The TSM Triple controversy that got him fired

By Nicholas James


Jan 1, 2023

Reading time: 4 min

TSM’s North American Challenger League mid laner has been fired following massive controversy that involved threats of gun violence, drug abuse, and more, so here’s what you need to know about the TSM Triple controversy.

Stephen “Triple” Li is an amateur League of Legends player who plays mid lane, originating from Australia in the Oceania region. After it was announced that Li would be the Challenger League mid laner signing with esports titan TSM, an ex-girlfriend came out with accusations that Li was emotionally abusive, abused drugs, and made tangible threats of violence. The ensuing backlash from these accusations has seen him removed from the team’s sister roster after only 23 days as an official part of TSM. Here’s everything you need to know about the TSM Triple controversy that resulted in him being removed from TSM, and very likely the esports scene altogether.

How the TSM Triple controversy began

The controversy around the now ex-Challenger mid laner stated when a previous girlfriend, Long, otherwise known as Makrys, an analyst for League of Legends organization Supernova, brought forwards a ten-page document alleging a pattern of abusive and dangerous behavior from Li. According to her statement, after a time on FlyQuest and FlyQuest Academy, Triple was let go by the organization. This jeopardized his status in the amateur community since his visa status remained unclear heading further into the year. CLG, the next team he’d be a part of, wouldn’t sign him until late November.

She details nicotine and drug abuse habits that would escalate throughout their time together, leading to erratic and threatening behavior from Li. Triple’s account had been banned during a Korean boot camp, and she alleges that this sent him further into a pattern of substance abuse that he had told her he was leaving behind.

Her account includes Discord correspondence relating to Triple, between the two of them, as well as others. Supposedly this included regular abuse of nicotine, alcohol, MDMA, and adderall. This escalated to Triple sending her messages about his desire to buy a firearm, including a picture of a pistol being held, and that he wanted to “go at 200mph in an intersection and kill six people.” Altogether, these accusations painted a picture of an erratic and unstable mental health state from Triple, resulting in notable community attention and backlash. This led to Li responding with documents of his own either dismissing or excusing his behavior.

Triple responds to the controversy that got him kicked

Following the accusations made against him, Triple released his own document detailing his side of the story. Many of the accusations made against him were acknowledged in this statement, while others were dismissed entirely. In particular, Triple did acknowledge a history of substance abuse following poor mental health resulting from poor performance in Academy as well as anger-related incidents during his time at Korean boot camps and elsewhere.

Triple disputed the messages about wanting to crash his car into an intersection by saying it was a reference to a real incident that happened nearby where he lived. He also tried to downplay this by saying that his car “only goes up to 120 mph”, an excuse that does little to assuage worries about the violent intent of the messages. With regard to the picture of the firearm, Triple alleges that it wasn’t actually him holding the weapon in the photo, though his messages did say that he had held the pistol.

Overall, community sentiment about Triple’s response was that it didn’t address many of the underlying concerns that community members had about his behavior and the pattern of behavior displayed therein. His response to the allegations didn’t seem to sway his current employer, as TSM would shortly release a statement on Triple’s status in the organization.

TSM fires Triple following controversy

TSM came out on the day after Triple’s statement to announce that it was parting ways with its NACL mid laner and was considering new options heading into the 2023 split. It’s clear that the organization found the OCE mid laner’s explanations insufficient given the proof and accusations made by Long.

It’s unclear what TSM’s Challenger League future will look like, nor if Triple will return to amateur or professional play.


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