After a remarkably poor showing at Rift Rivals last weekend, TSM applied what they learned at the tournament in their decisive victory over 100 Thieves. With Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham starting in the jungle, the team played one of their best early games of the split.
Before today, if you were to call this game based on the draft phase alone, you'd probably hand it over to 100T. Despite TSM's struggles to find success with comps centered around scaling and item breakpoints, they picked three scaling lanes with a Sejuani jungle. Not even five minutes into the game, however, it was clear that TSM was trying to break out of their passive ways.
With their comp, 100T wanted to get Aaron "FakeGod" Lee ahead in his winning match up against Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik since their bot lane of Lucian and Yuumi had the ability to trade safely early on. TSM countered this by constantly attacking the bot lane while Broken Blade held his own against FakeGod's Aatrox.
This forced 100T to play towards their weak side of the map and leaving their solo laners to fend for themselves. Since 100T was being constantly pressured by TSM, they barely had time to respond to TSM's plays as a team. Eventually, TSM set up for baron by establishing priority in the mid lane and took the objective for free to close things out.
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TSM won the game by snowballing their leads and opting into skirmishes, but the biggest surprise of the day was the team's new look. Akaadian was the closest he's been to being back to his form from the 2019 LCS Spring Finals, and the team successfully played to their winning lanes as a cohesive unit, without making any disjointed plays that could cost their lead.
"After Rift Rivals it was like a really big wake up call," said support Andy "Smoothie" Ta in a post-game interview. "We were definitely not good at the time, but I think slowly we're getting to where we want to be."
With Worlds around the corner, TSM needs to continue ramping up if they wish to make a good run through playoffs and stand a chance against international competition. Akaadian's success today and at Rift Rivals may also have implications of the team's decision to commit to him as their starter over Jonathan "Grig" Armao.
TSM will play CLG on July 7 at 3 p.m. PDT.