TSM announced via Twitter that the starting jungler for the team, Jonathan ‘Grig’ Armao, will be missing the spring split due to “wrist issues.” This means that academy jungler Matt ‘Akaadian’ Higginbotham will be the starting jungler for the split. Akaadian was picked up by TSM in the offseason after his first season with OpTic Gaming, which ended with a mediocre 7th place finish causing the team to miss the playoffs. Many fans were excited to see TSM pick up an LCS caliber jungler that could help the team in the academy role as well as adding depth to the role that the team seemed to need most. Team SoloMid has always been known to take aggressive junglers and clip their wings, but with a new coaching staff and a carry oriented meta maybe we can see Akaadian’s flame rekindle and return to his exciting and game-changing play style that we witnessed when he first came into the scene with Echo Fox two years ago.
Injuries might not be something that fans associate too much with esports. It is good to see that organization such as TSM care for their player’s well-being in the long term. We have seen some very famous players be plagued with injury-related incidents such as world champion winner Kang ‘TheShy’ Seung-lok, Jian ‘Uzi’ Zi-Hao, and Hai ‘Hai’ Du Lam as some of the notable players that have had enforced breaks or even retirement, in the case of Hai, due to injuries. Wrist injuries can be some of the biggest reasons why player’s careers are cut short, so it is good to see that organizations are doing their best to keep this from having a long term effect on the player’s careers.
Regarding a replacement for the academy position, TSM has contracted Gabriel ‘Fanatiik’ Saucier, who has worked with the team prior through Scouting Grounds. The young 17-year-old will have an opportunity to gain experience with one of NA’s biggest franchises and will maybe even show his worth with a full split ahead of him.
To some fans, this might seem like a boost rather than a blow, but it is important to note that Grig had been continuously improving throughout the team’s worst season. Having been a rookie jungler, that was thrown into such a behemoth of a team; one would expect that the pressure would not make the job any easier than it already was. Even though Grig was not the explosive player some fans might have been hoping for, he still had solid synergy with the remaining team members. Something that Akaadian is going to have to adjust to in a short period.
Even with a bump in the road, TSM looks to improve their ways from an extremely disappointing 2018. A year in which, had the team miss their first ever split finals as well as World Championship. We will see what this revitalized roster can do when they play their first match against 100 Thieves on Saturday, January 26.
Images courtesy of LoL Esports.