Ahead Of Worlds, TSM Pick Akaadian As Starting LCS Jungler

One of the most prominent League of Legends teams in North America—TSM—has announced plans to play the rest of the season with Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham as its starting jungler.

TSM entered the 2019 LCS Summer Split intending for Akaadian compete with Jonathan “Grig” Arma for the starting position. The two took turns playing on the LCS stage, but it still took TSM six weeks to make the final call.

Now that the starting position has been determined, what does this mean for the team’s future? And could it be that the decision came a little too late?

The right man for the job

At the beginning of June, TSM looked set to dominate the Summer Split. The organization made a great showing in spring, cementing itself as a top-two lineup in the region and barely falling short of sweeping Team Liquid in the finals. Yet the start of the 2019 Summer Split was a harsh wake-up call for the spring finalists.

One of the descent’s main culprits hid in the jungle. Several TSM members spoke out in interviews on the difficulty of developing a structured game plan and playstyle with two different junglers. Given that, it’s not exactly surprising the team made the call to field a single starter. Still, the biggest question is did TSM make the right choice?

The stats certainly don’t speak in Akaadian’s favor. At the time of this writing, he has won three out of eight games he’s played. That’s a stark contrast to Grig’s 4-0 LCS record. However, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Akaadian faced much stiffer competition, as TSM chose to field him against some of the best teams in North America. Meanwhile, Grig played most of his games against bottom-tier lineups, inflating his win-loss ratio.

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If you look at their most recent showings, however, Grig had a hard time keeping up with the best European junglers at Rift Rivals. As for Akaadian, he carried the team to its only Rift Rivals victory against Fnatic. And while he didn’t quite translate this success into LCS wins, he certainly showed a lot of promise in the early stages of the game.

Rebuilding legacy

Perhaps the key thing here is potential. Despite his recent shaky performance, Akaadian was the driving force behind TSM’s explosive playstyle in spring. In fact, it’s largely because of his relentless playmaking that TSM established itself as the most aggressive team in the region. Of course, the meta has changed, so there’s no clear way to recapture this lightning in a bottle.

One thing’s for sure, though: TSM is going to try.

This organization has always had its eyes set on Worlds—and 2019 is no exception. TSM has repeatedly built its rosters with the goal of qualifying for the biggest League of Legends tournaments and producing results. While Grig might be a safer (and more consistent) option on the home turf, if you’re looking to show up at international events, Akaadian is the way to go.

Image courtesy of Riot Games.

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Daniil "inthecure" Volkov is an avid LoL fan that's well-versed in the competitive scenes of Europe, North America, and South Korea. A support main in game, but a carry at heart, he spends a little too much time making content around the LCS, LEC, and LCK matches.