Team SoloMid’s Mid-Season Invitational was a disaster. The North American representatives crashed out of the tournament following a series of poor drafts, in-game indecision and sloppy macro play; Rift Rivals told an entirely different story.
On paper, the return of veteran AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng – and the subsequent departure of his temporary replacement Jason “Wildturtle” Tran – was expected to prompt an overhaul of the team’s in-game communication issues.
Doublelift’s experienced voice and calming influence would theoretically eradicate the chronic macro issues that had plagued the team’s progress at MSI 2017. An analysis of TSM’s defeats at the international tournament showed there was a great deal of work to be done.
Team SoloMid fans watched in horror as their beloved idols threw away seemingly insurmountable leads in front of an equally shocked Brazilian audience.
Not even a 10k gold lead over European rivals G2 eSports was enough to secure passage to the knockout rounds, as the Kings of Europe rallied into the late game to advance. Team SoloMid would pay for their sins, routed by Flash Wolves in the tiebreaker.
Having to build from the ground up again, Doublelift’s return signalled the start of a much needed overhaul. As the NA LCS Summer Split would prove, the process would not be entirely painless, but entirely necessary.
Team SoloMid set to work eradicating the weaknesses in their play, not content to simply defeat opponents on account of individual prowess.
The ideology revolved around perfecting clean early game macro play, an art form League of Legends fans had become so used to seeing SK Telecom T1 employ to devastating effect. Understandably, TSM initially lacked the potency of Korea’s most dominant squad, conceding numerous defeats in the early summer months.
By the split’s mid-way mark, and as the regional champions prepared to travel for Rift Rivals, the team’s shot calling and decision making had improved ten fold. Team SoloMid were ready to showcase their reformed macro play on an international stage:
The Team SoloMid squad was unrivalled in their proactivity on the rift, frequently co-ordinated by either Doublelift or mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, arguably the team’s two primary shot callers.
Doublelift’s transition towards utility and play making champions, and away from his traditional ‘hard carries’, has significantly expanded the TSM’s arsenal. The expert use of Ashe throughout Rift Rivals provided the cutting edge the team had been so desperately lacking during MSI 2017; Doublelift was not afraid to pull the trigger.
The confidence shared amongst a roster with clear leaders was evident in each of Team SoloMid’s Rift Rivals matches, seldom missing a beat on their path to destroying their opponents’ nexus. After receiving criticism for being overly cautious at the Mid-Season Invitational, Bjergsen wasted no time vanquishing rivals who overstepped the mark.
Team SoloMid’s shot calling at Rift Rivals compared to MSI, was as different as night and day. The European squads simply could not live with TSM’s incisive calls and ruthless execution, a cause for optimism given the North American organisation’s continued ambition for World Championship success.