When a team has a lot of moving pieces, there comes with it some uncertainty. For TSM, 2021 bring this in spades. Between their main LCS team and Academy, only one player is still remaining from what was a successful 2020, Spica. They have brought in nine new players and while the rosters, at least initially, are set, there could be some shifting.
Looking specifically at the top lane and bot lane, TSM potentially have some options. They have Huni starting currently and Hauntzer in Academy. TSM also have Lost in the bot lane with CodySun in Academy. These are four LCS level players with only two spots. Instead of choosing between them, could TSM use all of them during the 2021 season?
Previous and Current Examples
There have been many different teams in the past that have used rosters bigger than the normal five players. If they do this, then teams normally will use anywhere from six to eight players. Before diving into whether TSM should do an expanded roster, here is a look at some teams who did and the impact it had on their season.
The successful ones include teams like T1 who have used up to eight players on the main roster. While not all of them got even playing time, most of the players did have an impact on helping the team win a second World Championship in 2015. DAMWON are another team who have consistently used more than five players. In 2019 they used nine different players and even in Worlds Championship 2020 they started the season with seven players before narrowing the roster down to five.
Then there are teams who use the expanded roster to test things out. Huni was on one of these teams and dealt with an expanded roster for a full season. Just last season he split time with Kumo in the top lane and even played some games in Academy. The results ended up being mixed but to a certain degree, the team was able to move pieces in and out without too much issue.
Looking at 2021, Misfits have already announced an expanded roster. They will be playing with seven players with Agresivoo and HiRit sharing the top lane and denyk and Vander at support. This team is similar to TSM in the fact that they have changed a lot of players around and even someone like denyk has been in and out of the lineup already. It will be interesting to see how they use all of their players this season.
Why They May Not
LCS Schedule Change
When looking at some of the previous users of expanded rosters, TSM may be a bit hesitant. They see two teams that have made deep runs but have sacrificed a bit at the beginning of their seasons. Normally this would not be an issue but because of the LCS season format changes, every game counts towards making Worlds. TSM may not want to sacrifice anything in the early season for fear of it rearing its ugly head come the end of the season.
Cohesion and Consistency
The other and possibly bigger reason is that TSM will need the team cohesion to be strong. This brings about more consistency which is important for a team looking to make a run at Worlds. They have to trust each other and know how each player plays. Many players on the best teams mention that they naturally know how their teammates will react even without talking about it. In this area, TSM are already behind. Sure most of the LCS teams have also made changes but, the three that TSM will likely be competing with, 100 Thieves, Cloud9 and Team Liquid are all relatively the same or have a player like Perkz joining them.
For TSM, sticking with Huni, Spica, PoE, Lost and SwordArt for a full season could be very advantageous. They would be able to build synergy and show everyone what their highest highs or lowest lows are like. Knowledge like this is extremely helpful for teams. Should TSM decide not to go with a seven-man roster, they would know what they need to when looking at 2022 and beyond if nothing else.
Why They Should
Pressure and Insurance
Evan as Academy players, TSM brought in both Hauntzer and CodySun for two reasons.
The first is that they will put good pressure on Huni and Lost to perform. While some may not see this as a “good” thing, it is. Healthy competition will not only push them to be better with each game, but it also helps them prepare for stressful situations such as performing at Worlds. If they can handle the stress of keeping their position, it should only help them with the different stressors that a normal season would bring anyway. This also works the other way for Hauntzer and CodySun. They should be pushing for starting spots and healthy competition should only help them get better as well.
The second is that both Hauntzer and CodySun are easily able to plug into a roster like this should Huni or Lost struggle. This one is fairly obvious but it is worth repeating. These two are a part of TSM for this very reason.
Moving to the Seven-Man Roster
While both players can provide pressure and insurance on the Academy roster, they can do it better if they were on the main roster getting some playing time. TSM have done this in the past when they were trying to decide between Grig and Akaadian. While this may not have worked out perfectly, they ended up going with Akaadian and still made a run to the finals.
TSM should look at both the 2021 Top and Bot lane in a similar way as they did with Grig and Akaadian. By having Hauntzer and CodySun working more diligently with the main roster and even getting some spot starts, the staff can get a better feel for who will work better with the team. This is especially true and really should only be tested during the early season. TSM could use the first few weeks during or after the Lock-In tournament to try some things out.
The ultimate 2021 goal for TSM is to win another LCS Championship and make a deep run or win at Worlds. For a team that seemed uncertain with Huni and Lost in the first place, going with a seven-man roster is not the worst idea. They clearly signed them with the intent to be more than just Academy players if needed. By announcing and using an official seven-man roster, they can use the first half or so of the season to determine who the best five players are to help them accomplish their goals.
What to Do?
It seems like TSM are currently content with running the initially announced five-man roster of Huni, Spica, PoE, Lost and SwordArt. That said there is still almost a month until the preseason Lock-In tournament begins and closer to two months until the real 2021 season begins. TSM will need to look hard at their goals for this season and decide how they want to proceed. The thing is that a lot of teams wish they had this problem. Having talent is never a bad thing and TSM are in an enviable position to try and see who best fits with their team as they prepare for a new season.
“From Our Haus to Yours”