At 2-2, Team SoloMid stands tied with five other teams for third place in the League of Legends Championship Series. It's not where the team would like to be, but in what appears to be a close race to the top of the LCS standings, TSM is in a good position to make a run for that first-place spot with continued improvement.
The squad's bot laner, Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen, says he thinks that improvement isn't too far off.
"Today we made a lot of misplays, but overall I think we had the right idea of how to play the game," he said after TSM's Week 2 win over Echo Fox. "I don't mind when people make the wrong plays because they can't execute a play, but when they make the wrong decisions because you don't know what to do, that's the bad part. You can learn how to play better, but you can't usually learn how to be smart about the game usually. Today I think we made the right plays, we just screwed up some of those plays.
"We have some problems with our fingers, as we say on the team. If you make the right play and it's good, but you don't execute it because you have finger problems, that's a different issue. I think so far we've been playing well and we've been proactive when we have to be, so I think it's fine."
It's only been two weeks, but much like last year when the team brought over the esteemed former G2 Esports bottom lane of Zven and then-laning partner Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez, this new TSM lineup is under scrutiny. Calls for improvement come from within the group and from a large TSM fanbase that has primarily stood by the team, even at their worst, but not quietly.
For years, TSM was synonymous with dominion over the North American LCS landscape. Even when it appeared that the team was out-of-sync, like during their miserable 2016 spring start, TSM somehow always managed to claw their way to finals if not another domestic championship. In the past, TSM weren't measured against other North American organizations or lineups; they were assessed by the high standards set by the team and past TSM rosters. This year, that comparison includes last year's lineup with Zven and Mithy that failed not only to win a split of LCS but did not represent North America at the League of Legends World Championship.
It was the first time TSM didn't go to worlds for the first time in the organization's history.
"The overall team atmosphere is really good," Zven said of the new roster. "The chemistry between the players not only in the game but outside the game, especially, is really good. People are good friends on the team, coach, staff and the players, so that's really nice. I think it's important to be good friends as well if you want to have a good team in the long run, which is what this team is focusing on: the long run."
For now, despite losing two matches, TSM seems to be in a solid place to build upon that foundation for the 2019 season with the additions of Turkish top laner Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik and former Cloud9 and Echo Fox support Andy "Smoothie" Ta. This is the first year in his career that Zven has laned without Mithy -- he started his professional bot lane career with Mithy on Origen in 2015 -- but Smoothie, Zven said, was the best possible replacement for Mithy that the AD carry could have hoped for in North America.
"Sometimes I miss Mithy, both personally and in the game," Zven said, "but I think Andy is filling his shoes very well, and I'm happy with Andy so far. We're good in lane, we're good in teamfights, we have good friendship and our overall team cohesion is good.
This attitude might also be applied to the current iteration of TSM, which is a strong lineup of individually-talented players who haven't quite come together as a team. Still, Zven said, it's only a matter of time.
"At first it was kind of weird," he said. "We were a bit off-sync, but I don't think having synergy matters that much; cohesion doesn't matter that much either. As long as you're two good players, you'll come together after two weeks, a month maybe."