Every couple of years, the LCS gets rocked by a bombshell roster movement, with a superstar player moving to a league rival, carrying a portion of the fanbase with him and leaving the loyal followers of his prior team fuming and rationalizing like a lover scorned. This time, in a case of deja vu, Doublelift rejoined TSM.
News broke recently that Team Liquid had placed Doublelift’s contract up for trade, and ESPN followed that up a few days later with confirmation that TSM had acquired their former player, reuniting him with Biofrost and Bjergsen (who has been underappreciated lately) and shifting gears away from Kobbe–who was supposed to be their superstar bot laner–after a single split.
Leaving aside anything off the Rift, and setting aside any commentary about TSM’s (in)ability to build quality rosters in recent years (let’s not talk about Kobbe, Zven, or Mithy), the main TSM fans will be asking is: is this going to work? Will Doublelift make TSM better? Can he redeem the team’s flop of a Spring?
Doublelift is an Upgrade
When Doublelift rejoins TSM for the Summer split, there are two key ways he will provide an upgrade over Kobbe: his play in lane, and his voice in team communications.
It’s been a few years, but Doublelift and Biofrost have played together in the past very successfully, and did so by focusing on their 2v2 laning and making themselves a pressure point in the early game. Kobbe is a conservative player early, and a clean-up team fighter, while Doublelift is a more aggressive laner who generates larger personal leads, while also exposing himself to more risk. This can be seen in Doublelift’s much larger gold+experience difference at 10 minutes (GXD10), which came despite being involved in far fewer first bloods than Kobbe, partly due to a difference in jungle attention. There’s no question that Doublelift upgrades TSM in 2v2 laning.
Kobbe vs. Doublelift, Spring 2020 Regular Season
LCS 2020 Spring Regular Season
With Dardoch selling out his pathing much of the time in order to gank for his laners, there’s going to be a clear opportunity for TSM to play through Doublelift and Biofrost in a way that they never really did with Kobbe.
When it comes to communication, some of Doublelift’s complaints about Team Liquid in 2020 were their distributed shot calling and his desire to have a stronger individual voice. TSM needs that voice: they clearly struggled with their mid/late-game planning and cohesion, often playing indecisively or without a clear goal. Assuming that the other personalities on the team are willing to surrender that role, Doublelift upgrades TSM by offering a level of communication that TSM has lacked.
In terms of Doublelift’s ability to personally carry in those team fights–the area of Kobbe’s greatest strength–there should be no fear. Doublelift has always been capable of playing the primary carry role and delivering in team fights, and absorbing all the resources he needs in order to make it happen.
TSM has been used to giving their Bot laner the lion’s share of the farm, so integrating Doublelift shouldn’t be a challenge on that front. Kobbe and Doublelift were both granted the largest shares of their teams’ farm in the mid and late game of any players in the league, by a large margin. The 3rd-highest CS%P15 in the regular season belonged to FBI of the Golden Guardians, at just 32.6%. In raw terms, Doublelift nabbed 10.2 CS per minute, while Kobbe picked up 9.6 CSPM, also the two highest numbers in the LCS. Kobbe’s damage output was higher in Spring, but given the gap in the two teams’ win rates, that can easily be explained away.
Doublelift is a natural fit for TSM’s existing approach to the game, stylistically, while granting them stronger early laning and a clear shot calling voice. On paper, he will definitely upgrade this team.
TSM Might Still Flop
Just because Doublelift rejoins TSM, it doesn’t mean that their future outlook is completely bright and rosy. There are a few clear points of uncertainty.
First, you have to ask whether Dardoch will be able to effectively serve both of the side lanes. The largest part of TSM’s success this split came when Dardoch helped Broken Blade create and snowball advantages through the top lane, allowing the two players to take over the game. If Doublelift tilts the map in his own direction, but Dardoch still plays for Broken Blade, will that leave Doublelift and Biofrost exposed? Or if Broken Blade is required to play weak side more often, can he deliver in that role? Those are issues that Doublelift can’t necessarily help solve.
Team fighting is the other very significant concern. TSM had some of the worst team fighting in the LCS all season, and it’s unclear whether Doublelift can really solve that issue. There’s some hope that Doublelift’s communication and shot calling will produce more decisive, coordinated engages, but he’ll still need his teammates to actually pull their triggers effectively. If Biofrost picks up his old habits of playing protector for Doublelift, that will place even more of the engage responsibility on Dardoch, who suicides for his initiations far too frequently.
On balance, there are more reasons for optimism than pessimism, and Doublelift will most likely upgrade TSM. But if TSM still fail in the Summer split–if they don’t at least reach the LCS Finals, or if they miss out on attending the World Championships–then a failure to balance the map in the early game and an inability to find their footing in team fights will probably be the reasons.