The prodigal son returns

WildTurtle’s return to TSM

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“Welcome back WildTurtle” Picture taken from @TeamSoloMid ‘s Twitter

Finding a replacement for their World Class AD Carry, Yiliang Peter Doublelift Peng, must have not been an easy task for Team SoloMid. With such big names on the free agent market, like ROX Tigers’ former ADC Kim PraY Jong-in, fans expected TSM to pick up an import. However, they just recently announced that Jason WildTurtle Tran, their own ex-ADC, would be a part of the official line up going into the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split.

By no means is WildTurtle a stranger to the TSM organization or their players. Originally joining Team SoloMid in early 2013, WildTurtle helped TSM win the NA LCS multiple times, and made a name for himself as a hyper aggressive AD Carry. In the spring of 2016, he left TSM to join NA LCS team Immortals. After a year of disappointing results from the Immortals squad, not even being able to qualify to the World Championship, WildTurtle opted to not renew his contract. At that point, his future as a player was unclear.

Come Intel Extreme Masters Oakland, a tournament organized by the ESL, and WildTurtle was ready to play once more under the TSM name. At first, Team SoloMid had declined the invitation to IEM Oakland because they had still not found a replacement for Doublelift. In spite of that, a few days before the start of the event, TSM announced that they would indeed be participating with WildTurtle as their ADC. However, he would just be playing with them for the tournament. Their finalized roster was still to be decided.

Today, we know that WildTurtle will be part of the 2017 roster. In the official statement from TSM, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, the team’s owner, explained why WildTurtle was the best choice. “Not only does he fit in with our team well inside the game but he also fits in well outside the game.” he said.

Many fans however, see WildTurtle as a placeholder for Doublelift and, after his poor performance at IEM Oakland, as a downgrade from TSM’s former AD Carry. This harsh criticism is somewhat unfair, due to the circumstances present at the time of IEM Oakland. The new roster didn’t have enough time to prepare properly and was only together for a few days. Giving WildTurtle the benefit of the doubt until we can see him perform in the next LCS seems to be the way to go. Whether he plans to stick with TSM for the whole year or only play during the spring split, WildTurtle has to earn his spot as a top ADC in North America.

Between ROX and a hard place

Bidding farewell to the ROX Tigers

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It takes time to build up a legacy. Unfortunately, time is a luxury not many League of Legends teams have. Failing to succeed, or even failing to find a proper source of income can mean the premature end of a team. Such is the tale of ROX Tigers, whose players have now officially stated that they have left the organization. Perhaps another year of competition would have allowed them to finally achieve the title of World Champion that has continued to elude them. Now all we have left of them is their story.

From big beginnings

Conceived originally as HUYA Tigers, ROX was set up for greatness from the start. Their initial roster brought together players from the korean teams of NaJin Sword and NaJin Shield. Once they were able to qualify for the LCK in the spring of 2015, they were renamed to GE Tigers. Under this new name, the GE Tigers dominated the regular season, finishing first and securing a spot a the LCK finals. However their fairy tale story was about to be cut short.

In order to be the best in Korea you have to beat the best and, with the exception of Season 4, SK Telecom T1 has always been king of the region. The 2015 Spring Split Final would be the first of many clashes the Tigers would have with SKT. In the end, GE Tigers would drop 3-0 to SKT. Just like that, a rivalry that would span the next two years began. SKT became the Tigers’ final boss. If they ever wanted to become champions, they would have to triumph over SKT.

Round 2

For the following split, the Tigers were again renamed, now to KOO Tigers. During the summer, the team didn’t find the same success as they did in spring, finishing fourth in the regular season. They were able to advance to the playoffs’ semifinals but fell to KT Rolster in an incredibly close 5 game match. However, thanks to their second place finish last split, KOO Tigers was able to instantly qualify for the 2015 League of Legends World Championship.

The Worlds 2015 finalists were locked in. The Tigers would have their rematch against SKT, and on one of the biggest international stages. SKT seemed like an unstoppable machine, not dropping a single game during the whole tournament. It was time for the Tigers to shine, to take down SKT and reclaim their glory. Being able to hand SKT their first loss of the tournament gave the Tigers hope. Yet SKT was indeed unstoppable, and that would be the only game they would lose.

Friends in low places

The World Championship had concluded and the Tigers could not find their glory there. Things were going downhill for the Tigers, as they lost their main sponsor during the 2015 offseason. Without a sponsor, the team was destined to collapse, yet they managed to stay together. One last rebranding was necessary for the 2016 season. ROX Tigers would be the perfect name to symbolize the team’s unity.

With only one change in their 2015 roster, ROX Tigers infested the LCK with their charisma and friendly attitude. It was surprising to see a team who was struggling financially show so much positive emotion in a competitive environment. ROX would make it to the Spring Split finals again and regrettably meet the same fate as always. SKT would best them once more.

The Summer Split finals were a completely different story. KT Rolster managed to take down SKT in the semifinals with a reverse sweep. ROX would finally find their glory by avoiding SKT altogether. Nevertheless, one last trial still stood. The World Championship.

A battle for the ages

Madison Square Garden was the designated arena. ROX vs SKT in the semifinal of Worlds. A direct rematch of last year’s finals. The winner of this match was almost guaranteed to take home Summoner’s’ Cup. ROX was one game away from rising victorious. From winning their first best of five series against SKT. From potentially hoisting the Summoner’s Cup high above their heads. But the could not do it.

Farewell ROX Tigers

Victory is not always defined by who wins the game, by who holds the trophy. Whilst ROX Tigers may have not found victory in a way many would’ve wanted them to, it’s impossible not to recognize their perseverance and determination as a team of friends, as well as all their competitive achievements. Fans can be grateful for one of the world’s best League of Legends teams, not only for their skill but also for their players’ personalities.

Even if the name “ROX Tigers” won’t be chanted anymore, their legacy will live on through their players and their fans.

Thank you ROX Tigers.