In the post-Bjergsen era, TSM are trying to find their identity. Following Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s decision to retire after the 2020 World Championship, TSM tried to create a super team of sorts that would be coached by the former superstar.
The team acquired top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, superstar mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, promoted Lawrence Sze Yuy “Lost” Hui from their academy roster, and signed veteran shot caller Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh, while retaining Mingyi “Spica” Lu from the 2020 roster. There were high hopes for the 2021 roster as it was both coached by Bjergsen and it looked like a great mix of veteran and younger talent, but sadly the meta just never fit them.
TSM had to reconstruct
Control mages were never in the meta to really let PowerOfEvil shine, and Lost’s champion pool never quite fit in with the demands of the meta, which meant that SwordArt was also never fully unleashed. In the end, this meant that they barely missed out on qualifying for the world championship, but despite the shortcomings of the team, the top side of Huni and Spica stood out as excellent performers for the team.
That’s why it really wasn’t all that surprising to fans that TSM decided to let go of everyone except Huni and Spica. When the news broke that Bjergsen was considering a return to pro play, several thought that he would simply reassume his old position in the team, but apparently, negotiations fell through and he eventually left the team that he has been with for eight years. The team had no mid laner at the moment, and Bjergsen had left at a relatively later time in the offseason. All of the star mid laners had already been taken, which meant that the team would have to go with younger talents.
We're making our first change ahead of the 2022 LCS season. A familiar face to many and our starting bot laner, @Tactical.
— TSM FTX (@TSM) November 20, 2021
Rising Chinese talents
First they revealed the return of Edward “Tactical” Ra, who was in their academy team in 2019. He is reunited with Spica, who he played with that year. Tactical is best known for his time in Team Liquid in 2020 and 2021, where he went to Worlds with the team. Soon, TSM also announced the acquisition of Wei “Shenyi” Zi-Jie for the support role and Zhu “Keaiduo” Xiong as their mid laner.
Shenyi and Keaiduo are both from China, and they both are rising talents who have played only in the LDL, the Chinese development league. Shenyi only started playing professionally in 2020, where he was in FunPlus Phoenix Blaze. Keaiduo only has his time with Thunder Talk Gaming’s academy team, Thunder Talk Young, listed as his professional experience. He started playing for that team in the beginning of 2021.
Welcome Keaiduo to TSM as our starting LCS mid-laner for 2022! #TSM@TSM_Keaiduo dominated our month-long scouting combine in Korea. He stood out as the top-performing mid-laner, bringing an aggressive look and crisp teamfighting. We can't wait for you to see him crush the LCS. pic.twitter.com/CFubFu4SAE
— TSM FTX (@TSM) December 9, 2021
TSM claims to have assessed them through their Scouting Combine, and there is not a lot of LDL footage readily available to the public. However, people who regularly follow South Korean solo queue offer the two players a lot of praise. Being a pro player in China requires a high solo queue ranking in the super server, and making it there means that at the very least, their mechanics are on point.
How will the new roster perform?
In the end, how this team will perform is up in the air. There is, of course, the language barrier. While Tactical and Spica grew up in the US, Tactical is of Korean descent and might not know Mandarin. Spica is Chinese, though, and that works to TSM’s advantage. Huni, of course, is South Korean and knows a good level of English. Whether Shenyi and Keaiduo could communicate well with them is still unknown at the moment, but it will take more effort from the TSM organization to bring them in and make this mix of players work.
That being said, TSM made a bold step in creating this roster, and could start a wave of importing Chinese talent into the LCS.