TSM currently sits at the LCS at the bottom of the standings. After two weeks, the team is winless. An organization looking to turn a new leaf following the departure of the face of their franchise instead appears to be trying to flip a heavy boulder while stuck in the mud.
It’s hard not to panic.
Labeled as a developmental roster, it is the parting creation of long-time general manager Parth “parth” Naidu. A roster centered around young talent from the far east, this was a stark contrast from the direction LCS teams were taking. It was also a massive risk. The organization has now built around not just a player but an idea, a vision. And as they’re currently finding out, the vision is very difficult to execute.
There was an excessive amount of confidence in critical areas.
There was the belief that Zhu “Keaiduo“Xiang and Wei”Shenyi” Zi-Jie were undiscovered, incredible prospects. It’s too early to tell where they are at and how good their potential ceilings are. However, it would be ignorant to not express some concerns about their current level of performance. While mechanically showingcasing some glimpses of why they were valued so highly, their performances in the laning phase have been pitiful at best.
Then there was the belief that the language discrepancies could be worked through. While potentially unable to speak the same spoken language, everyone on the team would understand the language of League of Legends. That, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be the case with clear byproducts of miscommunication showing up in their matches. Poor team fights, hesitant decision-making were capitalized upon by their opponents.
But maybe the biggest blunder and the biggest head-scratcher was their belief that there is time to work through all of their issues and develop these young players.
The organization has publicly stated to the media that the team was unable to complete planned training due to visa and COVID complications. Understandably, this is critical in getting the players in the same location and getting quality practice in. This is a young team — with top-laner Heo “huni” Seung-hoon being the old man at age 24. It is also a relatively green team when it comes to competitive League of Legends.
“We did have a lot of challenges this offseason but, you know, the big part of me being here is hopefully to already start planning ahead and making sure that we don’t have those challenges in the future. That we can’t use these excuses here going forward. And so, that’s something I am working not only with our coaching staff but with our esports staff as well to make sure that we’re getting everything corrected here.”
– Dominic Callas
Newly appointed VP of Esports Dominic Kallas from Gen G hopefully will help reduce the potential impact of events like these in the future. But it is important to acknowledge that this is what transpired and this is where the team is currently at. You can’t just ignore something bad that happened.
Complications in introducing foreign talent into new environments has been a long-standing issue in all of esports. Most teams haven’t found a good answer for it either. Instead, it has typically been seen as a bump in the road. It is seen as a temporary setback for future gain. However, imports brought over typically are established figures in the scene. Or, they at least understand English.
It was communicated early that Keaiduo and Shenyi weren’t great with the language. As mentioned by Naidu in a Reddit AMA, the intention was for them to speak in Mandarin in-game with TSM’s jungle being able to understand language as well. It should be known that TSM’s marksman — who has to lane with his support — does not know Mandarin. But the team could work through it.
This line of thinking didn’t make much sense. While the team does have a head coach and Head of Player Development that are bilingual in Mandarin and English, there are still other members of the staff that aren’t. Not every player on TSM can understand Mandarin.
Why did they think this was a good idea again?
There was so much that could go wrong with this lineup, with this vision. So much already has gone wrong. And while respectable, the worst part is that TSM has fully committed to this vision for 2022. The team recently announced the signing of assistant general manager Yang “glen” Po-Jen — who if he sounds familiar, it is because he leaked scrims as the manager for PSG Talon. Even if TSM Academy were performing at an above-average level — which they currently aren’t, it would be tough to introduce any single member of that line-up into the main roster.
They’re stuck with this lineup.
TSM’s Head of Global Social and Community Duncan Fox took to social media after their loss to Golden Guardians:
My only advice for fans rn is to avoid media and shit takes from casters/analysts about already hitting our ceiling.
I’ve sat in reviews, I’ve watched scrims. They know their issues and they’re working on them. It just takes time. I have faith.
There’s this idea that time heals all wounds. With the LCS returning to a previous format in 2022 and the spring season record not impacting a team’s ability to qualify for the World Championship, TSM and its fans have every right to believe that because they are finally together, time can fix their problems.
But there are so many problems.
This was not a well-thought-out vision nor was it a well-thought-out roster. Players are not in a position to succeed, coaches are not in an optimal environment to do their job. Currently, the team is saving themselves from being an embarrassment on the LCS broadcast through survival instincts and errors from their counterparts. Even if everything worked according to plan, it still is questionable if the players on the team are better than their counterparts. The man they trusted with the keys to the franchise, 2021 MVP Mingyi “spica” Lu has not looked great to start his second full season.
Most of their problems aren’t necessarily League of Legends related either. A lot of it is relating to team chemistry, communication, creating a training routine. They’re still getting the team up and running.
To make an analogy, this isn’t a game where a team is able to wait until the late game to teamfight like most. This isn’t like Team Liquid where they’re just waiting for a visa to be approved. This is a situation where a team is currently on 200 ping trying to fix their Wi-Fi while the other team working through the laning phase. Even if you fix the ping, you still have to address the fact that a games is going on.
While this is completely on the fault of TSM management for putting the team in this position to begin with. If they pull this off, it will be a thing of miracles. Not only will it be a miracle for TSM to make Worlds once again — it feels somewhat forgotten that they aren’t a sure thing to represent North America anymore. It will be a miracle that the team was able to completely rebuild their front office and lineup in such a short period of time and succeed.
But unfortunately for TSM, luck hasn’t been on their side for a long time.
“From Our House to Yours”