Defeat during the Group Stage in Worlds 2016 was quite possibly the worst feeling any TSM fan could have.
Heading into the tournament, TSM was ranked top tier on many tier lists for teams to look out for. Their domestic sweep of the NA region with a 17-1 record caused many fans to have hope for international success.
Ultimately, this hope was dashed once TSM was eliminated during group stages with a 3-3 score, losing the tiebreaker with Royal Never Give Up who were also 3-3.
The stress accompanied with the loss at Worlds caused TSM AD Carry Peter “Doublelift” Peng to take a hiatus from LCS activities, focusing more on his social life and streaming.
The reason TSM ended up failing could be attributed to many problems. Luckily for the organization, another split with the same members seems to have fixed what I believe to be their core issues during 2016.
These changes to their play style make them much more formidable than their past iteration, leading to five reasons I think TSM will perform better at Worlds 2017
Last year, rookie support player Vincent ”Biofrost” Wang had his first trip to the World Championship after winning his debut split in the NALCS.
Facing the most difficult competition in the world, it would make sense to attribute Biofrost’s lackluster performance to nerves. Not only was this his debut split, but then having to play against the top players in the world mere weeks after their split ended would test any new player.
After securing 2 more NALCS championships between these Worlds tournaments, Biofrost is taking on his own identity.
There was a lot of scrutiny on the rookie, many believed he was being carried by veteran bot lanerDoublelift and lacked the skill level required to do it without someone guiding him along.
This doubt was dashed when Jason “WildTurtle” Tran took over as the starting ADC for TSM.
Over the course of 3 splits, there has been great improvement in Biofrost’s play, and his communication. In the beginning, he would barely communicate in the voice comms that TSM released to the public. During the 2017 NALCS Summer Finals, Biofrost would prove that he earned that spot on the most dominant team in North America. With the 4th game of the series having TSM at a 10k gold deficit, Biofrost’s clutch engages allowed TSM to regain control and momentum of the game, ultimately leading them to a 3-1 finish over Immortals.
With a year more experience than before, Biofrost will show up and lead TSM to some victories at Worlds 2017.
Playing From Behind
TSM during Summer 2016 were undoubtedly the strongest team in North America. They stomped through every team that came between them and the championship (minus a certain Rengar game). With mind blowing leads in the early game, they systematically destroyed their opponents in a swift fashion.
This however lead to their downfall during Worlds 2016.
The level of play in NA has always been considered lower than the Asian regions such as Korea and China. Against teams from those locations, TSM took heavy hits in the early game. No longer able to push their opponent around as much as at home turf, TSM took aggressive measures to try to swing the game. Aggression at the right times can win you back the game, sometimes however, you must play slow and refocus on what your win conditions are. Being unable to dominate the early game, TSM fell victim to sloppy fights and being out scaled.
Playing behind is nothing new for this 2017 TSM squad. That sounds horrible, but when taken in context it might be the one aspect of play they fixed that can help them the most during Worlds 2017.
During the regular season of the 2017 Summer Split, there were many games where TSM seemed to struggle with their early game, a distinct change from the team in 2016. Their explosive early game got replaced with a more slow and steady team fight style. Even with a deficit in the early game, the most notable identity the team had was immaculate team fighting.
Being able to win fights while behind in gold is only possible with superior positioning and communication. Take the 2017 Summer NALCS Finals as an example, had there been any screw up on TSM’s side in that 4th game, there would be a 5-game series.
Burning out as a pro player is reality, especially for veterans who have been playing since Season 1.
After the disappointing performance at Worlds, Doublelift took a single split hiatus from TSM. Focusing more on his personal life, which was absent when you are a pro player, and streaming, Doublelift had to watch his team win the 2017 Spring NALCS final without him. Feeling a tinge of regret for not being there for the victory, on top of the poor performance from TSM during MSI, Doublelift realized that streaming life isn’t for him.
Not being on the big stage, surrounded by his friends and teammates, and with his drive for competition, Doublelift was even hungrier for success.
Rediscovering his passion for competition, Doublelift came back in full force during the 2017 Summer Split. Many praised his team fighting positioning and calculated aggression. With nightmares regarding failed flashes and over aggression during Worlds 2016, Doublelift has turned into a very calculating player, finely balancing upon aggression and safety.
Wanting to redeem himself for the 2017 World Championship, Doublelift’s motivation to succeed will allow himself to become the top tier ADC we all know and love and that enemies should fear.
With any team-based game, teammates need to communicate with one another to capitalize on each other’s strength. Bringing the same squad two years in a row means that TSM has had more time to work on their communication, and it shows.
Typically, in TSM’s past, Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg was the sole shot caller for the team. Unfortunately, that meant putting his own ability in the back burner to play around the team and gain information. This issue got better once Doublelift joined the team and helped make split second decision on objectives, freeing Bjergsen to focus on his lane and play at the level of “best player in the west”.
TSM as an organization has voiced that they want each lane to communicate together, this provides information such as summoner spell cooldowns and tendencies of opposing laners, information that typically is hard to keep track of if it isn’t your personal lane.
This shift to a total team shot calling, on top of players such as Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and Biofrost becoming more comfortable being vocal will lead TSM to victory.
Last year’s meta before the tournament impacted the way TSM played their style. Mid lane was relatively the same, with an influx of control mages. ADC had mainstays such as Ezreal and the newcomer Jhin. Jungle had early game gankers such as Nidalee, Elise, and Rek’Sai. Most notably the top lane meta and the support meta were the ones that TSM couldn’t capitalize on as much.
The sudden shift from tank top lane meta into carry meta hurt Hauntzer’s performance. Known to be an amazing teamfight tank player, the transition into carry top champions such as Kennen and Jayce meant that resources needed to be fed into top, a style which TSM did not have much practice with since superstars Doublelift and Bjergsen typically got the attention.
Heading into Worlds 2017 it seems like the tank meta is back, this means we can see Hauntzer play to full potential and once again hear the crowds cheering “Tree S M”.
With the heals and shields meta being prominent at Worlds, Biofrost did not shine as much as many would have liked, being known for being a thresh one-trick during solo queue, Biofrost this season has shown that he can play engage supports such as Rakan to a high level.
But the one role to look out the most for is the ADC position. With ardent censor being a must buy on every team, ADC’s are taking center stage. Doublelift has struggled to play Jhin at a high competitive level, but he has made his mark with auto attack champions such as Tristana, Sivir, Twitch and Kalista. With the ADC meta staying firm, I believe we will see a much higher impact from Doublelift this time around.
And that, among plenty more, means a successful 2017 World Championship for the most dominant org in North American history.
These are the 5 reasons I believe TSM will perform better at Worlds 2017! Let us know what you think in the comments below!