History Made: Analysis into Team SoloMid’s failure at LoL Worlds 2020

*Dear Readers, as you know, Re:Cover Esports is a blog dedicated to bringing Cyber Security and Risk knowledge to the esports frontier, and most of our articles focus on the business side of esports. However, the following article takes a look at some of the strategic decisions made within the League of Legends (LoL) professional matches, specifically focussing on the top North American (NA) seeds’ failure at the Worlds 2020 tournament. We aim to understand what fundamentally went wrong for the team by focussing on one extremely close game and one widely criticised misplay. As passionate esports fans ourselves, we love to watch and make our own analysis on how teams perform from the comfort of our homes. We will continue to look at the risk and digital side of esports, but hope that you enjoy this new type of content as well.

Now synonymous with failure, the North American League of Legends representatives are routinely unable to hang with the big dogs at the World Championships. The rare quarterfinals appearance (most commonly from Cloud 9 who were notably absent this year) is never enough to satisfy either the fans or teams, who promise in vain that the next year will be different. 2020 was no different, with all three NA teams failing to qualify past the group stage. While FlyQuest and Team Liquid (the second and third seeds respectively) achieved as many wins as losses, both finishing 3-3, it wasn’t enough to take down the Chinese, Korean and European titans in their groups. If Liquid and FlyQuest finishing third was the final result of North America at Worlds, it would have been a familiar story – just another mediocre NA performance. However, after a dismal zero wins and 6 losses from TSM, NA’s champions and first seed, in a group where all teams seemed on even-footing, the rest of the world laughed. The ridicule and banter at TSM’s expense seems widely justified, as TSM appeared outclassed in the majority of their matches, but it all leads to one central question: What exactly went wrong for TSM?

There is a myriad of angles that analysts can look at the problem from: We could look at TSM’s historical performance at worlds and surmise that it could be a mental issue, or perhaps we could look at their in-game champion and itemisation choices and discuss how the choices they made were inappropriate in each scenario. This would be an exercise of herculean effort and incredible tedium, breaking down every component of this team would take more time than it took for TSM to exit the Worlds stage. Accordingly, we have decided to focus on a few select scenarios that will provide insight into TSM’s decision making (or lack thereof), and their speedrun out of Worlds contention.

TSM vs LGD: Small Decisions have Large Knock-On Effects

We have selected to analyse the LGD matchup from Week 2, focussing on the macro decisions TSM made this game which resulted in a narrow loss. From an advancement perspective, this game did not matter for TSM; they had already accumulated five losses and were guaranteed to finish last in their group. However, this was arguably the closest chance TSM had to winning a game, and the team made some intelligent plays which may have preserved some of their dignity if they had managed to follow through.

The Draft

As any analyst with their mettle will tell you, games can be won or lost purely from the drafting stage alone. The draft indicates what style the teams intend to play during the game, and often enables viewers to determine each teams’ win condition. Let’s take a look at the TSM-LGD draft.

TSM begin by banning out Twisted Fate and Lucian, who are two champions midlane champions in the current meta. These champions both exert a high degree of lane control in the early game, so it is clear that TSM are looking to draft a passive laner for Bjergsen, likely either a scaling control mage or facilitator (Galio or Zilean fit the description nicely). Additionally, TSM ban Renekton who is a dominant toplaner in the early laning phase. While Renekton is primarily a toplaner, he can be flexed to midlane, so this ban provides both Bjergsen and BrokenBlade with some more liberty to choose comfortable champions.

LGD ban Caitlyn and Ornn – two extremely safe champions. While Caitlynn can exert incredible pressure through lane dominance, Ornn is useful throughout the entire game primarily due to Call of the Forge God (his ultimate) and Ornn item upgrades. LGD also ban Syndra away from Bjergsen. Bjergsen is highly proficient on Syndra, and she is a very strong champion in the current meta, so this makes sense to nullify one of TSM’s biggest threats.

