I’m talking about League of Legends today, and I know that pretty much everyone that reads this has already tuned out but it’s still something that I really want to take a stab at so buckle up.
In the North America League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS or LCS for short) there is one team that stands tall above the rest. Team SoloMid. (TSM) They’ve made it to the finals of the LCS 10 times, coincidentally that’s the number of finals there have been in the history of the LCS. Out of those 10 final appearances, they’ve walked away with the trophy 6 times. TSM has been the unopposed kings of North America since the inception of the LCS in 2013. Despite this dominance at home, TSM has always struggled at international competitions. Since 2013 the team has never placed above 7th at the World Championships and holds a dismal record of 14 wins and 23 losses. Hardly a satisfactory result for the undisputed kings of NA.
So coming into the 2018 season owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh decided radical changes to the team were needed to help solve the international problem. Dinh removed 3 of the 5 starting players from TSM including support player Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, and AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. In their place, Andy brought in young local talent Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung (a real creative name I know) to the jungle position and imported Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Rodríguez from Europe to play AD carry and support in an attempt to beef up the roster. Andy made it clear that the changes to the team were made in an effort to give TSM a better chance on the international stage. It was assumed that TSM’s changes wouldn’t affect their domestic performance and the team would continue to find success at home.
This past Sunday TSM lost their quarter-final match against Clutch Gaming. The streak of never missing an LCS final was broken. The kings were toppled by a team in their debut season. For Dinh, this is the worst case scenario. This loss casts enormous doubts on whether the team will be able to make a dent at the World Championships this year. It even casts doubt on the team’s ability to qualify for Worlds. Perhaps TSM will prove their doubters wrong and come back during the summer split swinging for the fences, the team will come together and perhaps they’ll once again dominate their domestic competition and perhaps they’ll even make a deep run at the World Championships. They could even win, but there can be no question. For the first time in the team’s history, their legacy of domestic dominance has been tarnished.