In the summer of 2016, Team SoloMid dominated the NA LCS like no team before them. Poised to carry their domestic success to the international stage, TSM set their sights on the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship. But that never happened. The first-place NA team made their world championship exit in the group stage.
Disappointed with his performance (and burnt out), TSM’s AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng took a break from professional play—only to return just five months later. On a loan from TSM, Doublelift joined Team Liquid to help the 10th place team avoid relegations.
Fast forward to this saturday, three weeks after Doublelift’s return and the final week of the Spring Split’s regular season. Fans of both TSM and Doublelift were waiting for the day when Doublelift would take on his former team.
For both Doublelift and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, this match was massively important. With Doublelift openly expressing his intent to return to TSM come summer, the question of TSM’s starting AD carry is left unanswered. A great performance this series would make a statement to both TSM and the fans that one of these players deserves to be the starting AD carry come summer.
And by the end of this series, Doublelift convincingly made that statement.
Exerting overwhelming pressure in lane while maintaining an early CS lead in all three games, Doublelift comprehensively out-laned Wildturtle.
In game one, Doublelift—with Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin—used this pressure to execute an excellent counter gank that gave Liquid their initial lead.
As the game progressed, however, Liquid began to lose their lead through overextensions and TSM picks. Ultimately, Doublelift had to use his lead to carry teamfights in the late game, netting the last place team the first game win.
Despite Doublelift’s lead in the bot lane this series, over in the mid lane Liquid Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin was getting bullied by TSM’s top side. Unable to effectively play Taliyah, Piglet was constantly abused with repeat roams/ganks. Wasting Taliyah’s Weaver Wall to try to avoid these ganks, Piglet couldn’t often roam often because of the ability’s long cooldown. In game two, Piglet accrued so much of a deficit that the game was decided by 20 minutes.
So far ahead in game two, TSM’s top side eventually translated their lead to the bot side, overwhelming Doublelift and Matthew “Matt” Elento. Unable to withstand the dive potential of Renekton/Rengar/Vladimir/, Doublelift quickly fell in teamfights, and with Liquid’s primary damage dealer dead, TSM could easily end the game, tieing up the series.
Game three again saw a lead for Doublelift and a deficit for Piglet. Unlike the previous two games though, neither team could snowball their early lead. Unable to win with solely his mechanics, Doublelift had to employ his ingenuity, finding unique trades like a lost teamfight in favor of three turrets.
TSM, desperate after these unfavorable trades, tried to force a fight, engaging on Samson “Lourlo” Jackson’s Nautilus. Too tanky to kill Doublelift was free to throw out auto attacks and mystic shots to his heart’s content while TSM whittled away the massive HP of the Nautilus in their face. With Doublelift able to shred TSM, Liquid easily won the teamfight, and with long death timers, were able to win the game from the top side, which was turret free thanks to Doublelift’s split push earlier.
For Doublelift, the series win meant reassurance. Beating his future competition in lane three games in a row, if Doublelift had any doubt regarding his return to TSM, those doubts are surely lifted. Come summer, we may see the revival of the dominant 2016 TSM roster.