TSM pick Zilean, Graves and Camille in the first rotation. Zilean is a scaling midlane control mage facilitator, and a comfort pick for Bjergsen. Graves is one of two top jungle champions in this meta, boasting high damage and skirmishing ability. Camille is a toplaner that will scale into a strong split-pushing champion during the late game. This allows TSM to pressure multiple lanes at once, as the ideal state will be one where Camille is unkillable in a 1v1 situation in the late game. If LGD commit multiple members to Camille, it will open up the map for TSM to make proactive plays with a player advantage. From these first three picks alone, we can tell that TSM are looking to draft a team composition that scales well into the late game and relies on smart macro-play through map control and split-push.

LGD pick Orianna, Nidalee and Pantheon in their first rotation. Orianna is a control mage good at all stages of the game, and will be able to apply early pressure in the midlane. Nidalee is the other dominant jungler at Worlds, and a common counter pick to Graves in the jungle. Nidalee can duel with Graves on even footing, and provides high burst damage for her team as the game continues into the later stages. Pantheon is played as a high-damage support champion who can apply pressure globally across the map using his ultimate – Grand Skyfall. These three champions indicate that LGD are looking to skirmish early into the game, and get their lanes ahead through jungle and support pressure from Nidalee and Pantheon.

TSM ban Volibear and Jax to prevent any proactive skirmish-heavy toplane champions from being able to answer Camille in the split push. LGD respond by banning Tahm Kench and Leona, two support champions, away from Biofrost. Tahm Kench is a great ban for LGD because his ultimate can allow TSM to quickly rotate around the map while playing their late game macro-pressure composition. Tahm Kench can also devour a TSM carry champion (Camille, Zilean or the unpicked ADC) to prevent them from being 100 to 0’d by Orianna’s shockwave and Nidalee’s spear, effectively denying LGD the opportunity to pick off one TSM member before a fight breaks out. Leona is another smart ban, as she would have been a strong engage champion for TSM that can prevent Orianna or the unpicked ADC from contributing to teamfights.

LGD round out their composition with Jhin and Shen. Jhin provides an answer to TSM’s late game, as he will continue to accumulate high attack damage as the game enters the later stages. Shen, like Pantheon, also has global threat through his teleport, and will build defensive items to eventually neutralise the Camille sidelane threat. He will be able to join 4v4 teamfight faster than Camille through his Stand United ultimate ability in situations where his teleport is unavailable.

TSM round out their composition with Ashe and Braum. This is a safe botlane that scales well, and has pick-potential through Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow. Braum can also block Nidalee’s Spears and Jhin’s Curtain Call. These champions fit into TSM’s team composition identity of allowing Camille to split push while TSM make proactive plays elsewhere.

The team compositions are both trying to achieve the same result through different means. TSM are looking to play safe in the early game and control objectives like the Dragon and Baron, while waiting for Camille to be a strong sidelane threat. Meanwhile, LGD are looking to get ahead early through midlane control and Jungle/Support pressure across the map. Let’s see how this plays out.

TSM Spare Their Blushes in the Early Game

Playing out as the draft would indicate, Xiye piloting Orianna is actively shoving Bjergsen (Zilean) under tower at early levels. Zilean struggles to farm well under tower as his wave clear is unreliable and slow, and his auto attacks are not strong enough to kill the caster minions after one tower shot. This allows Xiye to accumulate an early creep score (CS) (also known as minion kills) lead over Bjergsen. Three minutes into the game, Xiye is able to solo kill Bjergsen; Bjergsen greedily tried to farm a cannon minion and delayed using his flash to escape, which gave Xiye ample opportunity to deal the killing blow. Unfortunately, TSM’s jungler Spica is at Krugs and can’t respond to the kill. Bjergsen is forced to teleport back to lane to not lose further CS and experience, which nets Xiye both a gold and summoner spell lead.

