On the 23rd of July, 'Team Solo Mid' and 'Echo Fox' clashed atop the LCS stage. As expected from the fans, TSM took the series for themselves. As the players from both sides climbed down from the stage, we wanted to personally hear from the players of TSM regarding their recent performances, opinions on the meta, and their expectations for the playoffs. While we were caught amidst our thoughts, we were granted an opportunity to speak with Doublelift, a player famous for his mechanical prowess.
And so, we began.
Congratulations on your victory! How do you feel?
First of all, I think 'Patch 7.14' was a big mix-up patch where bottom teams can do well while top teams can struggle. At the moment, there are so many powerful champions. For example, In the Jungle; Sejuani, Maokai, and Cho'Gath are becoming strong picks. Also, there are many champions that are being utilized for different purposes in the toplane; such as Camille and Fiora for split pushing comps and Maokai and Cho'Gath for teamfighting comps.
Each and every team is playing the meta to their advantages by utilizing unique strategies. And so, I am not happy with my team at the moment. We need to find the champions and playstyle for this meta just like how the other teams are. We still have a lot to learn, especially from our loss against Dignitas.
After returning from the 'Rift Rivals', it looked as if TSM's performance fumbled a little bit. Do you think the event had an impact on the team?
Our playstyle and team comp didn't really change too much from 'Rift Rivals'. What really impacted our team is the loss of practice time from the traveling. We could've instead spent the time fortifying our mechanical skills by playing solo queue or finding new playstyles by scrimming. The whole ordeal really made us predictable for the other teams.
Although we won 4-0 on our return, the way we won was pretty bad. And on this weekend, we just had a bad understanding of the meta. Big patches like this really give top teams a hard time to remain at the top.
Bjergsen got his 1,000th kill during the 1st set of the series. Since you have achieved this before him, do you have any advice for him?
Bjergsen was actually very surprised when that was announced. The announced '1,000th kill' only counted his kills from the NA LCS. He would've achieved it way before me if they had also counted his kills from EU. I hope this doesn't affect his ego too much.
You seem to really like Tristana.
Well... Tristana is great when the enemy botlane is built around killing you. She is a real safe pick for playing against dangerous matchups. For example, when going against Kalista and Blitzcrank, you can utilize Tristana's 'Rocket jump' to glitch out Blitzcrank's hook or Kalista's ultimate. She also scales really well into the late-game, as long as you can survive early.
This strategy worked really well for us at Rift Rivals, and it worked out okay so far for NA LCS. But then, the new patch really took a toll on her. In the current patch, the snowball effect is so high that when you lose lane, you end up losing control of all the objectives and eventually the game itself. We weren't aware of this during our recent games and lost - because I wasn't able to pressure the enemy laner.
You have been playing professionally for a long time. Out of the many support players that you have played with, how do you rate Biofrost?
Biofrost takes a long time to learn a new champion when the meta shifts. But when the meta is stable - like when Braum and Tahm Kench or Lulu and Karma were played every single game - he plays really well. Sometimes, he makes many mistakes. But at other times, he plays perfectly. We are currently doing our best to become consistent in order to be the best botlane again.
It's almost certain now that TSM will qualify for the playoffs. How do you think the team will fare against IMT and/or CLG?
TSM usually wins against CLG, so I'm not super worried about them. IMT, on the other hand, is kind of worrisome because Flame plays really well with their jungler, Xmithie, and their botlane is very strong in 2vs2 situations.
Right now, we're at 0% of where we should be. All of the strategies that we practiced were proven ineffective during our series against Dignitas. Everyone in our team right now is playing super passively, and they don't know how to make the right calls. As a result, no one is truly leading the team. We look really bad right now, so we need to hurry up and find our playstyle for this meta while making as little mistakes as possible on stage.
Do you think that maybe the tank jungler meta is the reason TSM is playing passively?
Yeah, it is so weird! We heard tank junglers were really good, so we started playing them. But then, the opposing teams started utilizing that fact by constantly invading our jungle. During scrims, the enemy almost always picked tanky junglers like Sejuani but ended up playing something totally different on stage. We didn't really know the tank vs carry jungler matchup, but we are now learning. We really need to figure out what's the best for this meta.
This is a personal question... Now that you've been in the team for a long time, how do you feel when you hear the 'TSM chant' from the crowd?
Because I have been a part of CLG for about half of my career, it feels good and weird at the same time. When I hear the chant, I react to it like: "Ugh, it's the TSM chant again... oh wait, that's for me!" The chant also puts me under pressure at times.
TSM always had high expectations going into Worlds, and so, I want to meet that expectation and make TSM at least the top 4 team. I want to hear the chant during Worlds.
Why do you think TSM is one of the most consistent teams in the NA LCS?
I think Reginald is the reason. He is a great leader for both inside and outside of the game. He is also very good at choosing the "right" players for the team roster.
And as for the players, we all share many different opinions and strategies when playing the game. Our mentality also helps us stay competitive. For example, when we perform badly, each player gets angry at themselves and strives to improve.
When I performed badly against Dignitas, I got really angry, and told myself, "Never make that mistake again."