The start to Team Liquid’s season is not what they had hoped. Liquid was tabbed to ascend the League Championship Series standings when they signed blockbuster free agent Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin from Season 3 World Champion SK Telecom T1 in the offseason. Now they’re sitting at 4-4 in a five-way tie at third place in the league.
Chae was out of the lineup during the first week of the season, due to visa issues, but Team Liquid won both their matches without him. Since the Korean marksman entered the lineup, the team has struggled, with only a 2-4 record to show for it in three weeks.
Today the team announced it’s benching Chae in favor of Yuri “KEITHMCBRIEF” Jew, the player who filled in for Chae during the first week of the season.
“Our goal is to improve week to week and under the current conditions, we were not hopeful things would improve,” Steve Arhancet, Team Liquid co-owner, said of the situation.
To call Chae’s performance poor is an understatement. His KDA of 2.92 is the worst in the league for the marksman position, and his damage to champion per minute, a key stat for marksman viability, also ranks last with a pitiful 378 Damage Per Minute (DPM). To put things in perspective, the league average KDA for marksman is 5.9 and the league average damage mark to champions is 506.16 DPM.
The announcement notes that the situation is only for week five at the moment. But if Jew continues to perform, it’d be hard to take him out of the lineup.
“This decision was not made lightly. There have been ongoing issues during scrims/training that have resulted in a poor team dynamic,” the team’s head coach, Peter Zhang, outlined in a statement on the Team Liquid website. “Our staff and players have put in a lot of effort toward improving the situation, but unfortunately we have not made as much progress as we would have hoped. We understand that this is not easy for Piglet, and we will continue to do everything we can to resolve the issues at hand so that he can return to the LCS in the future. But at present, this decision is in the best interest of the team.”
One major issue with Chae’s addition to the lineup is an obvious one—communication. The Korean player’s English was worse than the team expected when he arrived in America, Zhang told the Daily Dot last week. Team Liquid worked quickly to bring in a full-time translator to ease Chae in, but it’s still led to problems.
This weekend, support player Alex “Xpecial” Chu told Gamespot journalist Travis Gafford that it was “a miracle” the team had not yet made a roster change. But apparently, miracles don’t last forever.
This past weekend, Team Liquid put up a 1-1 record, losing a pivotal match against Gravity Gaming, the team’s former academy squad last year. That loss showed much of Liquid’s problems—the team entered the match with a solid team composition against Gravity, but they failed to execute a winning strategy, with players out of sync. That’s a far cry from the Team Liquid we saw in week one with Jew in the lineup, a squad that looked like an unstoppable juggernaut.
Whether Team Liquid gets back to that form is a question that remains to be seen.
Image via Riot Games/Flickr