Bjergsen dies to Xiye in lane, giving LGD an early advantage

LGD continue to exert their early game pressure. At 4:12 on the in-game clock, Peanut invades TSM’s botside jungle, Peanut may have guessed that Spica would path towards the same location as he had previous knowledge that Spica was topside 2 minutes prior. Peanut applies pressure into the jungle and pushes Spica towards wolves as Mark (Pantheon), who has botlane priority, roams with him. This causes and imbalance in the jungle and the threat of a midlane dive. Playing without flash (having lost it earlier when Xiye killed him), Bjergsen is forced to back off and miss a large minion wave to tower, losing out on more experience and gold.

However, TSM respond intelligently; Spica with clever pathing traverses through the back of Bjergsen’s lane undetected and paths around the raptors to gank Xiye as Biofrost collapses from botlane. With all retreat paths blocked off, Xiye falls to Spica. Both Peanut and Mark had returned to base, so LGD cannot capitalise on Biofrost’s absence from botlane. So far, the early game has been fairly even aside from the midlane imbalance.

TSM answer with a collapse onto the LGD midlaner

After Xiye’s death, Mark rotates up from botlane to hold the mid wave for Xiye. This ensures that Bjergsen is unable to catch up on CS and experience to Xiye, and the midlane imbalance will continue. Mark then roams into the topside river with Peanut looking to secure the scuttle crab in preparation for a Rift Herald capture, or to catch Spica in rotation. It is reasonable to assume that TSM believe Mark has returned to base after suffering heavy damage in the midlane while holding the wave for Xiye, so Spica is not expecting to find two LGD members in the topside river. Spica is caught napping, and Mark Flash-stuns him, allowing Peanut to secure an easy kill. Peanut and Mark immediately roam to TSM’s topside jungle to keep applying pressure, and force BrokenBlade out from underneath his turret by threatening a dive.

Knowing that Peanut is topside, upon respawn Spica runs to the dragon and secure it with the help of TSM’s botlane. Immediately after taking the Drake, Spica and the TSM botlane catch Mark who was placing vision into the dragon pit, but positioned poorly. Doublelift fires Ashe ult, and Biofrost is able to stack Braum’s passive to follow up for an easy kill. Once again, TSM respond well after a needless death from Spica in the topside river.

At 9:20, Xiye’s continued pressure onto midlane forces Bjergsen out of lane, leading to an easy Rift Herald Secure for Peanut. The remainder of the early game continues in a similar fashion. TSM go for a proactive play near botlane, but it results in an advantage for LGD who secure two kills while TSM only manage one. Xiye continues to assert his dominance over Bjergsen in the midlane.

We about 10 minutes into the game, let’s take stock. Both teams are playing towards their composition’s objectives – LGD have a huge midlane lead and the Peanut/Mark combination has been effective at applying pressure across all 3 lanes. TSM have largely responded well after their members have fallen. They understand that they have a late game team composition, and have managed to secure a dragon in the process.

The CS Differential 10 minutes into the game. As expected, Xiye is substantially ahead of Bjergsen, but all other TSM roles are keeping up with their counterparts.

Mid-game and the Importance of Flash

Between 12 and 13 minutes into the game, TSM are able to secure another cloud drake without much contest from LGD. At this stage, TSM should feel happy with what they have achieved and back off. However, Spica sees that Bjergsen has been heavily damaged by Xiye in the midlane, and Bjergsen is at risk of dying. Spica paths from the dragon pit to the midlane bush to hover in case Xiye attempts to kill Bjergsen.

Observing the minimap, we can see Spica (Graves) is pathing towards midlane to cover Bjergsen

While hovering, Spica should eb cognisant that Nidalee is in the area because Nidalee recently placed a trap in the dragon pit that has been revealed by TSM’s pink ward. Spica still paths to midlane and sits in the bush to shadow Bjergsen and prevent an untraded midlane kill. This is a questionable play because in addition to the threat of Nidalee, TSM does not have vision on Mark (Pantheon). It is reasonable to assume that Mark will be pathing botside to either support Kramer in lane or escort Peanut on an offensive push into TSMs jungle, which he has been doing all game long. This worlds meta has shown extremely high Jungle-Support proximity, especially on invades, so Spica should expect Mark to be nearby.

