Road To Worlds: Team SoloMid
At the Mid-Season Invitational as the leading representative for North America, Team SoloMid (TSM) failed to show up against top contenders such as Season One champions Fnatic (FNC) and Season Three champions SK Telecom T1 (SKT.) Common on-lookers believed they were in a slump and couldn't rise back to the top again as TSM started their Summer Split 2015 of the North American League of Legends Championship (NA LCS).
As week one approached, the match of the week, and first match of the Summer Split, was against second place Cloud 9 (C9) and first place TSM. Both teams put on an exciting show for the audience. However, C9 had decisive team fights and ultimates as they secured the victory against TSM.
Winning games against lower bracket teams and weighing off against upper bracket teams, TSM was one of four contenders for first place leading into week three. They managed to hold strong against Team Liquid (TL) and bring home the victory. Top laner Marcus "Dyrus" Hill was to thank for keeping dreams alive for TSM. It wasn't until week five that true struggles and upsets fell upon TSM's shoulders.
Grabbing TL's junior ADC Yuri "KEITHMCBRIEF" Jew, TSM hoped to scare the current ADC Jason "WildTurtle" Tran into having a better showing in the games ahead. TSM allowed KEITHMCBRIEF to show himself as he participated in a rotation between the two ADCs during scrimmages. They allowed him to play in week six against Team Dragon Knights (TDK) where he went 4-3-13 as Sivir. Although his play was phenomenal for the minimal training he had with the team, the organization's head coach Choi "Locodoco" Yoon-sub and analyst Parth Naidu agreed the team would become better with time and chose to stick with WildTurtle.
Unfortunately, with the team still falling apart, the chance for growth was slim. They began to give games away to many teams, including powerhouse Counter Logic Gaming (CLG). TSM continued their struggle and had to let the owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh, former midlaner of TSM, step in as head coach for the time being. With his aggressive leadership style and not allowing for mistakes, he kept the dream for Worlds alive, yet it still seemed so far away.
Reginald upped the standard of the average scrimmage, reviewing each game thoroughly and gave back thoughtful analysis. The players were on a rigid schedule, not unusual. Their time spent together didn't only include playing League of Legends; they even played games like charades as a chance to step away from their chairs and grow together as a team.
Though taking fifth place in the Summer Split was upsetting, the team was motivated to advance through the playoffs. The plan was simple: to knock out each team on the path to secure a spot at Worlds.
They rampaged through Gravity (GV) in the playoffs, going 3-1. They exploited the fact that Gravity didn't pull an off-meta pick, which allowed Dyrus to take control of the game with his extraordinary Olaf plays.
Coming off the high from defeating GV, TSM was ready to face Team Liquid, whose motivation and pride strives from being first place in the Summer Split after their tiebreaker win against CLG. On the other side of the bracket, CLG was against Asian-NA powerhouse Team Impulse (TIP), whom recently replaced their midlaner right before the playoffs began. TSM's two week period between GV and TL consisted of practicing against CLG and C9 in hopes of gaining counter play potential for the upcoming matches.
TL brought a lackluster gameplay to the stage, allowing TSM to flourish and win the set. After TSM finished off TL, TL was sent to the losers bracket to fight for third place against TIP. TSM was now one-step closer to making it to the Worlds stage once again.
Madison Square Garden was the chosen venue location for the match to determine NA's first seed and the hype was ever growing. Lights beaming, crowds cheering and casters yelling; nothing different for TSM as they'd been in momentous situations such as this before. The only thing they had to be afraid of was the team that they had knocked into second place countless times before, CLG.
However, as the games began, it was as if the set was already over. CLG's Yilang "Doublelift" Peng had already scored several quadras and a pentakill, backed by his best friend and support Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black. The Rush Hour bot lane looked unstoppable at the end of the third game, winning CLG the first seed of Worlds and first place Summer Split Playoffs 2015.
With the loss, TSM still grabbed the second seed of the World Championship by attaining 180 Championship points over the course of Season Five, but their current state of play looks rough as Worlds draws near. The team immediately flew to Korea in hopes of boot camping (scrimming against the worlds top teams) in hopes to learn SKT1 and other dominant figures play style.
The World's competition is the toughest it has ever been. Will TSM continue to slump and give up games, or will they finally take a Worlds trophy home for North America?
Disclaimer: parts of the stories in this series were written and edited by Zachary Feltis in cooperation with author Josh Taylor.
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