The Hyberbole That Is TSM.

The most winning organization in our North American league is struggling. With a significant shake-up coming into this 2018 season. Losing to Clutch Gaming in quarters was a receipt of the changes the organization made during the pre-season. Team Solo Mid cannot be seen as the powerhouse it once was. Yes, the latter half of this spring split was a great showing, is it enough? What is the identity of TSM is? What do you believe it is? Comment below what it might be.

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Importing the three-time EULCS champion bot lane in “Zven” and “Mithy.” While also acquiring the 2017 rookie of the split “MikeYeung” taking “Svenskerens” position on the roster. A rocky start confirmed that there are issues with the signings. What happens if the narrative ends in the NALCS instead of gloriously exiting out of the group stages of the world’s championship?

With a supposed super team put together to make a deep run into Worlds, not achieving the first spot in the spring split is widely seen as a failure. Even tho we’re only in the spring split. There could be multiple reasons to why the team has not lived up to the expectations.

Bjergsen and his four wards meme, the Svenskeren or Parth was the issue meme. Whether these statements have any actual weight to them, I am not entitled to say. However, some issues have to be addressed here, to conclude what has happened to TSM’s spring split? There are a few apparent pointers here.

  • Other teams in the league have caught up to their level.
  • Significant communication and trust issues are emanating from their newly recruited players.
  • SSong has a minimal impact as a coach on the team and is throwing the players off.
  • TSM lacks real flexibility and MikeYeung struggles and desyncs with his team.
  • No King Rules Forever.

At this time we can assert that we will crown a new ruler of the NA LCS, and it is not going to be either Cloud9 or Counter Logic Gaming that continually over the years have been challenging TSM, this brings us to the first point mentioned above. The competition has caught up and is now significantly closer, if not already ahead of TSM. All of the 100Thieves, Echo Fox, Team Liquid and Clutch Gaming have all proven themselves to the be better teams this split by surpassing them in the finals run.

Coming into this split, teams who were considered bottom-scrapers before franchising was established, were essentially giving top teams like TSM “freebies” towards the playoffs. These organizations are now out of the scene and have been replaced with new organizations and the roles of these slots essentially swapped from worst to top contenders during the span of the offseason. However, a lot of the players who were there are still here competing, but now merely in different jerseys. The quality of the work organizations do behind the scenes has drastically improved and giving players a better work, and mental environments have proven to be a crucial part of developing our modern-day society of eSports.

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In the recent episode of the Beyond the Rift podcast hosted by Scarra and Imaqtpie, Bjergsen told us that he had he felt entitled to say to his teammates that they were not pulling their weight. In his mind this is to help them out and improve and win more as a team, but that this might be a display of anger and hostility towards the targeted players who could interpret it as hostile and toxic, when the point essentially is to win more, together. Arguably, there are a few too many new agendas on this TSM that’s making the right aspects falter and the bad points more present. MikeYeungs stage jitters and Mithy passing off his executive shot-calling role and the loudest voice of G2 to Bjergsen. Mike is not very stable on stage, the pressure gets to him, and he is thrown off. Players are put under a tremendous amount of stress on stage, and the fact that TSM is the only brand with a team who has qualified to all six world championships is another point of tension to players who are new to this environment.

The player environment inside the TSM house can be volatile and stressful, confirmed continuously by players and staff that comes in and leaves the house. Svenskeren was often the sacrificial lamb during his stay with the team. When a team is the best, coming from a very vocal region like North America, the mistakes will shine brightly, not only to the viewer’s eye but they will be concentrated through the production. Casters and analysts will call out errors, as they should.

Some fans might not be as involved in the depths of the errors that might be on-screen. Now they are also aware of that mistakes were made and might lash out through social media towards players who may or may not handle public pressure very well.  Both Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell knew they had to put out the best season Team Solo Mid has ever had to avoid backlash from the community, and this was evidently not the case when the spring split became the worst split in the organizations’ history. The unstable nuclear mass that is TSM which we don’t see as outsiders have players questioning each other’s plays and the reasoning behind them and It is entirely reasonable to be critical sometimes and towards the right agendas. And I am confident this is being worked and improved on until the summer split. Weldon is coming in to help MikeYeungs stage presence and make him more comfortable in his play, while at the same time hopefully practicing receiving criticism.

