Team SoloMid are probably the most famous esports organisation from North America, and with good reason. The team have a great record in the NA LCS, appearing in every playoffs final, and have won themselves 2 splits of the NA LCS. However, many are saying that this may be the first time TSM miss the finals. TSM finished in 6th place in the regular season, making 2016 Spring their worst season as a League of Legends team. At the start of the split, CEO Reginald brought in established talent from Europe, and from other NA LCS teams in the form of Yellowstar, Svenskeren, Hauntzer and Doublelift. Their roster was hyped to be the best looking roster in Western League of Legends. However, the team failed to meet expectations despite usually coming out ahead in lane, the team frequently found themselves falling into indecisiveness in the late game, often throwing away large gold leads due to poor decisions. TSM finished the regular season with a 9-9 record. Team SoloMid’s star player in Bjergsen, the Solomid of TSM. It seems strange to say now that he is the longest standing member in TSM’s current roster, having been a part of the team for 2 years since TSM owner Reginald stepped down from professional play. He can play virtually any style, looking equally at home on control mages like Lissandra and Oriana, utility picks such as Lulu and Assassins such as his famed Zed and LeBlanc. Bjergsen has had a pretty good split, with a 5.0 KDA, with the second most number of kills (79) and kill participation for midlaners in NA. This shows that he is still a big playmaker for the team, even when they are struggling. Historically, TSM have always played around Bjergsen, giving him the majority of their gold, and allowing him to be the high damage carry the team needs. However, this split, Bjergsen has only been given 24% of his team’s gold, ranking him 6th in the league. This has resulted in him being the 4th lowest damage midlaner in the league, despite securing a high number of kills and usually gaining an advantage in lane. If TSM are to succeed, they will have to play around Bjergsen to allow him to be the true carry he has been in the past. Without a doubt TSM’s most hyped acquisition this split was Doublelift. The longtime CLG AD carry was dropped because of internal issues and was almost instantly picked up by TSM. Doublelift has been a major figure in League of Legends since season 1, and has always been outspoken about his own skills. Despite being a big damage dealer for the team, Doublelift has had a mediocre split. Whilst he has the joint second most kills amongst all players in the NA LCS, and being given a lot of his team’s gold, he is very irresponsible with the gold he gets. Doublelift gets caught out often, and has the most deaths amongst all AD carry players at 56. If TSM are to be successful in playoffs, Doublelift will have to work on his positioning, considering his opponent, former TSM AD carry Wildturtle, has the highest KDA of all starting AD carrys. This split, Doublelift has tended towards lane dominant AD carrys such as Kalista (being his most picked), Lucian and Caitlyn. However, his experience and diversity have shown by the fact that he has played more unique champions this split than any of his peers. Joining Doublelift in the botlane is former Fnatic support Yellowstar. Last season, Yellowstar was being praised as one of the best shot-callers and team captains in the world, after leading a team of rookies to 4th place in the 2015 World Championships in a single season, including a now famous 18-0 undefeated split in 2016 summer. Coming into TSM, many expected Yellowstar to be exactly the player which TSM needed to cover up their historical biggest weakness; shot-calling. Yellowstar has had a very disappointing performance this regular season. Amongst all supports he has died the second most times at 63 deaths and has the lowest number of wards cleared per minute. This is in stark contrast to his performance last split, where he topped the table in both of those stats. The main problem with Yellowstar’s shot-calling this season has been the other players on his team. Last season, Yellowstar was a veteran in a team of rookies, who all looked to him for leadership and guidance. He made the calls, and they followed without question or hesitation. In TSM the team is full of big personalities and egos, and Bora often sounds drowned out and ignored in his team’s coms, despite trying to make decisive calls. Throughout the split he has favoured tanky melee supports, such as Alistar and Braum, his only ranged support games being on Janna and Bard. In the past he was known for his engage supports such as Annie and Leona, and it would be a pleasure to see Yellowstar bring out these picks again in playoffs. TSM’s other European acquisition was former SK Gaming jungler Svenskeren. Unfortunately, he’s another player who has failed to live up to expectations. TSM actually have the honour this split of being the only team to have two players in the top 5 for most deaths, with Sven coming in at number 2 at 68 deaths in 18 games. He also has the lowest first blood participation of all junglers, which is telling of the lack of early game pressure Sven tends to provide. This is turn is a big factor in TSM’s inability to turn their early game leads gained in lane into meaningful advantages. Sven has opted towards traditional jungle favourites like Elise and Lee Sin this split so far, but has found most success on Graves. He will need to be on the top of his pressure game if he has any hope of keeping down Spring Split 2016 MVP, reignover. Rounding out TSM’s lineup is toplaner, Hauntzer. Hauntzer has been a quietly solid performer for TSM so far this split, playing a wide array of champions, filling roles as both a carry and a tank. Whilst he has been solid and consistent, he also hasn’t particularly excelled at any one area, which is the story of TSM as a whole. He is 2nd in kills for toplaners this split, but is 4th in deaths. A high amount of deaths across most rolls is definitely a worrying trend for TSM as a whole, as the team have the most combined deaths of any team this split. Hauntzer has shown a strong preference for Poppy thus far and managed to shut out Huni’s Fiora with the pick earlier in the split. Despite losing the game to Immortals, Hauntzer showed that he is capable of going toe to toe with IMT’s star player. Poppy should be a priority for TSM in their pick/ban phase, considering that the champion is very strong on the current professional patch, and that it isn’t a pick that Huni himself has played. The Playoffs Honestly, the fact that TSM has made it this far has left many critics and fans alike lost for words. Their first round opponents were rivals Could9, who looked very strong coming into playoffs. Indeed, this seemed to be the case in game 1, as Cloud9 used a comp based around the global pressure of Gangplank and Twisted Fate to dismantle TSM in game 1 which left TSM looking like a dog chasing its own tail. Jensen’s Twisted Fate was particularly impressive this game, finishing legendary game at 9/0/7 against Bjergsen’s famed Azir. Rush also showed an impressive first showing in Kindred, a pick that he hadn’t previously played. It would have been easy to count TSM out after such a decisive loss following game 1, but in game 2 they came back with impressive resilience. TSM has historically been a team who adapted very poorly on the spot, so in game 2 they banned both Twisted Fate and Gangplank. Jensen would not get his hands on Twisted Fate for the rest of the series. Cloud 9 also made an uncharacteristic mistake in pick/ban phase, picking heavy AD damage team, allowing Hauntzer’s Maokai to stack armour, and become a huge frontline for the team. TSM closed the game out in 35 minutes, bringing the series to 1-1. In game three, Jensen picked Oriana, one of his most consistent champions, and Bjergsen responded by picking Zed. This game, he truly showed why he is considered one of the best Zed players in the world, with a remarkably show stopping performance on the master of shadows, picking up kills across the map, and making solo plays left, right and center. Cloud 9 simply didn’t have an answer for the Zed, and picked a comp which lacked both a traditional frontline (with neither Balls, not Rush playing tanks), and hard CC, both of which Zed struggled against. Bjergsen finished the game with an 11/0/6 KDA and a huge smile on his face. Coming into game 4, Cloud 9 looked to have a strong start, with early kills for Rush’s Kindred and Sneaky’s Corki, however TSM were able to pull out a win. Sven went back his Graves, and ended with a huge score of 11/0/8, with Yellowstar also showing a performance reminiscent of his Fnatic days, going 0/0/18 on Braum. Bjergsen also showed that he is a proficient Vel Koz player in this match, which is important, as Vel Koz is considered a strong counter to Azir, one of the most contested midlaners on this patch. Team Solomid keys to victory Team Solomid will definitely have an uphill battle ahead of them if they are to come out ahead of Immortals, however there are strengths they can look to exploit if they are to stand a chance. Standard Lanes Immortals botlane may have an impressive KDA but they rarely gain this advantage in lane, instead looking to teamfights and skirmishes to get Wildturtle ahead. If TSM opt into standard lanes, they can gain an advantage over Adian and Wildturtle and force pressure this way. This can be accomplished one of two ways. Either put Yellowstar on a playmaking support like Alistar, or his pocket Annie, and fierce pressure through aggression, or put him on Janna (A champion who he has played extensively in the past) and ban Soraka. Whilst Adian has said that he can play all meta-supports, these have been his two biggest champions, making up 15/18 of his total games. Huni and Reignover Huni and Reignover are definitely IMT’s biggest trump card. In TSM’s last meeting with the team, Huni’s Yasuo went absolutely massive through a combination of individual highlight plays and jungle pressure from his jungle partner Raignover. IMT is a very toplane focused team, especially early, which is a pattern than Sven and Haunzer could look to exploit. In his IMT and his Fnatic days, Huni has had a characteristic aggression which, when teams exploit, can lead him into trouble. Putting Hauntzer on a safe tank, like Maokai could be used to hold off Huni if Sven is either able to put him ahead or rely on Hauntzer to play safe in order to gain advantages elsewhere on the map. Huni is also a player who is prone to tilt when behind, as he showed in the quarterfinals of the World Championships against the Koo Tigers. Midlane We can’t talk about Team Solomid without talking more about their solomid, Bjergsen. Midlane is definetly where TSM have the biggest edge. Pobelter has tended to pick Lulu whenever she is available, and in most games either plays her or champions who can easily affect other lanes, such as Twisted Fate, Lux and Corki. Most of these champions have unfavourable matchups against the assassins which the Bjerger King has shown time and time again he is a master of. If he is able to shut down Pobelter in lane, he could nullify his presence in other lanes. Prediction I predict that Azir will be picked or banned in every game this series, considering the champion’s current power level, and the proficency of both Bjergsen and Pobelter on the champion. Despite all of these factors, I predict that IMT will still come out on top, with a clean 3-0 sweep.