The Story of TSM: From Myth, Memes, then Millionaires

Team SoloMid has always been the most iconic name in League of Legends esports since the beginning of the esports scene. At the early stages of the esports scene, TSM was one of the scariest names on the international stage but as time passed, they became some sort of a meme not just in North America but also in the entire world. The story of TSM is one that involves the rise of a great organization and its fall, making it the laughing stock of the entire LoL community.

The Story of TSM

Just like a lot of esports organizations in today’s time the team began with a group of people doing the thing they love most – playing an online game. For TSM’s case, the organization began as a League of Legends community website created and run by brothers – Andy “Reginald” Dinh and Dan Dinh. Together with other elite players who originally played during the game’s beta phase which included names like Locodoco and Saintvicious, they provided a platform for players to learn about the game and improve.

TSM ORIGINS: How One Team changed The Face Of League | TSM League of Legends (LoL)
The Story of TSM Throughout The Years

It was only in Season 1, when Riot Games decided to hold its first-ever tournament that the group decided to create their own team to compete in the tournament. However, both Locodoco and Saintvicious departed from the team to join separate orgs. The team would compete at the Riot Games Season 1 World Championship consisting of The Rain Man, TheOddOne, Xpecial, Reginald, and Chaox, ending up in 3rd place after losing to Against All Authority in the Semifinals.

The Story of TSM was just beginning as the team will be facing more changes as the team goes by. Even though they’ve already established popularity in North America at this point alongside names like Team Curse and Counter Logic Gaming, they would still continue to grow even outside of North America. However, the current roster felt like it needed more and Reginald saw how the organization was starting to grow so he would do what any other sensible co-founder would do and step down to pursue the business full-time.

TSM's original roster featuring Dyrus, TheOddOne, Reginald, Chaox, and Wildturtle
The OG Squad

In 2013, The Rain Man and Reginald left the roster making way for Marcus “Dyrus” Hill and an upcoming rookie from Denmark to join the roster. That rookie was Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, who would later be the centerpiece of everything that made Team SoloMid what it was. When talking about the rise and fall of the story of TSM, one can’t talk about the contributions of this great man who heralded the organization towards the future.

The Arrival of the Danish King

Reginald was the former mid laner of TSM but when he realized that he needed to focus on the development of the organization, he stepped down as the starter to switch to coaching. In his stead, they managed to get Bjergsen from the European League to take his place. Bjergsen was a fresh face who was only 17 years old at the time but managed to shake the entire North American League of Legends community when he played his first-ever game at the LCS.

In his 1st game as a TSM member, Bjergsen surprised all of the fans, critics, and haters alike when he dominated the mid lane. He was the 2nd person ever to get imported from EU to NA which was groundbreaking, especially since a successful organization decided to take the risk by getting someone who has yet to win anything impressive in his career. After all, most of the players on the NA teams were older people who were challenger players and above or had competed in big tournaments.

TSM Bjergsen without his beard - Story of TSM
The King of the LCS

Regardless of how he got into the team, the young player proved to the region and the world that he was worth the investment as he lead the team into countless championships in the future. He would be one of only two players in history who would get pentakills in both EU and NA throughout their career (the other person being Zven). As he grew up with TSM, he began taking more of a leadership role especially since the TSM roster changed around him.

In the latter half of Bjergsen’s career, he was known as the best mid laner to have ever graced NA. The young boy grew up to become the face of TSM. He is to TSM what Faker is to SKT. When it comes to the most famous players of all-time, Bjergsen was definitely at the top half of the list as every League of Legends player and their uncle knew about Bjergsen and the achievements he brought to TSM. Even though he has retired from playing, he still remains as the face of TSM until today.

The Evolution of TSM in League of Legends

The story of TSM began as a group of friends messing around and recording themselves doing stupid stuff on the internet whenever they weren’t training. Whenever you would watch those videos, you’d never think they are the same people who has made TSM the multi-million esports company that it is today. Alas, as the demand for esports grew so did the interests of the organization until it finally became a formal company that had to evolve to fit the interests of not only its fans but also its investors.

The need for success became greater as the other North American League of Legends teams started creating powerhouse teams. Importing players from Korea and Europe became a trend in the middle stages of the LCS and TSM would be one of the teams that would join the wave. They would get players such as Lustboy, Santorin, YellowStar, and many others. Eventually, the team prioritized getting the best players that money could buy not only to improve their chances but also their branding.

From Myths to Memes

Team SoloMid was the most respected team in all of NA for years until they suddenly weren’t. Despite being the winningest teams in the region, the fact that they would fail during the biggest stages made them a laughing stock. At first, it was only the TSM haters who engaged in the banter but eventually, non-NA fans and even TSM fans would join the fun as well by making fun of them whenever they lost a game. The tragic story of TSM’s downfall marks the end of an era.

