Following their 3-1 win over Gravity in the quarterfinals, Team SoloMid's Dyrus spoke to theScore eSports about his changing style, playing Olaf, and top lane talent in North America.
In a recent vlog, you said you are happy with the way TSM's practicing was turning out. Were you confident coming into this series that the practice would pay off? Did you have any doubt about whether gravity would give you a hard time?
So, the main thing about practicing and going into the series is that when you scrim and you win scrims, it doesn't always translate to onstage. But, with [Reginald] stepping in and making the practice more efficient and actively...challenging our fears of not playing well on stage, I feel like we were very confident as a team to play well...No matter what you do, there's always gonna be the first game jitters, but after that as the series goes on, you warm up and play a lot better.
In almost all the games, you pulled ahead early with either better lane swaps or support-jungler roams. Is the early game something TSM has been working on recently or did you simply use your experience as a team to identify and capitalize on the openings on the still new to the playoffs Gravity?
Two weeks ago we were really bad. We were playing scaling comps to where we just scale and win [because] we just rely on the enemy team to make mistakes...but we wanted to be the aggressor, not so much picking all early game, but just playing the game the smart way and the way it should be played. If you look at China, Korea, and even Southeast Asia, when they play aggressive for the first three towers, there is a certain way to be played and as long as we are doing all of the swaps correctly and playing well as a team, that's one of the things we’ve changed with my team.
For the better part of the last year, you've been used primarily as a utility and tank player. Today we saw you shine as the center of TSM, how did you feel getting a more influential role against Gravity?
My role didn't really change as a top laner, I just played the way that my champion should be played. Before we played stuff like Maokai/Shen a lot, but it wasn't really working out for us because we weren't playing the game correctly. So even if I played a carry champion like Olaf or Gnar in the past, it wouldn't have changed much at all. The only thing it would change is that we would have a slightly higher chance of winning because we wouldn't rely so much on our team play. The reason why Shen and Maokai in the past were so strong top is because they are really, really strong in team play. But with Gnar and Olaf, we still are focused around the team play, but we look for the priority or what those champions give to us, and felt like those champions were good for us.
Another big contributor to your win was obviously the change in styles from being mid-centric, was that part of your preparation for playoffs, was the Olaf in particular something you knew was really strong around the current patch and was worth playing around with?
Even though it looks like I've been given more of the carry role, that wasn't the intention of the team at all. We aren't treating me as a carry role, we are treating me as a top laner who should do the right thing and call for things at the right time. Even though Bjergsen was on LuLu, we never viewed him as a more supportive role, we just viewed him as someone who is going to team fight and do his job. Everything that we did together we never swapped positions with the carry role, we kind of just picked what was best for the team. Like I said before, and I never really thought about it that way and not thinking about it that way probably has less pressure on me, because I feel like everyone on our team was a huge threat.
The invade into the Blue side jungle around 9-10 minutes was something that you guys tried in multiple games in a row with less than ideal results in games 1 and 2. However in game 3 it was more successful and really started to snowball with the blue buff steal and a kill onto Move. Was that invade something that was planned or did you guys actually jump right into it? Also, what caused you guys to stick to the plan even though it didn't work out the first few times?
It's definitely all planned because if we were to do that before the game, it would be very, very ugly - we would get stomped, and that is what happened against Samsung White. We didn't go in with a plan level 1 and it was a huge deficit for our team and we threw away our chances at going to finals at Worlds. But for Gravity, we had the stronger level 1, the stronger jungler, and then we messed up when we got triple buff the first two times. The reason why we won the first game is because our rotations were better, and the reason why we lost the second game is because we were one vs one, two vs two lanes, and we got triple buffed with the stronger jungler and that was very detrimental to the top and bot lane.
Who decided that now was the time to move priorities from mid lane to top lane? Was it a team decision or did you put down your foot and say "this is how we need to play it?"
I never really enforced anything, I just played what was the strongest champion. I never said I should play a passive style, or I should be a carry oriented style - it's never like that. It's 'I'm going to play the strongest champion available to me and I'm going to play it the correct way'. In the past I've had problems playing carry champions because I have a problem not being greedy, so my nature as a top laner is passive, but my nature as a player is 'I'm just going to play the strongest champion'.
The Olaf was key to your victories today, do you expect to pick Olaf again as a high priority pick against Team Liquid? Do you have something prepared to fight against Quas if he picks it first? Or is this something that you need to develop a back up plan for?
I believe Olaf is a pick [that] the longer he is known to the teams, there will be more counters. The reason why Olaf was very strong was because when someone picks up Olaf, its like 'what do I play into this?' People forget how to play against certain champions, like for example if they picked any random top laner...I guess we will use Darius for example, if someone randomly picked Darius and you don't know the counter to it - you forget how strong he is, you're not going to have a counter prepared or be mentally ready for that. You don't have as many answers so, when we play against Team Liquid, I feel that Olaf will probably not be a key - but it all depends. I can't say anything for sure.
There was a lot of perceived turmoil surrounding TSM heading into the playoffs. How did you and your team prepare for the playoffs coming off of a slump to end the season?
The main way we prepared to go into playoffs was first off having [Reginald] there to fix all of our problems as a team because we were practicing inefficiently, so we started practicing efficiently and started getting solid points down. We looked at other regions like 'why are they doing this, how are they playing, what are they playing off of,' and we just followed all of that. As for all the fan hate or turmoil, our team, we joke about it, but we really don't care about it. As long as us five believe in each other, then that is all we need. That is all the confidence we need to go on and play.
The three other remaining top laners in the playoffs - Quas, Zion and Impact are all cores of their team. Where do you rank yourself next to those three?
In the past I've ranked Impact as the best top laner NA, but recently he has been playing more of a supportive role, and even if he is strong mechanically, I feel that his talents are misused. Same for Hauntzer. I feel like their talents are misused on more passive top laners and that is because the meta has changed...I believe that if Impact plays a carry champion, I would consider him the best. After that, Quas and ZionSpartan are on even footing in my opinion and for me, I'm probably on even footing with them.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.