On Saturday, Team SoloMid closed out two difficult games against LGD Gaming, giving them some momentum into the semifinals against Origen. Unfortunately for TSM, Origen's dominating performance splintered them. The team is still very new and has time to ramp up before the North American LCS kicks off next year.
Following their series against Origen, theScore eSports spoke with AD Carry Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng about the roster, how the pieces fit together, and the challenges that the team needs to overcome.
A lot of people have been asking why you left CLG, but I'm interested to know what was appealing to you about Team SoloMid.
I liked the idea of starting from scratch. When you play with people for years and years, they have a pre-disposed image of you. You can't change your behavior dramatically or they'll think you're faking it. I liked the idea of a fresh start and just being myself and playing with people who also are — you know, some have said Bjergsen has a bad attitude or Svenskeren's racist, and stuff, but I really like the idea of starting new.
NA especially has a problem of taking core members that just go together, like Cloud9, and no matter what roster changes they make, they always play like Cloud9. On CLG, we always played like CLG, and I realized I was a part of us always playing bot side or bot focused.
I really like the idea of playing with Bjergsen as well. He's such a good player that I can make mistakes and he'll just carry the game. That doesn't make it acceptable to make mistakes, but it makes it less stressful all the time.
Speaking of Bjergsen, there have been a few question marks about both of you having a really high percentage of team gold. The response always seems to be that Bjergsen has stepped back before but do you see yourself relinquishing some resources and stepping back to let him carry?
Oh yeah, I definitely think on this team, I have no problem playing with zero jungle pressure at all. I played with no jungle pressure at this tournament and just got camped or was behind early. I think that's fine because I really trust my team to get ahead and carry the game.
People have this really big misconception of me that I feel like I need to be ahead or my team's gonna lose. Or that I just tilt, and I can't play the game properly after that. The reality is that, most of the rosters I've been on, if I wasn't ahead, we'd just lose — similar to Bjergsen — so it was by necessity that we had a big percentage of our gold.
With Bjergsen, for example, if a high percentage of the gold was on WildTurtle, he'd just get caught and throw. If it was on Dyrus, then he wouldn't be able to initiate properly. Things like that. Those were just player weaknesses. So in my case, I just got used to playing with high gold percentages out of necessity so we could win. I don't think that's a problem on TSM. We're all smart enough to know that 'if I'm behind, that's okay, we're still going to win.'
You said on Twitter that during the last game you tried too much to outplay, and when I've seen you make more of those moves it tends to be from behind. Could you tell me your philosophy on how you have to play from behind to make comebacks?
Strategically, if you're far behind and just losing, the last thing you want to do is just bleed out and hope they make a mistake. You want to make risky plays because you either take an inevitable loss further down the road or you have a really small chance of making a play right then. You have to seize the moment and make a play that maybe will have a 30% chance of succeeding, and 70% of the time, you'll probably just lose off it. Or you can wait five minutes, and then there's a 95% chance that you're going to lose.
Now, teams are getting good enough to where, if they have a 10k gold lead, you're not gonna throw it. You're probably going to make minor mistakes but usually you can bleed out a team super hard. That's kind of the philosophy that I have.
Obviously, I just jumped in and insta-died without flashing which is really, really sad, and that was a mechanical error, but usually I'm the kind of person who wants to make plays from behind. I don't want to just sit there and lose. That's so frustrating.
What is one thing that you are already seeing that will be a big challenge for TSM going forward?
Communication is definitely our biggest one. Individual player-wise, it should be no problem, but on each of our teams, we were the ones who communicated the most so now when we play it ends up being very cluttered. So our communication isn't very efficient. It's all us trying to take control of our team and saying 'I need this, we're going to do this,' and even if all five of us are right, it doesn't matter. All we need to do is follow one person.
It will just come with time, I think, but it is a big problem. Our communication just kind of sucks because we all play different ways. Maybe there's a best one, probably not, they're probably all equally good, and it's just something we'll figure out.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.