Shopify is entering the League of Legends arena. On Wednesday, Shopify announced that its Rebellion esports brand will be acquiring TSM’s spot in the League Championship Series (LCS), the pro circuit for US League of Legends esports.
The move marks a major change of the guard in the LCS. TSM, one of the biggest esports organizations in the world, got its start as a scrappy League of Legends team; the TSM acronym stands for Team SoloMid, which references a solo League of Legends player occupying the middle lane of the game’s multi-pronged map. In the mid 2010s, TSM was one of the most successful teams in the LCS, and the organization has entered other esports, signed Twitch streamers, and even bought an esports app.
But TSM has had some struggles as of late. Its LCS team hasn’t been quite as successful in League (outside of an impressive run in 2020). TSM CEO and founder Andy Dinh was fined and placed on a two-year probation by League of Legends developer Riot Games after an investigation found that “there was a pattern and practice of disparaging and bullying behavior exhibited by Dinh” toward TSM staff and players. The organization was forced to back out of a $210 million deal with FTX after the crypto company collapsed.
Then, in March, Sports Business Journal reported that TSM was considering dumping its LCS team, and in May, TSM announced that it was looking to sell its LCS spot and compete in League of Legends in another region. “I believe moving to another region will re-ignite our hunger to do whatever it takes to win a world championship,” Dinh said in a video about the change.
Shopify Rebellion will compete in the LCS starting in 2024. “Entering League of Legends — one of the largest esports titles, with a rich competitive history — felt like an obvious next step for us as we continue to grow our presence in esports,” Shopify Rebellion’s Dario “TLO” Wünsch said in a statement. The organization also competes in games like Dota 2, Valorant, and Rocket League.
TSM hasn’t said where it may end up fielding a League of Legends team next. But the organization is already positioning itself as a global brand. “TSM is a movement, binding us all together no matter who we are or where we came from,” TSM wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “From North America and Europe to South America and Asia, our hearts beat as one.”
The switch from TSM to Shopify Rebellion isn’t the only recent loss of a storied LCS brand. NRG Esports acquired Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) in April and took over CLG’s LCS slot. But there’s a happy ending to that upheaval: the new NRG defeated Cloud9 in a major upset to win the 2023 LCS summer split championships.