As hopefully many of you know, part of the GPL has split off and formed a new league called the League of Legends Master Series, or LMS for short. They have been given a birth into the world championships, meaning they have their own seat, and wont have to qualify as a wild card.
That being said, everyone in the West I’ve talked to has no idea who any of these teams are, the stories they tell, and why they should even care. What it breaks down to is simply “oh yeah, I know TPA and AHQ” . So here, I’m going to break down all the teams, their story, and why you should care. (or not)
Chances are, whether you are brand new as of Season 4, or go all the way back to the good ol’ days of Season 2, most western teams have at least heard of TPA. If you are new, then you may know them as that team with the cool logo that was beaten by TSM and Uzi- I mean Star Horn Royal Club, but if you remember the days when Yorick was a first pick first ban, then you know them as that team that came out of nowhere and won the Season 2 World Championships. However the current TPA retains none of the World Championship players.
“So if Toyz is not on TPA, why should I care?” I hear you saying, well here is the thing, TPA are the kings of Southeast Asia. Domestically, they have arguably been the strongest team to ever play in Southeast Asia. For the west, TPA is very much the TSM of GPL/LMS with 5, 1st place finishes in their region since there inception in 2012.
So how are they doing now when this is posted, currently they are 7-0-0, and in most of their games have absolutely crushed every team beneath them. They are looking like the most dominant team in the region, and favored to finish first place.
Hong Kong Esports
So one of the most under the radar stories that came out of the off/pre-season, is that the Season 2 World Champion, Toyz, was returning to the scene and forming a new team. If you were a fan of old TPA, Hong Kong Esports is the team you should care about. Hong Kong Esports is a team that formed this season, with a roster of members from the Taipei Assassins/Snipers organization.
In many ways I think this is the team that wants to prove something the most. They want to prove that former world champions can still rise, and if you watch the matches between them and TPA, you can tell they really try to play on a much higher level against their old team. For western fans, if TPA is TSM, then the way I would look at this team is, this is the Alliance/Elements of LMS, this is the hand crafted super team built to be the best, however with a 5-2 record, and one of those losses being against TPA, the mountain they climb still has a high summit.
ahq e-Sports Club
AHQ is that team that when they appear in international tournaments, for the most part are glossed over, and very much given bottom team level status, and the only team member western fans could name is Westdoor, however domestically I think they have a much more interesting story.
Yes Westdoor was talked about some during Season 4 worlds, but at home he really is considered to be one of the best Mid lanes in LMS, and is given a lot of respect. AHQ is one of the only teams domestically that challenges TPA, they even beat them to take a first place finish off them. AHQ I would easily call the second best team in terms of the history in Southeast Asia, but often times just fall short of really being called the best.
For me this is a team that really wants to prove they can topple over TPA and show they can be one of the best teams in the LMS. However right now they are 5-3, having only lost to the top 3 teams in the LMS, but if they really want to be an elite team for this split, they are going to need to take games off of them.
Yoe Flash Wolves
Remember that one team that went to the Season 3 Championships from Southeast Asia not called TPA? That Gamania Bears team? This is them for the most part, and they are one of the best looking teams in LMS right now. As a wise man once said
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now my whole team fucking here
And this really does describe the growth of this team. The wolves last year were very much a middle of the pack team, finishing in 4th or 5th place, depending of if they had an easier route or not, but they were always losing out to bigger teams. However with some really smart roster changes, and the pick up of a new coach the Wolves have really turned around and have stamped there mark as a team to not be messed with. Having lost to only TPA, going 6-1.
Formally known as the sister team to TPA, Taipei Snipers, this was a team that sadly might have had the worst off season in joining the LMS. The Snipers, when formed was very much one of the more elite teams in the GPL, occasionally beating there big sister team in TPA, being one of the more solid teams in the GPL. That being said, when they had to re-brand when riot ruled that a single owner can’t have 2 teams, the team fell apart.
There duo lane joined Toyz in forming Hong Kong Esports, Winds, one of the best if not the best jungler in Southeast Asia joined TPA, and there mid and top joined the new AHQ. So what was left were players that are not terrible players, using mostly the players from Logitech G Fighters, however in my opinion what this team lacks is a giant play maker, and consistency, having only picked up wins against the bottom teams. Unfortunately, I see them as a team that wins enough to not be relegated, but probably wont crack the top of the standings.
Never Give Up/Midnight Sun/Dream or Reality
I wanted to talk about these last 3 teams all at the same time because, they are the challenger teams that got picked up to join the LMS. Taking them in order from who is doing well to who is not, we start with Never Give Up. Inspiring name aside I see them as the best amateur team to join the LMS. Of the 3 amateur teams they currently have the best standing, even being above Logitech Snipers, and even though they are in the bottom half of the LMS, they have moments where they can even catch the top teams off guard. Do they win? Not at all, but they have moments where I can see them as the team with the most potential in these amateur teams.
Midnight sun is the team that probably has the most cache around it. They are an amateur team being coached by Lilballz, former Season 2 World Champion, and were one of the most famous amateur teams coming into the LMS. Sadly they are the second to last team having only won 1 game against the last place team.
And now we come to Dream or Reality, and honestly there is not much to say. Every league I think always has that one team that are just at the bottom. Honestly, this team feels like that team that might get a win off of the other bottom teams, but at best, they make 7th place, maybe if they just go on a crazy streak, then they hit 6th, but I highly doubt it.
(So why do I care?)
If you’ve made it this far, or just scrolled down to read this, I bet you are wondering “Just give me the list” so for me, this is the break down of the LMS right now.
- Tier 1
- Tier 2
- Hong Kong Esports
- Yoe Flash Wolves
- Ahq E-sports
- Tier 3
- Logitech Snipers
- Never Give Up
- Tier 4
- Midnight Esports
- Dream or Reality
So this is my introduction to the newly formed LMS, which I think will be a much more competitive league to watch compared to the GPL. Honestly I think LMS is a league that has been making many of the right moves to join the Elite regions, and have actual attention on them on an international level.
IEM Taipei is this weekend as I write this, so I think this will give many people a great chance to have a taste of the LMS, with TPA, AHQ, and Yoe FW playing. I think this will be a chance for many western fans to get a glimpse into the region and it’s top teams. I imagine that what happens here will be in the conversation when the mid season tournament rolls around, and when the IEM World Championships happen. However I wanted to give a much clearer window into the region, as a fan, and as someone who thinks this region has the most potential to evolve.