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3 Takeaways for Team Liquid from Lock In Week 1

Team Liquid got out to an early lead against CLG.

The LCS Spring Lock-In tournament wrapped up its first weekend, with North America’s top teams taking their first shots on the Rift of 2021. Many rosters are dealing with visa issues and substitutions, but most matches were entertaining. Underdogs picked up wins and heavy favorites took losses. Team Liquid was one of those favorites with one in the “L” column, ending the weekend 2-1. They won over CLG and Golden Guardians, but lost to 100 Thieves. Here are some key takeaways from TL’s first games.

[Related: Team Liquid 2021 LCS Spring Preview]

1. Alphari is S-tier

Most fans viewed TL’s Alphari pickup as a pure upgrade in the top lane position, and it only took one weekend for that to manifest. The ex-Origen player put on a masterful performance in his first few games of the Lock In. So far he has the highest CS difference and the second-highest gold difference at 10 minutes of all players, despite blind picking in all three games. Even in the loss to 100 Thieves, Alphari gained a 745 early gold lead over Ssumday. Interestingly enough, Impact is the only other top laner that looks close to Alphari’s level, also with three blind picks.

Alphari and Impact are both top of the LCS in several stats (Oracles Elixir).
Alphari and Impact are both top of the LCS in several stats (Oracles Elixir).

2. Bottom Lane is the Focus

Team Liquid's kills heatmap pre-15 minutes (Games of Legends).
Team Liquid’s kills heatmap pre-15 minutes (Games of Legends).

Tactical proved his worth over the course of 2020, ending with a strong showing at Worlds. His and CoreJJ’s strength as a duo has not skipped a beat coming into the Lock In. Team Liquid secured 11 of 18 kills before 15 minutes on the bottom side of the map, with three more on the bottom side of mid lane.

It’s one of the reasons why TL has a 100 percent First Dragon rate over three games. “Cortical” even kicked off the weekend with a 2v2 Double Kill versus CLG.

3. Jensen is Still Warming Up

With top doing well on his own, and bot being the focal point, that leaves jungle and mid. Armao is a substitute, so it feels a bit unfair to judge him in this tournament. Although, he has been serviceable when compared to his superstar friends. On the other hand, Jensen seems like he is not totally bought into the competition yet. Most will look to the Cassiopeia play in the 100 Thieves loss, but his leads versus CLG and Golden Guardians were pretty small compared to Alphari and Tactical. Considering Jensen was playing against perceived weaker mid laners (Pobelter, Damonte, Ablazeolive) and he got to counterpick in two of the three matches, his early game felt tempered. Maybe it had to do with jungle synergy? Maybe “it’s hard for [Jensen] to get into the same mindset without the full roster,” as he stated in his interview with Travis Gafford. Regardless, Jensen cruised through these first few games. Expect him to turn it up a notch once Santorin joins him and the best-of-threes begin.

Onto Knockouts

Team Liquid plays TSM to finish their Lock In round-robin, while Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves face off. The results of these two matches decide who moves on to the bracket stage. TSM also have a 2-1 record, beating GG and CLG while losing to 100T, just like TL. Even if Liquid loses to TSM and Golden Guardians beats 100 Thieves, TL would be safe from elimination. With TSM nearly losing to Golden Guardians, and 100 Thieves dropping their match versus CLG, Team Liquid are arguably the best team in the group. If they play their game, they should be able to win over TSM and remain at the top going into knockouts.

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