ggChronicle continues our “Twelve Days of eSports” series with a comprehensive profile of Team SoloMid. Every day between now and the World Finals, we will release one article highlighting each of the teams going to Los Angeles. Don’t forget to check back daily for our new content, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
From the dawn of time there have been many Bros – boisterous, partying males, who chug mixed drinks by the litre while living off microwavable dinners and fast food. They live to party and they party for a living. To best describe the roots of Team SoloMid you start by labeling each member as a Bro, and they won’t argue: they wear the term with pride.
As part of their journey to the Season Two Championship, Team SoloMid tried to drop that label. As they grew and matured together, the members of the team all ascended to become brothers instead of bros. They learned what was needed of them to succeed in Season Two, and with this knowledge became the number one North American lineup.
What Makes You Baylife
An Early Start
Season Two has been a trying time for Team SoloMid; once the team heard of the 5 million dollar prize pool, they decided to invest in the first professional League of Legends gaming house. It was at this point that Reginald, TheOddOne, Chaox, Xpecial, and The Rain Man packed their bags, and collectively squatted Chaox’s apartment before moving into the house. The team was determined to show the world that their dedication to the eSport and to the team was enough to stride into the Season 2 Finals.
After the Season One finals, TSM competed at Major League Gaming: Raleigh, where they beat Team Curse but dropped sets to both Epik Gamer and Counter Logic Gaming in the group stage. Dissatisfied with placing third in Raleigh, the team tried to bounce back, walking into IGN’s ProLeague Season 3 in Atlantic City with their spirits high. Failing to clinch the win against Dignitas in the semi finals, TSM took fourth place and returned to New York to re-evaluate their team composition and strategies.
With a trying month of tournaments behind them, Epik Gamer’s Dyrus and TSM moved into their gaming house, surrounded by a few computers and a pocketful of cash. The world got to see what it was like for six young adults to live unsupervised and without responsibilities. The house provided hours of entertainment for fans, and as fans began to see, it was be the best move the players had made.
A preview of the gaming house
The first tournament after their collocation was Intel’s Extreme Masters: New York. Facing off against a stacked group, TSM dropped each set, ending with a last place finish. Some blame the team’s untimely move – others the team’s age. No matter the problem, Team SoloMid underestimated their opponents: CLG Prime, dignitas, and Fnatic.
November 2011’s Major League Gaming: Providence showcased the team’s renewed synergy. Eliminating most competition with ease, this would be a defining moment for TSM. TheOddOne shined as well, as he debuted his secret jungler: Maokai. Up until then, most of the competition played champions that could clear the jungle quickly, which would leave the the rest of their teammates to win lane with little assistance. TheOddOne’s Maokai caught their competition off guard as he would quickly reach level 2, gank early, and gank often. Handing his teammate’s lanes advantages on a silver platter, TSM gained the upper hand.
It became an unexpected comeback for TSM after they dropped a set 1-2 against Epik Gamer, putting the team into the loser’s bracket. They clawed their way out to meet Epik again in the finals, showing that the gaming house was the way to win. They reset the bracket and won MLG Providence. As a reaction to their win, TSM’s streams became more popular, with numbers of 20,000 being frequent occurrence on TheOddOne’s stream.
As the world watched TSM stream solo queue and produce vlogs, the group’s practice time started to suffer. TheOddOne was busier with being famous than practicing, and Reginald’s focus was on the TSM brand and website. Others enjoyed the freedom of being on their own. Until the beginning of 2012, it was a common sight to see most of the housemates participating in what they refer to as the “Baylife” lifestyle – simply defined: “I don’t care; I do as I please.” This term stuck with fans, as it — and its associated lifestyle — bled its way into the game. It had been a few months since TSM won their first major tournament, but their attitude was infectious.
With a perceived laissez-faire attitude present in their everyday life, Team SoloMid focused their energies on their Baylife brand. In early December 2011, TSM participated in the National ESL Premiere League Season 2 online championships. While the team streamed, The Rain Man could be heard drunk for his team’s losers’ brackets match with Team Curse, compromising their success. The team joked about The Rain Man’s inebriated state, which he took a step further by berating his teammates, when The Rain Man’s actions were primarily responsible for their loss.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the gaming house looked more like a fraternity than a co-habitation of players. During the next few months, the lowest Elo player on the solo queue ladder had to take out the house’s trash. The Rain Man took to his stream wearing a garbage bag, exclaiming that it was his way of motivating himself to play better in solo queue.
