— -- Alright, it's time to sit down and discuss Team SoloMid's placement on the Global Power Rankings before the community collapses into chaos.
First off, can we stop acting like anyone knows which region is truly the second best in the world? From the two major international tournaments we've had this year -- we really do need more of these -- there has only been one undeniable trend: SK Telecom T1 are the best team in the world, and South Korea, for the umpteeth year straight, is the best overall region in the world with the deepest lineup of elite teams.
There is no basis for putting China second. While I agree Royal Never Give Up and Edward Gaming are world contenders, there is nothing proving they are automatically better or worse than North America's current cream of the crop, TSM and Immortals. Sure, you can use the patented "eye test" to pick which team looks better, but that isn't the only case. If we were to go off the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice and Mid-Season Invitational, the pair of major international tournaments, the other four regions (NA, Europe, China, and Taiwan) all look inconsistent.
So when looking at teams solely based on their domestic play, how could we not rate TSM this highly? It's 14-0 in best-of-three matches. It has a stunning record of 28 map wins and only three losses. After losing its worst game of the season to last-place Echo Fox, TSM have gone to a new level, reeling off sixteen straight map victories. This is a team that is dominating more now than it did early in the season, something you couldn't say about NA's juggernaut last season, Immortals.
Come Worlds, yes, there is obviously a chance of TSM and the rest of North America falling on its faces like last year. But Europe failed to get a single team to the quarterfinals in 2014 (NA got two teams) which was quickly forgotten when Origen and Fnatic got to the semifinals last year. Unless you're a team qualifying from South Korea or a Chinese team with Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao, the World Champions can be a shot in the dark.
When people see a North American team ranked highly on our rankings, many sigh in exasperation or frustration or disbelief. But, maybe, just maybe, Team SoloMid, and North America for that matter, aren't jokes? Maybe TSM and Immortals are strong teams.
If CLG and TSM failed to do anything at IEM Katowice and MSI, then I could see the basis of saying North American teams shouldn't be ranked highly. While NA didn't do amazingly at IEM, TSM still made the semifinals and CLG were debatably the second or third best team at MSI along with Royal Never Give Up behind the dominating SK Telecom T1.
If we were to go solely off the starting lineups on paper heading into the World Championships last split, a final between two of the trio, Edward Gaming, LGD Gaming, and SK Telecom T1 was highly likely. Instead, LGD's lack of coaching and practice had the star studded lineup fall in the group stages, and Edward Gaming disappointed by only advancing to the quarterfinals before getting bounced by Fnatic, a squad from a region that failed to send a single team to the bracket stage a year prior. The only favorite to actually show up and do well was SK Telecom T1.
Without more international tournaments between not only the top teams from each region but the middle tier clubs as well, we're left in this purgatory where we don't really know how strong a league truly is outside South Korea's fortress.
The North American LCS could be terrible. But so could the LPL, LMS, and EU LCS. TSM might go on to make a semifinal run at Worlds this year, but without seeing the likes of NRG Esports or Team Envy at an international competition, we can't really say NA is better than the EU LCS or vice versa. One or two outliers could change the perception of an entire region.
Frankly, we need more international competition with more teams able to compete from across the world. That's the only way we'll ever start to form any sort of ranking between regions not from the LCK, the league where the other four major regions take talent from to create mixed-language squads.
Until then, I stand behind my ranking of Team SoloMid. Sixteen straight map victories, a perfect match record, and an experienced squad with legitimate proven all star talent in the likes of Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng. You can't ask for much more from a non-LCK team.