Coming into worlds there’s a lot of talented players from different regions. While not everyone can win, they all have their own unique storyline. Team Solomid may not have the highest of chances to win it all, but they too have their own storylines and motivations.
Top Lane: Dyrus – Finishing Strong
When Dyrus first joined TSM he dominated the NA scene from the top lane as one of TSM’s primary carries or by being an unkillable monster. Much hype surrounded him going into worlds in season 2 because of his regional performance, but when faced with the foreign opposition he faltered hard and got embarrassed by enemy top laners. He himself has stated that season 2 was a disaster and it motivates him to play better. However, the following two seasons weren’t much of an improvement.
His team remained one of the premier NA powerhouses, but still could not find success against Chinese and Korean Teams. Last year, in season 4 they were able to make it out of groups, but it was seen as the easiest group and it led to a 3-1 loss to Samsung White in the quarterfinals.
This time around expectations are at an all time low after a sub-par showing at MSI. Dyrus showed poor play regionally in the spring split, with top lane talent on the rise in NA and Dyrus unable to adapt to a more top lane focused meta. Dyrus was being killed by the enemy repeatedly and the team could only try to make use of it by going for objectives and plays on the other side of the map.
This style of play did not last, as it culminated in the MSI debacle. Afterwards Dyrus had to refocus and work hard to improve individually for TSM to even have a chance to make worlds, something TSM has never had to worry about in the past. Fortunately for them they made worlds on circuit points and Dyrus showed improvement, both in soloque ranking and his play. He still has a gap between himself and the best top laners in the world, but he has upgraded from being a liability.
Dyrus has a lot to prove still. He’s shown he can be competent regionally, but his international performances still haunt him, and this is his final chance at a decent showing. At the beginning of playoffs Dyrus stated he would most likely retire after Worlds. This point has been restated in social media multiple times since. If this holds true, it really does behoove him to show up big, and go out with a bang. Chances are we may see Dyrus cry before it’s over, either out of despair, or joyous triumph.
Jungle: Santorin – No Time to be a Rookie
Half of the Dynamic Danish Duo and Rookie of the Spring split Award winner, he’s done quite well for himself for having only joined the LCS this season. Coming in second this split, winning first in spring, and winning IEM Katowice, he’s already acquired some accomplishments under his belt. But even so, nobody’s stock has risen and fallen on the TSM roster this year as much as his has. Why is that? Being that TSM is an NA front-runner every season with high expectations in the west, and some of the most avid fans, pressure is high for any new player who joins the fold.
While Santorin is a rookie from the NA Challenger scene, anyone who comes to play for TSM is expected to play for Worlds, while other rookies are playing to stay in the LCS. His first impressions weren’t good either. Unicorns of Love happened at IEM San Jose and a lot of the blame was put onto the newcomer. Though in the coming weeks he as well as the rest of the team proceeded to pick up their play, leading to a Katowice and Spring split victory.
At this point things were looking good. Santorin wasn’t seen as an amazing jungler by experts, but he was solid and fulfilled his role within the team and sometimes went beyond the call of duty when playing his best champion Nidalee. It all came crashing down however with the combination of the new Cinderhulk meta and the Mid Season Invitational. TSM has been bad at adapting to big patches/meta changes for some time now, and teams finally began to punish their penchant for abandoning Dyrus.
The hate for Santorin by fans reignited. Santorin was seen as a jungler who only helped Bjergsen, and had little to no impact on the map. Top lane was becoming a huge focus and junglers were expected to be more aggressive in the early game, something that didn’t correlate with Santorin’s current farm heavy jungling style.
The problems carried into the next split. Players focused on fixing fundamentals and individual play while TSM had become a mid tier NA team. Under all the struggle the confidence that they’d retain their top tier NA status and Worlds Birth remained. Limping into the playoffs TSM rebounded into a contender fighting their way to the finals with a 5th place seeding. But they had hit a wall. They qualified for worlds with circuit points, but were unable to get their 3rd straight split championship. With no time to lick their wounds, they headed to Korea for bootcamp.
For Santorin the problem he faces is no longer within the realm of LCS. The scale has increased. He will be playing on the world stage. Is he a world class jungler? No, but the jungler pool this year , minus the exceptions, is weak. If he can take the heat of the stage, and do his job, there’s a chance things go well. With a good showing Santorin can gain some confidence going into next season, gain valuable experience, and solidify his place as a potential franchise player. A bad performance could mean another jungler out the door for TSM.
The Solomid: Bjergsen – Growing Responsibilities
Bjergsen has been a dominant force in the NA scene, winning two Spring split MVPs and consistently being the best player in the region. While TSM’s performance has fluctuated along with most of its players, Bjergsen remains strong. But with poor performances by the team internationally, Bjergsen has yet to shine on the world stage. Many fans see Bjerg as one of the few western world class players, but he has yet to prove it against world class competition.
