How TSM have crashed to 0-4 in their worst-ever LCS start

Meg Kay
Tactical on stage with Spica in LCS Spring 2022
Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

It’s been a rough start to 2022 for TSM’s LCS roster.

TSM’s LCS roster has not had the smoothest of rides so far in 2022. They were forced to field their academy team for the LCS Lock In after visa issues left their two landmark offseason signings unable to enter the U.S in time for the start of the tournament.

They won only a single game in the Lock In, and finished dead last in their group. The poor showing was somewhat expected considering the lack of experience in their academy roster, and fans continued to hold out hope that the wins would start rolling in once midlaner Zhu ‘Keaiduo’ Xiong and support Wei ‘Shenyi’ Zijie were able to make it to the United States.

However, it’s been two weeks since TSM’s main roster made their LCS debut, and they’ve yet to pick up a victory. Their 0-4 start in the 2022 Spring split is the worst in the org’s history.

What’s going wrong for TSM?

TSM have four of the five players with the most deaths in the LCS. The only player not to appear in the top five is mid laner Keaiduo, with every other member of the roster racking up 15+ deaths in their opening four games.

Many LCS fans were expecting the team to face communication issues in their opening few games of the LCS. Keaiduo and Shenyi speak minimal English, and bilingual jungler Migyi ‘Spica’ Lu has taken the role of facilitating communication between the Mandarin-speaking and English-speaking sides of TSM’s roster.

In an interview with Upcomer, top laner Heo ‘Huni’ Seunghoon even admitted he “couldn’t guarantee” that the team would finish top three in Spring, a surprising display of self-doubt.

He compared the team’s communication issues to his time on Fnatic in 2015 as a non-English speaker, recounting that Fnatic’s performance was “not even comparable between spring and summer” after his English skills improved.

But with TSM’s current standard of play, it’s looking unlikely that they’ll be able to guarantee anything other than dead last. The team’s lack of cohesion, combined with some incredibly wonky drafting,  has seen them lose to Evil Geniuses, Dignitas, FlyQuest, and Golden Guardians.

Can they turn it around?

TSM Shenyi

There’s very little for fans to be excited about with this current iteration of TSM. Despite Huni’s assurances to Upcomer that he’d “never seen anyone on this roster actually lose lane”, the team have looked outclassed in almost every matchup they’ve played.

Across their four games, every single one of the team’s players has averaged gold, experience, and CS deficits at ten minutes in game.

AD Carry Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra, once hailed as one of North America’s most exciting young prospects, has shown almost none of the flair that netted him the Rookie of the Split award in Summer 2020.

Huni has looked completely lost, and TSM’s drafting hasn’t helped. The popularity of enchanter top laners with Smite saw him run Lulu top into Graves in their game versus Golden Guardians, a terrible matchup that left Huni with absolutely no agency in the game. The game ultimately ended in a base race, with Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie closing out the win for Golden Guardians.

Unfortunately for TSM fans, there are very few redeeming qualities to this roster. And if a recent tweet by caster Mark ‘MarkZ’ Zimmerman is to be believed, then this isn’t just a question of stage fright, either.

So what happens now?

Unfortunately, there is very little TSM can do to fix these issues in the short term. Their academy roster proved that they’re no match for the rest of the LCS with their poor showing in the Lock In, and there are very few free agents in North America who could come in to provide a short-term turnaround for the team.

More importantly, if their goal is to qualify for Worlds in the summer, then just bringing in new players as a band-aid solution is not going to work. If the team chooses to make sweeping changes now or at the end of Spring, they’re right back to square one.

These players have all proven in the past that they have the mechanical talent to rival NA’s best. Their problem is their cohesion, which doesn’t get better by making arbitrary roster swaps.

Fixing their communication seems as good a place as any to start, but it will take time. Ultimately, this roster needs to make a choice: focus all their energy on turning things around now, or commit to writing off the spring split in the hopes of a stronger showing come summer.

It’s time for TSM to make the call: do they want the organization to win, or do they want this roster to win?

If the former is true, then the chances are we’ll be seeing roster swaps further into the year. If the latter is the case, then fans will have to stick out a rough spring split and hope that the dark clouds will be lifted by the time the next split rolls around.