By Petar Vukobrat
December 5, 2019
After weeks of theorizing, we finally know the 2020 Team SoloMid roster. Did they upgrade? Have the necessary changes been made? Let’s dive a bit deeper.
First, their 2019 season was a disappointment. They reached the top of the region only to falter in the most monumental of ways. Once that historic fumble happened (getting reverse swept by Team Liquid in the Spring Split finals), Team SoloMid never quite recovered. That was evident in their play but also their team-wide cohesion.
They were no longer aggressive or proactive and no longer pushed their leads and dominated over their opposition. Instead, they were passive, prone to making egregious mistakes. Their play, in short, left a lot to be desired. After a tumultuous season, many wondered how their line-up would change and whether it could warrant a spot at the top once again.
After many interesting rumors, Team SoloMid has now officially announced their upcoming roster for 2020, and, it looks spectacular on paper:
Talk about an upgrade.
Three new players and all of them are upgrades. But the critical question: Are these changes enough? Team SoloMid had a beastly line-up in 2019, and yet they still failed to find success, and it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. They needed slight, incremental upgrades to get the job done.
If you’re aboard the Team SoloMid hype train, no one will blame you. The fascinating change is the jungle position. Dardoch — one of the most divisive and volatile players to ever grace the LCS stage — makes a grand reappearance. For the first time in his career, he will don the legendary black and white jersey.
He’s everything TSM fans wanted — an aggressive, mechanically gifted playmaker who’s impactful on a wide variety of champions. Most importantly, he’s not a momentum-based player like Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham. If he succeeds then great, if not, he’ll try again with the same enthusiasm and hunger as the first time.
His aggression is truly unwavering, and he has more than enough skill to back it up. Fortunately, he’s a versatile player who happens to play best on high-tempo champions who can influence the game early on. While he’s certainly hard to contain (both in-game as well as in real life, according to many past teammates and coaches), he’s worth the effort.
Team SoloMid looks best when they have an aggressive playmaker in the jungle, someone who can create leads on his own and disperse them to the rest of the team as they transition into the mid and late game. In that sense, Dardoch is as perfect as possible. The last few years weren’t kind to him, but he’s making a resurgence and has shown more than enough maturity to warrant a starting spot in the LCS.
He’s an upgrade and will be one of Team SoloMid’s most important (and hopefully least volatile) catalysts. With the right guidance, there’s no doubt that Dardoch can reach the very top of the region.
Next up, we have a complete change in the bottom lane. Team SoloMid went from former LEC champion Jesper” Zven” Svenningsen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta to yet another Danish AD carry (of Splyce fame) and former TSM support Biofrost. If these changes pan out, the difference in play (and impact) should be immediately visible.
Now, Kobbe is generally known as the ultimate “late-game insurance,” and there’s some truth in that. But he’s also a consistent performer, an individual that rarely loses lane and is always at the right place at the right time. Finally, his team fighting prowess is spectacular. The fact that his level of play never deteriorated even after many years speaks volumes about his skill and work ethic.
How well he’ll mesh with Biofrost (spectacular support and a known quantity) remains to be seen. They certainly have a ton of potential. If they play as well as many predict, they’re bound to become a Top 3 bottom lane.
The most significant difference — when compared to their predecessors — is the fact that when everything’s on the line, both Kobbe and Biofrost have what it takes to get the job done. The times when they did the unthinkable and thus secured their team, the win is too many to count.
Finally, the organization itself deserves a fair bit of praise, as well. They might not always make the right call roster-wise, but at least they’re actively trying to get back to the top, which is commendable. They took several heavy blows during 2019 and have adapted and improved in the best possible way.
While it’s still too early to give out any concrete prediction, it’s fair to say that the 2020 Team SoloMid roster has all the right tools to dethrone the reigning champions once again.
With Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Cloud9, 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses all making huge roster moves, the fight at the top will be fiercer than ever.