The start of the new year was met with a new challenge, as TSM’s party boys flew to Kiev to face off against the best of Europe. TSM advanced into the finals but met internal conflicts as The Rain Man was scapegoated for Moscow Five’s jungle dominance. TheOddOne was left with little to do as M5 asserted their control, leading to scattered picks and bans from TSM, in turn making the team walk away with a second-place finish.
Reginald re-caps Hanover
Obsessed with their defeat, Team SoloMid tilted for the few month’s leading into Intel Extreme Masters: Hanover. The team abandoned all previous strategies, focused on practicing M5’s snowball composition. In the tournament, their first match against Moscow Five was a swift defeat, followed by a loss to SK Gaming.
Two months passed before the combined emotional impact of their losses brought The Rain Man to resign from his team under emotional duress. He announced his resignation from Team SoloMid, citing differences in approach, and a lack of dedication playing with a team. The Rain Man left the house while TSM recruited conveniently-located Epik Gamer’s top lane player: Dyrus.
A New Beginning
During the middle of Season Two, TSM hit their stride. After capturing new talent and hiring a manager — Jonas, another Dinh brother — the team went on a winning spree. Their debut with Dyrus allowed them an easy sweep through ggChronicle’s first ggClassic, followed by a dominating performance at IGN ProLeague Season 4 in Las Vegas. Their reign of terror didn’t stop there: they moved to take first place in Reign of Gaming’s International Invitational, showcasing Dyrus’ integration in the team, their new practice schedule, and their renewed discipline.
TSM seemed to finally understand what a gaming house could accomplish: They changed their eating habits, set a practice schedule, and had forced nights off for team-building exercises. The team was invigorated and zealous as they stormed their next series of tournaments.
MLG Anaheim, where TSM bested their opponents until meeting CLG Prime in the grand finals, where they lost the first set. TSM used their newly obtained knowledge in the second set to target ban CLG’s Shen. As TSM marched through the last set of games, CLG felt a blow to their egos, being afflicted with a powerful Kayle-Karthus combo, coupled with Nocturne dives on carries. TSM won that tournament 2-1, taking home the trophy.
The Rise of TSM
Team SoloMid fed off their fans’ devotion: the website continued to flourish and the brand put on their own tournament series. Riding the wave of support, TSM took home first place in the GIGABYTE eSports LAN event, which propelled them into the next MLG tournament: The Summer Arena.
This would be the final stop for TSM before the North American Regionals, where they experienced the bitter taste of defeat at the hands of a Korean team. While CLG Prime, Dignitas, CLG.EU all traveled overseas to experience the Asian metagame, TSM was happy to stay in New York and compete on European servers, rather than practicing against the teams with low-economy playstyles.
The Korean style of early aggression made winning every lane a breeze. For the first time in months, TSM were no longer in unison. Their overconfidence led to defeat, allowing Azubu Blaze to put on their best boots, walk all over TSM, and drop them to a second place finish.
With the Summer Arena under their belt, the team took to San Francisco for IPL Faceoff, where they were met with little opposition. Team SoloMid dropped their first game to oRb but returned to form to sweep the Singapore Sentinels, Team Legion, and Team Curse.
Team SoloMid has a knack for absorbing their opponents’ strategies, and soon we saw them pushing turrets with the same zeal as Azubu Blaze. The rolled over their North American opponents at the Regionals in Seattle, securing an easy #1 seed with victories over mMe Ferus, Curse, and dignitas. They arrive in Los Angeles with a group stage bye, and high expectations from their raucous fans.
Andy “Reginald” Dinh
Andy “Reginald” Dinh is the man behind the action: not only does he call the shots and play AP Carry for TSM, but he owns the TSM brand which he manages on a day-to-day basis. He is one of the few members of the team that does not have a set streaming schedule, although he continues to prove his dominance of the middle lane without apparent practice. Regi’s most notable performances come when other teams allow him Karthus or Morgana.
With his champion selection comes an aggressive play-style. Reginald’s aggression is present in-game and out; not only will he look for a level 6 kill in mid, but he’s been baptized “Rageinald” for his erratic temper. Regardless of whether Reginald is forcing his opponent to stay in lane or if he is attempting to direct his teammates to a victory, his ability to roam and affect the outcome of the game could grant TSM a victory in the finals.
