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TSM Curry Talks Team's Regular Season And Playoff Performances, Coach Bjergsen And More

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

26th Aug 2021 12:41

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Following the retirements of long time mid-laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Team SoloMid made major roster changes to start the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) 2021 season. 

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Bjergsen moved to head coach while jungler, Mingyi “Spica” Lu was the only sole member from the 2020 roster to remain on the team. Spica was joined by a mix of players varying in their pro-play experience. Top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, mid-later Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, AD Carry Lawrence “Lost” Hui and support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh all joined the newly-vamped TSM.

Team SoloMid started the season with a rocky LCS Lock In performance, showcasing their lack of synergy as this was the first time all of the players were playing together. It continued through to the spring’s start until a sudden click allowed for them to get into gear. This landed them with a third-place finish in the LCS 2021 Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). The team seemed to turn it up a notch come summer as they were able to finish in first place for the regular season, earning themselves a bye going into the playoffs.

In playoffs, they couldn’t quite translate their regular-season success, culminating in a fourth-place finish in the summer playoffs.

We had a chance to talk to Team SoloMid’s assistant coach, Anand “Curry” Agarwal after their five-game series versus Cloud9 last week. 

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The team had a great regular season during the summer, but couldn’t quite translate it come playoffs. Is there anything that you could pinpoint as the cause of it?

I think in the end, what it came down to was not necessarily a lack of preparation, but I think we needed to be a bit better at adapting through a five-game series whether we’re winning, especially when winning, and being willing to change it up in our next drafts and just be more flexible. I think that was probably the biggest thing we lacked.

I think that’s why we were really good in best-of-ones it’s because usually, we had really good plans going in, and when you have that going into best-of-ones you usually just win. But in a five-game series, you need to adapt from game to game. And I think that we as a coaching staff and as a team really struggled with. Not even just in summer, but in spring as well, and I think that was probably our most consistent problem.

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You mentioned adapting being one of the most consistent problems that the team had dating back to spring. Was it a more glaring issue this time around, or was it around the same?

I think compared to then it was better, I think in spring we were just very unprepared. I think this time around we improved a lot but honestly, in these best-of-fives it really just comes down to one adjustment [that] can sometimes be the difference.

In spring, we made a lot of mistakes. I think here we didn’t necessarily make the same mistakes, we just weren’t able to make the right adjustments at the right times. 

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Going back to being unprepared, could you expand on that a little bit? To start the season, the team was just five players playing with each other for the first time. Was it something to do with that, or maybe more on the coaching side of things?

Yeah, it was kind of everything. It was five new players playing together [...] as great as a coach Bjergsen is, he’s a rookie head coach. And then for us, we’re a brand-new staff that had never worked together either - we had no pre-existing repertoire together, so we’re just - there’s just so many things going on.

We’re trying to get the team to work, we’re trying to figure out how to work with each other, and honestly, that’s what spring is for. At the time, we weren’t too worried - that’s when you’re supposed to figure stuff out, supposed to figure out how to make sense. We were playing against teams and staffs that had been together for a while, so I think that’s really what it was. These things take time. Even as much as you talk about and work on these things, until you get to them on-stage and in person - you’ll never know what you need to adjust. 

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This was Bjergsen’s first time as a head coach, and you just gave him his dues. As someone who’s been around the scene for a while as part of coaching staffs, could you maybe explain what makes him great even as a rookie in his position?

I’ve worked with so many coaches over the years - kind of what separates normal coaches from great coaches is their intuition and their feel for coaching. It’s not a science, right? It’s just very exact, it’s very up to you - how you feel in situations, how you’re able to adapt in certain situations, how will you prepare? It was honestly amazing to me how quickly he picked up on these things that took me years to learn when it came to coaching. When to be hard on your players, when to be soft on your players, when to give players encouragement, whether you need to change something about how the team is running, whether you have to be more prepared, how to structure practice... 

He just understood these things so well. It obviously comes with his huge underlying game knowledge about how to play the game [and] the best way to be played. The guy is just built for it, smarts only take you so far when it comes to coaching, but that’s what impressed me the most. He knows how to coach, he knows how to work with people, he knows how to be a leader, and honestly he’s just incredible.

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

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This isn’t your time being part of a TSM coaching staff, as you essentially started your career with this very same team four years ago. What are some differences between that 2017 TSM versus the current 2021 TSM? 

Back then in the TSM of that year, the players and staff were just so far ahead of the curve in terms of skill and how to play the game - working there was pretty incredible. I think that’s what it came down to, everyone there was so far ahead of the curve, none of the other teams were close. Now I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily in comparisons to that kind of skill, but all the other teams have just caught up, right? And that’s naturally going to happen when three or four years ago the region was so far behind. Even last year was just the same thing, where I don’t think there were that many good teams. I think this year, there were very clearly five very good teams that all had a chance to go to Worlds.

Other than that, the biggest difference is that Bjergsen is coaching instead of playing, right? He’s been a rock in the mid-lane forever, and it’s a pretty big change when he’s no longer in the mid-lane. I think he’s done a fantastic job as coach.

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Although you guys didn’t make Worlds, and maybe spring wasn’t what you had hoped for, is there anything that you personally as one of the coaches are proud of this team? Is there anything you could naturally point out and say, “I’m really proud of the team for being able to overcome this?”

I think at the end of the day, I’m just really proud of how we played. Obviously, no one will really know that full story of what went on, but I think this team went through a lot of struggles, we had a lot of ups, a lot of downs. We just ran into a lot of issues and problems and I think that our ability to persevere through all of those and play our hearts out like we did today with no regrets, we really just gave it our best honestly. There are no regrets from this series compared to all our others where there’s definitely been “Oh we could have done this, we could have done that.” Today, in our most important match, we just put everything on the line. Even though it didn’t work out I couldn’t be more proud of the team and staff and giving it their best.

 

With their 3-2 loss to Cloud9, TSM’s season has ended, leaving them out of Worlds. 

 

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2021 LCS Teams That Missed Worlds

Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

23rd Sep 2021 19:19

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