Tristan ‘PowerOfEvil’ Schrage has laughed off claims TSM doesn’t deserve to be leading the LCS 2021 Summer title race because of issues for rivals like Cloud9 and Team Liquid, dubbing those suggestions “naive.”
TSM has enjoyed a blistering start to Summer.
The seven-time LCS champs started their split campaign with a 3–0, before stumbling to a 1–2 second week with losses to 100 Thieves and FlyQuest. TSM were able to pick themselves back up and chalk up another undefeated three-game week, however, and reclaim their uncontested spot atop the Summer standings.
The team’s early record — seven wins and two losses so far — is the envy of every one of TSM’s rivals, and for good reason; it’s put them in the driver’s seat.
LCS fans have been a little less impressed. With C9 reshuffling their bot lane and Liquid benching star laner Alphari, then more recently sacking head coach Jatt, many have written TSM’s start off as “lucky.”
PowerOfEvil laughed off those claims.
“That’s a little naive for them to say,” he told Dexerto ahead of LCS Week 4. “We played against Team Liquid when they were playing Alphari, and when we won against Cloud9 they had already had games with k1ng under their belts.
“I would say [those claims] make not too much sense. There were factors to why [C9 and TL] didn’t perform as well, but we still had to go out and win those games.”
PowerOfEvil is under no illusions TSM is North America’s best team just yet either. His League of Legends lineup shares their 7–2 start with 100 Thieves — who are also tempering early expectations — and says they’re trying to learn from the “marathon” Summer season.
He said: “I think we can be happy with our start.”
“At the same time, though, we’re not ‘going to the moon’ just yet,” the TSM star added with a laugh. “Some of our wins were really close, really shocking how we won some.
“There’s a lot that we have to improve on. I think we deserve our good start, but there’s no arguing that a lot of teams are playing worse than us, and that helps. A lot of teams are imploding. We’ll start to see what Cloud9 and TL are like when they get Zven and Alphari back, so we have to make sure we’re ready. Even 100 Thieves, right behind us, it will all come down to how everyone keeps up.
“What we’re trying to do is take away as much as we can. We’ve only had one-third of games, and there’s 18 more to come. TSM’s identity has been something we’ve looked at a lot; trying to see what styles fit us, what we like playing. When we have all of them in the book we can pick the best ones.
“The meta is really open at the moment. I like that… there’s assassins, mages, meaty mid laners like Viego. It’s fun at the moment. Mages are getting buffed soon too.”
One thing Schrage did point to as a spark for TSM’s early success was a moment after their “disappointing” 1–2 week. The team was rattled, especially by their loss to close table rivals 100 Thieves, and were struggling to get back on track.
By all accounts, TSM’s scrims heading into that round had been off-kilter and sluggish. That, unsurprisingly, translated into less than stellar stage games for Team SoloMid, who only managed to avoid a clean sweep of defeats by bundling up old enemies CLG on Sunday evening. Cracks began to form, just a little.
The TSM coaching staff swooped immediately.
Soon after their CLG win, POE and the rest of the TSM lineup found themselves in a circle. They were given the chance to voice any concerns. According to Schrage, there was a focus on focus, scrim struggles, and “putting in 100% effort.”
“It was a serious talk, yes, but we all really embraced it.
“I think it has been really, really helpful,” he admitted. “I’ve had this in a lot of teams. We did it in FlyQuest, there were problems there, we talked about it all, and cleared the air. It’s not healthy to leave things unsaid; everything bubbles up, even if it wasn’t a big deal, and things just go so wrong.
“The more friendly you are with teammates, the better you work together. I think that’s the European style; no sugar-coating. It’s been really good for us.”