Team SoloMid: North America’s True Hope For Worlds Domination

TSM LoL Worlds 2016
We’ve been down this road before. Flashback to the 2015 League of Legends World Championship.

After Week One, Team SoloMid was an abysmal 1-2. However, Cloud9 and CLG were a combined 5-1 through the first week, both at the top of their respective groups.

Then Week Two came.

All C9 had to do was win a single game in Week Two of group stage. Just one game. They couldn’t do it, though.

Even more embarrassing for North America, both TSM and CLG would go 0-3 each during Week Two. Collectively, it became known as the 0-9 debacle. All three North American teams were knocked out of the group stage, becoming the only major region to not have a representative in the quarterfinals.

Even worse for TSM, they finished Worlds an abysmal 1-5.

It was the last time we would see Marcus “Dyrus” Hill on the world stage. (May legends live forever.)

It was the last time we would see Jang-Sik “Lustboy” Ham play League of Legends. (He’s now a coach.)

It was the last time we saw Santorin playing jungler at a major tournament (to the pleasure of many TSM fans).

It will not be the last time we see Bjergsen play for TSM when the lights are brightest.

The passing of the mantle

For the first time at Worlds, this is now truly Bjergsen’s team. With Dyrus kicking back on the retirement couch and casually riding off into the streaming sunset, Bjergsen is now ready to carry the mantle.

This story starts all the way back in 2014.

A young, skinny mid laner from Europe made his way to the United States with the aspirations of making it big. This would be the first time his skill would be on full display in front of millions of expectant esports fans. The hype was there, and Bjergsen was more than ready to deliver.

Bjergsen’s first season ended in what can only be described as his coming out party. At the time, Hai “Hai” Lam was often lauded for his outplays and vision. When the two teams met up at the LCS Summer Finals, the mantle for “best in midlane” was up for grabs.

This was the first time that North American fans were able to see just how good Bjergsen would be, as he dominated Hai and helped TSM win the NA LCS title.

TSM was more than content with getting behind its new star player. The beginning of the 2015 Spring Split saw TSM exclusively build team compositions around Bjergsen.

It became the Bjergsen boom-or-bust show, and it put excess pressure on the star player.

The cracks began to show during the 2015 Summer Split. Bjergsen looked like he was wearing down.

Dyrus was literally left on an island in the top lane, with all resources flowing into the midlane. WildTurtle was struggling in teamfights, and TSM just had no other strategies on which to fall back.

That one-dimensional team was quickly dispatched at Worlds last year. A rebuilding process then began.

Rough beginnings

After a disappointing finish at Worlds, TSM underwent a total roster transformation.

Dyrus and Lustboy immediately retired. TSM parted ways with Santorin. That early honeymoon was replaced with quick regret.

In perhaps the most shocking news from that summer, TSM dropped WildTurtle and replaced him with mechanically gifted Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. This gave Bjergsen the star player he needed to take the focus off him exclusively.

Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Bjergsen’s old Copenhagen Wolves teammate from the beginning of his career, was brought in to give Bjergsen some familiarity.

Replacing Dyrus in the top lane was Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, an upstart top laner with a year of pro experience on Gravity but who’s relatively untested.

Rounding out the team was Fnatic’s Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, a player who just experienced a great run to the semifinals at Worlds and one of the most talked-about imports of the offseason.

The team was touted as being a powerhouse in the making. They were easily pegged as the early favorites to win the NA LCS.

That’s why it was so shocking when they came out looking lethargic. Something was wrong with this version of TSM, and despite a million explanations, it couldn’t be fixed.

The starting five for TSM during the Spring Split never figured out how to become one singular group. It seemed different voices and different views on how to play the game fractured the team.

There was no trust, and the team defaulted to trying to win based on individual skill instead of team mechanics.

That didn’t exactly work out as planned on paper. Svenskeren had to learn how to sacrifice resources for his mid and bottom lane. Hauntzer realized his habitual mistakes would be cast in a much bigger light with TSM.

Despite their issues and sixth place finish during the Spring Split, TSM made it to the Spring Split Finals. They were upset by CLG, and though they forced a five-game series, it was arguably the worst iteration of TSM we’ve seen.

TSM 2016 – reincarnated

Instead of panicking after a rough Spring Split, TSM made just one minor move. It was clear that YellOwStaR was not working. (He publicly stated he was homesick.)

After being granted permission to leave, YellOwStaR returned to Fnatic.

TSM now needed to find a new support, and one that could bend to Doublelift’s demanding playstyle.

It was a bit shocking when TSM went with rookie Vincent “Biofrost” Wang in the support position, but as the Summer Split progressed, it soon became clear that Biofrost was the real deal.

In the middle of it all, Bjergsen played possibly the best season of his entire career. Statistically, he finished the regular Summer Split with 166 kills, 62 deaths, and 275 assists for a KDA of 7.1.

This was no longer a one-man show though.

Hauntzer finally matured as a player, and as TSM trusted him more, his confidence grew. Doublelift returned to his top tier status in NA with the assistance of Biofrost. Hauntzer had a clear mission, get his two carries fed.

But have no questions about it, this is still Bjergsen’s team. How far TSM goes is how far Bjergsen can carry them. And that’s always a good proposition on which to bet.

Image credit: Riot / Flickr.com

Rachel Perry

About

Rachel is an avid gamer whose insatiable desire for all things gaming related has been augmented by the inconceivable growth of eSports and how competitive gaming is viewed. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite games, Rachel can be found playing League of Legends, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, or watching too much Twitch.tv.