Team SoloMid has historically been a mid-centric team. Reginald, the team’s founder and original mid laner, was undoubtedly the loudest voice and biggest personality in his iteration of the team. When Regi stepped down, his replacement was current mid Bjergsen, who was at the time a teenage, Danish prodigy with hype surrounding his performances in the European LCS. The team’s strategy didn’t change: Bjergsen was funneled resources, ganked, counter-ganked, warded for; you name it, he got it. In many ways, Bjergsen fit the role even more so than his predecessor- he was more mechanically gifted and could often solo carry games in ways Reginald simply couldn’t. However, Bjergsen had trouble adjusting to the shotcalling role, which was left vacant after Reginald’s departure, and the team struggled internationally.
Fast forward to Spring Split 2016. Dyrus has retired, ushering in an “on-paper” upgrade in Hauntzer. Santorin is dropped for Svenskeren, another theoretical upgrade given Sven’s history with Bjergsen (they played together on Copenhagen Wolves in late 2012 and early 2013). Doublelift, regarded by many as North America’s best ADC, is replacing WildTurtle, who was repeatedly criticised for his performances leading up to his departure. Lastly, YellowStaR, one of two players to have played at every World Championship (and a player renowned for his shotcalling) is taking the support role from Lustboy. TSM has changed almost completely: the only returning player is Bjergsen.
Long story short, the team that made upgrades to 80% of their roster, settling for nothing less than players touted as “the best in the West” at their positions (sans Svenskeren, who was certainly considered a veteran but not held in the same regard), struggled domestically. After a disappointing 6th place regular season finish and loss in the Spring Split Finals, much of the external blame fell onto YellowStaR, who fans perceived to be the obvious weak link. YellowStaR announced his desire to return to his native region, Europe, shortly after the loss.
Who could possibly replace a legend of the game, albeit one apparently past his prime? In truth, not many people who fit the description were free agents. So TSM looked to Biofrost, who could only be described as a North American solo-queue talent. Biofrost, who had never played at a level higher than the Challenger Series, had big shoes to fill.
Now fast-forward to July 8th, as undefeated-in-sets TSM finishes a clean 2-0 against Cloud9. What has changed?
The team has gained the ability to play from more than one lane. Bjergsen no longer has the arduous burden of solo-shotcalling, as the duties are shared by multiple members of the team. The duo lane of Doublelift and Biofrost has been dominant in ways no one predicted. Biofrost, Bjergsen, and Doublelift are top 3 in KDA for the entire league. TSM is, at least domestically, a multi-faceted, well-oiled machine of relentless decimation with very few hiccups. It would seem that the key to TSM’s troubles was to provide comfort to their carries. Comfort to Bjergsen by lessening the burden of shotcalling, spreading the responsibility amongst the team; comfort to Doublelift by finding a support who is a strong, aggressive laner with good synergy.
It remains to be seen where the team stacks up internationally, but fans can remain optimistic from domestic results. TSM has the look of a new team.
TL;DR: TSM has become more than a mid-centric team with the addition of Biofrost, who enables Doublelift. This has led to their ascension to the top of the Summer Split standings.