After finishing the double round robin of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational with a 4-6 record, NA LCS Champions Team SoloMid have been eliminated following a tie-breaker match loss to the Flash Wolves. The loss will cost North America its preferential seeding at the 2017 World Championships, adding an addition layer of difficulty for NA’s future international representatives. Though many will view TSM’s performance as a failure, there are still reasons to remain optimistic.
Team SoloMid dug themselves too many holes at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, often before even loading onto summoners rift. TSM coach Parth “Parthenaan” Naidu made multiple errors in the drafting phase, serving up their rivals strong compositions on a silver platter.
TSM’s sub-standard strategy was most clearly evident in their final tie-breaker match against the LMS’ Flash Wolves, where Parth opted to ban out Twitch and Kog’maw, two picks ADC Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung was yet to display proficiency on at the tournament.
— Isaac CB (@RiotAzael) 15 May 2017
These bans would instead allow Betty to pick Ashe, a champion upon which he had thrived and been extremely impactful. TSM curiously drafted strategies that placed more of a burden upon AD Carry Jason “WildTurtle” Tran to carry the games, rather than working through the strength of their solo laners.
@NaserAlNaqi Parth drafts were ass this tournament. I’d be mad too.
— David Turley (@RiotPhreak) 15 May 2017
The NA LCS squad struggled with their late game decision making. In both games against G2 eSports, TSM would create significant advantages, only to freeze once they reached G2’s inhibitor turrets. Whether unsure of the next step, or afraid to pull the trigger in a high-pressure game, TSM was too hesitant to take the necessary risks needed to convert their advantages into victories.
— lolesports (@lolesports) May 14, 2017
Though it would be easy to write-off Team SoloMid as a failure once more, there remains reason for cautious optimism in North America. TSM’s late game decision-making issues could potentially be resolved with the return of ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. One of the LCS’s most experienced players, Doublelift was praised for the shot calling presence he brought to the fray last season. With his return, the NA LCS heavyweights should have a more decisive shot-calling voice in the late game, alleviating some of the chronic issues they demonstrated at MSI 2017.
Another bright spot in an otherwise dimly lit tournament was the play of their TSM solo laners top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. Billed as the strength of the team heading into MSI, Hauntzer and Bjergsen both delivered for the most part, with Hauntzer in particular asserting himself as a force internationally. Given more time for Hauntzer to expand his champion pool and continue to develop, this tandem should only grow stronger as they make their run towards Worlds.
Regardless of the areas TSM struggled with at MSI, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic moving forward. TSM were able to create early and mid game advantages for themselves in many of the games, including an average gold lead of 3k against G2 at 20 min. Being able to create an early lead but struggling to finish is a far easier issue to correct, than continually struggling to create an early lead for yourself and desperately hoping you can win from behind.
For many NA and Team SoloMid fans, their early exit from MSI will understandably be deemed a disappointment. Yet, drafting issues can be fixed, late game shot-calling can be fixed and the fabled return of Doublelift should be a significant upgrade to the roster. With the ultimate goal still to “win worlds” (or place highly), there is still reason for fans to be optimistic about the future.