MikeYeung proved to be fireworks in his debut split in the NA LCS on Phoenix1, wowing crowds with his playmaking ability. He turned heads as one of the most exciting rookies the league had seen in a long time.
Fast forward to 2018, and he’s on TSM playing second fiddle to Grig, biding his time in the Academy league.
So what happened?
It's no secret that MikeYeung's most impressive performances have been on aggressive, playmaking junglers like Nidalee and Lee Sin. At his best, he was his most threatening when relentlessly invading and ganking with little regard for the consequences.
When he landed on TSM, however, MikeYeung suggests he would be forced to change this up if he wanted to fit his team's picture of the role.
MikeYeung suggested TSM chose Grig as starting jungler over him because: "He fit into their ideal jungle standards, where jungler is there to play around and support the laners." He went on to say this low tempo style was in contrast to the high tempo games he wanted to play in the role, "it just wasn't a good fit cause I wanted to play aggressive junglers and stuff."
While his critique is not an uncommon one of TSM, perhaps well founded in the organization's history, is it the complete story?
A new leaf for a new jungler
TSM may be known for their supportive style of jungle play, but this hasn't exactly been the case in 2018.
MikeYeung started throughout the entire spring, but his champion picks across the split suggest he wasn't as handicapped to non-playmakers as he's lead on.
In MikeYeung's 20 games played in the 2018 Spring Split, from most played to least played, he totaled: 6 games on Sejuani, 4 games on Skarner, 3 games on Kha'Zix, 2 games on Zac, and 1 game on Evelynn, Jarvin IV, Jax, Olaf, and Shyvana.
Let's compare this to the champion pool he played during 2017 Summer with Phoenix1.
In MikeYeung's 36 games played in the 2017 Summer Split, from most played to least played, he totaled: 8 games on Nidalee, 7 games on Lee Sin, 5 games on Elise, 4 games on Rek'Sai, 4 games on Gragas, 3 games on Maokai, 2 games on Kha'Zix, and 1 game on Sejuani, Shyvana, and Zac.
When looking at these numbers, we have to take into account the different number of games played to properly put things into perspective, with almost double the games played in 2017 Summer due to the NA LCS format at that time. We also have to take into account meta shifts and balance changes along the way.
But when comparing the picks, while several champions rotated in and out during this time, we see little change in frequency of playmaking ability and aggression.
So how do the stats line up with MikeYeung's version of the story?
Breaking it down
For starters, we share Dardoch's confusion at the term high tempo. We'll take this, however, to mean champions with aggressive tendencies and playmaking potential.
With these qualifiers, MikeYeung's champion pool may have changed faces, but we don't think it changed in supposed "tempo."
For starters, 2018's Spring featured MikeYeung on Sejuani for 30% of his games, a champion widely considered to be the strongest early 2v2 jungler, and one of the most deadly junglers when it comes to securing first blood.
MikeYeung also had 30% of his games on Kha'Zix, Evelynn, Jarvin IV, and Jax. In even the loosest interpretation of "high tempo," these champions stand out as aggressive feast or famine style junglers looking for more kills than farm.
So how do these compare to his champion pool in 2017's Summer?
MikeYeung put in a whopping 55% of his games on Nidalee, Lee Sin, and Elise alone in the 2017 Summer Split. These champions seem to fit the bill for his "high tempo" category, champions that are ganking and invading more than they're looking to farm, and are dependent on their early game impact to be effective. In this vein, we see a 25% increase in these kind of champions from the 2018 Spring Split.
So if MikeYeung's interpretation is aggressive junglers with a feast or famine playstyle, we do see a noticable difference in the champions he's brought to the rift.
But does this suggest jungler handcuffs from TSM? Are these champions the only ones that should be considered "playmakers," or "aggressive?"
The Sejuani effect
While we do see an increase in squishy champions looking to make an immediate impact, we don't think this supports TSM keeping MikeYeung from playing aggressive champions, or switching to champions that function as ward bots that support laners.
In the case of MikeYeung's most frequent pick in 2018, Sejuani, we see a champion that doesn't quite fit the bill as a squishy murderer, but instead as a tanky jungler who actively looks for 2v2's and skirmishes throughout the early game all the same.
When you add MikeYeung's percentage of Sejuani games in 2018, you get 60% of his games on junglers we'd consider to be aggressive.
This hardly amounts to a champion select handicap.
With MikeYeung playing aggressive junglers plenty in 2018 Spring, even in a world where it's the only playstyle that truly represents what he can do on the rift, that means we've seen MikeYeung playing his own way over half the time. Across these games, he still didn't look like the world-ender TSM were looking for in the jungle, and not even like the impressive rookie we saw spring up in the 2017 Summer.
Grig's side of things
If what MikeYeung suggests of TSM is true, we'll see Grig in the position of playing less aggressive junglers to earn his keep on the team. Now that we've looked at what MikeYeung played both on TSM and off TSM in the NA LCS, let's compare it to the champion pool of his starting replacement Grig, and see if this story adds up.
In the 2018 Summer Split, Grig played: 7 games on Trundle, 3 games on Nocturne, 3 games on Sejuani, 2 games on Olaf, 2 games on Gragas, and 1 game on Alistar, Kindred, and Xin Zhao.
While, again, these categories are loosely defined at best, Grig looks fairly unrestrained when it comes to champion select, totaling 25% of his games across Nocturne, Kindred, and Xin Zhao (champions we would consider damage dealers first,) and 25% games on Sejuani and Olaf (champions we would consider having aggressive early jungle tendencies.) Though Trundle was by far his most played at 35% of games, we don't think a minimum 50% of his matches on champions that would fit the label aggressive, or "high tempo," is evidence for organizational level restrictions to non-aggressive, or "low tempo," champions.
While the evidence seems to suggest MikeYeung had much more champion select freedom than his comments lead one to believe, there is likely at least a shred of truth to the idea that as a result of TSM, he picked less aggressive champions more often than he would've otherwise.
But this doesn't suggest that TSM handicapped MikeYeung's champion pool to the point of being replaced, and it doesn't mean this small change wasn't for reasons beyond TSM being TSM, with things like meta changes, matchups, and playstyles also in the mix.
In the end it seems MikeYeung's comments are a misrepresentation of his 2018 in the NA LCS, and of the organization he now represents in the Academy League.
It seems TSM has been allowing more frequent use of champions we wouldn't consider necessarily being their cup of tea, and with it (among many problems,) the team has now missed Worlds for the first time in years.
What do you think of TSM MikeYeung's comments about his organization and 2018? Let us know in the comments below!
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