In the increasingly competitive League of Legends professional scene, teams need to find an edge any way they can. That’s why one of North America’s top franchises is entering 2016 with a 10-man roster.
Team Liquid has long been at the forefront of improving the infrastructure around their team, looking for every way to gain an edge on the competition in the increasingly competitive League Championship Series (LCS), and a 10 man roster seems to be their latest adaptation.
The key to gaining a benefit from that 10-man lineup will be using it properly, and to do so Team Liquid has tabbed Yoonsub “Locodoco” Choi as its new head coach. Choi served as Team SoloMid’s coach through two first-place LCS finishes and their victory at IEM Katowice in March, but his most recent season saw him relinquish coaching duties to Team SoloMid owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh as the split wore on. Team Liquid co-owner Steve Arhancet is confident that Choi can handle the job, perhaps in part due to what now looks like a two-month trial for the job. On Nov. 13, Team Liquid introduced Choi as a “content creator” for the team.
“I’m of the opinion a 10-man roster will optimize performance for all ten players,” Steve “Liquid122” Arhancet, the team’s co-owner, said in the announcement. “Their improvement is mainly tied to how well they understand the game, from patch to patch. The collaboration between players, facilitated by our coaching staff, should create an environment where players learn more quickly.”
The team actually trialled a different head coach before calling on Choi, but the person they brought in wasn’t working out, leading to Choi taking over more of the duties and eventually assuming the head coach position.
The team is also adding a new assistant coach, David Lim, a Master tier League of Legends player who has coaching experience in basketball. The team will continue to use Mark Zimmerman as an in-house analyst with multiple remote analysts on staff. The team has hired Albesa “Caelan” Romain as its Jungle position coach, but is still seeking coaches for the other positions on the roster.
Team Liquid also believes a 10 man roster will be a key to player development, allowing their team to more quickly grasp changes in the metagame, learn new champions, and unlock their latent potential. The team will regularly feature in-house practice sessions with set lineups and mixed lineups, regularly giving the players different perspectives on how to play League of Legends. The team will decide starters each week based on a discussion between players and coaches.
As for the 10 player roster itself, including the new starting top laner after the retirement of Diego “Quas” Ruiz, Team Liquid says details will be released after the Riot Games approval process for their new players. The new top laner will be revealed in the next week.
The 2016 season is shaping up to a be a good one. While Team Liquid may not have made any of the big free agency acquisitions that many of their new LCS rivals did this offseason, it’s clear that they won’t be unprepared heading into an exciting season of League of Legends.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr