Season 6 LCS Team Overview: A look into the new Team Solo Mid
The North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) just kicked off, and it's shaping up to be the most competitive season that NA has seen so far. After an off-season filled with impactful roster changes and four new teams joining the fray, Team Solo Mid came out of the chaos as whole new beast. We're here to look at how much North America's fan-favorite team has changed, and what we can expect from them in Season 6.
(If you just want a quick list of the players, here they are):
TSM is sporting four new players this season, two European imports and two homegrown North American powerhouses. Every player transferred from a different team, so building trust and synergy during practice will be make or break for this roster. This group has real potential to become a "triple threat" team, with two mechanical gods in the carry roles and an ambitious toplaner looking to break the mold that his previous team set him in. Here's a look at each of the players, and what champions you can expect from them in Season 6.
Champions to watch out for: Renekton, Rumble, Tahm Kench
Hauntzer was the toplaner for Gravity Gaming when the team qualified for the LCS. After competing in Season 5, the team was bought by NBA legend Rick Fox, and TSM picked up the then teamless Hauntzer.
While playing for Gravity, Hauntzer played primarily tank champions, with the occasional Rumble or Ryze game. Hauntzer's most played champion in both the Spring and Summer Split of LCS was Maokai, a low-damage but durable crowd-control focused champion that was notoriously dull to play. As Season 5 came to a close, the World Championships showcased many extremely skilled toplaners succeeding with various high-damage carry toplaners, such Riven and Fiora.
At IEM San Jose, in his first competitive match on TSM, Hauntzer played exceptionally on Renekton and Gnar, diving into the opponent's backline and making life a lot harder for the enemy carries. He seemed hungry to put his carry pants on and play even more damage-oriented champions, and TSM will need that from him if they want to be strong contenders for the Season 6 World Championship.
Champions to watch out for: Lee Sin, Elise, Rek'sai
Svenskeren was the jungler for SK Gaming for 2 years before joining TSM. While on SK Gaming he developed his aggressive jungling style and preferred picks like Lee Sin and Rek'Sai, which could apply extreme map pressure early on. Towards the end of Season 5, as SK Gaming began falling from the top 4 of Europe, Svenskeren was still able to show strong performances in the jungle. He became a jungler with a more flexible style, able to play frontline tanks like Gragas as well as aggressive counter-junglers like Nidalee and Lee Sin.
After SK Gaming was relegated, Svenskeren found a home on TSM. Since TSM's star midlaner Bjergsen is such an integral part of the team's success, the synergy between TSM's Jungler and Midlane willl be incredibly important. Svenskeren will need to keep solid vision and map pressure as well as coordinate with Bjergsen for ganks in order for TSM to be a world class team. TSM in its -- theoretically -- perfect state would have Svenskeren using his aggressive style in tandem with Bjergsen's mechanical prowess to pressure and eventually take over the map.
Champions to watch out for: Janna, Alistar, Annie
Yellowstar's move to TSM was a big surprise for the esports community. After winning both the Spring and Summer 2015 LCS Splits on Fnatic and making it to the semifinals of the World Championships, leaving his team after such a successful season sounded crazy. Yellowstar had his reasons however, stating that he wanted a change of pace after playing in Europe since Season 1 and spending 3 years on Fnatic. Moving to the U.S and joining an NA LCS team was apparently the change of pace he wanted.
As of now, Yellowstar is the single most experienced active professional League of Legends player. He has qualified for every World Championship and played on several different teams. He's been hailed as a consistently strong play-making support as well as a decisive shot-caller. After Bjergsen struggled last season with shot-calling from the midlane, it was clear that he didn't want to shoulder the burden of directing the team while being in such a demanding carry role. With Yellowstar's experience and shot calling ability, TSM will be able to keep everyone on the same page and allow Bjergsen to focus 100% on destroying his lane opponent and creating advantages for his team.
Champions to watch out for: Tristana, Lucian, Ezreal
Doublelift's move from CLG to TSM was even more shocking for the esports scene than Yellowstar's move from Fnatic. TSM and CLG have had a rivalry going back to Season 1, so any player moving between those teams is a shock, especially one as well known as Doublelift. After arguably the most successful season of CLG's history, the organization decided to kick Doublelift, the team's most popular player, to try to improve CLG's communication and team environment. Fans were torn apart after CLG's beloved "Rush Hour" botlane was broken up, and everyone's heads exploded after seeing Doublelift wearing TSM's uniform.
There has been constant debate about where Doublelift stands in respect to the best AD Carries (also known as Marksmen) in the world, but he's proven himself to consistently be in the top 3 AD Carries in North America. He's shown extremely impressive performances this past year on hypercarries like Jinx and Tristana, contributing up to 35% of his team's damage in certain matches. At the NA LCS spring playoffs last year, his critics fell silent has he scored a breathtaking Pentakill under the CLG banner against the old TSM roster. Now that TSM has Doublelift wearing their colors, they're looking to make sure that playoff defeat at the hands of CLG was a one time thing.
Champions to watch out for: Leblanc, Fizz, Viktor
Everyone knows Bjergsen is ridiculously good. He's proved himself skilled enough to earn titles like "The Western Faker" and "The King of Midlane", as well as multiple official MVP awards. He's skilled enough, in fact, for TSM to rebuild an entire team around him. During his career on TSM, he has been able to expand his playstyle from assassins such as Zed to control mages like Orianna and Azir, and excel at all of them. Bjergsen can consistently exert insane amounts of pressure on his lane opponents and frequently has cs leads of 30+ by 20 minutes.
As the only player remaining from the previous TSM roster, Bjergsen is as new to the team as everyone else is, so building synergy with with new squad will be on his mind for a while. Once the team is all settled in and comfortable with each other, Bjergsen can focus solely on being the carry that this roster needs him to be.
Making this Roster a Team
On the surface, this group of players has the potential to become the strongest iteration of TSM ever. Every player already has clearly developed strengths and a ferocious drive to grow even stronger within their role. In order for this team to succeed, they'll need to come together and determine exactly what each player has to do in order to make this roster shine.
Doublelift and Yellowstar have never played with each other, so building synergy for the botlane duo will be paramount to their success. Doublelift has been extremely mechanically confident, to the point of recklessness in the past, while Yellowstar is known for his clean and calculated map movements and a strong understanding of the macro game. A botlane with both a macro and micro expert could be extremely potent if Doublelift and Yellowstar are able to balance each other out instead of clashing with each other's respective playstyle.
On the other side of the map, Svenskeren will have to work with TSM's solo laners to allow them to create advantages for the entire team. Bjergsen will strive to draw pressure from the enemy team by winning the 1v1 in mid, while Hauntzer can outplay his lane opponent in a similar fashion or make Teleport plays in coordination with Svenskeren in the other lanes. The famed "Triple Threat" team strategy is possible only if Doublelift and Yellowstar create advantages within their lanes in addition to Svenskeren putting his solo laners in a favorable situation. While Bjergsen and Doublelift will be constant carry threats for most of TSM's team compositions, the third threat could come from Hauntzer playing a heavy damage toplaner like Rumble while Svenskeren is on a tank Gragas, or vice versa with Hauntzer on something like Malphite and Svenskeren carrying with Nidalee.
The final key to TSM's success will be Yellowstar organizing the team and directing teamfights. TSM's first match of the LCS looked pretty shaky in this regard, but given how little time the team has had to practice with Yellowstar, this is to be expected. Once these players are all on the same page and Yellowstar learns how to direct the team, TSM will stand as a force to be reckoned with. With a roster loaded with this much talent and drive to improve, it wouldn't be surprising to see TSM on top at the end of the Spring Split.