Team Solo Mid’s MVP is its owner and former mid laner—Andy "Reginald" Dinh.
As someone who created TSM way back in 2011, Reginald has always been invested in his team’s success. Back then, no one knew if League of Legends esports would pick up. If you were to go back in time and tell people that League of Legends teams would end up becoming multi-million businesses, they’d laugh at the notion. Everyone was simply chasing their passion in a growing industry that they knew close to nothing about.
Reginald was one of its trailblazers.
Shaping the Scene
In his DRIVE feature, Reginald admitted that his journey wasn’t a seamless one.
“I could’ve gone to school… like, graduated by the time of twenty and, you know, got a pretty good-paying job. But there would have never been an opportunity in my life where I could say that I was the very best player in North American League of Legends at one point, I had the very best esports team at one point. I changed a whole industry; I helped develop a whole industry. For me, it was something that I couldn’t pass up.”
The claim that Reginald was once the best player in North America isn’t as bold as it might seem. Nowadays, most people only remember Reginald’s form from Season 3—if even that. But by that point, TSM’s mid laner had already become a shadow of his former self. No, Reginald’s breakthrough happened in the very first seasons of competitive play, even before that..
If anyone were to look at League back then, they’d barely recognize the game we have today. Everything—from graphics to people’s understanding of the game—was different.
Yet that era had its own heroes—and Reginald stood tall among them. In lane, he was always looking for ways to pressure his opponents—a playstyle that few mid laners could deal with back then. And when it came down to teamfights, Reginald was quick to get in the fray and pave the road for his allies with game-winning plays.
Reginald's Pentakill, one of the first in competitive history.
But that’s not the only thing he brought to the table. When TSM was formed, Reginald had a clear vision of how the game should be played, so he took on the role of the shot caller. Under his guidance, Team SoloMid turned into a teamfighting juggernaut and— true to its name—lived and died by its mid laner. The former seemed to happen much more often than the latter.
Of course, you could bring up the argument that the scene was underdeveloped at the time, and that Reginald never translated his domestic success into international results. You’d be right. But Reginald’s claim to fame involves a lot more than being a good mid laner.
At the highest level, League of Legends boils down to decision-making. When do you push? How do you pressure? Do you play safe to avoid ganks or try to maximize your edge by aggressively trading with your opponent? During his time as a player, Reginald understood these concepts well but it was only when he retired that he became a true decision-making master.
When talking about his thinking process when signing players, Reginald says, “To me, it just seems like the obvious choice.” In retrospect, his moves do seem straightforward. Of course, you need to move together into the first League of Legends gaming house to get better practice. Naturally, you want to replace the slumping Chaox with the up-and-coming WildTurtle. And it goes without saying that you’d want to bring in a coach to help your team mesh better. But at the time of their making, none of these decisions were the clear-cut best choices, and Reginald could’ve paid dearly for them.
But he didn’t.
Of course, he’s not entirely flawless. Promising recruits of the like Gleeb, YellOwStaR, and KC Woods ended up falling short. And even some of Reginald’s more successful moves backfired due to the changes in team environment and players’ individual skill.
In the end, no one—not even Reginald—can know how their decisions will work out in the future. For example, who could foresee that a talented Danish mid laner would grow into the best Western League of Legends player in the world? But Reginald has an almost instinctual understanding of what makes a good roster move, and the number of his shortcomings doesn’t even begin to compare to his string of singular triumphs. It’s precisely this understanding, this ability to make “the obvious choice” that allowed Reginald to forge TSM into the NA LCS titan that it is today.
But even titans can stumble, and there were many times when Reginald’s team found itself on the edge of failure. Whether it’s the shaky 2015 Summer Split or the turbulent 2016 Spring season, TSM’s doomsayers were quick to proclaim that this would be the year when the North American powerhouse falls to its knees.
Reginald never seemed to pay heed to these prophecies. He was far too busy doing everything in his power to save his team. “I light the fire under them”, he says in an interview with theScore esports. According to TSM’s former coach, Locodoco, everyone on the team knows that Reginald stepping in is a do-or-die moment. Surprisingly enough, the players don’t crumble under this pressure. In fact, most of them welcome Reginald’s back-to-basics approach as it helps them refocus on the important parts of the game.
The decision to step in stems from Reginald’s burning desire to see his team succeed.
“I find it absolutely unbearable for us to take anything below top-2”, he admits in the DRIVE feature. You’d think that this approach would make him many enemies. And, indeed, while TSM is one of the most popular organizations in League of Legends, it’s also one of the most hated. Yet it’s close to impossible to find any of its former members speaking ill of the team’s owner. TSM has made a name for itself by being player-focused, and that meant always caring for its own—sometimes even long after they’ve left the team.
Many players have come to define TSM at different times. And while they’re a big part of TSM’s legacy, there’s always been a powerful figure behind them. Contrary to his players, Reginald spends most of his time away from the spotlight, carefully crafting the best possible lineups and figuring out how to set them up for success.
“Every single morning when I wake up, the first thing I think about is: How can I make TSM better?"
It’s exactly this immense dedication that makes Reginald the MVP of Team SoloMid.
What do you think of Reginald and his role on TSM? Share your opinion in the comments!