Peanut & Mark are nearby, and TSM’s vision ward spots Peanut’s trap

We can see that Peanut moves aggressively onto Spica, pouncing over the wall. Mark is also present and threatening the Flash Pantheon stun. This midlane hover play from Spica was never going to be successful, as Xiye knows that TSM just took dragon and is hugging the left-hand side of mid-lane, out of range of an immediate burst from Spica and Bjergsen. Furthermore, Bjergsen is still on 25% HP from the previous trade with Xiye, and cannot step forwards to initiate at the risk of dying, or using his ultimate. Spica is forced to flash over the wall back into TSM’s jungle following this encounter. The correct play would be to cut your losses and allow Bjergsen to back while Spica safely holds midlane to deny Xiye any further turret plates.

Peanut & Mark close in on Spica, forcing his flash

Three minutes later at 16:22, a teamfight breaks out near Baron Pit. The fight is initially close, with BrokenBlade providing a strong flank to execute Mark. TSM follow up with more damage to try to burst out Xiye (Orianna) and Langx (Shen). Doublelift (Ashe) outputs great damage, but isn’t able to find either kill. Playing Graves, this would have been an excellent opportunity for Spica to flash and confirm the kill on Langx, while also killing Xiye or at least forcing his flash. Neither is possible without flash though, and LGD are able to chase down the TSM members, killing Doublelift and BrokenBlade, and forcing the remaining three members to return to base. LGD are able to take the toplane turret and return to base to buy items in preparation for the next dragon spawning shortly, putting them in a stronger position to contest. If Spica had not blown his flash earlier in the midlane hover play, this fight could have gone in an entirely different direction for TSM.

Xiye (Orianna) and Langx (Shen) are on low health. Spica could have used flash to secure both kills had he not blown it earlier

Communications Breakdown?

At 17:58, TSM understand the mountain dragon is spawning, and clear out vision near botlane to allow themselves a strong side in the fight, and prevent a potential flanking Teleport from Xiye. TSM move towards midlane looking to shove in the mid wave forcing LGD to lose minions while the dragon fight occurs. This play would also relieve pressure onto TSM’s mid lane inner turret.

TSM secure botside vision and position for a dragon fight.

Only a few seconds later in what appears to be a major miscommunication, BrokenBlade initiates far too early onto Peanut right in the face of Langx and Xiye. The rest of TSM cannot arrive in time to support his engage, and Bjergsen is forced to use the Chronoshift on BrokenBlade in an attempt to salvage the play. Kramer and Mark are already closing in, and with only four members active, TSM retreat leaving BrokenBlade to die.

BrokenBlade pulls the trigger too early

However, we can see that this was a premediated engage by TSM, who were looking to catch an LGD member before approaching the dragon. After backing off once BrokenBlade falls, TSM path through their own topside jungle to try and surprise Xiye in the midlane. Xiye intelligently reads the play, and directs Orianna’s ball into the bush, which exposes Spica. Xiye turns around and paths towards his team, but Doublelift has fired his Enchanted Crystal Arrow to block off this option. Xiye is able to flash out of the arrow’s path, and this play results in no major gain for TSM, while Peanut is able to freely take the dragon.

Xiye is able to avoid the TSM threat and Enchanted Crystal Arrow

We finally are given a gold breakdown, and just like the draft suggested, LGD have been playing to get their laners ahead. BrokenBlade ahead of Langx is not surprise at this point as he has a lane advantage until Shen becomes tanky enough to answer him.

