Although Team SoloMid is a household name and a global brand that stood atop the North American Vainglory scene as Winter Season Champions, their path to becoming Summer Champions was far from easy. TSM fell far from grace in the Spring Season, underperforming and falling to fifth-place. TSM then revamped their roster for the Summer Season, won the second split and ultimately won the Summer Live Championships in undefeated fashion.
Can they replicate that success in the World Championship Dec. 2-4?
Real Name: Michael Valore
Favorite Hero: Ardan
Real Name: Raul Montano-Chaidez
Favorite Hero: Adagio
Real Name: Lechaun Jiao
Favorite Hero: Kestrel
Before the TSM acquisition, Alliance deployed a star-studded roster of FlashX, MICSHE and ShinKaigan under the Ardent Gaming banner and finished first place in the Vainglory Invitational Premier League (VIPL) Season 2. Shortly following ShinKaigan’s retirement from competitive play, Alliance’s roster became even more dangerous by adding jungler CullTheMeek, who at the time was widely considered the best player in the world. Alliance’s new roster rolled through the VGL Winter Season and cemented the top seed heading into the 2016 Winter Live Championships.
Alliance was acquired by TSM on the eve of the Winter Live Championships, a highly publicized acquisition that made waves in the esports industry. While under the spotlight and with a target on their backs as the top seed, TSM lived up to the public’s sky-high expectations, as they were crowned the Winter Season champions following a thrilling series against homegrown organization Hammers eSports. However, TSM’s reign at the top of the Vainglory scene was short-lived.
SPRING SEASON DROPOFF
After reaching the height of their success in the Winter Season, TSM was unable to duplicate their dominance in the Spring Season. TSM finished an underwhelming fourth place in the first VGL Qualifier then finished in third place in the second VGL Qualifier. For the first time in their history, TSM entered the Live Championships as an underdog against homegrown organizations such as Hammers eSports, Team Phoenix and Nemesis (now Cloud9).
TSM’s rivalry with C9 in Vainglory developed its roots in the Spring Live Championships, when TSM defeated Cloud9 2-1 in the first round to drop C9 into the Elimination Bracket. After falling to Hammers Kinetic on Day 2, TSM found themselves in the Elimination Bracket Final against C9. This time, C9 defeated TSM 2-1, sending TSM home early. TSM took the loss very hard and vowed to come back stronger in Summer season.
SUMMER SEASON REDEMPTION
The offseason between the Spring and Summer seasons were short but were filled with transactions between North American pro teams. TSM was no exception; they parted ways with star players CullTheMeek and MICSHE and added former Vertigo laner BestChuckNa and infamous jungler VONC, the player who almost singlehandedly decimated TSM during the Spring Live Championships.
Building chemistry during the Summer Season was not an easy task for TSM. Laner BestChuckNa, while strategically brilliant, played the roam position during his time with GankStars in the Spring and had not competed as a laner in two seasons. VONC, while mechanically gifted, struggled to keep his aggression in check as teams repeatedly punished his overly ambitious playstyle week after week during the first split of the Evil Eight. TSM concluded the first split with a disappointing fourth-place finish, and they failed to advance to the finals in any of the three weekends during the split.
Under the leadership of team captain FlashX, TSM practiced harder and longer than their opponents, developed team synergy and innovated new strategies to win the second split. TSM got hot at the perfect time — at the end of the season. TSM won the final week of the second split, marking the first time they finished better than third during the entire Summer season. Following the Evil Eight and prior to flying to Seattle, TSM bootcamped for a week to condition themselves for the Live Championships.
TSM flew into Seattle as the top seed and heavy favorites, and they played like it. TSM did not drop a single game the entire weekend, finishing a perfect 9-0 and becoming the first team in North America to win the Live Championships twice. TSM’s journey provided a valuable roadmap to success for others aspiring to be regional champions.
HEADING INTO WORLDS
Looking for a competitive edge, TSM moved into a Vegas team house prior to the World Championship, where they’ve been training around the clock. And while TSM enters Worlds as one of the favorites, they drew the “Group of Death” and will have to fight off intense competition in Hack (Korea) and GankStars Cerberus (Europe) to advance to Day 2’s single-elimination bracket.
TSM has also shown a tendency to reveal unlikely hero picks and comps on the live stage — including VONC’s shocking crystal jungle Phinn — and win. All eyes will be on Team SoloMid as the Worlds action begins Dec. 2 in Hollywood and on twitch.tv/vainglory.