerly of Coast. Well known player who was clearly in a bad environment judging by the recent decisions made by Coast Management. Could be an upside pick?
Pros: Experience. Has a big Champion Pool. Strong Mechanical Player that could blossom under a good coach, and in a good atmosphere. Has occasionally shown flashes of being able to put his team on his back and carry.
Cons: Struggles in the face of criticism and he’ll get a lot of it from Reddit/TSM Fans if he doesn’t play well right away.
Neutral: Desire to return to competitive play is up in the air.
Solo Que Options
Reddit didn’t take long to go into full blown rumor mode, with many people suggesting the likes of Gringe and Thyak. As mentioned above, Grigne is 16 and thus can’t be used until he ages up. Thyak, like most challenger players, is an unknown. Out of all the positions, Jungle in Solo Que is probably the role that is most different tfrom its competitive counterpart. Unfortunately, Solo Que doesn’t help a Jungler develop the knowledge they need to be a good competitive Jungler. Thus, picking a Solo Que jungler has the potential to be a crap shoot. TSM already tried an unprovhow Fnatic groomed Rekkles. I fully expect to see them go with a player with some level of competitive experience unless someone really wows in tryouts. A possibility since TSM would then have 2 months before the LCS begins to really see if the player meshes with the team.
Not Going to Happen
MY BODY’S TELLING ME YES, BUT MY MIND’S TELLING ME NO
Seriously Guys, it’s pretty clear that The Oddone has made the transition to full blown streaming personality. He spends a lot of time doing sub matches, and isn’t taking solo que as seriously. There’s a close to zero percent chance he returns to the active. lineup.
I anticipate that TSM will pick up a player that has some level of Competitive Experience, while possible grooming one of the up and coming solo que talents for the role in the future. TSM is one of the few teams with the financial ability to do such a thing, and it’s surprising that they haven’t gone the route of Curse and supported the Challenger scene. One could argue that failing to do so has hurt them the past two times they went to fill a roster spot. In addition, TSM will be looking for a player that can adapt well, especially in game, and has a strong, confident voice to help with shotcalling. Saintvicious seems the best choice in that regard, but likely has the lowest chance of happening as he likely has a good shot of qualifying through the expansion tournament. I think NintendudeX’s issues with confidence and dealing with community criticism knocks him out of the running, leaving Thinkcard as the most likely option of all the available challenger team players.