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TSM Miss Worlds - The Difficulty Of Outrunning Your Past

Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

28th Aug 2021 18:30

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There is no team in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) quite like Team SoloMid. As a team built on success from day one, they’ve always had their present compared to their past - no Worlds, no success. 

When you’re a team like Team SoloMid, it’s difficult to outrun or even keep up with your past. In Team SoloMid’s case, it’s perhaps something they will never be able to do. This year—perhaps more than any other year—was the most difficult case of it. Following the retirements of long time mid-laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, the team had a lot on their plate and a lot to try to outrun. 

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For years, Bjergsen was their rock in the mid-lane. A player who would against all odds take the team to the North American promised land in 1v9 fashion all while, from the outside view, being the team leader. There was no quit in him; there’s a reason why the team was famously dubbed “Bjergsen and four wards.” Although unfair to his teammates, one teammate in particular definitely helped contribute to Team SoloMid’s ghosts of the past, Doublelift. As the best homegrown talent North America’s ever produced, and one of the players that will go down in League of Legends infamy, like Bjergsen, he’d also be difficult to replace. 

The team definitely did try to outrun their past this time around, and in many ways, they tried to create a new story for themselves, a new future—it’s not easy filling the voids that Bjergsen and Doublelift left. Thankfully for them, Bjergsen didn’t fully leave the team, but became the team’s head coach. In a region that lacks head coaches whom players would consider good in their role, a player like Bjergsen could and seemingly was a perfect fit. As a player, he was relentless and assertive both in and out of the Rift, and now as a coach, he could perhaps make it work.

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To go with head coach Bjergsen, jungler, Mingyi “Spica” Lu was the only sole member to remain from that 2020 roster. This meant that both Bjergsen and Spica were the only players to remain in place; a rare almost full rebuild for Team SoloMid. 

Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT
Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

A team cannot do a near-full rebuild without getting the players it needs to complete said rebuild. That’s where the new players for the year come in, all varying in 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 Bjergsen and Spica. If it wasn’t for the fact that two out of the LCS’ “big four” counterparts, Cloud9 and Team Liquid, rivalled and bettered them, this roster would have been the best on paper.

There are a few players from the West that don’t need an introduction, and Huni is certainly one of them. He made waves on Fnatic over in Europe and when he came over to North America in Immortals. So much so, that he was taken in by one of the best teams to ever grace the game, SK Telecom T1 where he reached the World finals. Since then, he’s been on a plethora of North American teams and has always been worthy of his stay. As the other solo laner who newly joined the team, PowerOfEvil perhaps more than any other player had big shoes to fill. A former rival of the team and in many ways a former rival of Bjergsen, not only did he have to earn his keep, he had to help the team outrun the ghosts of the past.

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To go with the new solo laners, the team required a solid bottom lane. One that could not only keep up with solid bottom lanes of the team’s past and on the opposing side of the rift, but one that could help bring Team SoloMid to its former glory. That’s where Lost and SwordArt come in. Lost has been a longtime player in the game, getting his first debut over in the Oceanic region, he’s since then been on North American soil. To start off the season, he wasn’t on everyone’s marksman radar, but with the help of SwordArt, he definitely turned heads. As a finalist of last year’s Worlds, SwordArt has always been crucial to the success of any team he plays for. This was clearly evidenced by Suning’s Cinderella run at last year’s Worlds. 

Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT
Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

It was a solid effort from Team SoloMid in trying to create a new story for themselves while also trying to outrun their past; one could not ask for a better attempt. A lot was invested into this team, and it was quite a scary start to the season for the team. Not only did they start the season poorly during the LCS Lock In, but they also looked possibly like the worst roster the organisation had ever conceived. It looked like how it was built, five players who had never played with each other playing together. Thankfully for them, something clicked and finishing in second place in the regular season—something that at the start of the season seemed impossible.

Unfortunately, that regular season play could not translate come playoffs, as they landed in fourth place, but it was a great start and a great foundation.

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Come summer, there were no rough starts and once again, they finished in the top, this time with the number one seed. During the summer they looked like a better, more redefined Team SoloMid, one that clearly took all of their shortcomings from spring and utilised them for the summer. Once again though, this regular season play would not translate come playoffs, finishing in fourth place for the second time in a row but this time, they missed Worlds.

It’s not easy outrunning your past, especially when you’re Team SoloMid, but a good step in the right direction of outrunning it is with a new future. Now, more than ever, Team SoloMid can outrun their past with this new future they’ve created. 

 

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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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