Since the infancy of competitive League of Legends, Team SoloMid has been a beloved fan favorite. With this stardom, however, comes heightened expectations for the organization and, although they have performed remarkably domestically, TSM has never experienced international success.
Understandably, the Team SoloMid organisation has been highly scrutinized (both fairly and unfairly) for their failures in recent years.
As seems to be the story every split, TSM has overcome any obstacles in their path and has once again been crowned as North American champions.
Consequently, this will be the fifth time that the team will head to worlds as the number one seed coming out of NA. Yet of the four group stages they have been placed, Team SoloMid has only been able to make it out of one.
For the 2017 World Championship, Team SoloMid have certainly been handed the luck of the draw.
In last year’s iteration of the tournament, it is safe to say that the North American squad were thrown into the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Samsung Galaxy and Royal Never Give Up.
Even in 2014, when the team made it out of the group stage, TSM was placed into the quarter-finals against the eventual tournament winner Samsung White.
This year’s group draw has gifted the NA LCS champions with one of the most generous groups they could hope for.
Flash Wolves is undoubtedly the weakest of the pool one teams and are by no means the same Flash Wolves fans have seen in the past. Misfits was widely regarded as a mid-tier team at best in the EU LCS, right up until the Summer playoffs where they enjoyed a sudden surge and defied the odds to qualify for Worlds.
2017 World Championship Group Stage #Worlds2017
Group A: EDG, SKT, AHQ
Group B: LZ, IMT, GAM
Group C: G2, SSG, RNG
Group D: FW, MSF, TSM pic.twitter.com/gfrn1rs812
— lolesports (@lolesports) September 12, 2017
The last squad that will be joining the group is yet to be determined, although it is likely to be Team WE. Even with a strong Chinese team joining the group, it is undeniable that this is an amazing draw for Team SoloMid and NA as a whole.
With this luck also comes a heightened sense of expectation, many fans see this as the year for NA to assert itself back on the world stage, spearheaded by its domestic juggernaut.
Over the years, fans have grown tired of witnessing TSM crumble under the pressure of the international stage. Famously at MSI 2017, TSM would come into the tournament being highly praised by nearly all analysts and expected to go deep into the tournament, only to be embarrassed and barely managing to place higher than the wildcard team.
If there is anything that points to this year being different it is the fact they now have a veteran line-up who has played together continuously over the course of the year.
Additionally, they now have threats in all three lanes, which is a staunch difference to many past incarnations that failed internationally.
With a culmination of factors in TSM’s favour, it simply isn’t an option to crash and burn this time around.
If they can’t put up a good showing this year then, when will they? This seems to be the stance of many analysts and TSM supporters alike.
Group A: Old Guard
Group B: New Kids on the Block
Group C: Schrodinger's Group
Group D: NA'S wet dream#Worlds2017
— Alberto Rengifo (@ProphetCrumbz) September 12, 2017
There is no doubt that heading into the 2017 World Championship, Team SoloMid is more than capable of leaving their mark and should be considered a legitimate threat.
But where TSM was excused for failing to live up to their hype last season, there will be nowhere to hide if North America isn’t delivered success this time around.