Nearly two years have passed since Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell joined the Team SoloMid roster.
Since joining the heavyweight North American eSports organisation, Svenskeren has seen mixed success while the team as a whole has remained a pillar of the NA LCS.
Dominating domestically has become the norm for Team SoloMid, while the opposite can be said internationally. The latest of these international failures came at the 2017 World Championship.
One of the biggest holes in TSM’s game this season has been the early game and failing to allocate pressure correctly. The bulk of the blame has landed on the shoulders of Svenskeren for his perceived poor play.
It can certainly be argued that this is a larger, team-wide issue but it certainly does not expunge the individual missteps of Sven.
Throughout the group stages and particularly week two, frequent miscalculations resulted in early game deficits for the NA squad.
Blessed with two of the best laners in North America there is no excuse for not being able to secure at the very least a zero-sum game. It is simply unacceptable if you hope to make any noise against the best teams in the world.
When Svenskeren first joined Team SoloMid, the team’s fanbase vividly envisioned dynamic plays and early snowballing off ganks. Previously the team had the slower-paced junglers Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, who would look to coordinate with mid and gain advantages steadily.
Sven, on the other hand, was well known for being incredibly aggressive and capable of hard-carrying games off the back of the early advantages he would acquire.
Initially, the Danish jungler delivered on his promise and for the first year TSM would have one of the most dominating seasons in the history of North America.
This season, however, has seen a stark contrast in the style of play produced by TSM, with more emphasis on late-game macro play, rather than early dominance.
This has created a noticeable disconnect between Svenskeren and the rest of the team. Now defaulting to a herbivore style jungler, where he would set up vision and threaten counter-ganks to dissuade the enemy, Sven lost nearly all of his bite.
Against lesser competition in North America this could be easily masked through individual talent, but on the World Championship stage, it was exploited frequently.
Seemingly pulled in two separate directions, Sven would often die looking for wards, engaging in early-game skirmishes expecting his team to back him up.
No-one benefits from this scenario. Forcing Svenskeren to fight his own instincts and practically negate what has always been his strong points, in favor of TSM’s new version of how to play the game is a hindrance to development on both sides.
Saying TSM is looking for a facilitator in the jungle is by no means a slight at them. In fact, with a cemented superstar such as Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and a burgeoning one in the top lane in Hauntzer, it could be the best thing for them. Pushing a play-style onto a player who is ill-equipped to adapt to it will never become the recipe for success.
For these reasons, it is time for Team SoloMid and Svenskeren to part ways. Not just because of the poor play or the individual mistakes, but because he doesn’t match up with the current direction of the team.
Looking for a stable early game through vision and pressure points is not what TSM acquired Sven for, nor is it what he has shown as his strengths.
Moving forward it would be best for the organization to address these issues and look for a Jungler with a play-style that best supports their vision for the future.