After a 3rd place finish in the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Mid-Season Showdown, TSM came into the Summer Split looking to improve its placing — and improve it did. With wins over Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and Golden Guardians, TSM went 3-0 in its first three games in the LCS Summer Split. At 15-6, TSM holds sole possession of 1st place in the 2021 LCS season.
After TSM's undefeated start to the 2021 LCS Summer Split, Mingyi "Spica" Lu joined Inven Global to discuss the team's improvements since the LCS Mid-Season Showdown, the state of the competitive jungle meta, and the recent roster swaps made by Cloud9, Team Liquid, Fnatic and SK Gaming.
TSM was the only team to open the LCS Summer Split with a 3-0 week. How are you feeling about your team's performance this week, and how did it compare to expectations?
I think we played decently well; we actually played really, really well in the first game against TL. We definitely could have played the mid and late game better, but still, I was really satisfied with our performance in the TL game. I think that in the EG and GG games we didn't really play towards my expectations of our strength or how good we are, so I definitely think we can still improve a lot.
The games were contentious at certain points, but overall, it felt that TSM's superior teamfighting was the primary difference-maker in these three wins. Is that simply due to the team not changing its roster and by extension being more familiar with one another, or was teamfighting something your team worked on since your last competitive match?
The biggest difference is that we focused on teamfighting a lot more heading into the Summer Split. I think teamfighting is actually the main reason we lost in the LCS Mid-Season Showdown. In both series against TL, we had really, really poor teamfighting. Every time we went to the dragon pit, we would just lose a fight even though we were ahead in the early game or through macro play. We've had a really big focus on the early game and showing we could improve our teamfighting.
How do you feel you played individually in your first games of the Summer Split?
I would say there's definitely still room for improvement. The better and more cohesively a team plays, the better the jungler looks, so I think I could still play better, for sure.
I know you played an offline match in the semifinals of the Mid-Season Showdown within the past few months, but has it been an experience all of its own to return to competing in the LCS studio?
Definitely. I think playing in the studio is just more exciting. Hopefully, there is going to be fans for the full experience, but I think the games overall feel more intense on the LCS stage. Before, playing in an official league from your apartment didn't really feel the same; there's not enough tension. I definitely appreciate the change.
TSM got to play offline recently in the Mid-Season Showdown. Do you feel that gave you an advantage thus far over teams who had only played online in 2021?
It definitely didn't matter much for me. Our team is pretty experienced outside of Lost, who is kind of a rookie in terms of LCS. I'd say we're pretty accustomed to playing on stage, so it's just a welcome change. We're all really familiar with this stage. There are a lot of new players and rookies coming into the LCS this year, so maybe playing on stage is kind of unnerving to them because they're not really accustomed, but I definitely like the change
TSM has secured 1st place in the LCS at the end of week 1 while Team Liquid and Cloud9 have benched star players. What are your thoughts on these roster changes?
I definitely think both teams are weaker. The dynamic of these teams when bringing in the new players can change a lot with their LCS counterparts benched.
Oftentimes, it can be a negative thing, but right now, it's really hard to speculate. Still, I think both teams have really, really good players, right? TL still has CoreJJ and Jensen, who are really consistent and have played for a long time. C9 has Blaber and Perkz, who are both really, really good players, so I think they can definitely integrate the new players.
We've seen some recent roleswaps to jungle in the LEC. Do you think the current jungle meta contributed to the possibility of these roleswaps?
Yeah, I think the jungle meta is definitely a big factor. Jungle was recently changed in the off-season between the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational and now, but in spring, the jungle meta was very, very stale.
Honestly, it was just very one-dimensional. Most of the time, you're full clearing, but I think with the jungle changes, there's going to be a lot more junglers that are viable once the top jungle picks are banned. I'd say that you can already start to tell the difference between a good and bad jungler, so I think it's going to be really interesting to see how the new junglers in the LEC stack up to the jungle mains. I think it's going to be really exciting.
We've seen some familiar junglers in the meta thus far like Rumble and Udyr, but also, some newer picks like Xin Zhao. In your opinion, what makes a jungler strong in the meta, and how has that changed since MSI 2021?
I think that right now, Udyr and Rumble are definitely the two strongest junglers in the game. In my opinion, Udyr is still the strongest jungler. He clears really quickly, has great early skirmishing, and has heavy CC.
The criteria for what makes a jungle champion is still pretty similar to what it was at MSI, but there's just more leeway for more off-meta junglers to be viable. For example, champions like Xin Zhao and Sejuani are becoming more popular. Junglers have more time now because the respawn timer of camps was increased, so if you're playing a ganking jungler or champions that farm slow, you can have more opportunity to gank and not fall behind an enemy jungler that is just afk farming.
In spring, as a jungler, you were only farming and looking for one fight after your full clear, so I think this is definitely a welcome change and I'm looking forward to seeing which champions pop off in the future.
As his former teammate, how do you think Bjergsen has evolved as a coach since he started at the beginning of the season?
I think the drafts are better and have been getting better throughout the course of the season. I think the biggest change is that we are just focusing on player strength in terms of being more flexible, what makes a player good, and what they want to play. For now, that's the biggest change between spring and summer in terms of what we do better.
TSM recently signed a landmark deal with FTX. Has that had any affect on the League of Legends team?
It's a partnership between TSM and FTX, and so far, Riot has not allowed the use of FTX on its broadcast, so I suppose I'm not really knowledgeable enough to comment on those differences. However, I think it's still in the early stages of the partnership and I guess we'll see what more comes through from it.
Thanks so much for your time, Spica. Is there anything you want to say to the TSM fans?
Thank you guys for supporting us. I think we're doing a lot better than we did in spring, so thanks for staying through with us. Throughout the spring, we weren't really performing, but I think now...we're ready to smash.
All images by: Riot Games
Note: This article previously stated that TSM was the only team to start the LCS Summer Split 3-0, which is incorrect. Immortals also went 3-0, and the mistake in the article has been rectified to reflect that truth.