Wingsofdeath - Story of TSM Evo, Beginnings, Rise, and Fall. Background and decision surrounding the team disbanding.by Wingsofdeathx @ September 4, 2012
Before I begin with how Evo eventually disbanded, I want to start with our origins and where we ended up. Those who followed the team closely should know the gist of it but here is our story in a nutshell from my point of view starting with the time Aphromoo first asked me to join Epik Gamer. This also includes some details that could not be gleaned by the public eye since we did not release this info publicly.
It was my first time in a while jumping back into the competitive scene since my old team No Clue (Some of you may remember us from Go4lol. This was my first team with NintendudeX). Prior to this time I had just began to stream and had been loosely following the competitive scene but was mostly just a solo queue allstar. People started to notice me for my mechanics and thought process in top lane and also my large champion diversity which made me seem like a good pick up for teams looking for some fresh top lane talent. I admit that I thought I was being overrated especially since I had almost no competitive experience for about 9 months now and had been only playing with and against solo queue players. I had even been officially picked up as a 6th member of Dignitas acting as an official substitute but that card never had to be played as there was no circumstance that prevent a member from attending a match or event (Though I came pretty close to subbing at Kiev, would have been funny to see how that went. Looking back on it now I'm glad I didn't go because I probably wasn't even close to being ready).
Aphromoo eventually noticed how I had been playing from my streams and decided I would be a good fit for the team he was planning. He offered me a spot on the team with members of EG and V8. The offer seemed good and I admired Aphromoo as an exceptionally good AD carry player and Salce as an AP mid. I knew I had alot to learn about the competitive scene and this opportunity was the drive I needed to improve myself as a player both in terms of tournament experience and cutting my teeth challenging myself against some of the best players league had to offer. At first it seemed like a match made in heaven. Our lanes were dominant. . Our teamfighting and versatility was just downright amazing for having just thrown together a team out of seemingly nowhere. We got along well and things were looking great. We were beating powerhouse teams and having a blast while doing it. There are factors that attribute to this success such as other top teams being rusty, changing rosters, in slumps etc. but we looked pretty untouchable in the NA scene and this sort of got the better of us.
We got into this mindset that we could casually practice and just stomp opponents out of pure talent and skill which at the time seemed to be what had been going on for the whole time. This isn't to say that we actively adopted this mindset that we wanted to just slack and have the easy life but we were desensitized to the consequences of missing practice here and there or not trying as hard as we should have been to find scrims. This feeling coupled with external factors such as graduations coming up soon and other external obligations would eventually come back to bite us in the ass.
Things started great as we had a decisive first place victory in the RoG invitational qualifiers. Afterwards we had a narrow 1-2 defeat to TSM at the actual event and took second, which isnt too shabby considering our team was only weeks old. We were already contending with some top European teams as well as one of the best teams in NA and holding our ground. Things were looking good and everyone expected things to get better from there as we were one of the crowd favorites for the upcoming MLG Anahaeim 2012 event. Things started off smoothly with a 2-0 victory over SK Gaming, one of the three European teams invited to the event and definitely no push-over. SK had recent undergone a lane swap however and weren't playing at their full potential at the time. The next day we lost a close 1-2 series against FnaticRC, another strong EU team and here is where things started to turn for the worse.
We dropped down to the loser's bracket and were matched against Orbit Gaming, a relatively unknown team at the time. Rather than do our proper research, talk about last games mistakes, and prepare ourselves for the match, we brushed it off lightly as an easy set against a no-name team which is never something you should do in any competitive sport or event. This decision came back to haunt us later as Orbit actually took the series 2-0 using a playstyle we had not anticipated at the time. They took us by surprise and before we had time to react we were already out of the tournament. From here things got worse until Aphromoo decided to try his luck with mtw, no longer wishing to play with Evo.This is when we picked up Dontmashme, our new ad carry and decided that we would no longer stream scrims, would scrim on a daily basis, and would scrim far more often than we used to.
That is pretty much where the story as you guys know it ends, but the things we have been up to for the most part at large were not streamed nor released to the public as we wanted to keep things a secret. We scrimmed any team we could get a hold of and even had the privilege of scrimming against cross-server teams such as TPA. We started talking more about how to fix our problems as a team and trying to help each other grow more as players. There were some rough bumps here and then but we started to go even against most of the teams we scrimmed usually going 1-1 or 1-2 or 2-1 for a given set. At the highlight of our practice schedule we were scrimming upwards of 7+ hours daily and I myself had spent at least 12+ hours a day playing the game.
