The fallout after Team SoloMid’s exit from the 2017 World Championship will undoubtedly result in major changes to the team’s lineup and infrastructure.
As the Team SoloMid roster sulked off the stage for the last time in Wuhan, it was Head Coach Parth “Parth” Naid who was the first to buckle, tweeting an emotional response to what had just transpired.
Parth’s drafting and team compositions were widely criticised, not only during Worlds 2017 but also at the previous major international event, the 2017 Mid Season Invitational.
It initially appeared that the pressure had got the better of the former Boeing engineer, who expressed that he had stepped onto an eSports stage for the last time.
Sorry to our fans. Last year it was inexperience, but no excuses this year. That was my last time on stage.
— Parth (@parthenaan) October 15, 2017
Though the social media post appeared to be fairly conclusive, Parth quickly amended his statement – perhaps after some stern words from team owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh – rephrasing his sentiments to suggest that while his future was still in doubt, it would be decided following proper protocol.
My last tweet was an emotional response to our results + lack of sleep. We will have an official update on potential changes for next year.
— Parth (@parthenaan) October 16, 2017
Parth first emerged as a suitable focus of Team SoloMid fans’ frustrations after MSI 2017, supported in part by professional analysts and Riot Games representatives.
Riot Games shoutcasters Isaac “Azael” Cummings Bentley and David “Phreak” Turley were quick to point the finger at TSM’s Head Coach after the team’s similarly early exit, raising the issue with his drafts throughout the tournament.
As Team SoloMid prepared to face Flash Wolves for a spot in the next round of the tournament, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen – who had looked weak on any champion other than Lee Sin or Ivern – was forced out of his comfort zone, whilst top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell was drafted into a difficult matchup.
Yet it was the decision to focus two of Team SoloMid’s bans on the AD carry hyper-carries Twitch and Kog’Maw, two champions that Flash Wolves’ Betty was yet to play once that year, caused widespread outrage.
Delighted, Betty opted for his comfort pick of Ashe. Riot Shoutcasters Azael and Phreak took to social media to highlight just how baffling Team SoloMid’s draft phase had been:
— Isaac CB (@RiotAzael) May 15, 2017
Parth drafts were ass this tournament. I'd be mad too.
— David Turley (@RiotPhreak) May 15, 2017
You do not need to be an ex-pro to be a good coach.
KkOma isn't some god of Korean soloQ. And yet SKT are 3x world champions.
— David Turley (@RiotPhreak) May 15, 2017
Parth spent the majority of the NA LCS Summer Split battling the sordid reputation that had been thrust upon him, attempting to introduce a macro style to Team SoloMid’s play, in spite of the resistance of the team’s fanbase.
The weight of the community came down hard on TSM’s Head Coach, but despite it all, he stayed true to his long-term strategy.
As the roster became more comfortable in their macro orientated style, however, Team SoloMid began to surge up the standings and entered Rift Rivals in a rich vein of form.
It appeared that all would be forgiven, given that Team SoloMid’s draft phase was the strongest of any team competing at Rift Rivals, the cornerstone upon which the team built their success at the tournament.
Parth did not receive the recognition he deserved for Team SoloMid’s success at Rift Rivals and now it appears that the saga has come full-circle, with the head coach once again framed as one of the major weak links for TSM.
The draft phase, whilst a critical part of the professional game, is certainly not a one-man job, rather a collaborative effort of all six team members on stage. To villainise Parth alone for the failings of TSM’s picks and bans is fundamentally unfair.
That’s not to say that there aren’t underlying issues with the coaching system at Team SoloMid. To consistently dominate the North American region, yet falter on the international stage with the very same consistency, is an issue perhaps only a coaching change can fix.