Looking To The Future: Team Liquid
Recently, it was announced that Team Liquid would be overhauling their League of Legends Roster for the 2017 season. Co-CEO and Founder of TL, Steve Arhancet, is quoted saying the following in a Discord AMA, "We will 100 percent be doing a roster overhaul for the League of Legends team.” He continued on, saying that "it's extremely disappointing results for the end of this season. Actually, it's the worst results that we've ever had ever since I started everything in League. So I'm really disappointed, and I think that there's a number of reasons for that, but the outcome of it is that we have to take a look at players committed to the roster."
This statement leaves a lot to the imagination considering he did not mention what players may stay etc... so I will be looking at it as if every player can be replaced on the team.
With top laners being so important currently, I think Samson “Lourlo” Jackson has to be seriously evaluated. Sure, he is an North American talent and doesn't count against the import slots, but ranking 7th in CS Differential at 10 minutes, as well as 9th in Percentage of Team’s Damage doesn’t bring a smile to anyone’s face (except, you know, his opponents). That is just not an acceptable stat line. Lourlo is one of two top laners that did less damage on average than their junglers, the other being Zig (formerly of Team Liquid Academy). Of course, with Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett being the jungler on your team, naturally you are going to be playing more tanks and taking a backseat to him, so I will give him somewhat of a pass on that. Even so, his most played champion this season was Irelia, and in those 16 games he averaged only an astonishingly low 19% of his team's damage. Just using his stats from Irelia games, he would still rank 6th in Percentage of Team's Damage - that needs to improve drastically. All this being said, I think Lourlo is still an option for Team Liquid. The key factor is that he is an NA player, which frees them up to pick up better talent in other roles if they feel like that is their best option. Lourlo will not win you games solely off his own performance, but he is still a top four top laner at the moment in NA, so finding a better option could be tough.
Oh boy, the jungle situation for Team Liquid...This has to be one of the most horribly handled situations in all of League of Legends. Dardoch is among the the best NA junglers. So, when this player comes to you and makes it clear that the coach and him do not get along, why would you then decide to kick the MVP-caliber player in favor of the coach? Keep in mind, Locodoco has had problems in the past with other players. On top of this, Loco was not even supposed to be the coach of the team coming into this year - he signed on to Team Liquid to be a content creator then was thrust into the coach role once their other coach did not see results. So, why decide to side with him, essentially saying that Locodoco is more valuable to Team Liquid then Dardoch. It does not make sense, and if they can not find a way to salvage this situation then Team Liquid is in for a rough off season. In terms of stats, Dardoch ranks highest in Percentage of Team's Damage from the jungle position, as well as Damage Per Minute. He is a carry jungler through and through and if you dont find a way to keep him he will absolutely dismantle you while on another team.
The mid lane for Team Liquid was actually a really bright spot. Kim "FeniX" Jae-hun played incredibly well throughout the Summer Split, posting some incredible stats. In fights, he was performing at a really high level, ranking 2nd in both Damage Per Minute and Percentage of Team's Damage - not only out of mid laners, but out of all positions. He was also strong in lane, ranking 3rd in CS Per Minute and CS Difference at 10, thus showing that he is a complete player. If able to, Team Liquid should aim to retain Fenix.
In the bottom lane, we have seen yet another roster debacle with how Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin was benched. Whatever the reasons for this, it clearly was not due to him being a lesser player then Jovani "Fabbbyyy" Guillen. While Piglet was playing (admittedly at a lower level then normal) he was still 3rd in CS Differential at 10, and 4th in CS Per Minute, while in teamfights he ranked 4th in Damage Per Minute and Team's Damage Percentage. In comparison, Fabbbyyy ranked 7th, 12th (last), 11th, 12th. The combination of having a slightly below average top laner and frankly the worst ADC in the league is just not a formula for success.
