Past, Present and Future: A look at the CLG/TSM rivalry and its long awaited road to MSG

My exploration into the long but recent history of the teams CLG and TSM and how these two teams have interacted to create a rivalry like no other in the western scene. Plus I give my extremely hype perspective as to why this final is like no other final

Image via Capcom | Remix by Jacob Wolf

Past, Present and Future: A look at the CLG/TSM rivalry and its long awaited road to Madison Square Garden.

After the content based around the European rivalry scene, I have decided to dedicate this piece specifically for the steel back of North America and its long but patiently awaited road to Madison Square Garden. CLG and TSM are the two biggest teams in the North American scene in the past, present and arguably the future of this eSport scene. The main aims are to explore the different areas that this rivalry has ventured into and to help establish the idea of how and why these two teams are so hype. To help do this, exploring the themes of LCS, history, social media and Riot themselves will help to indicate how far the rivalry has manifested itself into Leagues competitive scene.   


For my brief introduction of the TSM and CLG rivalry and its style in eSports, see my previous piece.  (http://www.goldper10.com/hall-of-memories/2089.html)

In order to see how the rivalry actually got this big, we must look into the creation of the LCS. The creation of the LCS in season 3 meant that these teams were to play games every week. The build-up of regular games for teams means the increased attraction to teams. This helped to grow the popularity of the two established teams even more. When it came to CLG and TSM, these games were the ones to watch due to season 2 and season 1 results. This is because the hype that these seasons created helped to show that history is a big part in eSport rivalry. The result was with strong competition between the two teams with spring ending 3-1 in TSM’s favour. The best thing about this is CLG were seen by a number of people as the better team in the non LCS seasons by being 17-12 in the head to head. Since TSM were doing better, CLG and their fans wanted some payback. Well they got it. The following summer split ended with a 4-0 clean sweep for CLG in the regular split. But the joke was on CLG. CLG had ended the summer split in 6th place while TSM finished 3rd, resulting in both teams meeting in the playoffs for another round of hyped rivalry. TSM were looking to prove that the 4-0 meant nothing that split. And in strong fashion they ended the best of 3 series 2-0 knocking CLG out of the world’s playoff run. This put the score line between the two teams 21-14 in favour of CLG. CLG in its fiery passion was looking to enter Season 2014 looking better and even had some comments to say at worlds despite not actually being there.  

 Nien talking about how his team is looking to come back better than ever.

Then on came season 2014. After the call from Zach “Nien” Malhas expressing his thoughts of rising potential from CLG; CLG were ready to enter the next season. Both CLG and TSM took the initiative to pick up some of the European talent to spice things up with the roster in order to improve. The result was Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg joining TSM as the starting midlaner and Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp joining CLG as the jungler. Following these additions to the roster the results between both of the teams showed TSM had made the right moves and took the games to 3-1 during the regular season and then proceeding to go 2-1 in playoffs against CLG for once again more hype. The score line changed to 23-19 for CLG winning the head to head.  


Moving onto summer split, TSM added a coach in order to help improve on the split before. TSM added Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub and CLG added Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles the year before. Locodoco was a member of both CLG and TSM and had seemed to want to return to TSM whilst Monte was coaching CLG at the start of the season. The relation between these two people is interesting. After seeming very friendly with each other casting side by side at HOT6iX Champions Summer 2013 and speaking on the talk show Summoning Insight hosted by Duncan “Thooorin” Shields, they would now do battle in the LCS.  And it seemed to work well with making the rivalry tenser. The summer split resulted in 2-2 between the two teams and the result was the Team Salty Mid vlog and undoubtedly made people laugh. At this time, the score line had changed to 25-21.

For the best bit, look at around 1 minute in.

But the laughs would turn to CLG. The summer 2014 playoffs would see Monte bring the CLG line up to Korea in order to gain valuable experience. But the bootcamp didn’t seem to do anything.  CLG entered the playoffs getting knocked out by Team Curse and then sent to the promotion tournament by Team Dignitas. But the worse feeling was seeing CLG nearly getting knocked out by Curse Academy almost bringing the team down into the challenger series. Meanwhile the story was juxtaposed for TSM after they secured first place in the finals against C9, marking their way for another world championship.


But that wasn’t enough for the rivalry of TSM and CLG as their rivalry would turn from in game to a PR nightmare. During summer 2014, the talks on Summoning Insight would lead to arguments on twitter between staff of TSM and CLG. This turned former Korean casting friends into enemies and striking divide between the two organisations sending them much further apart.

Reginalds comments directed towards Montecristo at the time of him coaching CLG 


CLG fans clearly booing Reginald at PAX after the twitter drama that recently unfolded. 


Despite the big twitter drama between the two teams, you can still see that there’s still some healthy behaviour between both organisations. A few weeks after the PR meltdown, Regi posted on twitter his desire for CLG to stay in the LCS and how him and Monte are still speaking to each other despite the recent trash talk a few weeks before hand. I feel like this is a love/hate relationship.

Lets be honest, no one ever wanted CLG to be relegated from the LCS as it would ruin the good fun.


But the love phase between the two teams would end sooner than expected with more tedious twitter comments. The 2014 world group stages saw Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng returning to the worlds on the analyst desk.  But once again the drama would start because of a comment Doublelift made about TSM during his analysis on the Riot stream. Clearly Reginald didn’t agree with it and decided to trash talk him back on twitter. But the trash talking would once again renew hostilities on social media into the repetitive, tedious drama that seemed too common within this professional environment.



Finally a good responce from Reginald.


This eventually lead to some form of punishments and backlash for all parties involved including the temporary blacklisting of onGamers by TSM, the firing of Thooorin and just general hate from the fans towards TSM and CLG. For the common person, this meant that a little bit of trash talk between two rival organisations was clearly too hot to handle in the western scene at this time.


But the one thing that we should appreciate from all this drama is all the attention this gathers. The fact is we can see the fiery passion between these organisations at wanting to be the best in their region and targeting each other’s weaknesses is a method to undermine the other team. Plus the drama helps to pit both fans of organisations at each other once again to keep the rivalry in mind no matter what. Additionally the attention all this drama creates helps to big journalists in to write about the complexity it creates, helping to build the brands up outside the scene. But another big factor is that we have seen this meltdown go down once before and we are all eager for some more salt to spill in the future. One thing for sure is that if this happens once before, it can happen again and all of this drama just helps to add to the story of why this rivalry is getting juicier every year.

Richard Lewis’ look into PR of league eSports


Proceeding into the 2015 season the trends continue of CLG searching for that new roster to find its golden age and return to the glory it once had.  Once again CLG would swap out its top from Shin “Seraph” Wu-Yeong to Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaha and picking up William “scarra” Li as coach after Monte left.  This response would try and make its roster stronger once again and compete for the top team position it always desired to reach. But once again CLG’s faith would fall. CLG would finish 0-2 against TSM in the regular split and get defeated in the first round of playoffs by Team Liquid.

This video helps to show once again the rise and fall of CLG in the regular season.


But it wasn’t all negativity for CLG. The first game of the 2015 season between CLG and TSM saw the viewer count on twitch hit 500,000 plus an extra 60,000 estimated from YouTube and Azubu, arguably making it the highest viewer count of any regular season game in LCS history. Not to mention the fun from the pink hair bet between Reginald and HotShotGG resulting in HotShot dyeing his hair after losing to them. This is extremely funny for everyone and the negativity towards the end of the previous season had been banished due to the friendly banter shown from this one bet.

Look at Reginalds laugh, he’s clearly loving every second of it.


Even in the spirit of happiness between the rivals, Hotshot still needed to make improvements to reach his desired state after the disappointing finish from CLG in spring. Hotshot put himself on the line one last time and decided to remove Austin “LiNk” Shin in a last effort to improve the team and pick up recently relegated Eugene “Pobelter” Justice Park. Measuring up to TSM, the new member Pobelter is quickly embedded into the TSM CLG rivalry by coverage from a pre-game Riot teaser. But they would meet the same fate as last split and go 0-2 once again to TSM bringing the head to head 25-25. However this didn’t bother CLG as at the end of the regular season they would achieve 2nd in the regular split and TSM would finish at 5th place. Both of them worked their way up the playoffs and will finally meet in the finals of the LCS playoffs after CLG beat Team Impulse and TSM beat Gravity and Team Liquid to get there.


Pobelter getting some attention before heading into his first rivalry game.

The hype is now set in motion, League of Legends is now big enough to have its finals in Madison Square Garden. It’s a CLG and TSM final. Both teams are at 25-25 in the head to head. All of this means this is finally the time to prove which team is the fat cat of North America. But there’s even more hype to come around. With a recent twitter comment posted from Reginald teasing the possibility of a trash talk video with CLG. Throughout playoffs TSM have been busy filming trash talk videos with all their opponents in playoffs, meaning we can finally see that juicy trash talk from both teams without the backlash from its PR, as seen in the previous year. I for one want to see it go no holds barred as this is the match-up we have been waiting for ever since the LCS was established. As I said earlier, every year this rivalry gets that little bit juicier and now it seems to be overflowing. The closest hype related thing I can relate it to is the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight, but one thing for sure, I hope it ends in a more awesome way then that fight actually did.


Please let us have this and the complimentary Riot hype teaser as well. 


No matter what the result is on the 23rd August, the one thing I can confirm is this will not be the end of this titan rivalry. I personally wish to see both teams finally go to worlds together. This would give both teams the competition to see who can go further in the world tournament. This will allow both teams to come back to the next season and boast who had the better advancement. This is in order to help bring that world competition back and mean business instead of it being the goose chase that it has been for the history of its rivalry. So good luck to both teams in the finals of the NA LCS, I may not support either of you, but you can count on having one hell of an audience, as come game day you will have a lot of people to impress.