After a long period of free agency, Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham has found a home. The North American Jungler will be playing for TSM Academy, per an official announcement from TSM's website. TSM also announced its starting roster for the 2019 LCS Spring Split:
Top Lane: Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik
Jungle: Jonathan "Grig" Armao
Mid Lane: Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg
AD Carry: Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen
Support: Andy "Smoothie" Ta
Akaadian, who debuted on Echo Fox in the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, spent a mostly forgettable 2018 as the Jungler for OpTic Gaming. For Akaadian, TSM Academy is a chance to regain the confidence that propelled him through the first five weeks of his debut split.
Since the meteoric start to his career, Akaadian has struggled to regain elite form on a consistent basis. The lower stakes of the NA Academy League worked wonders for Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen in his mid-summer slump last season with Cloud9. It may be able to do the same for Akaadian.
For TSM, signing Akaadian provides depth at the weakest point of the roster in Jonathan "Grig" Armao. Grig was never the starting plan for TSM, but has performed admirably given his circumstances. However, the meta is only further leaning towards the aggressive, carry style of early game jungling. If Grig's controlled pace is not what TSM needs in the 2019 LCS Spring Split, Akaadian's reckless abandon might be the early game spark required to return to top form.
If TSM has learned from Mike "MikeYeung" Yeung's 2018, Akaadian should be given free reign to define his playstyle in the NA Academy League. In an article with The Players' Lobby, Akaadian wrote about certain aspects of his mentality that he had worked through during his time on OpTic:
Whether or not I’m going to make the most of that remains to be seen, but I definitely have more confidence in myself and a better understanding of my abilities.
I’m done doubting myself.
TSM missed the League of Legends World Championship for the first time in the organization's history in 2018. Signing Akaadian shows an organizational understanding of the growing imporatance of depth in the franchised era of the LCS.