A Closer Look at Team Solo Mid: Level 1 and General Early Game

This week on Cloth5, we have a special two-part series on North America’s beloved Team Solo Mid. As the winners of last season’s NA LCS Spring split, they’re looking to repeat that same level of success in this Summer season of the LCS against all odds. This season, TSM has accrued an 11-12 record and will be fighting for a strong seeding in the final super week of LCS.

Yesterday’s Part One covered TSM’s typical team composition and picks, while today we will be delving into their early game strategies: level 1 positioning and warding from both blue and the red side of the map and our observations of their early game.

Opening Strategies

Blue Side Level 1

[Cloth5] TSM Analysis - week 8 vs CRS (defensive) - Level 1 Map

When TSM starts on the blue side, they favor a very reactive style of level 1. They assume a defensive position, covering every entrance into their jungle. While it is a very common level 1 strategy to have the top laner in the top river brush, the jungler at the top side curved brush at mid, the mid laner staying at mid with the  support covering the wraiths entrance and marksman at the bottom lane tribrush, TSM sometimes sends TheOddOne to the bottom tribrush instead of Wildturtle, so if the enemy pokes in they won’t be able to see where TSM’s duo lane are. TSM stays in a defensive position until they see the enemy team’s position and acts appropriately.

Note: Xpecial always puts an Explorer Ward one of the brushes at mid between 0:37 – 0:39.

Other blue side strategies

There is not a level 1 strategy that TSM will run consistently. They tend to tailor their blue side level 1 accordingly to who they are playing against. Sometimes they will just stack on a brush in their jungle and try to catch the enemy’s support warding. TSM does not normally invade but when they do, they typically invade the red side of the map.

[Cloth5] TSM Analysis - week 8 vs DIG (from blue side) - Level 1 Map

Note: TSM does not use many wards at level 1 aside from the Explorer Ward at mid.

Red Side Level 1

TSM is most likely to  invade the enemy’s jungle when they are starting on the red side. Their invade path is very similar to Cloud 9’s level 1. The whole team heads down mid together with 4 members of TSM rushing to the bottom side mid brush to gain vision control, while Xpecial splits off to ward the topside brush at mid. After Xpecial joins the rest of the team, they head into the enemy’s red and ward deep in their jungle. Depending on the enemy’s level 1 composition and positioning, TSM will sometimes head into the enemy blue as well afterwards.

[Cloth5] TSM Analysis - week 7 vs DIG (from purple side) - Level 1 Map

Note: TSM is one of the only teams that does not ward heavily when they invade. When they are invading red they always ward the brush after red buff.

Finally, there is little variation in TSM’s defensive starts between the blue side and the red side.

[Cloth5] TSM Analysis - week 8 vs CLG (defensive) - Level 1 Map


General Early Game Strategies and Weaknesses

As noted in yesterday’s article, a key weakness for TSM is that they do not diversify their picks to allow ambiguity during drafting.  Ryze and Karthus are exclusively played by Regi, while Dyrus is the sole Jayce player. Elise is only played by TheOddOne. On other LCS teams, these champions are played interchangeably between players allowing for role flexibility, which means that TSM has the tendency to show their hand early in the champion select pick/ban game.

Dyrus typically is on a champion that is either tank or have heavy initiation, like Renekton, Shen, or Rumble. While Reginald and the duo lane can be very aggressive in the laning phase, what TSM really looks for is mid game team fights. TSM likes to take compositions that have a really strong level 6 so they can take complete control of early game dragons if they are not behind. The typical game for TSM is snowballing during the mid game with good team fights and objective control and winning from that point on.

Key Team Members

Reginald and Dyrus are the two main targets to focus on in order to shut down TSM. Due to the fact that both players are extremely prone to going on tilt, they are the main targets to focus on in order to take down TSM. Dyrus is the backbone of TSM being a very consistent player on tanky champions with heavy initiation. Taking out Dyrus leaves TSM a bit defenseless. Even TheOddOne also plays similar tanky initiation champs, a jungle won’t be enough to make up for a losing top laner. Reginald is known for his heavy aggression in lane which leave him open to making mistakes and counter ganks. Being the shotcaller and leader of TSM, shutting down reginald can leave a huge impact onto TSM’s general game.

Note: Reginald always ward the bottom side brush at mid during the laning phase. Xpecial often wards the entrance to enemy blue.

A Glimpse at Gold Distribution
Reginald 336.29
TheOddOne 257.36
Dyrus 319.2
WildTurtle 364.09
Xpecial 226.97

Surprising for a team that typically relies on Reginald to carry the team, WildTurtle is the man with the highest GPM. Certainly not adopting Cloud 9’s way of life with forcing WT to work with as little as possible, it reflects the types of AD carries that TSM chooses in their compositions. Rather than opting for more utility-centric carries such as Ashe, TSM plays carries with higher damage output such as Caitlyn and Graves and thus require the additional farm. After WildTurtle, farm priority is allocated towards Reginald in the “top” lane to allow him to carry games for TSM. However, compared to other players in his role, he’s currently 7th in GPM ranking falling behind ecco from Velocity.

It should be noted again that TSM prefers to switch up their AD carry and support, rather than having a signature bottom lane combo:. Xpecial and WildTurtle have run 16 different duo lanes in their 23 games. As a result, it’s not surprising to see WildTurtle and Xpecial struggle since they hardly allow any time for champion synergy to build.

Bans that may prevent SoloMid from winning in 3.10

The three champions below have been identified as

  • Karthus – Reginald is well-known for his Karthus play and it is a very strong TSM. TSM likes to stack global pressure with more global pressure, Karthus has been the core to their comp along with Shen.
  • Shen – Again another champion with global presence and that TSM is very fond of and Dyrus is no stranger of Shen.
  • Rumble – Dyrus is a strong rumble player and it fits into the compositions that TSM tries to run. Rumble has strong initiation and team fight presence and gives the team strong dragon control at level 6.

Some of other bans that worth mentioning are Renekton, Twisted Fate, Zac, Elise and Jarvan. However, it should be noted that out of these five secondary champions, three were directly nerfed in strength in the 3.10 patch, while Jarvan IV was indirectly nerfed through changes Aegis of the Legion/Runic Bulwark. Blade of the Ruined King, another popular Jarvan item, was also nerfed but TheOddOne does not often buy BotRK in the jungle. Thus, compared to our 3 primary ban picks, these champions are alternative, lower priority bans compared to Team Solo Mid’s comfort pick champions.



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The eSports writing team here at Cloth5 extensively covers both the NA and EU LCS, OGN Champions, the Chinese LPL, and GPL. Providing game analysis and meta-shifting trends across all regions around the globe.

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