Usually when you’re 6-2 and sitting in second place in the League Championship Series (LCS) standings, you don’t want to rock the boat—you’re already sailing smooth. But for Team SoloMid, the shore they’re targeting isn’t just a third straight LCS title. It’s the more distant land of a World Championship.
To get there, Team SoloMid may be tinkering with its lineup. Today, it revealed it’s trying out Yuri “KEITHMCBRIEF” Jew for the AD carry position, potentially paving the way for the benching of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran.
In a video released on newsoflegends, Andy “Reginald” Dinh revealed the reasoning behind the move. He also makes sure to note that Tran is not being permanently benched at this time. The team is simply trying out a different option, and hoping that pushes Tran to improve his play.
“This is probably the first time in TSM’s history to bench a player purely on performance,” Dinh said. “Turtle is one of the closest players to me on the team. This wasn’t an easy decision. Because Worlds is coming really close and we want to have a strong performance, it is important for us to come into Worlds with the strongest roster.”
After the Midseason Invitational, where Team SoloMid put together a performance labelled “embarrassing” later in the video, Dinh sat Tran and Marcus “Dyrus” Hill down to discuss their individual play because they were “not world class players” and needed to improve. Hill took the discussion to heart, showing noticeable improvements thanks to his tireless work ethic and attention to detail since Tallahassee, Dinh says. But Tran has not shown any improvement.
That’s obvious in some of Team SoloMid’s recent LCS matches, where Tran’s shaky positioning is getting him into trouble more and more often. Positioning has long been a problem for Tran both in and out of lane, but he’s covered up that weakness thanks to his top-notch mechanics. But with the mechanical talent increasing every year, especially on the World Stage, Team SoloMid can’t cover up those critical mistakes any longer.
This Split it’s even showing in his stats. Tran has posted the worst damage per minute of any AD Carry with more than two games played at 410 DPM, a dismal number compared to league leader Johnny “Altec” Ru’s 596 DPM mark. His 3.5 KDA ranks sixth among all AD carry players, a dismal number when you consider Team SoloMid’s 6-2 record against the 2-6 and 3-5 marks of the players flanking him; winning usually inflates your numbers.
Enter Yuri “KEITHMCBRIEF” Jew. The young AD carry player had a high profile stint with Team Liquid last season, filling in for Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin as the team struggled to integrate the Korean import into the team. During his six games with the team, Jew posted the highest Damage Per Minute of all players in the split at 630 DPM, also leading players with a 7.8 KDA. Those numbers were built off an ability to clean up team fights and dish out consistent damage in the mid and late game from safe positions, something Tran sometimes struggled with. But Jew wasn’t perfect—he fell behind in lane in many games, only recovering once the team started team fights.
The other issue with Jew is his age. The 17-year-old player was still in high school last season with Team Liquid, putting him on a tight schedule where he went to the team’s office to practice after getting off school. But he graduated after the Spring semester, leaving him free to pursue a League of Legends career.
Apparently when Team SoloMid coach Yoonsub “Locodoco” Choi first approached Jew with the possibility of trying out for SoloMid, the AD carry player thought he was joking with him. But now, appearing in a video wearing the iconic Team SoloMid jacket, it’s all too real.
“When I noticed he was serious, I thought that I should try super hard and try to take this opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime,” Jew said.
Whether the opportunity works out remains to be seen. As Dinh pointed out in the announcement, Tran is not benched—yet. But if Jew works out during his practice sessions with the team, it seems likely he’ll get some time in game. While Dinh and company will likely miss Tran’s fun loving personality, they seem to have found a mirror with another happy-go-lucky player in Jew.
Currently Jew is still under contract with Team Liquid Academy, but Liquid owner Steve “Liquid122” Arhancet has agreed to letting Jew try out for Team SoloMid.
It seems like a somewhat desperate move for a team still topping the LCS standings, but after the disappointment at MSI, it’s an understandable one.
“If you go to worlds like this it will be a repeat of MSI,” Choi said, noting this is a step they wouldn’t take if that tournament had gone well.
When you want to take on the world, you need to make tough decisions. And throughout his history as both a player and an owner, that’s what Dinh does best.
Screengrab via SolomidDOTNet/YouTube