TSM Academy: A review of the season

The North America Academy League is halfway to the end of the spring season. With four weeks left, TSM Academy still needs to prove they’re the best out of all ten teams.

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(Image Credit: Team SoloMid)

After the fifth week of the Spring season of the North America Academy League, TSM Academy is currently fourth place with a 6-4 record. Being fourth is normally a good thing, but TSM Academy is at the bare minimum position for playoffs. With Clutch Gaming Academy and 100 Thieves Academy settling Piglet and Levi into their rosters after four weeks, every team is ready to destroy their opponents and make their organization proud. The question is: can TSM Academy keep up?

The beginning weeks

TSM Academy announced their roster mid-December, and the roster looked great. I even ranked the team #1 on my power rankings. It had a great blend of semi-experienced players along with the newbie Ablazeolive (who was hyped during the NA Scouting Grounds) and the professional MrRalleZ (the star European player.) Each player had the potential to bloom, and TSM knew how to grow them as a team.

It was just a slow growth.

The first week of the NA Academy League was a disaster for both TSM squads. The main team and the academy team went 0-2 against FlyQuest and Team Liquid. The results disappointed all of their fans and made the criticisms and negativity deafening. While early losses are bad at the long run, the TSM Academy squad played a bloody match against the FlyQuest Academy and Team Liquid Academy.

The match against FlyQuest Academy was evenly matched until the mid-game. FLYA got the first blood and tower advantage, but TSMA was proactive and got return kills, also controlling the dragon advantage. Unfortunately, FlyQuest Academy got a crucial teamfight victory and snowballed, thanks to the veterans FLY Keane and FLY Shrimp.

Team Liquid Academy was the first match that was live, and the two teams gave the viewers a show. The match was even, with each team getting a kill against each other within minutes; however, TSMA was not able to demolish any tower structures against TLA except for one and stagnated. TLA won a major teamfight securing the baron buff. TSMA could not keep up with TLA and lost.

The team had a week to recollect themselves, discuss what went wrong, and strategize against their next two opponents: Echo Fox Academy and OpTic Gaming Academy. Despite going 0-2, the team showed promise. The two teams they faced were predicted to be top teams, and TSMA were not crushed during any of their matches.

Except that’s what happened next.

Echo Fox Academy beat TSM Academy in a slow but controlling game. They took first blood and tower, and the team used these advantages to get objective after objective. They were outmatched completely. This was the worst game that TSM Academy had played yet.

TSM Academy’s game against OpTic Gaming Academy was completely in TSMA’s control. If Echo Fox Academy taught them anything, it was how to snowball their lead into a victory. TSMA started with an early first blood against OPTA Dhokla and had a party on bottom lane, giving them three more kills. From there, they pushed their advantages by getting more towers, dragons, and baron. Eventually, the team won without losing their advantage at any time.

Patch 8.2

Weeks 3 and 4 were kind to TSM Academy, and the patch was moving on from 8.1 to 8.2. The TSM Academy team gave more trust in Ablazeolive to carry games, but Ablazeolive also picked up Galio in his games to create more macro plays as a team.

Against the 100 Thieves Academy, the TSMA squad managed to pick Zoe for Ablazeolive, and that was a huge mistake for the thieves. After catching out 100A Kitzuo in his own jungle, the team also deleted the bot lane who tried to protect their teammate. While the thieves caught up in kills, TSMA could easily threaten the enemy with Zoe and Gangplank ultimate, and they rolled over the thieves by grabbing objectives and snowballing their lead.

Against Golden Guardians Academy, TSMA surprised people with a Galio pick. While Galio was not buffed in 8.2, he had a strong waveclear with an AP build. With an Alistar and Galio combo, the team stampeded over the guardians. With an easy W-Q combo from Alistar, Ablazeolive followed it up with an immediate Galio ult for a swift double kill in the bot lane. TSMA easily snowballed their advantage into a victory yet again.

At the end of week 3, TSMA went from a 0-2 to 3-3. They learned how to snowball their lead from the defeat against TLA, how to remain proactive from the defeat against FOXA, and how to coordinate as a team from the defeat against FLYA.

Against CLG Academy, TSMA was outdrafted in the pick and ban phase. CLGA banned Galio and picked up Gangplank, Twisted Fate, and Tahm Kench. With TF roam to top lane, the CLGA team got first blood and moved around the map very quickly. By getting picks and objectives, TSMA got beat by their own game.

