Going into the 2020 Spring Split expectations were as high as ever for Team Liquid with four splits of dominance and an offseason upgrade under their belt. There were even talks of the six-peat; who could possibly topple this North American powerhouse? It turns out that actually most of the LCS is making quick work of them. But… how?
First of all, Mads “Broxah’s” Brock-Pederson visa issues have been a problem, he wasn’t able to practice or play on stage with the team for the first three weeks. However, on February 6, Broxah posted a Twitter video announcing his visa acceptance. In Week 4 Broxah will play for the first time with Team Liquid which he confirmed on his stream earlier this week.
Jungle is a highly impactful role and dictates a lot of the success for many teams, but not all the blame can be put on Shern “Shernfire” Cherng Tai who has been playing in place of Broxah for the first three weeks. Even with Shernfire, Team Liquid is comprised of four of the best players in all of North America. Each one of them was the best in their respective roles at the end of 2019 when they easily took their fourth LCS trophy in a row. So, what’s happened since then?
On one side of the map is Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng who’s champion pool has historically been restrictive and the team has revolved around him since its inception. This issue has reared its ugly head in the past when mages took over the bot lane in Season 8 and Doublelift was forced to pick his now-infamous Vladimir.
History seems to be repeating itself under a new name, and her name is Senna.
Senna was released during the pre-season at the end of 2019. She is a utility marksman that struggles to carry the game on her own, but her place in the meta is currently extremely strong. This is a problem for Doublelift and the rest of his team because utility isn’t his play-style. He wants to hard carry each game, but Senna doesn’t exactly allow that, and his discomfort on the champion is very obvious. In every one of Team Liquid’s losses, Doublelift has been playing sub-optimally. One of the more egregious examples of this was during his game against Golden Guardians on Monday.
During the game, he showed his lack of understanding of Senna’s limits while trying to play overaggressively when behind against Ian “FBI” Victor. This put his team in a position where they had to use both Senna and Galio ults just to save his life, losing two strong abilities for global pressure on the map. Another example of Doublelift’s underperformance on Monday came from an early 2v2 kill in bot lane. This wasn’t a good look for Doublelift, Golden Guardians have been getting flamed all split for their bot lane’s problems, but they were the better duo on the day and their lead in bot lane snowballed the rest of the game.
Doublelift and Shernfire’s problems aren’t the only thing plaguing Team Liquid. Teamplay is another area where Team Liquid is sorely lacking. During their domination in the past four splits, it was their team play that ultimately determined their unstoppable super-team status. No matter the iteration with Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung or Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, Team Liquid was a hive mind that controlled vision, dominated objectives and steamrolled team fights. Nowadays they have messy engages, over-extensions for vision and losing total dragon control in three of their four losses.
Team Liquid fans better hope that Broxah is the answer to more than just the jungle problems or else they’re in for a long season.