A Closer Look at Team Solo Mid: Picks and Team Composition

This week on Cloth5 we’ll 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, Team Solo Mid has accrued an 11-12 record and will be fighting for a strong seeding in the final super week of LCS.

In this first part of our series, we’ll be looking at a general overview of TSM’s picks through the Spring Split and how they generally approach team fights. In tomorrow’s piece, we will go deeper and show how TSM opens their games by analyzing their level 1 strategies and early play. We will also reveal the picks and tactics most conducive to beating TSM tomorrow.

Top Lane Picks

Dyrus usually looks to pick Jayce and has continued doing so with much frequency even with the nerfs to Tear of the Goddess and the increased cooldown on Acceleration Gate. It’s his most played champion with 7 picks; however, despite this high count, Dyrus has only won 4 games with Jayce. Whenever Jayce is chosen, TSM has the tendency to pick mid lane assassins such as Zed or Kassadin so that once Dyrus has poked or sieged enough, Reginald has easy cleanup. Although Dyrus continues to play Jayce, it should be noted that since his nerf, he has had a low winning clip compared to pre-nerf where he won ¾ games.Rounding out the rest of Dyrus’s champion pool are Rumble, Renekton, and Shen.

Even with the offensive capabilities of both Rumble and Renekton, Dyrus often finds himself carrying with Shen. With only 1 loss under his belt with the ninja, it’s easily his most potent pick. Compared to the Spring Split where TSM had massive communications issues whenever Shen was picked during drafting, they have since corrected those problems and is now a must-ban against Dyrus unless a specific strategy such as proxy Singed are chosen to counter him. Elise is a viable pick against Shen, but since most NA players (with the exception of CLG’s Nien) lack the mechanical proficiency to play her, and the fact that she’s chosen most frequently for the jungle is a huge gamble for other teams to take.

Mid Lane Picks

Whenever people think of Reginald, they mention his aggressive playstyle with Karthus and they’re right; Karthus is his most picked (6 times) and has won 4 times.The Karthus pick defines Regi as a player, the omnipresence of TSM. Even without leaving his lane, Regi can hold global pressure on the map and can dive straight through team fights without worry. A fun fact to note is that Regi has the tendency to play Karthus on blue side (5/6 times) and the one time that he picked for red side, TSM lost.

Following the theme for global pressure, Kassadin, Zed, and Twisted Fate have all been common picks for Regi, but only his Zed has a winning clip compared to the rest of those champions. Although picked twice in a row during week 8, both Kassadin games resulted in losses for Regi. And while playing Twisted Fate, Regi has shown time and time again his mechanical deficiency with the champion (locking red cards during crucial moments), but typically retains his good decision making.

The one champion that deviates from Regi’s preferred style of global pressure is Ryze. Aside from Karthus, he’s his most played champion with 4 picks and has a 50% win rate. Regi never runs Teleport with Ryze, but due to his natural scaling, once that mid-25 minute mark hits and his Rod of Ages is fully charged, he does demand global attention.

Jungle Picks

Despite being the 2nd most picked champion for TSM (8 times), TheOddOne has only won half of his games on Elise. Ever since week 1, she’s been a staple of his simply due to how versatile of a champion she can be with build paths and the ability to still deal quite a bit of damage even with just tank aura items. Seeing that TheOddOne prefers to hover around middle and bottom lane on the map, TheOddOne’s ganking paths have become predictable as of late and are subject to counter ganks. Thus, in these instances, it’s highly preferable for enemy junglers to take strong early duelists such as Lee Sin whose power levels initially start off high.

Along with Elise, TheOddOne’s next top played jungler is Nasus (6 picks). In an effort to reform their general team strategy by pushing down early objectives, Nasus excels in these compositions due to Spirit Fire’s wave clear and the % health damage available to taking down dragons. However, along with Elise, the Nasus pick does not guarantee “free” games for TSM either. The pick that comes closest to that would be Zac. Out of all the junglers listed, Zac provides the necessary all-in potential that matches Regi’s demeanor and allows for team fights to flow more smoothly when he initiates.

Duo Lane Picks

Compared to most other LCS teams who have proven and tested duo lane combinations, TSM prefers to almost always switch up their AD carry and support. Including the fringe Annie and Xin Zhao combo, there has been 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.

WildTurtle’s top picked AD carry is Caitlyn, not surprising considering this was the champion he played during his first game with TSM and obtained a pentakill. However, out of all of TSM champions who have been picked at least 5 times or more, his Caitlyn holds the highest winning percentage:  71%.

And although Xpecial has selected 4 supports through the season, TSM’s most-picked duo lane has been Caitlyn and Lulu. Besides being known as one of the biggest bully lanes, Lulu’s presence in team fights allows a regular Karthus or Zac pick to just become an immovable mass if placed in the center of attention. However, Xpecial’s bread-and-butter support is Thresh. With 9 picks, he’s the single most played champion for TSM this Summer Split. Xpecial understands all the nuances and discrete tricks in the champion’s kits and often can carry a lane with just Thresh. He does have a low win rate of 44%; however, this is misleading considering Xpecial is rarely the reason why TSM drops a game.

The Typical Composition
  • Top lane: Heavy AoE damage that can harass or from afar, OR utility tank that can split push
  • Mid lane: Late-scaling champion with a global presence due to ultimates or roaming potential
  • Jungle: Champion with heavy initiation tools; does not necessarily excel in ganking
  • Support: Champion with the ability to create skirmishes or team fight engage at will
  • AD Carry: Long range carries with either AoE or single target damage and don’t require much peel

A key weakness for TSM is that they do not diversify their picks to allow ambiguity during drafting. For example, 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.

One composition that exemplifies TSM’s preferences would be the lineup from their week 5 game against Velocity eSports. From top to bottom their champions were Karthus, Nasus, Renekton, Caitlyn, and Lulu. During team fights, Regi would typically Flash in with Defile while Renekton would use an Empowered Slice and Dice to shred the Armor of tanks and the enemy mid-line so that Caitlyn could pump out increased damage from afar. While Karthus and Renekton occupied the front-lines, Nasus Wither’d the enemy AD carry and used his ultimate aura to act as a tanky bodyguard to distract front-line tanks from reaching Caitlyn. In the case that the enemy front-line did reach Caitlyn, Lulu could provide a knock up with Wild Growth and act as a slow zone between Caitlyn and any aggressors. With all the Armor shred coming from Nasus’s Spirit Fire and Slice-and-Dice, teams melted from Caitlyn’s sustained AD damage and were able to rapidly push turrets without trouble.

The Typical Team Fight

To illustrate how team fights played out, we’ll use week 8’s game of TSM v Curse. TSM’s team consisted of Karthus, Jarvan IV, Rumble, Sona, and Graves. Curse’s team consisted of Shen, Zac, Ryze, Ashe, Zyra. Since Ashe had the means of initiating a fight at Curse’s preference, most team fights for TSM’s started with counter-initiations. After Enchanted Crystal Arrow hit, Karthus and Jarvan would dive to the carry back-line while Rumble laid his Equalizer in Jarvan’s Cataclysm. To prevent Graves from being zoned out entirely by Shen and Zac, Sona used Crescendo to lockup the tanks and Rumble peeled back and melted high health targets with Liandry’s. Although not every team fight was clean, TSM won enough of them to gain objective advantages such as inhibitors and Barons without contest. The teamfights begins at 3:10.

Thanks to LCSRecap for highlights.

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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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