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LOL

TL Fall Short Again But It Won't Become The Norm

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

3rd Sep 2021 18:30

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Team Liquid miss out on another North American championship gold for the second split in a row, but it shouldn’t be discouraging. The fact that they got there, seeing the trials and tribulations they had to battle through, speaks volumes to the team’s character, skill and talent. Team Liquid will get their dues. 

It’s no secret that a team like Team Liquid falling short of becoming the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) champions twice in a row in one season is cause for concern. A team that—alongside Cloud9—was meant to be one of the world-beaters of the league, hasn’t been able to quite close it out.

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Like Cloud9, this team was stacked from top to bottom going into the 2021 season. A dominant top laner who later became the spring split’s MVP runner-up in Barney “Alphari” Morris, an experienced jungler who was coming off one of his best seasons yet in Lucas “Santorin” Larsen and one of the best mid-laners the LCS has ever seen in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. They were coupled with an extremely solid bottom lane that has the potential of being the most dominant in the LCS with rising young AD Carry Edward “Tactical” Ra and one of the best, if not the best, supports in the last couple of seasons in Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in

The potential is there, that’s two second-place finishes in a row, granted, the latter was worse than the former, but this is something that can be worked on, and knowing the organisation, it most likely will.

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To begin dissecting why falling short again won’t become the norm, one must first put into perspective each respective split.

Spring Split

As the only split out of the two to have a bit of a buffer, an option to test out rosters and synergy before the real thing with the Lock In tournament, spring has to be looked at with a different lens. Like other teams in the league, Team Liquid began the tournament with an incomplete roster, although not as bad as other teams, they were missing their starting jungler, Santorin, prompting the subbing in of Jonathan “Armao” Armao. Armao crushed it, which not only speaks to Armao as a player but Team Liquid as a program in that fact that they invested in good substitutes—something that would be crucial later down the line.

Eventually, they ended up winning the whole thing, after thwarting what would have been Cloud9’s second reverse sweep of the tournament. This Team Liquid came to play and were heavily looking forward to the regular’s season start.

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT
Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Once in the regular season, things went kind of south for the first-ever Lock In champions, almost as if they celebrated too early. Everything that made them look so dominant was just gone, but they were able to keep themselves in the top four hunt, largely due in part to Alphari’s MVP calibre performance. But it seemed like that very same switch that made them limbo in the third-fourth position was to be flipped once again in the other direction come to the Mid-Summer Showdown (MSS). At the MSS they unexpectedly and dominantly took care of a Team SoloMid that looked to be as solid as could be and deserving of their number two seed. This landed them a rematch versus Cloud9 in which they didn’t quite show up—something to think about moving forward.

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That showing against Cloud9, or lack thereof, pit them against Team SoloMid one more time. Not only did they smash them again, but they also did so with their trusty substitute jungler, Armao, after Santorin had to step away due to health issues. They ran it all the way back up into the finals for their rematch versus Cloud9 in which they superseded expectations seeing as their performance during the regular season and the fact they had a substitute was in play. They came close to taking the championship two times after taking a 2-1 lead, but failed to close it out.

Summer Split 

Off of the back of an encouraging performance in the spring finals, Team Liquid was set to bring out an even better performance for the regular season. Unfortunately for them, this was not meant to be. Multiple issues clouded the second half of their season: the benching and later unbenching of Alphari, the resignation of head coach Joshua “Jatt” Leesman and once again the substituting of Santorin for Armao due to health issues—this time for a month—really muddied things.

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Nevertheless, the team managed to keep afloat, this time finishing two places lower than their spring regular season placing at fifth. 

It was okay though, as for Team Liquid they seemingly have the ability to turn on that switch whenever need be, especially come playoffs. To start off the playoffs they had one of numerous playoffs rematches throughout the year versus Cloud9—dominated them. Past that, they had to face off the first-seeded Team SoloMid that, like last year, were looking as solid as could be or even better—they dominated them as well. This set them up for a match versus 100 Thieves to claim the first spot in the grand finals. Unlike their previous two matchups, they didn’t dominate 100 Thieves as they defeated them 3-2. Nonetheless, this was yet their second finals trip in a row, nothing to brush off.

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Team Liquid would later see 100 Thieves in the finals again, and leading up to that matchday, they were the favourites, and rightfully so. All year long, mainly in the playoffs, they were the teams that constantly showed up; they had the talent and the experience. It was their championship and their number one seed going into Worlds to take. It didn’t pan out.

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT
Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Like their first matchup versus Cloud9 in the spring playoffs, they didn’t show up. It was a strong-performing 100 Thieves roster, there’s no question, but that grand final begs the question: what would have it been like if Team Liquid showed up?

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It’s a bit of an enigma or a perplexing outlying theme that although Team Liquid this year has ramped it up when it comes to playoffs, the fact that they struggle during the regular season—more so the first split as the second split had them face unfortunate circumstances—it makes one wonder why these things happen. It’s hard to pinpoint really, the talent is there, the skill is there, and for all intents and purposes even though Jatt was let go, their coaching staff now spearheaded by Jonas “Kold” Andersen is in a good spot. 

Barring any extreme outside circumstances like Santorin’s health issues, or maybe even like the benching and unbenching of Alphari and the swap in head coach, this Team Liquid falling short again shouldn’t and won't become the norm. 

 

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LOL

Putting A Lense Into The 2021 LCS Summer Playoffs

Riot Games

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

20th Sep 2021 17:31

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