For the next five minutes, LGD continue to pressure TSM in the jungle. Peanut is able to clear Spica’s blue side jungle twice freely after dropping rift herald midlane to create pressure, and then again after setting up wards around the baron pit and noting that Spica is topside. In this position, LGD can continue to play the map out by controlling vision and pushing in side lanes with Shen and Orianna, who have the triple TP threat (Double TP and Stand United) if a fight breaks out.

At 24 minutes, a skirmish breaks out in midlane resulting in TSM being poked out before they can contest dragon. Jhin is so well protected by Pantheon, Shen and Orianna that TSM can’t engage onto him, given Camille is their only proactive engage. The results in a free mountain dragon to LGD. LGD’s proactive jungle invades and strong early game have prevented TSM from being able to achieve their Camille split push fantasy.

Late Game: TSM Begin to Turn It Around Before a Critical Shot-Calling Error

A few minutes late at 27:26, there are signs of life for TSM. After botching a midlane fight earlier, but luckily escaping with their lives, TSM are caught out with Bjergsen overextended in toplane. LGD look to engage this fight as they note BrokenBlade backing from botlane and use Shen’s ultimate onto Pantheon as he engages, looking to combine the Pantheon stun into Shen taunt to net a kill. Patheon ults into the backline to lock up Zilean, and Zilean is immediately burst down, but Bjergsen is importantly able to use Chronoshift onto himself. A smart teleport from BrokenBlade and fast collapse from Biofrost nets a kill onto Pantheon before Jhin can enter the fight.

Mark (Pantheon) finds an isolated Bjergsen
A fast collapse from TSM counters the play

For the next few minutes, TSM continue to make wise plays on the map, and secure a scuttle crab and dragon control while burning peanuts flash prior to the mountain drake fight. TSM them aggressively posture to force LGD away from the dragon while Spica is able to secure it.

Strong posturing from TSM allows Spica a free dragon

A moment of fright as TSM allow Peanut to walk freely into the dragon pit to contest smite. Luckily, he miscalculates his burst and a Doublelift auto-attack is able to secure the dragon. Meanwhile. BrokenBlade does a great job distracting Mark, Kramer and Xiye on the top side of the fight. Doublelift could have used his Enchanted Crystal Arrow on the flash-less peanut to allow for a more controlled secure with no smite contest. This is a small missed opportunity, but could have led to LGD securing 3 dragons and putting them one step close to the dragon soul acquisition.

Doublelift secures the dragon with an auto-attack after Peanut mistimes his Smite

The gold graph at this point shows that LGD have failed to push their advantage and TSM since the botched toplane attempt on Bjergsen. TSM have been responding well in the last five minutes, neutralising the LGD efforts.

After TSM secure the dragon, LGD immediately head to the Baron. They feel safe making this play as Bjergsen shows botlane to clear the minion wave, and LGD are aware that Spica does not have smite, as he just used it on the dragon. LGD secure baron and TSM attempt to force a fight to strip LGD of their Baron buffs, as LGD can easily push into TSM’s base using a 1-3-1 method, while still having teleport pressure from both Shen and Orianna. A great shockwave from Xiye shuts down BrokenBlade’s initiation attempt. TSM, tail between their legs take LGDs tier one midlane turret, but gain nothing else.

LGD take a quick Baron

As LGD push into TSM’s base, TSM play the map well as they can. They elect to keep four champions defending their base as BrokenBlade pushes down midlane with Camille pressuring the LGD inner mid turret. As long as TSM can avoid Nidalee spears and Jhin’s Deadly Flourish, this is a smart gamble given how easy it is for LGD to push into TSM’s base with Baron buff. Zilean double bomb and Ashe volley can clear the wave, but will require smart positioning and quick reaction speed from Doublelift and Bjergsen.

LGD march towards TSM’s base with the Baron buff

However, Bjergsen oversteps and is caught by Kramer’s Deadly Flourish, forcing TSM away from the tower. LGD freely take the botlane inhibitor before rotating off. Meanwhile, LGD send Langx midlane to answer BrokenBlade.

