The LCS is back with Summer Split Week 1 and Week 2 in the books. North America’s teams returned to the Rift, some with changes from the mid season. Cloud9 benched Zven, 100 Thieves acquired Abbedagge, Evil Geniuses promoted Danny, and the list goes on. Team Liquid was once of the few teams that seemed unphased from Spring Split. However, that suddenly changed when Coach Jatt announced Alphari would not start after Game 1, following TL’s loss to TSM. It was a rocky start for the boys, and here are three takeaways.
Jenkins is Serviceable
No one is going to argue Jenkins is greater or equal to Alphari. The stats and eye test clearly show that is not the case. League of Legends is a team game, however, and Jenkins has been serving this team well. Judging his laning phase alone he has:
- dismantled Finn in the Gangplank into Gwen matchup
- got stomped by Perkz who lane-swapped Sylas into Lulu top lane
- dominated Fakegod in the Gangplank into Lee Sin matchup
- played out the Gangplank into Aatrox matchup close to even versus Impact
- lost lane as Akali to Revenge’s Gwen pick
The two Gangplank games that Jenkins got ahead turn into easy wins for Team Liquid. No one looked good in the Cloud9 match. The Evil Geniuses game went to 51 minutes, and Jensen looked pretty raw on Viego. Jenkins actually took over and carried the Immortals game as Akali, despite having no agency in the early game.
Jenkins is tied with Fudge for highest gold per minute, while having the second highest kill participation and damage per minute (top laners). Plus he has three solo kills across five games and has yet to give First Blood. Overall, Team Liquid has not looked worse because of Jenkins. Having the confidence to let Gwen through phase one bans and draft into it will continue to give Liquid an edge. Coming out of Week 2, Jenkins has done a solid job.
The Meta is Not in TL’s Favor
Unfortunately, Team Liquid looks pretty uncomfortable in the current meta. Opponents prioritize banning Lulu, Thresh and Senna-Tahm Kench against Team Liquid. Meanwhile, Renekton, Lee Sin, Karma and Viego have some of the highest presence in the LCS.
These draft trends indicate that Team Liquid’s opponents are not afraid of them drafting these AD melee champs or Karma. Jensen’s Viego game demonstrated exactly why this draft strategy could work. Similar to last split when Seraphine was high priority, teams know putting Jensen or CoreJJ on enchanters hinders them. So Karma is going to stay open in draft.
Hopefully, Team Liquid can get some solid scrims on the OP champions and figure out how to make them work after Week 2. The coaching staff needs to get together and plan out more drafts to cover these weaknesses. Jenkins’ Gangplank and CoreJJ’s Leona can get a lot done, but Santorin’s Volibear and Jensen’s Viego have not done TL any favors. Jensen himself mentioned on Hotline League how he wishes mages were buffed for mid lane
TL is Good at Everything, but not Great at Anything Yet
Based on Week 1 and Week 2, Team Liquid looks like a top four team. They do a lot of things right–1,793 gold per minute (3rd), 66.7 percent first turret rate (tied 1st), 53.5 percent dragon control rate (3rd), 66.7 percent baron control rate (3rd). However, their win rate (50 percent), K:D (1.06), gold difference at 15 (+603), and gold differential per minute (+67) are middle-of-the-pack. According to Oracles Elixir, Team Liquid holds the third highest early game rating and the seventh mid-late game rating.
These stats, as well as the eye test itself, indicate that Team Liquid is a pretty good team, but the teams above them have something they absolutely excel at. Cloud9 excels at dragon control. TSM controls baron. 100 Thieves earns gold the fastest. Even Immortals has come up with higher gold difference at 15 minutes.
During Spring Split, Team Liquid looked best when shooting out of early game with large gold leads and forcing teamfights with their advantage. They had the second lowest average game time, the highest K:D, gold difference at 15 minutes and the highest dragon control rate. Team Liquid’s usually won or lost by 30 minutes, so without being the best at early game control, the team just looks average. Considering the Jenkins substitution and the meta, as mentioned above, TL fans shouldn’t panic. The team just needs to unite around an identity by the end of the split.
Listen to The Liquid Lowdown Episode 10: What is Going on with Alphari?
“From Our Haus to Yours”