We drastically improved our weak early game and were able to take games by snowball victory or if we managed to not throw. Unfortunately we werent on the same page a lot of the time and conflicting calls would be made at the same time and our team would be very unorganized. We didn't have a unified shot caller and no one wanted to take on that role so we just all input ideas and some were good and others bad. If we listened to the bad ones we would very quickly find ourselves in a losing situation from a winning one. This happened both at Raleigh and at the more recent PAX NA Regionals games where we were up by a pretty substantial amount early into the game and threw our leads on bad fights. I was a little to blame for some of those, as I did not make the decision to start poor engagements but I wasn't thinking for myself at the time and listened to the call anyway even though I didn't think it was a solid call. We were all to blame and unfortunately we were swept off of our feet with a quick 0-2 defeat to the superior team play of Curse.
Prior to this event, some time during our 6-8 week practice regiment we agreed as a team that if we did not perform at regionals and make something of ourselves for season 2, then it might be best to go our separate ways. To get you guys to understand why we came to this decision I want to talk a little background with my teammates from my point of view. This will also serve to close the gap on what has been happening with our team since we decided to keep everything in the dark for those 6-8 weeks.
First, before I say anything I would like to address all of the negative feedback about Salce that I have see circulating around facebook and reddit. I've been seeing alot of people bashing him in comments and posts on my wall so I just wanted to give people the facts since everyone is so quick to sharpen the pitchforks. As Nhat put it in his interview, after Aphromoo left the team, we decided to go all in for season 2 regionals and practice hard. We spent around 7+ hours a day scrimming and looking for scrims, watching vods and talking etc. This isnt as much as some other teams, but it was definitely a good start from our previous, almost nonexistent practice regiment.
We agreed to hide our scrims and try to focus on improving as a team instead of making money or building up our fan base. I know I for one have been focusing primarily on practice and have rarely streamed since we started getting more serious unless we were unable to practice for whatever reason, as there were still outside obligations and we did not live in a gaming house. We put it all on the line for the season 2 NA regionals but there was a catch.
We agreed beforehand that if we still were not performing up to par and were significantly behind other teams and didn't perform for Season 2 that we would all look to pursue other options. Nearing Raleigh, with our poor performance we agreed that unless we qualified for season 2 World Championships and Season 3 championship series that we would probably break up as a team and this was mutual. This information was never shared and I believe some parts of it were leaked without the whole story being given to the public.
I'm seeing things like scumbag Salce or people blaming him for our team breaking up but this is not true and we had decided on this long ago. For whatever reason, people are saying he is lazy and that we dont practice because of him but we have been much better about practicing and have not been streaming it so of course people won't see it. He worked just as hard as any of us when we started this new practice regiment and probably grew the most as a player compared to any of us.
Nhat's situation is a little bit different than the rest of evo in terms of actually playing the game. As far as I know, he streams league to sustain his lifestyle while most of us are able to live off of another source of income, either an alternative job or living off of our parents. This led to a tough decision for him to make which I will now explain.
I remember him telling me that he was unsure what he wanted to do after season 2. I think he hinted at wanting to take a break from the game but wasn't sure but thats what I had gotten out of it. To me it sounded like the practice and long streaming hours were really getting to him and I understand. He was trying to make a living off of league by sustaining himself through streaming and at the same time trying to practice to become better and compete at LANs. When we started failing, we knew things had to change. It wasn't until aphromoo left that we really started to kick-start things. We agreed we would stop streaming scrims and focus more on improving the team instead of making money and that streaming was secondary to practice. We wanted to hide what we had learned and not give teams a chance to scout our tactics out before we even brought them out at LANs to increase our chances.
Basically, if Nhat wanted to continue making a living off of streaming and still practice hard with us as a team, he would have to put in some insane daily hours to make things work. I think at one point he was nearing something like 16 or so hour days on league and that is just insane between our practice and streaming binges. I could tell it was kind of getting to him and I wouldn't blame anyone for wanting to stop playing for a while. This is the reason I stopped streaming and would only stream if we werent too busy on a particular day. The point im trying to make is that with such a demanding lifestyle cant be maintained for long periods of time with any enjoyment so I think he wanted to try it out until regionals to see if it was worth the long haul. If we had qualified for the championship series for season 3 and became salaried players then we can focus more on the game and less about having to make money and take care of ourselves. If we didn't qualify then a change was in order, most likely a break.
As for Unstoppable, I've talked to him about a subject I had been worried about ever since we formed the team with Aphromoo. I'm sure he won't mind me saying a little bit about him and this is highly relevent to the overall picture. As you may know, Unstoppable has a full time day job as an accountant. We would schedule scrims around this and it hasn't really been a problem in the past. However, I firmly believe that he will not be able to commit the amount of time that I feel is required to compete at the absolute top level while trying to juggle a life with a day job and professional league of legends. This game is more than just player's job, it's a player's life. Korean teams like azubu frost/blaze and European teams such as m5 have shown just how much hard work and time they put into league and it certainly shows that the amount of hard work pays off.