Addressing the support role, I will be quick. Matthew "Matt" Elento is a solid support player who has also been givin the title of shotcaller for the team, so he is someone I would not mind seeing them keep. He is not a weak point whatsoever, that with him being a NA born player makes him a strong asset for TL. He ranks around 4th-6th in all statistics which is solid considering his ADC was a dumpster fire for a lot of the season.
Moves I make
In the top lane, I keep Lourlo. Like I said above in his section, he is a solid player and the best North American option they have barring a break out rookie solo queue player. He has played a couple season now in LCS and with that experience we can only expect him to improve coming in next season.
For jungle, we have to look at who is available in NA. I think the top two names are undoubtedbly Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen and Rami "Inori" Charagh. While Santorin played on a super weak team, he was still able to shine and prove that he is not the same ward-bot that people used to label him when he played for TSM. He showed a decent ability to get off ganks early (Ranked 4th in First Blood Percentage amongst junglers) as well as ranking 3rd out of all junglers in Percentage of Team's Damage. Perhaps his most interesting and notable stat was that he had the highest kill participation out of all junglers at 77.4%, demonstrating that he truly was the catalyst for his team. A jungle/support duo of Matt and Santorin has quite a bit of potential in the NA scene, this would be my top choice for TL's jungle position.
Inori on the other hand is a bit more of a risk. If you pick up Inori to play as your teams starter, you are really buying into the buzzword "potential." It is true, at some times last season he did look to be quite a threat, but as a whole he was below average. Now, there are plenty of factors as to why his performances may have been hindered by his teammates. Frankly, P1 was not a good team last season, they struggled throughout the whole year, which inevitably makes the jungler's job much harder. The thing to note with Inori is his high First Blood Percentage at 41%, ranking him 3rd in the whole league. He lacks experience, but if as a team you are confident that you can coach and bring him a long, I do think he has promise.
ADC should be where Liquid spends their last import slot. It is true we saw this from TL with Fenix and Piglet and it did not work quite as well as they had liked, but frankly I think that is due to personality clashes as well as poor coaching. The most interesting player to put on this team I think is Ha "Kramer" Jong-hu from CJ Entus. CJ being relegated will likely lead to Kramer being signed to another team, whether that is in Korea, China or in the West is to be decided. If we think about the fit with Liquid, I think it makes sense. Sure, Kramer is much like Piglet in the fact that he has a very "carry" mindset, but in his time with CJ he had to be, he had no other choice. Pairing him with Fenix offers him a partner in crime if you will, being able to split up focus in fights and offering both players more opportunties to put out the damage their team needs to win. Also, if you consider Lourlo can be more of a supportive style top laner, giving up farm to feed the two carries, then I think this makes sense. Whether or not Liquid decides to go the Korean route, or if Kramer even has interest in relocating again (previously played for Flash Wolves in LMS), is a complete shot in the dark, but I like the move a lot and would make it my number one priority come offseason.
If their roster is as follows, I see them being able to push a team like Immortals for top three. Of course the team would have to mesh and play well together which is a total mystery, but I like their chances. The bottom side of the map would be nice for Liquid, with Kramer and Matt (hopefully) synergizing well and playing like a top 2 bottom lane. In mid, matches would be a toss up between Fenix and Pobelter/Jensen, more than likely just going even. So the game would come down to the ability of Santorin to keep up, and Lourlo to survive. Those are the two major question marks for this team if something like this roster comes together, and I would love to see how it works out.
- Top: Lourlo
- Jungle: Santorin
- Mid: Fenix
- ADC: Kramer
- Support: Matt
When all is said and done, I do not see Liquid making the moves neccesary to cement themselves a place higher then 4th next season. In order to do so, they will have to look past their pride and pursue Santorin while also aggressively courting someone Kramer, and I just do not see them having the moxy too do that after their last imports have not worked the way they hoped.
What players would you like to see replaced or added to Team Liquid? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @GAMURScom.
You can get in contact with the Writer on Twitter at - @OhSoDicey
Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari