Even though they couldn’t field their planned starting five, to see Team Liquid down at the bottom of the LCS Spring Split rankings is more than surprising. What should’ve been a rallying week to get Liquid to a positive score ahead of Mads “Broxah” Pedersen’s arrival to LA turned into a gloom affair of back-to-back losses.
Liquid’s opponents this week were 100 Thieves and Golden Guardians and at least on paper, the reigning champions should’ve gotten the 2-0. 100T’s two prior wins came against CLG and GG, the two weakest teams in the league, and Golden Guardians had little to show for and convince the audience they can beat Liquid. And after a rocky 2-2 start to the league, the “horses” really need to catch a break.
Such break never came. On Saturday, 100 Thieves toyed with their food and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho alone scored more kills than the entire Team Liquid combined. Even though the game went for 41 minutes, at no point were Liquid in a favorable position. In fact, starting from minute 2, their gold deficit only grew larger.
Even with one loss already in their pocket, Liquid were looking forward to smashing Golden Guardians on Monday Night League. But despite the major gap between the two teams on every single position, Liquid couldn’t succeed there either. Yuri “Keith” Jew — one of the worst performing supports in the league so far — put on a clinic performance on Thresh, helping in 11 of GG’s 12 kills that game against yet another unimpressive game by Team Liquid’s bot duo.
The loss puts Team Liquid tied for 8th place at 2-4 and already they’ve scored as many losses as they did in each of the splits last year. Liquid are also yet to play any of the stronger teams in the league, including Cloud9 and Immortals so their score is likely to get sourer.
The question as to why Team Liquid are performing so poorly, however, is the one the “horses” have to answer. One at-first-glance theory would be the absence of Broxah, but that would be unfair to Shern “Shernfire” Tai and also be slightly inaccurate. While Shernfire’s vision game has been lacking, his CS and Gold scores per minute are actually middle of the table for players on his position. His Jarvan IV has seen several good games, including the 0/1/7 against TSM in week 1, the 1/2/13 against FlyQuest in week 2, and the 5/3/2 in the loss against Golden Guardians this week 3.
A much bigger problem can be seen in the bot lane. Doublelift sits at 2.7 KDA, the lowest in the league, and at 25.3 percent of team damage — second lowest in the league. Previously the best bot lane in the LCS, current-day Doublelift and CoreJJ are a far cry from their top form.
While Broxah is expected to arrive in time for LCS Week 4 and complete the starting five Team Liquid planned for, this would unlikely be the immediate solution to Liquid’s problems.
“Jungle is not plug-and-play”, said analyst Neil “Prolly” Hammard during the pre-match analysis, explaining how it takes a few weeks of training before the jungle and the rest of the lanes can gel. Week 4 also puts Team Liquid against Immortals (4-2, currently 2nd place), which is going to be a tough match for a non-coherent roster.
CoreJJ reiterated the same notion.
“It’s not like, Broxah’s coming, so he’s going to absorb every problem. When he comes, all the other players will need to step forward, otherwise it’s going to be the same.”
An early negative loss is not the end of the world, especially for a team like Liquid who’ve proven they can rally back, but season is already a third of the way through, so the coaching staff better have some immediate solutions.