Against Clutch Gaming Academy, the TSMA squad had a tough fight ahead of them. The game lasted for 73 minutes, and it was a back-and-forth match continuously. CGA picked up Nunu, which allowed to team to easily grab dragons and towers from TSMA; however, TSMA had a powerful teamfight composition and easily got picks. TSMA got the lead in the beginning, but CGA got the lead with a devastating team fight at the dragon pit. TSMA got the lead back by getting three kills and baron. That’s where the match got complicated. TSMA had the lead for almost 40 minutes, but with the absurd Nunu + Azir waveclear, the team could not get anything beyond the inhibitors. The team got antsy and nearly lost their advantage 55 minutes into the game. The team could not get to the backline because of the CGA’s disengage champions, and eventually lost their advantage. TSMA regained their composition and eventually won by waiting for CGA to make a mistake.

Week 4 tested TSM Academy, and they looked sloppy. The match against CLG Academy showed that they still had a weak macro game, and the match against Clutch Gaming Academy put their teamwork on the line. Cloud9 Academy, who were 7-1, were going to wreck TSM Academy the next week if they did not shape up.

With a 4-4 record, TSM Academy were tied with Echo Fox Academy and Clutch Gaming Academy for fourth place. Cloud9 Academy, FlyQuest Academy, and Team Liquid Academy were all first place with a 6-2 record. Week 5 would determine how TSM Academy did for the first half of the split.

They played against Clutch Gaming Academy again, but this time, CGA had Piglet on their roster this time. The game was not as rocky as it was last week, but it still went back-and-forth. TSM Academy secured many kills in the early game and got three early dragons before CGA turned up the heat. Piglet and his team managed to crumble the frontline of the TSMA squad, and they got a baron after that successful teamfight. Their success did not last long because TSMA retaliated with a teamfight they won. TSM Academy caught up in towers after securing both Elder Dragon and Baron. They snowballed their advantage and teamfighting composition into another victory, but this time it took 52 minutes.

Against Cloud9 Academy, TSM Academy dominated the game and won in easy fashion. With TSMA Grig getting an early kill on their jungler, the team would trade kills across the map against C9A. Eventually, TSMA won a crucial teamfight, which made C9A think twice about fighting TSMA. TSMA Brandini’s Jax kept getting caught out, but TSMA always got an object every few minutes. TSMA snowballed their lead and won the game.

With TSMA going 2-0 at the end of Week 5, that allowed them to pass CGA and FOXA to be fourth place. TSM Academy will play OpTic Gaming Academy and Echo Fox Academy once again in Week 6.

Mid-Split results

After Week 5, TSM Academy has a 6-4 record. If we take out the second Clutch Gaming Academy victory, then we can tell that TSM Academy went 5-4 against everyone. While this record is above average, it is not great for the TSM name. Two of those losses were against teams that are placed above them, one is against Echo Fox Academy, and the other is against CLG Academy, who is placed below them. If what TSMA Shady says is true and that they will crush everyone, they need to prove that the second half of the split. While Echo Fox Academy is slacking, another loss against them could be the difference between fourth and fifth place. FlyQuest Academy is currently first with a 8-2 record, and Team Liquid Academy is second with a 7-3 record. TSM Academy had good games against the two, but that was in the beginning of the week.

Stat-wise, the team is great. Their laners are solid and all three have positive CS scores at the 15 minute mark. Brandini has +4.1, and Ablazeolive has +8.4. MrRalleZ has an amazing KDA at 11.3 with his Ezreal having a 15.7 KDA. TSM Academy got first tower 50% of the time and first blood 60% of the time, showing how much they value pressure in the early game. They value objectives and are one of the best teams at securing them. They get the dragon about 70% of the time and always secure the Herald if a team does decide to take it. However, the vision game is poor for the team. While this might be because they were in the lead for such a long time against Clutch Gaming Academy, TSMA Shady seems to get caught out when he does ward. 

Overall, TSM Academy is very strong in their early aggression and objective plays. With Ablazeolive able to coordinate well with his team on Galio and to play champions like Azir to a high degree of skill, the team knows how to play the composition they draft. MrRalleZ is the main damage dealer of the team, and the team will play a “protect the Kog’maw” composition because they know he can do his job.

As TSM Academy grows as a team, so do the other teams. In every week, TSM Academy plays against a team that bested them, and they need to prove to themselves that they are growing stronger as a team.

With the first match happening on Thursday against OpTic Gaming Academy, we will see how they grew during the past six days of scrims and individual practice.