TSM is the best team in the history of NA LCS, but not this year. In the Spring Split, they were eliminated in the playoffs, and they’re not doing that well in the current Summer Split either. Good results are always demanded from them, so there’s a lot of pressure on TSM.
Meanwhile, there were drastic changes to the team during the Summer Split. Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo, who was the head coach, stepped down to strategic coach, and Ham “Lustboy” Jang-sik took his place. After the match on the 15th, we had a word with Lustboy on TSM’s current situation.
What’s the reason for the changes in the coaching staff?
The way I draft and SSONG drafts are different. When we had feedback within the team, we decided that my style of draft goes better with the team’s style. Since we draft according to my style, I had to be the one on stage. I feel more responsibility than ever now.
Compared to TSM in the past, the results aren’t as good. It seems that the players would feel a lot of pressure. How’s the team’s atmosphere?
TSM draws the most attention among the teams of NA, and all the people expect TSM to have good results; of course, the players feel a lot of pressure. Still, it seems that they don’t feel as pressured because they had experienced being unsuccessful during the Spring Split.
How is your relation with coach SSONG? It could be awkward since your positions were changed in the middle of the season.
SSONG is older than I am -- actually, I’ve never seen such thing happen in Korea or abroad. (I’ve never seen it in traditional sports either.) It’s a very exceptional event. One thing for sure is that our team still thinks SSONG is an excellent coach; our positions were shifted simply because of the draft. I think it was possible because SSONG was very understanding and dedicated to the team. Now, the whole team is satisfied and comfortable with the current situation.
Then what does SSONG focus on?
I’m mostly responsible for the draft, but when I get stuck, I ask him for advice. Other than that, SSONG concentrates on detailed performance of each player or analyzes the picks & bans data. He looks up which picks are popular in other regions, or finds out which will become effective.
Currently, TSM has a 4-4 record; not as good as expectations. What do you think the problem is?
There are many reasons, but I think the biggest reason is that the players don’t have enough faith in each other. Also, they’re not used to losing so much, so they’re not able to handle the current situation. Our bottom duo is players that were always in 1st place when they were in EU, and our mid and top laners have always been 1st in the NA. If they learn to accept the situation and start to gain faith in each other, I think our results will follow.
Grig is doing spectacularly in scrims, but it seems that he’s somewhat nervous in competitions. Before I started him, I knew that he was a person that gets nervous easily. I was worried a lot, but I’m satisfied with what he’s showing in competitions. He makes calls that are essential to the team and spices up the team in many different ways.
What about MikeYeung?
MikeYeung is also very good in scrims, but there’s a big difference in the play style between MikeYeung and Grig. We thought that Grig fits better into the team’s style. He’s capable of making calls or plays that the team needs more, so currently, we prefer Grig.
Many other teams still pick TSM when asked which team is the biggest threat. Even so, your results aren’t that good. Doesn’t the players feel more and more pressure?
It is a big burden to carry. I think the players feel heavy because their results during competitions aren’t as good as their scrims. It’s our problem to solve; if we’re able to overcome the faith issue I talked about earlier, good results will follow.
It seems that TSM is still holding on to the conservative style in the bottom lane picks. What’s the reason for that?
We’re trying many different champions during scrims, but there weren’t enough chances to play AP mage champions in competitions. It’s not a matter of confidence; the draft didn’t go in that direction.
Olleh spoke during an interview about Zven’s insane amount of practice. How are the bottom duo’s conditions?
The players who practice a lot expect results that are worthy of their practice, but if results don’t follow, they feel a sense of loss as much as they practiced. It seems that Zven is very disappointed. I think there’s not much to do on that for now. There’s not much we can do as a team but console him. The practice is good, scrims are good, everything is good, but the results just aren’t following. The best solution should be getting good results.
How do you think the rest of the season will go? Are you confident?
If the meta doesn’t change much, we can do well. I think we can even keep an eye on the throne. We just need a kick-start.
Did Reginald say anything?
Reginald used to come to the arena every season. He has a lot of passion, and as a former player himself, he gives a lot of advice. He was busy this year, so he hasn’t had the chance to advise the team in person.
For the players' mentalities, do you have a counselor, or are there other things that you’re trying to keep their morale high?
We’re getting help online from our former sports psychologist, Weldon.
Lastly, a word to the fans?
I want to say that I’m sorry to the fans who always support TSM. But the season isn’t over yet. I hope you evaluate us after the season’s over. I’d be very thankful if you cheer for us during the season.