TSM Denies Report of It Entering Dota 2 to Please FTX
A lot of eyebrows were raised when cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy in the United States amid an $8 Billion USD shortfall, following which multiple sponsorship deals including its deals with F1 team Mercedes, Major League Baseball, and Miami Heat collapsed. Naturally, North American esports powerhouse Team SoloMid (TSM) also distanced itself from FTX by on 16th November.
Notably, TSM had signed a with FTX in 2021, and on 13th November, TSM announced that it was consulting legal counsel to determine the following steps to protect the teams, staff, fans, and players.
Riot Games barred TSM from using the FTX tag in League of Legends and Valorant broadcasts since a name and jersey sponsorship with FTX would be in violation of Riot’s guidelines about partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges. An stated that TSM along with FTX entered other esports avenues where tournament organizers and publishers would allow them to use the name. The report added that one such venture was its entry into Dota 2 where it picked up Team Undying earlier in 2022.
TSM’s entry into competitive Dota 2
TSM entered the North American (NA) Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) in January and announced that it was signing Team Undying, which finished second in Tour 1 of the DPC NA 2021-22: Division 1 and earned a place in the Regional Finals. TSM’s Dota 2 team had a topsy-turvy season, starting off with an excellent runner-up finish at the Stockholm Major 2022 but steadily declining afterward, eventually finishing last in The International 2022 (TI11).
The Washington Post’s article claimed that multiple current and former employees (speaking on the condition of anonymity) stated that TSM’s entry into competitive Dota 2 was to allegedly please FTX. A former employee reportedly revealed to The Post that prior to the FTX deal, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, the CEO of TSM and its other leaders, had no interest in Dota but that the FTX people loved Dota, on the contrary.
However, in a statement to The Post, TSM spokesperson Gillian Sheldon stated that it was completely untrue and that TSM did not just pick up a Dota team at the behest of FTX or in an attempt to please the company.
While the report probed into aspects of Dota 2 player salaries and the nature of their contracts and the team’s buyout cost, TSM vehemently stated that it would remain in the Dota 2 competitive scene and that it aims to win NA DPC. According to The Post, Sheldon stated, “We aim to win NA DPC again. We plan to continue to support our players and team so they can best compete for championships.”
TSM’s VP of esports reflects on the report about TSM’s Dota 2
TSM’s VP of Esports Dominic Kallas in a thread on the Dota 2 subreddit and added more context to Sheldon’s statement mentioned in the article.
Kallas’ statement read, “In our industry, we are keenly aware that our brand partners want to maximize their exposure to the largest audiences and games. DOTA 2 is one of the largest esports in the world, and the International is one of the most viewed and prestigious world championship esports tournaments.”
It further added that TSM wanted to participate in every Tier 1 esport and that it was fortunate to sign the entire roster of Team Undying. “Our DOTA 2 entry added value to all of our sponsors, not just FTX. We have loved our time in DOTA 2 this year, and have enjoyed working with our current roster of players. We aim to win NA DPC again.”
The statement further talked about how TSM is currently the only major esports organization remaining in the NA Dota 2 ecosystem. “We plan to continue to support our players and team so they can best compete for championships,” it added.
Notably, TSM was announced as one of the teams competing in the upcoming Beyond the Summit (BTS) Pro Series via its Dota 2 handle. Kallas added that the TSM Dota 2's roster announcements are expected within the next few weeks.