TSM Hauntzer looking frustrated
The fall of the kings

Most LCS fans would probably know about the TSM chant. Whenever an important match would begin, they would chant “TSM! TSM! TSM!” in the crowd whether the team was actually a part of the event or not. There’s also the fact that despite being the NA’s top seed for a few years, they failed to make it out of groups 3 consecutive years in a row. This would continue even after their dominant years as they would choke during the most important matches of their careers. The worst blow would be in 2020 when TSM questionably won the 1st seed only to end up 0-6 in the World Stage.

The Superteam that Won Only To Fail

We can’t talk about the story of TSM without mentioning its legendary roster. At the second half of 2016, TSM finally managed to create a working roster after the departure of its OG members in 2015 and a desperate attempt to rebuild. The new roster consisted of Bjergsen, an upcoming top laner in Hauntzer, Bjergsen’s old teammate in EU – Svenskeren, the ADC king of NA – Doublelift, and Biofrost – a support handpicked by Doublelift himself to accompany him in the bot lane.

TSM's 2016 Championship Roster after a win - The Story of TSM
The Superteam

This roster was considered to be the strongest team that NA had ever built. They were doing well in tournaments and were practically unbeatable inside the LCS. The combination of the two best players in NA on one team had heralded the beginning of an era that might bring the region the world championship – or so, they thought. While it was true that the team dominated the tournament scene domestically, the story was completely different once they would meet the other regions.

Team SoloMid in 2016-2017 were a superteam that everyone feared in NA. However, when it came to Worlds and MSI, the team would simply fail to make it out of the Group Stage. The legendary organization would simply fall deeper into memehood as they continued the streak of the team not being able to participate in the Knockout Stage. Even a portion of the fans lost hope in the team ever making it out of the Group Stage with the performance they showed internationally.

Rebuilding the Legacy

Towards the end of 2017, the legendary roster would finally crumble as the organization let go of 3 out of the 5 key members in the roster which includes Biofrost, Doublelift, and Svenskeren. Team SoloMid would once again try to build a team around their star player – Bjergsen. However, the new roster they built would only struggle and the cycle of shuffling players in and out of the roster would continue for the next few years getting close to the championship but never actually securing it in the end.

TSM Dardoch walking through the corridor - The Story of TSM
Endless roster changes…

For the longest time, TSM struggled to find the right pieces to fill their team, specifically in the Jungle role. The story of TSM’s failure would haunt them even in these times. The sad part about these years is that the entire team, aside from Bjergsen, would underperform despite being from successful organizations. This earned the team the name “Talent Suppression Machine” because all of the talented imports they acquired would look terrible once they actually got on the team and become successful again after they leave.

The Grand Reunion

In 2020, the team announced something that would give hope to the fans – the return of Doublelift and Biofrost to the roster. Even though they didn’t exactly have a complete reunion, this rebuilt roster was enough to give fans some hope that they’d return to the form they once were. And sure enough, the team managed to pull it together during the Summer Season and beat all the tournament favorites to reclaim the trophy after how many years of championship drought.

TSM 2020 Huddle featuring Biofrost and Kobbe
A new hope

The story of TSM’s reunion would end tragically though. The revitalized roster winning the LCS Summer Split meant that they were going to worlds. Many people believed that this would be the year that the team finally redeems themselves but it ended up being more of the opposite. During the Group Stage, TSM would face Gen.G, Fnatic, and LGD to which they lost to all of them in both round robins. They became the first Major Region 1st Seed that managed to go 0-6 in Groups.

Entering a New Era

The team’s crushing defeat at Worlds 2020 disheartened a lot of players. During the offseason, both Doublelift and Bjergsen announced their retirement from professional play. This event marked the end of an old generation of LCS with them being the last two of the three original players (aside from Aphromoo) left playing actively. Luckily, TSM didn’t lose Bjergsen totally since he would continue playing with the team as their Head Coach.

TSM Spica playing on stage

At present, none of the original members of TSM remain on the roster but the story of TSM continues. They have managed to become challengers in their own right. After receiving a $210 Million contract with the cryptocurrency giants in FTX, the team no longer goes by SoloMid and has rebranded to TSM FTX. The organization continues to grow not only in the League of Legends scene but also in the other esports that they’ve been building up throughout the years.

How successful is TSM FTX?

TSM FTX is one of the most successful teams in the entire world with multiple trophies in various esports. They have been the biggest name not only in North America but also in the entire world. Even though their League of Legends popularity is slowing down, they are rising in popularity in the other esports that they compete in.

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