I can hear it now. The packed studio of Riot Games in Santa Monica ready to air the first game of the newly introduced franchised NALCS to welcome in 2018 is rumbling as the crowd chants, “TSM! TSM! TSM!” Oh, there is also a couple of signs with “Paid By Steve,” painted on them sprinkled into the mix. However, these boards that are talking about Team Liquid’s owner, it is an accurate representation of what has been happening within the organization. They have been spending more than almost any of team in order to put together one of the most powerful rosters since TSM had first picked up Doublelift from CLG in 2016. But they still have to dethrone the reigning NALCS champions who have brought in new blood to attempt to continue their reign of terror over Los Angeles.
Money Talks for Team Liquid
Sometimes, you have to spend money to earn money. Clearly, Steve takes this philosophy to heart as he went through and bought up the entire store in his quest to create the strongest team possible of the talent already in NA. With Immortals having to step down from NA, TL grabbed all the parts that they wanted from the team that managed to usurp CLG from the Worlds spot they tended to occupy.
A consistent mid laner in Pobelter, an aggressive support through Olleh, and the shotcalling of Xmithie are the components that TL felt right to keep in the roster. Honestly, this might be a smart move for them as they didn’t need to keep all of the members from the former IMT, at least if you have proper replacement parts. Flame and Cody Sun were both amazing players in their own rights, but TL decided that they wanted to bring in a more veteran ADC as well as a former World Champion.
Doublelift might have a lot of memes around him about his performances on the international stage, but his tenure in NALCS is one lined with success and victory. From CLG to TSM and now to TL, he has been a powerhouse during his entire time on the home stage. He even helped out TL in the past by getting them out of relegation when they were struggling during the Spring Split of 2017. Add him in with Impact, this team is making a statement unlike any other within NA currently. The former World Champ, Impact, had been a driving force for Cloud9 to go Worlds in 2016 and 2017.
TSM’s European Invasion
If you are going to go with imports for your team, it better be with players you are confident to be superior to the talent available within your region. Back in the day, TSM did this by bringing in Bjergsen to replace the founder of the team, Reginald, and has been the best addition to the team to date. Now they want to continue the trend of looking to Europe for the next great thing by bringing in a bot lane that has had a stranglehold for the past year in that region. While it might be both the import slots for the team now that Bjergsen has been naturalized for NA, it is a worthwhile investment for the future.
Looking at Mithy, this is TSM’s attempt to fill a hole in shotcalling that has been lacking within the organization since 2016 after Doublelift’s attempt to retire. Hauntzer was alright at it, but it is a difficult job to place in the hands of the top laner and tends to be more in line with the support or jungle role. This clearly was the goal for TSM this year by picking up a captain in Mithy with his carry for the past 2 years of Sven, who is easily one of the best ADCs in the scene currently.
Who Came Out On Top?
The biggest question remaining for these two teams is who got the better end of the stick. Both teams have merits of what they wanted in a roster, but only time will tell if the teams will actually mesh. We know the history of TL attempting to go for these powerful lineups and veteran players only for it to backfire. Not one of the players on TL was a part of the organization in Summer 2017 and the only person that was even with TL in 2017 from the current team was there to help keep TL from being relegated.
The same logic can be applied to TSM with the members they are flying into NA. Mithy and Sven have moved teams before with amazing results, but this is a whole new region on top of switching teams. Add in a new jungler that the team has to deal with, it is going to be a lot of work for TSM to be able to overcome the initial hurdles the season will provide. Especially when you think about how many teams have been changing up the roster, the beginning parts of the season will boil down to individual skill level that slowly builds into team synergy.