Bjergsen is caught in his own base, leading to a free inhibitor for LGD

Two minutes later, after TSM manage to weather the Baron Buff storm, a fight erupts near the Dragon. This is the most important dragon fight of the game, as one more dragon would secure dragon soul for TSM, and give them a fighting chance. BrokenBlade is actively looking for the flank engage as TSM collapse from midlane, but he is isolated. BrokenBlade holds his ground and does not back off, which he should have done. In this instance, if BrokenBlade backs off to botlane, LGD can either chase BrokenBlade and give TSM an opportunity to burst down dragon and secure soul, or turn to dragon, in which case BrokenBlade can safely re-enter from botside and look for an engage. Instead, because BrokenBlade stays, he is jumped on by Peanut, Mark and Kramer. TSM are forced to use an early Enchanted Crystal Arrow onto Kramer, who has time to flash and escape as no other TSM members are nearby to follow up. Bjergsen uses Zilean ult on BrokenBlade on top of the Guardian Angel Camille has already purchased to keep him alive and have a chance of winning the fight.

BrokenBlade is isolated from his team and collapsed on by three LGD members

LGD turn and quickly kill off Doublelift, destroying TSM’s main teamfight damage. TSM are forced to retreat in various directions. Peanut is able to lock up both BrokenBlade and Spica in botside, while Kramer and Xiye freely push into TSMs base and take the mid inhibitor. This was a critical misplay by BrokenBlade; by not backing off, BrokenBlade lost TSM an opportunity to capture the dragon soul, and resulted in another inhibitor loss.

Peanut keeps BrokeBlade and Spica interested

One minute later, TSM make another proactive call. After clearing the minion waves storming into their base, TSM notice Xiye is isolated topside. Bjergsen teleports into LGD’s blue side jungle and is able to cut off the retreat path of Xiye, leading to a free kill on the LGD midlaner.

TSM catch an out of position Xiye

TSM immediately call to go Baron. LGD answer by shoving up midlane, where they have priority due to the destroyed inhibitor. TSM send Bjergsen to stop Peanut/Langx from ending the game through midlane, while they secure Baron.

A free TSM Baron – or so it appears

But with Langx’s taunt onto Bjergsen and Peanut’s empowered auto attacks onto the Nexus turrets, TSM do not have enough time to secure the Baron and back in time to stop their nexus from falling. TSM should have recognised the threat of Langx and Peanut’s damage at this stage, especially as they are escorting a wave of super minions to reduce the Nexus tower resistances. After the kill on Xiye, TSM should have looked to push out their waves before contesting Baron, considering that Xiye’s death timer was long enough to allow TSM a few seconds to push out waves.

TSM lose in dramatic fashion

Not Quite Good Enough

TSM were not beaten, battered and tossed aside in this game, and demonstrated many intelligent calls which enabled them secure three dragons and stop the bleeding after LGD got a strong early lead. The problem came from was some critical macro decisions that had massive knock-on effects. Spica losing his flash by midlane and not having it available for the fight in topside river put TSM into a massive deficit, and once TSM had managed to stabilise, BrokenBlade’s decision to hold his ground at the decisive dragon fight enabled LGD to quickly turn onto Baron and force a second inhibitor take, ultimately losing the game for TSM.

The collapse onto Xiye topside before the Baron call was not a bad play in itself. The play was executed well and was successful in its design, however because TSM had lost the midlane inhibitor earlier, they should have been more cognisant of LGD’s ability to run down midlane with two members. TSM played out their draft well given the draft differences, and managed to survive the rough early game, but the two critical macro decision mentioned above were enough for LGD to seize the opportunity.

