Looking to the Future: TSM

I offer my opinions on how the TSM roster will look come the start of the next split, as well as get into who I think would be the best acquisitions.

Team SoloMid finished the 2016 season on a very somber note. The team that was touted as a potential contender for the World Championship by some, failed to get out of the group stage. To be fair to TSM, its group was quite the challenge, with Samsung Galaxy and Royal Never Give Up coming out on top. All things conisdered, though, they needed to get out.  

Now I am of the opinion that TSM’s World Championship winning hopes were quite far fetched, though they did have realistic chances at making top four, so this early exit was still a serious disappointment. 

Heading into the 2017 season, TSM has found themselves looking for an AD carry. After Worlds, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng found himself quite demoralized and burnt out on the game. This prompted Doublelift to take a leave of abscence, if you will, from the team. He plans to take a break during the Spring Split, with the possibility of returning in the Summer Split.

Originally, TSM was not going to attend IEM Oakland due to the struggle around finding a suitable AD carry that would be both talented and have good synergy with the team. However, in the days following TSM’s withdrawal from the event, the team received multiple responses from veteran AD carries that wanted to potentially play with them, one of which being Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, a familiar face for TSM fans.

The return of WildTurtle obviously made for a good heartfelt story, yet it is clear that he is a significant downgrade from Doublelift. This showed at IEM, where TSM got handed a 2-0 defeat by eventual tournament winners, Unicorns of Love. Some may say that losing to the tournament winners softens the blow, but when you consider the roster they lost too, as well as the fact that UOL replaced its jungler in the following weeks, it looks bad. When just simply looking over the teams in the tournament, I think everyone reasonably would have TSM as the favorites coming in, even with WildTurtle. 

In the announcement video for WildTurtle, it was specified that this move was purely for IEM Oakland, and that WildTurtle was not confirmed as the team’s new AD carry. So, speculation has been growing about who TSM may be bringing in as the new AD carry for the 2017 Spring Split.

Who I would like to see

After being outclassed at Worlds, specifically in the bottom lane, you have to set your sights on someone with world-class talent, or at least someone you believe to have world-class “potential.” Here are some names that I think fit these two categories.

World-Class Free Agent AD Carries

Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu

This seems an unlikely fit, as there is a language barrier and Deft is likely returning to Korea, potentially to form a super team with KT Rolster. Could TSM throw the money needed to entice him? Possibly. In my opinion, though, Deft has much higher value on winning at this point in his career.

Kim “PraY” Jong-in

With the announcement that the ROX Tigers are splitting up, there has been a lot of speculation as to where Peanut and Smeb may go, and a lot less talk on where PraY will end up. As a player, PraY has all the skills you want in an AD carry. He is known for being one of the few Ezreal gods (mechanical skill), as well as being the premier Ashe/Jhin player in the world. With these traits, you would think that he would garner more attention from a team like KT, yet the return of Deft seems to be overshadowing him. Thus, PraY is a possible fit with TSM. Bringing in PraY for sure would have some major hurddles to get over. TSM has no other players that can speak Korean, thus putting PraY very much on an island in terms of communication both in and out of game. Plus, as an AD carry, you naturally have to be playing with your support player at all times, so having a language barrier is quite a struggle. Though to be fair, PraY and GorillA were never hailed as a super lane dominant duo. PraY has always shined brightest when creating plays around the map with Ashe and Jhin, as well as team fighting at a very high level. In combination with the roam-heavy style of Bjergsen, and invade-heavy style Svenskeren, this trio of players makes a lot of sense. 

Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou

After finally getting to Worlds as the starting AD carry for H2k-Gaming, FORG1VEN showed that he can very much compete a high level. One obvious problem with FORG1VEN, however, is issues like team synergy, morale, etc. Something to note is that Biofrost has only ever played in the LCS with a very smart AD carry who has guided him in and out of the game. As a person, Biofrost seems to be someone who likes to follow rather then lead, which could work well with FORG1VEN. Hauntzer seems to be very much the same, and is not very outspoken during games as far as I am aware, and Svenskeren has shown great maturity in his mindset as well. This leaves Bjergsen as the person who may clash with FORG1VEN. Both players are very opinionated, though I think both have shown quite significant improvements over the years. Overall, I see this potential lineup for TSM as an improvement over the one that showed up at Worlds. Though Doublelift and FORG1VEN are very closely matched when looking at them seperately, I think FORG1VEN holds a much more consistent performance level. 

AD Carries With Potential

Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek

Freeze has always had his flashes of brilliance over the years, though he has often struggled as well. In H2k-Gaming, Freeze was not playing particularly well despite finally being on a roster with talent that matched his own. In his recent years, Freeze has always been labeled as a player that was simply in “Elo Hell,’ struggling through his time with the Copenhagen Wolves, then joining up with Renegades (which ended up being a massive disappointment). Freeze comes with very high risk and potentially low reward, but if you can not get some of the big names, he holds some of the highest known potential in the scene. Overall I do not think this is an ideal move for TSM, though if the alternative is someone like WildTurle, LOD, etc., then Freeze needs to be brought in. An idea that I would enjoy seeing happen would be to bring in Freeze as well as maybe a Korean AD carry, that way the Korean player has a chance to get situated in his new environment as well as pick up some of the language. All the while, you give Freeze a chance to show if he can get back to his dominant ways.

Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook

Despite being on a very subpar team in ESC Ever, LokeN was able to show the potential that many people had already seen in him. When taking a look at his stats in the Summer Season, Loken was able to tie for the fourth-highest creep score (CS) differential at 10 minutes, as well as the highest first blood percentage out of all AD carries. Where he lacked was in DPM, ranking an astounding last place out of all AD carries that started in over 10 games in the LCK. This is very worrying, because if you use the argument that ESC did not win enough games for LokeN to have really high DPM numbers you would be unable to explain why he still managed to place below players like Maha, Emperor, Kramer etc., whose teams also lost many games. Concerns around LokeN are obviously valid, and he will share the same problems that someone like PraY would face in NA, but he still has the talent to potentially be an improvement over Doublelift. 

Ha “Kramer” Jong-hu

Kramer is a very strange case. Sure, he has shown some very incredible skill in teamfights, yet he still has some of the worst laning in LCK and is also a player that was fed gold with no results to show for it. There are plenty of things to consider when thinking about potentially adding Kramer to the mix. Overall I think he is worth a shot. When looking at CJ Entus last season, it was obvious that Kramer was going to be in a position every game that allowed him to grab hold of his team and carry them through a teamfight in the latter stages of the game. If Kramer was on TSM, this obviously would not be as much of the case. I think it is clear now that Bjergsen and Svenskeren can hold their own at the highest level. When compared to Kramer’s last top laners, Hauntzer is an improvement over rusty Shy and lackluster Untara. As a player, Kramer has some similarities to Doublelift in the fact that they are both very focused on carrying their teams, so maybe stylistically this fits very well. 

As a bottom lane, Kramer and Biofrost would be very passive, as I do not think the two players are capable of being dominant due to the language barrier. This style would suit them best, as it requires less talking and more common sense and it also allows Kramer to safely get to the latter stages of the game where he is most comfortable. 

If I had to rank the AD carries based on playstyle, stylistical fit and skill, this is how it would look:

  1. PraY
  2. Deft
  4. Kramer
  5. LokeN

6. Freeze

Hopfully TSM really goes all out on its new ADC and brings in someone massive like one of those top names, otherwise I see their roster being a downgrade from the one that disappointed at Worlds.

Of course, Doublelift’s potential return in the Summer Split raises a certain problem for other AD carries looking for a new team. They know that if Doublelift does decide to return, they’ll have to compete with him to keep the spot.

Who would you like to see TSM bring in as their new AD carry? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom

You can contact the Writer on Twitter @OhSoDicey as well as by email at [email protected]