It is no coincidence that Team SoloMid have pieced together a five-match winning streak since jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen reverted back to type. The champion Lee Sin is a failsafe for Svenskeren and Team SoloMid, so why change a winning formula?
Consecutive victories over NA LCS strugglers FlyQuest eSports and Echo Fox marked five consecutive victories for Team SoloMid, now just one place away from the league’s frontrunners, Immortals.
From their five back-back series wins, Team SoloMid have enjoyed 10 individual game victories. Excluding the series against Team Liquid, in which TSM likely could have won with any team composition, Svenskeren has played Lee Sin in every single game victory.
One of Team SoloMids’s primary causes for failure at MSI 2017 was Svenskeren’s unwillingness, or perhaps inability to change his playstyle and demonstrate a broader champion pool outside of Lee Sin.
Upon his return to North America for the Summer Split, Sven appeared hesitant to resort to the comfort of his Lee Sin pick, opting instead to develop his play on champions such as Ivern, Kha’Zix, Elise and Gragas. The Danish jungle found little success, as Team SoloMid struggled in the opening weeks.
Beginning with victory over Counter Logic Gaming at the end of Week 2, Lee Sin has been Svenskeren’s champion of choice in 80% of Team SoloMid’s games, employed to devastating effect:
Svenskeren leapt at the opportunity to pick Lee Sin against both FlyQuest and Echo Fox, boasting a 17 KDA and 71% Kill Participation against the later.
Speaking in the post-match interview after victory over Echo Fox, Svenskeren was questioned on his Lee Sin comfort pick:
“My comfort pick is Lee Sin right now. Every time they give it to me, or any time I can play it, it’s pretty easy – I just know the champion so well.
“Once they force me on other picks, then maybe it’s gonna be harder.
“I’m disappointed by it because I want to learn other champions, I need the stage experience.
“It’s bad if we don’t pick it, because then we wouldn’t be trying our hardest to win, but I want to play other champions for the practice.”
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen
Though TSM enjoyed consistent success throughout the Spring Split – sweeping through the NA LCS with a eerily similar reliance on their comfort picks – their regional dominance did not translate to the international stage.
Mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg outlined the team’s need for a new approach in the summer, determined to nail down the team’s arsenal of strategies ahead of the World Championship, hoping to avoid ‘shitting the bed internationally’:
“I don’t regret picking things we might not be as good at, or things that we still need to get better at.
“I know we can probably pick to our strengths every single game and we would’ve won a lot more games than we did.
“But it’s not really about the early games in the split, it’s about the long run.
“Every time we win the split then shit the bed internationally, I wish we had practiced these things earlier in the split.”
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
Svenskeren’s return to Lee Sin suggests an abandonment of these tactics, at least temporarily, and back towards the ideology that has secured the team so many regional titles.
The Team SoloMid jungler appears to have given up attempting to reinvent himself by broadening his champion pool, instead boosting his personal figures and tallying team victories on his renowned comfort pick.
An over-reliance on one particular champion will inevitably come back to haunt Team SoloMid and Svenskeren, just as it did at the Mid-Season Invitational.
TSM face a difficult predicament. Notching victories using comfortable compositions against weak regional opponents will secure the organisation a spot at Worlds, yet inadequately prepares the roster for the strength of opposition they will face on the international tournament.
However, time taken to develop diverse strategies regionally could result in the team missing out on qualification entirely, if results at the beginning of the Summer Split are anything to go by.
Svenskeren’s embarrassment in the Echo Fox post-match interview will only be heightened once his comfort pick is consistently banned away from him at the forthcoming World Championship, leaving no plan B for Team SoloMid.
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