The 9-Man Sleep

Arguably the tournament-defining moment for TSM came in their second game against GenG. Like the LGD game, this was another closely contested bout that eventually resulted in a TSM loss. The infamous 9-man sleep (or more accurately Spica’s 5-man Lillia ultimate onto the entire GenG team) occurred 32 minutes into the game. This play is widely criticised by the community as a major missed opportunity for TSM to take a huge teamfight victory and close out the game.

Setting the Stage

Before diving into the fight, let’s take a look at the map state in the seconds prior. The dragon is not alive and is not close to spawning, leaving the Baron as the only major objective to contest. Both teams were positioned in midlane; however, GenG have positional advantage, controlling the topside of the river and jungle. TSM do not have vision of the baron pit or the topside jungle and river side from an isolated ward in the bush between baron pit and red buff.

Positions before the teamfight

From an itemisation standpoint, we can observe that both Bjergsen (Lucian) and Doublelift (Aphelios) have completed at least three core times, with Bjergsen having four. It is important to note that neither Bjergsen or Aphelios have any form of strong life steal through their itemisation (i.e. no Death’s Dance, Bloodthirster or Blade of the Ruined King). This means that TSM are not looking for a prolonged teamfight, but hope to burst down GenG threats before taking huge damage in return. GenG are obviously stronger due to the Ornn item upgrades on Rascal, BDD and Ruler, which enhance the stats that each item already provides, essentially further empowering the Ornn, Orianna and Senna over their TSM counterparts.

Items before the teamfight

The Fight Commences

TSM are the ones to engage the fight. As mentioned above, with limited vision around the baron pit, and GenG sporting Ornn-upgraded items, TSM may feel that they need to pick off and immediately burst down one of GenG’s carries. TSM have drafted a double AD composition, with Lucian and Aphelios as the main teamfight threats. Lucian is extremely potent at bursting a single target using his double tap (passive), piercing light and relentless pursuit combination. Aphelios has Gravitum equipped, which can allow Doublelift to provide TSM with a potential 5-man stun via his ultimate Moonlight Vigil.

In this instance, BrokenBlade is able to get a flash stun onto BDD (Orianna). Biofrost follows up on BrokenBlade’s engage by immediately using a flash Death Sentence to apply further CC on the Orianna, and give TSM and opportunity to burst her down. GenG Life (Tahm Kench), answers this play perfectly by flashing over the river wall and devouring the Orianna, preventing her from taking any further damage. This immediately shuts down TSM’s initial attempt.

Life (Tahm Kench) devours BDD (Orianna) keeping him alive

The fight plays out with TSM kiting backwards while still dealing substantial damage to GenG, but Doublelift critically misses Moonlight Vigil onto Rascal, and is forced to flash away from Rascal’s knock up.

Doublelift critically misses the Moonlight Vigil

Spica positions well into the river and flashes over the wall to damage all 5 GenG members with one Blooming Blow, and follows up with the the Lilting Lullaby to put the entire GenG roster to sleep.

Strong positioning from Spica leads to a 5 man ultimate
A huge individual moment for Spica

The remaining four TSM members were unable to follow up on Spica’s beautiful engage, and have received a lot of flack for not capitalising on what could have been a game winning play. But are they really to blame? Let’s take a closer look.

TSM Caught Napping?

As the sleep procs onto the GenG members, Ruler has an individual moment of brilliance that singlehandedly saves the fight for GenG. Playing as Senna, Ruler is able to use both her Last Embrace (W ability) and Curse of the Black Mist (E ability) milliseconds before the sleep takes effect. By using Curse of the Black Mist, Senna makes camouflages herself from enemy champions, meaning that she cannot be targeted by single-target abilities and auto attacks. Furthermore, since the ability works in an area of effect, BDD (Orianna) is also camouflaged and non-targetable to TSM members. Senna and Orianna are two of the main GenG threats, and both still have flash available for use after the sleep wears off. Clid (Graves) is able to flash over the raptor pit wall prior to the sleep taking effect, keeping him out of TSM’s vision.

