Road to Season Seven: Team Liquid
Keeping only two members during this off season, Team Liquid head into 2017 with their newly revamped roster.
- Top - Samson "Lourlo" Jackson
- Jungle - Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin
- Mid - Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer
- ADC - Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin
- Support - Matthew "Matt" Elento
Team Liquid began 2016 looking to revolutionize the NA LCS. Bolstering their 10-man roster, TL started the 2016 Spring Split with the intention to rotate in players throughout the season. But, by the second week of the spring split TL scrapped their 10-man roster concept almost entirely. After seeing how well Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett and Matt were playing in competitive games, TL decided to make these two permanent starters, thus completing TL’s spring roster.
TL ended the spring regular season at a respectable fourth and looked to make a splash in the playoffs. Unfortunately for TL though, after defeating NRG eSports in the quarterfinals, TL fell to Counter Logic Gaming in the semi-finals. TL’s playoff series against CLG was extremely close, and came down to a clever double teleport play by CLG.
Internal problems began to arise for TL during the mid-season break. During their bootcamp in Korea, TL announced the suspension of Dardoch. This suspension according to TL was due to behavioural issues Dardoch was having with the rest of the team, including management.
In Dardoch’s stead, TL decided to use Galen "Moon" Holgate for the first week of the Summer Split. But by the end of the first week of play, TL realized how crucial Dardoch’s play was to their success and lifted his ban midway through their second series. Internal issues continued to brew within TL. Piglet, unable to deal with these issues decided to step down from the main roster and play for TL Academy. Jovani "fabbbyyy" Guillen, who was at the time TLA’s AD carry, switched positions with Piglet and became TL’s starting AD carry for the remainder of the summer split. Unfortunately, Team Liquid were not able get revenge against CLG and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. After their playoff loss, Dardoch was subsequently benched, and Lyonel "Arcsecond" Pfaender was used as his replacement for the North American Regional Finals. TL exited the Regional Finals in the first round after a 0-3 loss to EnVyUs, thus concluding their 2016 season.
Failing to make the world championship for yet another year, TL decided to rebuild their roster during this offseason. Unarguably the biggest change TL made was the signing of former Immortals jungler and Spring Split MVP, Reignover. Almost unanimously thought as the best jungler in NA by the other NA LCS junglers no less, Reignover was one of if not the most highly sought after free agent during this past offseason.
The second major change TL made was Piglet’s return to the main roster. Despite a rough two years in NA, Piglet is highly regarded by his peers as one of the best players of his role in the NA LCS.
Since Reignover and Piglet used two import slots, TL had to part ways with Kim "FeniX" Jae-hun, who had been a part of the team since 2014. To replace FeniX, TL brought in Goldenglue, who previously was the starting mid for Team Liquid Academy. Goldenglue has been playing competitively for almost three years, and has played for many LCS teams including Team 8 and Team Coast.
TL’s current roster looks like it can definitely be a top three NA LCS team. The current tank meta suits Lourlo perfectly. His best two champions of 2016 were Nautilus and Poppy, and these two champions have once again become meta picks.
There is no real reason to believe that Reignover and Piglet’s skills have deteriorated during the offseason. These two will continue to be top performers of their role in 2017. While Matt’s summer split performance was not quite as spectacular as spring, Matt was also forced to play with rookie challenger AD carries like Fabbbyyy. With a reunion with his former duo lane partner, Matt alongside Piglet will most likely make their way to being one of NA best bot lanes.
The real question mark of this team will be Goldenglue. Instead of becoming simply a role player, Goldenglue will have to become a true carry for the team if TL wants to be a top three team. TL needs to have another lane that carry other than Piglet. Lourlo has shown through his play in 2016 that he is a role player, therefore Goldenglue will have to be the one who steps up. 2017 will be the defining year for Goldenglue. Now on a top team, Goldenglue has the tools necessary to prove his skill on the rift.
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Article by Malcolm Abbas. Follow him on Twitter @SmashhLoL.
Photo via LoL Esports