These high expectations have been around since day one. Bjergsen was tasked with replacing Reginald, a vital center piece for TSM, as the new star player, and western hope. It wasn’t just a matter of playing well, Reginald literally micromanaged players at times, and at their best TSM worked like a hive mind. Bjergsen wasn’t going to replicate the level of command Reginald had, but he would be an upgrade in skill. This was shown in his many dominant performances through his first split.
TSM lacked strategy, and had solo que esq games, but went on an eleven game win streak due to power in the laning phase, and most of all Bjergsen snowballing off of solo kills. These multi-solo kill performances were unsustainable. The next split meant better mids and a new non assassin meta. The mids that remained were better from having played Bjerg, while newer more skilled imports took the places of the fallen. This became a reoccurring trend for the following splits.
While Bjergsen has never had as dominant a split as his first(in terms of laning and solo kills) he grew as a team player and an in game leader. His champion pool expanded to casters, and his team fighting became a strength, which previously didn’t exist, and he was now tasked with being a primary shot caller. With these developments came changes in the team, and new responsibilities for the mid laner.
The Oddone and Xpecial left the team, Oddone retiring, and Xpecial being kicked for “toxicity”. In came new talent with a fellow EU player, Amazing (jungler), and a C9 Tempest support named Gleebglarbu. In the previous split TSM continued the tradition of losing to C9 in the finals which sparked the mentioned roster changes. This time around TSM sought to change the flow of events, but it didn’t start well.
As TSM lost games, fans expressed their displeasure through social media bashing the new guys, which strongly affected Amazing and Gleeb. TSM acquired a Coach, Locodoco. Immediately he banned use of social media during the week and after losses, and started his tenure focusing on the player’s well being and state of mind rather than strategy.
This seemed to help somewhat, but Gleeb continued to struggle, while Amazing’s champion pool was suspect. Entering playoffs TSM was desperate. This was before circuit points existed, and TSM required a top 3 finish in the summer split to go to worlds. With reports of Gleeb having a poor attitude, and needing a late season push, the team signed on another new support.
This time it was an OGN veteran, Lustboy. He had been in contact with Locodoco, seemingly showing interest in joining the team. Lustboy was the missing ingredient to TSMs success. They narrowly won the split with multiple five game series. TSM was flying high on the wake of their win and headed to Korea to bootcamp for worlds.
TSM ended worlds 2014 making it out of groups in second place, and losing to the World Champion Samsung White in quarters. This was a disappointing loss for TSM, but their best showing at Worlds to date. On an individual level, Bjergsen had a decent showing, but it wasn’t enough. Their team play wasn’t bad either, but it was child’s play in the face of the overwhelming Samsung White.
Samsung White now serves as an ideal for TSM. Something to strive for. Bjergsen is part of TSM, and the ongoing process of being a contender for Worlds. Many memes later, Bjergsen wins another spring split mvp in 2015, wins Katowice, the spring split, and gets second in the summer split. Between the success, Bjergsen and TSM get routed at MSI, and pummeled by CLG. At a point, TSM was the Western Hope, now they are expected to lose in groups.
Amongst the turmoil, the ups and downs, Bjergsen remains a steady source of reliability. This reliability does not equal victories on its own. If TSM want to win at worlds off the back of Bjergsen alone, it’ll take a herculean effort on his part. If TSM does well it will be Bjergsen competing at a world class level meeting the expectations of the fans, but if TSM fails it will be yet another lost opportunity. For Bjergsen it’ll be about meeting those expectations while his team develops more carries to help. This is a chance for him to prove himself as a star, a leader, and a team player.
AD Carry: Wildturtle – Exposed Weakness
Wildturtle is the second longest running member of TSM on the current roster. Even with current struggles, he remains a fan favorite, but this wasn’t always the case. When Turtle first entered TSM it was on the back end of team drama.
Chaox, the former AD Carry, had been removed from the roster. The team was on a downslide, and the ADC’s work ethic was in question. The move came as a shock to fans and TSM players alike. Chaox wasn’t only a teammate, but being one of the original Baylifers, he was family. Wildturtle was in a very awkward position, but it was a great opportunity for the young ADC. He came into the LCS guns blazing picking up a pentakill and capturing the hearts of TSM fans worldwide. Of course others were still in mourning over Chaox, but they came around eventually when TSM won the split against GGU.
TSM had barely retained their NA crown, but they had no time to relish it as C9 qualified for LCS in the summer split and started cleaning house. Wildturtle’s former team was doing well without him, dominating the matchup as well as the NALCS as a whole. All hail the new kings.
That season (season three) was another poor Worlds showing by the TSM squad. But while players like Dyrus and Reginald turned in poor performances, Turtle was a bright spot in an otherwise black hole. Even back at home, while the team fought in vain against the superior C9, TSM’s bot lane was, at the time, a strength, and the only lane that could consistently win. The combination of Xpecial and Wildturtle made a top 2 NA bot lane.
