Although November has passed by and the roster moves have settled down, TSM has one more surprise to reveal to the community.
On December 17th, TSM revealed their Academy team's roster along with the expectations and goals they have planned. TSM is among the first organization to reveal their newest Academy Team with FlyQuest revealing their Academy team roster earlier, and Cloud9 shortly after.
The new TSM Academy roster is:
Top Lane: Brandon "Brandini" ChenJungler: Jonathan "Grig" ArmaoMid Lane: Nicholas "Ablazeolive" AbbottAD Carry: Rasmus "MrRalleZ" SkinneholmSupport: Jordan "Shady" Robison
On paper, this team is a good team to train and grow, and looks fantastic against other academy teams so far. All the players are talented and most have seen the LCS stage, even if it was for a short while. TSM is one of the best organizations for these players to land on based on their domestic and international performance and talent, but the organization hasn't exactly had a lot of success with secondary teams.
Although TSM is a successful organization and their primary team has won a seemingly endless amount of NA LCS banners, their secondary teams are not as successful.
Their first secondary team was Team SoloMid Evo, which only lasted four months before being disbanded in Season 2 for a disappointing performance in the North American Regionals. Although the players were skilled, the only members who have not retired from that roster are Aphromoo and DontMashMe.
In Season 5 during the Spring Split, TSM sponsored Team Confound to play under the new name TSM Darkness. Unfortunately, this team was quickly dropped by TSM when the player David "t3azer" Bérubé leaked footage of a scrim match against CLG Black to Team Fusion prior to their match. While the team's players did not see the LCS stage afterwards, Rami "Inori" Charagh eventually joined Phoenix1 and Team Liquid.
Despite TSM having this poor record outside of their main 5 and subs, TSM Academy looks to have the support of both TSM and Riot behind them. All the players have talent and can easily fulfill TSM's strategy of being able to play any style that the team requires, and seem like perfect sponges for the huge amount of talent TSM have at their disposal. The organization is looking to avoid their past mistakes, and, after all, "third time's a charm."
Meet the players
As stated on the TSM announcement page, the overall goal for the TSM Academy team is to: develop the talent, become a partner training team for the main TSM team, be a full substitute roster, and to have a system that allows them the litmus to test new strategies internally and test upcoming talent against. Let's have an in-depth look at each member and how they've performed so far.
"Brandini" is the new top laner for the team, but he's a name we've seen before. He has played in the challenger scene since the start of Season 5 and played for multiple teams each split, but most recently played for Echo Fox. Brandini replaced Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok during the last two weeks of the NA LCS Summer 2017 season. During his time on the LCS stage, Brandini beat Phoenix1 in a 2-0 fashion and took a game off of TSM and Dignitas; however, those were his only victories, and he ended the season with 4W-10L overall. Although his CS Differential @ 15 was a low -15.5, it's important to note that he was laning against legendary players like Flame, Hauntzer, and Impact. His champion pool is wide and has a 100% win rate with Camille, which shows that he prefers to play champions that win lane and deal tons of damage. Coming out of his LCS time with some bruises, Brandini is looking to jump right back into competition to put the experience to good use.
"Grig" originally was named "Grigne" but removed the ending intentionally to shorten his name. Like his top laner, Grig started the challenger scene in Season 5 and hopped around many teams each season. He has been playing with Brandini since Season 7 on Delta Fox and even played on Echo Fox a few times, but Grig had a record of 2W-7L on the LCS stage. That being said, Grig played six different champions and won a game with Lee Sin against CLG, showing the audience he can play and perform on many champions at a high skill level. Anyone paying attention to the challenger scene have probably seen Grig's name more than once (probably fashioned as Grigne,) and you've probably seen him beat your favorite streamer more than once.
Unlike his teammates, "Ablazeolive" did not play on the LCS stage, and he played in the challenger scene during Season 6, which is a later start compared his teammates. What Ablazeolive offers is talent and great potential, which is something that TSM spots and uses to strengthen its players. He was the very first pick for the 2017 NA Scouting Grounds and was chosen by Team Mountain Drake, which was supported by the CLG staff. He played six different champions during the tournament and had impressive performances on Syndra and Ryze. While Team Mountain Drake got 3rd place, his performance landed him this mid lane position. He was perhaps the most hyped name going into the Scounting Ground event other than former pro NintendudeX, and although he showed some cracks, he also showed his ceiling is sky high.
"MrRalleZ" has played the game for the longest time and has the most experience under his belt compared to his teammates. He made his debut on the EU LCS stage during Season 4 when he joined the team SUPA HOT CREW. Although the team landed 7th place during the Spring Split, the team finished 3rd during the Summer Split. They were knocked out of the Quarterfinals by Team ROCCAT. MrRalleZ joined multiple teams after that, but he never got the same success as he did when he was part of SHC. His last team was the Fnatic Academy team during the Spring Split where he had a record of 16W-11L with a KDA of 4.9. He is an incredible player that excels on champions that have escapes like Lucian, Ezreal, and Kalista, and he was brought on as a sub for TSM earlier in 2017. He now moves to the Academy team where he can prove himself on the Rift under his new organization.
"Shady" was the support player of Phoenix1 before he was replaced by Xpecial. He had a debut on the Challenger team Zenith eSports during Season 5, but he disappeared until he was scouted by Phoenix1 at the end of Spring Split during Season 7. He had a lot of criticism as his performance wasn't as great as Stunt, but his Season 7 record was 6W-17L. I believe Shady has all the potential to become a great Support player, but he needs the right staff to help him improve, and TSM is looking to be that home.
Overall, these players of course aren't as refined as the main roster, but they can be with the right support staff and some time.
These players have performed on stage when it matters most, which means they have also gone through scrims with their teams on the flipside. The coaches have seen promise in one form or another across these players, even in their pasts. Where there's smoke, there's fire. And if this is the case, TSM's Academy roster is an absolute barnburner.
Although most other organizations have yet to announce their own Academy teams, the TSM Academy roster looks to be the strongest and most talented so far by a large margin.
The domestic giants look to extend their NA dominance into 2018 with the main roster, but from the looks of things, TSM aren't stopping at just Split banners. They want the same excellence in the Academy scene as well.
We'll soon see if they've made the right decisions to get there.
Let us know what you think of TSM's Academy roster in the comments below!