One of the first times I ever watched League of Legends was in 2012. At the time I was still writing and reporting on StarCraft II, but after seeing all the promotion and excitement around this new game that was poised to be one of the most watched eSports in world, I decided to give it a try and turned into one of the tournaments. I knew nothing about the game, but was interested to see the differences between the RTS game that I covered and this newfangled MOBA genre that was picking up steam worldwide.
The first player I ever saw play was a lanky kid in a black t-shirt and yellow tinted glasses, standing on stage with a pillow that had a smiley face drawn on it. I sat there stunned, not knowing what I was watching, why so many people were watching it, and why security had let some crazed kid on the stage to flail about like an amateur break dancer as he spun around on the floor.
That is how I was introduced to Dyrus — the heart of Team SoloMid.
I could sit here and tell you that Dyrus was one of the greatest players to ever play the game after his retirement following TSM's exit from the 2015 World Championships, but I won't patronize Dyrus like that or overpraise his accomplishments to fit a heartwarming narrative. He is certainly a legend in the history of the game and one of the most influential players to create an account in League of Legends, inspiring many with his attitude and perseverance throughout the difficult times in his career.
He might not go down as one of all-time greats as a top laner — sorry, Korea really has monopolized that position — but there is little question that he is one of the best North Americans to ever start in the island known as the top lane. In six seasons of the North American LCS, regardless of what TSM's situation was with their roster, Dyrus made it to the Grand Finals along with the rest of his team. When you look back at the first five world championships, Dyrus will be a constant alongside Fnatic's captain, YellOwStaR, as the western pair are the only players in history to make it to final stage each year.
A lot of people will have looked at Dyrus' participation this tournament and given him the benefit of the doubt, looking at TSM's seemingly impossible group and their weak condition heading into the competition. Even if he failed to record a single kill in all six games and TSM got blown out in each one of them, many would give him a pass, looking at the top laners he had to go up against and anticipating the worse.
But Dyrus didn't give himself a pass. When he lost to LGD Gaming in a game where the French crowd gave him a standing ovation for his lengthy career, his interview with Sjokz afterward wasn't one of a man that gave up or thought he was outmatched. He apologized for his performance and letting down his fans by not being able to advance or win their last game against LGD. Dyrus' final words as a pro-gamer summarized the type of player he has always been: no matter the hardship or his role on the team, he wanted to do everything possible — sacrifice himself, be a tank, play utility, or even carry on the odd occasion — to help Team SoloMid win the Summoner's Cup and become champions.
Although Worlds ended on a low note, his final games against KT and LGD being possibly his worst two performances in the tournament, he was still able to show his class in the only game TSM won in the tournament. He faced Acorn, someone I would say is one of the greatest top laners of all-time, and beat the LGD top laner at his own game: teleporting down to the bottom lane first to set up the game's first two kills and give them an all-important lead against a team that was on the edge mentally following upset losses in their first games of the competition.
At the end, Dyrus' all-time Worlds record finished at a sub-par record of 11-21, with his best finish on the world-stage coming in his rookie season when he was on the now defunct Epik Gamer. While he was never able to lift the Summoner's Cup, like he strived desperately for, his ending did come against Acorn, Soaz, Ssumday, and Flame, four of the most accomplished players at his position. Dyrus may not have ever accomplished the same highs as those four in his career individually, but he was able to keep up and compete with them on the same stage as them until the bitter end.
Team SoloMid, as their name would suggest, have always played through their middle lane. From their creator and owner Reginald in the early days to Bjergsen's reign in the middle lane today, the team has always been about having an aggressive ace in the middle of the map. When TSM has wanted to win a game in the past few years, it's come down to whether the mid laner has enough gold and items to carry them in the late-game to a victory.
Some will see Dyrus' career as a Shakespearean tragic hero. On a team where the name flat out states that the main focus will always be the mid lane. Left in the top lane countless times to die for the greater good of his team so they can get gold around the map and help the main focus, the mid laner, get into the late-game with a lead. Whenever he's gotten to the world-stage to play for the game's greatest prize, the Summoner's Cup, he has come up painfully short, usually on the end of a game where he dies countless times after getting ganged up on by the entire enemy team.
Honestly, though, I don't see it that way. To me, Dyrus is one of the greatest legends we'll ever see play the game. A lot of people mix up the word 'legend' by believing it means that player must be a Faker-level all-time great player that was the key player on countless championship teams. My definition for a legend in eSports is a player that won't be forgotten — someone that created a long-lasting impression on the game they played and the people who watched them play it.
Dyrus has certainly left his mark on League, being one of the first recognizable players as the game started to become the most watched eSport in the world and became global with the game spreading to countless countries. He's made it to Worlds five straight years and traveled across the world, meeting thousands of fans along the way. In domestic play, he's hoisted the NA LCS trophy three times and was one of the first pro-gamers to ever play in the famed Madison Square Garden arena in New York City. He has changed the lives of people watching him from home, inspiring them to never give up and continue working for their dream even if the odds are heavily against you.
Inside the game, Dyrus was a tragic hero. A man that was often left without his allies and had to stand on an island as enemies mercilessly attacked him.
Outside the game, Dyrus has thousands of fans who support him, friends he has made through playing the game, and created memories as a pro-gamer that will live long past the peak of League as an eSport.
In the real word, he doesn't have to be alone anymore — he has the unconditional support of people from across the globe that he's helped in one way or another and will follow him to whatever path he ends up taking next.
Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter