The success of Fnatic last season, while highly attributed to the eventual talent of Huni, Reignover, and Febevin, stemmed from the shot calling of the sole survivor of the Season 4 Fnatic support, Yellowstar. Arguably the best support to come out of EU, YellowStar excels at early game roams and a unifying voice to direct the game. While no one doubts the success this brought Fnatic over the years, and the obvious repercousions of losing him this split can be seen with a struggling Fnatic, his performance as a whole has deteriorated in some ways. While I am not contesting that YellowStar is still a top tier support, I believe that the current state of supports is not being the utilized to the maximum by YellowStar.
To begin, we need to look at YellowStar’s champion pool. In the 14 games played this split, Yellow Star has played 7 games on Alistar, 5 games on Braum, 1 game on Bard, and 1 game on Janna. While he has 4 unique champions played this split, the majority of the time he is on tanky engage supports, namely Alistar and Braum. I feel this is reason for concern because of the relevance of Frost Queen’s Claim, which during patches 4.1 was pre-nerf for the first 3 weeks of NA LCS, was the ideal time for more AP heavy supports to be reliant. We saw other champions like Morgana, Soraka, Janna, and Bard come to a viable state during this time period, but we only saw Yellow Star play 1 game on Bard and 1 game on Janna. In these games, they beat Cloud 9 and Team Liquid, two teams that would later come back and tie up their series with TSM. Not only did they win, but YellowStar put up fantastic numbers, going a combined 0/5/22 over these two games. While I admit this may be a relatively small sample size to make conclusions from, it shows that TSM put up respectable performances against respectable teams with YellowStar playing more utility focused supports. On top of that TSM has the same condition as Immortals, in that any lane can be a carry for Immortals, the same can be said for TSM. We have seen games where DoubleLift may not do anything while Bjersen and Hauntzer carry, while other games it may be the DoubleLift show. Ultimately, TSM does not need YellowStar playing front line tanks and initiators, they need him on the backline, protecting the carries, much as we see Adrian doing on Immortals to much success. Feel free to read my other article where I analyze how the supportive style of Adrian allows for the success of Immortals.
This is also where YellowStar’s itemization comes into play. When he was on Bard and Janna, we saw him build Frost Queen’s Claim and Banner of Command, which contribute to his ability to manipulate the map and shot call by granting him vision of enemy champions and lane pressure, respectively. These items fit his strengths, shot calling, not play making. But now let’s look to when he plays a tank like Braum or Alistar, which has been 12 of his 14 games. He essentially builds the same items. Every. Single. Game. Sightstone, which he generally rushes into Eye of the Equinox by his third item, Boots, which he generally prefers Swiftness and upgrading it with Distorition, before finally buying two ruby crystals which he turns into a Locket of the Iron Salori. If DoubleLift is behind, he will sometimes forgo upgrading his sightstone to Eye of the Equinox and instead finishes Face of the Mountain for more protection for DoubleLift. On top of that, YellowStar only finishes Zeke’s Harbinger when he is on Alistar and DoubleLift is on Kalista, except Week 1 Game 1 where he was Alistar and DoubleLift was Tristana and Week 2 Day 1 when he was on Braum and DoubleLift was on Caitlyn, but this is generally seen as a 4 item luxury to YellowStar. Even then, I question him building this item, as his build path during Week 1 Day 2 appears to show he intended to build Zeke’s fifth item on an Ezreal, where I fail to see the synergy between these that champion and that item. On top of that, and I believe this is personally the biggest crime that YellowStar has been commiting, he has not once this entire split built a Mikael’s Crucible. That is unforgivable. He has one of the best AD Carries in the West, but YellowStar is not itemizing to protect that carry. In their game against Cloud 9 Week 6 Day 2, he itemized for himself, building a banshees veil, leaving DoubleLift only with a Mercurial Scimitar and a Locket of the Iron Solari shield. In a protect the Kog’Maw composition, YellowStar built primarily to protect himself, not even upgrading his Relic Shield to Face of the Mountain, instead going Eye of the Equinox. This leaves DoubleLift with only one stun cleanse and one shield, which does not seem to play into a Jugger-Maw favor. All in all, his itemization alone is deplorable.
But this is indicative of how YellowStar is currently playing on TSM, which isn’t necessarily how the team needs him to play. Let’s look to other supports who are playing supports and how these supports are building for the team. Matt builds Talisman of Ascension on Alistar, giving his team a better engage tool, Hai is building Mikael’s Crucible on Soraka to relieve his team of the worries of getting focused in a team fight, and even Matt is building Mikael’s on Thresh because that’s how powerful that item is. All in all, other supports are adapting their builds every game to address the needs of their teams, something that YellowStar has not been doing this split. And it shows. In the NRG game when GBM brought out the Zilean with two bomb delivery sources on their team, YellowStar did not build a Mikael’s Crucible. We saw numerous times DoubleLift getting either Poppy stunned or GBM bomb stunned, which was what NRG’s Comp was all about, and YellowStar did not itemize to protect his ADC. Please note, it was also stupid of DoubleLift not to build a Quick Silver Sash second or third item, but that’s a whole other article.
YellowStar dying is not just a catchy title, it’s part of a bigger metaphor for TSM. As YellowStar grows weaker in weaker, he will eventually implode in on himself, creating a black hole that will consume the team, something that might already be happening with the current state of TSM. I believe that YellowStar will begin to adapt his play style, I really do, and I also feel that the current state of supports is not in a position that favors his style of play. I believe he is a great player and will do great things on TSM. But until a patch occurs that changes the support meta or support items get reworked, it’s on YellowStar to rise to the occasion. It will either be YellowStar’s rising or YellowStar’s dying.