To compete with teams like that you need to put in similar time and commitment. To me, it seems like he has it pretty well off and there is no reason to throw it away on a gamble for a chance at league, even though it may be "the dream job". I'm not exactly sure how he feels about it but unless we qualify for the Season 3 championship series or win some serious cash, it would be pretty risky to drop it to pursue league at the highest level and that is the only way I would take competitive league of legends because there is no longer such a thing as a "casual pro" since the evolution of the competitive scene from early season 1. Talent simply isnt enough to carry a player through the competitive scene after the game has been out this long and slacking off on practice will definitely show vs the other top teams. Now I'm not saying we were slackers for the past month by any means but compared to the top teams we need to show as much dedication as they do if we want a shot at beating them. If we were going to really take it to the next level and move to a gaming house and put life on hold etc., he would have to give up his job and former life and this doesn't seem like something worth risking if you don't absolutely know you're being taken care of.
Dontmashme was the newest addition to our team coming in from Monomaniac Esports, a team that was not doing too much at the time since they recently lost their support playing Patoy to Dignitas. He was under contract at the time Aphromoo left us and we desperately needed an AD carry to fill his spot. Mash had a little history with Nhat going back to IPL 4 when he subbed for EG as AD carry when Westrice moved to top lane. This seemed like a logical pick up since the two had worked together before. He was not with us when we were at our worst but was around when we started to climb our way out of that pit we dug ourselves into.
The team manager signed Mono's death warrant when he released mash from his contract . Without a bot lane or any players to quickly replace the team soon disbanded and mash was basically throwing in his lot with us for one desperate shot at the season 2 NA regionals. We had 6-8 weeks to practice with a completely new AD carry and perform to secure 1 of 3 spots for the world championships. Being the new member of Evo meant that while he didn't have alot on the line, he had alot on his shoulders to live up to the "star player" of our team as everyone so called Aphromoo. While I don't know if he had much invested in us or any incentive to leave, I appreciate that he gave it his best shot to help us reach our goal.
Some way through our last months together, we had looked at our team's background, where we were coming from and what we wanted out of competitive gaming and league of legends. We pretty much decided from then that trying to maintain evo as a team was pretty taxing on all of us and if our best shot at preparing for regionals turned sour then there wasnt really much sense to trying to hang onto the team. I know it might be sad for some of the fans out there to see this happen but the truth is that Evo breaking up was a mutual team decision with the condition that a poor performance at PAX after so many weeks of training just means that there is a fundamental flaw with the roster and it would take too much to try and fix it when we already spent months trying to work things out.
It doesn't matter so much what the problems were, because they were not being solved at a rate that was feasible for us to continue as a competitive team when you take it into context with where everyone was coming from. It is heartbreaking to see the level of regression that had happened and that we were clawing our way back from the ground up. Through all of that hard work I'm happy to say that we grew as a team but it just wasnt enough for the amount of time we had left to prepare and the work we put in ultimately didn't pay off.
With all of that said, I'm sure myself and other former members of Evo will find a way to get what we are looking for, whether it is a new team or a break from league. At this point I'm not 100% sure what everyone wants but I am quite certain that having us all stay on Evo won't increase our chances of each of us reaching our goal, and I feel that the other members shared that sentiment with our recent performance at PAX. I really feel like we let alot of people down including ourselves and our fans and I want to apologize for that. We gave it our all and learned quite a bit since then, and I know I improved as a player throughout all of that practice but individual players aren't what win games, teamwork wins games and the teamwork just isn't there with Evo. Like I said it feels like a fundamental roster problem without a true guiding sense of direction in the form of a leader or collective experience of multiple individuals.
My time with Evo had its ups and downs and I'm sad to see everyone parting ways but I am grateful for the chance to have a taste of my dream of being a professional gamer and I wouldn't trade that away for anything. I learned alot and I know everyone grew as a player in the time we spent together but it just wasn't maent to be. I just wanted to share my experience with Evo so far and close any gaps in our story since I know we had been very mysterious about our happenings towards the last couple of months. The main goal of this whole thing was to stop people from jumping onto hate bandwagons trying to blame a cause or weakness within our team when to be honest the team itself was the cause and weakness. Some things just dont mix and unfortunately we are a group of players that...just doesn't mix and we spent this long figuring it out. We stuck it out for each other and for the fans but this is as far as it can go.
Thanks for reading and I hope you guys understand where we are coming from. Again this was a mutual decision and noone is a direct cause for Evo underperforming recently or breaking up after PAX.
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