Marcus “Dyrus” Hill
Dyrus has proven that he has what it takes to proudly wear the TSM name. Since his addition, TSM captured a first place finish at every major LAN event that they have attended. Before he played on Team SoloMid, Dyrus caught the public’s attention by rapidly gaining Elo with Singed and Jax, and from streaming his late night shenanigans. While Dyrus still streams on occasion, his outlook on the game has dramatically changed, allowing him to grow as a player and as a teammate.
Look for TSM to use Dyrus as their backbone: whether he is put in charge of a 2v1 with Jayce or incarnates Jax to dominate his opponent, Dyrus will have all eyes on him. We shouldn’t be surprised to see TSM pull out some old favorites, as Dyrus’ Kayle has proved dominant in the past. Invulnerability, in combination with Reginald’s Karthus, is a deadly thing. We could also see Dyrus weave poison between his enemies as Singed or bleed enemies dry on Vladimir. Dyrus is versatile enough that TSM can use him as their ace in the hole.
Brian “TheOddOne” Wyllie
One of the key innovators of utility-based jungle champions, TheOddOne changed how the game is played. He has proven repetitively that map awareness is the key to successfully jungling and he specializes in breaking the game down to the mathematical level.
If we don’t see TheOddOne trundling through his opponent’s jungle as Dr. Mundo or Nunu, we will more than likely see his trademark Maokai or Nocturne come into play. There is no telling what other champion he will pull from his sleeve, though, as he surprises opponents with innovative picks in high-stakes games. TheOddOne will come into Season Two looking to elevate Reginald and Dyrus while keeping the enemy jungler’s buffs under control. Early dominance of the jungle and of the lanes will prove to the competition that General TheOddOne is always ahead of you.
The Bottom Lane
The bottom lane is akin to a form of contact improvisation; the lane will flow based on how you and your partner balance each other’s weight – there is an ebb and flow, and Chaox, partnered with Xpecial, have mastered their dance and become a terrifying duo.
Shan “Chaox” Huang
Known for his aggressive AD style, Chaox can play any ranged carry effectively. His most recent choices of champions feature high mobility and burst damage, mainly in the form of Corki and Graves. His Ashe also isn’t something that his opponents forget, and he is not a stranger to hitting long-range arrows.
Chaox and his partner, Xpecial, cannot be left to their own devices: in an interview with TheOddOne at the IPL 4 finals, he mentioned that TSM likes to pick kill lanes. With clever warding and an eye on the mini-map, Chaox and his supporting ally dictate the pace of the laning phase without assistance from their Jungler.
Chaox doesn’t only shine in lane as his positioning is nearly flawless in team fights. Staying behind his team, Chaox picks off carries one by one, even recovering from a fumble when the fight seems lost.
Alex “Xpecial” Chu
Finally we’re brought to Xpecial, the unsung hero for TSM. He doesn’t speak much, he keeps a slight smile on his face, and he proudly protects Chaox in all team fights. Janna is Xpecial’s favorite champion – her disruption allows Chaox to keep his farm up, while protecting the entire team from a bad engagement. Whenever his team is in danger, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for a Flash-Monsoon.
When he’s not playing Janna, he’ll be playing Leona or Sona with Chaox’s Corki, or even roaming across the Fields on Alistar. Whatever champion he may play, Xpecial is ready to hop on his team’s back, sacrificing himself to protect everyone from impending danger.
The Bottom Line
In the beginning, we saw the team’s individual lanes trying to win on their own, showcasing Reginald as the most aggressive. With the addition of Dyrus, the team practiced more group-centric strategies. Instead of staying in lane and trying to push down turrets, the players seek the right opportunity to engage a fight. Instead of trying to force plays, the entire team has become more patient and more forgiving when a mistake occurs.
The growth of each player has improved team synergy. Dyrus reviews replays, interacts with his fans in Ask Me Anything requests on Reddit. After every major event, he discusses his mistakes, his plays, and how the tournament treated him. Such fan interaction allows TSM to keep their supporters even through poor performances, and the group is wise to have noticed.
As the Season Two Championship nears, Team SoloMid has huge shoes to fill. In order for TSM to seize the million-dollar prize, they’ll need to be ready for improbable plays from their opponents. Unlike some of their peers, TSM does not have the Korean experience, but that hasn’t stopped them from constantly practicing and developing more strategies to surprise their opponents.