After IEM, Team SoloMid recovered to win the LCS and take the next international event. The next international major will be the Riot World Championships, and while it’s nearly a lock that this Team SoloMid makes it, that isn’t enough for Reginald’s boys. And MSI shows that the team has a long way to go to perform consistently on the international stage.

Photo via Riot Games/Flickr 

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May 8 2015 - 11:29 pm

TSM on the brink of elimination after loss to AHQ

On a day where Europe and America’s best League of Legends teams faced Chinese powerhouse EDward Gaming, few expected the battle between Taiwan’s AHQ e-Sports Club and Team SoloMid to be the biggest game of the Friday slate at the Mid-Season Invitational
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On a day where Europe and America’s best League of Legends teams faced Chinese powerhouse EDward Gaming, few expected the battle between Taiwan’s AHQ e-Sports Club and Team SoloMid to be the biggest game of the Friday slate at the Mid-Season Invitational. But the match likely decided which team would advance to the playoffs.

And the home team did not survive.

Team SoloMid fell behind fast against AHQ, and the Taiwanese team went for the jugular. Team SoloMid were only in the game during the opening minutes, where they secured a small farm lead. But with AHQ taking an early dragon free and scoring first blood on Marcus “Dyrus” Hill, the Team SoloMid nightmare at MSI continued.

AHQ secured the fourth dragon at the 23 minute-mark after crushing Team SoloMid’s defense, giving them a whopping 13,000 gold lead in the mid game. Just a few minutes later, the dust settled and the curtain closed on Team SoloMid’s tournament chances.

The AHQ team continued their solid play from Thursday. While mid laner Liu “Westdoor” Shu-wei may be a star, his teammates showed the Taiwanese side is certainly not a one-trick pony. Ziv “Chen” Yi in the top lane put together an impressive 4/2/12 Maokai game, and jungler Xue “Mountain” Zhao-Hong on Rek’Sai was a 3/0/12 terror. The bottom lane pair of Chou “AN” Chou-an on Urgot and Kang “Albis” Chia-wi both outplayed their counterparts.

AHQ will move on to the semifinals, and even has a chance at a top seed if they pull off another upset against SK Telecom T1.

The Americans have one hope remaining: a victory against Chinese team EDward Gaming and a loss by Fnatic against Turkish side Beşiktaş. Both results are incredibly unlikely, given the form of the teams.

That means Team SoloMid, one of the favorites entering the tournament— an American team with the upside to snag the top spot in the world, especially given their homefield advantage in sunny Tallahassee, Fla.—is now out of a tournament. It’s an utter failure and an embarrassment for American League of Legends.

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It’s hard to disagree with Riot commentator Joshua “Jatt” Leesman. During the League Championship Series, Team SoloMid played steady and limited their mistakes. But at MSI, the team looked ineffectual, sitting in their lanes and farming even after getting trapped in unfavorable situations by failing to lane swap or getting placed into an iffy matchup out of champion select, instead of proactively taking the match into their own hands.

Marcus “Dyrus” Hill gave up first blood on multiple occasions and his play on Hecarim in multiple games was lacking. It was hard to tell Lucas “Santorin” Larsen was even in the server as he pulled off zero early ganks and let the enemy junglers have their way with his teammates. Ham “Lustboy” Jung-sik coudln’t keep Jason “WildTurtle” Tran out of trouble in the bottom lane. Only mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg acquitted himself well by besting both Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and “Westdoor” in lane, but he was unable to impact the match as the rest of his team crumbled around him.

Questions will swirl around Team SoloMid through the LCS season and beyond. What happened at MSI? Where did the methodical and well-organized Team SoloMid we saw at LCS and at IEM go?

And why does this seem to happen every time that fans finally have hope that the West may have—at long last—made strides against its Asian overlords?

It’s hard to imagine Team SoloMid making a roster change after a solid LCS season and their historic win at IEM, but it’s hard to imagine competitive team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh being happy with the status quo—crumbling in the biggest event of their lives.

Of course, this has happened before. At IEM Cologne, Germany, this very Team SoloMid lineup fell to Unicorns of Love after their coach Yoonsub “Locodoco” Choi misread the metagame, putting the squad at a critical disadvantage after picks and bans. Perhaps MSI is a result of a similar miscalculation—like underestimating the power of Urgot, or overvaluing Dyrus on Hecarim. Lustboy implied as much in a tweet after the match.

After IEM, Team SoloMid recovered to win the LCS and take the next international event. The next international major will be the Riot World Championships, and while it’s nearly a lock that this Team SoloMid makes it, that isn’t enough for Reginald’s boys. And MSI shows that the team has a long way to go to perform consistently on the international stage.

Photo via Riot Games/Flickr 

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