North America’s most famous AD carry has made his way back to the NA LCS. After a five-month break, Yiliang “Doublelift” “Peter” Peng has replaced his patented black Team SoloMid shirt, Doublelift with blue and white of Team Liquid.
At 23, Peng is one of the oldest North American League of Legends players, having played competitively for over six years, and is widely considered to be the best North American AD carry of all time.
Ending his 2016 season with an unfortunate group stage finish at the League of Legends World Championship, Doublelift took a break from professional play to focus on streaming and regain his competitive spirit.
Then, earlier this month, Doublelift shocked LCS fans with the announcement that he was returning to competitive. On loan from TSM, Doublelift will look to help the last-placed Team Liquid avoid relegations. And using this opportunity to get reacclimated with the professional scene, Doublelift is also hoping to regain his skill by the Summer Split, when he tries to get his spot back on his former team.
We recently caught up with Doublelift following his NA LCS return to talk about his thoughts on TL, his future on TSM, the bot lane meta and much more.
This past week you made your return to the NA LCS, playing on stage for the first time after a five month hiatus. How did it feel to play on stage after being gone for months? Did it feel like normal after playing in the LCS for four seasons, or were there some unexpected nerves?
Doublelift: I was definitely a little bit anxious. Not exactly for the games and whether we won or lost, but for the reception the fans would have to me coming back after such a long break. Obviously i’m not playing on the first place team, i’m playing on the last place team, so after one day of practice I didn’t feel like we had a good chance to win against Cloud9. If we won it would be a pretty big upset. Against Team EnVyUs it was much different set of nerves since we were both last place teams, so losing was really not an option because we would fall really far in the standings if we did lose. For me the expectation was super high based on what my fans think I’m capable of. At first the situation wasn’t very favorable for me, but after I spent time on the team I feel confident again, and now there’s no nerves.
You now have Piglet as your midlaner. What’s it like playing with Piglet, a player who you’ve historically praised?
Piglet’s cool. He’s a lot more agreeable than people would expect. [Piglet’s] not really selfish as a player. [Piglet’s] way more open to doing team plays and listening to teammates and what they want. That came to be a big surprise because Piglet, to me was the only consistent performer on Team Liquid for a really long time. I would expect him to draw resources and get everyone to do what he wants, but instead I was pleasantly surprised that he was willing to pretty much anything to win, and that he was not a resource hog like everyone says.
In the announcement of your return, you were very vocal that you still intend to tryout for TSM after this split. How confident are you that come summer split, you will get your old spot on TSM back?
I’m 100 percent positive that i’ll get my spot back. My time on Team Liquid if anything shows that I’m really dedicated to making sure that I come back in my best form come summer, the split that matters most. Individually I don’t think there’s anyone who’s more of a positive impact on a team than me, in terms of my mechanics and communication. I’m way more motivated now this year, than I was last year, which is funny because we [TSM] totally stomped last summer split. I’m way more motivated now to do everything possible [to win] now because I have this perspective from streaming.
In TSM’s most recent statement, they revealed that if all goes well with your tryout, they would be fielding a six man roster with you and Wildturtle. What are your thoughts about potentially splitting playing time with Wildturtle?
I don’t really care about splitting playing time. I just wanna do what’s best for the team. If the team feels like Wildturtle will play better in a certain situation or against a certain opponent, then it would be really bad if I wanted to step in and assert myself as the only player. I mean I want my teammates to want to play with me, and choose me/be confident in me over anyone else, so I think the six-man roster is actually a great thing because it gives [TSM] choice and flexibility while keeping me from losing motivation/focus from the ultimate goal.
In a recent interview you mentioned that you started to watch NA LCS and LCK vods. From this vod review and your time back playing competitive, whether it be from last week’s matches or scrims, are there any players that have impressed you?
I think Arrow’s pretty good. Stixxay and Aphromoo are still a pretty strong bot lane. I don’t want to say Bjergsen impressed me because he’s always really good, but [I think[ Hauntzer is the new star player on TSM. I don’t want to take anything away from Bjergsen because I think he’s consistently amazing but Hauntzer really improved, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the spring split MVP award. To me the most impressive change is how [Hauntzer] was able to step up his leadership skills and communication while maintaining a high level of mechanical skill. As far as AD carries go, I feel like NA has not had really strong and super dominant bot lanes.
Do you think this lack of strong NA bot lanes is due to the current AD carry meta, where AD carries are forced to play Jhin and Varus?
Yeah, it’s pretty hard to display skill when you’re stuck on Jhin,Varus and Ashe every game. Right now it’s really hard to win the game through bot lane, but it’s really easy for you to lose it. Therefore, it’s a really high risk low reward situation to try and play to win bot lane really hard. But even with this risk, I still don’t think this gives bot lanes an excuse to play passively in matchups they should win, or at least try to get an advantage to translate to your team. I’m pretty sure every bot lane just started playing not to feed. And this strategy works against the lower tiered teams. The better teams like TSM and C9 have really strong top sides with Hauntzer/Bjergsen and Impact/Jensen, and [TSM and C9’s] bot lanes generally play not to feed. All the bottom teams are falling to this strategy. Since they see the top teams playing very safe bot lanes, the bottom teams start to think that this is the “right” strategy. While I definitely see the merit of playing to the top side,blaming the meta just feels like a copout.
Now that you’ve taken your extended break you seem more eager than ever to play professionally. How many more years do you see yourself playing professionally?
Oh I can definitely see myself playing [professionally] for several more years. After this break, even though I’m one of the older player, I’ve become super motivated to play really clean games and sharpen my mechanics on the meta champions. I work on my communication every single day in a team environment, so even if I can’t be super good in lane or pull out clutch mechanical outplays, something I’m more than capable of doing right now, my communication will still be good enough. And because of this, I think the value I can bring to a team is really high. Right now though, I’m really motivated to be a positive force on a team. Be a good teammate. Be a good communicator. I don’t ever want to be a weak link again, and if I have another performance like last year’s worlds, I’ll be super crushed., so I’ll do whatever I can to not let my teammates down.