Per Isaac “Azael” Cummings-Bentley’s Twitter, Team SoloMid will field rookie player Mingyi “Spica” Lu for the LCS Summer Playoffs. The decision is unorthodox to say the least, and leaves TSM’s other two regular junglers — starter Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham and sub Jonathan “Grig” Armao — out of the picture.
TSM’s choice of Spica is perhaps due to Akaadian’s poor performance during the Summer Split. Between the junglers with more than 10 games on record, Akaadian ranks second worst in KDA and GD@15, and third worst in XPD@15 and CSD@15. That said, it makes sense that TSM don’t want to risk betting their Worlds 2019 ticket on a jungler that has been inconsistent throughout most of the season.
Then again, how Spica will perform in the high-pressure environments of best-of-5 playoffs is also uncertain. The rookie has played only two LCS games this season: a win in a one-sided game against FlyQuest; and tough loss to Team Liquid, where he (like most of TSM’s squad) was invisible for the majority of the 30 minutes, ending only 0/2/1 on Sejuani.
TSM are the on-paper favorites in the quarterfinal match against Clutch Gaming, but that was also the case in 2018 Spring, when CG upset the LCS veterans. With a jungler that has had minimal practice with star mid Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and no on-bench experience to back him up in case he flops, there are a lot of questions hanging upon TSM.
TSM’s subs for the match are also unorthodox, in the face of bot lane duo Edward “Tactical” Ra and Erik “Treatz” Wessén. The duo helped TSM Academy to the semifinals of the Academy League, destroying TL Academy 3-0 in the quarterfinals, but LCS-caliber teams — and especially the real Team Liquid — could be difficult for the rookies, if they’re ever called to replace either or both of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta.
This all begs the question what’s the future of Grig and Akaadian for TSM come the 2020 season. If management doesn’t trust them to even be subs to a literal rookie, then perhaps there will be yet another jungle change for SoloMid in the off-season — something that’s become notoriously characteristic for the org.
TSM are still second in the Championship Points rankings, but the difference between them and Cloud9 is just 10 points. If TSM end their run in the quarterfinals, then it’s the Gauntlet for them, and there, anything can happen.