The Super Squad Ideology
Team solo mid has recently unveiled their new starting lineup for the upcoming IEM San Jose event and on paper, the team looks poised to be the next North American powerhouse. They’ve drafted a roster consisting of arguably the best players of their respective teams. But with such outstanding players across the board, will big personalities clash and crumble? Or rejoice under the daunting banner of TSM.
Santorin’s out of the picture, and former SK jungler Svenskeren steps in. Svenskeren brings an aggressive jungle style that focuses on counter jungling and snowballing lanes. He was essential in the 2015 EU LCS spring split propelling SK gaming to a first place finish. But after a surprising upsurge and unique picks, Unicorns of Love took down SK in the final round of a best of five causing the departure of ADC FORG1VENGRE. After the release of their star ADC, the team was relegated at the end of the Summer Split. What better team than TSM to have a jungler who can get the lanes ahead to facilitate two overwhelming forces in mid and bot. Svenkeren’s Lee Sin was especially impressive, and would often take over a game completely. There is no doubt that this change will completely revamp TSM into a less passive team, something they were criticized for heavily and would often cause teams to obtain large gold leads early.
Bjergsen continues his campaign to be the most dominating mid lane force to be reckoned with. Despite his teams lowest split finish of all time, Bjerg remains a constant threat and should be handled with extreme caution. If left unchecked, he’ll completely take over games and carry the entire team on his back if need be. However, teams can dedicate their resources to disarm the potential total atomic annihilation that Bjergsen can wreak. After fighting through the playoffs defeating both Gravity and first place Team Liquid, they were 3-0’d by CLG in the finals. With the addition of the former rival star Doublelift, the burden is lifted.
The acquisition of ADC Doublelift was an enormous surprise to everyone who follows completive League of Legends. Despite having attitude issues that have riddled Counter Logic Gaming, he has consistently shown why he is considered a world class player in his position. He was an absolute monster during the 2015 NA Summer Split sporting the highest gold per minute and highest kill count of the region. Even more impressive is the 79.4% kill participation which is also the highest amongst all players in both EU and NA LCS displaying just how much of an asset to his team he really is. He continued his dominion through the playoffs, helping his team achieve 3-0’s over Team Impulse and TSM marking his first NA LCS title for himself and the CLG organization. So the question is, can he keep up this dominance with another star player that has become accustomed to having resources funneled into him? Considering he’s always been in a team that highly catered to his play style, it’s reasonable to say he could have difficulties adapting to this new squad.
With Dyrus ending his long and monumental career in competitive gaming, his little brother Hauntzer takes watch top lane. Hauntzer is so similar to the former top laner that he should have no problem adjusting to his new team. He thrives in the laning phase, but like Dyrus he would often get ganked do to his teams lackluster lane swap. Despite low resources, he shows up in team fights. Whether it’s peeling for carries or soaking damage on the front lines, Hauntzer displays reliablilty and the stone to replace the gap Dryus left. Having a wider champion pool than the former top laner will be a refreshing change considering the teams’ troubles adjusting to meta shifts and unexpected champion picks.
Rounding up the roster is kaSing, former support of H2K. Upon entering EU LCS, H2k showed little success until kaSing joined the starting lineup as support. His team saw immediate improvements in communication and overall team play. Noted for his playmaking ability on champions like Thresh and Alistar, kaSing dictates whatever lane he roams to. With so many big personalities on one team he could be the key factor in the team’s future success. The potential of a new shot caller for TSM frees up Bjergsen to return to his former split MVP status. It may just fall to him to keep his team level headed and trusting especially with historically stubborn players.
History of Super Teams
With such a strong line up it’s hard to imagine TSM not being a favorite for the upcoming NA LCS spring split. With so many star players on one roster success may seem guaranteed; however there are many examples of why this isn’t always the case. In order to be a successful team in competitive League of Legends you need to have five players that can work in unison. It takes more than just raw mechanical skill to be effective at the highest level of play. If we look at teams that have had the most success we look at teams like Cloud 9 and Fanatic. We think of these teams as being some the greatest teams of their respective regions. These teams didn’t have players with big names to justify all of the success. We look at Fanatic over the past year coming into the season with a completely revamped lineup consisting of four new no name players. So many questions revolved around this fresh faced squad that were soon answered by winning both spring and summer split titles and making it all the way to semifinals in the world championship. Not to mention being the first team to go undefeated throughout the summer spilt (18-0) to receive their first loss in the playoff finals.
Likewise we can look back when C9 had its unprecedented 24-4 record in 2014. Cloud 9 consisted of many no named players that, at the time, it came to the surprise of many when they rolled through the competition with creative shot calling and unique comfort champion picks. The true beauty of why this team was so amazing was their ability to assess any situation and somehow find a way to win the game. C9’s dominance over the western scene elevated the game as teams started to adapt to a more strategic philosophy of the game. C9’s ability to always get the champs they wanted every game was unlike any other team at that time. Teams would try picking away key champs that they were heavily practiced on and C9 would get their Ash, Zyra bot lane and smash the whole game. They had a unique ability to find one very strong strategy and have multiple champs to successively execute the role they needed to play. It was when teams started attacking Hai by banning out his AD assassin champ preferences that they started to find C9s weakness.
On the other hand you also have teams that are stacked with incredible talent that completely flop. A great example of this is Elements. Elements, formally Alliance, consisted of some of the biggest names in the EU LCS. Froggen’s super team saw little success with inconstant shot calling that more times than not caused them to throw easily winnable games. Similarly many experts and analysts thought OMG would be an absolute beast throughout the LPL regular season just to show an underwhelming 7th place performance. Going down the roster you could make an argument that they could’ve potentially been the best team in the LPL. However the team didn’t play around their star ADC UZI whom is considered to be one of the greatest ADCs in the world. Teams like these failed to play around the weapons they possess. People make assumptions on how well a team will do based solely on roster strength, but it’s dependent on the overall strategy and how the team plays around the style of their star players.
Another example of this is LGD. LGD was the first seed from the LPL going into worlds, yet was knocked out in group stage with an embarrassing record of 2-4. Experts and analyst thought the team could’ve easily made it to the finals if not win the entire tournament. They also had 4 players on the top 20 going to worlds on many experts list. One of which was Imp, former world champion. The team completely fell apart as they started the first week of worlds 0-3. Communication breakdowns were most likely due to poor team infrastructure with the loss of their coach right before the tournament. Acorn had a huge underperformance during the event. He had very uncharacteristic teleport plays and seemed to be out of sorts for a top lane heavy favored meta. Godv also had very uncharacteristic champion picks that left everyone wondering why he didn’t just continue to play teleport AP assassins like Diana and Ekko where he found the most success. I think this is a prime example of how important coaching staff is for teams that have a super team lineup.
TSM undoubtingly looks like a super team and it will be interesting to see how the team performs come Saturday where they will be facing a much more prepared LGD squad coming into IEM San Jose. Unfortunately TSMs new roster will be much less practiced, but nevertheless it may show how naturally synergistic they can be. One thing is for certain, TSM has hands down won the offseason. Picking up top players in each of their respected positions is always going to look great on paper, but the actual execution will tell the true story. If TSM can fix their past shot calling and pick ban phase, then the team will ultimately find success. The success will stem from effectiveness of the new coaching staff and their ability to promote team wellness.
Photo credit to Lolesports, and ongamers.