You could tell that Team Liquid was confident as they walked onto the stage at Riot’s NA LCS Battle Arena last weekend. They were ready to take down FlyQuest. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and his team only needed this one last win to avoid being relegated from the league. They had the momentum they needed. They had just crushed the first place team, TSM, the day before. FlyQuest should have been a walk in the park. No one expected that FlyQuest would hand them the defeat that would decide their fate. No one expected that Liquid would make so many mistakes.
Team comp, or lack thereof
Liquid’s team comp in their second game was abysmal. We have to wonder if things would have ended differently if they made smarter picks in the pregame. It was ironic, because Liquid had just defeated FlyQuest in the first game with a better team. They had excellent tools for teamfighting, making solo picks, and protecting their damage.
In game two, however, Liquid seemed to forget why they had won that first game— a better team comp. In this game, they counter-picked themselves to the point where you have to wonder if it was on purpose. FlyQuest caught on to Liquid’s game-one strategy and went for a heavy team-fight comp with a lot of disruption. They pulled out a Lulu, Varus, Orianna, Rengar, and Nautilus.
Liquid, on the other hand, picked a weird hybrid between a single-target pick-off comp (one that prioritizes making picks on solo enemies here-and-there while avoiding team-fights) and an actual team-fighting comp. They picked up a Zyra and a Rumble, both great at teamfights, but then nothing to follow them up. They picked Olaf for their tank, who has no hard crowd control, and then Jayce and Jhin as damage.
There was a lot wrong with this group of champions. When Olaf ran in, he had no one on his team to help him engage, so he’d immediately blow up. At the same time, when Olaf (their only tank) charged forward, it left the squishy backline (which in this case is the entire team) without a tank to protect or peel, so the Rengar/Orianna combo would land three spells and they’d all die. It almost hurt to watch it.
After watching that mess of a game, you would assume that Liquid would learn from their mistakes for the final round of the series. Well, you’d be correct, because they did. They picked a much better comp with a beefier front line and a better teamfight. Of course, they still lost the game and therefore the series, but at least the ending was hard-fought.
Reignover? More like Reign-under
Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin is Team Liquid’s jungler, and one of the most valuable players in North America. As such, he’s been known to carry most of the teams he’s played on, and Liquid is no exception. Don’t get me wrong, two out of three of the games from this series, Reignover absolutely dominated, but that second game with Olaf left a lot to be desired. Normally, we’d say one player having one bad game shouldn’t affect that much, but in Liquid’s case, that’s unfortunately not true.
When Reignover pulled out Olaf, his typical hyper-carry champion that most opponents actually ban from him, Liquid fans thought that he was ready to save the day—to win one more game and close out the split while avoiding relegation. He ended up doing the opposite, however. He had one of the worst games we’ve ever seen him play. He was greedy throughout the game, and tried to chase and run down victims when he had no right to. He was either just not fed enough to pull it off, or his team was nowhere to back him up, and yet he kept doing it over, and over, and over again. He ended that second game with two kills and seven deaths. Yikes.
This is an important lesson for Liquid, however. One player having one game shouldn’t decide the fate of a series, but Liquid relies so heavily on Reignover that his one bad game as Olaf ruined the entirety of the game. He was dead most of the time, so the rest of the team ran around like headless chickens while the Rengar and Orianna worked them down. It was a gruesome scene. If Liquid manages to get back into the LCS for the Summer Split, they’re going to need another leader to step up alongside Reignover.
One bad decision
A professional game can often be decided by one bad play. In Team Liquid’s case, their stake in the North American LCS was decided by one unfortunate moment. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. They had a horrible season, and if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have been in a position for one bad play to relegate them. But still—this play was god-awful.
Ouch. Shen was caught-out in the jungle, so Liquid thought it would be a grand idea to use a Ryze ult to gain the element of surprise and all show up at the same time. The element of surprise doesn’t exactly work when the enemy team gets a big visual warning in the form of a slowly-forming glowing red circle that you’re about to arrive. The only thing that was missing was a big banner that said, “Get ready to hit us right here!”
When Liquid showed up, FlyQuest had the answer, and it was brutal. Before that teamfight, Liquid commanded a massive lead in gold and kills, and avoiding relegation looked to be within their grasps. After this one lost fight, FlyQuest took down numerous objectives, gained a sizable lead, and closed out the game. GG Liquid.
Liquid shouldn’t have a terribly difficult time succeeding in the promotion tournament this Friday against eUnited with carries like Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Reignover. Then again, we all also thought they wouldn’t have had this difficult of a season either.