Team SoloMid's Week 1 struggles have become tradition almost as old as the League of Legends itself. After the dust settled in Week 1 of the newly-franchised NA LCS, TSM finds itself 0-2.
Gloom and doom always follows TSM after any bad showing and that appears to be the same after the most recent Week 1 trouble. But if you look at the past year for TSM, this result is a familiar trend: A minor setback before the team dominates the NA LCS and there's a couple of reasons why.
To start, in the past two splits, TSM faced some of the toughest competition in the NA LCS in their first week of competition. In the spring and summer splits of last year, TSM ended the opening week 1-1 after facing Cloud9 and Immortals both times (losing to Cloud9 in the spring and Immortals in the summer). To put that into perspective, TSM lost to the teams that would eventually place second overall in the split in which they beat TSM. Who came out first in those two splits? TSM.
Now look at the teams TSM faced last week. Team Liquid and FlyQuest are rosters that on paper were set up to match up well against TSM. Team Liquid in particular had a man on a mission, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, the former AD Carry for TSM. He feasted on the new TSM bot lane of Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "Mithy" Rodriguez, ending the game with a 5/0/5 stat line. Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong of Team Liquid also had his way with Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell in the top lane, going 3/0/6 to Hauntzer's 0/3/0.
In the match against FlyQuest, TSM was faced with yet another former teammate, Jason "WildTurtle" Tran. His numbers were far from the impressive numbers of Doublelift, but it was considerably better than Zven, who ended the game, 1/2/7. Lee "Flame" Ho-jong of FlyQuest, considered one of the top imports in the NA LCS, went 4/1/7 in the match against TSM with Hauntzer going 2/4/7.
It may seem like I'm picking on Hauntzer and the TSM bot lane in these observations but they are the crucial factor in why TSM fans need not worry about the team's success for this split.
If we look back at Week 1s for TSM going back two splits we see that traditionally, Hauntzer simply hasn't played well. In his two 2017 spring split Week 1 matches, he combined for a KDA of 13/19/38. His two summer split Week 1 matches combined for a 6/13/15 stat line. Last week, his numbers mirrored this trend of previous performances as he had the worst KDA ratio among top laners in week 1. His numbers, however, tend to get better as the time progresses. Last year's spring split performance is a testament to that as he received more "Player of the Game" accolades than teammate Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. He is ultimately one of TSM's keys to success, but for whatever reason, he tends to come to life later in the season.
The bot lane performance is another metric that TSM lives and dies by. The splits of last year show that in the games TSM won in the first week, the bot lane of Doublelift and Vincent "Biofrost" Wang (and then Wildturtle and Biofrost) needed to see their respective ADCs net positive in their KDAs. This is a stat line that completely ignores the need for Hauntzer to contribute heavily.
Zven and Mithy fell way short of that last week. Zven went 1/4/4 across the two games, second to last in KDA among ADCs in Week 1. Numbers like these in a debut would cause alarm for any fans, but if we look to the previous splits, Zven has a key metric that hasn't existed in TSM for a while: he knows how to keep himself alive. In 2017, Zven netted among the least deaths for ADCs in the EU LCS in both splits while still managing to keep high kill participation numbers, and he did so with Mithy as his support. If Zven can continue to be a stalwart at staying alive while doing damage, it will benefit the team immensely.
One last thing that should ease wary TSM fans is what has always eased them in the past: Bjergsen. Like previous splits, Bjergsen is a kill machine but unlike previous splits he is doing so more effectively. He came of week 1 with a 5/0/5 stat line but more impressively, he did so with 100 percent kill participation. Those numbers came with chaos occurring in his team's top and bot lanes. Over the course of the next few weeks, the team will look to Bjergsen to lead and on the rift, he's already doing so with his play.
TSM fans, you have sung this song of woe before. But the numbers and trends are on your side for the team to turn the season around.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games