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For many years, the North American League of Legends scene has been ridiculed around the world. Critics labeled NA teams as chokers, especially in international events. And for a while, they were right—none of North America’s teams could ever really find success when it mattered most.
But North America persevered through all the disappointment and the criticisms. The region grew from all the hardship. And finally, the greatest team to ever represent NA pulled off the biggest upset in League history today.
Team Liquid features some of the greatest players in North American history, and yet there were still some doubts surrounding their ability to play on the international stage. For a moment, it seemed like no one believed in them and nothing was expected of them. And that’s how we got to today’s upset over Invictus Gaming at MSI 2019.
Many players on Liquid have tasted the bitter flavors of failure time and time again. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng failed at every international group stage he’s been to over his seven-year career. Nicolaj Jensen had lost countless times in the LCS and was swept in the semifinals of Worlds 2018 by Fnatic.
They struggled in the group stage and barely squeaked into the knockout stage of the tournament. No one really thought Liquid could beat Invictus Gaming. Many fans and analysts gave the series to IG with a resounding 3-0 sweep.
That’s why this victory is so sweet for Liquid. Every single player has felt the sting of defeat over and over again. They’ve all felt how heavy their hearts can be when a whole region looks to you for hope, yet to fail nonetheless. This win against Invictus is a representation of that weight lifting off their chest.
Liquid are the best team in North America and they showed it today. How did they beat one of the most dominant teams in the world? By ditching the path laid before them and carving a path for themselves.
Breaking the wheel
Invictus Gaming were a juggernaut. They were poised to create a dynasty that we’ve only seen from one other team in the world. Their aggressive style of play was a force to be reckoned with, led by Song “Rookie” Eui-jin and Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. Not many teams could match their pace, their talent, and their macro play.
But Liquid did just that in today’s semifinal matchup at MSI. Liquid didn’t play scared and they didn’t hesitate. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero put pressure on Invictus and outplayed Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning. They accepted Invictus Gaming’s invitation to an all-out brawl and they outplayed them in many teamfights.
The days where NA teams play catch up to the Eastern metas are gone. Whether it’s playing Skarner, Lux, or Neeko, NA has stopped following in the footsteps of others. North America must build its own path and create its own style of play. Cloud9 might have taken the first steps at Worlds last year, but Liquid have taken the first leap for the region. It’s time for everyone else to follow along.
NA fans now wait with bated breath to see who will face off against Liquid in one of the most hyped MSI finals in recent memory.
If SK Telecom T1 win, Liquid will have another David vs. Goliath showdown on their hands as they look to stop one of the best iterations of SKT we’ve seen. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is hungry for another international championship, especially after his lackluster 2018 season. Will Jensen be able to stop the Unkillable Demon King from putting Korea back in charge of the League of Legends universe?
If G2 Esports win, however, then we’ll have one of the most intense rivalries to ever hit the MSI stage—Europe vs. North America, the Battle of the Atlantic. Will the LEC’s super team halt the LCS’ miracle run? We might witness some of the most legendary trash talk we’ve ever seen if these two teams meet in the finals.
No matter which organization makes it to the finals, Doublelift and crew should only have one thing on their minds: Make history and win it all.