After Team SoloMid’s press conference Wednesday afternoon, I got a chance to speak with their new bot lane: Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Rodriguez. We talked about what finally brought them to North American shores, their plans for the future, and what it means to build a legacy.
Miles Yim: Tell me about the journey the two of you have been on since playing your final game as members of G2 Esports at Worlds 2017. Did you know, even then, that the team was going to break up?
mithy: Yeah, we knew something like that was going to happen. Our contracts were running out. We had all seen that NA franchising was coming in, and I just thought it was an opportunity to seize. [Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and Ki “Expect” Dae-han] also wanted to change, a different era, that’s what they told me. We knew we were going to split up, and we kind of enjoyed that last game, and then took some holidays. Then we did all the tricky stuff, talking to agents, preparing for our free agency, then getting the free agency from G2, talking to other teams, then realizing there weren’t other teams to talk to. I just really wanted to go to TSM if I could, and if I could bring [Zven] with me, it would be even better. It was mostly about Andy and us coming to a deal more than us exploring options.
Zven: I think after 2016 Worlds, we had the option of TSM and G2 as well. And after worlds this year, it was pretty obvious that it was the same thing. It was a choice between G2, where it would be Mithy, Perkz and I rebuilding the team with a new toplaner and a new jungler. Or, joining TSM, with a NA jungler in [Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung]. We thought about it, and decided TSM was a better fit for us. We both have the same visions and goals that we want to do well at MSI and Worlds, kind of like on G2. We had the same domestic success, but no MSI or Worlds success. I think TSM is a great brand, a great organization, good coaching staff, great teammates. I think in previous years, we couldn’t join an American team without lowering our standards of play, or our teammates or staff. But I think this year, TSM has it all. I’m very excited for next season.
You’re not the only new faces in North America, with a slew of new teams joining the league and plenty of players switching jerseys. What do you make of the new-look NA LCS?
Zven: I’m not sure about everyone yet. There are rumors here and there, some confirmed. But I do think the top teams, like Liquid, like CLG, C9, all look pretty good in my opinion. I think us joining TSM made TSM a better team, but it also made other teams better. Doublelift to Liquid, Biofrost to CLG and Svenskeren to C9 makes all those teams better, and also makes the region as a whole better. It makes the competition more fierce, which is good. We made not only our team stronger, but the region stronger. I’m looking forward to next year…There will be a pretty clear difference between top five and the rest, but it’s hard to say anything at this point.
What about NA drew you to this league? What can NA offer you that EU LCS, or any other league in the world, can’t?
mithy: There was no other league I could join except for NA. It was either Europe or NA, unless I wanted to join a non-competitive region. I can’t speak Korean or Chinese, so my options were limited. I think G2 actually gave us a lot of the things other NA orgs provide to their teams. G2 was one of the few orgs in EU had the full package of being professional with their players. I’m glad I was on G2, but going back to your question, I feel like NA gives me the opportunity to build a legacy for myself, and that was something I was really looking for. Also, the fact that I could target a market that I haven’t really been able to…I mean, I didn’t really target the Spanish market, but in North America, I can target the South American market. And by market, I mean the fans. It’s just a wide variety of opportunities for me to seize. And if I didn’t take the option now, I would have maybe regretted it for my whole life. I’m 23. It’s a time to make drastic changes and get myself out of my comfort zone and grow as a person and as a player. I just decided that this was the right move.
mithy, you said during the presser that winning NA would be a real achievement for you. What has put it on the pedestal, in your mind?
mithy: Well, when I first started this whole competitive gaming thing, there was no money. There was no flying around, playing tournaments, living in a gaming house together. It was just me, a kid in a basement, trying to be the best I can be an show off online with whoever I was playing. And my only way to show off was showing my achievements, show what I had done and who I had beaten. And I think on the inside, that’s still there for me, and I want to keep it that way. Yeah, going to North America being, along with Jesper, the only two players to have won both the EU and NA LCS is a legacy that we can build and work towards. It’s something no one else has. I’m looking forward to it.
Zven; Yeah, I think it would be a special thing for me and mithy to be the first players to win NA and EU LCS. I also think that, here in NA, things get done organization-wise, and together we can achieve great things. If we can take TSM to the next level and achieve what they haven’t been able to in the past couple of years, it would be a big moment for us and TSM and the fans. I want to take them to the next level.
As one of the most formidable bot lanes in the world, what’s your read on the bot lane preseason meta? What changes has Runes Reforged brought to the game, in your mind?
Zven: It’s to hard to reliably use Press the Attack and Fleet Footwork in lane, as well as Lethal Tempo. Arcane Comet is really easy to proc and use in lane on champions that have slows like Varus E or Miss Fortune E. The bot lane meta right now is more poke and long range spells like Varus, Miss Fortune, Xerath support has been a thing, Jhin, Ezreal of course. So the meta right now is very long range, spell caster mages because of Comet being easier to use. I think the Precision tree needs a buff or a rework. It’s too hard to use.
mithy: Well, for me it’s funny because I haven’t been playing at all. I took this time off to visit family, friends, take some time off League and get some more motivation. I was already really motivated, but this was the time to enjoy myself and then come back stronger. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing, haven’t been paying attention to Runes and so on. My idea is to let everyone else figure everything out, and I’ll just come back and copy everything from everyone (Laughs).
This interview has been edited for clarity.