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Credit: TSM

TSM, out?

Is TSM still planning to return? The team gave an update

TSM gave fans an update regarding the organization after reports of pared-back operations and questions regarding the organization’s capacity for returning to League of Legends esports.

In League of Legends esports, it is a running joke that no matter who is playing on stage, there will be a TSM chant. It’s not untrue, but it’s been all for naught of late with the organization not even playing League of Legends. In fact, TSM isn’t really playing much of anything after dropping its Dota 2 roster, benching half its Counter-Strike 2 team, leaving Valorant last year, and so on. At time of writing, the only competition-ready entities sponsored by the organization are its Apex Legends team, fighting game player William “Leffen” Hjelte, and a recently signed Rocket League team.

TSM’s impact in North America is undeniable. It is one of the most popular team brands in the region, establishing itself early at the forefront of modern esports. TSM is the only team in North America to win seven domestic titles.

Then came the franchised era in the LCS and things changed for TSM.

Franchising meant more money and better opponents. TSM struggled to keep up and struggled as Team Liquid took command of the LCS. On top of that were questionable business decisions including a $6 million contract for Worlds finalist support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh, plans for a $50 million performance facility, and the $200 million sponsorship from now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

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Internally, there has been a constant churn of boardroom controversy. Former TSM president Aileena “Leena” Xu was caught on camera discussing a player’s free agent situation in unfavorable terms. Riot Games launched an investigation into team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh after several reports of bullying in the workplace.

Despite all this, team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh says TSM didn’t succeed in the LCS because it wasn’t a competitive league. According to him, if TSM wanted to be back at the top, it needed to move its entire operation to another major region.

TSM still planning to return, but insists on changing regions

TSM reiterated that it still plans to return to League of Legends esports, but remains committed to changing regions.

In 2023, TSM revealed its plans to sell its LCS slot and move to a different region. The decision came after the team announced it would be pausing all of its esports efforts.

Shopify Rebellion acquired part of TSM’s roster and its slot in the competition. As for TSM, it’s been quiet for a while.

Reports of the team’s current condition surfaced after a former employee announced his contract was suddenly terminated. He also explained that TSM only had nine employees in total. Fans started to ask questions. How can a team that promised to return to the stage be operational with only nine employees? Was it all a lie?

TSM took to social media to reassure fans that it would be returning to esports by the end of 2024. The organization claimed to be working toward the acquisition of a slot in another region in a Reddit AMA and expressed interest in returning to the Valorant scene. While it might sound like empty promises, TSM has recently shored up its esports efforts by signing a Rocket League team.

TSM is in a better position for this kind of return than other organizations because of its strong brand recognition. Building a brand that fans can get behind and are passionate about is the biggest challenge for any esports organization and TSM has already done that.

For TSM, the story writes itself, the anti-hero looking for redemption in a new region. The organization hungry to prove that it is bigger than its previous region. It is a strong selling point, guaranteed to gather the attention of the fans at least for a while. Can they do it? Fans will know for sure by the end of 2024. 

Steven Rondina is a long-time gamer who loves the Persona series, but not quite as much as he loves all things Pokemon. He has a background in writing about video games, gaming culture, and combat sports.