nav logo

Hit enter to search or ESC to close

TSM has come out of the gate strong in the 2023 League Championship Series Spring Split. Despite falling behind in the early game of both matches, TSM managed to come from behind and take wins against Immortals and Team Liquid due to their superior teamfighting and decisiveness in the mid-game.

A large part of TSM’s superiority over their opponents in these areas is the fact that they retained three of their five starters from 2022. Top laner Colin “Solo” Earnest, mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang, and support Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio showed strong performances in TSM’s first two wins of the season — and while it’s too early to tell if TSM will be contenders for a domestic title this spring, they may be more than the bottom two team that the majority of analysts expected.

While TSM’s core played well in the first week of the 2023 LCS Spring Split, Chime also attributed their initial exceeding of expectations to an underrating of the team’s newest members, AD carry Toàn “Neo” Trần and jungler Lee “Bugi” Seong-yeop.

Neo was quietly one of the best AD carries in the LCS for Dignitas in 2021 and the first half of the following year, but his upside disappeared amidst a struggling DIG roster in the 2022 LCS Summer Split and he was demoted to the organization’s Academy roster.

“I feel like recency bias affects people’s perception of Neo … I wasn’t on DIG, but I think he’s a really good player,” Chime said after TSM’s first win of the season over Immortals.

Chime attributes the underrating of Bugi, on the other hand, simply to unfamiliarity. “Everyone just said, ‘Oh, I don’t know who he is, so he’s the worst jungler in the league,’” Chime said. “I guess I understand it to a degree, but he’s f—ing good.”

TSM has three returning starters from last year, but none of them were part of the original roster plan for the organization at the start of the season. Maple was signed ahead of the 2022 LCS Summer Split, and Solo and Chime were signed midway through the split.

Chime joined Golden Guardians Academy in 2020, and after a stint in the LCS for GG in the 2021 LCS Summer Split, returned to the GGA roster in 2022 before his acquisition by TSM in July. But in returning to the roster in 2023, Chime was able to find his footing with his teammates on a much more standard timeline. 

“Last year, since I was new to the team, I had kind of figure everyone’s playstyle and figure out how to work within them,” Chime explained. “Whereas now, we were scrimming in Korea and just kind of figured it out from playing with each other. I think everyone felt pretty comfortable.”

Why Chime returned to TSM

Like his teammate Solo, Chime attributes a lot of why he was excited to return to TSM in 2023 to General Manager Yang “Glen” Po-Jen, citing specifically that Glen’s own past as a player allows him to understand the needs of TSM’s players beyond the professional requirements of his position.

“I guess, from that experience, he can negotiate well while understanding both sides,” Chime said of Glen. “I feel like a lot of GMs are good at their jobs, but we’re essentially assets to them. And that’s their job, I understand that. But I think Glen adds a level of honesty to it where he understands that we’re assets but he also understands that we’re people.”

While they are undefeated after the first week of the 2023 LCS Spring Split, TSM has plenty of issues to shore up in their early game, but if they can do so while continuing to exhibit strong mid-game decision making and cohesive teamfighting, exceeding pre-season expectations are only the tip of the iceberg.