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3 Takeaways from TSM’s Week 3 Games

Week 3 started out very strong for TSM. They took down EG and 100T in dominating fashion. Then came the Dignitas game that TSM lost at nearly every level. Finishing the weekend at 2-1 and 6-3 overall placing them tied for second is definitely not a bad thing. Many probably thought it would take a while for TSM to get to this level of play. Yet they have done so quickly. Now it is time to take a look back at the games from the weekend and discuss some takeaways from them before the next weekend of games begin.

[Related: 5 Takeaways from TSM’s Week 2]

1. TSM Love Rift Herald

Rift Herald and whether it is worth focusing resources into it or not, especially second Rift Herald, has definitely become a highly debated topic. Many analysts, LS specifically, have mentioned that teams fighting over something that does not have a lot of guaranteed value is not worth as many resources as teams are giving up for it. This is because it is a gamble. By itself, it is only worth 100 gold, less than a turret plate and a wave of minions. It also provides 200 experience. That means that if it does not get turret plating or a tower it is not normally as valuable as other areas of the map.

Yet, TSM currently have the highest Rift Herald control percentage in the LCS, according to Oracles Elixir, at 78%. This is 11% higher than the next team, 100 Thieves. So when TSM went for Rift Herald during the Dignitas game it was not surprising. As Spica used the blast cone to jump over, he Q’ed and then Dardoch just timed it and smote away the Herald. At this point, TSM were already committed with Huni coming down and PoE coming in. The problem was that this was clearly not a fight TSM win as Soligo had first move and PoE couldn’t get into the fight with Dignitas pushing TSM towards the top lane. It resulted in TSM losing the Herald and giving over two easy kills to get Dignitas back in the game.

1A. But Should They Continue Focusing on it so Intently?

TSM clearly feel as though the Herald is important for the macro game but the question becomes why? Why force a fight and possibly a losing smite battle in those types of situations?

As a team that likes to play the macro game by getting as much vision as possible, the best way to get better vision lines into enemy territory is by taking towers. The Rift Herald helps to that end but the problem is that TSM are currently giving up a lot to try and get them. Even when they do, they are not guaranteed to get value out of it as they have fumbled the objective multiple times. Both in the Lock In tournament and in the regular season, TSM have had Rift Heralds and either they have timed out or TSM have dropped them and gained nothing.

This has definitely hurt TSM in multiple games and begs the question, is it worth it? If TSM can get priority and not have to fight or if they have first move from Huni and PoE then maybe it is worth it. If they have to call up SwordArt or more importantly Lost and he loses farm in the bot lane then probably not. They have lost advantages and fallen behind without gaining anything from it. This is not to say they shouldn’t try to take Rift Heralds but they do need to be better about the situation they are in and the decision making as to whether the gain is better than the loss.

2. Hopefully this New Meta Helps Spica

Before diving into this, do understand, Spica is a solid player and he is going to continue to get better. That said, so far this season Spica has had little impact in many of TSM’s games. This is not just from watching but the statistics are there to back it up. Here are some important stats that he ranks bottom five for across all LCS junglers according to Oracles Elixir:

  • Kills: 15 (8 out of 11)
  • Kill Participation: 56.6% (10 out of 11)
  • Team’s Kill Share: 13.3% (11 out of 11)
  • First Blood Percentage (Kills and Assists count): 11% (Tied for Last)
  • Gold Difference at 10: -102 (9 out of 11)
  • Experience Difference at 10: -92 (9 out of 11)
  • Creep Score Difference at 10: -.01 (7 out of 11)
  • CS per Minute: 6.2 (8 out of 11)
  • Damage to Champion per Minute: 290 (7 out of 11)
  • Counter Pick Percentage: 44% (7 out of 11)

When looking at these statistics it is clear that something is not clicking. These stats are not everything and yes, kills are not everything either. Even still, in a lot of statistics relative to how he compares to other junglers, the narrative of Spica being the most consistent member of TSM does not really add up. If it is based on him not dying much then that is absolutely true but maybe that is just because he is not in many of the fights?

His kill participation, which should be pretty high, is one of the lowest. In fact, it is in the bottom 10 of the LCS. There is something to be said about TSM not being a high-kill team and one that does not do much early game but this statistic takes that in account. When TSM are fighting and they get kills, Spica is not involved over 40% of the time. When comparing this to the last Split where Spica had a 73.4% kill participation, there is definitely some sort of disconnect.

Even in his “lane” he is losing to his opponents. Gold and experience differences while not astronomical, are still low with him ranking in the bottom three. So the argument that maybe he is just farming up to use that advantage in the mid-game does not hold much water either. That means that whether it is in the jungle or out in the lanes, Spica is not having the impact in the game that he surely wants to have.

That is why this new ganking meta might be great for Spica. He will hopefully have the opportunity to not only play champions that he has played well in the past such as J4, Sett, Gragas and Volibear but maybe even some new ones like Viego and Rek’Sai. Spica will be able to go into lanes and help them get ahead. These champions also allow him to get into and stay in fights unlike some of the other champions he was having to use. They will give him more agency to focus on other areas of the map as opposed to just farming in the jungle.

3. Losing to Dignitas was Actually a Good Thing

Sometimes the only way to get better is for teams to lose. This allows them to see flaws that they had that maybe were getting hidden by winning. Teams also get checked for certain aspects of their game that they were getting away with because their opponents either didn’t or couldn’t punish them for those mistakes. The Dignitas game allowed TSM to see that they still have plenty of work to do if they want to be the best team in the LCS.

For a team that had been rolling and just beaten the second-best team in the LCS, it looked like TSM might be ready to take on C9 for best team in the league. As they were playing there were flaws even in their extremely clean games that were possibly going unnoticed. The Dignitas loss pointed them out and punished TSM for them. One of them being noted here is TSM’s love for Rift Herald and their desire to fight over it when maybe they shouldn’t be. Also, Dignitas took away the Kai’Sa and Azir that had been key to victory for TSM.Those are just a few areas of the game but now TSM have seen these flaws and have been given an opportunity to work on them.

This is the perfect time for someone to have checked TSM. They are still tied for second and only one game behind C9. In fact, they get C9 for a second time in the last game of week five, a week in which TSM will face Dignitas again as well as 100 Thieves. TSM get the chance to find solutions to these flaws in a week where they face TL, CLG and FlyQuest. These are great teams to test new things out on and see if the practice surrounding these mistakes is working. Then after these game they can prepare for what one can only describe as a hell week in week five.

Overall losing to Dignitas came at the perfect time. It was unlikely TSM were going to run the gauntlet all the way to MSI. They still are likely to drops some games from now until then as well. The hope is that they can learn and grow from these losses. Being 6-3 allows for them to think this way because as long as they go 5-4 or even 4-5 in the second half of Spring, they will still make playoffs. Then that is when all of this learning can come full circle as they look to defend their LCS title.

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