Team SoloMid bested Cloud9 3-2 in the NA LCS Spring Split Finals to claim NA’s spot at the Mid-Season Invitational, a tournament hosting the champions from all five of the major regions and each of the wildcard regions in addition. One year ago, North America’s Counter Logic Gaming shocked the world as they fought their way to a second-place finish. After a disappointing conclusion to last season’s World Championships, TSM has been given another chance for redemption.
The pain of last year’s early exit from worlds has caused Team SoloMid and NA fans to understandably tread cautiously as MSI approaches. Billed as a possible top four team in the world before last year’s championships, the TSM team that looked to best NA’s best representation in history, failed to advance past the group stage as they finished with a record of 3-3. Admittedly, they had been placed in what was arguably the hardest group of the tournament, but still failed to live up to the top tier status they had been heralded with pre-tournament.
This was not the first time TSM had failed to live up to the hype at an international tournament, and with memories of their IEM Championship a distant memory, the organisation have created an expectation of disappointment and underachievement on the international stage. Still, with their invitation as NA’s representative to MSI, TSM have a golden opportunity for redemption and a chance to solidify NA’s place as an up-and-coming region.
There are many possible outcomes for the NA LCS Spring Split champions at this year’s MSI, and only a few could likely redeem TSM in the eyes of the world and NA fans. The obvious worst case scenario would be failure to advance out of the play-in tournament, where they will be matched in a best of five against a team from one of the wild card regions.
This manner of defeat would be disastrous for both TSM and the NA region, as they would lose the preferential seeding CLG had earned at last year’s MSI whilst further shredding any remaining international reputation. While this seems an extremely unlikely result (they would have to lose two best of fives), you can never truly count out the possibility.
The true chance at redemption for TSM will likely come against their European counterpart in G2 eSports. While the reigning European champions have struggled greatly in international competition (“G2-8”), the EU vs NA rivalry has amplified the importance of this match-up, which will determine which region can claim the title of “best in the west”.
With the top four teams at MSI gaining a spot in the top pool at Worlds, the performance of TSM compared to G2 could be especially crucial considering both teams are predicted to finish fourth and fifth, with only one gaining the invaluable preferential seed for their region.
TSM must follow in the footsteps of CLG and continue NA’s dominance over G2 to claim a piece of redemption on the international stage. G2 has never beaten an NA team in the history of the organization (currently 0-4), a point of pride for NA fans and a symbolic hurdle for G2 as they look to re-establish a similarly tattered European reputation. In conjunction with a victory over G2, anything less than a fourth place finish for TSM would be a clear failure on their quest for redemption.
If they are able to finish ahead of G2, any additional success for TSM would be a bonus for the organization and help to build NA’s reputation as a top region capable of competing with those in the east (other than Korea, of course). Symbolically for TSM, they may also have another chance to rectify their fall at Worlds if the Chinese squad Royal Never Give Up is able to capture the LPL crown.
With a symbolic opportunity to defeat the team that knocked them out of worlds, TSM could make a statement that they have moved forward as an organization and have corrected the mistakes that led to their early exit from Worlds 2016.
Win or lose, TSM’s performance at Mid-Season Invitational will significantly impact the international opinion of NA’s strength as a region. For TSM however, the opportunity for redemption goes much deeper than just their region, as they have a chance to restore a sense of pride to one of League of Legends’ oldest organizations. NA’s most popular team must prove that they are not only NA’s best, but a world class organization that the rest of the world must pay attention to.
Team SoloMid’s Dynasty Of Nine Consecutive Playoff Finals