Has TSM has been the best team in the NALCS? Yes, up until recently. Has TSM seen its best years? No, probably not. Clutch Gaming, had the series of their season and I think they are due for some recognition here, going against TSM who never really had a chance after game two. Looking at the games starting with game one. TSM took their win in the first game decisively and held roughly a 9000 gold lead in the end. The rest of the games had TSM show their fundamental issues that appear when this team gets put behind, communication started to be de-prioritized and replaced by each player’s skill.  Clutch Gaming won, arguably on the back of Hakuho’s amazing Thresh play, yet it received no ban over the entire series. The players have stated that they were simply not afraid enough of the Tresh to validate a ban, but if you see yourself staring down a barrel of your worst season, wouldn’t the safer option be actually to ban the Thresh? Sure, ban the Thresh, and there might be another pick that shines brighter, but at least an issue would have been dealt with instead of falling flat trough three straight games.

In the last game, TSM tried to rock Clutch with some unpredictability and individual skill. However, Clutch was not swayed and instead quickly took over, due to Team Solo Mid’s apparent deficit in working together as a cohesive five-man unit. Hakuho’s Thresh, Febiven’s Swain and Solo on his own decimating Hauntzer. Beating a bleeding TSM in a best of five does not automatically give you god status. With teams like Echo Fox, Liquid and 100Thieves in their way and who were widely considered to be better teams. But this is a new NALCS where teams like Clutch Gaming are beating TSM shouldn’t be such a surprise to many.

The True Dynasties.

A sports dynasty is “sports franchise which had a prolonged run of successful seasons.”  Every single sport has had dynasty teams. In hockey and the NHL, Montreal Canadiens four consecutive championships in -75 to -79. In soccer and the English Premier League hosting a Liverpool FC who became English champions on eleven occasions trough -72 to -90 and the Boston Celtics from -56 to -69: over the span of 13 years the Celtics won eight consecutive championships, and eSports and League of Legends is no exception. SK Telecom 1, now perhaps not the same dynasty that once was, with the worst placing in the LCK trough the organizations’ history much like Team Solo mid, but the first actual dynasty team in the League of Legends scene no doubt. Esports is still in a growing-pains phase I would not call TSM a true dynasty, but undoubtedly a leading actor throughout the years in the NALCS.

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The Apparent Bias

We talk about dynasties and what makes the team into the greatest. I’m not trying to take away TSM’s past achievements from them, but we have to be able to voice the concerns and that they are not always enough to give so-called dynasty teams in many eyes the benefit of the doubt and so on, this is the rose-tinted glasses of Riot Games. There is obvious content bias towards TSM, and this won’t change, Riot does undoubtedly not want to make a difference here. The narrative of a dominant team slowing down their parade is too good not to highlight. It drives up the numbers with more reasons to watch. There are very few actors in the scene that does voice concerns towards TSM even when the team was losing straight weekends at the beginning of the split. Regardless of how lacking the effort is from TSM, and they will never become shunned as the worse team in a matchup because of being the most winning team in the history of the North American League Championship.

Conclusions.

There isn’t one obvious solution to this. So what is the point here? The lineup apparently needs more time to gell together, to fuse and become the best of both worlds from where the teamed came together. The best performing bot-lane from Europe came along with the best mid and top-laners with a rookie jungler from North America. Just reading this sentence gives me a bad feeling when first announced. There is so much that had to line up, the cultural clashing of three separate origins, the thought of making these players compatible with each other in merely one split is not rational thinking. All this team need is time and patience from the actual players.

The fact that there is no way to sit down five young players and expect them to work as a cohesive unit in a matter of months. Perhaps 2018 won’t be TSM’s year. But with the competitive drive that all of these players have, it is not the last we see of them. In the future, however, I wish to look at fewer narratives helping TSM look good in bad situations and more stories about the teams below stealing games from them.


My thoughts go out to Yiliang Peng and his family, to show strength in dire times will improve us to become better people. When we are old, and we will think back towards the times, we had I wish that the memory you have is positive, with a joy of being the man you are and with the enjoyment of what you have accomplished through your life. You are a role model to many people, and the whole community is with you. Big respect for the decision to play finals in Miami. Let’s go Liquid!

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