To say that TSM had a rough week would be like saying Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles and Riot had a bit of a disagreement. Whether you watched the 2016 World Championship Group Stage or only heard about it through Duncan “Thorin” Shields going absolutely ham on Twitter, consider this a quick guide to one of the roughest weeks in TSM history and a closing statement about the future.
Strike One: Worlds’ Stage
Coming into this tournament, TSM was billed as stronger than ever. Perhaps the strongest they’ve ever been. Everyone was saying this would be North America’s year and that TSM would be the banner-men that carried NA. The gap was closing! This would be the year that our region was redeemed after the disastrous 0-10 week last year! In a way, you can’t really blame TSM. The amount of hype built up by everyone, from ESPN to Riot, from big names to fans, set the bar astronomically high.
The nasty surprise came in week two, where, after a decent but far from stellar showing, TSM ended the group stages with a 3-3 record, alongside Royal Never Give Up, but in third place. Because of the 2-0 record the Chinese side held against TSM, this meant that the North American Champions was eliminated. Argue over the legitimacy of this or not (one look at David “Phreak” Turley’s Twitter will show you the salt mine that exploded from this common sport ruling), this was yet another crushing feeling. To think that if you had lost to anyone but RNG, you could have at least played for a tiebreaker…
Strike Two: Weldon Dines on Delicious Foot
Taking a page from certain Rioters who have a tendency to put their foot in their mouth, Weldon Green decided to sample the sneaker buffet. The entire thread on Reddit can be found here if you want to understand everything that went down. To sum it up: Weldon made some fairly poorly received comments on Korea that sparked a lot of outrage among the Korean community. These comments were related to both SKT’s stress treatment involving arts and crafts, as well as the “hyper nationalistic” criticism of Korea.
To make matters worse, Weldon has been getting accused of sharing scrim information, considering the Zyra ban versus Samsung Galaxy in the second half of group stages. The argument says that TSM never scrimmed against SSG, yet they had the foresight to ban something “out of the blue” like Zyra.
Despite the second half being speculation, the former half is absolutely dreadful in terms of PR. Especially considering how important it is for teams to train internationally.
Strike Three: Some Lingering Questions
All that said, TSM played their hearts out and tried their best, yes? You can’t discount their tendency to battle it out and give it their all, right?
What if i told you that some tsm players where seen going out at 04:00 in the midnight until god knows when, hours before their games?
— FORG1VEN (@FORG1VENGRE) October 10, 2016
Uh oh. While this amounts to little more than a rumor with no confirmed proof outside of Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou’s own tweet, this could be something rather important if it ends up being true. In the scenario where this is true, this means that TSM would have been enjoying their arrival at worlds rather than resting and preparing for the next day. I won’t say this is damning evidence nor will disparage TSM if this is true. It’s just possible that maybe TSM could have been messing around when they should have been preparing.
Surrender at 20?
It’s been a rough week for TSM. It’s absolutely been a crushing time for them when they came in riding high. A combination of poor play, bad decisions and some awful events have put a strain on TSM that many teams likely couldn’t come back from…but I’m confident they will.
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng has proven, time and time again, that he’s a world class carry. Don’t look at the future as encroaching retirement, look at it as going further every year. The talent is still there, regardless of your age.
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s midlane play was quite phenomenal. People don’t call you “The NA Faker” just because you’re good at Syndra. Since 2013 you’ve been a key to TSM’s success and this year only further highlights your talent.
Vincent “Biofrost” Wang is a rookie that made it to Worlds. Failure sucks, I know, but you’re not out yet. Recollect yourself and start preparing for the next year. You won’t be a rookie forever, after all.
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen is the comeback king. You went from being benched for three games to being one of the best Lee Sins at Worlds. You’re only going to get better the longer you stick with TSM.
Kevin “Hauntzer“ Yarnell’s an amazing top laner. The first game against SSG was proof of that. Top lane might be an island but you’re never alone. I’m confident your play will only improve the more you train with your team.
Perhaps this year wasn’t TSM’s year. Maybe the gap didn’t close. It’s possible that the Summoner’s Cup seems to be further away than it ever did before. The only course of defeat right now is being discouraged. Even Monte, a man who is never shy about speaking frankly, acknowledges the hard work TSM put into this season.
TSM still has fans (tons of them, actually). TSM still has a chance to prove themselves next year. The only time when things are truly lost would be when the white flag is waved. Overall, if I had one thing to say to TSM that they could take from this article, it’d be this:
Photo courtesy of Riot Games