Current LCS champion Team Liquid may be forced to start its next season without a dedicated jungler.
As revealed by co-CEO Steve Arhancet on Twitter, the organization is struggling to get the visas of its new hires cleared. The delays in this process mean that jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen, who transferred from Fnatic, has not made his way to Liquid's Santa Monica base yet.
Both his TL Academy counterpart Shern "Shernfire" Cherng Tai, as well as new head coach Jang "Cain" Nu-ri, are stuck in immigration limbo too.
Rough LCS Spring start
With the next season of the LCS set to start on January 25th, time is running short to clear these issues up. Moreover, it leaves the team very little time to properly prepare for the competition.
While playing and coaching can both be done online to some extent, the added value of in-person practice is the reason team houses were started in the first place. This is especially important for the jungle role. While Broxah is a competent solo carry in his own right, his teamwork is what initially got him noticed by Fnatic and building synergies like that takes time. This could be witnessed during his former team Fnatic's 2019 Spring Split, where it took several weeks for him to establish such with new teammate Nemesis.
It's not all doom and gloom for the squad, however. Last year, Team Liquid lost only one game in the first six weeks of Spring and ended the Split with a 14-4 record. This was with at the time new jungler Jake Kevin "Xmithie" Puchero. With the rest of its roster remaining the same, the squad has maintained enough quality that it should be able to power through.
Currently his OP.GG seems to suggest that Eugene "Pobelter" Park might stand in at the main team, if it comes to that.This is an ironic situation, as the latter has negatively gone on-record about imports in the LCS at the end of the 2019 season.
Visas in esports
The visa problem is one that’s plagued esports since its inception. The LCS especially has a history with them. In 2016 this even lead to teams having to forfeit matches. After this happened, developer Riot Games stepped up its efforts to ensure that all players active in the LCS were eligible to do so. In Europe, similar problems were at the basis for Germany’s new esports visas, which will go into effect this month.
Even so, the issue keeps rearing its head. Last year TSM Academy player Erik "Treatz" Wessén ended up having to play part of the season remotely due to visa issues. This caused his teammates to bring a cardboard cutout of the player with them on stage.
It is unclear whether Team Liquid has considered a similar approach, but with Broxah’s imposing physique, the cardboard costs may simply not be worth it. We hope he himself, Shernfire and Cain, will all soon be able to join in person instead.
Image via Team Liquid.