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Welcome to The Bag.

Every week, I will graciously answer your questions about everything in the esports and gaming world. From the highbrow to the gutter, I will make sure to give you my honest, unfiltered opinion sponsored by absolutely nobody (yet).

Without further ado, let’s dive into the bag and see what we can pull out.

Should I just quit being a TSM fan?

I have been a TSM VALORANT fan since they officially announced the team two years ago. I have stuck with them even when they were bad and believed that this new team would qualify for the main event. They didn’t though, and now I am half mad and half depressed. I feel like this team’s core is outdated. Should I just quit being a TSM fan? At this point, I would be better off cheering for a random Tier 2 team that plays more than twice a year — TSMakesMeSad

OK, I understand your frustrations. TSM were once the class of the region and the de-facto main characters of North American VALORANT alongside Sentinels. Now, they’re struggling, trying to figure out the correct starting roster to, at least, be a character starring in the show, not even the main protagonist.

While I wouldn’t blame anyone for retiring from fandom for the sake of your mental health, the downtimes are a part of being a fan of a sports team. There are fans of professional sports teams who have watched their teams terrible performances for decades, with little to no success and almost no personable players to cheer on.

I wouldn’t give up entirely on TSM. I still like their core, but my main issue with the current setup is finding the correct positions for the players to thrive in for the team’s betterment. Matthew “Wardell” Yu and his Operator play has been, and will probably continue to be, the team’s bread and butter. Still, they need to find an entry player to partner with him, so that not everything relies on the pricey gamble of him being perfect with the long-range sniper.

When TSM were at their peak, a large part of their success came from Taylor “drone” Johnson and his dynamic, aggressive play on Phoenix, which paired beautifully with Wardell’s Operator and Yassine “Subroza” Taoufik’s myriad of agents. Since Phoenix stopped being a secret agent and got thrown on the bench with Yoru, along with drone having moved off the starting roster, TSM have seemed to be in a desperate search to find that missing piece to pair alongside Wardell.

Unless TSM decide to make a significant change for the summer qualifiers in their last attempt to salvage their 2022 campaign, a lot of the team’s hopes will ride on the back of Corey “Corey” Nigra. During the qualifiers, he was placed in that entry role to pair with Wardell as the primary carry duo of the squad, and the former FaZe player looked timid and lacked the necessary impact needed for TSM to succeed.

I wouldn’t give up on Corey, though, as I believe he has the talent to be one of the best entry players in North America. His mechanics are undeniable. When he was in the Overwatch League, former teammates lauded his work ethic and positive personality as his key strengths. It can take time for a player to fully assimilate into a team, especially with such a clear way of playing like TSM does with Wardell’s Operator — and there are few players I feel more confident about to turn things around than the former Overwatch League superstar.

Since their elimination, everything that has come out has been positive. Dominic Kallas, the Vice President of Esports for TSM, announced the team would be moving out to Texas for preparation for the summer qualifiers. He also announced they’d be changing their stance on smaller, third-party tournaments, committing to grinding them instead of sitting out.

It’s not a guarantee that TSM will do any better in a few months when the next qualifiers come around, but I wouldn’t quit being a fan of them as long as you still support players on the team. Being a fan is more than celebrating the highs. It’s about sticking with your team at the bottom and getting to watch them improve gradually, finding chemistry as a team and climbing the ladder towards the top.

And if not, at least the race down to the ground will be entertaining to follow. TSM can, at least, always promise you that. Even when they’re losing, they’re damn entertaining.

When does TSM play xD — Anonymous

I got a lot of TSM questions and responses. I just wrote 700 words on them in the opening question, so I’ll save the rest for next time if they’re still relevant.

What do you think the future of VALORANT will look like? — Jen

If I had to put money on it, I’d guess it will go the way of League of Legends with franchising, but still have more international events across the year than its sister game.

It might not be next year or even the year after, but I have to think at some point the premier organizations are going to get antsy. And we’ll see Riot Games cash in with some nice franchise fees across the significant regions in VALORANT, like North America, Europe, Brazil, Southeast Asia and so on. We’re already seeing top organizations like TSM, FaZe, and T1 fail to make the first season of North America Challengers. It’s not like they’re spending the minimum to put these rosters together and, for their sponsors, they’re not going to be happy with third-party online tournaments for too long.

My only hope is that once franchising is implemented, Riot has a clear plan for strengthening the minor leagues; creating a profitable path for players not in the majors to still compete at a high level and generating a pipeline of young talent for the future. We’ve seen how important it is in League of Legends for regions like China to have such a thriving minor league system. And we’ve seen how disastrous it can be when there isn’t, like we’ve watched in North America.

Who do you think is the best VALORANT player right now and upcoming? — Anonymous

If I had to give out a top-five right this second, I’d go Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin, Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek, Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker and Tyson “TenZ” Ngo. Probably in that exact order.

I know many people have sold their TenZ stock after VALORANT Champions. I’m not one of them, though. I won’t disregard how fantastic he was for the majority of 2021 over one lackluster event to end the year, even if it was the world championship.

VALORANT is progressing so rapidly, however, that my top five might be completely different a year from now. So many new teams and players are improving in every single region.

How many years do you think VALORANT will need to become the No. 1 Esport? — Anonymous

Once VALORANT actually releases in China (any day now, I’m sure), and if it is popular, the game will instantly become one of the biggest esports in the world. China is a region that VALORANT needs to hit in order to have a chance at usurping League of Legends as the No. 1 esport.

For right now, though, I think VALORANT is in a great place. And, while still behind the likes of Counter-Strike in the West, it had a successful first year with the VALORANT Champions Tour and the numbers it brought. We need to see how Riot Games does when it can get fans into arenas to watch the game, in order to see how that helps the scene grow.

Where should the three big international tournaments be held this year? — Reapr

Spring Masters: Tokyo, Japan

Summer Masters: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Champions: Los Angeles, United States

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