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10-0 and Counting: The Summer of TSM

After years of trial-and-error, Worlds frustrations and disappointments, and promsing rosters that under-delivered, the historic North American League of Legends team may finally found a roster that truly works. On an undefeated streak through the LCS so far, Bjergsen, Hauntzer, Doublelift, Biofrost, and Svenskeren have been tearing through the competition.

In some ways, their meteoric rise seems like a natural escalation of their playoffs turnaround in the Spring. In other ways, this might close one chapter for the historic esports team and begin the next. If you’ve been following TSM over the years, you know that the squad has their eyes set on the world stage. If they can conquer North America and put the doubts about their home performance to rest, then they can begin to prepare for the achievement they’ve wanted for years.

Home Turf

TSM has never had issues with popularity. Throughout its history, the team has boasted some of the most popular streamers and biggest personalities in the region. TheOddOne, WildTurtle, Dyrus, LustBoy and of course, Reginald. The team was one of the first North American teams to represent the region on the world stage, to have their own gaming house, and to have their own reality show. They took the Season One championship, and it seemed like their path was cut out for them: just keep being the best.

Seasons Two and Three derailed that plan. TSM’s roster was strong, but the arrival of Cloud9 pushed them off the pedestal. The two-time Kings of North America put TSM solely into the silver medal slot. The repeated failures at the hands of Cloud9 lead to TSM transitioning from the golden boys of North America to a team hungry for success. Many of their roster changes were made during this time - including the introduction of their star mid laner and stalwart foundation of the team, Bjergsen.

For a time, it seemed as though TSM had finally figured things out. They took the top prize in the summer of 2014, and repeated the feat in the spring of 2015.

Obstacles and Opinions

Even though TSM had won three out of the five championships of North America, people still doubted them. The narrative was not that TSM had improved and overcome Cloud9 in a fair fight, but that Cloud9 were hamstrung by mid laner Hai’s wrist injury.

Roster changes only added to this narrative. While Bjergsen remains a crucial part of the team and the foundation of their modern success, the rest of the team has gone through significant changes. There was a support shuffle from Xpecial to Gleeb to Lustboy to Yellowstar to the current rookie Biofrost that continually shook up the team’s foundations. They went through their fair share of junglers (Amazing, Santorin, and Svenskeren have all taken up the mantle, although the Danish star seems to have settled in fine after an initially rough showing). WildTurtle was replaced by Doublelift in the biggest and most publicized roster swap in League history, and veteran Dyrus stepped down to crown Hauntzer as his successor in the top lane.

With so many moving pieces, it has taken TSM some time to find their footing. Even their infrastructure has dramatically changed, with new analysts and coaches coming on board and leaving regularly. After winning two Splits, the bar of competition continued to rise across North America. Counter Logic Gaming wrested the title away from TSM, and it became clear that they would have to keep fighting for victory.

Spring, The Immortals, and Bringing it Together

The Immortals were the big story throughout most of the Spring Split. The team was made up of five veterans, including TSM’s former AD carry WildTurtle, and they were hungry for success. They only dropped one game during the regular Split, tearing through the competition with dominant performances. It didn’t matter whether they were playing against the top teams in the region or the lowest contenders; they remained consistent and deadly.

TSM, on the other hand, was struggling. The vaunted roster of Yellowstar, Doublelift, Bjergsen, Hauntzer, and Svenskeren didn't live up to the hype… until the playoffs. Suddenly, Hauntzer was the rock of the team, tanking damage and maintaining a consistent frontline. Svenskeren was aggressive, controlling the map and gaining advantages for his carries. They took out Cloud9 in the quarters, demolished Immortals in a 3-0 series, and fell only in the finals to Counter Logic Gaming. They had come so close to regaining their crown.

Summer, and Onwards

Yellowstar left the team, and TSM took a risk by picking up a rookie. This risk has, so far, paid off in spades. Yellowstar is a captain, a shot caller, and a legend, but he wasn’t meshing with TSM. Some teams would have taken the choice of finding another big name; going with a talented rookie was a tough choice. With Biofrost, the team’s synergy has seemingly reached a new level.

TSM has boasted multiple rosters over the years, and many of the team’s incarnations had a distinct identity, and was incredibly deadly. Despite the changes, the goals have remained consistent: keep raising the bar. Make it to Worlds. The team is made up of some noted perfectionists, and it’s likely that they look at their dominant performance this summer and see things that need improving.

That being said, after two Splits of making it to the finals and falling just short of the prize, Team SoloMid has got to be ravenous to prove that they are the North American team. They experienced the struggle once before, as they fought against Cloud9. Counter Logic Gaming have been their long term rivals, and TSM is ready to take the crown back.

This is likely just the beginning. It seems certain TSM will be representing North America on the World stage. After Counter Logic Gaming came in second at MSI, taking games off of China and Korea in the group stages, NA will be watching. The fans are ready to see NA succeed and push the barriers of what is thought possible.

If their performance so far is any inclination, the boys in black and white are up to the challenge. This is the summer of TSM, and they may finally have a team that won't fall with the leaves.

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