TSM are fighting an uphill battle to change their perception following the storied organization’s worst-ever performance in LCS Spring 2022. Bot laner Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra isn’t even thinking about the past though, instead eyeing a Summer resurgence one game at a time.
After walking off the stage following TSM’s win against Immortals to finally kick off their LCS Summer 2022 campaign, there was some pep in Tactical’s step.
The AD carry, once considered to be North America’s next hope while on Team Liquid, breathed a sigh of relief after there was no repeat of TSM’s disaster Spring start where they lost their opening four games and sat with a 1-9 record at their worst.
They managed to get the ball rolling in Week 1 against their cellar dweller compatriots from the first half of 2022 off the back of yet another decisive jungle performance from Mingyi ‘Spica’ Lu. However, Tactical himself played no small part in the seven-time champion’s first win of Summer, with a lot of emphasis getting his Lucian ahead and snowballing.
“It would have sucked to have gone 0-3 in our first week given our prior history [in Spring],” he told Dexerto following the game. “It makes me relieved that we at least have a win after Week 1.
“I’d say considering how practice was going I was expecting to have a win within the first two matches, but I think I was setting my team back a little bit by not playing well [against CLG and 100 Thieves]. But today, my mind felt a lot clearer going into the game — I felt a lot better.”
Finishing the game with a 5/2/5 statline, there were some definite outplays as he wove around the dive-heavy Immortals composition with Nocturne and Azir. It was a play back into form after being demolished by Victor ‘FBI’ Huang’s Lucian on opening day and CLG’s Senna-Seraphine bot lane, piloted by Fatih ‘Luger’ Given and Philippe ‘Poome’ Lavoie-Giguere, on Saturday.
It was also a much needed confidence boost for the 21-year-old, who was dealing with some serious nerves amid fears of that Spring repeat.
“I was just nervous and there was a bit of anxiety that was taking over,” he explained.
“I’m not sure [what caused it] honestly. Obviously everyone has ups and downs during their career, but for me this came out of nowhere. We were doing really well in scrims early on in the week, but the last two days before this weekend I started to not play as well and I wasn’t as confident in myself. It just randomly happened and I was confused.”
While a loss to 100 Thieves for the new-look TSM roster was almost expected, the CLG loss came as a bit of a surprise. Tactical wasn’t able to get rolling on the Jinx with resets being constantly denied by the infinite sustain on their long-time rival’s side.
It felt like, for a short while, TSM were perhaps going to witness a repeat of Spring despite the roster shuffles. Those woes were unprecedented for the organization in the worst way possible. Not only was it tarnishing the community perception on the side and its players, but there wasn’t any way out of the hole.
“Everyone is optimistic at the start, but after the first two weeks we realized we were doing really poorly and we couldn’t really win,” he reflected. “On stage we would try but it never felt like the result would be good. At some point, we were used to losing because we did it so much.
“I don’t remember what our record was, but it felt bad knowing that even if we lost, we couldn’t even really improve. We weren’t even getting better.”
However, the instability looks to be fading away as TSM traded in the experimental rookie strategy for some veteran imports in Summer. Taiwanese mid lane superstar Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang was the big name pickup, bringing a wealth of experience from the international stage.
The more questioned one was a new support for TSM in Choi ‘Mia’ Sang-in, formerly of APK Prince and most recently Estral Esports in Latin America.
Mia would be Tactical’s third support this year alone, and the constant changes have admittedly taken a toll on his performance. There’s a bit more hope around Mia though in comparison to the relatively unproven duo of Wei ‘Shenyi’ Zi-Jie and Wang ‘Yursan’ Sheng-Yu from Spring.
“It is honestly pretty annoying having to play with multiple supports.
“I went from playing with CoreJJ [on Team Liquid] for two years to a completely new support, but it kept getting switched around. Most people have played with their support for a split already and I haven’t, but I just hope we can do well and catch up.
“When I play with Mia, he’s more experienced so as a result the baseline knowledge is higher. His communication is better than [Shenyi and Yursan] and he’s more flexible as a player, so it helps us as a team especially with Maple coming in. Our top side is strong, and Mia is here to help stabilize bot lane.”
It might only be one win, but there’s hope in Tactical’s eyes about what the future could potentially hold in LCS Summer. The team is just writing off their Spring experience as a one-off, and a return to (near) the top is on the cards for TSM.
“How we’re working right now — Spring split never happened. We’re all looking forward to doing better in Summer. It’s a brand new team basically. We’ll look at it as a fluke because there were a lot of external factors that affected TSM in Spring, so we just have to look towards the future.
“This time around our vibes are a lot better, and for myself I’m confident I can do better. I know the trajectory of Summer will be a lot better for sure.”
Despite the ambition, there’s no point putting unnecessary pressure on the team. There’s no lofty goals of doing well at Worlds, or even making it there. Instead Tactical and TSM are taking everything one step at a time and almost relearning how to walk again — because before you can fly at Worlds, you’ve got to make playoffs first.
“I don’t want to jump to goals because going from ninth place to Worlds is too much unnecessary pressure. Playoffs would be nice, and if we think we can do well in playoffs, we’ll be confident we could qualify for Worlds.
“I can sense that we have really good players who are very smart and understand the game. Even being on Team Liquid before who had some many experienced veterans, I feel like we can do a somewhat similar job as long as we can improve.”