Season four marked the end of an era. Reginald had stepped down, welcoming in TSM’s new star mid laner Bjergsen. Bjergsen became the new main carry of TSM, and Turtle was no longer a top ADC or a top 2 bot lane. With the arrival of new ADCs and the ascension of Sneaky, Wildturtle was old news.
At this point Turtle had gained a reputation for his often over aggressive style and a tendency of getting caught. Before the end of season four this had never became a problem. While getting caught at crucial points in a game can be a huge detriment, his upside for making hero plays was enough to balance things out. This didn’t remain true. His downside began to heavily outweigh the good as his death count skyrocketed and his damage dealt plummeted.
This season (season five) Wildturtle recorded his worst numbers yet causing management to worry and force a change. With new roster rules, TSM was unable to take any more foreign imports. Looking for talent locally they brought in the sub Keith. Keith had served as a motivation tool for Liquid Piglet earlier in the year, and TSM believed this could work for Turtle as well. Perhaps Keith could bring out the best in Turtle.
In a way it worked, and in a way it didn’t. Turtle retained his starting spot on the roster when the battle concluded. Turtle’s performance had yet to regain its luster, but it would have to do. With playoffs looming TSM ran out of time for Keith to get integrated, and Turtle was their best bet at a playoff run and a World’s clinching berth.
Much like Dyrus, Wildturtle has much to prove. 2015 has been a year of exposed weakness for TSM, and this holds especially true for Wildturtle. With his play exposed there’s nothing to do, but to adapt or die. This Worlds could very well be the last for two TSM members. Regardless of TSM’s performance as a whole, Wildturtle’s individual play will determine his future. Reginald has stated that past roster changes were never a matter of performance, but that can change in the near future. On a positive note, Turtle’s future is in his own hands, and while his regular season performances can be “troll”, he tends to get serious come Worlds.
Support: Lustboy – Resident Korean
The most decorated of TSM players, Lustboy. He’s been a winner of Champions, MLG, IEM, and NALCS. His arrival to the team brought valuable experience and game knowledge that has spanned multiple seasons in Korea, the premiere esports region. He has tasted victory and defeat in the biggest of games, but has yet to win the allusive Worlds Trophy.
Coming to NA, Lustboy had left the CJ organisation with a bad taste in his mouth. It still holds a special place in his heart, but problems in the team left him questioning what went wrong, and he looked inward. Wanting to start fresh he did what other Koreans did when hitting a wall, go to a new region. NA was an easy choice, because his friend Locodoco was already a coach for one of its premier teams, Team Solomid.
He was brought into TSM, who had their own difficulties, and challenged himself to learn english and help teach the team how Koreans play LoL. As a result, TSM’s macro game improved, specifically in vision control, and playing around it. Lustboy also provided big plays in the most crucial of moments, hitting key ultimates, or absorbing the enemy’s, giving his teammate openings to take over games. Lustboy was thrown directly into the frontlines, as his first games on TSM came at the end of the season. He didn’t have time to synergize with Wildturtle, or build team chemistry. Even so, he immediately became a top support in NA, helping TSM finally beat C9 in the summer split finals.
After season four, Lustboy’s new assignment was to become a solid bot lane with his duo partner Wildturtle and to work on communication. The strength of TSM’s bot lane never did become anything special. At best they could try and hold even, but were usually behind most games. They never became a bot lane threat, but Lustboy did improve his communication. He rarely speaks English in interviews, but in game comms and his daily tweets show a steady improvement.
Season 5 has been a tale of two splits for both Lustboy and TSM. Lustboy was playing some of his best League of Legends in the spring split, putting in MVP performances in both IEM Katowice and the Spring split finals(Bjergsen was officially named MVP both times). His partner in crime Wildturtle was starting to steady his aim, bettering his positioning. Lustboy had gotten the best of Madlife, a personal goal finally realized while simultaneously giving TSM their first win against a Korean team .
Summer split was a different story. The tragedy that was MSI occurred, and TSM was unable to reclaim their NA title. Lustboy had to watch as Turtle’s positioning was on the decline once again, and a rift in communication between Lustboy and the team was born. Lustboy would initiate only to find himself with no back up.
Lustboy’s success at worlds is about being part of a team. Being a catalyst for success and knowing his teammates are their to back up his plays. Whether communication is on point, and whether his duo with Wildturtle can stand against world class bot lanes, are vital to TSM’s chances and tie directly with Lustboy’s story. One TSM member already has one foot out the door, and another member might be right behind him. It’s highly unlikely that Lustboy will add another trophy to his collection, but the desire to win it could be the glue that holds TSM together and leads to a respectable Worlds performance. Either way get ready for a plethora cats and new memes.