Stepping up for North America, Team Liquid look for redemption at Worlds 2021

Is it still safe to call them a dark horse?

Image via DJ Esports

This article is sponsored by DJ Esports.

In comparison to the competition, Team Liquid stands out among the other finalists. 

Following an underwhelming 3-3 run that ended with defeat in the group stage last year, the team changed up the roster by putting Alphari in the top lane and letting Santorin loose in the jungle. This lineup rotation had a largely positive impact on their performance and resulted in runner-up finishes in both the Spring and Summer seasons. This secured them the second seed in their group at Worlds.

League of Legends is often considered to be a game of turrets, with a lot of fans and teams alike putting heavy importance on securing the first turret of the game, an approach that Liquid clearly agrees with.

According to DJ Esports’ data, Liquid has claimed the first turret 68 percent of the time over their last 25 games, the second-best mark in the LCS. Furthermore, their 20-minute turret difference is an astounding 0.8, the highest in the LCS. 

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And while they have arranged their offense around getting the first turret early, Liquid doesn’t rely on the Rift Herald to do so. Instead, they tend to wait for a gap in the enemy’s lane and push in hard. The reason this works so well for Liquid comes down to their support player, CoreJJ. He is one of the best players at wading into enemy territory to hunt down an opponent, leaving a gap for his teammates to exploit. 

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CoreJJ prefers to take the initiative and attack on his own terms. Over the last 25 games, Liquid’s first blood rate is as high as 60 percent, largely thanks to CoreJJ’s early play. 

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Liquid’s early blitzing may give the impression that they are a one-trick pony who can’t come back from an early deficit. This is not the case anymore, with Liquid having performed extremely well in terms of objectives over the season. Their average time per game is 34 minutes and 16 seconds, the longest in the LCS. 

They aren’t the type to blindly rush in as soon as they take a gold lead or take the first Turret. Instead, expect them to slow down their tempo, using vision and field control to slowly expand their early lead.

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This relatively stable style of play allows Liquid to extend the leads they gain early. They can often take an advantageous position when it comes to the first Baron as well, using their early gold lead and vision control to outmaneuver their opponents. 

If the opposing team rushes into battle, Liquid is likely to come out ahead in the teamfight. If the opponent gives up, Liquid will claim the Baron for themselves and use the buff to drive deeper toward the opponent’s base. Liquid’s first Baron rate is 61 percent. If they can take an early lead, making them a safe choice for the first Baron.

CoreJJ is also the brain of Liquid, and his roaming is the most important factor in giving the team an early gold lead. The majority of supports prefer to roam to help the team set up an early lead, and CoreJJ’s roaming is among the most radical in the LCS. He often leaves the bot-lane to drive the tempo in the mid-lane, or even to go so far as to show up on the top-lane to help Alphari claim an early kill.

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Even more impressive is CoreJJ’s 7.0 KDA, which shows he is extremely accurate in his ability to assess his odds in any situation. He scored 16 out of 20 on Stability in DJ Esports’ data, showcasing his uncanny ability to play to his strengths.

Image via DJ Esports

Since CoreJJ is the driving force behind Liquid, opponents often focus on him during the draft phase. His unpredictable Champion selection makes it difficult to restrain him through bans, however. 

CoreJJ has a perfect 20/20 in the hero pool rating, based on DJ Esports’ data. In the knockout stage of the LCS Championship, he selected 12 different champions in 12 games, easily outplaying his opponent’s restrictions to lead Liquid to the finals.

At Worlds, Liquid will need to pay close attention to Gen.G from the LCK. Since they’ve both been placed in Group D, they’ll confront each other in the group stage.

Liquid’s bot-laner Tactical may face some extra heat on the bottom due to CoreJJ’s trademark roaming. But if they can’t take control of the bot lane and lose out on the first Dragon, they could be in serious trouble.

Last year, Liquid was just one step away from qualifying for Worlds. They made a comeback this season and are ready to show everyone that they belong on the game’s biggest stage. 

For more insight on the 2021 League World Championship and up-to-the-minute updated data and odds for all of the competing teams, you can view them on DJ Esports.

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