Important ability usage from Ruler (Senna) right before he is put to sleep

TSM’s area of effect (AOE) abilities, which are the only ones that can be used to damage Senna and Orianna while within the Black mist, are limited to Volibear’s Sky Splitter (E ability) Lillia’s Blooming Blows (Q ability) and Thresh’s Flay (E ability). Sky Splitter is on cooldown, Lillia has gone into stasis using Zhonya’s Hourglass to stay alive and Thresh is not within range to Flay, nor does Biofrost have flash to enter the correct range. Essentially, TSM have very little to follow up with.

The only member of TSM with flash currently available is Bjergsen on Lucian. However, the aforementioned Last Embrace from Ruler prevents Lucian from immediately pathing towards the Gen G roster as he would be rooted. Bjergsen paths down midlane to avoid the root, and is able dash back in to finish of Tahm Kench, narrowing missing the kill onto Ornn as well. Lucian’s piercing light requires a champion to be visible, so if Bjergsen were to flash over the Q, as the majority of the GenG roster is shrouded, Bjergsen can only target the Ornn or Tahm Kench. This is highly risky as it puts him in grave danger when the sleep wears off from the rest of GenG.

In the scenario where Bjergsen flashes in and TSM follow up by running through the chokepoint, Orianna still has Flash and Shockwave available to immediately lockdown the low health TSM members. Senna can dish out damage from behind Orianna and Graves can dash back over the wall to burst down the TSM roster.

GenG have strong zone control through Orianna’s unused Shockwave that could instantly turn the fight in GenG’s favour.

What Could TSM Have Done Better?

Honestly, this is an extremely scrappy fight from both teams. BDD (Orianna) never has a chance to use Shockwave because TSM are split up. Rascal (Ornn) is initially zoning Spica (Lillia) and Doublelift (Aphelios) away from the main conflict, meaning that TSM’s damage onto the rest of the GenG roster is coming from a tanky Volibear and Lucian. If we have to pinpoint the largest mistake, Doublelift missing his ultimate is the biggest reason TSM couldn’t win this fight. If the Moonlight Vigil lands with Gravitum equipped, all 5 GenG members would be rooted, leading to an even easier sleep engage for Spica. Not only would this result in higher burst damage, but would also restrict the amount of reaction time GenG had to respond, and ruler may not have had time to use Final Embrace and Curse of the Black Mist. Bjergsen could have flashed in, but without substantial life steal, Lucian would have almost certainly dropped as soon as the sleep wore off from the GenG carries.


Looking at both the LDG game in its entirety, and the teamfight from the GenG matchup, we can observe clear macro and micro deficiencies from TSM. TSM were not embarrassed in either game; both were incredibly close and TSM had a realistic shot of winning. The LGD game shows us that TSM could not make the correct call at the most important moments, demonstrated through Spica’s hover play onto midlane and BrokenBlade’s unwillingness to back off from the dragon fight. On the other hand, the GenG teamfight could have gone an entirely different direction if Doublelift managed to land the Moonlight Vigil. It is unfortunate that TSM will be remembered for their 0-6 performance and lowlights that are shown in the replays, when realistically, they performed well for the majority of the two games analysed in this article. At the end of the day, TSM were outclassed by both GenG and LGD, who did not make mistakes of the same magnitude. Now all that we can do is pray for North America at next year’s World Championships. In the meantime, its time to enjoy the rest of the tournament. Let’s go JDG! (Had to get the bias in).

Have a topic in mind you would like us to write about? Want to learn more about cyber security and how you can increase good cyber practices at your esports organisation? Feel free to contact the Re:Cover team at recoveresports@gmail.com, we are always happy to answer any questions you might have.

All Champions images courtesy of League of Legends Gamepedia
All in-game screenshots courtesy of Riot Games and LoL Esports VOD’s and Highlights
Header image courtesy of HotSpawn

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